I'm working on a story concept where the villain is a tinker who is seeking revenge against a noble house, and his M.O. is intricate mechanical traps. The trap rules given are fine for dungeon encounters, but pit traps and dart traps and their ilk seem a little bland for a genius-level inventor.

Are there advanced rules for traps anywhere that I can use to give more flavor to this villain's work, or am I stuck improvising and/or reskinning existing traps to fit into the story? I'm looking mostly for expanded rules regarding mechanical traps; I suppose cursed magical items would technically count as "trapped items" in this case, but spellcasting is a little out of the purview of a tinker.

An example of the kind of thing I'm looking for might be a necklace that functions as a garrote, tightening around a character's neck when worn.


2 Answers 2


It doesn't have to be spellcasting to have a "magical" effect. A little reflavoring can help tremendously to make originally magical effects the results of elaborate clockwork mechanisms, alchemical substances or liquid/gaseous/powdered poisons.

Pathfinder has some pretty nice rules to construct and design traps and cursed items and with a little reflavoring and a bit of handwaving there are lots of possibilities to come up with effects that work for a tinker.

Another option is to take a look at monsters and perhaps use some of their abilities as inspiration. Perhaps a trapped suit of armor contains long needles attached to hidden springs on the inside to drain the wearer's blood, similar to a Stirge. Or the party finds a backpack that is "enhanced" with a set of hidden mechanical jaws that attack everyone who reaches inside, using the attack of a Snapjaw Homunculus as a baseline.

Regarding your example, that sounds suspiciously like a Necklace of Strangulation with a few modifications:

  • It's not magical but rather a tiny and incredibly sophisticated clockwork apparatus.
  • It has a less drastic effect and allows for a non-magical defense (e.g. allowing a Ref save to pull it off when it activates, a Disable Device check to make it stop, or a Strength check to break the chain and tear it away).
  • \$\begingroup\$ Don't forget that in Galarion there's an entire nation that has advanced tech: Numeria. All of their items duplicate magical items, but they've all been reskinned to be something like steampunk. So yo ucould easily make magical traps to fit the bill here. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cthos
    Jan 2, 2012 at 23:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Cthos: I'm not familiar with the PF campaign setting at all and was only speaking from a general point of view. But good to know that it can actually make sense ingame as well. :D \$\endgroup\$
    – user2862
    Jan 2, 2012 at 23:38

I apologize for not bringing any specific names, but look into first edition D&D campaigns and material. Traps in that edition were usually more complex and thought out. Weight activated floor traps that open up to pits while also blocking off the hallway exits. You know, that sort of thing.

I'm completely blanking on the name, but there was a supplement entirely dedicated to traps that bordered on the sociopath.

Another example would be Tomb of Horrors. There is a teleportation arch that leads to a room with three levers. Flip them all down and the entire floor opens to a huge pit. Flip them all up and the escape hatch in the ceiling opens up.

Also, make the tinkerer a Kobold. Just for flavor.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .