One of my players is playing a Forest Gnome Artificer and is intending on being a bit of an inventor, comes up with crazy solutions on the fly, kind of character. But he just came up with an idea that sound a bit too crazy to be balanced.

In the previous session he set up a tripwire trap with a light crossbow, I let it happen, however he could not move or aim the crossbow, so it shot in a straight line (and missed as a result). But more importantly for him, it wouldn't automatically reload. So he decided to come up with a solution involving the forest gnomes ability Speak with Small Beast.

"What if I talk to a rabbit and convince it to run in a hamster wheel, and using a similar system to a train wheel to pull back the drawstring, set up a wooden magazine on top of the crossbow so an arrow falls into place and it resets for the next time the tripwire is triggered"

This to me sounds genius but also has a great potential for mis-use. What potential draw backs (pardon the pun) should I include with this invention? a "misfire" score? multiple tinker's checks? increased reload time? animal handling checks?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Is he remotely aware of the tension on a crossbow? And if so he still reasonably thinks a rabbit can pull it back? \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Jun 21 '18 at 2:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Slagmoth thats a good point, but knowing him he'll just say "then i'll use more rabbits". Which would probably induce several animal handling checks. that is one potential drawback. Or it would just take longer to drawn which would probably make reload time 1 minute instead of shorter. \$\endgroup\$ – Youjay Jun 21 '18 at 2:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ Before the site can tackle whether or not this is balanced, I think you need to detail first the game mechanical effect you imagine this would have based on the description the player's provided (and, of course, determine if it the effect's even possible). That is, the site can't help you make this, but, after you've made it, the site can let you know if it's okay. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jun 21 '18 at 3:07

I would keep two things in mind here.

First, speak with small beast is not mind control small beast. While players have authority over the actions of their characters, D&D generally gives very broad authority of the actions of small mammals to the GM (you).

Second, Abstraction is your friend here. It sounds like this player is very interested in developing complicated plans. I wouldn't try to worry about every single detail. Instead, try to deal with the actual intent of the plan. In this case yout player wants a trap that resets itself without his intervention. Just give that to him with a risk or cost.

A risk may be that the trap doesn't reset every time. When the trap is triggered decide on some chance of it not resetting and roll for it. At that point it is up to you and your player to create an appropriate reason why the trap didn't reset. The world is a dangerous place and rabbits aren't known for their long lifespans.

A cost may be ridding the woods of a gang of squirrels that have been bullying the rabbits. If your table is really into small mammal diplomacy this can be an entire adventure or perhaps it's just a couple rolls and a trip to the town market for some roasted nuts.

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