Friday, May 28, 2010

The Dwarf of Trap Detection

A post over at Big Lee's Miniatures Adventures reminded me of a rather gruesome bit of dungeoneering adaptation used in one of the D&D groups I knew when I was younger - The Dwarf of Trap Detection.

The DOTD came about when the party's dwarf died deep in the dungeon and the party didn't want to trudge out or leave him behind for monsters to eat. Their sentiment must have wained, however, as the adventure went on because they later began to use him as an item of utility as they continued their dungeon crawl. I cannot recall everything that was done with the poor dead dwarf but here are a couple of examples.

1) Upon encountering and uninhabited, wide open room in the dungeon, the party decided to slide the dwarf across the floor in an attempt trip off any pressure plates or other hidden traps. The dwarf's corpse was riddled with bolts from hidden crossbow traps.

2) While sneaking through the darkness of an obviously inhabited part of the dungeon, the party attached their 10' poles to various parts of the DOTD and moved him ten feet in front of the party when moving around corners and other suspicious parts of the dungeon. Operating the dwarf like a marionette they were able to trick some of the dumber monsters and in some cases even managed get more intelligent monsters to tip their hand as they thought the dwarf to be a live adventurer through the gloom of the dungeon.

3) The DOTD was also used a convenient meat shield in various situations as well. Drawing arrow fire, covering a party member against various dropped or thrown objects.

Needless to say the DOTD was a ragged mess and unusable by the end of the dungeon.




  1. That is freaking hilarious. It is also something I can easily see my players doing.

  2. My kids just did that recently with their beloved goat Bob. He was used to uncover several traps till the corpse was rendered unusable.

  3. they use enemy corpses for this all the time

  4. Both brilliantly resourceful and outright disgusting. Thanks!

    word verification: "Chomphy"

    What *I* would have named the mascot DOTD.
    : )

  5. Paticularly evil/chaotic characters/players would also cast "Light" on part of the poor old corpse, thus creating a crude angle-poise lamp and arrow magnet.

    I really should have had a necromancer animate the corpse and set it on the other players! Revenge! :)

  6. As the spokesman for the Dwarf anti-defamation league I resent that a departed Warrior would be used in such a manner. Were there no elves available? Or Kobolds or Gnomes?

  7. Freaking awesome! We reanimated some dead horses to ride back into town (you wanna talk about some strange looks). I remember it took a long bath before we could return to the local drinking establishment.

  8. Have to admit to using the occasional dead foe for similar purposes. Very funny, especially when outwitting the GM's carefully laid plans.

  9. I find it amusing how often this or a similar tactic seems to have been employed.

    We are all sick and twisted people :)


    P.S. Still only have internet at work.

  10. Ahhh... very similar to our technique of hiring a first level thief to go first.

    Anyone else remember the PMD from Rosenberg's Guardians of the Flame series?

  11. I also resent the use of a dwarf in this fashion. I would support the renaming of DOTD to "Deceased of Trap Detection."

    In our party, that's the job description of the PC playing the elf: he takes point, gets killed, then brings in a new character.

    He's kind-of a munchkin about trying out new characters, so he doesn't mind much. I think he's been killed 4 times over the space of one adventure. (This would be called the PCOTD, I suppose.)

    word verification: "pings"
    The sound crossbow bolts make when penetrating the chain-mail on the DOTD/PCOTD.

  12. I feel the need to respond to the various pro-dwarf comments being made here. I would like to assure everyone that the highest honors were paid to the fallen dwarf as he was allowed to continue in his defense of his fellows even after death.

    On a more practical note, the dwarf does make an ideal trap detection corpse as it is compact but still weighs in at near human weight. Using and elf or halfling would not provide sufficient weight to trigger traps that rely on ground pressure.



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