Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/01/19/tabletop-review-grimtooths-traps/
It was back in 1981 when a Flying Buffalo first exposed the diabolic Grimtooth to the world. Since his inception, Grimtooth has given us eight books of fiendish and devilish traps along with devices to maim, dismember, and otherwise cripple an inattentive adventurer. Well actually it’s nine books if you count Grimtooth’s Traps: Tree, a book so vile that according to the Flying Buffalo website, “…an unnamed secret agency bought up all copies, the printing plates, all file copies, & the reprint rights; fire-bombed the printer & forcibly drafted all the authors. [unavailable at any price]” So as you may now guess, Grimtooth’s Traps isn’t your ordinary books of traps.
First off, this book is not written for any specific game. You will not find how much damage is dealt or what saving throw should be used. You are left up to your own to determine the game mechanics of a given trap. This gives you the option to make the traps as lethal or nonlethal as required. But it does require some experience running a given system, so its usefulness to a new game master may be questionable.
The other thing you will notice about Grimtooth’s Traps these are not your standard dungeon traps. You are getting some twisted and creative traps that will keep even the most hardened adventurer on their toes. If you through enough of these at a group, they will be begging to go through the Tomb of Horrors because it would be far less painful.
There are 101 traps in all. You have room traps, corridor traps, door traps as well as items and artifacts. You are given a short description for each and black and white drawings to illustrate the traps. Some of these are quite simple, like the Hop, Skip, and Jump corridor trap. It’s a four foot pit in a corridor filled with say lava or hot tar. A four foot pit is nothing to an adventurer so they go to jump the pit and ended up splatting like Wiley E. Coyote against an invisible wall on the other side of the pit…and then slide down into the pit of lava.
Then you have your complicated traps better suited for a James Bond villain, like the Lobster Trap. This involves hapless adventures being suspended above to hungry giant lobsters in a cage on a track that dead ends into a wall, an invisible force field, a rope ladder, and a lever that if they pull would lead to their doom. Actually, upon second thought, this trap is convoluted enough Jigsaw would use it in one of the Saw movies.
While Grimtooth’s Traps is only 66 pages you are getting a lot of content. When reading this, I kept coming up with ideas on how to use the traps and items in my game. My game group is very much the, “Kick the door & loot the room” type, so using, say, the Nerfarious Nymph Statuette will help break them of that. The statuette is a two foot tall statue of a nymph constructed from some sort of white metal and is obviously of great value. I know my players would take it, since they once stole some chairs from a dungeon room because they were really nice chairs. Little would they know, the statuette is made of pure sodium. In case you didn’t know, pure sodium combusts when in contact with water. So one that big rain storm hits that statuette becomes a giant bomb. This warms my evil GM heart.
The book itself is fun read as well. It realizes it is a book of wacky traps and doesn’t take itself too seriously, even as it describes a multitude of ways to impale adventurers. You find yourself both cringing and laughing. If a more serious or straight tone would have been taken, the book would be very macabre and disturbing. Instead the humorous tone makes it come across more like something Wiley E. Coyote would use to catch the Roadrunner.
Also for the long time gamer that may already have a copy of this book, Grimtooth’s Traps has been digitally remastered for the 30th Anniversary. The trap diagrams have been made cleared, additional illustrations have been added, including one piece of art that was supposed to be in the first printing, but was lost before the book made it to the printers. So this is not just a PDF copy of a book you already own. You are getting additional content not in the original.
For $4.95 it’s hard not to recommend this book. You’re getting 101 traps that will surprise even the most harden gamer. That book itself is enjoyable to read and you’ll find yourself chuckling at the concept of your player’s being on the wrong end of a claw hammer. Now if you’re not the best with game mechanics, you may have some problems integrating the traps into your game. That is my only minor caveat when recommending this book. You’ll have to bring the rules crunch because this book is as fully as they come. Even with that aside, this is book is a must have for any fantasy gamer. Even if you never use it in a game, it’s worth reading. So go out and buy Grimtooth’s Traps and torment your players. Your players will hate you for it and you’ll be glad you did.