My question for a novel I am writing. What alterations do you have to make to your average bear trap to make it far more lethal to monsters? (Think trolls, orcs, goblins, wargs).

  • The trap has to be made of materials that are feasible to get in both modern and historical times.
  • I’d prefer if the trap could be rearmed and transported to a different location. So, like a bear trap.

What would be the best option? Sharpening the teeth of the trap? Apply feces or other contaminants at the edges to cause nasty infections? Apply poison? Increase the spring of the bear trap to have far more force behind it? Thoughts?


Ps: No monster was harmed in formulating this question.

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    $\begingroup$ We cannot answer these questions if you don't give us more info: monsters are fictional creatures, and their biology is unknown unless you tell us how their bodies work. Also, please try to use the provided formatting tools for lists. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Commented Apr 4, 2022 at 9:08
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    $\begingroup$ Since the "monsters" you list are also kindreds of people, I'd ask you to clarify what kind of intelligence we're dealing with. Especially if your monster hunters expect their traps to work more than once! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Apr 4, 2022 at 9:11
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    $\begingroup$ What type of bear-trap? The bear-traps I'm thinking of are covered pits with spikes, they're not designed to kill by causing infections. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 4, 2022 at 17:21

3 Answers 3


Definitely sharpened teeth coated in fast-acting poison, but...

Bear traps are not designed for lethality, they are designed to minimize damage done to animal's fur so it can be sold for the best price. Ill provide ways to make bear trap more lethal and examples of other traps that are more lethal by design.

Upgrading bear trap

  1. Camouflage it. Catching someone in a trap is the most difficult part. Paint trap according to environment and add bits of foliage or ground from around, leafs, moss etc. Be careful not to leave tracks.
  2. Sharp teeth and poison. This way trap will be more lethal, most of bear traps use rather blunt jaws to break and hold prey's leg, not very lethal. Sharp teeth are also way better at delivering poison.
  3. Not necessarily stronger spring. You don't want to cut off prey's leg, sure they can bleed out eventually, but it decreases chance of delivering poison into the blood stream and if they are intelligent they'll most probably escape, without a leg but alive. Perfect spring would allow trap's teeth to penetrate deep into leg's flesh and break bone, but not cut it off. Depends how big differences are between orcs, trolls, etc. You might need different springs for different types of prey.
  4. Eventually make it bigger. Not the most efficient upgrade, but by increasing diameter of jaws you can change the location of wounds, assuming prey is of humanoid shape thighs and abdomen are prime targets. Of course this trap will be much heavier, harder to transport and hide.

Other traps

  1. Pitfalls with spikes. Very lethal, not very portable.
  2. Swinging log traps. It will kill anything with big enough log.
  3. Anti personnel mines. Portable, lethal and used at least since 18th century. Although chinese allegedly used them over 600 years ago
  4. Most of traps used by vietkong during vietnam war.
  5. My variation of "bamboo whip". It can be dug in like in the picture or mounted on trees, pretty easy to manufacture, transport and hide in thick foliage, not as easy to set up as bear trap, but designed for killing. Although take into consideration need for some fantasy material to make the rods, even bamboo is not that flexible! enter image description here

P.S. Traps made from surrounding materials are theoretically better because: they already blend-in with surroundings, their smell isn't out of place (it might be important for hunting wargs) and you only need to have knife or hatchet to make them, eventually some rope, instead of transporting whole trap.


Pit Trap

The elephant cannot get past a ditch

For big things like trolls, the pit trap is the way to go. The cube square law says Large animals are vulnerable to falling damage. They are also not agile enough to escape the pit.

The troll falls 4 feet and breaks a leg. It cannot escape and its screams attract scavengers from all across the land. After the troll dies of dehydration the scavengers eat it.

These traps are not mobile, but you have infinitely many of them. You can half the time to make one by using twice the diggers.

They are also safer than bear traps for accidentally trapping your own people. A person might survive the 4 foot fall but not the bear trap.


If it's targeting sentient species, I guess camoflage; actually catching the target is the hard part. I guess poison will be more lethal than any other enhancement.


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