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I did some maths, based on PF SRD for both traps and crafting, and this is what I found :

  • a Pit Trap is a CR-1 trap (but it's a lazy kind of trap, so let's assume, as PF SRD tells us to do, that it only costs 250gp x trap's CR) so it costs 2500 sp and its crafting DC is 20
  • crafting rules basically ask to roll Craft checks every week and sum them up (assuming there's no failed check), the trap is finished when the sum is greather than or equal to its cost in silver pieces divided by its DC, so with a CR-1 Pit Trap, the trap is ready when the sum is equal to 2500 / 20 = 125
  • a 1-HD kobold has +6 in Craft (traps)

Let's say for the sake of this calculation that we consider a very helpful tribe of kobolds and they all have the Cooperative Crafting feat, giving a +2 bonus to the crafting check for each helping kobold. I'm also assuming, to simplify, that on the long run, the die will average to 10.5. Lastly, they are not threatened by any adventurers at the moment, so they can work 8 hours a day without worrying about being attacked, being on watch duty, etc... (if the working team couldn't work at peace, their efficient work time should be halved, as mentionned by the Magic Item Creation rules).

Given all that, an average kobold can't make it alone (DC is too hard to reach), it would take roughly six weeks and four kobolds to dig a Pit Trap, or it takes 56 kobolds to do so in only one week.

It feels wrong that kobolds, famously the best low-CR creatures at trapmaking, spend so much time for one of the easiest trap available.

Am I missing something in RAW ? Is this something frequently houseruled ? If so, how ?

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I think the real question here is "why is a hole in the ground so overpriced", since this seems to be the very core of the problem. –  kravaros Nov 14 '13 at 16:06
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To be fair to the RAW, I dont think a hole covered with branches is the kind of pit trap they had in mind with the rules regarding 'craft'. I'm thinking 250gp would be for a pit trap that seemlessly integrates into a dungeon's stonework. If this is just a hole in the ground, I would not invoke 'craft' rules for it. –  GrandmasterB Nov 14 '13 at 17:00
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Hey, comments are not for discussion. Please contribute an answer if you have one, or provide constructive add-ons to answers. I will clean up this comment thread soon. –  mxyzplk Nov 15 '13 at 2:23
    
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7 Answers

up vote 39 down vote accepted

One important thing you're missing is that a pit trap is NOT simply a hole in the ground.

From the Pathfinder SRD:

Pit Trap (CR 1) Pit Trap CR 1

XP 400

Type mechanical; Perception DC 20; Disable Device DC 20

EFFECTS

Trigger location; Reset manual

Effect 20-ft.-deep pit (2d6 falling damage); DC 20 Reflex avoids; multiple targets (all targets in a 10-ft.-square area)

So this 'hole in the ground' also has a 10' by 10' cover with a mechanical trigger that drops people into the pit. This cover is so well camouflaged that someone with a professional level of training in searching for traps (a +4 bonus) will fail to detect it 30% of the time.

Also note the 'Reset: manual' portion of the description. This means that once the pit trap is built it can be reset by anyone in about a round. So the cover for a pit trap is one that doesn't need to be repaired (there's a separate reset description for that) or replaced, it simply has to be put back into position. The cover is sturdy enough and well-camouflaged enough that it can be popped back into place for immediate reuse.

The cover for the trap will almost certainly be hinged and have some sort of latch that can be used to reset it without going into the pit. The cover will have a molded (or painted) top that almost-perfectly matches the surroundings. The cost for a pit trap is almost certainly primarily for the cover.

Suppose it's a more hasty pit trap, and it doesn't reset (halve the cost). Suppose the cover is simpler, and it's just a grid of sticks covered with leaves, only moderately blended into the environment (DC 15 notice, DC 15 disable). That pit trap is CR 1/4, with the cost divided in half. It's also extremely simple, so the base cost is 1/4.

That trap? The final cost is 31.25 GP. Rounding up, the kobold needs to get 313 SP worth of work out of their craft check. The total check needed is therefore 21 (313/15 rounded up).

Your typical kobold can do that on a roll of 15, and build the trap in 8 hours. Given the average roll of 10.5, he'd actually finish it in 2 days, on average. If he had masterwork tools to work with (most kobold clans would LOVE to get such a set to share) and a single ally (or better, 2) with cooperative crafting he could finish it in a single day on an average roll.

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I'm pretty sure the +6 is including the racial modifier. 4 skill points from ranks, 0 from intelligence and 2 from racial modifier.

I'm not quite sure about the price that you've given. I think there would be ways to adjust it further downwards, but that might not be the real point in this case.

Your actual question seemed to be why the kobolds seem to be so bad at making traps.

The thing to consider here is: bad compared to whom. Kobolds have a +6 modifier to make traps. This is 6 more points than an untrained peasant, and the same as a trained 1st level rogue with 14 intelligence. Or 3rd level rogue with 10 intelligence (assuming no feats or other bonuses). That seems pretty good to me. Assuming the 20 DC you gave above, a kobold would succeed on his checks approximately 7 times as often as a peasant. Which makes the kobold at least 7 times faster, given that no progress is made on a failed check. Even a kobold who hasn't trained his trapmaking skills is going to be 3 times faster than the peasant, purely on account of his racial modifier. A human peasant of below 10 intelligence is incapable of succeeding at the DC 20 check. With kobolds trapmaking is so ingrained, that even an untrained int 6 kobold has a chance of making the check, courtesy of the racial bonus. With training, event the dimmest int 3 kobold is capable of helping out. Kobolds are amazing trap makers compared to humans.

Now, why it takes so long for them to make a simple trap, is an artifact of the system. Probably designed to make it harder for players to get creative with cheap traps (though for what reason I know not). You can get the price down to 125gp by making the trap one-use, IE a pit with branches on top. According to raw, you need to purchase some 40+gp of materials to construct this trap. Which is ridiculous. So my advice is to ignore the price (and the therefrom derived time) for this thought exercise.

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To be fair to the RAW, I don't think a hole covered by branches is the kind of 'pit trap' they had in mind for the craft checks. If you look at the rules, they are specifically talking about traps in dungeons. What I believe the 250gp and craft checks are referring to are pit traps in dungeons that seemlessly integrate with the surrounding stone work. That's a much more sophisticated type of trap. These types of pits would require skilled stone masons, and the trigger mechanisms would be rather complex. It would be a fairly expensive device.

For an outdoors hole obscured with branches, you might instead invoke the Survival skill. Such traps might fall under a general skill that covers game traps and snares. Though in this case the trap is physically larger, the principal would be the same. Using that approach, there's no specific cost implied by the rules - just whatever effort is needed for digging the hole.

The kobolds are not likely making a pit trap as described in the PSRD, and is not a 'craft' in the first place. What the kobolds are making is more akin to a hunters trap, which is why I suggest the Survival skill, as that may be more appropriate.

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Am I missing something in RAW ?

Not that I know of.

Is this something frequently houseruled ? If so, how ?

Sort of. Use DM fiat. Just pick a number of Kobolds and amount of time that seems reasonable. Off the top of my head, I would allow 12 kobolds to make an outdoor pit trap 10' deep (in dirt) in a day, or underground, in stone, in perhaps 3 days. These probably don't match any scientific measure, but would "feel right" to my players, which is what will count.

The trap-building costs are intended to balance player and PC-led designs so that damage and difficulty to detect/avoid correspond to cost.

The real world is very far away from that in many areas. Crafting rules, if applied literally, can lead to nonsensical results in more than just trap-building. Don't use them when simple DM fiat or a story-led approach will lead to something more believable. Do use them when players are trying to spend money or use an in-game stat such as Craft/Trapmaking, in order to gain an advantage in a battle.

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First I would like to say that if you have a shovel (and optionally a ladder), you can easily say you have the right tools for the job and tack a +2 circumstance bonus onto that. With even one kobold adding on your average (integer) roll is 22 (8+2+2).

Plus, the SRD states:

Particularly simple traps, such as pit traps, might have a greatly reduced cost, subject to GM discretion.

So while yes the Pit Trap as written is CR 1, I imagine they are also pricing it as though it's a pit with masonry. So if you're in the woods where I most commonly expect to see kobolds, the material of "dirt" going that deep could in theory reduce the cost because you're not pouring cement, carefully smoothing, waiting to set and dry, etc., you're digging a glorified hole and therefore you could model the trap as a lower cost if the DM (especially if it's you) so decides. You could easily reduce the cost by a quarter, and thus make a pit trap in one week easy with seven kobolds working together: 8 (base)+2 (circ)+12(cooperative)+11 (round up the average roll)= 33 x 20 = 660; 2500sp / 4 = 625sp

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For crafting a basic pit, there is a shortcut that I could see Kobolds and the like using(assuming they have access to a level 1 druid or sorc/wiz(which would likely fill the roll of tribal shaman or the like)), in the form of the spell: Expeditious Excavation. It allows for the creation of a five foot cubic hole. A few castings(depending on desired depth) and the dc would drop dramatically(up to nothing if they desired just a straight pit with nothing at the bottom).

As an aside, the crafting(traps) mod of a Kobold is only 6. They get +1 for rank, +3 for favoured class and +2 for racial. The racial bonus mention in the entry is included in the the total, it is just listing where it came from.

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NOTE: Numbers in this post content are wrong due the following reasons:

  • The interpretation I give to how cooperative crafting feat second effect works may be wrong. Trajan has a question about this, that you can follow here.
  • I did not noticed that the bonus to skill rolls from cooperative crafting is a circunstance bonus, so bonuses from more that one helper do not stack. Shame on me.

I'll leave this post as it is for reference to Trajan post. If someone thinks it should be deleted please do it.


I will assume the following:

  • All we have are CR 1 kobolds, with a total trap making skill check of +6. 1 for skill ranks, + 3 for class skill bonus (thanks to crafty special ability), 0 from intelligence and 2 from racial modifier. All of them have cooperative crafting feat
  • The main crafter takes 10 in his roll. Note that say 10 and no 20 due the added time. That would make a roll of 16.
  • Each assistant provides +2 due cooperative crafting, and is entitled to try the Aid another action. With a +6 bonus to its skill, and an average roll of 10.5 for a total of 16.5, most of time they would succeed, giving the main crafter a +2 bonus per helping kobold.
  • That feat you linked, apart from the bonus, also doubles the GP value of items that can be crafted each day, so it effectively cut crafting time in half.

Taken all of this into account, your team of 4 kobolds should be able to build a pit trap in 2,3 weeks, not 6. Explanation:

  • Total craft rolls is 28 :main crafter rolls 16, each helping kobold gives +2 bonus due feat and + 2 due aid another.
  • Cumulative result needed to complete the trap: 63 (125/2 due Cooperative Crafting). 63 / 28 = 2,3

This would be taking into account your scenario. Now let change it a bit: We add a fifth kobold to the team. Now you are able to get a final roll of 30 even if one of the kobolds fail the aid another action. This allow you to raise DC of the trap by 10 to accelerate crafting, making your team able to cut completion time to 1'3 weeks.

If this is still too much time, just take into account that kobolds can be quite gregarious, and that trap making is a crafting activity that allows for reasonably big working teams and multiple shifts, so with a little of imagination one could argue that a nest (1-30) could make two holes per week without even trying, and a tribe (31-300) could blanket the perimeter of his hideout with pit traps in the same time.

And this is only if the kobolds use only pure physical labour to complete the work. A single level 1 kobold wizard with crafter fortune can speed up the works easily.

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