Get Ready for Simulockrum - A lockpicking mini game suitable for all tabletop RPGs

by Temporal Travels

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Rogue's Lament

(11/19/23) UPDATE!
   With the end of the Hollywood strikes, our woodworker, Datamancer, had also started to receive "money is no object, we need this done NOW" solicitations.  Fantastic for them, but it's also why the start of this campaign had to be pushed back.  They are hoping to complete the hero copy by this Monday (11/20) and we'll post some photos ASAP.  They're gamers too and understood the project right off the bat, and we're all still planning to fulfill by the holidays.  Thanks for your patience!

  • Have you noticed that rogues, even in life and death situations, are relegated to one skill check per round? Then the player is rewarded by going back to their phone until their turn comes up?
  • Why is lockpicking even a skill?  What rogue doesn’t maximize it with every level?  It’s a given.
  • Why would any other character class ever take lockpicking?

The Simulockrum - A Game System Agnostic Accessory

     Imagine holding a small box in your hand and having eight lockpicks at your disposal.  Every round, while the party fends off the monster horde, they're depending on you to get that door open to escape.  As they resolve the combat round, starting with your favorite pick, you slide it into the keyway and hear the clicks of the magnetic pins and feel the vibration.  From that, you deduce the first pin is likely positively oriented.  On your turn, you roll your lockpicking skill check to see how many chances you get to pick the lockpick with the right combination.  Eventually, just in the nick of time, the lock turns in your hand and the party is free!

     Here are some of the benefits of the Simulockrum:
  • The final product is made out of real cherry wood. These are not cheap, injection mold plastics whose paint will wear off over time, and the wood should naturally age into a beautiful, rich brown color.
  • There are four locking pins that can be easily re-keyed into any one of sixteen possible combinations, so you can reset and present a new puzzle in seconds.
  • The Simulockrum is useful for streaming as well – all the player needs to do is randomize the locking pins on camera, then start working while the party tackles an encounter.
  • It has a visually impaired friendly design. Each lockpick has divots on the side corresponding to the magnet pattern.

     How can you use it in a game?
  • Deductive Challenge:  In D&D, roll a skill check.  If you roll in the 20s, you get two tries at the combination, three tries in the 30s.  In systems like Edge of Empire, Savage Worlds, or Shadowrun, the number of successes on the dice is the number of tries.
  • Traps:  As the DM, decide how many tries the character gets before the trap goes off, and players can expending one "success" to reset the countdown clock.  That is, assuming they detected the trap in the first place...

     This lets ALL character classes attempt to pick a lock.  The rogue is just better at it, both in real life and in game terms, but there's a one in sixteen chance the party tank picks the right lockpick on the first try.  Cross training for lockpicking also matters for once!
     NOTE:  The first printing of the Simulockrum SOLD OUT.  We are trying to fund the second iteration, with changes that lessens waste during manufacturing.  So, please realize the photos here DO NOT reflect the final product.

     As it turned out, the cylinder tended to crack and split apart when drilling locking pin holes if the wood density changed, and that caused a total loss.  Instead, we are going to a "desk drawer" design, and the mass production prototype is expected circa the week of November 6th.  There are only rough photos available (see below).  Once we have hero shots, after sanding and a bit of polish, we'll post them ASAP.

When we last left our intrepid adventurers...

     So here's our story.  The Simulockrum is a labor of love. Having purchased D&D First Edition books from actual bookstores, we've been playing tabletop games for decades.  As there has never been an accessory or solution to the rogue problem in literally decades of D&D products, we made our own.  We also want to give a quality product to the gaming community.
     Everything started with just a concept sketch.  We wanted the feel of lockpicking, which meant having lockpicks in hand, and a lock assembly.  We liked the idea of having positive feedback - being able to twist, turn, and otherwise manipulate the mini game.  However, it couldn't take as long as a real lock because there's a D&D session to get back to!  So we started with a target of around 20 combinations.  Sure, people occasionally roll that natural 20, but having a 5% chance of someone hitting the right combination is better than a rogue rolling a 30.  Again.
The first concept sketches!

     Having four magnetic locking pins provided a total of 16 possible combinations.  That's 4! for you math nerds, or (1/2)^4 for you statisticians.  Rare earth magnets were also the perfect compromise between strength and availability.  But there was a concern as to whether they'd be too far apart for attraction to happen, because dipole-dipole attraction drops off at 1/(distance)^6 for you physics people.  Off to the craft store!
One wood spool, standard wood dowels, a pack of magnets, and two popsicle sticks later...

     It actually worked, even with holes we drilled in our garage and superglue on popsicle sticks.  Time to find a prototyping shop that could print a real version with real tolerances...
Parts of the lock assembly.
First function test!

     Would something like this even sell?  We estimated the total gamer population in the United States, said that around 10% of us were actually DMing consistently, and then conservatively, 10% of those would buy a Simulockrum to enhance their games.  It was a very conservative estimate, but still numbered in the thousands.  We made a small print run to test the waters in the marketplace in case we were really, really wrong.
First mass production proof of concept.

     We SOLD OUT of the first print run.  As of November 1st, we're in the middle of trying to get more made for the holidays, but also refining the design.  That central cylinder does tend to fracture during manufacturing, so we're trying to prevent waste and going to a "desk drawer" design.  We're just shy of the mass production proof.
From a revised notebook sketch, to concept prototype, to a production proof of the NEW DESIGN!

     We already have one great review on Etsy (, so please pledge here and see how many others are excited about changing the way lockpicking works in ALL tabletop role playing games.  Don't miss out!  We know there's an upper limit of units we can sell, so eventually they will go out of print forever.

  • Woodworker:  Datamancer,
  • Logos: Andrew Gerionmo, 
  • Music: Eric Matyas,, "Puzzle Game," "Intro Battle"
  • Art and Animation: Temporal Travels

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