I still feel rather new to D&D and had to leave my group for a while. Now I feel fit enough to go back and am creating a character to return with.

I have a question regarding innovating on Kobold Traps. As I understand them:

A kobold trap is made by tying a tripwire to a small crossbow armed with a bolt

The idea I had in regards to this is to either tie a wooden whistle to the point of a bolt or to replace it altogether, making a crude version of what's known in the real world as a signaling arrow. With this, my character would be able to set up a tripwire as a sort of early warning signal, as the whistle would screech through the sky when triggered.

To further this, by trying different sounding whistles to 4 kobold tripwires, he could create a perimeter that would tell if enemies are coming from the north, south, east or west. Is this going too far for an adventurer, or is this staying within the realm of possibility within D&D?

Note: My experience with DMs seem to like to differentiate the game to real-world solutions, hence my hesitation.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you in a particular game right now or plan to be? If so, have you brought this up with your DM? If so, what did they say? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 4, 2019 at 17:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've heavily edited your question in an attempt to trim it down and better state your question. Please review it to make sure it is still in line with your intentions. Welcome to rpg.stackexchange! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 4, 2019 at 17:21

1 Answer 1


It's going to be up to your DM

There is a lot here, but ultimately, what you're asking is how much real world engineering and knowledge can you bring to the table.

And that's going to be a mix of your character's background and how your DM is running the table.

A DM will work with you on your backstory and class and the two of you can determine whether or not your character can do something. If it's determined then you can, then you can. If not, then you can ask if there's a way to learn it and how (or if it's just time to move on.)

There's quite a few things to build

It's also important to note that you'd need to have an understanding of:

  • Mechanical knowledge of Kobold traps* - I don't know how widespread that knowledge is.
  • Signaling arrows - These would be a homebrew item in and of themselves.

  • Appropriate terrain - WHether or not it's possible to string these traps across the distance you're asking for will also be DM/terrain dependent.

  • Handling misfires - How this will work is also up to the DM

  • Handling discovery - What happens if there is an active enemy that discovers them.

But stating you can doesn't mean that it's a guaranteed success. Understanding proficiency, tool proficiency, and having those tools available may still require a dice roll via a DC check for the creation of whatever it is you're making.

Don't get discouraged with a "no"

Mundane answers for in-game questions may be removed just to keep it interesting and reasonable. But that's entirely up to the DM and how they're looking to fill out their world and have you as players and characters interact with it. It might be that they don't want to get into the details of homebrewing new items, or it could be that they want to give characters with access to magical systems like the spell Alarm more of a purpose.

The use of alarm

As you've noted, the Ranger does have access to alarm, although they'll have to expend a spell slot to cast it since they don't have Ritual Casting. If your concern is to prevent ambush, then alarm does this quite well. It's a smaller coverage of just a 20' cube, but it can either make an audible sound or a mental alert. There's a lot you can do there and it seems to fulfill your requirements without having the DM try to create homebrew/houserules.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Spot on. I would also point out that the campaign the DM wants to run may conflict with the style of play this innovation might be servicing. It's not so much whether or not your character is able, but if you, the player, should even be worried about things like this. Not to discourage clever thinking (this innovation is clever thinking), but rather to encourage collaboration in a campaign between the DM and the players. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 4, 2019 at 17:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ I realize that Alarm is doing about the same thing as I am trying without magic, but the reason I'm not eager to teach my ranger the Alarm spell is that it only reaches a 30 feet radius while walking speed is average 30 feet and Darkvision can see out 60 feet naturally. So as far as I can tell, Alarm does little to prevent an ambush from happening to your party. Or am I reading that wrong? \$\endgroup\$
    – Victor B
    Commented Mar 4, 2019 at 17:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @VictorB I wouldn't get attached to Alarm in this answer, it's simply an example of a potential reason. Alarm and your traps solve different problems different ways \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 4, 2019 at 17:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @VictorB This may be a good example of an X-Y Problem. You've come up with a solution for a proposed problem and asking for it's viability rather than asking about solving the problem you're really most interested in. I'd recommend asking a question specifically about whether or alarm does what you think it may or may not and then possibly a follow-up question (depending on the answer) of what else can be done to solve you're desired outcome. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Mar 4, 2019 at 17:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ I only found out about Alarm recently. I initially was setting up for my character to use these kobold traps as he's scared of being ambushed as he was in the past when he lost his voice. I can admit the link, but the initial problem was still understanding if these kobold trap mods would be accepted. \$\endgroup\$
    – Victor B
    Commented Mar 4, 2019 at 17:48

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