The Tower of Tears [5e Complex Trap]

Traps are an important part of any long running D&D campaign. A good trap provides tension, danger, and intrigue, and allows players to shine with their non-combat skills.

Some traps are straightforward and simple i.e. a pit trap, which may require just a Dex Save to avoid, others require a bit more player interaction and planning to solve. The following traps are inspired by the complex traps Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, and strive to provide players with traps that intriguing, interactive, and deadly.

Stairwell of Tears

Complex Trap (level 3-6, dangerous threat)

Background: Hidden within the cursed walls of the Larmes Keep, there is a cold, stone stairwell that winds its way up to a room atop a spire. In days long passed the Lord Larmes had fallen madly in love with the princess of a neighboring country. His status was not enough to secure her hand. When his attempts failed, she was betrothed to a prince and though they met only a few times, they found a rare, true love. The strength of their love inspired a rage in Lord Larmes that was equally strong. 

On the eve of their wedding, the lord of the keep kidnapped the princess, stole her wedding gifts, and locked them away in the tower. The Prince did not hesitate to pursue them, brave the traps of the keep, and to fight off the Lord’s guard, until at last he came to the steps of the tower. As he climbed the stairs and approached the door to room where the princess stayed, the Lord Larmes crept up behind him and slew him at the door. The Princess, cried at the loss of her love and the rage of her broken heart became a curse cast over the tower. Her tears flowed as mighty river and flooded the tower, drowning the Lord Larmes and herself in maelstrom of her sorrow.

Description: The tower is 80 feet tall, with stone steps winding around the walls of the tower. The steps are difficult terrain.  A creature must traverse 160 feet to reach the door at the top.

Trigger: This trap activates as soon as any creatures reach 20 feet up the stairway (about 40 feet of movement). The entrance door of the tower slams shut and locks as if under the effect of an Arcane Lock spell.

Initiative: This trap acts on initiative count 10 (for the first face) 14 (for the second face) and 18 (for the third face)

Active Elements: When the trap is activated, the stone face of the heartbroken princess emerges from the wall. She is distraught and begins asking the PCs (addressing no one in particular) if they have seen her betrothed prince.

Distraught Face 1 (Initiative 10): The PCs have 1d4 rounds to calm the stone face with a DC 15 Charisma (Persuasion) check. On each successful persuasion check, she will continue pressing them for details about the her prince for the next 1d4 rounds, at which point the persuasion check must be repeated.

If 1d4 rounds pass without a successful Persuasion check to calm the stone face, she begins to sob violently. Tears flow from her eyes and other stone faces emerge from the walls to begin crying. The tears flow down the stairs in a torrent and each attempt to move up or stand on the stairs requires a DC 10 Dexterity (Acrobatics) check. If this check is failed, the PC is unable to make progress up the stairs, if it is failed by more than 5, the PC is swept 10 feet down the staircase.

If this stone face is crying at the end of its turn, tears fill the tower, raising the water level by 5 feet.

Distraught Face 2 (Initiative 14): When the PCs reach 40 feet up the stairwell, the stone face of Lord Larmes appears. He cries out in desperation, asking why she does not love him. As with Distraught Face 1, every 1d4 rounds requires a DC 15 Charisma (Persuasion) check. On a success, the stone face is placated for 1d4 rounds. On a failure, it begins to weep. Tears flow from its eyes and they eyes of hundreds of other stone faces that emerge, sweeping down the stairs in a torrent. Each attempt to move up or stand on the stairs requires a DC 10 Dexterity (Acrobatics) check. If this check is failed, the PC is unable to make progress up the stairs, if it is failed by more than 5, the PC is swept 10 feet down the staircase.

If this stone face is crying at the end of its turn, tears fill the tower, raising the water level by 5 feet.

Distraught Face 3 (Initiative 18): When the PCs reach 60 feet up the stairwell, the stone face of the Defeated Prince appears. He cries out in desperation, calling to his love; she is so close, but he cannot reach her. 

As with Distraught Face 1, every 1d4 rounds requires a DC 15 Charisma (Persuasion) check. On a success, the stone face is placated for 1d4 rounds. On a failure, it begins to weep. Tears flow from its eyes and they eyes of hundreds of other stone faces that emerge, sweeping down the stairs in a torrent. Each attempt to move up or stand on the stairs requires a DC 10 Dexterity (Acrobatics) check. If this check is failed, the PC is unable to make progress up the stairs, if it is failed by more than 5, the PC is swept 10 feet down the staircase.

If this stone face is crying at the end of its turn, tears fill the tower, raising the water level by 5 feet.

Drowning: As the tears begin to fill up the tower the PCs may begin to drown. See rules for Suffocating on page 183 of PHB (why are there no rules for drowning?)

Escape (Breaking into the Tower): The door at the top of the stairs is sealed shut and will require a DC 20 Strength check to break it down. Once in the tower room, the PCs may loot it to their hearts content as the water level rises. Eventually, the water will flood the room. 

The PCs can escape through the window up to the roof, with only a DC 15 Athletics or Acrobatics check. In 1d4 hours, the water will subside and the curse of the tower will be inert for the next 24 hours.

Escape (Hidden Passage): A DC 18 Investigate check reveals that behind Distraught Face 2 is a secret passage. Once the passage is found, it can be opened by pushing on a brick in the wall. It leads to a thin stair that winds its way around the outside of the tower. PCs can use their Climb speed to move along the stair, hugging the wall to reach the top of the tower.

Each move along the wall requires a DC 10 Athletics check. One failure means that PC has nearly fallen and is barely clinging to the edge, wasting their move. If they fail a second time, the PC falls from the tower.

After moving 120 feet along the staircase in this way, the PCs will arrive at the window to the tower room where they may climb in. Once in the tower room, the PCs may loot it to their hearts content as the water level rises. Eventually, the water flow under the door and will flood the room. 

The PCs can escape through the window up to the roof, with only a DC 15 Athletics or Acrobatics check. In 1d4 hours, the water will subside and the curse of the tower will be inert for the next 24 hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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