Traps Gallery

Since 1989 my friend Jay and I have exchange trapped presents at Christmas. When I say trapped I mean it in the classic Circle of Death game style — if you open the present carelessly a buzzer will sound or explosive cap will trigger. It all started when we were designing traps for live-action role-playing games, but quickly became a challenge to one-up each other each year. These days we open all the other presents first and then settle down with our flashlights, dentist tools and wire clippers to work on opening each other's presents while the rest of the family eats pie and enjoy themselves making unhelpful comments.

Jay and I each have our own style of trap-making. Jay has become a master of secreting traps in places that you'd think he couldn't access. His high-point is probably the time he gave me a deck of gaming cards that he had somehow unsealed, hollowed out, rigged with an exploding cap trap, then resealed and re-shrinkwrapped such that it looked like new again. (That's rivaled by Christmas 2003, when he managed to plant an explosive inside a cut-then-resealed chocolate egg.) My style leans towards completely mechanical traps, but I'm always trying a new angle on things. My favorite is still the time I gave him a "special" version of Looking Glass' PC game System Shock, which included a specially-included candy-red button in the second room of the game that when pressed would berate him for not checking closely for traps as it dropped powerful monsters on his head. (It always helps to know the programmers...)

The older traps have been lost to history (though perhaps one day I'll try to recreate the especially impressive ones) but below are some of our more recent creations.

Trap Type Designer Date

Two-piece burr puzzle lock, stopper-lid box Bug July 2022

Hidden marble maze puzzle lock, hinged-lid box Bug Christmas 2020

Two hidden move puzzle lock, sliding aperture opening Bug March 2019

13th Age Icon Box
Hidden button puzzle lock, hinged-lid box Bug June 2018

Whack box
Inertial puzzle lock, sliding-lid cigar box Bug Christmas 2017

Handcuffs Puzzle
Disentanglement puzzle lock, hinged-lid box Bug Christmas 2016

Magnetic lock box
Magnetic key lock, hinged-lid box Bug Christmas 2014

Candle trap
Explosive trap, scented candle Bug Christmas 2013

Contact-trigger trap
Audio trap, contact trigger, brass-embossed hinged-lid box Bug Christmas 2012

Diet Coke & Mentos, V.2
Chemical trap, chest Bug June 2008

Diet Coke & Mentos
Chemical trap, chest Jay Christmas 2007

Audio trap, chest Jay Christmas 2006

Under Glass
Explosive trap, small box Bug Christmas 2006

Multishot pellet-gun trap
Dart trap, hinged-lid box Bug Christmas 2005

Exploding drawer trap
Explosive trap, drawer Bug June 2005

Teddy bear trap
Audio trap, embedded Jay Christmas 2004

More to come...