Thursday, January 22, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Grimtooth’s Traps

Traps have been an integral aspect of the dungeon crawl since the launch of the Dungeons & Dragons game. As a young dungeon master I recall always trying to create traps which would foil even the most stalwart adventurer from looting an ancient tomb. What early tabletop gamer was not inspired by the traps Indiana Jones encountered in Raiders of the Lost Ark

Traps were such a mainstay that the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons thief class was given the ability to locate them. That being said, trapped dungeon environments like Gary Gygax’s Tomb of Horrors would show just how futile that ability really was.

In the summer of 1984 I stayed at my grandmother’s home in Philadelphia for a few weeks. I was terribly upset by this since all my D&D buddies were several counties away. Armed with my DM’s Guide I spent a few days working on a dungeon crawl inspired by Ian Livingston’s Deathtrap Dungeon. It was soon thereafter that I met a few of the neighborhood kids and quickly learned they were also gamers. My grandmother, thrilled I met some other kids let me invite them over for a game session. I planned to use my “trap dungeon” to test the ingenuity of these city kids. This ended up being a really fun experience and I made some new friends to game with for the summer.  

At the end of the session one of the players suggested I check out something called Grimtooth’s Traps. The description he provided was akin to sitting around the fire learning of some ancient tome of power. My birthday was right around the corner and there was a hobby shop only a few blocks away. My grandmother answered the call and I received my copy just in time to add more mechanisms of player character mutilation to my games that summer. 

Grimtooth’s Traps by Flying Buffalo Games was originally released in 1981. It contained system agnostic dungeon traps with great diagrams. What followed were various additional trap collections as part of an ongoing series. For me it remains an inspirational yet nostalgic boogeyman of early tabletop gaming. Traps are a curious part of even modern RPGs and I still enjoy using them but in moderation.

Some of you may be unaware that currently there is a Kickstarter by Goodman Games called Grimtooth’s Ultimate Trap Collection. With only 5 days to go it hit $100,000 this morning and is still steaming ahead. Hardcover backers will receive a 460-page compilation of all five Grimtooth’s volumes. That is over 500 system neutral traps to mull over for use in any tabletop RPG you may play. So if you want to add some catastrophic traps, sinister snares, engines of evil, and deadly devices to your next dungeon crawl check it out!