Dates with Dungeons – Testament of MaliceFebruary 11, 2019
Welcome back, adventurer! Last week we kicked off Dates with Dungeons with “Children of the Night” by David “Jester” Gibson and explored the renewed and refreshed Ravenloft creatures found within. This week, we’re taking a look at a free supplement called “Testament of Malice” by Sersa Victory, which is an ebook filled with the deadliest traps, puzzles, and hellish devices in the multiverse.
Open the bags of sand and prepare the counterweights. Let’s descend into this Hellish Temple:
Testament of Malice promises one hundred traps to dismember and disintegrate the unobservant adventurer. That table of contents includes ten chapters of ten traps arranged alphabetically and boasting disturbingly colorful names like “Blighted Ovum”, “Tears of the Hate Blossom”, and “Vorpal Limb-Splitter”. Variety is the name of the game in this supplement and the traps contained therein range from immediately lethal to merely inconvenient, either taking center stage on their own or . Although the ebook itself is free, the Author’s Note asks that a donation ($3) be made to their Ko-Fi if the reader finds the information useful or enjoyable.
As mentioned, the ebook is divided into ten chapters with ten traps each. These chapters are: Pit Traps, Boulder Traps, Blaster Traps, Pendulum Traps, Gas Traps, Juggernaut Traps, Summoner Traps, Portal Traps, Gem Traps, and Sphere Traps. Because we don’t have time to review all 100 traps, we’ll just do a brief overview of a couple high points.
The section on Pendulum Traps are a welcome remodel of a gothic horror classic (which I obviously love). Each trap carries a name that evokes divine justice such as “Hammers of Extinction” or “Euryale’s Judgment”. My personal favorite of these is the Tyrant’s Gibbet, which includes cages and chains that animate like serpents and strike out at adventurers. The severity of the wounds taken from this trap is dependent on whether the adventurer Submits of Resists, but at a price of a powerful, limited-use ability chosen at the Game Master’s discretion.
I was delighted to find another gem in Blaster Traps, which feature magical and mechanical turrets. Though I do not prefer traps that are, essentially, giant guns, these translate effortlessly into Lair Actions and can be activated once a round of battle, if decided. My favorite of these was Jailer’s Brand. Once the party activated the trap, red-hot keys shot through arrow slits in the wall, heated high enough to melt armor. These left a brand that would inflict further wounds upon any adventurer they hit if they opened a door or item through any means other than picking locks or breaking in by force. Breaking in, however, heals the trap’s victim.
Summoner Traps were another unexpected delight, since these traps can often become a combat slog as your party tries to battle every single fell creature creeping through a portal. The trap that caught my eye in this chapter was the Pyramid of Silenced Scribes, which are summoned forth whenever the party member with the most occult knowledge triggers it. Characters that are brought down by the mummified scribes are subjected to a curse of mummy rot with symptoms that include skin peeling away into arcane diagrams from a magical tome.
I am a self-professed despiser of traps in tabletop roleplaying games. Typically, they require work that does not balance the payoff, are used to tax players on hit points (thus punishing them for progress), or deliver incredibly brutal, unsatisfying deaths for PCs. So, I was pleasantly surprised to find a book that is filled with thoughtful traps and puzzles that can be set in any dice-rolling system, written by skilled designers and decorated with beautiful, custom art by Felicia Cano and Brandon Reinart. This supplement converted me into a lover of traps, and, if it converted you, please consider donating when you download a copy here.
That’s all for this week, adventurers! Join us next Friday for another Dates with Dungeons, why don’t you?