Trap crafting rules:

The cost of a mechanical trap is 1,000 gp × the trap's Challenge Rating. If the trap uses spells in its trigger or reset, add those costs separately. If the trap cannot be reset, divide the cost in half. If the trap has an automatic reset, increase the cost by half (+50%). Particularly simple traps, such as pit traps, might have a greatly reduced cost, subject to GM discretion. Such traps might cost as little as 250 gp × the trap's Challenge Rating.

So crafting cost even if you say its a simple trap is 250GP.

Advanced gear:

Hunting and Fishing Gear

Trap, bear: 2 gp

Bear Trap

CR 1

One of my players is thinking about going into trap making (mostly for setting up around the camp at night) but is rightly pointing out that they seem extremely expensive...and make no sense at all when you look at the given price of a Bear Trap to buy (2gp) or to craft (250gp).

Is there something we've missed?

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ I'd point out that the CR 1 encounter seems to consist of twelve bear traps, but even if you divide 250 by 12, you still get 20+ gp per bear trap, so that doesn't help. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jul 31, 2014 at 17:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Lol, good spot. Well it does help - we're down to a 10* difference instead of 100* :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Tim B
    Jul 31, 2014 at 17:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd argue that bear-traps are a mass-producible item, whereas the rules are more for the custom-built, player-or-NPC-designed traps. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 31, 2014 at 18:40

4 Answers 4


Bear traps aren't really a trap

A bear trap is not the same as a trap created using the Craft: Trapmaking skill, in the same way that scattering some caltrops in a hallway doesn't count as a trap - both are ready-made items that anyone may purchase and use - and both are far less effective than an actual crafted trap.

In-fact, calculating all the CR modifiers of a bear trap yields either 0 or -1 (Disable Device DC for the trap is 20, which gives a 0 modifier, but the description specifies that it may also be safely disabled with a stick - so the DC is effectively lower, meaning a -1 modifier). The rules for planing a trap specifically state:

Mechanical Trap: The base CR for a mechanical trap is 0. If your final CR is 0 or lower, add features until you get a CR of 1 or higher.

So, such a bear trap wouldn't really count as a trap.

What you may be missing

  1. If your player wishes to protect the camp, than something simple such as a bell-net or a trip wire tied to some pots can do the trick, there's no real need to craft a special trap just for that...
  2. The bear traps are designed for hunting, and when well placed (by successfully using the Survival or Profession: Huntsman skills), may help you catch an animal for food or profit. But unless you literary surround the camp site with traps, there's no guaranty that an intruder will step into one. When used to hinder passage, these traps, like caltrops, are much more effective in narrow corridors than in the great outdoors.
  3. The Craft: Trapmaking skill is much more useful for protecting a permanent structure, and not a one-night camp. Your player can use the trap rules to craft traps with scything blades, poison dart shooters, or a huge rock which rolls after Indiana Jones - these are static emplacements, which may take weeks to construct (although some feats and spells can significantly shorten the duration), and will cost a lot. But, they are much more effective than mere hunting gear - they are hard to avoid, hard to detect, hard to disable and can be much more lethal.
  4. Note that your PC will not have to pay the whole 250 GP for a simple CR 1 trap - if he is crafting it himself, he only need to pay the raw materials cost which is 1/3 of the trap's cost - less than 84 GP, which isn't that high, really. In fact, if you insist on treating the 12 bear-traps as a CR 1 trap, it'll cost him a little less than 7 gp per trap (throw in some materials for hiding the traps and some stakes and chain to fix them in place, and it makes sense...)

Hope this helps.

As an anecdote, I'm quoting here the full description of the CR 1 encounter which is the source of the 12 bear-traps = CR 1 trap notion. In my opinion, this is just a CR 1 encounter, not a single CR 1 trap...

Breeg has placed dozens of bear traps across this area, and as the PCs explore this hex, there’s a cumulative 20% chance per hour of stumbling into one of the traps. If the PCs wish to attempt to locate and tag the locations of all the traps in this area, they can do so once the hex is explored by taking a day and making a DC 15 Perception check— failure by 5 or more indicates that the searching PC steps in one of the traps. During or afer this procedure, a PC can disarm all of the traps either by manually triggering them with a stick or by making a DC 20 Disable Device check.


I think you're confusing two types of traps.

The bear trap is, if you'll excuse me being deliberately confusing for a moment, not a Trap. It is a piece of equipment that happens to have 'trap' in the name. The rules for trapmaking are not intended for building bear traps any more than they're intended for building Bridgets.

Traps are not something you 'pick up and carry around'. Traps are a piece of the landscape - a part of the architecture, so to speak. Bear traps are not, in and of themselves, a trap. Bear traps are, however, something you can USE to make a trap.

For reference - a bear trap can be hanging on the wall, and it's not a threat to anyone. It's easily spotted, and there's nothing close at hand to funnel someone or something into stepping into that bear trap.

However, once it's used to make a TRAP - it's laid out underneath a thin sheet of fabric covered with dust and light gravel to conceal it from the eye and casual inspection, along with arranging the surrounding rubble so that not only does the rubble look like it fell naturally, but it also funnels the individual through the environment to direct them to step into the bear trap. It requires the fabric, the time spent carefully covering it, the time spent replacing the fabric after you accidentally ruined the first sheet, it requires muscle to shift that fallen pillar a little bit, and then time spent getting moss to grow over the place the pillar used to be so that it's not obvious the pillar was moved. Arranging fallen debris against the pillar so it doesn't stand out as having been recently added to its new spot. There are several bear traps, in several places, to catch multiple people.

And this is a TRAP. And some of it will be lost in the process of springing the trap - the sheets will be lost, the gravel and dust scattered... you'll need to spend time and materials recreating it, after it's been sprung.

This is where the discrepancy comes in. Because a bear trap is just a potential trap. It takes artistry and skill to turn it into an actual trap.

  • \$\begingroup\$ That is, artistry, skill... and twelve of them and a whole bunch of extra cash. I tend to agree. Joe the commoner doesn't use a deluxe finely-crafted manually-resetting pit trap for his bear problem. He goes in with a couple of other Joes and together they all chip in for a bear trap. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 31, 2014 at 20:07
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ What's a Bridget? (Nice answer BTW.) \$\endgroup\$ Aug 1, 2014 at 2:52
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Bridget is a popular videogame character - a boy raised in a nunnery and trained in battle. He uses the nunnery's traditional hunter's garb - which is very feminine. A sometimes not-well-received term for a boy who dresses like a very cute girl is a 'Trap', and Bridget is one of the more famous examples thereof, so that making a character like that is sometimes called 'Building a Bridget'. (And thank you very much - that means a lot coming from you, SevenSided.) \$\endgroup\$ Aug 1, 2014 at 14:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ Oh... That strikes me as rather problematic terminology in or near homo/transphobia. Could we avoid the term? \$\endgroup\$ Aug 1, 2014 at 17:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ I know some Trans folk who love the term, some who hate it. The only reason I knew the term is because some homo/trans friends of mine were making jokes along those lines and I was like, "Huh wuh?" However, strangers have gotten enraged over use of the term, so I made oblique reference to it using a popular character instead of using the term directly. But I think we're hitting the point where this isn't really 'comments' stuff? \$\endgroup\$ Aug 1, 2014 at 18:54

This threw me at first too. I initially just assumed it was a quirk of the system, someone wasn't paying enough attention (which is of course still a possibility). But this excellent answer got me thinking. A CR 1 Bear Traps trap is not a bear trap. Or even just 12 bear traps.

  1. The CR 1 Bear Traps may consist of more than just 12 bear traps. They may be baited. They likely have camouflage, given their perception DC. And camo netting costs 20 gp each!
  2. Labor costs are little iffy since the player has to pay the material cost when doing the work themselves, but setting up 12 bear traps in a effectively spaced and well hidden manner is part of creating the trap.

Does that add up to 250 gold? No, probably not. But it does close the gap. And in the rules for designing traps are for something your custom building. A bear trap is is a mass produced item. Any blacksmith can just sit down and crank them out as opposed to something that's special ordered. This is one time issue that won't affect the higher level traps your player makes.

So why the price gap?

I think the hint comes from the equipment section a bear trap, Hunting and Fishing. The 2 gp bear trap is intended for hunting while the CR 1 Bear Traps is intended to combat monsters/NPCs/PCs. So a trap is priced similarly to a scroll while a bear trap is priced as survivalist gear. It costs about the same as a net and will serve the same purpose of catching your dinner.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Still doesn't address how to price the crafting of bear traps, particularly since they are fairly complicated mechanical traps that can be reset. According to the description, they should be fairly pricey. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jul 31, 2014 at 18:57

I think the primary difference comes back to the foraging vs weapon argument too. Making snares and simple traps (deadfalls, pit full of bamboo stakes, etc) is very cheap in terms of materials, but NOT in terms of time. EG a 10x10x10 pit with bamboo stakes at the bottom will take 4 men 2 days to dig (assuming dirt and not rock) and then a day to cut, trim and place the 60+ stakes required to effectively cover the base of the pit, plus more time to cover the pit to hide it. A human on his guard would spot this pretty much automatically unless (for example) he is chasing one of the trap builders across the pit and the builder used the 6" wide hidden walkway in the centre *(add another day for this). A charging animal is much more likely to miss the trap.

Take a simple rope whipsnare. 4 men will be required to bend over the tree used to power the whip, and perhaps 2 hours work to place it and tie the noose down. You still need a human to trigger the device when the victim steps in it, or a visible tripwire instead - so not as easy as you think, but it IS cheap assuming manpower is provided by friends and fellow adventurers.


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