From the Spider's Spellbinding Compendium

Magical Traps

Most hermetic defense systems rely on greater magical items, or the presence of bound guardians, most commonly spirits or ghosts.

While this provides a great deal of power and versatility, it requires a lot of time and vis, which can become quickly a limiting factor.

My unique abilities allow me to bypass these restrictions, by crafting a lot of trickets which I can then use to fashion various traps.
But this approach requires me to think outside the box, since I can't rely on traditionnal hermetic methods. While this may seem like a flaw, I happen to think that it is a blessing in disguise, since it means intruders may more easily fall into such a trap, confident in their Parma Magica.

To that end, I've designed 3 ways by which a trap may be designed.

Spider Bites

The first is, actually, an improvement on some of Hermanus designs, which I was lucky enough to be able to observe a little while working for my gracious hosts in the Transylvania Tribunal.
Magic items are commonly activated by words and/or gestures. Wave the wand, and say the magic word, to throw a fire bolt.
Hermanus used that to great effect, creating items whose trigger was simply "being touched".
While, obviously, a very effective way to trigger a trap, it may prove problematic when you need to navigate a protected area. But I reasonned that, if an item can be activated by touching it and saying a word, another can be activated by touching it while not saying a word. This allows the creation of traps almost as effective as those of hermanus (Don't forget the human factor here), but which a rightful owner can navigate.
I call these "Spider's Bite" traps, because if you're not cautious enough, you get bitten.


Circular traps which mustn't be broken. I can these "Webbings", since they only work if intact. They rely on some effect (or, more commonly, effects) being continuously maintained by a Ring duration, and, most often, require Penetration. For example, an improvement on the "chamber pot" spell could create a ring which would greviously wound any human entering it.

Personal Notes

I wonder…
If I could excavate a room through a Muto Terram spell that changed stone into air… No, too many variables, and I'd need to concentrate too much.
Maybe something similar, with a natural flame? Although if I use Fire, I'd better make sure any Ward against Flame is disabled first, which runs counter to the whole idea of ignoring Magical Resistance.

Still, this is where I'm strongest at, meaning that, using something akin to a Spider of Mystical Defeat nested into a Webbing, I should be able to bring down a typical Ward against Heat and Flame with enough penetration to pierce any kind of Parma Magica.
Meaning I could make more, obviously, but better to ensure that this would bring down even stronger magical wards. By my calculations, if I gave it all, I could bring down even the highest defense against fire even through a fourteen magnitude magical defense.
But is it really worth it? All this for a mundane fire, which could escape my control at any moment… I don't think so, not until I find a way to get around this that doesnt involve putting a whole room on fire.

Dark Webbings

Circular traps which must be broken. I call these "Dark Webbings", since they are both a mirror version of normal webbings, but also quite devious. Like their sisters, they rely on Ring duration enchantments. Contrary to them, they are only triggered when the victim breaks the circle,and may more easily be designed to avoid Magical Resistance. For example, if a Room target Creo Ignem spell's activation has been delayed by a Ring duration version of The Patient Spell, breaking the ring ends the delaying effect, thus filling the room with Fire.
These also include active enchantments which mustn't be dispelled.

Of course, these can be used together, with various levels of complexity, since a single physical circle can support multiple Ring enchantments.
Obviously, Webbings and Dark Webbings can be designed to make use of the same magical Ring. But one can also design a Bite to disrupt a Webbing, be it Dark or not.

Hiding and protecting your web

Now that the basics are covered, one need to think about magical robbers.

Supernatural Intruders

In a way, these are simple to deal with: a simple Webbing with a Perdo Vim enchantment should give them pause.
What may be problematic is when such being can just enter the protected area though an unforeseen direction, usually to serve as recon for a Mage.
To protect against that, it's probably easier to just have circular rooms protected by Webbings, although, in some cases, wards may be more effective.
Maybe combine an outward repulsive protection with inner destructive traps, or a magical prison, which lets a spirit enter, but not leave? This achieves a similar effect, while leaving you with a prisonner to interrogate. Sadly, this will only work against the weaker entities. Using a webbing which enslaves its target is probably way more efficient. Also, this quickly runs into a simple problem: tracing such circles is a demanding task, and can soon exceed the capacities of most magi.

An intriguing possibility would be a circular trap that enslaves any supernatural being within its bounds. Not only would this be more efficient than a prison ward, it would turn intruders into allies. While this is also possible with mundanes, captured supernatural creatures make eternal guardians, while enthralled mundanes will soon die of hunger or thirst.

Note that a clever magus might use similar techniques, which leads us to…

Omnidirectional Intruders

Burrowing through the ground, flying or who knows what else, are all viable means for a smart and ressourceful intruder to enter the defended zone. Never assume your thief or assassin will gently go through the maze you've patiently designed.

How can we deal with this?
The easiest is the one I've taken with my own sanctum and laboratory: hide the protected area, access it through translocative magics.
There might be useful regios, too, but you can't count on this. If you're lucky to find a single entry regio to use for your purposes, good for you. Nonetheless, unless you're sure it is exceptional enough not to be accessible through Second Sight or Piercing the Veil spell, I'd just discount this.
Which leaves us with the hardest, but more effective, technique: The omnidirectional maze. In a nutshell, you must first create your whole protected area while keeping these precepts in mind, building it like an egg, with circular layers of defences taking care of the problems addressed before. However, this would be a daunting and time-consuming task, probably costing more in time and vis than any loss otherwise suffered.

Personal Notes

As far as I know, the last solution is untested to this day, but I strongly believe it to be potentially more effective than the other two techniques. Nonetheless, as always, redundancy and trickery are the way to go.


One can easily get lost when speaking about magic, treating mundanes as negligible. After all, a simple Ward against the Curious Scullion can stop them from entering a barred area.
One would be wrong.
Despite their lack of supernatural powers, mundanes have an asset over magi: Numbers. While an individual soldier is easy to deal with, a force of smart, determined mundanes can pick apart any place, unravelling the best defences by simply destroying the physical substrates that support them. Given enough time, even a single mundane can do this, burrowing through walls to bypass a protected entrance.
You should thus either ensure that the entire defended area is warded against… Well, just about everything, which quickly becomes time and vis consuming, or that it has enough guardians to protect it against a mundane assault.

This is far from simple. Sure, your sanctum is protected by a cadre of ghosts that can turn the very ground towards assailants. However, they can't stop a siege engine from crushing it, or a river being diverted unto it.
Sadly, protecting against such treats falls far outside my area of expertise. Just try to be aware of them, and do your best.

Personal Notes

Time is the enemy here. Sooner or later, even mundanes can get around the most impressive defences. So, better not to be found out in the first place. As such, The Shrouded Glen, and variants of it, are probably one of the best possible defences available. Need to work on a Structure variant, to hide a room inside a building. Back on track, if defences are to delay, there should be a way either to warn magi, or to activate long-range guardians. But this requires invested enchantments, which fall outside the purpose of this treatise, obviously.


Wizards are the worst, and hermetic magi are the worst of the worst. Not only can they have a wide range of abilities, making your best preparations useless, but they may also command both supernatural and mundane intruders, meaning you also have to contend with their servants.

You should note that, unless you're protecting your Sanctum, you may find yourself severely limited in your options, as you need to make sure your defences won't harm, or scry, an hermetic mage. You should thus either ensure that they can't affect humans, or that they can be resisted AND have no penetration.

That being said, magi are very, very difficult to deal with. In addition to the tactics described before, magi have several options to bypass your defenses:
- Try to disarm them with enough magicaly animated cannon fodder, from corpses to rocks.
- Try to dispel with through Vim Magics
- Try to go through them, using wards and spells to defend themselves or bypass your defences.

Thus, the easiest way to deal with magi, besides avoiding them, is to lure them into a false sense of complacency. Begin with either no traps, or simple, easy to detect, ones. And towards the end, strike hard, fast and viciously.

Defending against animated constructs.

A simple Perdo Vim weaving to destroy magical workings should do the trick, if you're powerful enough. Otherwise, it's probably easier to compound several weavings that destroy human and animal material, wood, stone… you know the drill.
Yet another possibility is to take control of the creatures yourself. A weaving is a renewable, permanent solution, but it is static, whereas a well-placed sting can surprise an intruding magus, by implanting a kill order in his cronies for a Duration of Sun.
It is thus advised to begin your web with some weavings, and put a few stings towards the end.

It should be noted that a resourceful mage will first send in proxies, and then dispel any weaving holding them. To avoid that, you should place that weaving outside their direct line of sight (around a corner, for example), and ensure that they can't target it without first falling prey to a trap specially designed for magi, or at least living humans.

Defending against Wind of Mundane Silence and similar magics

Perdo Vim is one of your worst enemies. A single spell, easy to learn and to cast, can throw of days, if not months, of careful preparation.

As always, deception is your best defence. To avoid detection through Intellego Vim, you should, yourself, use Perdo or muto Vim to decrease or hide the signature of any active magics. Adding a few non-protected traps to lure the intruder into complacency may be useful.

But that won't help you if someone just decides to blanket the area with a Wind of Mundane Silence, or similar effect. So what do you do?
Your first option is to ensure your traps are outside any viable target, like Room, or Structure, but this may prove next to impossible.
Your second option is to aim for the highest possible magnitude. Aside from the weaknesses of individual magi, formulaic spells themselves have limits to what they can affect.
Finally, you may use countermagics, by placing your defences into a web similar to (insert spell in TrME).
Last but not least, don’t forget that you may factor this strategy into your defences, by crafting a Dark Webbing designed to be activated by a Perdo Vim dispell. That way, an intruder trying to disarm your defences would actually activate them.
A good exemple would be a corridor which is actually stone transformed into air via Muto magics, as is a bonfire changed into a peeble held into a Circle.

Parting words: A difficult balance

So far, we've discussed the laying of magical traps, and how to deal with various kind of intruders.

But there's a point to consider: You will probably have to deal with them, and the frequency of these dealing will affect the number and viciousness of traps you will be laying.

Personal Notes

One can argue that the best way to protect your sanctum or while maintaining ease of access is to use translocating magics to access it, thus bypassing any and all traps in the way. Obviously, this create a huge breach in your defences, in that it requires and Arcane Connection that other hermetic magi can steal in order, well, to steal from you.
There are 2 ways around this. The first is subterfuge: There's no easy way to detect an arcane connection, you can just have it laying around somewhere. The second is to always have it with you, or to integrate it to your talisman

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License