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5E Traps Guide [How To Design & Avoid Dangerous DnD Pitfalls]

5E Traps Explained
  Written By: Ashish Arya
Updated On: 12/15/2023
Est. Reading: 9 minutes

Navigating the world of Dungeons & Dragons can be a thrilling roller-coaster ride with its fair share of dangerous twists and turns.

An integral part, adding to the spice and dynamic unpredictability of this game, is 5E traps. These ingenious snares are designed to challenge your tenacity, skill, and wits as you journey through enchanted lands and desolate dungeons.

5E traps are not merely concealed pitfalls or hidden snares. Rather, they are intricately woven elements in your story’s tapestry composed of chills, thrills, and moments that test the mettle of your skills.

These traps force you out of your comfort zone, making you reconsider your strategies and prioritize your actions differently. Buckle up as we delve deeper into the dynamic world of 5E traps.

What is a 5E Trap?

When you dare to venture into the unknown realms of Dungeons & Dragons, one integral aspect you should know about is the 5E Trap.

What is a 5E Trap

This term refers to clever machinations designed to catch players off guard, adding an edge-of-the-seat thrill to your exploits.

These traps can be mechanical, like a rigged chest with a hidden crossbow, or magical in nature, such as runes glowing with fiery energy set to explode.

In both scenarios, the aim is the same: to check your team’s resourcefulness and survival instincts while enhancing the overall gaming experience with unpredictable challenges.

How Do Traps Work in DnD 5E?

In Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, traps add an element of danger and unpredictability to adventures. These hidden hazards range from simple pit traps to complex magical contraptions.

How Do Traps Work in DnD 5E

Understanding how traps function is essential for both players and Dungeon Masters. The mechanics of detecting, disarming, and triggering traps create thrilling challenges.

Successfully navigating these perils often requires a blend of skill, caution, and a bit of luck.

Detect traps with Perception or Investigation checks

Detecting traps in D&D 5e typically involves using Perception or Investigation checks. Perception checks rely on a character’s senses to notice hidden dangers, like a tripwire or a slightly ajar ceiling panel.

Investigation checks, on the other hand, involve a more thorough examination of the environment, deducing potential hazards from clues.

The Dungeon Master sets the Difficulty Class (DC) for these checks based on the complexity and concealment of the trap.

Successful detection allows players to be aware of the trap’s presence and potentially its nature, giving them an opportunity to avoid or disarm it.

Also Read: Dodge Action 5E [Avoid Attacks And Enhance Defense In DnD]

Disarm traps with Sleight of Hand or tools

Disarming traps in D&D 5e usually require a Sleight of Hand check, the use of thieves’ tools, or other relevant abilities. The complexity of the trap determines the Difficulty Class for these checks.

Characters proficient with thieves’ tools or with a high dexterity score are typically more successful at this task. Disarming a trap might involve delicate maneuvers to deactivate mechanisms or careful handling of components to prevent triggering.

Failure can result in accidentally setting off the trap or even damaging it in a way that makes it more dangerous.

Failing detection leads to saving throws or attacks

When characters fail to detect a trap and trigger it, they often face-saving throws or suffer attacks from the trap mechanism.

Saving throws such as Dexterity to dodge a sprung trap or Constitution to withstand poison determine if a character can avoid or reduce the trap’s effects.

Some traps might make attack rolls against the characters, using preset attack bonuses. The outcome of these rolls decides whether the trap inflicts its full effect, partial harm, or misses entirely.

Damage occurs if save or attack fails

If characters fail their saving throws or if the trap’s attack hits, they suffer the consequences, which usually involve damage.

The type and amount of damage depend on the trap’s nature. Physical traps might deal piercing or bludgeoning damage, while magical traps could inflict elemental or psychic damage.

Some traps may also impose conditions like poisoning or restraint. The severity of the damage and effects reflects the trap’s lethality and design, ranging from minor inconveniences to life-threatening dangers.

Trap details vary

The details of traps in D&D 5e vary greatly, offering a wide range of challenges. Traps can be mechanical, magical, or a combination of both.

Their triggers can be as simple as a pressure plate or as complex as a magical sensor detecting specific conditions. The effects can be immediate, like a sprung blade, or delayed, like a slowly filling room with water.

The Dungeon Master’s creativity and the context of the adventure heavily influence trap design, with detection and disarming being crucial aspects of interaction.

Lack of detailed trap mechanics in D&D

D&D 5e offers a basic framework for traps but lacks detailed mechanics. This means that Dungeon Masters often need to improvise or develop their own systems for more complex traps.

The core rules provide guidelines for detection, triggering, and disarming, but the specifics are left to the Dungeon Master’s discretion.

This approach allows for flexibility and creativity but can also lead to inconsistencies and challenges in balancing trap difficulty and fairness.

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Suggested trap design principles

When designing traps for D&D 5e, it’s advisable to follow certain principles for a balanced and engaging experience. Traps should have some degree of obviousness, allowing perceptive players to detect them with careful observation.

Offering choices, such as multiple paths or methods to disarm the trap, adds strategic depth. Traps should follow a logical design, fitting the environment and the creator’s capabilities.

These principles help ensure that traps contribute to the adventure’s fun and challenge rather than becoming frustrating or overly punitive obstacles.

20 Traps In Dungeons & Dragons

In the intricate and fantastical world of Dungeons & Dragons, traps play a crucial role in adding suspense, danger, and unpredictability to dungeon explorations.

20 Traps In Dungeons & Dragons

Masterfully crafted by dungeon masters, these traps range from cunning magical snares to brutal mechanical contraptions, each designed to challenge, confound, and sometimes amuse players.

Here, we delve into 20 iconic traps that have become staples in D&D campaigns, offering a mix of creative, treacherous, and whimsical obstacles that test the wit, perception, and resilience of adventurers.

From the classic pit trap to the devious mimic, these traps turn ordinary dungeon delving into a memorable and often dangerous adventure.

Portable Hole into the Bag of Holding

Combining a portable hole with a bag of holding creates a catastrophic trap in D&D. When these two items interact, they rupture the fabric of reality, potentially sucking objects, creatures, or even entire parties into a void or other dimension.

This trap, often unsuspected by players, can lead to unexpected plot twists, forcing adventurers to navigate extraplanar realms or face the dire consequences of their actions.

The Magic Mouth

The Magic Mouth trap in D&D is a clever enchantment that triggers a pre-recorded message or illusion when specific conditions are met. This magical trap can serve various purposes, from warning intruders to revealing hidden clues to activating other traps.

Its versatility makes it a favorite among dungeon masters for adding layers of intrigue and misdirection to their dungeons.

The Furnace

The Furnace trap turns up the heat in D&D adventures. Hidden within seemingly innocuous rooms or corridors, these traps unleash bursts of intense flame or searing heat when triggered.

They test players’ quick thinking and resourcefulness to avoid or survive the scorching hazard, often leaving lasting impressions (and burns) on the unwary.

Umber Hulk Ambush

The Umber Hulk Ambush is a terrifying trap where this fearsome creature, known for its strength and confusing gaze, suddenly attacks adventurers.

Usually hidden underground or in dark corridors, the Umber Hulk capitalizes on surprise, challenging players to combat not only its brute force but also its mind-bending abilities.

Let’s Go Fishing

‘Let’s Go Fishing’ is a whimsical trap involving hidden mechanisms that ensnare players with hook-like contraptions. These traps can physically pull characters into danger or set off other traps, adding a humorous yet dangerous twist to the dungeon exploration.

Fun With Magnets

This trap uses powerful magnets to disrupt adventurers clad in metal armor or carrying metallic items.

It can forcibly attract players to certain areas, pin them against metal surfaces, or even activate other traps, adding a unique physical challenge to the dungeon environment.

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Poison Needles

Poison Needles are a classic D&D trap, often hidden in locks or objects. When triggered, these needles inject a toxin that can paralyze, weaken, or even kill an unwary adventurer.

This trap emphasizes the importance of caution and the potential dangers of greed.

Greased Slide

The Greased Slide trap turns floors or passages into slippery slopes, leading to dangerous situations. Players might slide into pits, enemy ambushes, or other hazards, combining physical comedy with a real sense of danger.

The Compactor

Inspired by classic horror scenarios, The Compactor trap slowly closes walls or ceilings upon the players. This trap instills panic and urgency, forcing the party to find a quick escape or solution to avoid being crushed.

The Statues Are Alive

In this trap, statues within the dungeon come to life, either to attack the adventurers or to create diversions. It plays on the common expectation that statues are mere décor, turning them into unexpected adversaries.

Web of Flames

Web of Flames combines the restrictive nature of a spider’s web with the deadly aspect of fire. When triggered, it traps and burns players, posing both a physical and environmental challenge to escape.

Glyph of Warding and Fire Trap Spells

These magical traps involve runes or symbols that, when disturbed, unleash spells like fireballs or explosions. They require careful observation and magical knowledge to be disarmed or avoided, adding a layer of arcane danger to the exploration.

Teleport Doorway

The Teleport Doorway trap transports players to unexpected locations when they pass through a doorway or portal. This disorienting trap can separate parties or lead them into more dangerous areas of the dungeon.

The Duplicate Mirror

This trap features a mirror that creates hostile duplicates of the characters who look into it. These duplicates mimic the players’ abilities and knowledge, presenting a unique and personal challenge.

The Trusty Pit Trap

A staple in D&D, the Trusty Pit Trap is a hidden hole in the ground, often camouflaged or magically concealed. Falling into one can lead to injury, capture, or encountering creatures lurking within.

The False Adventure

The False Adventure trap lures players with the promise of treasure or important objectives, only to lead them into danger or dead ends. It plays on the adventurers’ curiosity and greed, often resulting in humorous or frustrating situations.

Gelatinous Cube

A Gelatinous Cube trap consists of a nearly invisible, large, cube-shaped creature that engulfs and digests anything in its path. Encountering one in narrow dungeon corridors can be a sticky and deadly surprise.

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The Mimic is a classic D&D trap creature that disguises itself as an ordinary object, often a chest, waiting to surprise and attack unwary adventurers. It adds an element of paranoia, making players second-guess their interactions with seemingly harmless objects.


Snares are hidden ropes or nets that trap and immobilize characters. These simple yet effective traps can capture players, leaving them vulnerable to other dangers or forcing their companions to rescue them.

Call of Distress

This trap uses sounds or illusions of someone in distress to lure adventurers into danger. Playing on the heroes’ empathy it can lead them into ambushes, traps, or away from their intended path, adding a psychological twist to their journey.

FAQs About 5E Traps

What exactly are 5E Traps in Dungeons & Dragons?

5E Traps, in Dungeons & Dragons, are hazards placed in a location to prevent or hinder progress by players. They can be mechanical, like a pitfall or a snare, or magical, like an enchantment that paralyzes whoever touches it.

How do I detect and disarm a 5E trap?

Characters can potentially detect traps through Perception or Investigation checks, depending on the Dungeon Master’s rules. Once detected, disarming the trap is usually done via Sleight of Hand checks or using thieves’ tools.

What happens when I fail to detect and disarm a trap?

Failure to detect or disarm traps typically results in triggering the trap itself. It might lead to attacks or saving throws — if these fail, the character could take damage depending on the specifics of the trap.

Are there guidelines for designing my own 5E Trap?

Yes! Many Dungeon Masters enjoy crafting their own unique traps. Consider factors like obviousness (should it be easy to spot?), related choices (does it simply go off, or does triggering cause another event?), and logic (does the placement make sense?)

How deadly can 5E Traps be?

Depending on the design, some traps can be fatally dangerous, leading to the death of a character. From poison needles to fire-breathing statues – they’re designed to challenge players and add an exciting element of unpredictability.


  • Ashish Arya

    I'm a tech enthusiast and lifelong gamer, hailing from the beautiful city of Chandigarh. My passions range from immersing myself in worlds like GTA V, COD, SIMS, Roblox and Minecraft to exploring the latest innovations in laptops and technology. Armed with a Bachelors Degree in Computer Application, I love sharing my insights through writing and engaging with fellow enthusiasts. Join me on my journey through the ever-evolving realms of gaming and tech!