Lock Policy

This is a statement of current policy. It is designed to be slightly restrictive at first, with the marshals deciding things more narrowly in the beginning, with the ability to increase the complexity of the locks in the chapter as the base level of competency grows and as we see how things develop. We will also be developing a list of “approved locks” as people bring them to us that can be used without consultation.

Lock Types

Diary Locks

Diary locks (which are a simple version of a warded lock) and single pin pin-tumbler locks are generally allowed.

At this time both older-style and modern warded locks (at least when they aren’t made out of plastic) and antique-style lever locks are generally allowed but must be demonstrated as pickable to a marshal, who will make a judgement call on speed, tools, and apparent complexity (you should be able to pick it in under 30 seconds as a necessary but not sufficient condition).

Pin-Tumbler Locks

2-4 pin pin-tumbler locks will usually be disallowed by the marshals except for very simple cases (or cases where there’s a bypass other than directly picking the pins, e.g., openable with a nail file), though may be allowed more as the chapter grows or may appear for special purposes under plot control.

Most other designs (e.g., wafer-tumbler locks, disc-tumbler locks), modern lever locks, and 5+ pin pin-tumbler locks are generally disallowed at this time, though you can ask a marshal about a specific design.

Security pins, e.g., serrated pins, are always disallowed.

Attempting to open a lock with a key other than the one that came with that specific IG lock requires legerdemain.

Discouraged Locks

Modern-looking padlocks (esp. those that look particularly modern) are discouraged since, even in cases where they are simple to pick, they reduce immersion (at least remove the bumper).

Encouraged Locks

“Antique-looking” locks are encouraged.

It is encouraged to label the keys and locks with identical numbers/symbols to reduce any confusion about which keys go to which locks.

Creating the tag for a lock

As before, you need blacksmithing level 2 or trapmaking level 2 in order to create the tag for a lock. The policy for this is as follows:

  • Blacksmith Level 2 can create a lock for 10 production.
  • OR a Trapmaker level 2 can create a lock for 10 production.

This will give you an item tag for a lock.

Strengthening Locks

Locks may be strengthened with Blacksmithing using the standard strengthening rules found on ARB 1.2 pg 58.

As always, locks should not be used to lock anything but should be attached to the object they are locking.

Breaking Off a Lock

To break off a lock you need monster strength (an endow by itself is not generally sufficient).

They must be opened with a key, picked, shattered, or destroyed with spells.

Chopping down doors/breaking open boxes/other forms of bypass may be situationally allowed by a marshal for story purposes: You might be able to do it in an old barn, but not in a dungeon.

You cannot do it to bypass building doors in New Acarthia that are occupied by players.

There are no official rules here, so whether it works is entirely of the hands of the marshal/plot.

Allowed Locks

The following locks are generally allowed and do not need specific demonstration to a marshal.

“Diary” Locks

Warded Locks

Pin and Tumbler Locks

  • Office Works “Heavy Duty” 40mm Padlock (Added 28 July 2015, these are available at most King Soopers I’ve been to for about $5) (This is a 4 pin lock that is easy to rake even with improvised tools and makes a good intro to pin-and-tumbler locks, it can also be opened using a nail file and no additional tools).

Failed Locks

These are locks that have been brought to us that are currently deemed unsuitable.

They may be reevaluated at a later point, particularly if you can find a way to pick them with standard tools within time constraints, but we haven’t seen such a demonstration to our satisfaction at this time.

Small Cast Iron Lever Lock Padlock with Keys

These look really cool, but there’s a huge degree of variation in the purchased examples seen so far—making them too inconsistent to recommend as a group—and picking them has only been demonstrated using tools that are customized per-lock. (Added 17 April 2015)

Masterlock #22

This is a warded lock, but it is too difficult to pick for us to approve it at this time.

Suggested Tools

Links go to one specific set of tools that I (llywelyn) use, but shouldn’t be considered the end-all, be-all or even a particular endorsement beyond that I like them.

  • Diary locks are generally pickable with a variety of tools from dental picks to wax carving tools to safety pins. I keep the six basic tension wrenches provided by the Sparrows Quick Start for a variety of options and widths.
  • Warded locks are easiest with some variety of warded picks. They can frequently be picked with other tools, but warded picks are the most straightforward.
  • Pin-and-tumbler locks are generally easiest with what most people think of when they think of “lockpicks.” The only pin-tumbler locks you are likely to see at this time are basic enough to be picked without them without too much trouble, but it might be good to start practicing!


As a general rule, we are going to deny locks that require custom tools that are made on-the-spot for a given lock at this time.