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Friday, August 6, 2010

Is This the 3e/4e Approach?

During the forum discussion where I posted a copy of my approach to lock picking, someone responded that it looked like the 3e/4e approach, that he couldn't see any fundamental difference. I tried to clarify that the difference, as I saw it, was that I assumed any attempt to pick a standard lock is successful, but that when an opponent is trying to finish their action before the lock is opened, I would roll to see which finishes first. This may or may not prevent the lock from being open. In contrast, 3e/4e makes a skill roll to determine if the lock is opened at all; this is true of opening locks even when there is no time element.

He still insists that he sees no fundamental difference. Either he's playing 3e/4e in a very different way, or I'm not making myself clear, or I'm not understanding what the 3e/4e rules seem to be saying, since they explicit mention that locks remain locked on a failed skill check.

Anyone have any insight into this? Am I really describing stripped-down 3e/4e?


  1. The only thing I can think of in 3e that is even remotely similar is the ability to Take 10/Take 20 - if you are not under stress, you can choose to take an automatic 10 for a basically average result. If you have no time limit and can essentially keep trying until you get it right, you can spend 20x the regular time to get an automatic 20 on your roll.

    I suppose you could frame that as "only roll if there's a time limit" but it's not quite as simple as that.

  2. No, you are not describing a stripped-down 3e/4e.
    Technically in 3e/4e you only have to roll in heroically challenging situations, which often end up being virtually all situations in the Tunnels of Hamster Wheel Adventure that is by the book 3e/4e adventure design.
    Success and something also going wrong is alien to 3e/4e.

    By the book in 3e you are never going to wreck your lock-pick opening a lock and all challenging adventure worthy locks are too tough to "take 10".

  3. In the d20 system you could technically keep rolling the dice every round until either the thief or the orc made their roll. It would technically be the same as rolling who finishes first, only the d20 player wears out her dice faster and bores the other players at the table more.

    d20 doesn't, however, include the possibility of jamming a lock or dislocating your shoulder running into a door. Not unless they're houseruling it to have fumbles or critical failures or whatever.

  4. @drnuncheon: the person who claimed he saw no difference did cite Take 10/Take 20, but I pointed out that what I was saying didn't involve any meta-game decisions on the player's part. You open the lock unless someone kills you or interrupts you first.

    @JDJarvis: not only that, but in non-time critical situations, if the DC of a lock is higher than 20+ skill and other bonuses, Take 20 is not going to open the lock, ever. Whereas I figure if a lock is theoretically openable, given the character's resources, the lock will be opened.