When creating their characters, all players come up with a number to open
doors, based on their Strength. Must the characters make checks to see if they can
open inn doors, the doors to their rooms, or a carriage door? Of course not.
Under most circumstances, don't worry about the chance to open a door. Sometimes,
however, there are doors the characters aren't meant to open. That's when the
check becomes important.
Doors can generally be divided into different groups. First are regular normal
doors. These open when pushed or pulled because that's what they are supposed
to do. The DM who requires a check every time the characters try to enter a
tavern is misinterpreting the rules.
The next group are those heavy, old, musty, swollen and rusted doors found in
dungeons and ancient ruins. These don't open with an easy pull. The hinges may
be frozen or the wood swollen in the frame. To open these the characters must
make a check, yanking on the handle or giving the door a good shove.
Finally, there are locked, barred, and ensorcelled doors, ones that are closed
and sealed on purpose. These take a bit of doing to open.
Every character has a chance to force open a door, but it is up to the DM to
determine when it is appropriate to use this ability. The DM can legitimately
allow the characters to force open a door held shut by a flimsy lock or rotted
bar. An extremely heavy dungeon door, swollen in its frame may be unforceable.
The characters throw their shoulders against it and just bounce. If picking a
lock is particularly important to the adventure, then that might be the only way
to open the door (short of stealing a key).
One important note to remember is that if a monster opened a door and fled
through it, the characters should be able to open the door with equal ease. The
key here is "equal ease." What is easy for a troll or hill giant may be quite a
bit more than a gnome or halfling can manage! Frequent opening and closing will
also affect the ease with which a door can be used.
If a door fails to open on the first attempt, a character can try again—there
is no limit to the number of attempts, but each subsequent attempt will reduce
the character's chance of success by one, as he grows more and more tired of
yanking or banging on the door.
Another common tactic players use to deal with uncooperative doors is to put
multiple characters on it. Up to two people can attempt to force open a door at
the same time (more than this and the characters tend to trip over themselves).
The chance of opening the door is increased by half the lesser character's
chance (with fractions rounded up). Thus, if Rupert opens doors on a 1, 2, 3, or 4
(on 1d20) and Delsenora on a 1, 2, or 3, together they can open a door on a 1,
2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 (Rupert's 1-4 plus half of Delsenora's 1-3, rounded up to a
Resourceful characters sometimes go after doors in a big way, improvising
battering rams to bash them in. The characters need a suitable ram (a stout log
will do) and some running room to gain the full advantage of this method. Such a
ram will enable the characters to total their chances to open the door. Even
without the running room, the characters can swing the ram into the door. This
allows more than two characters to apply their muscle at one time.
Each character on the ram contributes one-half his normal chance of opening
doors to the overall effort. Thus, Rupert (1-4), Delsenora (1-3), Tarus (opens
doors 1-6) and Joinville (opens doors 1-2) would have a (2 + 2 + 3 + 1 =) 1-8
chance of bashing down the door swinging a ram into it. Their chance would be (4 +
3 + 6 + 2 =) 1-15 if they were able to charge the door full tilt with their
Of course, bashing down doors does have its disadvantages. First, the door is
ruined and can't be closed behind the group. The characters will leave a clear
path, one any pursuers can follow, and they won't be able to block their rear.
Unless the site has regular maintenance, the DM should note on his key what
doors have been destroyed for future references.
Forcing doors open also tends to be noisy. Unless the door bursts open on the
first try, creatures on the other side cannot be surprised. Even if there isn't
anything behind the door, those nearby will be alerted (and if intelligent,
may take action). Finally, the noise may attract unwanted visitors. The DM should
immediately make a wandering monster check (if any exist in the area) each
time a door is smashed down. Silently picking locks can have its advantages.
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