What's the point of replacement picks?


Rules Discussion


So this came up during a game of mine: a roguish person critically failed a check to Pick a Lock and breaks his tools. I, as the GM, said that they needed to get replacement picks to continue Picking the Lock (that was the impression that the item entry gave). The player responded that they could just get the PC with a high Crafting bonus to Repair the tools because the critical failure entry says that.

So if you can just give your thieves’ tools to the wizard to Repair for no cost, then what’s even the point of having replacement picks in the first place?


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Circumstances where you don't have a character who can craft to repair them?


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KingTreyIII wrote:

So this came up during a game of mine: a roguish person critically failed a check to Pick a Lock and breaks his tools. I, as the GM, said that they needed to get replacement picks to continue Picking the Lock (that was the impression that the item entry gave). The player responded that they could just get the PC with a high Crafting bonus to Repair the tools because the critical failure entry says that.

So if you can just give your thieves’ tools to the wizard to Repair for no cost, then what’s even the point of having replacement picks in the first place?

Repairing them takes 10 minutes. If you are time constrained, that might pose an issue.


First World Bard wrote:
KingTreyIII wrote:

So this came up during a game of mine: a roguish person critically failed a check to Pick a Lock and breaks his tools. I, as the GM, said that they needed to get replacement picks to continue Picking the Lock (that was the impression that the item entry gave). The player responded that they could just get the PC with a high Crafting bonus to Repair the tools because the critical failure entry says that.

So if you can just give your thieves’ tools to the wizard to Repair for no cost, then what’s even the point of having replacement picks in the first place?

Repairing them takes 10 minutes. If you are time constrained, that might pose an issue.

This. If some bad guys are coming and you need to open that door quick...


KingTreyIII wrote:

So this came up during a game of mine: a roguish person critically failed a check to Pick a Lock and breaks his tools. I, as the GM, said that they needed to get replacement picks to continue Picking the Lock (that was the impression that the item entry gave). The player responded that they could just get the PC with a high Crafting bonus to Repair the tools because the critical failure entry says that.

So if you can just give your thieves’ tools to the wizard to Repair for no cost, then what’s even the point of having replacement picks in the first place?

As others have said, there may be time constraints. What if there are wandering guards in the area, and you only have half a dozen rounds to open a door and close it without a patrol coming and discovering you, the intruders? Can't repair them on the spot, that takes 10 minutes, and repairing them in any sort of timely manner requires high levels, in which case locked doors will be trivial and this would never happen except in maybe some crazy anti-magic civilization.

Additionally, somebody in your party might not be trained in Crafting. It sounds silly, but I've had plenty of groups not be trained in some ancillary skill that would make certain AP tasks a breeze (such as Linguistics or Knowledge [History] back in PF1). It wouldn't be a surprise if you come across a group that doesn't have a Wizard or Alchemist and it comes to pass that "Oh, we don't really have an apparent or practical use for Crafting, so we won't invest in it."

Lastly, you can pick locks with more than just picks. Certain items (like a Skeleton Key) or abilities (like a Knock spell) work on locks and aren't just some "replaceable" thing (assuming it's level-appropriate, of course) that Craft can fix. In this case, having a spare set of Thief's Tools would save your bacon more than having the ability to repair an expensive magic item (or re-prepare an appropriate level slot) that breaks (or fails) on a bad roll.

I also would probably say that repeated repairs on a thief's tool pick would be insufficient if it continues to break and break. While game-wise you could technically do this, I'd outright deny if it continues too much without the player actively or regularly replacing their Thief's Tools before eventually the pick itself simply becomes too messed up to properly use in the way it was intended. Consider it unfair, but I would definitely enforce this kind of rule if this was a "survival"-based Pathfinder game where item maintenance is an important theme to the table.


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Extra picks are only 3sp. That might seem pricey from your starting gear cost, but an adventure or two under your belt, and it's peanuts.


I know I'd rather keep a spare or two for oh crud situations. 10 minutes doesn't sound like very long in a vacuum, but when the chips are down it could be the difference between victory and defeat. 3sp or 3gp is definitely worth saving that time in the right situations.


Picking a lock is very frequently one of the most time-sensitive things an adventurer could be doing. If you're picking a lock you're fairly likely to be going somewhere you're not supposed to and probably don't want to be found.


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KingTreyIII,
Your question exposes a greater issue with the new system math.

As an example, I was running an adventure the other day, with no appreciable time pressure, in which the PCs had to surmount a task where, essentially, they had to roll dice X times until they got a Success before they got a Critical Failure.

It feels silly to watch players roll several times wherein most of the rolls have no real consequence, and instead the scenario is "fishing" for specific results on the Graduated Spectrum (CS/S/F/CF).

In 1st edition, there was "take 10" and "take 20" to handle exactly this scenario. And yes, half of this functionality has been relegated to a skill feat (Assurance), where the other half of this functionality is expressed by Proficiency Gating (ex. You can only attempt this check as an Expert / Master etc).

That still leaves situations like you mentioned above - no time pressure, no Assurance, no Proficiency Gating - where the mechanics of resolving the situation are clunky...


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

My wife is making up a rogue and she is already thinking a head. She said at some point she is going to have some Orichalcum Picks made. If they break, 24 hours later they are fully repaired. Just carry a few of those around :)


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rainzax wrote:


That still leaves situations like you mentioned above - no time pressure, no Assurance, no Proficiency Gating - where the mechanics of resolving the situation are clunky...

I feel like if there are no stakes at all and you know the player can succeed in a reasonable timeframe with enough checks that's a perfect opportunity to just not bother calling for a roll at all.


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rainzax wrote:

KingTreyIII,

Your question exposes a greater issue with the new system math.

As an example, I was running an adventure the other day, with no appreciable time pressure, in which the PCs had to surmount a task where, essentially, they had to roll dice X times until they got a Success before they got a Critical Failure.

It feels silly to watch players roll several times wherein most of the rolls have no real consequence, and instead the scenario is "fishing" for specific results on the Graduated Spectrum (CS/S/F/CF).

In 1st edition, there was "take 10" and "take 20" to handle exactly this scenario. And yes, half of this functionality has been relegated to a skill feat (Assurance), where the other half of this functionality is expressed by Proficiency Gating (ex. You can only attempt this check as an Expert / Master etc).

That still leaves situations like you mentioned above - no time pressure, no Assurance, no Proficiency Gating - where the mechanics of resolving the situation are clunky...

This was discussed many times in the playtest, and it's by design. The multiple successes required mean that a single lucky roll won't get you there, and can actually make success effectively improbable enough that it can't be done in reasonable amounts of time (or you'll break all your picks and effectively be stopped if you can't get them repaired or the odds are that you're just going to break them all again, repeatedly, because you're not going to pull off three natural 20's in a row).

As Squiggit says, if time/picks/etc. aren't limiting factors, these things don't apply - just say "you make it through eventually" and move on. I literally did just that as my players were hacking their way through a wall. A couple rolls to see how quickly their progress was going (turns out, pretty fast - Barbarians don't need lockpicks), then handwave the rest because repeatedly rolling damage against a wall repeatedly was a waste of everyone's time. They didn't get the element of surprise, 'cause of noise, but they made it through.


Gunna respectfully disagree with you there, Squiggit and RicoTheBold, and that is because of the existence of Critical Failures.

Some skill challenges are set up in such a way that the challenger must roll a Success before rolling a Critical Failure, as rolling an ordinary Failure bears no consequence (and no Time/Assurance/Gate).

This is the source of the clunkiness.

It's not a deal-breaker for me because I think the pros far outweigh the cons of the new system, all said and done.

But is clunky nonetheless.


Hmm.. failed checks may make noise, wich can be heared from the other side? Even if time is less an issue, that could be a problem. If neither time nor enemies play a role und the PC have enough skill to open the lock as GM i would forgo a skill check and only say "you need some moments but finally the lock is open.


RicoTheBold wrote:
This was discussed many times in the playtest, and it's by design.

Yep, pretty much.

RicoTheBold wrote:
I literally did just that as my players were hacking their way through a wall.

Our group did this in the playtest when we figured out it was quicker to tunnel through walls/chop down doors than it was to pick a lock. That's why it's not always so easy to just handwave it as picked: time might not matter but the party might want still not want to take more time than needed. If a few solid hit with a great axe would get you through a door, it might be preferable to a few hours picking, breaking and repairing picks... [even if it's just to avoid the thought/RP of everyone else just sitting around all that time doing nothing]

A simple door or chest is hardness 5, hp 20, BT 10 and a reinforced door, wooden wall is hardness 10, hp 40, BT 20. If noise is also a non-factor [or quickness is paramount], brute force can win over picking the more difficult the lock is. Just poor rolls with multiple successes needed and crit fails can make picking locks a huge time sink.


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rainzax wrote:

Gunna respectfully disagree with you there, Squiggit and RicoTheBold, and that is because of the existence of Critical Failures.

Some skill challenges are set up in such a way that the challenger must roll a Success before rolling a Critical Failure, as rolling an ordinary Failure bears no consequence (and no Time/Assurance/Gate).

This is the source of the clunkiness.

It's not a deal-breaker for me because I think the pros far outweigh the cons of the new system, all said and done.

But is clunky nonetheless.

I guess I should have covered that part better. I agree it can be clunky, but doing hard stuff is hard and there are only so many ways to model the time taken. I kind of think of the man in black climbing the cliffs scene from Princess Bride. Just think of all the climb checks...but whether or not a critical failure happens is important there, because of falling damage...and if it wasn't important, you'd just say, "you get up eventually." And if the player doesn't have enough Athletics, they'll never make it up, because the odds of a critical failure sometime in the many checks to climb that cliff mean that they'll likely die of falling damage long before an attempt succeeds.

Maybe it's clunky to have to make a bunch of checks, but it only needs to come up when the consequences matter, and it precludes the possibility of a single nat 20 somehow making someone climb up the giant cliff. Or picking the nigh-unpickable lock. If someone wants to try, the rules are there to adjudicate.

Considering the premise of the original poster's question was "what do broken picks even matter" the answer is that they prevent an insufficiently-skilled character from picking a lock by delaying them to the point that they can't succeed in typical timeframes (which...is really how locks are supposed to work). My point was that when this isn't the case, and the delays (or other consequences of crit fails) don't matter, remember that you can handwave it.


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Ooh good discussion here!

I'd like to refute that by supposing you the following rhetorical questions:

1) Do you ever roll a single skill check to decide the result of 2 seconds of work?
2) Do you ever roll a single skill check to decide the result of 2 weeks of work?

My point is that, conceivably, instead of dealing with repeated roll non-sense clunkiness, what if there was a way to cover this scenario with a single skill check, in a way that took into account all the variables involved, not limited to but certainly including the "time taken" as an outcome of rolling that skill check?

Unfortunately, I don't have a solution, and can only express frustration for the clunkiness by positing the question towards it's potential solution.

...

To connect this back to the OP's question: Is there a way to represent "how many spoiled picks" and "how much time" as a single check result of a lockpicker of a given proficiency attempting to pick a lock of a certain DC?


mrspaghetti wrote:
First World Bard wrote:
KingTreyIII wrote:

So this came up during a game of mine: a roguish person critically failed a check to Pick a Lock and breaks his tools. I, as the GM, said that they needed to get replacement picks to continue Picking the Lock (that was the impression that the item entry gave). The player responded that they could just get the PC with a high Crafting bonus to Repair the tools because the critical failure entry says that.

So if you can just give your thieves’ tools to the wizard to Repair for no cost, then what’s even the point of having replacement picks in the first place?

Repairing them takes 10 minutes. If you are time constrained, that might pose an issue.
This. If some bad guys are coming and you need to open that door quick...

This. If there isn't some kind of time constraint (or notable consequence for failure, such as the guards on the other side hearing you and being alerted) then there was no point in the gm making you roll to unlock the door in the first place (as you could just roll until you succeed).

So time constraints necessarily have to exist (for the challenge of opening the door to be interesting enough to dedicate dice rolls to) so the 10 minutes to repair the tools is a serious penalty.


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Homebrew solution? Some sort of ... roll vs DC, but instead of determining success/failure, you multiply the length of time the task takes by number of points you roll beneath the DC and for every 5, just to pick a random number, points below the DC you treat yourself as having rolled one critical failure.

So if the task took 5 minutes at DC20 and you rolled a 10 it'd take 50 minutes and you'd incur two critical failures.

That's kind of how take 20 worked, after all. In that rule you guaranteed success, but multiplied the task's duration by 20 and treat yourself as if you'd failed the task for the purpose of any failure penalties. You could just straight up-port those rules pretty easily too.


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rainzax wrote:

Ooh good discussion here!

I'd like to refute that by supposing you the following rhetorical questions:

1) Do you ever roll a single skill check to decide the result of 2 seconds of work?
2) Do you ever roll a single skill check to decide the result of 2 weeks of work?

My point is that, conceivably, instead of dealing with repeated roll non-sense clunkiness, what if there was a way to cover this scenario with a single skill check, in a way that took into account all the variables involved, not limited to but certainly including the "time taken" as an outcome of rolling that skill check?

Unfortunately, I don't have a solution, and can only express frustration for the clunkiness by positing the question towards it's potential solution.

...

To connect this back to the OP's question: Is there a way to represent "how many spoiled picks" and "how much time" as a single check result of a lockpicker of a given proficiency attempting to pick a lock of a certain DC?

So...yes and yes to the different types of checks, but the relevant part is not just the time the check covers but what happens with failure.

"How many spoiled picks" and "how much time" are potentially a much more complicated mechanism. It's could be more akin to "how long can you walk across a tightrope before you fall." Is it a minute? That's a long time, you'll probably make it across in time. Is it a few seconds? That might not get you where you want to be.

But a single check gives a linear percentage chance, broken along the 5% increments of a d20 roll. If it's hypothetically possible on a d20, there's at least a 5% chance it happens. The check result upgrade/downgrade rules on nat 20s/1s distort this further, where at the extremes, your check can be a success while it's 9 below the DC if you roll a natural 20, even though you have a 95% chance of critically failing. Requiring even just two successes means instead of a 5% chance of success, it's a quarter of a percent that they get two nat 20s in a row to succeed. 399 times out of 400, they crit fail at least one of the two rolls (on two rolls, obviously the odds change if you're considering the possibility of any two rolls in a row being 20 from a larger set of potential attempts).

But...if it's literally just some time and a piddly amount of gold for your players to "take 20^2" and eventually succeed, just handwave it entirely or roll it as a single check with varying degrees of time/picks wasted across the four degrees of success. Or as the guideline on page 491 says:

Adjudicating the Rules wrote:
When the PCs fail at a task, look for a way they might fail forward, meaning the story moves forward with a negative consequence rather than the failure halting progress entirely.


RicoTheBold,
What do you think of Squigget's idea just above?


Replacement lock picks are just about opportunity cost. Personally I think it is a misfire and pointless detail given how little impact it has.

As for lockpicking just taking time, it is clearly not the intention of the rules for you to be able to "take 20" on any lock that requires more than one success.
Even if whomever wrote the rules didn't think it through and made it so level 9 200gp locks are pretty easily beaten by a level 1 rogue with 40 minutes to spare.

"Locks of higher qualities might require multiple successes to unlock, since otherwise even an unskilled burglar could easily crack the lock by attempting the check until they rolled a natural 20. "

Personally I am just waiting for errata/gmg advice and running it as "no eventual auto success unless you are just breaking it" and "each success counts as one, each failure removes one, crits double the effects".


For lockpicks specifically, I'd rather it be something like:

This lock needs X success before X failures.

If you reach X failures, the lock is unpickable for you until you gain a level.

Criticals count for double and break picks.


My replacement pick is an Adamantine Great Axe. Disintegrate also works as a fine back-up. ;P

On Squiggit's idea, I'd rather have the base time for the lock at a set DC and the time go up or down based on how much you fail or make it. That'd allow for a single roll and take into account time factors without the need to factor in failures as they are already accounted for in the time frame. I wouldn't want it to JUST be failure makes it longer as then you're ignoring the crit success counts as 2 successes while integrating multiple failures: It wouldn't feel very good if you get the same result from just making it or beating it by 8 when just failing it and failing it by 8 has a huge difference in effect.


The thing is the skills need to feel important and rewarding for the players who have them.

Lets say there is a treasures behind a good lock nad there is not a time preasure.

Character A has thievery +7, he rolls a few times and gets the lock open.

Character B has thievery +2, he tries to open it but fails a bunch of rolls (or even crit. fail). But as he has enough time, you as GM handwave that he opens it.

Now the character A is going to feel that he didn´t need to improve his Theivery skill, because someone less skilled can do what he does, with the same results (both got the treasure at the end).

Gating the lock with a proficency lvl is not the answer, because Character A and B can be both at the same proficency but clearly A is better than B and he should feel like it.

In my games I let them to do some checks until the fail. Then they can state that they are goint to take some time for opening it, I rule the time they should spend( in 10 minutes intervals) and let them try again a bunch of rolls. If they fail a couple or crit. fail. I tell them that they have to try something new, maybe they as players know that they can try forever, but they characters are getting mad and feeling they can´t do it right know.


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rainzax wrote:

RicoTheBold,

What do you think of Squigget's idea just above?

That's generally along the lines of what I'd recommend for a pseudo-handwave, but I'd probably stick to the four tiers of success instead of adding a different measurement of points below/above, especially if the goal is to reduce the complexity of the checks.

As an example: Assuming a good lock (a level 9 item, it requires five successes at DC 30) for a master thievery thief racket rogue at level 10 (+21 Thievery, assuming not item bonus), this would be a classic scenario for "taking 10" in PF1. Assume it's a small safe that was stolen or something, and can be picked at the character's leisure but smashing it open isn't viable for fear of damaging the contents. Also assume there are as many lockpicks available as needed, because this is hypothetical.

Picking the good lock crit fails only on a natural 1. If the time wasn't relevant, I'd probably not even have the player roll, but if I did, I'd just extrapolate a single roll: Crit success = 2 rounds, success = 4 rounds, failure = 8 rounds, crit failure = 10 rounds and a broken pick. Or basically, "roll a nat 1 and it costs a pick and takes a minute, otherwise you're in a little quicker."

Change it to a superior lock, a level 17 item needing 6 success at DC40, and suddenly the quick an dirty check represents many minutes spent picking at the lock and a pile of broken picks. Crit fails happen on 45% of rolls. So the single check version looks more like: Crit success = 2 minutes and 10 broken picks, success = 4 minutes and 20 broken picks, failure = 8 minutes and 40 broken picks, critical failure = 12 minutes and 60 broken picks.

Or something. This is based on some quick back of the envelope math with a success rate of 10% granting an average of 1.5 successes, meaning an average of 40 attempts (which I put at the "success" level of the single-check version).

One thing I'd apparently forgotten (including my above post) is that the "crit fail negates a success" rule didn't make it from the playtest (and in the playtest, a crit fail breaks a pick only if there were no successes). It was probably cut for being too fiddly, but it makes the difference between actually typically succeeding against this level 17 lock in under 15 minutes and it taking potentially days of attempts.

I'm a little torn on that; it's simpler, but it means a player can solve the otherwise major limiting factor in whether you can get through a lock by carrying a hundred picks at a time. That said, this is otherwise a fairly optimal level 10 character for picking locks; if the rogue only had expert thievery there'd be a 0% chance of getting through.

So...yeah. Without the reduction in successes, replacement picks and time are the only real limiting factors, and time is going to be measured in well under an hour if the lock can be picked at all.

For some houserules to tweak that, rather than tie the limit in attempts to something meta like "you need to gain a level to try again", here's a different potential houserule from what GG/Rainzax suggest:
The other classic RPG approach is that instead of breaking the pick, they break the lock (perhaps by breaking the pick off inside the lock), making it unusable (and jamming it locked). Repairing a broken lock via craft checks would be harder way below level (and crit fails could destroy it), and each attempt would take much longer.

Maybe that happens after 3 critical failures, or the same number as required successes, or the first natural 1 crit fail or something.

(Although this does introduce "denial of service" attacks, where low-level players troll high-level enemies by breaking/destroying all of their locks through the power of incompetence.)

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