Prestige Class
A Dungeoneer's Best Friend
By Creighton Broadhurst

This column aims to provide players with tips on creating effective and interesting characters of various types. Whether you're a beginning player creating your very first character or an experienced gamer looking to put some punch into an old standby, this column is for you.

Trapsmiths (Dungeonscape 53) have a peerless understanding of traps. They are capable of disarming even the most dangerous snares and rig nasty booby traps to protect their camp or to hinder their foes.


Trapsmiths have many useful abilities. Here are a few things to consider when building a trapsmith:

  • Good Reflex Saves: Trapsmiths have good Reflex saving throws (PHB 22). Generally, individuals that qualify for trapsmith already have a good Reflex saving throw because of their good Dexterity and class mix. Rogues, ninjas, scouts, factotums, and rangers have good Reflex saves. Spellthieves, however, do not.
  • Average Base Attack Bonus: A trapsmith has an average base attack bonus progression.
  • Good Skill Points: Trapsmiths get six (+ Int bonus) skill points with every level, enabling them to develop a wide range of skills useful in detecting and disarming (or avoid the affects of) traps. In particular, Craft (trapmaking), Disable Device, Listen, Search, and Spot are useful to a trapsmith.
  • Spellcasting: Trapsmiths with an Intelligence score of at least 11 can cast arcane spells in the same manner as a bard. They choose their spells from the trapsmith spell list (Dungeonscape 54).
  • Special Abilities: At each new level, a trapsmith gains one or more special abilities that improve his ability to work with traps and booby traps. At lower levels, they gain the ability to construct simple booby traps, become better at finding and removing traps, and develop better defenses against traps they set off accidentally. As they get more advanced, they can build superior booby traps, get better at dispelling magic traps, and develop special defenses against magic traps. At 5th level, they can even negate the effects of a trap as it activates!


The trapsmith's advantages come at a price. Here are a few things to consider when thinking about such a character:

  • Hard Qualification: Prospective trapsmiths must have the trapfinding class feature. Thus, most are rogues, but ninjas, scouts, and spellthieves (all from Complete Adventurer), factotums (Dungeonscape), and rangers with the trap expert alternative class feature (Dungeonscape) can also qualify. Trapsmiths must have 8 ranks in Craft (trapmaking), Disable Device, and Search as well as 5 ranks in Open Lock.
  • Poor Fortitude Saves: Trapsmiths have poor Fortitude saving throws (PHB 22). Unfortunately, rogues, ninjas, scouts, spellthieves, and factotums also have poor Fortitude saves, making this a major weakness of the class. Rangers, however, have good Fortitude saves.
  • Poor Will Saves: Trapsmiths have poor Will saving throws (PHB 22). Unfortunately, rogues, ninjas, scouts, factotums, and rangers also have poor Will saves, making this another major weakness of the class. Spellthieves, however, have good Will saves.
  • Low Hit Points: Trapsmiths use six-sided hit dice, making them weak in combat. Unfortunately, many of the classes that can quality for trapsmith (see Hard Qualification, above) also have poor or average hit dice.

Playing a Trapsmith

Trapsmiths bring a wide range of skills to a group, but it is at combating traps and locks that they truly excel.

Character Build and Development

A trapsmith must have the trapfinding class feature, which means they must have levels in one of the following classes: rogue, ninja, scout, spellthief, factotum, or ranger with the trap expert alternative class feature. Levels of fighter can be useful when dealing with encounter traps (a new, dangerous kind of trap detailed in Dungeonscape). Although members of any race can become a trapsmith, dwarves, gnomes, and halflings are particularly suited to the class.

Levels of dungeon delver (Complete Adventurer 42) stack well with trapsmith.

Skills and Feats

A trapsmith has several key skills. Search and Disable Device enable them to discover and disable traps, while Open Lock lets them retrieve the treasure protected by the traps. Listen and Spot reduce the chance of them getting surprised.

Many feats are useful to a trapsmith. Improved Initiative gives them a better chance of acting before encountering traps, while Lightning Reflexes improves their already impressive chance to avoid the effects of many traps. Great Fortitude and Iron Will augment their poor Fortitude and Will saves, giving them greater protection against magical traps and traps that utilize poison to incapacitate or kill. Weapon Finesse makes them more effective in combat, while Dodge and Mobility make a trapsmith harder to hit. Nimble Fingers improves their Disable Device and Open Locks skills and is perhaps the best feat choice for a trapsmith.

In Battle and Against Traps

Although a trapsmith has many abilities that helps him detect and disarm traps, many magic items give additional advantages. A ring of feather falling, for example, renders them immune to falling damage, while goggles of minute seeing and elixirs of vision help them to detect traps before they activate. A chime of opening is a handy purchase in case the trapsmith encounters a door he cannot open (as is a wand of knock). Scrolls of dispel magic or greater dispel magic are also handy to negate magical traps.

Trapsmiths are not strong in combat (rangers with the trap expert alternative class feature excepted) and should avoid stand-up fights as much as possible. Their decent Dexterity scores, however, make them well suited to ranged combat. Point Blank Shot and Precise Shot coupled with their sneak attack, sudden strike, or skirmish ability enables them to inflict a decent amount of damage. They really excel, though, when they have time to prepare the battlefield. Given this advantage, they can set a number of booby traps to damage or hinder their opponents.

Sample Trapsmith: Ilde Loderr

Broad of shoulder and flat faced, this female dwarf has heavily scarred hands and an acne-ridden face. She wears good quality studded leather armor and carries a light crossbow. Her backpack and many pouches bulge at the seams.

Ilde Loderr, CR 6
Female dwarf rogue 5/trapsmith 1
NG Medium humanoid (dwarf)
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Listen +8, Spot +9
Languages Common, Dwarf, Goblin

AC 20, touch 14, flat-footed 20; +2 against traps, +4 dodge against Giant-type creatures, uncanny dodge (+3 Dex, +4 armor, +2 shield, +1 deflection)
hp 41 (6 HD)
Resist evasion
Fort +5 (+7 against poison), Ref +10 (+12 against traps), Will +2; +2 against spells or spell-like effects

Speed 20 ft. (6 squares)
Melee+1 handaxe +7 (1d6+2/x3)
Ranged mwk light crossbow +7 (1d8/19-20)
Base Atk +3; Grp +4
Atk Options +1 on attack rolls against orcs and goblinoids, sneak attack +3d6
Special Actions booby traps (simple)
Combat Gearpotion of fly, potion of cure serious wounds, ring of feather falling
Trapsmith Spells Known (CL 1st):
1st (2/day) -- gaseous form

Abilities Str 12, Dex 16, Con 16, Int 13, Wis 10, Cha 6
SQ dwarf traits, master disarmer, stonecunning
Feats Improved Initiative, Nimble Fingers, Weapon Finesse
Skills rogue 72, trapsmith 7 Appraise +1 (+3 on stone of metal objects), Craft (trapmaking) +10 (+12 on stone or metal objects), Disable Device +14 (+15 against traps), Escape Artist +5, Hide +11, Knowledge (architecture and engineering) +2, Listen +8, Move Silently +11, Open Lock +15 (+16 against traps), Search +15 (+16 against traps), Spot +9, Tumble +11
Possessions combat gear plus masterwork light crossbow with 10 bolts, +1 studded leather, +1 darkwood buckler, +1 handaxe, goggles of minute seeing, ring of protection +1, cloak of resistance +1, masterwork thieves' tools, 50 gp.

Booby Traps Ilde can set simple booby traps. When setting up a trap, she makes a Craft (trapmaking) check. The check result is the DC of an attempt to find the trap with a Search check. Half the check result is the DC to disarm the trap with a Disable Device check. For details on the traps Ilde can set, refer to Dungeonscape pg. 54.

Ilde had the following ability scores before racial adjustments, Hit Die ability score increases, and stat boosting items: Str 12, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 13, Wis 10, Cha 8.

Had a chance to try out the trapsmith prestige class? Let us know your thoughts on how it played or what changes you would make to it.

Do you love prestige classes? You can read about dozens of others.

About the Author

Creighton Broadhurst is a member of Living Greyhawk's Circle of Six and a mad-keen World of Greyhawk fan. He has two young sons (whom he nicknames "Ghengis" and "Khan"). His house is an oasis of tranquility, tidiness, and order. In his spare time, he tries to survive the Savage Tide.

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