Traps, Locks, and Poisons

One of the things that adventurers seem to constantly run into are locks and traps. The owners of dungeons and other lairs seem to love to lock up their ill-earned gold and then set painful traps for those who don’t respect those locks.  Whether these are mechanical traps, or magical glyphs with far-flung arcane effects, there are a number of different revenges available.  

Mechanical Locks:   Locks in Hollow Dawn are represented by actual locks, which are usually a single pin pin-tumbler lock.  Harder locks (as well as locks that have special or secret methods of opening) are allowable, but in general, locks should not be so difficult that a member of staff can’t pick it within about a minute.   Attempting to open a lock with a key other than the one that goes with that specific IG lock requires the open locks power.

Although a real lock is required, it will not be used to actually keep something closed.  Instead, it must be attached to the thing it is meant to protect and it must be clear what it closing.

Opening a Lock: Other than being picked, or opened with the appropriate key, there are a number of ways to open a mechanical lock.  Locks cannot be broken with normal strength, nor even while strengthened, although some creatures may be deemed strong enough to break a lock with pure physical power.  Locks can be shattered by Powers, but cannot normally be damaged by other means.  If a lock has been hardened it will counter one shatter spell, and will not be vulnerable to Spike damage. Chopping down doors/breaking open boxes/other forms of bypass may be situationally allowed by a Player Guide for story purposes and generally a door can be broken enough to bypass a lock with a slow 300 count of physical damage.  Each shatter effect will reduce that number by 100.  Some doors will be marked as unbreakable or hardened.  

Allowed Locks:  The following locks are generally allowed and do not need specific demonstration to a marshal.

Lockpicks: Any character can bring lockpicks or lockpicking tools, but they are only usable by someone with the Basic Lock Skill.

Shackles: Shackles are a prop that binds the wrists or legs of a character. An in game lock is affixed to each prop to represent the locking mechanism of that prop. The prop must be loose enough to remain comfortable and, for safety, the player must be able to easily remove the prop if an out of game need arises.

Shackles can only be placed on a helpless or willing character if the lock is open. To attach the shackles, the prop is put on the character to be restrained and the lock is closed.  The lock must be materially attached to the shackle prop.  Shackles placed on the arm restrict movement and make it impossible to use any skill or Power that requires that the arms must be free, including using weapons, casting spells, using packet attacks, and using Basic Medicine. You may use a skill that allows you to attempt to open a game lock on your own shackles. Shackles placed on the legs make it impossible to run and restrict movement to the extent of the shackles. A prop placed on the ankles must be constructed to allow the player to stand and walk slowly.

Shackles can be removed by opening the lock or by using an appropriate skill to remove them. Some Powers or skills may allow a character to get out of bonds.

Magical Locks:  Magical locks in Hollow Dawn are those locks that are created by certain Enchanting Formulae, or that are of a purely magical variety.  They are represented by a wire attached to a battery, buzzer and alligator clip.   The stiff wire (which should be 16 gauge copper wire) can be bent into any number of different shapes to make a lock more or less difficult.  The wire should not be longer than 10". The following diagram should help illustrate this more fully.

        To bypass a magical lock, the character must use a lock wand, a special item which is a loop with a stem the player brings with her.  The lock wand is a piece of metal wire, at least 18gauge copper, that is fashioned into a loop with a stem.  The default lock wand will be at least 2 inches from end to end and the loop will be circular and have a diameter no greater than 1/2 of an inch.  Wrapping it around a AAA battery is an easy way to make the loop.  In order to bypass a magical lock, the loop must be passed over the wire all the way to the base of the wire, without once touching the wire itself.  If the loop is successfully passed over the wire without touching it (the buzzer will be set off if it does) then the magical lock is considered to have been opened.

        In order to attempt to bypass a magical lock, the character must either use a spell that allows such a thing, or must have the Magic Lock Skill.  Each character with Magic Lock Skill can attempt to pick any given magical lock once.  If the character attempts a lock and "touches" i.e. sets the buzzer off, then the lock cannot be bypassed by that character without special items or other Powers.  Advanced Magical Lock Skill allows the character to try additional times.


        Not every magical lock has the same difficulty.  Depending on the complexity of the twists and turns in the lock's wire, locks can become extremely tricky.  There are five classes of lock in Hollow Dawn.  These locks range from a very easy Class 0 to the convoluted forms of a Class IV.  

The following chart will help determine what Class a given lock is.

Class        Description                                Example

0        No loops.  Slight bends or curves only.                         

I        Minor twists and turns.  No loops.                

II        One loose loop.  No significant other complications.        

III        One tight loop or multiple loose loops.          

IV        Multiple tight loops or a lock that passes through itself.                

Lock Wands: Lock wands are items that characters can bring into game or get in game. The default lock wand will be at least 2 inches from end to end and the loop will be circular and have a diameter no greater than 1/2 of an inch.  Lock wands may have their "stem" wrapped in grip tape for easier handling, but no tape may be on the loop itself.  Special lock wands may be found or crafter that are larger, smaller, or have oddly shaped loops.  It is up to the character bypassing the lock which one of their wands to use.

Traps: Traps are devices meant to keep an area safe from intruders.  There are a few different kinds, but all of them follow the same procedure.  When the trap goes off, everyone nearby should stop until the card on the trap is read, describing the area and the effect of the trap.  Traps can often be bypassed (by use of certain Thief Powers for example) but the only interaction a character can have with a trap normally, is to set it off.  If a creature does anything with a trap, including moving it, or performing actions that would normally disarm the trap, without the proper skills, the trap goes off.  Once a trap goes off, the Player Guide (if there is one) will read the results from the trap card (which will be with the trap itself).  If there is no Player Guide, the closest character (or creature) should mark his location and go the trap and read the trap card.

Most traps will cause an effect to the person who set them off. If someone manages to trigger a trap with a thrown object, then the object will take the affect instead. If the trap affects the entire room or corridor, then this trick will not provide much help. Some traps will work multiple times, while some will work once. If an item is causing a trap to go off continuously then anyone who touches the item will take the effect.

If a trap is set in a small box, chest, or other enclosed area no larger than 3 feet in any dimension then setting it off will destroy everything inside the area regardless of the effect of the trap. Coins, items, paper, and everything else inside will be destroyed and cannot be removed from the box. If any living creature has somehow crawled into an enclosed area no more than 3 feet in any dimension with a trap and the trap goes off then that fool will be killed instantly.

There are three base types of traps that can be created by players through tinkering and will be commonly found.  The base damage of all traps is 3 damage.


Triggered Trap (Snap/Buzzer)

These traps make a snap sound or a buzzer when they go off. They can be represented by mousetraps, party poppers, and snaps. In addition electronic mechanism such as beepers, buzzers, and electronics sound effects like the moaning of a rigged welcome mat you mat find at Halloween.  These can be setup in hallways, in the woods, or in containers.  Safety should be taken into account when setting up trip line traps.

Kill Zone Trap (Pull Cord)

This trap will have a perimeter rope of no more than 50’ and must glow if it is setup at night.  When a person enters the zone, the trapper may manually set off the trap and call out a Verbal effect to that person based on the poison used in the trap.

Latch Trap

These traps are setup when someone is trying to pick a lock (magical or non-magical) and they fail.  Upon failure of picking the lock, the PC should look at the information card and if there is a latch trap attached the lock, they will read out the effect.

Augmented Traps: Traps can be enhanced, and maybe found with these additions, or can be built this way by Tinkers.  These two standard enhancements are Area Traps and Alchemical Traps.

Area Trap Augment

A trap may be enhanced to affect an area or room.  The delivery will begin with the words "In This Room..." Everybody in the affected area will take the effect.  

Alchemical Trap Augment

This will replace or enhance the effect of the trap.  Base traps always do 3 damage.  If a poison is added to the trap, depending on the type of poison, the effect will change.  See the section on Common Poisons in the Poison section later in this Chapter.


Trap Information Cards: All Trigger traps and any locks (magical or non-magical) need a trap information card to go with them.  It can be of of any size but needs to be able to be viewable from about ten feet.  On the outside it should have the word “Trap” and a description of the kind of thing that sets it off (“opening the door”).  On the inside or back of the information card, should be all the details of the trap (if there is one.  Some cards may say “No Trap”).  These details will include who is affected by the trap, what it does, any Effects, etc.  If a trigger trap is set off, the person setting it off should open the trap card and read the effect while everyone else remains still.  All locks should also have a sealed “Trap”  information card.  When a lock-picking attempt is made, and then failed (i.e. the tools are removed without the lock opening), the person failing it should read the effect of the trap.  Often times there will be locks without traps on them, but a “Trap” card should still be present so that it is not known whether there is a trap or not on the item.  After a trap is set off, the card will have information as to what should be done with the card.  Often, it should be discarded, but other times it will need to be put back in place.  Kill Zone traps never need a “Trap Information Card” as they are self-marshaled.

Disarming Traps: A trap may be disarmed by any means which does not permanently destroy the trap prop.  For example, popping a battery clip off a battery or moving a mouse trap bar slowly so that it does not snap shut represents the disarming of the trap. Permanent damage means treating the trap in such a way that a Player Guide cannot fix the damage within ten minutes or needs a tool. For instance, removing the top of a box by taking the screws out of the hinges is not allowed. It’s a nice lateral way of solving the problem, yes, but it requires the Player Guide to have to use tools to put the box back together and is not what this skill is all about. Conversely, a trap cannot require tool usage (such as requiring a screwdriver to open a box) to disarm. Note that, like weapons used by NPCs, traps found in modules cannot always be “harvested” as treasure. Just because a trap is disarmed doesn’t mean it’s parts can be taken or used.

Glyphs: There are certain symbols that are imbued with magical power.  They will appear as squares with a pattern of designs.  These designs will give a clue as to the effect of the Glyph.  A glyph is a powerful magical trap that may be placed upon a rigid object to protect against theft, opening, or entry.

A glyph must be at least 4 inches square and must be accompanied by a trap card that says “GLYPH” on the front, along with the exact trigger.  On the back of the card will be the effect, reset, and any keywords.  Some Glyph information cards will say “Activation Unknown: Staff Trigger”.  These will be handled by Staff and if there is no Staff to handle it, the Glyph will not trigger.   Because the power of a glyph results from the exact relationship of its shape, they can never be placed on flexible pouches, characters, clothing, or other non-rigid objects.


A glyph that is set to trigger with proximity will be set off by any animate creature that weighs 25 pounds or more; an undead creature or construct will trigger a glyph, but a squirrel, rock, or inanimate dead body will not.  

All glyphs have names, built up from the names of their parts.  There are some Powers that require saying the Glyph’s name.  The order of the name is Top, Left, Right, Bottom.  The knowledge below is all available openly within the world and if PCs wish to bring a copy of it into game, they are encouraged to do so.

Top: Activation

Kor: The Glyph is activated by the opening of the object it is placed on.  Door, lid, etc.

Vos: The activation of this Glyph occurs when a being passes through a threshold, gate, or portal on which the Glyph has been made.  A protected threshold or line must be clearly marked.

Nos: Glyphs made with Nos can be very dangerous.  The are set off by coming within a certain radius of the Glyph.  This can include Touch.  Nos Glyphs will have an attached string that can be extended to determine if targets are within the radius.  If any part of a target would be touched by the end of the string, the target is affected.

Tress: These Glyphs will activate if moved in any way.  They can be placed on objects, doors, or other items and the Glyph will go off if it is moved more than an inch from the place the Glyph was made

Trevos: A mix of Vos and Tress, these Glyphs will activate if the Glyphed item is removed from a specific location by passing through a door, gate, portal, or over a clearly marked threshold.

Bash: Glyphs made with Bash will go off only when the Glyphed item is broken or otherwise made un-whole.

Kos: When a specific Effect or damage is applied to an item or place marked with a Kos-built Glyph, the Glyph will activate.

Vox: These Glyphs will only activate when a certain word or phrase is spoken in it’s presence.  These Glyphs will require a Player Guide.

Tok: The Glyph will activate either at a certain time of day or will activate after a certain period.  Resetting Glyphs can be made to go off every hour, for example.

Left: Target

Do: The Glyphs made with Do affect only the Individual who activated the Glyph.

Ra: These Glyphs will affect only the object they are made on, or, in the case of containers, they will affect themselves and their contents.

At:  These Glyphs only affect Individuals who are touching the Glyph at the time of it’s activation.  It will affect all Individuals touching it.

Vae: When a Glyph built with Vae can only be activated by certain types of Individuals or objects, and Glyphs of this type will affect only the one who activates it.  This may be Elves, people named Karn, or Undead, for example.

Ri: Glyphs of this type will affect all valid targets within a given radius.

Ru: Any Individuals within the same room as the Glyph will feel it’s effects.  If the Glyph is not in a room when it goes off, it will have no effect.

Right: Effect

Din: This minor Glyph will do a small amount of damage.  1-3 points

Bost: The Glyph will do between 4 and 10 points of damage.

Mord: This powerful Glyph will do more than 10 points of damage

Pol: A Glyph of this nature will cause an Effect which is intended to be beneficial in nature.

Hasseth: The opposite of Pol, Hasseth Glyphs cause Effects which are intended to do harm.

Vlar: The Glyph will cause some amount of Piercing damage.

Telos: The Glyphed item, or those affected by its activation, will be caused to move.  This can be being pushed back, teleported, thrown down, etc.

Mekos: The Glyph will cause something mechanical to activate.  This may be a trap, a door, or some other physical device.

Kreos: The Glyph will summon something.  This may be for good or bad and may be something physical, an apparition, or even a mental message.

Deos: Glyphs with Deos can have any effect that is not the purview of another Glyph power.

Bottom: Reset

Nul: One time use.  After it activates, the Glyph is forever inert.

Fesh: The Glyph, once activated, will continue to cause its effect.  All Effects caused by such a Glyph are considered Inherent.  All damage caused by constant activation should be applied once every second.  

Only the destruction or de-activation of the Glyph will stop it as long as the targets are within range and on the same plane.

Lo: The Glyph is timed.  It will reset either at a specific time, or after a certain amount of time once activated.

Zho:  The Glyphs reset is triggered by some action in its presence.  This may be a code-word, an occurrence, or any other contingency.

Kon:  This requires a specific Effect to reset it.  Perhaps it requires a Paralyze Effect, or a Death Effect to be used on the Glyph.

For example, the Glyph Trevos’Go’Din’Fesh might be used to protect an item from being stolen.  It activates on the one Individual who removes the item from its location, causing periodic small damage.

The Glyph Nos’Ru’Telos’Lo could be very useful.  It activates when touched to teleport everyone within the room to the home of Lord Pevensie.  It then resets after 30 minutes.

The Glyph Kor’Vae’Hassdu’Nul is set on a door.  It activates only if the person opening the door is Undead, then doing 10 points of Piercing damage.  It does not reset.

Removing/Disarming Glyphs: There are some Powers that can remove or disarm a Glyph, but other than these, Glyphs cannot be ruined by defacing them or by other forms of manual destruction.

Obtaining Locks/Magical Locks/Traps/Glyphs: Locks, Traps and Class 0 Magical Locks can all be created through the Tinkering skill.  Magical Locks can be improved past Class 0 through enchanting.  The art of creating glyphs is normally done through the Runeforging skill but the First Lich has kept a controlled reign on the Matrices needed to create them.

Poisons: There are few ways to deal with enemies that are worse than poison.  Various toxic substances can be applied to weapons, put in food, or even smeared onto something an enemy is likely to touch.  There are an unlimited number of different kinds, although only a few can be produced by Alchemists (see the Alchemy chapter for Formulae).  Unless the character is using a poison she made herself as a direct attack, poisons must always be accompanied by an information card which gives the name and Effects at the very least.  Note that any character who attempts to apply or use a poison without any Alchemist skill, or the Poisoner skill will take the Effects of the poison when it is applied or used.  There are three different ways to poison a person:

Applied:  These poisons can be introduced through a wound, breathed in through a gas, or injected into a character.  They are by far the most common type, found on locks, dart traps, and weapon coatings.  The information card will be found either with the Trap information card, or with the person using the coating.  

Ingested:  These poisons must be eaten or drunk in order to work.  Many applied poisons also have a (more powerful) ingested effect as well.  To apply an ingested poison to someone’s food or drink, a Poison Token must be used.  The information card will be attached to the food’s container unless the entire Effect is written on the Token itself.  More on Tokens below.

Contact:  These powerful poisons are represented by petroleum jelly.  If a player feels that she has touched such a substance with her bare hands, she should look around for an information card, usually close by, which will detail the Effects of the contact.

Poison Token: A poison token should be a small plastic piece without any sharp edges.  It shouldn’t be larger than 1.54 inches in any direction (poker chip) and may be no less than three-quarters of an inch across (about the size of a small guitar pick).  The token can be of any color, but if it is not noticed, the poisoning does not occur.  Similarly, if the token is found, but none of that food has been ingested (or touched, if it is a contact poison) then there is no effect. When a character notices a poison token, he/she should look on her plate, cup, or other container for the info card which details the effect of the poison/substance.  If no information card can be found, and the Call is not written on the token itself, the poisoning is not successful.  It is highly recommended that players store the Poison Tokens in a zip lock bag, or some other way to keep them clean.  After being used, please make sure to wash the tokens thoroughly.

Common Poisons:  These are the most common poisons, and all ones that can be brewed by characters.