Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/04/14/tabletop-review-grimtooths-traps-too/
So this is interesting. The Grimtooth’s Traps series has been around since 1981. Each book contains dozens of traps useable for whatever gaming system you prefer. Sure, being a systemless collection means that the DM has a little bit of work to do to make the trap fit the mechanics they are using, but the Grimtooth series is generally as fun (and funny) to read as it is to drop some of its traps into your campaign. Now, back in 2011, Flying Buffalo released PDF versions of Grimtooth’s Traps 1 and Grimtooth’s Traps Fore, each of which we have covered here at Diehard GameFAN. I’m not sure why they are being released out of order, or why it’s been three years since the last release (I’m assuming Flying Buffalo is simply hard at work with Tunnels & Trolls Deluxe), but I’m just happy to have them back where all gamers can get these classic books, as they definitely withstand the test of time. The fact you can get this book for only $4.95 should have long time old school gamers squealing in glee… or begging for mercy. I guess it all depends.
Grimtooth Trap’s Too contains 101 traps for DM’s to unleash upon their unsuspecting players – all of which are sure to hurt, maim or murder all but the most paranoid of characters. Every page is tinged with dark humor though, so don’t be looking for a book that takes its macabre mayhem too seriously. Grimtooth the Troll is a wonderful narrator, in the style of EC Comics’ Cryptkeeper and other comically evil characters. The introduction by Grimtooth himself sets the tone of the tome perfectly, and the artwork is pretty fun too.
The book is divided into five sections, each of which is dedicated to a different type of trap set. As well, each individual trap is given a skull rating. The more skulls on the page, the more lethal the trap is to explorers and adventurers. First up are Room Traps, which tend to be over the top and anything but subtle. These traps are designed to turn an entire room into a deathtrap. Sometimes they are the simple, tried and true teeter-totter floor that sends characters into a pit. Others are far more complicated and might even have decoy traps to distract players from the real deathdealer in the room. There are fun traps, like a safe where each wrong turn of the dial causes a foot of floor to fall away, or a metal bridge that transforms into a cage. Each room trap is fiendishly fun, and it is this section you’ll probably use the most.
Corridor Traps are for use in hallways, and help to add a little flavor to the dull drudgery of walking down a dungeon or underground caverns. These traps change hallways from places to rest or to encounter wandering monsters, into a fresh new hell to keep PCs on their toes. These traps range from the non-lethal, humorous variety, designed to warn characters that worse awaits them if they continue on, to fun takes on pressure plates or spring loaded pieces of floor. I also like the bee-hive trap, which actually shoots out metal darts instead of bees. There are a ton of great ideas to be had here.
Next up are Door Traps, which are obviously twists on the old trap door motif. The first one, aka “Double Trap,” is a classic. The door is actually a false one, and trying to unlock it causes the door to reveal itself as a giant spring loaded plate, which sends the PC (most likely a rogue) toward the opposite wall, which now happens to be littered with spikes. Another great one is where the keyhole to a door actually sets off a bomb. There are even gruesome takes on classic practical jokes. You know the one where you stick a bucket of water above a door and when it’s fully open a person gets wet? Well, replace the bucket of water with a five hundred pound granite block or swinging set of spikes!
The fourth set of traps in Grimtooth’s Traps Too are Item Traps. These are booby-trapped pieces of loot. The book cautions you to use these sparingly, as not every item a player touches should burst into flames, and having too many item traps can suck the fun out of a game. I agree wholeheartedly with these statements, but the occasional item trap can be a lot of fun. Magnetic gauntlets or armbands for example. A lot of the traps under item traps are non-lethal, like gems that are actually glue or extremely smoky torches, but there are definitely some literal killers amongst this collection. A bird cage with a blanket over it turns out not to be a parrot, but a basilisk! That’s a good, but obvious, one. So is the shield covered with a scentless flammable liquid or oil.
Section five is simply titled Items. This is a catch-all section for potential traps that don’t fit anywhere else. These include things like rocks that are actually napalm, coins that are actually a living hive mind that control their possessor, or a webbed doorway where the web is actually a fuse or trigger for a bomb. Another great one is the two swords mounted above a fireplace. If either is touched, a sack of gunpowder falls into the fireplace. BOOM! These traps tend to be the most bizzare and amusing in the book.
After these five sections of traps, you’ll notice you are only sixty-seven pages into this ninety-eight page book. What could possibly be left, right? Well, you have a two page commentary by Grimtooth, followed by a fun seven page comic strip about the character. After that, you get five pages of puzzles, like a maze, word search and rebus. It’s kind of bizarre to see those in a gaming book, but they’re entertaining at least. After that, the book closes out with what it calls the “Fudge” system. This is basically a way to help gamers convert these traps from the systemless designs they have to the mechanics of their choice. It’s quite interesting, and younger or less experienced gamers will find it a real blessing. Older or more experienced gamers won’t need this, though, as they’ll most likely be quite adept at converting things to their game of choice.
All in all, Grimtooth’s Traps Too still holds up thirty-two years later, which is pretty impressive for a systemless piece. Even gamers who feel they have seen it all, trap-wise, will be surprised or foiled by some of the traps in this book. Best of all, there are several other books out there along the same line bearing the Grimtooth name, so if you love this one, you’ll want to start picking up the others as well. Again, with a five dollar price tag for the PDF, this is an absolute steal and well worth downloading. Whether you play D&D, T&T or even a modern era RPG, you’ll find something to use in Grimtooth’s Traps Too.