Character vs. Environment

Trap Encounters involve reacting suddenly to a quickly changing circumstance, dodging and avoiding some awful fate. Trap encounters include typical pitfalls and triggered attacks, but also include natural circumstances such as earthquakes or whirlwinds, burning buildings, sudden falls, and other environmental hazards. They are to Exploration encounters as Combat is to Social encounters: shorter, more deadly, and sudden. While traversing a swamp is an Exploration encounter, leaping away from a bridge as it is crumbles beneath you is a Trap encounter. Trap encounters can spice up exploration or combat encounters, or can be used on their own to threaten death as the environment attacks you, instead of having creatures attack you. Trap encounters use the Logic skill to anticipate and calculate how to survive it (or disarm it), and the Reflexes skill to react quickly to simply avoid it. Trap encounters are also a good place for puzzles and mini-games, challenging players in new ways as the circumstances challenge their characters.

Declaring the Encounter

A Trap encounter is declared when the trap is triggered, forcing the triggering character(s) to react. Victory happens when the trap is no longer dangerous, either because it's been avoided or disarmed. Failure happens if the trap manages to hurt the characters, often resulting in at least one KO. Like any encounter, victory for the PC's will get them closer to their goals, and net them XP, AP, and treasure. Failure for the PC's will get them farther from their goals, and cost them Gil and time.

When the encounter is declared, the character must try to prevent damage with the Reflex skill. If successful, they may get a chance to prevent the trap from making further attacks with the Logic skill.

Wins and Losses

When the trap is triggered, it inflicts a loss on the characters that triggered it unless they make a successful Reflex check opposed by the trap's Difficulty Class. A character trained in Reflex gains a +5 bonus to the roll, and may apply a special effect in exchange for a lower roll, if they choose. If they fail, they take damage, and must roll another Reflex check when their next turn comes up, for as long as the trap's duration (from one round to about 10 rounds). If successful, they can proceed to make a Logic check against that same Difficulty Class in order to achieve a win. A win will subtract one round from the trap's duration. Like with the Reflex check, characters trained in logic gain a +5 bonus to this roll, and can apply a special effect in exchange for a lower roll.

The encounter ends when the trap's duration runs out, either naturally or because of Logic checks disarming it.

Logic Options

Share Your Knowledge (-2)

You shout out instructions to one of your allies. If you win, a chosen ally gains a +2 bonus on their next Reflex check to avoid damage.

Slow It Down (-4)

You hamper the trap, but don't entirely disable it. If you win, the trap's DC lowers by 2 until your next turn.

Weak Point (-6)

You see the mechanism causing this trap, and know a simple method for disabling it. If you win, the trap's duration is reduced by 2 rounds, instead of 1.

Reflex Options

Get In Close (-2)

You approach the heart of the trap, gaining close access to it's functioning mechanism. If you win, you gain a +2 bonus on your next Logic check to disable the trap.

Distract It (-4)

You put yourself in harm's way to help out someone else that is triggerint the trap. If you win, one ally does not have to make a Reflex check on their next turn, but you have to make two.

Temporary Safe Spot (-6)

You find a location where the trap can't instantly follow. If you succeed, you do not have to make Reflex check on your next turn.

GM's Advice: Trap Stats

Trap stats are determined mostly by the trap's level. The DC of an average trap should be approximately equal to 12 + it's level, while it should deal damage equal to 5 + it's level (x2 at level 6, x3 at level 11, and x4 at level 15) each time the player's fail — you may want to replace the flat damage with a dice roll, such as a d8 (on average). A higher damage die might mean a lower trap DC, while a lower damage die might mean a higher trap DC. A trap should have an average duration of 5 rounds, and, likewise, longer-lasting traps might deal less damage per turn, while briefer traps might deal more damage with less rounds. You may also pair status effects with traps by halving their damage, similar to how they are paired with attacks.

A trap, like a combat encounter, should threaten the deaths of the PC's. If it doesn't, it's basically window dressing, since HP heals after each encounter. Though traps are assumed to be short-lived, it's possible to extend a trap out by limiting it's damage: a classic "damaging floor" effect might last the entire duration of the dungeon, with a successful Logic only giving temporary reprieve, and a Reflex check being forced every few intersections (or every few Athletics checks, if it's an Exploration encounter), but each attack doing minor damage. Because the encounter doesn't "end," the PC's are continually drained of HP, perhaps even during combat encounters.

It's also possible to greatly simplify traps, if you're a fan of more limited effects (like poisoned arrows or FFXII's trap design, where each trap causes a minor status effect). In general, you can simply require a Reflex check to avoid it, and allow a Logic check to disable it. The challenge comes in the conesquences of failure: you need to ensure the effect is felt even after an extended rest, because it's a fairly simple matter to take an extended rest after triggering a trap (even returning to a previous Safe Crystal, if necessary). In this case, the status the trap imposes must have a duration measured in encounters, rather than rounds, but also can't be removed early by any form of waiting or using Safe Crystals. This stretches the supended disbelief of a game: essentially, you are sick until you jump through some hoops, but staying home won't cure you, only facing life-threatening challenges will. For this reason, FFZ assumes these long-form, deadly traps rather than simple status-causing ones, but in limited quantity, or in a game that isn't so worried about the tenuous model of reality, you can feel free to use such traps.

GM's Advice: Player-Designed Traps

Trap-making is a fairly strong archetype. Players should be able to make traps like any other crafting ability, from alchemy to magic rituals. The rules for a trap match, essentially, the attack and item design rules, and simply put them in a framework of being "always-on."

Option: Puzzles

Traps are a pretty good model not only of mechanical traps and environmental disasters, but also of puzzles that the players and their characters must solve: as they try to figure out the solution with Logic checks, they must avoid the dangers that the ticking timer has on them in the form of Reflex checks.

It is possible to make these puzzles more of a player challenge than a character challenge. If you have a riddle to solve, or a test to present (such as an IQ test, or a question from a college or graduate school entrance test), you can present it directly to your players.

The down side of this is that it can weaken the illusion that the characters are being presented with a puzzle (not the players), and it runs the risk of being binary: players who know the answer may remove all possible tension by getting it right away, making the encounter little more than a speedbump. Meanwhile, players who aren't particularly adept at logic puzzles or riddles may feel left out of the encounter entirely.

With those caveats fully in mind, it can still be a rewarding variant to present, in moderation. Much like a minigame in any FF game, these will break up the similarity of tone in the game, but that might be a good thing, in moderation.

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