The Bard's Tale Wiki

Traps are insidious devices hidden in the environment of dungeons for the sole purpose of causing your party members pain, by direct damage, poison, and worse. Some traps are environmental, and exist in certain squares of the dungeon map, waiting for a party to stumble into them. Others exist on Chests found after defeating groups of monsters in dungeons.


Traps on chests can be identified by E(xamining) them, and then, assuming one was clever enough to identify the trap correctly, having a Rogue or Bard D(isarm) them. Alternately, one can have a Conjurer cast Trap Zap at a cost of 2 Spell Points, which is guaranteed to disarm any traps if they are present. Possible traps on chests include:

  • No Trap
  • Poison Needle (1d4 damage, Poison)
  • Blades (2d4 damage)
  • Darts (4d4 damage)
  • Gas Cloud (3d4 damage, Poison)
  • Shocker (7d4 damage)
  • Crazycloud (1d4 damage, Insanity)
  • Mindtrap (1d4 damage, Possession)

Each dungeon level has its own potential traps! Easier dungeons have less insidious traps, and the traps do less damage. To determine the damage of a trap on a given level, multiply the damage listed above by the modifier shown on the table for that dungeon level. Possible groupings include:

Dungeon Difficulty Level Type 1 Type 2 Type 3 Type 4 Damage Multiplier
1 - Wine Cellar No Trap No Trap Poison Needle Poison Needle 2
2 - Sewers 1 & 2 Poison Needle Poison Needle Blades Darts 3
3 - Sewers 3, Catacombs 1 Darts Gas Cloud Gas Cloud Shocker 4
4 - Catacombs 2, 3, Harkyn's Castle 1 Darts Gas Cloud Shocker Shocker 5
5 - Harkyn's Castle 2, 3 Shocker Crazycloud Crazycloud Mindtrap 6
6 - Kylearan's Tower, Mangar's Tower 1 Shocker Crazycloud Mindtrap Mindtrap 7
7 - Mangar's Tower 2, 3 Crazycloud Shocker Mindtrap Mindtrap 8
8 - Mangar's Tower 4, 5 Shocker Crazycloud Mindtrap Mindtrap 9

Identifying & Disarming Trapped Chests[]

To identify a trap, you must have a character examine the trap. Each character can check only once, and has a 1-in-4 chance of detecting and identifying the trap by name. If none of your characters detects a trap, it could be there is no trap, and you can just open the chest safely... but don't count on it!

Traps are disarmed by typing in the correct trap name: if you type it in correctly, the trap is disarmed 100% of the time. If you misspell it, or guess wrongly, but are very, very lucky, the trap may be disarmed anyway. Otherwise, there's a 1-in-4 chance of the trap going off in your face! If you fail to identify the right trap, and don't disarm it by pure luck, but it doesn't go off, you will get the message "disarm failed" and will be able to guess again.

While each dungeon level has a maximum of three different types of traps, one of those trap types will be twice as common as the others in that level. Therefore, if you can't identify the trap, it's a good idea to make your first guess the one that's most common for that level (so, for example, on the first level of The Catacombs, it's best to try disarming a Gas Cloud). This increases your initial chance of success from 33% to 50%.

Environmental Traps[]

Traps in the environment can be a real pain. The good news is they don't move around, so once you've identified one's location on your map, you can avoid it in the future if you're careful and paying attention to where you're going. The bad news is that some environmental traps (especially the Basilisk snare!) can be worse than traps on chests... types of environmental traps include:

  • spiked pit!
  • timed Warstrike spell!
  • poison gas cloud!
  • tripwire, which caused poison darts to shoot!
  • tripwire, which caused a stone block to fall!
  • tripwire, which caused several crossbows to fire at you!
  • Basilisk snare!

Sorcerer spells such as Locate Traps (LOTR), Second Sight (SESI) and Sorcerer Sight (SOSI) can help greatly in finding environmental traps before one blunders into them. While these Persistent Spells are active, an eye will be displayed on the bar between the visual window and the text window.

While exploring, a Conjurer can cast Trap Zap (TRZP) to wipe out any traps in the three squares ahead. Unfortunately, if you switch dungeon levels, or leave the dungeon and come back, the trap will reset. Environmental traps can sometimes be avoided entirely by floating over them with Levitation (Conjurer spells LEVI, MALE): however, this is not guaranteed.

IBM/PC Version Bug[]

It appears that in the IBM/PC version of the game, environmental traps such as the Basilisk snare, poison gas cloud and poison darts do damage to the party, but do not apply nasty Status Effects like being Poisoned or turned to Stone. Apparently the bug clears the effect before it applies it to the party.

Labyrinth Hazards[]

Unlike most traps, Labyrinth Hazards cannot be disarmed with Trap Zap! They must be avoided or endured.

Smoke in your eyes![]

"Smoke in your eyes!" is a trap found in a dungeon or tower in Tales of the Unknown which reduces the party's vision to 0'; nothing can be seen unless a door/wall is right in front of them until they remake a light, either by torch/lamp, a bard song, or by magic.

These squares show up with the Second Sight spell as: Something special is near...


More annoying still than "Smoke in your eyes!" squares are "Darkness!" zones, which extinguish any and all light sources. These include lamps, torches, The Seeker's Ballad, the Watchwood Melody, and any magic light spell. The message "Darkness!" appears on the text window.

Using a light source while within such a zone causes a very brief flash of light, possibly helping to get bearings when exploring.

When combined with other hazards, darkness zones have the potential to be very dangerous.

HP/SP Leech Squares[]

These evil things leech your party's HP or SP when you stand on them. The spell Second Sight will reveal squares within a dungeon or tower that are either hit point leech zones or magic point leech zones.

Very rarely, these will be squares that regenerate instead of reducing hitpoints or magic points.

In Tales of the Unknown, leech squares show up with the generic message: Something special is near..."

Anti-Magic Zones[]

Not to be confused with the Magician spell "Anti-Magic"...

Anti-Magic Zones are squares in dungeons that cancel the residual spells and prevent new spells from being cast. This can be very costly, especially if the zones are deep within the dungeon (as they usually are).

In Tales of the Unknown, the Second Sight spell detects these squares simply with the message: Something special is near...