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Thursday, May 2, 2019

Last-Minute Keys and Locks: 4d6 Lockpicking

I’ve been thinking a little more about last-minute keys and locks. First, there was a brief discussion in the comments about whether the process was too convoluted. Ynas Midgard suggested going back to the idea of d4+d8 instead of 2d6 for the reaction roll, because then it’s easier to specify that the d4 can be used for the number of keys that must match for a Close Match result. But there’s also the possibility of just changing a Close Match to mean “at least half the keywords match”. At first, I thought this was a viable optional rule and that I’d stick to 1-4 matches for my personal use… but the more I thought about it, I think “half the keywords match” is just a better rule.

But I have also been thinking of adapting this to the" 4d6 drop 6s" idea. Specifically, the approach mentioned in reaction rolls with four dice. It’s not just for the fun of playing with an alternate table, as you’ll soon see. First, though, the table.

4d6 drop 6 Reaction Detailed Explanation
Up to 1 Broken! Key snaps off and jams lock.
2-3 Wrong Key Lock jammed on 5+ (1d6).
4-7 Might Fit All keywords must match.
8-12 Close Match At least half must match.
13-16 Fits Lock opens if any keywords match.
17-18 Lucky Fit! 1st letter of a keyword must match.
19-20 I Made It Fit! No matches necessary.

Table should be self-explanatory now. Curses shift the result one category worse. Blessings shift the result one category better.

Now here’s the tricky part: when adapting this keyword trick to other situations that involve skills, you need to distinguish unskilled people from skilled people. For example, you could have a set of lockpicks instead of a single lockpick, each with a different keyword. Anyone trained as a thief rolls 4d6, dropping 6s. The thief class would add their level to the roll. Anyone who’s still in training would only roll 2d6, though, again dropping 6s, for a range of 0 to 10. So:
  • An untrained character picking a lock requires one lockpick for every keyword on the lock (two picks for a green copper lock, for example.)
  • A trained lockpick must use at least half as many picks as there are keywords on the lock.
  • A true thief (class) never worries about jamming the lock.
  • A 5th level thief has a good chance of opening any lock with one pick, but two picks are still a safer bet.
  • An 8th level thief can open any two-keyword locks with only one matching pick.
It will probably get more interesting when adapted to “metaphorical keys and locks”, but that’s for later. The important point, here, is that I used to talk about dividing the reaction roll by two if a person was untrained, but rolling half as many dice is a lot easier.

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