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© 1994 by Scott Gray and Sharon Tripp. These pages may not be reproduced for profit. They may be copied, provided they are not altered and the authors' names remain attached.

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Locks are represented by one tumbler luggage locks. To lock a box or chest, simply lock it shut. To represent a lock on a door, however, a small box is duct-taped on or next to the door, and this is held shut by the lock. When opening a lock with the key, the player must open up the box and check inside it for any notes (if there is something jamming the lock, such as the tip of a broken lockpick, the key will not open the lock). In order for a character pick a lock in game, the player must out of game pick the lock.

There are two types of lock; those set into a door or chest (called fixed locks) and those which are not so set, such as manacles or padlocks (called movable locks). Fixed locks can be ranked level 1-6, and type A, B, C or D. Movable locks can be ranked level 1-4, and type A, B, C or D. Locks may have certain special qualities, as described below.

If the player setting up the lock wishes, (s)he may cover over the part of the card listing the level and pick type necessary with a flap of paper. By doing this, someone wanting to pick the lock must actually study it for a moment to determine how difficult it looks to pick.

As with tying a person up, or carrying a person, or other such activities, in order to put manacles on a player, (s)he must agree to it. If the player does not agree, his/her character will not be allowed to attempt to pick the lock, and is assumed to be unable to escape the bonds on his/her own.

Picking locks

First, the character must choose which lockpick to use. The lock will have a letter (A, B, C, D) printed out of game, describing which type of pick (angled, bendable, curved or diminutive) looks most likely. It will also have a number (1-6) printed to represent the estimated rank of the lock (this number ranges from 1-4 for movable locks). Usually this code is accurate, but sometimes a note attached to the lock rep (to be opened only after fiddling with the lock ingame and opening the out of game rep) will explain the "actual" lock statistics.

Next, the character may attempt to open and inspect the lock, using his/her chosen lockpick. The character must have at least one level of master lockpick ability, or one level of ability with the type of lockpick being used, in order to try to open or inspect the lock. The player must actually use an OOG lockpick to open the OOG lock, to represent this time spent. Once this is done (if it is done), any special rules on the lock may be read (and must be followed).

The character's level of ability with the type of lockpick used (angled, bendable, curved or diminutive) should be added to the number of levels of lockpick mastery the character has. Only if the player picked the lock, the character's total lockpicking ability equaled or exceeded the lock's rank (according to lock notes if any; according to the number on the outside of the lock if there are no lock notes), and the character used the appropriate sort of pick (angled, bendable, curved or diminutive; again according to the lock notes) did the character pick the lock.

If the character used the wrong type of pick or had insufficient levels of lockpicking according to lock notes, the player should shut the out of game lock. The character may try again with another pick (based on the information (s)he gained in the last attempt). If so, the process of picking the lock should be begun again.

Often, the one-tumbler lock will hold lock notes giving special rules for the lock. This should be opened and the contents read. Certain locks will have special rules not readily apparent. Often there will be no note in the box or envelope, but for certain expensive locks a note (signed or stamped by the GM) will give special instructions.


"Though the lock appears to require an angled pick (so it was notated as A-4 outside) it in fact requires a curved pick. If a curved pick was used, the lock is open. If an angled or other type of pick was used, the lockpick is broken and will take 5 minutes to extract before any further attempts to open this lock may be made."

"The lock was just a bit tougher than it appeared. Though it read B-3, it is actually a B-5. If the character is unable to open a lock of this difficulty, the lock remains locked despite your efforts."

"The lock is trapped. Unless the proper key was used, you may be in trouble. If the character has disarm/set traps ability (s)he may leave the lock in peace at this point, or may attempt to disarm/get by the rep for the trap located inside this box. If the character does not have disarm/set traps ability (s)he must suffer the effects of the trap. No hard feelings."

If the lock was opened with the correct variety of pick, the character's ability with that sort of pick (combined with lockpick masteries) equaled or exceeded the ranking of the lock, and any special notes didn't otherwise prevent the lock from being opened, the ingame lock is opened.

Shattering locks

A strength of three or more is required to break most locks. In the instance of castle gates, the lock is usually stronger and requires greater strength to break. A battering ram can be used to pool multiple people's efforts.


Building anything using engineering requires access to blueprints. Blueprints may be gained ingame, purchased through logistics, or designed by a character with the appropriate research ability. Engineering includes the creation of traps, siege weapons, buildings, bridges, ships, sewers, mines, etc.

Blueprints, like alchemical formulas or magical grimoires, may be memorized by spending skill points, or worked off of directly without the skill point expenditure if the character has all of the prerequisite abilities/skills.

What can and cannot be made with engineering is up to the GM, and based primarily upon what can be represented in a given campaign. If there are no buildings available to have a siege during the game, the GM probably won't bother with plans for catapults. However, sometimes even off-screen engineering projects can have an effect on a game.

Example: Lord Sigrun has his engineer design blueprints for a moat. He earns himself many enemies by raising taxes on the populous to pay for its construction. When the barbarians come on their annual pillage, the characters play out the battle with a "moat" area marked off. None of the characters can enter the moat in armor, and those who do enter must "swim", moving at a slow speed and unable to do much else. Lord Sigrun is pleased, for his archers and defensive forces are not hindered by these impediments. However, he fails to realize that the disgruntled peasants plan to lower the drawbridge for the barbarians...

Engineering is necessary to make siege weaponry, such as catapults or ballista. Engineering might also be the prerequisite for any skills dealing with plumbing (aqueducts, sewers), ship building (waterproofing, steering, sails), carpentry, bridges or mining, should any of these come up in play.

Dangers and Traps

Dangers are things which are innately harmful. Dangers include natural things such as pits, rockslides and poisonous animals. Each danger has different rules for how its effects are handled, and who may attempt to neutralize or deal with the danger; these rules will be printed on a card taped to an obvious part of the danger representation or mechanism.

Traps include manmade devices or mechanisms which are inherently dangerous. Each trap follows different rules for how its effects are handled. Generally traps may only be disarmed by characters with the disarm traps ability, though there may be exceptions as printed on the card.

Most dangers and traps are represented by simple out of game tripwires, mechanical devices or electronic devices. If a bangsnap or buzzer goes off, the trap or danger is considered to have sprung, and any special rules written on the trap/danger card will have to be followed. At any point before, a player who sees the tag for the trap/danger may read it, so that (s)he knows what his/her character sees. The tag will describe what abilities and/or actions are necessary to actually disarm or neutralize the trap/danger.

The out of game term for a trap or danger being set off is "signal"; this refers to the sound made to let players know that they've sprung a trap or danger. Ingame, the trap is not necessarily making any noise; the trap/danger tag will describe what the effects of the trap are.

Sometimes the effects of a trap or danger are random. In such cases, an envelope will be attached to the trap containing multiple cards saying what the particular effect of the trap is. A person who sets off a trap draws a card at random from the envelope to see what the effect is.

Some trap/danger effects may be mitigated or nullified by the use of the dodge ability. A dodge can sometimes be used to avoid a trap that is set off, but usually requires using two dodges instead of one. This varies, and specific rules will be printed on the trap/danger tag.

Example: One morning, Martin went out into the big meadow. As Bob (who plays Martin) walked along, he stepped on a pets' chew toy, which made a squeaky noise. Bob looked down at the previously unnoticed chew toy, and noticed a danger tag, four red zoology component tags (see the section on components) and an envelope attached to it.
The danger tag noted that a character walking in the area would be passing right over an underground hive of termites. The tag instructs any character approaching the hive or stepping on the chew toy to draw one of the effect cards at random from the envelope (there were six). Bob drew, and the card read:
"The character is stung by several warrior termites, which deliver a level four quick poison. Lose one health point each minute for four minutes. Return this card to the deck."
The chew toy and the noise are totally out of game in this case. The odds of accidentally stepping on the chew toy represent the odds of an unobservant person being caught unawares by the termites. The odds of the player seeing the chew toy represent the odds of an observant character noticing the hive.
As Martin doesn't have the zoology skill, Bob didn't look at or take any of the red component tags. He did, however, have to stumble out of the area with four health points less.

Danger Triggers

The set traps ability, in conjunction with certain skills, allows a person to hide a natural danger or construct a manmade one. Characters without the appropriate skill(s) may not attempt to set up dangers without harm to themselves.

Triggers for natural or manmade dangers include:

Concealed. A danger which has the target blunder into it by keeping a stationary hazard, trap door or restraining trap hidden.

Obstacles. The danger is not hidden, but presents an impediment which cannot be gone around. This includes such things as guard dogs or lava flows.

Reactions. The area is innately prone to react badly with something. Perhaps natural gas in the air of a cave is flammable, exploding if the characters have open flame. Perhaps the area is a tainted magic area, which will do damage to mages equal to two health points per level of magery. Perhaps a sewer contains dangerous bacteria and germs, and has a high probability of causing an infection in a person who is wounded.

Trap Triggers

Trap triggers and effects can be used for things other than traps. For instance, a shifting trap effect might be used to make a bookshelf which swings open to reveal a secret passageway when the trigger book is pulled.

Triggers that are unique to traps include:

Manual. The target or another person pulls a rope, lever, or something to activate the trap. (One example would be a lock trap which, if the lock is opened with something other than the proper key, will move a lever and bring out a poisoned needle to prick the character for ".1 body poison steel".)

Pressure. When weight is placed on (or removed from) the pressure plate (usually located on the floor, though it may also be in a wall or elsewhere), the trap is activated. This same mechanism is also used for secret doors.

Other. This might include such things as spring-activated triggers (one-way doors). In a more modern setting it might include such things as light-sensitive devices.


The "effect" of a trap or danger is the result that it produces. An effect might be to cause damage, to confine, to delay, whatever. All of the below effects are applicable to traps. Some are applicable to dangers.

Explosive. The trap does explosive damage as per whatever type/level of explosive it contains. The trap is generally destroyed upon use.

Hazard, moving. Anything designed to fall on, roll over, or otherwise trample the target with its weight. This includes rockfalls, lowering/falling ceilings, weights, etc.

Hazard, stationary. The trap or danger consists of or includes an innately dangerous thing, such as poison, caltrops, spikes or quicksand. Effect is appropriate to the type of hazard.

Mechanical. A trap which does damage by snapping shut on the target (such as an animal trap). Different traps might do normal damage, body damage, break or sever limb or other effects.

Projectile. The trap shoots a dart, bullet, arrow or other projectile at the target. Does damage type and amount appropriate to weapon type.

Restraining. The trap or danger does not necessarily do physical harm, but keeps the target from moving (snares, pits, etc.).

Shifting. A trap which is (usually) not intended to do damage, but rather moves mechanical devices to bolt doors, close portcullises or shift rooms.

Trap door. This moves the victim to a different physical location, often one from which the victim has no easy way to leave. This type of trap would include chutes or pits. The trap door itself does no damage; however, the fall or the surface below might, as per normal falling rules.

Warning. The trap does no physical harm, but sets off an alarm of some sort which warns someone of the trespasser, or simply frightens the trespasser into believing so.

Other. Animals (snakes, scorpions, guard dogs), rooms filling with water, etc.

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