Azure (azuresorrow) wrote in roleplayers,

lockpicking and trapfinding in D&D

For D&D any edition,
How do you handle lockpicking and trapfinding in your game? I suppose the traditional way, is that the rogue/thief searches for the trap; they make a roll (or a DM makes the roll in secret), and if they pass they've found the trap. Then to disarm it, they make a roll, and if they succeed they disarmed the trap, and if they fail, they've either set off the trap or just been unable to disarm it (so the trap is still armed and poses a potential threat). For locks, they just roll their lockpicking, and if they're successful, they pick the lock, and boom the thing opens (or is just openable, whatever the case may be).

The problem with this is that it isn't very exciting. A trap is a form of challenge, and for it to be resolved on the basis of one or two rolls is pretty anti-climatic. I mean, compare it to a monster encounter - it takes rounds of combats, several die rolls, with possible HP losses on the side of the party, etc. As opposed to pass or fail with a single die roll.

In my experience, playing in or running a game for a party without a rogue/thief actually makes locks and traps interesting challenges. The party has to search for and find the key to open the reinforced steel door (because no one has the ungodly might to force it open), or the players have to find interesting/creative/tricky ways to get around the threshold with the trap. Admittedly, one problem is the whole "I'm not going in first, YOU go in first." I even had a fighter once who carried around warhammers to throw at doorways and thresholds that were potentially trapped as an effort to set off the trap from a distance (it even worked once! the warhammer knocked the wooden door open and acid sprayed down from the ceiling where I would have been standing if I'd opened the door normally!)

One idea that I had was, what if thieves' picks were consumable items. Rationalize that the picks wear and break after so many uses, and say, for example, that a normal set of lockpicks had, say, ten uses. That would at least mean that each lock picked/trap disarmed would cost the party something in the way of resources, making it perhaps matter more if the rogue is running short on lockpicks (eg. I could try to pick this lock, but I've only got a few more left and I think we might run into some traps before the BigBad).

Granted, I don't know how 4E rules handle lockpicking/trapfinding.

x-posted to gmworkshop
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