Mixed Signals

Straight-forward gaming

A cabinet or wardrobe, if opened, releases a swarm of mosquitoes. Players have a 50% chance of being bitten as long as they remain in the room.

If bitten, they are itchy and uncomfortable, resulting in these players being automatically surprised or flat-footed when attacked (attackers get a su...

Upon triggering, all characters within the affected area are levitated a few feet off the floor. They have no control over this effect, nor does anyone else in the party. Levitating characters will simply hover in the air, unable to propel themselves.

Unless the characters can grapple a solid...

When triggered, the characters suddenly find themselves moving in the opposite direction, back the way they came. This will occur even if the characters are not touching the floor (Levitation spell, magical flight, etc.). The characters can turn back and try again, but the same thing will keep happ...

This appears as an expensive necklace of gold and jewels, with an embossed image on a central pendant of a smiling face. It will radiate magic if tested, and appear to be magicked to allow the wearer to speak and understand any spoken language.

Upon first being used when it really matters, the...

This will appear as an animal or creature figure, like for a charm bracelet, made of stone or ivory. When tested, it will radiate magic, but not a curse, as this item is more broken than cursed. Upon careful inspection and research, it will appear to give the wearer the ability to transform into...

I presented at an international tech conference this week, speaking about game design and, specifically, the Lua programming language (which you might know if you ever tried your hand at modding World of Warcraft or Garry's Mod, and a dozen other games and software titles).

To mix things up...

Upon triggering, the area seems to darken and expand in all directions, so that the exits are no longer visible. High winds start up, and sea water seeps up from the floor, rapidly filling the area as far as the eye can see. Clouds form overhead, and soon the characters appear to be out in the open...

A pressure plate or hair-thin tripwire on the far side of a door triggers deadly frost rays to shoot from the door frame at whatever is passing through it.

The first person to pass through the doorway is safe, but anyone or anything immediately following is blasted with 1d8 cold damage. The pre...

This appears as a full set of plate mail armor, which, if tested for, will radiate magic. It has a +3 magical bonus on it, adding to the wearer's AC and Saving Throws. It may be removed easily at this stage. Testing for curses may or may not reveal the armor's true nature (GM's choice). The magic o...

The trapped area is quite large, and has a very high ceiling. Carvings on the wall depict storm clouds and lightning. Upon triggering, dark magical clouds appear in the corridor/room overhead, and begin dropping torrential rain and lightning on the characters. Anyone in the area has a 50% chance of...

A mirror, should the eldest living creature in the room look into it, shatters violently for 1d6 piercing and slashing damage, and a 50% chance of blindness for 1 hour.

Optionally, to add insult to injury, if you own the Tome of Beasts from Kobold Press, see the Mirror Hag on page 243 for an...

These appear to be a bundle of twelve +2 arrows, which, if tested, will radiate magic, and if specifically tested for curses, will reveal their true nature (in practice, most groups don't seem to look for curses in arrows; that will likely change after this). Until used in a crisis, these arrows...

Spellcasters and Thieves only. A particularly nasty item, this appears as an ornate ring with a magical aura. If tested, it will seem to be a ring of great power and utility. The Ring Of Severing will always have a spell function such as Fireballs, Flying, Teleportation, etc.

The ring can be...

When triggered, exits seal up, and the entire corridor/room moves to another level of the dungeon, whereupon the exits unseal. Try as they might, the characters cannot get the elevator to function again. Characters who've been diligently mapping will have no idea where they are.

INTRODUCTION
Right off the bat, it's important to understand that every GM is different. No two styles of running a game match completely, nor should they. And while there is no one correct way to run a game, there are plenty of ways to do it poorly. The GM wears many hats, but in my opinion, th...

When triggered, the floor begins rapidly moving forward like a magical conveyor belt, and a gate or hatch opens on the far end, revealing an active blast furnace. Characters have only 1 to 2 minutes (50-50% chance) to figure something out, or be incinerated.

Characters ending up in the furnace...