I've been doing a life without trap skills or evasion, the first time in a long time, and I've forgotten how brutal some of the damage can be on elite. I'm not aware of any consolidated trap-avoidance/mitigation guide, and I think it would be a useful exercise to put one together.
My goal is to have a strategy in place to bypass or survive as many traps as possible, in a full party doing elite (no scaling) without trap skills, on a D4 hit die class with terrible reflex saves.
First off, quest knowledge is of utmost importance to mitigate trap damage, so you can prioritise your buffs. When you know a trap is coming up and you're not sure you can Mario around it, you should buff your hit points:
- Constitution, false life, vitality items
- Rage, Tenser's Transformation (scrolled, to avoid long-term spell cooldown issues)
- Temporary HPs from Aid, False Life, GH, Rejuvenation Cocoon
- Earth stance on monk splashes (though this decreases movement speed)
- Defensive stances on paladin/fighter tank builds, these will also increase run speed if you have the enhancements for it [Credit to LeonAureo]
- Yugoloth CON potion (+2 CON, +20 HPs) [Credit to SirValentine]
While I personally do not rely or high saves to survive a trap (everyone rolls a 1 eventually), buffing reflex saves can put the dice in your favour:
- Resistance/Dexterity item/Tenser's Transformation; Charisma/Intelligence if Paladin 2+ or Insightful Reflexes
- Parrying, Good Luck items
- Lucky Cape (does not stack with Good Luck)
- (Greater) Heroism
- Monk water stances [CaptainSpacePony]
If you know an elemental trap is coming, you can mitigate the damage:
- Protection from Elements (scrolls or pots)
- Energy Resistance from spell, gear, potions, or ship buffs
- Fire Shield (Cold version absorbs 50% fire damage, and vice versa)
- Energy Sheath from Draconic Incarnation absorbs 50% of one element, but is mutually exclusive with Fire/Cold Shield
- Energy Absorption from Shiradi absorbs 15% of all elements
- Absorption appears on lootgen ("*proof" items) and on green steel weapons; Cannith crafting has 33% fire and electric absorption shards
Note that percentage-absorption gear with different values stack, but not additively. If you have Fire Shield: Cold (50%) and Firestorm Greaves (33%), you would take (1 - 0.50) * (1 - 0.33) = 33.5% of the damage you would have taken, not (1 - 0.5 - 0.33) = 17%.
Traps that do physical damage, rather than force/elemental/poison/etc, are subject to damage reduction and PRR. Therefore, Axeblock/Spearblock/Hammerblock/Invulnerability, Adamantine armour, sources of DR/-, blue PRR gems, and Stoneskin all help. However, multiple sources of DR do not stack: only the best applies. For Heroic levels, Stoneskin is a good bet for 10 DR against traps that hit multiple times; the DR will apply to each hit until the Stoneskin is depleted. [SirValentine, CaptainSpacePony]
Since Update 23, wearing heavy armour will grant a large PRR bonus even if you have no proficiency. You will additionally get bonus PRR if you are proficient, according to your BAB (you can temporarily set BAB equal to your character level by scrolling Divine Power or Tensor's Transformation). Also, starting with light shields, you will get another PRR bonus with each successively heavier shield type, regardless of proficiency. The related MRR mechanic in the same update means that much the same logic applies to traversing elemental traps. Therefore all characters not confident of their ability to traverse a deadly trap can benefit from having a suit of heavy armour and a tower shield when they attempt to cross a trap zone.
[Tom116] Poison traps can be traversed safely by characters with natural immunities (e.g., Warforged/Bladeforged, undead forms).
[Ithaquah] The less time you spend in a trap, the less damage you will take. Consider boosting your movement speed:
- Striding/Speed item, Haste, Longstrider, Shadow Walk (typically will not stack with each other)
- Temporary run speed skill boost from enhancements (Ranger/Barb)
- "Wings": Monk/FvS leaps, Cannith Boots of Propulsion, Draconic/Exalted Angel wings
- Some traps do multiple pulses and you can time your transition between pulses. This also enables healing while you're transitioning (have someone target you as you're going through, or use heal over time pots/Druid regens).
Additionally, you should attempt to get to Jump cap (40) via pots, gear, and Strength buffs, and have a featherfall item ready for swapping. Invisibility is sometimes useful to keep aggro off of you while you're trying to get good positioning.
Much of the above requires UMD if not on a caster, of course.
Many traps' activation zones are larger than their damage zones. This means you can tiptoe up to a known trap location to activate it to see its exact location. Additionally, many trapped levers can be activated safely by grabbing the levers at maximum range (e.g., Cry for Help). If all else fails, you can use a hireling or pet (arti dog, druid wolf, PM skelly) to pull these levers.
Additionally, many traps activate after you run through their damage zone--which means the first person through is safe and the people following have to be careful. [Ithaquah]
There are several different classes of traps.
These are traps that poke straight in and out of floors or walls. They can be blade or spear types.
Typical examples are found in Monastery of the Scorpion (blade), Bounty Hunter (spear), Maze of Madness (both).
Retractable traps do damage only in the split second that they poke out. When they are up, it is safe to run through them, or even jump up and down on them.
Guillotines are sharp blades that slide up and down vertically.
Typical examples are in Faithful Departed, Keeper's Sanctuary.
Guillotines have an upstroke and a downstroke; when the blade is on the way up, it is safe to pass through. When it's going down, you may lose your head.
Jets shoot elemental, force, poison, or sometimes darts. Typical examples are in Redfang the Unruled (horizontal poison), STK 2 (horizontal acid, fire), Rest for the Restless (diagonal fire), and the Rushmore's Mansion challenges (diagonal fire).
Most horizontal jets can be avoided by jumping/featherfalling over them. Most diagonal jets can be avoided by running under them.
Spinning blades pop up out of the ground and whirl around for a set time, then retract for a brief time before starting up again.
Typical examples are in VoN 5, Hiding in Plain Sight, Bring Me the Head of Ghola Fan.
These traps can be avoided by jumping over them. It's safer to do so while they're retracting, especially if they're in a staggered formation like in the VoN 5 north hallway.
Blades slice through an arc in a regular pattern.
Typical examples are in VoN 5 (horizontal), Valak's Mausoleum (vertical from floor), Lords of Dust (horizontal and vertical from wall), Smuggler's Warehouse (dual horizontal).
Some dual horizontal traps can be avoided completely by running down the middle of the hall (e.g., Chains of Flame, Smuggler's Warehouse). Others do not have enough clearance, and you should hug one wall to avoid risking two shots of damage. Characters with "wings" (FvS/Exalted Angel, Monk, Cannith Boots of Propulsion, Draconic Flyby Attack) can easily bypass these blade traps. Other characters can minimise the damage by timing their transitions to enter the damage zone as the blade starts swinging.
Explosions usually do elemental or force damage, triggering on the use of an interactable.
Typical examples are in VoN 3, Graverobber, Under the Big Top.
The wheels in Big Top are particularly deadly, doing up to six hits of elemental damage if you are not standing in a good spot. You can cut the damage in half by hopping onto the wheel, pulling the wheel, and immediately jumping/featherfalling straight into the air. This cuts down the damage from six to three hits, which should be survivable with proper buffs. It is also possible to cut down damage by pulling the wheel from the side and immediately moving to stand behind the wheel's supporting post, but this manoeuver is more difficult. (I think I picked up this tip on the forums; can't remember from whom.)
Many sharp objects in a confined space equals lots of potential for pain. Damage triggers when you make contact with the pointy bits.
Typical examples are Crucible (maze horn pit and swim), Cry for Help, Rainbow in the Dark.
Jumping around in them is a virtual death sentence in higher levels. If you fall into a spike pit and somehow survive, you can slowly walk to the exit to avoid further damage.
Mines hidden in the ground explode on contact, usually doing elemental damage. Bear traps do damage and immobilise a trapped character who fails a save.
Typical examples are in Undermine and Made to Order.
Mines (and bear traps) can be avoided by jumping over them, but this presupposes knowledge of the exact location of the mines. In Undermine, you can set off charges to destroy a group of mines. In Made to Order, I typically solo (dungeon scaling is in my favour) with elemental protection buffs and jump/featherfall in the trapped hallways, hugging the walls. I find the starting locations of the clumps of enemies/breakables are not generally trapped.
Found in the Forgotten Realms, spell wards do many types of alignment and elemental damage. They have a no-save slow component, and can additionally paralyse you.
Almost anyone can disable spell wards even if they don't have trap skills. These traps are susceptible to dispel effects, so casters or UMD characters can scroll Dispel Magic or Greater Dispel Magic to slowly lower the ML of spell wards, and eventually destroy them (this also counts toward your trap bonus!). Unfortunately, this still requires someone to trigger the ward, as Dispels cannot target an arbitrary area... they default to yourself if nothing is selected. Mordenkainen's Disjunction also lowers Spell Ward CR (and likely faster), but scrolls are hard to come by, so it will usually be cast from a Wizard's SP pool. [kinggartk]
Trap Plates, when you step on them, can either trigger a damage effect of some sort, or glue you to the ground.
Typical examples are in Epic Prove Your Worth and Haunted Halls.
I'll be sporadically (very, very sporadically) posting walkthroughs of specific traps people in PuG groups seem to find difficult. Don't hesitate to post your own tips or request a walkthrough of how to avoid a specific trap. I myself am curious if it's even possible to survive the VoN 3 explosion and VoN 4 east lever spikes on an evasionless character!
I would also be very interested in errors or omissions in this original post.