With the end of my semester and some free time on my hands for the next few weeks, I'm re-innaugurating my Tuesday Trap series. I don't know how long I'll be able to keep it up, but every post I do get out is a fun post for me to work on and hopefully you'll find it helpful in some way as well.
9: Triggered by Tripwire or Triggerwire
Description: In the middle of a long, very dusty hallway lies a skeleton, face-down; it's bones are picked clean and its only accessories are a rusting, dented helmet and a long, silver-plated dagger, bent and stuck in its ribs. The dagger looks like it could be dislodged from the ribs with perhaps a few minutes of effort and seems easy to repair; in reality, it will take at least a turn of hard effort to get it loose (PC should roll under both Dex and Str at end of turn to be successful - note that trap will have gone off long before the turn is up unless special action is taken by PCs). Attached to the sternum is a thin, very taught triggerwire that goes into the floor; if the skeleton's ribcage is dealt with in any way that disturbs it, the triggerwire will be pulled and the trap will activate.
When activated, most of the hallway – so long that no character could escape by standard means – will tilt, as it pivots on the mechanism below the floor where the skeleton rests. The side of the hallway that slopes down is weighted very heavily, so all but the most resourceful and heroic attempts to counter-weight it on the other side will be in vain. The hallway will slope from between 45 degrees to 60 degrees, at your option. The half of the hallway that ascends merely goes into a recess in the ceiling while the half that descends leads to a lower level.
Referees may decide whether the sloping hallway has been crafted smoothly or roughly. If the hallway is rough, each character will encounter 3d4 outcroppings from the ceiling, walls and floor of the chute on their way down. All characters may attempt to grab handholds or try to avoid them in a rough hallway; roll under Dex to avoid them and roll under Dex or use climbing skills to grab them. If characters fail to either grab or avoid handholds, they hit the handhold and it does 1d4 damage to the character. Only characters skilled in climbing (thieves or high skills in whatever system you use) may attempt to keep from sliding down a smooth sloping hallway. Characters who slide without breaking their fall, either by climbing at least a portion of the way or by hitting handholds, take as many d4s of damage as would usually be appropriate to take d6s of damage for falling the hallway's length. If characters grab onto the skeleton when they begin to slide, it falls apart in their hands.
At the referee's option, there may be a sub-level of some sort that may be reached by climbing to the top of the ascending side of the hallway. It should probably be a relatively safe spot, and possibly a treasure trove. It's up to the ref to decide whether there is more than one way in and out of this sub-level, though, or if anyone in the sub-level when the trap is reset is stuck…
Detection/Disarming: The seams of the sloping hallway have been carefully obscured; the end of the sloping section may be at the doors at the end of the hallway so that no obvious seam exists. Dwarves may notice that the stonework is somehow different if your system calls for that, even if the walls, ceiling and floor are of the same design, but that should not automatically translate into realizing that there is a trap. The walls, ceiling and floor of the hallway can be of any design because they are facades that conceal the humongous hollow rectangular prism that makes up the outside of the sloped hallway.
Careful examination of the skeleton's ribcage will reveal the triggerwire tied around the sternum; it can be cut easily, but whatever character attempts this must roll under their Dex to avoid activating the trap.
One clue the party should find strange is that the passage is extremely dusty; in order to keep the trap from being constantly triggered by vermin, this hallway barred to them in some way; this keeps scavenger monsters from ever cleaning this hallway.
The party may obtain access to the inner workings of the trap in a different part of the dungeon, where destroying this trap will be simple.
Designer: This trap functions as a one-way door to a lower level, employed by someone living in the dungeon who lives on the far end of the hallway on the first level and wishes to be generally left alone; the likeliest candidates for such an individual are Magic-Users. The trap will be well-maintained. It is reset with power from a waterwheel, most likely located in some underground river, and the reset is triggered by a simple pull of a lever in some location easily accessible to whomever maintains the trap. Whenever the trap is triggered a small signal, such as something similar to a mailbox flag, is also triggered in a place convenient for whomever maintains the trap.