Dungeon Master Assistance

A place to share thoughts and ideas about Dungeons and Dragons

D&D 5E – Picking Locks

thievestools

How to Pick a Lock

There is some confusion on what the rules are for picking a lock. It all depends on whether or not you have a set of thieves tols and if you know how to use them. There are six different possibilities.

  1. You have Thieves’ Tools and are proficient with them. You can attempt to pick the lock and get to add your proficiency bonus to the (Dex) check.
  2. You have Thieves’ Tools and have expertise with Thieves’ Tools.  You can attempt to pick the lock and get to add twice your proficiency bonus the (Dex) check.
  3. You have Thieves’ Tools but you aren’t proficient with them. You can still attempt to pick the lock but you don’t get to add your proficiency bonus (since it’s a bonus you only get when you are proficient with something).
  4. You don’t have any Thieves’ Tools so you improvise some (with your DM’s approval) but you aren’t proficient with Thieves’ Tools. You can still attempt to pick the lock but with disadvantage.
  5. You have improvised tools and you have proficiency with Thieves’ Tools. You have disadvantage on picking the lock, but you do get to add your proficiency bonus.
  6. No Thieves’ Tools and no improvised tools. Take a strength check to throw the closest party member through the door or crowbar the lock. Basically, look for another way to get past it because you can’t pick it.

 

6 responses to “D&D 5E – Picking Locks

  1. Bruno Baère November 14, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    The 6th possibility is the most overlooked. Throwing a gnome at the door can be used to test traps and to create diversion for escaping from the guards.

  2. Jack Vinson November 15, 2016 at 10:27 am

    Where does this “expertise” come from in 5e? I haven’t noticed that mentioned before.

    • Ronny November 15, 2016 at 11:42 am

      It is a rogue feature.
      PHB p.96 “At 1st level, choose two of your skill proficiencies, or one of your skill proficiencies and your proficiency with thieves’ tools. Your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check you make that uses either of the chosen proficiencies.
      At 6th level, you can choose two more of your proficiencies (in skills or with thieves’ tools) to gain this benefit.”

  3. Chris Keif December 1, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    What if your name is McGeyver?

    • Ronny December 1, 2016 at 3:38 pm

      🙂 Then you improvise some thieves’ tools out of whatever is at hand. Assuming your world doesn’t have paper clips, he might use a hair pin or belt buckle.

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