This is the proper medieval name for those Knaves, also called Nightwalkers, who in modern terms engage in burglary or B&E (Breaking and Entering) activities in order to rob their victims. This arises from the fact that true locks are expensive, a deterrent employed only by the wealthy, and simple latches are considered sufficient to keep the average honest person honest, and small, simple bolts or bars are used by the paranoid or well-to-do commoner. Thus, the Draughlatch’s skill is primarily focused on tripping latches and their simple stays and shifting bolts and bars from the outside. Because the greater prizes are to be found waiting behind them, this skill also enables the character to attempt to pick any true mechanical lock, rotating plate, tumbler, etc. Any and all of these activities requires a special set of tools such as those that are listed in the roster in Appendix F.
Of these activities, the Draughlatch is well aware that tripping latches and their simple stays is easiest, followed by shifting bolts and bars. Bars are generally larger and heavier, and so will generally be the more difficult of the two. Mechanical locks can run the gamut from childishly simple to fiendishly complex. Success in picking actual mechanical locks is dependent upon the character’s skill and the lock’s complexity (as described in the Artificer trade). A careful examination of a mechanical lock with this skill and proper lighting and tools will reveal to the character whether a lock is currently engaged before he picks it.
Draughlatches must be very careful in opening closed doors, as any traps whose mechanisms are involved may be triggered by the attempt. This skill may also be used to manipulate a latch, bolt or bar, or mechanical lock back to its locked state after the character has finished his business on the other side of it.
Draughlatches should be very cautious about engaging in this sort of activity, as getting caught can result in the loss of an ear, a finger, or of a whole hand, or the branding of his forehead. The justice meted out in the medieval period of the game can be most brutal, and the Draughlatch will have none but himself to blame when he gets caught and punished.
The att. mod. for the use of this skill is based upon the character’s CRD score, or AWA if using the skill to examine it to determine whether it is even engaged or not, to assess they type of lock before assaying to pick it.
True locks should generally only be encountered on the door of a dungeon cell, a strong-room, or metal-sheathed strongbox where the wealthy store their valuables at night, the wardrobe room adjoining the private chambers where they sleep, and the storerooms in the cellar and adjoining the kitchens where valuable stores of cloth, spices, and the like are regularly kept for the use of the household, under the Stewards watchful eye. Where an establishment, like a church, university, guild, or the like, or a household has wealth that none can claim individually or make individual use of, or has more than can readily be used personally (as applicable), there will generally be a muniment room, sometimes a chamber in the cellars or dungeon, or even a whole tower where it is kept, with a door as strong as the main door of any castle keep, usually with multiple locks upon it.
The DV for tripping a latch should generally lie in the “Easy” or “Elementary” general “Degree of Difficulty” category as explained in Task Resolution, unless it is particularly large and heavy, and/or well-made (GM’s discretion).
In such cases, the DV should fall in the “Moderate” category. Spring-latches, such as are still used today for cupboard doors were also in use in the period of the game, and they should have a base DV in the “Easy” category, rising to the “Moderate” category if combined with a hand latch, and/or is particularly large and heavy, and/or well-made (GM’s discretion).
The DV’s for drawing small uncomplicated bolts should lie in the “Easy” category (5-9), moving up to the “Moderate” category if made with a knob that must be rotated in order to be able to shift it, and/or if it is particularly large and heavy (GM’s discretion). Drawing or shifting bars will start in the “Moderate” category.
The DV for picking a mechanical lock is, simply enough, equal to the complexity rating or POT with which it was built, as chosen by the Artificer who designed it. The general degrees of difficulty can be used to judge this as well. Generally speaking, few will go to the trouble to buy a padlock or install a built-in lock with a DV of less than 10 to overcome.
The time required to exercise this skill is equal to the DV for the task, read in Actions. From this should be subtracted the character’s Draughlatch SL and AGL att. mod, to a minimum equal to whatever the normal length of one Action is for the character under the rules for Tactical Play and Combat, according to his RoA.