D&D (2024) Picking Locks and Disarming Traps - Dex or Sleight of Hand?

Reaper Steve

Explorer
I think it's been clarified in 5E that picking locks and disarming traps is a Dex check [not a Dex (Sleight of Hand (SoH)) check]. However, being proficient in Thieve's Tools (TT) lets you add your proficiency bonus. That makes sense to me.

But the latest playtest doc appears to muddy the waters. Fast Hands (3rd level Thief ability) lets a character make a Dex (Sleight of Hand) check to pick a lock or disarm a trap with thieve's tools as a bonus action.
  • Does this mean that picking locks/disarming traps now uses the SoH skill all the time? I'm not a fan of that, but it does mean that SoH plus TT proficiencies gives you advantage.
  • Or does this mean that only a thief can use the SoH skill for picking locks and disarming traps, and only when using Fast Hands? That seems rather exclusionary and confusing.

Thoughts?

If SoH now includes opening locks and disarming traps as well as picking pockets and legerdemain, then they should probably rename it to 'thievery' on something similar.
 
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darjr

I crit!
I think it's been clarified in 5E that picking locks and disarming traps is a Dex check [not a Dex (Sleight of Hand (SoH)) check]. However, being proficient in Thieve's Tools (TT) lets you had your proficiency bonus. That makes sense to me.

But the latest playtest doc appears to muddy the waters. Fast Hands (3rd level Thief ability) lets a character make a Dex (Sleight of Hand) check to pick a lock or disarm a trap with thieve's tools as a bonus action.
  • Does this mean that picking locks/disarming traps now uses the SoH skill all the time? I'm not a fan of that, but it does mean that SoH plus TT proficiencies gives you advantage.
  • Or does this mean that only a thief can use the SoH skill for picking locks and disarming traps, and only when using Fast Hands? That seems rather exclusionary and confusing.

Thoughts?

If SoH now includes opening locks and disarming traps as well as picking pockets and legerdemain, then they should probably rename it to 'thievery' on something similar.
Tool proficiency is still there too.

I wonder if it's a bit of a boost to thieves? I wonder if it was a mistake, which I don't say lightly cause too many things will be marked as such.

I wish they'd do a qna about the playtest.
 

It was weird to have the thiefly dungeon role tied to a tool, when every other tool is a meaningless curiosity. That it remains a tool means lockpicking/traps will always happen with an advantage... so it really shouldn't even exist as a tool, IMO.

That said, most locks are really simple to open even today, let alone in any late-medieval/early-modern mishmash that DnD worlds tend to be. So this likely doesn't even matter vs regular locks, but the skill REALLY should state how it interacts with something like magical locks that should actually be a lot more common...
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
This is an answered question in the Rules Glossary section of the UA, which matches what we got in Xanathar's a few years back:

TOOL PROFICIENCY
If you have Proficiency with a tool, you can add your Proficiency Bonus to any Ability Check you make that uses that tool. If you have Proficiency in the Skill that’s also used with that check, you have Advantage on the check too. This means you can benefit from both Skill Proficiency and Tool Proficiency on the same Ability Check.

So it looks like Thieves' Tools or Sleight of Hand can be used to pick a lock, and if you are proficient in both you get Advantage.

Just like sometimes a History check or a Religion check might turn up information.

As a side note, this applies just as well to musical instruments and Perform, and other tools that have overlap. Tool proficiencies can be quite useful if you are smart about them.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
However, being proficient in Thieve's Tools (TT) lets you had your proficiency bonus. That makes sense to me.
That makes one of us.
Does this mean that picking locks/disarming traps now uses the SoH skill all the time? I'm not a fan of that, but it does mean that SoH plus TT proficiencies gives you advantage.
Probably this, because tool proficiencies are dumb and going away.
Or does this mean that only a thief can use the SoH skill for picking locks and disarming traps, and only when using Fast Hands? That seems rather exclusionary and confusing.
Nope. The point of Fast Hands is the bonus action. There's the possibility that the playtest document writer was still thinking 3rd edition (weird, right?) and forgot about tool proficiencies, because there's no point in saying "you can use your  other reason for using your proficiency bonus when doing this thing. In which you are already proficient."

Edit: I need you to ninja a little faster there, @Blue . But it's really awkward for the ability to only infer that it grants you Advantage. So something smells...
 
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Reaper Steve

Explorer
This is an answered question in the Rules Glossary section of the UA, which matches what we got in Xanathar's a few years back:

TOOL PROFICIENCY
If you have Proficiency with a tool, you can add your Proficiency Bonus to any Ability Check you make that uses that tool. If you have Proficiency in the Skill that’s also used with that check, you have Advantage on the check too. This means you can benefit from both Skill Proficiency and Tool Proficiency on the same Ability Check.

So it looks like Thieves' Tools or Sleight of Hand can be used to pick a lock, and if you are proficient in both you get Advantage.

Just like sometimes a History check or a Religion check might turn up information.

As a side note, this applies just as well to musical instruments and Perform, and other tools that have overlap. Tool proficiencies can be quite useful if you are smart about them.
Does anything in 5E as it stands state that picking locks and disarming traps is done with Sleight of Hand? I don't think so... I think it's just a Dex check.

As it stands, I think Sleight of Hand is just good for picking pockets, which is rather narrow. I'd rather have a skill that covers mechanical device manipulation (e.g., picking locks, disarming traps, and more) and have picking pockets be a standalone ability unique to a class or subclass, or possibly be a feat.
 

Reaper Steve

Explorer
That makes one of us.
Why do you say that? To pick locks, you have to know how to use the tools. (A friend and I taught ourselves the basics during a deployment some years back... step one: learn how to use the tools.)
Probably this, because tool proficiencies are dumb and going away.
What gives you that impression? They've been in the last two docs. Just curious...
 

Xanathar's introduced cool tool concepts, including giving people with the right tool advantage on the relevant skill check.

What I really liked was dwarves gaining mason's tools proficiency, which gives advantage on finding and disarming stone traps.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Why do you say that? To pick locks, you have to know how to use the tools. (A friend and I taught ourselves the basics during a deployment some years back... step one: learn how to use the tools.)
Oh, I wasn't disagreeing. Your auto-correct just didn't make sense to me.
What gives you that impression? They've been in the last two docs. Just curious...
Wishful thinking. But something being in the playtest does not require it to be in D&D 6e. Also, the Fast Hands ability, as presented here, gives a thief advantage on all non-combat lockpicking. Assuming that SoH and Thief's Tools proficiencies are both standard issue for the thief. So, as I said, something smells.
 

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