Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dead Simple Lock & Trap Mini-game

I've fiddled around and play-tested the various ideas and suggestions floating around until I've come arranged the pieces into something that the Boy likes.

This mini-game involves a deck of cards.  It could be a regular deck of cards or a special deck with bump, undulate, rake, and probe written on each.  Four 'suits' of some sort or another. 

Take the deck of cards.  Remove the Jokers. Shuffle.  Set the cards down and stare at the player. 

To pick the lock, the the thief must pick one out of four actions to take - bump (club,) undulate (heart,) rake (diamond,) or probe (spade.)  Three of the actions will further the lock-picking (or trap disarming.)  One of those actions will seize up the lock, or set off the trap.

Example One:
DM sees that the next card is an Undulate (Heart.)
Player: I Probe (Spade) the lock with my lock picks.
DM: (flips over card) You hear a faint 'click' and have passed this stage. On to the next tumbler.

Example Two:
DM sees that the next card is an Undulate (Heart.)
Player: I Undulate (Heart) the lock with my lock picks.
DM: (flips over card) Too bad.  The lock seizes up on you. Game over, dude.

Each lock has a certain amount of cards that determine it's difficulty. A 2d4 roll could easily be used to determine the number of cards, but any amount could be used.  Percentages of success are as follows:

75% - One Card
56% - Two Cards
42% - Three Cards
32% - Four Cards
24% - Five Cards
18% - Six Cards (fyi - roughly equals the chance for a first level thief)
13% - Seven Cards
10% - Eight Cards

As a thief increases in level, their skill would increase as well.  Each level gives the thief the ability to automatically conquer an undisplayed card.  This does not fix a 'seized lock,' it just allows the thief to reduce the number of cards in the stack during play.  A level 2 thief would breeze through a 2 card lock without having to make any guesses.

Traps can be implemented by card values.  For example, all face value cards could be trapped.  If the lock seizes up on a face value card, the lock's trap would spring.  Hilarity ensues.

So, that's it.  Hopefully I've been clear enough.  Comments appreciated.  And thanks to all who came forth with ideas.  Ya'll rock, much like old school does. 

All I need now is a BURP deck. :)

- Ark


  1. her nips are showing... lol.

  2. This is really pretty brilliant.

  3. Great work, especially if the thief in question finds it fun.

    I went looking for some lockpicking graphics last night (that might be put on cards or explain the rules) but didn't find anything I was satisfied with.

  4. @Zombie - She knew she forgot something while getting dressed this morning - but couldn't remember what.

    @-C - Thanks - but only a smidge of it is mine. The great OSR Hive Mind created it. :)

    @Telecanter - In the last comment on the subject, you mentioned cards. That made a big light bulb go off in my head, and I just fiddled with probability curves until it felt right.

    Lock-picking graphics for cards would be way cool. I was looking around for an image for this post and almost selected a heart shaped locket with key - until I saw card boobs. I'm a sucker.

    - Ark

  5. I like it... and am trying to tie concepts of cards with thieves. I know Zak S. and a few others have created some card-based mini-games or metagaming activities or whatever you want to call it, but it'd be cool to tie it all together with a single theme or something. Anyway, great post!

  6. @Dylan - Thanks. You know, cards and thieves hyave been bunk mates for a long time - historically speaking. :) I like your idea. I don't recall seeing card based mini-games elsewhere in the blogosphere - but I'd like to know where they are so I can give them a look. Hmm . . maybe Links to Wisdom has some pointers . . . :)

    - Ark

  7. I am curious... What deck did that image come from? As a fan of Savage Worlds, I'm always looking for neat and interesting decks of playing cards.

    Thanks In Advance,

  8. @Flynn - luckily I hadn't cleared my browser history recently. I found them here ->

    Have fun. In a fast and furious manner, of course.


    - Ark

  9. This is superb fun Ark.

    I don't know how I missed it in April.

    I have added it to Links to Wisdom under thief skills.

    And totally bizarre because I have been thinking of using a deck of cards for the Old School Adventure Guide. More on that soon.

  10. @Jovial,

    Well, with the hundreds of blogs whizzing by in everyone's rolls, one or two slip through the cracks. :)

    There are a lot of things you can do with cards in an rpg. Savage Worlds uses a deck for initiative, and does so pretty niftily.

    I'm glad yo liked it, and I'm honored to be linkified.

    - Ark

  11. I know I am way late to the party on this one Ark, but I think I may do this in my newbie game. Adds a little extra to it.

  12. Tim, the party never stops - so you can never be late to it. ;)

    Enjoy the mini game. BTW, we eventually dropped the 'bump, rake' thing as it was hard to remember, and just went with the suit names - but I made sure that I gave really good descriptions about what was happening - the noises and clanks, etc.

    - Ark

  13. Hi, I’m a little late but I only discovered your site now, and I have to say that your idea is fantastic. In fact, I liked it so much that I made a BURP deck for me, in Portuguese (It is a FORS deck actually). But since you were so kind as to share your game I might as well do the same, and I made a deck in english too. The distribution is the same of a standard deck of cards: Four suites from 1 to 10 plus 3 face cards for each suite (Lock, Hourglass & Key). The size of the cards fit a standard card shield. I added a little extra too: At the bottom of each card there’s a “Magic 8-Ball” like sentence, that a DM can use to solve some problem that he might have in the game session. Hope you enjoy.
    The deck is here: