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I have a high-hitpoint character who barges down hallways without regard to traps because that's what His Guy would do. In reality, he's metagaming: doing this because he knows he has the HPs to soak up the damage.

I call it metagaming because he's using his knowledge of trap damage (from a mechanics perspective) and history from other games (where traps are often "props" that do trivial damage) to make decisions for his character.

Of course I could make them spectacularly painful/deadly but the underlying problem is he's taking away from other characters who enjoy finding and disarming traps. If I make them deadly enough to hurt him then it will likely kill the squishier types.

In a perfect world I could discuss this with him privately but there are real life group politics I have to deal with.

Is there an in-game way to curb this behavior and help transition trap handling to those who prefer a more subtle approach?

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17 Answers 17

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What's wrong with what he's doing? As far as he can tell, this is a good strategy. He's exceptionally tough, and running through traps has worked for him in the past, so he believes it'll be fine in the future.

If you don't want this strategy to work, you'll need to try a different kind of trap.

A few options come to mind:

  • more damage
  • different damage
  • traps that actually trap you
  • alarms

More Damage

You could always make traps that do more damage, so instead of shooting out arrows, the traps might shoot out massive ballista bolts. But like you said, this would make the traps much more dangerous for the squishier characters.

Different Damage

Instead of dealing out injuries, a trap could harm you in other ways. Maybe that was just a tiny cut, but now you're infected with a horrible disease. Something sprayed your eyes, and now you're blind. That goop you fell into is making all your equipment rust. Whatever got on your skin is attracting insects everywhere you go, and it smells so bad no one will let you into their homes.

Traps that Trap

Imagine a trap that does no damage (or very little), but actually traps anyone who springs it. Think of a pit trap, or a cage with a door that springs shut.

Tripping the trap is worse than disarming it. It leaves you in a position you don't want to be in.

Alarms

Some "traps" might not do any damage or trap anyone, but they might set off an alarm.

Imagine a trap that does nothing but sound a large gong, reverberating through the tunnels. Now the defenders of the fortress know someone's there, which is exactly what you didn't want to happen.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Aug 1 '16 at 19:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ Joe, if there's anything you want to cherry pick from the brainstorming in those comments to incorporate into your post, they're all still there in the new chat room. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Aug 1 '16 at 19:13
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Disclaimer: this post is largely a distillation of the excellent advice found in AngryGM's post on metagaming.* All quotes are from that post. (Meta-disclaimer: Angry's posts feature excellent advice seasoned with rude and vulgar language.)

0. Your question

To answer your question as posed: yes, there are in-game ways to change this behavior, well-covered by other posters. But they're the wrong thing to do. They're just a continuation--an escalation, really--of the problem you're having.

1. Figure out what the problem actually is.

If you start having problems with metagaming, it’s usually the result of some other problem in your game. In fact, most metagaming is actually a result of the players trying to fix a problem in the game.

The problem isn't that your fighter's player is metagaming. In fact, I agree with @Joe when he says the fighter-character's just using a good tactic.

The problem is that the fighter's player is "solving" a problem that you'd intended for other players. And that's a matter of the actual metagame: the social contract at your table.

Implicitly, you believe that each character should have some chances to shine. And you have set up scenarios such that each character has opportunities to shine. But you've seen that this approach actually requires the players' collective buy-in.**

Your problem: your players haven't agreed on how to play this game.

2. Solve your actual problem.

Talk to them about how they want you to build a game for them and how you want them to play the game you build. (See what I did there? It goes both ways....)

You've said you can't talk to the fighter's player privately, but that player isn't the only one who needs to be in this conversation. All of the players at the table--including the GM!--need to get on the same page as regards this game. If you need help figuring out how to talk to them, browse through the hundreds of and (so help me) and questions on this site.

Most metagaming isn’t problematic. It’s only problematic because you have some [...] idea about how the game is supposed to work. (Emphasis mine)

But here's where I disagree strongly with Angry: I don't think this is all on you. That the GM is solely responsible for the social conditions at a TTRPG table is an attitude that seems to pervade the hobby much to its detriment (in my opinion). I'd say every participant bears responsibility for the table's social condition.

But, since you asked, you obviously feel the onus is on you to fix it. So you go ahead and start the meta-conversation.


* - Angry's post is directed solely at GMs, and he argues that all metagaming is the GM's fault. I don't entirely agree, and I certainly think in this case there're problematic indicators coming from multiple parties.

** - Because it's really hard in D&D to design something that actually requires one particular character. Yes, thieves can find and disable traps, and elves notice secret doors without looking. But a fighter lumbering along with healing resources and a character carefully mapping also "solve" those challenges.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Looked at another way, the problem is that what GM and other players want (traps that need to be disabled by a specialist with a small penalty for failing to spot or disarm them) isn't what's being delivered by the system and the GM's trap choices (traps that inflict a penalty that's negligible to this character whether he tries to spot them or not). Sometimes you don't need a social approach to fix system/scenario design problems, just a more suitable system/scenario. Doesn't mean the social environment is the GM's fault, but the adventure usually is. \$\endgroup\$ – Steve Jessop Jul 29 '16 at 11:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Or in short, "you have set up scenarios such that each character has opportunities to shine" -- not if every problem is solved by this one character running through it, you haven't. So it's worth giving that a try before having The Talk about playing nice and sharing spotlight. \$\endgroup\$ – Steve Jessop Jul 29 '16 at 11:38
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As has been said in other posts, traps can do more than just damage. Why are you just running straight damage traps anyways? If he's metagaming, he's gaming you, not the system.

Here's a big list of other things traps can do, so you can set him straight:

  • Inflict a condition, such as poison, unconscious, charmed (very funny!), restrained, paralyzed, blind, deaf, frightened, petrified, prone, or stunned.

  • Inflict ranks of exhaustion.

  • Cause suffocation or drowning rules to come into play.

  • Reset after triggering, so you can't just set it off and be on your way.

  • Cast a spell. (That alone is enough material for thousands of unique traps.)

  • Relocate the character. (Garbage chute trap!)

  • Some traps may be capable of moving or relocating themselves.

  • Rearrange or alter the local environment. (Close the easy path and force you down the hard way.)

  • Be subtle. (They don't need to know they even activated a trap.)

  • Be annoying. (I.e. a loud beeping sound that follows the group everywhere they go. A digital alarm clock can be used to do this.)

  • Be disguised as, included in, or include a puzzle.

  • Be manned. (Ever heard of an ambush?)

  • Close a path. (Like: the way out.)

  • Cause insanity.

  • Curse someone.

  • Be totally obvious but unavoidable.

  • Be alive. (Like the knight statues lining the walls that TOTALLY aren't going to jump you immediately after your back is turned.)

  • Reward players for deactivating them rather than just activating them. (I.e. you disassemble the mechanism and find its bearings are made from precious gemstones!)

  • Drain xp. (If you are truly sadistic)

  • Be a static effect or structure; not something you activate or deactivate. (Every wrong path and dead end in a maze is this type of trap.)

  • Use bait or a lure. (A golden cup on a pedestal? Just like cheese in a mouse trap.)

  • Be useful. (Hey, if we know this thing is here, why don't we lure our enemies back into it?)

  • Look totally mundane. (The door knob falls out in your hand as you pull to open the door.)

  • Spawn monsters.

  • Intentionally mislead, distract, or confuse the target, wasting their time.

  • Take their stuff.

  • Have a way out.

  • Trick them into a false sense if security.

  • Do nothing more insidious than simply watch them constantly.

  • Demoralize them.

  • Trick them into thinking they've already completed the dungeon.

  • Alter encounters and traps elsewhere. (An alarm is a good example. So would taking some bait treasure that awakens all the golem guardians on the way out.)

  • Initiate a new situation, series of events, or action sequence. (Run from that boulder! Get across that bridge as it crumbles behind you! Oh no, the walls/ceiling are closing in on you! The room begins to fill with a mysterious gas! Etc.)

  • Be a distraction for something else entirely.

  • Not actually be a trap, despite looking very much like one.

  • Actually be composed of multiple smaller traps.

  • Have a trapped trigger mechanism to prevent tampering.

  • Look like one type of trap, but actually does something else. (Looks like a pitfall, but is actually a well disguised downward staircase; the surrounding floor tiles trigger poison arrows.)

  • Be disgusting.

  • Outright kill a guy.

  • Malfunction or backfire.

  • Be built by the players.

Some good movies to watch for trap inspiration include all of the SAW films, any Indiana Jones movie, Labyrinth, Home Alone series, and Cube 2 & 3.

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    \$\begingroup\$ By the way, that's an excellent list of trap ideas. And this, coming from an admitted trap-hater.... \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Jul 29 '16 at 17:18
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Spontaneously I see three approaches to this problem, besides talking to him about his character still feeling the pain and that it is not really a good idea to take the damage willingly when there is a way to avoid it.

1. Make the traps hit multiple targets

For example a trap in form of a gas leaking and spreading along the whole corridor and affecting his allies, which hide behind him. Also this gas might stay for a while unless the group figures out a way to get rid of it. (He is split from the rest of the group)

2. Make the traps not about damage but about other side effects

Maybe an early warning system for the Goblins dwelling deeper in the cavern. So it's irrelevant who activates the trap. The side effect would be that the Goblins are prepared, in greater numbers and maybe get into advantageous positions and won't be surprised.

Another idea would be a deep hole which he falls into and the enemies are lurking right around the corner and attack the group with him inside the hole. So he cannot protect his allies until he gets out of the hole (alone or with help).

3. Introduce longer lasting debuffs with the traps

A poisoned dart trap, he gets some damage, but additionally he is dizzy and his attacks are weakened for a while or he is blinded/poisoned etc.

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Option One: This really isn't a problem. The other players aren't complaining, and so we can see that this is not really that big a deal. Relax, go with the flow, and chuckle along with the group when a 60-pound block of stone drops on his head, the player and stone both freeze briefly, and then the stone splits cleanly down the middle and the fighter carries on as if he hasn't even noticed.

(Obviously this option is written in the form of assuming itself to be true. If the assumptions are wrong, then so is the rest of this option.)

Option Two: If he is effectively-immune to the traps, due to the nature of the traps (not dealing significant enough damage, having no lasting effects, etc), then the immediate problem is the nature of the traps.

  • Poison traps (ongoing damage)
  • Crippling traps (reduced speed, reduced ability to fight, etc)
  • Ability-damage traps (especially Con - attack the source of the HP...)
  • Trapping traps (Making him stuck until the trap is disarmed, possibly taking ongoing damage as he struggles.)
  • Movement traps (that send him somewhere else)

If he doesn't get the hint, double them up. Get him stuck in a trap that causes ongoing Con damage after dropping him into a pit. And then suddenly the rat-swarm surges out of the little holes in the walls, and he can't move to defend himself. But that's ok, the lowering ceiling with the poisonous spikes embedded in it will crush all the rats that stick around.

"Ok fine. How much damage?"
"All of it. It kills you."
"Yea but how much--"
"Every single hp. Take all the HP you have left, then add all the possible amount of damage you could resist with your best rolls, then add a hundred for a safety margin, and then double it just because you asked twice. And then the flame-jets start up, to take care of anything left."

"It's too bad, the rogue would have spotted it easily, if you hadn't just gone tramping down the hall like a dire-elephant."

ehem! "Suddenly you jerk to wakefulness, slowly realizing it was a dream. But it lingers in your mind. If -you- could think of such a horrifying trap, what would stop others from doing so?"

A party's resources are finite. The casters only have so many spell slots they can prepare healing spells in. The Wands of Cure Light will run out eventually. The portable hole full of potions still has a certain real number of potions in it. You can only take 1 Long Rest per day. And so on.

If you change the nature of the traps to very-high damage, but low-DC to spot and disable, it clearly becomes a matter of one character disproportionately using up the party's recovery resources at an artificially high rate, when it would require less (or none) if the party didn't simply blunder straight into every trap.

Option Three: Invert the question! (bet you thought it was done after that wall of text!) So we can all see that the player quite happily marches face-first into every trap he can. But why is he doing this?

Is he metagaming? "Based on the math, I'm too strong to fail, and just tripping on the trap gets it out of the way the fastest!"

Is he playing a role? "What, you didn't know I had 6 Wisdom? Yea, he thinks it's a really smart and efficient way to handle it. He just can't process the cause and effect relationships of "always getting hurt" as being caused by "walking into traps face-first."

Is the rest of the party unable to act effectively without him stepping into bulldozer mode? If the rest of the party is just spending vast parts of each session talking about how to deal with a minor problem in front of them ("is this door trapped?" This isn't about major plot points) then they probably need a kick in the butt.

Is he lacking some other more appropriate opportunities to "show off"? Is there a balanced amount of combat in the game, where he can show off what a good fighter he is?

All of these are things you should talk to the player about, if you haven't already.

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I think @nitsua60 has a pretty good point there with the idea that things should be discussed with everyone.

However, I've had groups where we discussed things and decided to say "F* disarming, lets send the tank down the hall and consequences be damned" (or for one party, summoned monkeys. Poor monkeys.)

If you personally dislike that behavior and don't want to reward it, alarming, disabling and imprisoning traps are good options.

A fourth option that isn't used a lot is loot destruction. Your players might not like it a whole lot, but set some traps that result in them directly losing loot and they'll care a lot more. They set off the temple alarm? Okay, the treasury guards just took all the extra magic items and fled. Your party just lost 60% of the best loot they could've gotten. If they miss out on that fact, you can 'accidentally' lament the fact that they missed the coolest stuff when doing a post run recap, or wait until the after session socializing starts to talk about it.

Traps that require the party to use more consumables (in my experience) result in a night of players talking about how to overcome similar things without consumables in the future.

Traps that result in loot lost forever cause weeks of remorse and discussion on how to get all the loot in the future. Even if the items lost are ones you wouldn't ever use in the first place.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm upvoting this for the fourth option of reduced loot. I'm thinking the tank PC finds a clue that the place had held the +2 backscratcher that would make him invincible in battle. \$\endgroup\$ – Codes with Hammer Aug 1 '16 at 14:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ "The tables and weapon stands are covered in dust, but clean spots do tell you that numerous objects have been removed just recently. Equally recent footsteps on the dusty floor suggest it must have been the guards who did it." \$\endgroup\$ – Anonymous Apr 23 '18 at 6:28
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If the traps are destroying something he doesn't care about losing, (ie. his HP,) make traps that destroy things he does care about losing.

If you've ever played roguelike games, you'll know that the arrow/spear traps that just damage your HP are the least annoying of all. There are stuff like acid and fireball traps (which damage or destroy your gear,) pit traps (you end up stuck for several rounds while enemies swarm you,) alarm traps (suddenly everyone in the dungeon knows you're here,) and possibly the worst of all for an adventuring party: teleportation traps. They toss you off into a random part of the dungeon. (This is bad enough in a roguelike, but in a D&D game, it means one member is suddenly separated from the rest of the party. This can potentially be disastrous for everyone!)

Sprinkle in a few traps like that, and Mr. Tank-in-a-china-shop will settle down nice and fast...

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Are the traps interesting?

Obviously they are not to the fighter, who is more than happy to pay the hit-point-tax as long as it means that he doesn't have to waste time with traps, but are the other players actually interested in trap-filled hallways, or are the traps mostly fun for you?

Because if they're mostly fun for you, my solution is:

Take out the traps.

Let him charge down an empty hallway, and everyone will be happier because most traps aren't actually that much fun. I mean, they are when Indiana Jones does it, but when we do it it's just "Roll Dex to not take 5 damage" and that's not particularly interesting.

Alternatively,

Don't hide the traps

He may be more hesitant to walk into a trap when he already knows it's there, and the trap suddenly becomes something to interact with (and figure out how to disarm) rather than damage-for-walking. Throw in something that takes him out of the combat right before an ambush, if he just walks into it (fall in a 30 foot pit, goblins start throwing spears at the party from the other side) and he'll know to avoid just walking into traps he already knows are there. (And hopefully it'll be an interesting encounter, which is the point?)

I would recommend this article: http://arsludi.lamemage.com/index.php/90/bad-trap-syndrome/ on why not to use bad traps, and the follow-up on how to use non-bad traps. I've stolen my ideas liberally from it.

tl;dr: If your players are skipping something, limit its inclusion.

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If he doesn't care about avoiding damage, then find something he does want to avoid, and make some traps do that.

Classic example: say the heroes infiltrated the BBEG's trap-filled residence, but Leeroy the Overenthusiastic Fighter here doesn't care about traps. So he soaks up some damage from the first couple traps... until one of the traps is actually a kind of snare. Suddenly Leeroy isn't hurt (no worse than before triggering that trap anyway), but he's hanging by one foot from the ceiling, and you're hearing the loudest alarm bells you've ever heard in your lives. Seriously; it's like they've got Big Ben in the next room over or something.

So now you've totally ruined whatever element of surprise you might have had, and the party has a choice to make. They can leave him behind to hunt down the BBEG, but this leaves Leeroy at the mercy of the-gods-only-know-what creatures might walk by, and the party is down a man for the big fight coming up. Or they can break pursuit to get our pal Mr. Jenkins out of his predicament, but then the BBEG will either flee the building and get away, or he'll have a nasty surprise set up for when they do reach him.

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Two other options that haven't been mentioned are to have traps where the damage reflects who walks into it. So the damage it does is proportional to the hit points of the person who springs it. That way it will do more damage to the tank but not so much to the weaker characters.

Another option is to have a trap that doesn't get set of by someone running into it. So he runs past too fast to set the trap off and then the other characters set the trap off as they follow at normal pace.

The second option punishes the other players but maybe when done once he’ll think more about running into them.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Aug 1 '16 at 17:14
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Play the game boldly!

Every other answer seems like it's from one DM to another, so here's this from a player's perspective:

Player: I go about five feet down the hall, and I check for traps.

DM: Roll Perception, please.

Player: Is 15 high enough?

DM: That's adding your key stat, training, and a bonus for the circumstance because I know you're moving slowly, right?

Player: [Beat.] Right.

DM: You see nothing, I mean, it appears to be a dusty tiled hall.

Player: Okay, I another five feet forward and check for traps.

Other Players: [In unison.] O, come on!

Yawn.

Another answer suggested not hiding traps, which is one way to do it, I guess, Maybe. But that is still boring and approaches things wrong.

Think about marching order. DMs ask players to have a marching order because DMs like to roll for surprise.

DM: Marching order, please

Players: We'll put the fighter and barbarian in front, the wizard and cleric in the middle, and the rogue out back about twenty feet behind so he can flank. Tell us when the encounter starts, okay?

But even that is boring, right? Handling traps like wilderness encounters would be a start. Just invert the standard marching order. Instead of the DM rolling Perception for the fighter, the DM's rolling it for the rogue.

Here's something even better. Rather than making the traps deadlier, more interesting, or requiring even more talking, try this:

DM: Okay, team, after you crush that bugbear, the darkness yawns in yonder doorway.

Player: I charge through it. I don't even care if anyone follows.

DM: Okay, so you're running fast, and [pauses to roll] it looks like you've tripped a trap. [Rolls again.] Bam! The bear trap closes on your leg. Take 7 damage. How would the rest of you like to proceed?

Other Players: Well, we will quietly walk down the hall, hoping our slow movement allows us to spot traps. Yeah, and if this guy can get himself out of that bear trap, that's swell.

DM: So the rogue is in front? Sorry. Force of habit, guys!

Other Players: Um. Yeah.

DM: Okay. [Rolls dice.] So, just as you move through the torchlight to a corner you spot a small silver knob at shoulder height.

Player: Hey, guys, just pull on it! Okay? Please?

That impetuous player is trying to tell the DM that things are boring! I am telling you that you would never read that book. So don't make four other people live it.

It just comes down to how you play the game. I did a whole 300-page Paizo adventure path in D&D 3.5e with a player who always led, and checked for traps please every five feet. My impetuous character was reduced to cartographer.

Talk through how a situation will be handled. Repeat what the characters decided to do, add a description of the consequences, and move the story forward. Don't get bogged down by traps everywhere.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site. Take the tour. You'll see that I edited your answer for formatting and a little bit of content. (The community has a strong Be Nice! code of conduct.) I hope that I didn't change the sense of your answer because I find it to be a interesting frame challenge. However, be aware that criticism of other folks' playstyles isn't usually well received. Thank you, though, for trying to help strangers, and enjoy your stay. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Mar 4 '17 at 10:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Dude - your formatting is awesome🖖 \$\endgroup\$ – Jon Larsen Mar 4 '17 at 10:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Feel free to edit the answer further so it makes the points you want to make. (My formatting shows up when you click the edit button, so you can do the same.) It's okay to take a firm position, but be careful to be nice about it. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Mar 4 '17 at 11:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just FYI: when HeyICanChan describes your post as a "frame challenge," they've likely got this meta post in the back of their mind. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Mar 4 '17 at 16:52
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In addition to the other really good advices you can find here:

My opinion is that your player does not perceive the dungeon as a dangerous place to be. If you can make this change, all your players will react accordingly.

Examples:

  • let them meet an "adventurer hero superstar" outside the dungeon, which is much more powerful and well known than the characters, just to found his corpse later inside the dungeon with a tiny hole on the neck, inside an empty room.

  • prepare an apparently empty dungeon. For the first part describe accurately the environment, give sinister detail of the rooms, strange sounds, false alarms, horrid books... but no monster at all (for the first part).

  • place the signs of recent passage of a monster notoriously too strong for them (only clues and tracks, they will meet him only if they act really stupid).

  • make a different section of the dungeon look more menacing (darker, unholy runes on a door, spider's silk/blood everywhere, warped walls) if possible with a dark story, just to send a clear message: from now on shit got serious.

  • make a trap spottable without a check at the start of the dungeon (because of a damaged door or something like that) and then put a really nasty effect on it. Only stupid characters will activate it, and your duty as a DM is to make him regret that.

  • make a section of the dungeon where you can enter and cannot escape easily where ALL kind of healing does not work.

These and some more evil DM techniques should make the characters worry and think about their HP as a limited precious resource rather than a big safe number.

Extra:

  • if you fear to hit "good players" place a low DC to spot/disarm the traps
  • explain how the discovered trap works, so the players can pass through without activating it and use it to their advantage luring stupid monsters inside.
  • make some of the traps of the dungeon that deal permanent damage (a damage type you can heal only with some really expensive spells)
  • make a trap that makes a cage fall off the ceiling/make appear a pit, followed by monsters, armed with ranged weapons, giving them a large edge in the fight.
  • talking about pits... why not acid/lava pool traps? you have an armor huh? what about a swim check to avoid drowning, too?
  • many many Health points? hit an ability score that is precious to that particular character, or even all...

I hope this helps :)

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I like most of the other suggestions in this question, but to add a different slant:

Give other advantages to disarming the traps

Most other answers here focus on making the traps more effective in some way as a trap: blinding, disease, more damage etc.

The player seems to be neatly slicing your Gordian Knot, so why not replace it with another?

Make "Setting off the trap" itself the disadvantage? Attach the trap to some useful item: you can either barge past the trap and set off the explosives, or you can disarm it and use the explosives to blast a hole in that pesky puzzle wall ahead

Or just make the trap itself useful or valuable. Golden wire that can be sold, powerful arrows you can re-use if you take them from the trap but which shatter on impact if you just trigger it. Traps that, when disarmed, reveal a hidden passageway etc

Once your juggernaut sees others benefiting from disarming the traps, rather than bulling through them, he may decide it's fun to disarm a few himself.

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It seems like the player's idea of the game is that traps take off a manageable amount of non-essential HP that the character is uniquely equipped to lose, and therefore can be defused with the character's face without anything of value being lost in or out of character. All of that's important, and that opens up a few other options that haven't been covered in addition to the traps that change from targeting HP to something else, and talking about the gameplay that's being lost for the more traditional trap handlers.

There is always going to be a metagame. The problem isn't its existence but that the state of it is minimizing a character's strength and that it's not providing interesting choices (Angry GM, as linked in other answers, has nice posts on both traps and the metagame that are well worth reading).

First: non-essential HP

DnD is in many ways a game about resource management.

  • What are the pressures on HP as a resource?
  • Is that HP needed for an upcoming fight?
  • Are there a lot of traps in the dungeon and some form of time pressure?

Second: the purpose of traps.

One of the truths of war is that an obstacle is irrelevant unless it's watched. The same applies for D&D.

  • If the trap exists in a vacuum where it's a simple matter of make a skill check to not say "eight hours later", it's a choice without consequence, and can be handily outsourced to a coin (This is a perennial problem with traps incidentally, and Angry GM has an article specifically about it). This is incidentally where traps that have longer term effects come in, such as ones that attack gear because those can never be handwaved away by just resting afterwards. That lets them stand on their own.
  • If that trap is part of a complete breakfast, I mean adventuring day, then is that adventuring day challenging the players if the meat slab can just laugh off a fireball to the face because the player knows it won't make the difference between success and something else?

Third: the character is uniquely equipped to lose that HP.

D&D has some useful features that let you make something a bigger threat to one party member than another. I'm going to take a wild guess and say that the person with disarming skills has a better dexterity save than the person with a disarming face. If that's the case, then you can increase the damage on the trap for the person who's trying to handle traps with their face, without making it too big a risk for the traditional trap handler, by using something with a dexterity save for reduced damage.

Fourth: is there nothing of value being lost in or out of character?

That's most likely a place for a talk with the players to evaluate their understanding of the game and what's going on and whether something important is being lost out of character.

The Meta Game, point 1

Do keep in mind that that method of trap handling isn't intrinsically bad (soaking up the damage) it's the monoculture that's a problem. Once you've gotten an idea of what you can do with those different levers, that could let you do some very interesting things with adventure design.

For example you could establish a trap type or two in a dungeon where the party's pressured not to rest until it's over, and it clearly makes sense to have the character who can disarm them deal with it in a vacuum. Then you take that trap and use it to gate terrain or limit the party in some other way during a combat. Is it then worth a turn of a character's attention, should you avoid it or should you take the damage, and who should take that damage? That way you've got your characters making choices in character with ramifications, which is cool and good design.

The Meta Game, point 2

Keep in mind that the player's idea of the game's unwritten rules is that traps are a manageable HP loss and that you're going to be trying to change that concept, so foreshadow those changes heavily.

  • For example, if you're introducing traps that attack gear, an empty trap with a bent, rust-pitted long sword with the fine filigree barely visible would be a good heads up. Don't be subtle there, or there will be recrimination later because you can't just rest back gear, and that has to be an informed choice not a gotcha.
  • You can do this with knowledge as well, for example, if you have a pit trap, a character who wears heavy armor habitually would know what an unholy clatter that armor would make if they fell and had to get back up again, and they'd expect every monster in the area would hear.
  • You can do similar things to foreshadow nastier adventuring days, traps that target different defenses and so on.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ I have edited your answer to organize the thoughts outside of your "wall of text" approach, and changed "reflex save" to "dexterity save" since this is D&D 5e rather than a previous edition. If you like the edit, good. If not, please go in and edit out the parts that you don't like. (Caught a few spelling errors, and added a bit of italics to lay down emphasis where I thought you intended it.) Welcome to RPG.SE, by the way. Please take the tour to get a handle on how the Q&A site works. Thanks for your answer, and happy gaming! \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 1 '16 at 15:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ That works for me, I didn't notice quite how long my answer was getting, and that does seem to work better for organizing my points and emphasis where it belongs. \$\endgroup\$ – xthetenth Aug 1 '16 at 16:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ good, glad to be of help. If, upon review, you wish to edit or improve your answer -- adding links, citations from rules, example from experience -- that is always an option open to you. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 1 '16 at 16:24
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At first, it may seem like the character's behavior is not something a person would actually do, an important thing to consider is the 5e interpretation of HP.

Hit points represent a combination of physical and mental durability, the will to live, and luck. Creatures with more hit points are more difficult to kill. Those with fewer hit points are more fragile.

A creature’s current hit points (usually just called hit points) can be any number from the creature’s hit point maximum down to 0. This number changes frequently as a creature takes damage or receives healing.

Whenever a creature takes damage, that damage is subtracted from its hit points. The loss of hit points has no effect on a creature’s capabilities until the creature drops to 0 hit points.

If the hero gets hit by a spear trap and fails the Dexterity save, that doesn't mean the trap draws blood. He may narrowly dodge it and get more tired, or have it be absorbed by the armor, leaving a bruise. This wouldn't necessarily deter a headstrong hero as much as, say, getting stabbed in the gut, so his behavior is reasonable (for a fantasy hero).

A character won't be visibly wounded until multiple attacks. At my table, I've house-ruled that a character is "bloodied" (ala 4th Edition) at half-health, and I tell my players when an enemy is bleeding.

If this sounds like something you would like, you could add this to your game and also rule that a character bloodied by a trap must succeed on a Charisma save or become too frightened to walk in front anymore.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Telling a player how their character feels/percieves to the extent that it reduces the actions they may take starts to run into agency problems for me.... =( \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Aug 2 '16 at 3:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 I would have that concern as well, but you have to draw the line somewhere. It's nearly impossible for most people to willfully inflict grievous harm on themself. \$\endgroup\$ – acbabis Aug 2 '16 at 5:57
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I think a mix of all the strategies presented here is probably a good idea--including the "no, this is fine" bit. That is, use a mix of traps: ones which trap, or debilitate, or deal massive damage (note: the "lethal to squishy characters" problem can be solved in many ways, eg requiring dex saves, only triggering once, etc), but also ones which the fighter can take a direct hit from and then smash with his face. After all, there are (admittedly rareish) monsters a rogue can slice to bits, but that'll quite literally eat a fighter alive, so why not the other way around for traps?

The "talk to your players" bit is also important. If you try to convince a player that they're playing the game wrong without incentivising other models of play, it might go over well, but if a trap suddenly, with 0 explanation or warning from you, chops off two thirds of the fighter's health, or, worse, punishes the entire party with poison gas or loot denial, the consequences could be a lot worse. If it helps, you could do a trap-that-traps first and then use that as a jumping-off point after game to say that you're going to be trying more diverse traps.

As a side note: it's possible that your fighter will persist in his behavior anyway. Maybe he is really committed to his character, even if he initially designed his characters personality that way for meta game reasons. Maybe the party will think its funny and he enjoys the spotlight. In this case, you may need to be more creative, and not punish him or the party too badly. For example, using Pork's loot loss suggestion, but giving the party the opportunity to chase after the guards to get their loot, with greater effort. Or encouraging the other party members to restrain their tough, but lovable idiot so that he doesn't get them all killed.

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Our DM moved the trap and replaced it with a Glyph of Anit-Metagaming, I mean Warding. The transgressor was quite "shocked" at the switch up.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer has been flagged as "not an answer." I'm not deleting because it seems to me that you are trying to answer the question ("how do I handle" --> "use glyph of warding" or "how do I handle" --> "use the meta-knowledge that he'll charge in" or something?), but it's so cursory that good-faith readers aren't seeing it as such, rather as an add-on comment which we don't do around here. I suggest editing this post to make it clearer exactly what you're suggesting the original querent do based on what you've seen done. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Sep 17 '17 at 12:28

protected by the dark wanderer Sep 17 '17 at 9:21

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