Set Snares (sage ability)

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Gives knowledge regarding the use of snares, trip wires, counterweights and foothold traps, enabling the character to snatch and momentarily detain victims with anchored twine or wire that is kept under tension. Snares are easy to produce and easy to set in large numbers, though if set to protect a settlement from intruders they require maintenance to ensure that animals have not sprung the traps or to ensure the tension on the trap has not waned.

Trap Configuration

It is not supposed that the player character requires a complete understanding of how snares are made or placed. Nor is it feasible to outline every possible manner in which a trap might be employed by the maker. Snare traps could be used to catch a given body part, making the victim vulnerable to combat, backstabbing or assassination. A snare with a sufficient counterweight could be used to catch hold and hoist a victim entirely free of the ground, by one or both legs. A trip wire, similar to a snare, could be used to pull free a lynch-pin, releasing a small avalanche of rocks, a swinging log or similar damage-causing consequence. Necessarily, the precise form of the trap must be left to the character who proposes the trap's intent.

However, the ability does not allow the snare trap to employ any mechanism, such as spring loaded missiles, nor does it presume a second-device that must be likewise kept under tension, such as a swinging arm that turns on an axis and strikes the victim when a trip wire has been sprung. The sage ability as described here is limited not by the player's imagination, but by the amateur level of the character. More elaborate, complicated traps must wait until the character has achieved the level of an authority, whereupon such booby traps are possible. Until that time, assume the character's ability is limited by a single functional device, and not where the first device sets off a second device which then requires further design to work. A pile of rocks, or a hanging log made to swing across when released, does not qualify as a second device and is therefore included within this sage ability.

Time to Set

As an easy rule of thumb, assume any snare that is set requires 1 minute per pound of weight affected to arrange the trap. This would include the weight of all the rocks that would need to be gathered and moved into place, the weight of the swinging log, and the rope upon which it swings, as well as that of any counterweight incorporated into the design. Note that a snare that was designed to catch a victim's wrist and snag it to a doorknob once the knob was touched would probably weigh next to nothing, and therefore could be arranged in a minute (consider five rounds = 1 minute as the minimum amount of time). Such a snare would give the maker time to run or gain initiative if the snare stuns or pins the victim. Using this method, it can be understood that traps which cause a great deal of damage would take considerable time to set up.


The actual damage done is difficult to establish universally. Damage should be measured against the amount of weight involved and relative contact with the environment. Most probably, the damage done will be comparable with the effect of falling, using found objects as weapons or with crashes & collisions. DMs should use these as general measures for the effects of any given snare.


The likelihood of the trap being potentially triggered is 60%, if an individual moves within a 5-foot radius around the snare. This area will have been carefully managed so as to induce persons to step habitually over a small obstacle such as an apparently unimportant branch or root, or to encircle a puddle or other such small feature, leading them directly into the snare. There will be no reason for individuals to search this space specifically for traps, unless a trap has already been encountered; those who do attempt to search will not succeed unless they have setting traps ability or are employing a spell.

If the 60% roll is successful, the potential victim is entitled to a dexterity check, -1 per level of the character setting the snare. A successful check will set off the trap but will not catch the victim; however, if the trap has the potential to cause damage, the victim setting off the trap will yet receive 50% of the damage the trap would have caused had the check failed.

See Also,
Setting Traps
Trip (spell)