Thursday, July 29, 2010

a trap just for you!

So on Sunday I posted a couple of random screen caps. One of them was Eldrad, the villain from the old Doctor Who episode The Hand of Fear.  Here's another look at her.

Dude looks like a lady.

Gameblog reader Jayson Peters commented that Hand of Fear is the worst Doctor Who episode ever.  I don't really dispute that it's a pretty bad episode.  I don't think I've ever been able to watch it all the way through.  When I first saw it on PBS as a kid I'm pretty sure this is the only episode I ever fell asleep during.  When I borrowed it on DVD from the local library last week I did a lot of skipping around because the set-up to get the villain on the stage seems padded out all to hell.  I grabbed a couple of pics of Eldrad because, hey, space babe.  Personally, it's a bit of a turn-off later in the episode when Eldrad transforms into his true form as a rocky, neckless space dude but I still dig the chick in the skintight rock costume and the weird hathead.

Anyway, there is one useful takeaway from this otherwise ignorable Who outing.  The Doctor and Sarah Jane take Eldrad to her/his/whatever's home planet and journey through the underground ruins of his civilization.  It's a dark, spooky, multi-level maze of corridors and traps, i.e. a standard dungeon set-up minus the goblins.  A plot point comes up in that most of the traps have been designed to affect silicon-based lifeforms, so when Sarah sets off a gout of 'deadly' gas she is immune.

Custom traps for specific kinds of beings are a lot of fun, but not something I recall ever seeing specifically addressed.  I'm pretty sure one of the early 'Pages from the Mages' installment by Ed Greenwood (the first published descriptions of the Forgotten Realms) included a write-up of a poison that worked only on dwarves.  My own personal Killer DM (the dude behind the screen during these two incidents) once hit us with a series of ceiling mounted sledgehammers.  If you were a human you got sledged in the gut.  If you were a dwarf, you took it right in the face.  Halflings could walk right under them.  I've used some evil magical traps that only affect certain alignments or that pimp over paladins only.

Organized, thinking monsters could design traps to target specific real or perceived enemies.  An orcs layer sick of troll raids will probably lean on fire or acid for its traps.  A giant wishing to catch bugbears for dinner might use a cage trap with catnip bait.  Paranoid kobolds might always be setting traps for the 'inevitable' gnome invasion.  Wizards who hate dumb fighters in their stupid platemail might set up more electrical traps.  Living monsters with lairs near undead might trade with PCs for their holy water, so they can arm their anti-undead traps.  Inexplicable death rays might affect only characters possessing or lacking certain completely arbitray characteristics.  "All left-handed characters are immune to the Yellow Ray emitters on level 5" seems like the sort of stupid thing I would put in a dungeon.