Trap ideas for Athas

Given that Athasian technology is a bit different than most other RPG worlds, it’s logical they would handle the construction of traps a bit differently. That is: low-metal, low magic, high psionics, mostly ancient world tech.

Can anyone think of clever ways they’ve seen traps from other settings adapted for Athas? Or have you seen traps which could only be made on Athas?

(If it helps, we can sort the traps we’re discussing into the most common purposes: keeping people out/in, dissuading people from entering, or testing people.)


Alright, pet-peeve: they’d be low on Arcane magic.

Divine casters are still MORE than capable of making traps - Fire Trap at least is a thing for Fire (Sun, Magma) clerics, Templars, and maybe druids.

End rant, carry on.


[Bonus rant]: all magic traps (and options) would be less common than psionic ones. [/rant]

Myself, I just use the psionic tattoo rules, and allow for non-creature tattoos be created with crystalline psychoactive sand instead of psychoactive ink. The two types are not interchangeable, ie: ink tattoos cannot be placed on inanimate (except for the tattoo stand item), nor the opposite.

I imagine psionic traps, especially psionic glyphs, created via sand painting or impressed onto the walls with special glue, would be common.

Also crystal rock gardens with the crystals or glass being carved with psionic circuitry holding the trap effects.

Another thing that should exist in Athas is artificially grown psychoactive crystals which can be used in crafting, again probably from sand.

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[joking] The Crystalline Empire on Athas!

Now you know what is in the unmapped portions of Athas!

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Well, that’s a start. I like the idea of artificially growing crystals.

What about mechanical solutions where psionics (or clerical magic) greases the proverbial wheels?

  • Psychoportive chutes
  • Psionic illusion disguised openings, or even better an opening which has been psionically trapped so that people are mentally compelled to “ignore it”.
  • Ectoplasmic bridges that open and close with a lever.
  • Lifeshaped mechanisms that grow if you “tickle” a button (a la David Cronenburg)…
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And yes, I’ve seen that episode of “My Little Pony”. I’ve actually considered using the concept of “restoring colour to the kingdom” as an adventure hook before, albeit not necessarily for Dark Sun.

After all, if we made the world less beige, then that would involve eliminating the Gap and Banana Republic, and possibly Phoenix Arizona… :wink:

That reminds me… psionics in D&D seem to seriously lack any sort of illusory effects other than the classic “you don’t see me” effect.

Which always struck me as very odd… one would think projecting illusions into the heads of others would BE a very psionic thing.

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I’d have to check the rulebooks, but I do think there are things like “False Sensory Input” in 3.5e as well.

There is, but rather limited compared to illusions.

Because Illusions aren’t the psion’s wheelhouse, just like necromancy. Similar to how Wizards are bad at healing.

Gold (yes gold, not ceramic) Standard: the psychokinetic doorknob that zaps you.

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Makes no sense that illusions are not within the realm of psionics.

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Someone could make a Guide to Athasian Traps that’s like no more than 20 pages long, tons of fun, full of wild ideas, and incredibly useful (every DM needs traps). I’m thinking about Psionic Empowerment-based traps you could do: telekinesis triggers, phase object triggers, detonation traps, phobia amplification, molecular bonding, dimensional blade traps, pocket dimension traps.

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Sounds awesome, until you remember that traps are edition based, and then it sounds like a giant pain in the arse to do, IMO.

But if someone wrote that up, I’d use it.

That would also be up my alley, actually. After psionics, probably my next favorite rpg thing would be traps

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It would seem you can write about it edition-neutral / mechanics-lite though.

I recently ran into this book, have only checked out the preview so far but it looks promising.
I was really inspired by it and together with the posts in this topic I think we could definitely have a winner for Athasian Trappers & Trappings.

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Have you ever heard of Grimtooth?

Pretty much the industry standard in system neutral rpg traps.

Most traps aren’t super stat-heavy, are they? The description of how/why it works and when/where to use it is the main part. And giving it that Athasian flavor. Maybe I’m missing something, but I think you could almost just have a couple lines at the end of each entry that just says:
Suggested mechanics for exploding-beetle-abdomen traps:
In 2E, the player should roll a saving throw vs poison or suffer 2d6 acid damage.
In 5E, roll a Dexterity DC13 check or suffer 2d4 etc.

Would many traps need significantly more elaborate edition-specific rules than that? Most DMs make this sort of stuff up on the fly anyway.


Legends & Lairs Traps and Treachery 1 and 2. 3E and 3.5E. The Wurst of Grimtooth’s Traps (3.5E) is another. Just look them up online and you’ll find them.

In terms of traps on Athas, for obvious reasons the mechanical kind are going to be rarer than in other settings. That said, mechanical traps are also pretty rare on our planet too. There are plenty of non mechanical traps that impose a high casualty rate. Just ask the US soldiers that fought in Vietnam.


Nope but have now. Thanks for that link.