Full of Sound and Fury…

This begins a new series at Many-Sided Dice about traps and making interesting ones. We’ll dial in on a running format in the coming weeks.


“Everyone be very, very quiet”, Kallie tossed a whispery warning over her shoulder while the others glanced around the empty chamber. What they expected to find, she couldn’t say. But, she learned long ago that it only worried them more telling them to stop trying to find these things. People panic when they’re told the impossible is impossible. But, despite her own hushed tones, a light chirping echo could be heard emanating from the chest. It made her wince, and she hoped they would keep their mouths shut behind her.

Carefully, she knelt down low, examining the dozens of metal wires tied, welded, and seemingly naturally “grown” from the chest into the stone floor–deep behind those a shiny brass box.  Way too many wires, though. Too many. Far too many. It would take her a while to cut them all loose and she couldn’t start on that box until she cut through them. She set herself to it, patient and silent.

“K-Kallie?” Torrence called over to her while she filed away her fourth wire. Before she could finish the stream of truly shocking cursewords she let run through her head, the room exploded into pain and howls.

System: The gnomes of Dowerhaus line specialized in arcane technology for performance arts and their ampliflyers and soundbales are a staple of travelling theater and music troupes in the more high-born and better monied areas of the world. Very few know about their quiet dealings, however, in security works for those possessed of large sums of money and high levels of paranoia.

A Myna-rig is a brass box, flat and hard-cased with tight seams and several well-placed holes, roughly the size of a deck of cards. Inside are carefully constructed clockworks and magical emitters that radiate faintly (for those studying it with arcane investigation) of Illusion magic.  They are most often tucked out of the way and out of sight (often strapped to ceiling beams or behind locked drawers in a nightstand). They are most often placed in rooms to protect valuables, though some report seeing more nefarious use put to them. Once set, the device listens for noises and repeats them, creating a feedback that—if left unchecked—has been known to shatter glass and pierce eardrums. As such, they are often placed in the same room as chests or doors set with an alarm to use the noise from that device to generate horrifically dangerous loud screeching.

Low sounds (footsteps walking, close hushed whispers, etc.) will cause a faint chirping re-sound (Passive Perception 15 to notice where the box is by sound). Moderate sounds (running, the clanking of armor in full motion, talking in any way) will cause an eruption of feedback (Passive Perception 10 to notice where the box is by sound) requiring all in hearing range (120ft) to make a Con Save DC 10 or take 1d10 thunder damage (half on a success). Loud sounds (yelling, most combat, explosions, etc.) require all within hearing range to make a Con Save DC 15 or take 1d10 thunder damage, roll 1d6, and take that number of Exhaustion Points (though instead of 6 causing death, it causes unconsciousness)—on a success, take half of both the damage and exhaustion. Always round up. An unconscious victim does not take any additional exhaustion or damage.

Every new round of combat, on Initiative 20, the Myna-rig takes whatever the loudest sound is in the previous round and echoes it for feedback. There is a 25% chance of permanent hearing loss in one ear for anyone that falls unconscious (they have a a burst eardrum).

History Check DC 15 to know what a Myna-rig is upon seeing or hearing one. Thieves Tools (normal) or Jewler’s Tools (advantaged) DC 15 to dismantle, on a 20 or higher the device is disabled and reusable.

Making The Trap Easier/Harder:

  • Placement – placing the Myna-rig in a harder to get to location increases the damage and pass-out rate. Easier, it may be lying on a table or windowsill or behind a chest. Harder, it may be placed on top of a rafter or locked in its own chest (still loud enough to send sounds outside to the room/space).
  • Triggers – ambient sounds can take the choice out of the party’s hands as to how it gets set off. Easier, its entirely on the party and their own noise. Harder, being placed in an area they will very likely run or make noise through like an underground stream they’ll be splashing in to cross. Hardest is have an actual alarm or spell kick off the Myna-rig at its loudest levels by surprise.
  • Combat – areas without any likely encounter are safer than those with active monsters and how the players at the table cross-communicate during combat may be fun.  Easier, a quiet and unguarded safe room or area.  Harder, while Monsters are showing or attacking.  Consider monsters that can be plausibly unaffected or less affected due to natural deafness or lac of care or resistances to sound-related damage and unconsciousness (undead might be a good choice). Also, to put some special tension on your players, you can alert them that cross-talk during any combat that plausibly comes from their character (advice, argument, discussion) will be treated as such and the Myna-rig may continue to operate.  It can make an encounter during this time seem very tense as players are forced to do and declare their action without advising or coordinating as they may normally be used to—nervous of having to (like their characters) do all of this silently without a relied on habit of cross-talk.

One thought on “Full of Sound and Fury…

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