Locks on Athas with lack of metal

I was just talking with a player and we were discussing rogues and lockpicks on Athas when it occurred to him. Generally locks are metal mechanical contraptions. On Athas slaves are usually just tied down with various ropes. I can imagine doors with an Agafari wood spike that gets pushed into a carved hole in the floor to lock it from the inside but other than rare iron locks from Tyr how would most Athasians lock their doors and chests?

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Like this:


I was just about to type that wooden locks are possible.
I imagine a good bone carver could craft a bone lock as well.
Wealthy people could get locks of copper or bronze.
The poor probably just bar their door, when they’re home. Luckily for them, they don’t have anything to steal.


Bronze is a metal I feel gets overlooked too often in Dark Sun. While all metals are far more rare and valuable, iron/steel is what is particularly rare/valuable to the point it feels like a minor magic item.

Copper and bronze work well when you’re dealing with anyone that has good money imo. Merchants, nobles, templar, etc. In other words the sorts of people a rogue would want to rob.


Crazy idea: screaming wood!
Locks made from agafari wood treated with alchemical substances that causes it to amit horrible wailing sound and to realease copious amounts of smoke when burned, so that any attempt to burn the lock will signal to all nearby that a crime is being committed

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I like that. Maybe I could expand on that with psionics. A minor empowered lock that telepathically contacts the owner if someone tries to break it.


The point behind my idea was that any simple athasian with average means could get a lock like that.
While this doesn’t contradict your psionic locks, theses would probably be out of reach for the common athasian

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Point taken. I was asking about Athasian society. Not the upper crust but what the average Athasian could potentially see in their day to day life.


Thinking about it, I don’t even think making wooden locks burnproof is that necessary.

Consider this: with metal locks, a common historical way to break them was either using acid, or bashing the chest. Either way risked the chance of ruining the chest or ruining the items inside the chest. Burning has a similar problem. So there is already a deterrent to trying to break a lock by destroying it.

But it does imply that lockpicking skills in Athas would be necessarily very different than they would in our world. Almost more like fine scale ebony carving, which means you could probably use the lockpicking skill for craft…

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Are you ignoring locks in doors? There’s no concern about destroying a house full of jewelry if you use fire to burn out the lock on thr front door. The house won’t burn down before you can loot it (if there’s even enough combustible material to burn it down at all).

I feel like you’re going to draw a lot of attention by burning down a house to break into it. That doesn’t strike me as exactly stealthy enough for a B&E.



A) Yes, but separate issue.
B) Burning the house down in my scenario is accidental, collateral damage. Similar to burning a forest down because you’re cold, when really both are conversations about proper fire management.

Why bother burning a lock when you can just bash down the door. Just as conspicuous.

Besides, you can use acid on old metal door locks as well.

IDK, strength vs. tool availability i guess? I’m not advocating it so much as pointing out that chests/drawers/etc aren’t the only things you COULD lock with a wooden lock.

I’d definitely ALLOW someone to burn a lock rather than smash open a chest or door if they wanted to.

Also, i suppose you can only try to bash down a door once (at least in 2e). You could probably spend all night trying to light a lock on fire, RAW.

Technically speaking, every common Athasian is supposed to have at least one psionic power.

Having said that, the PSIONIC LOCK power is a second level power, which would restrict it to actual psions, wilders, and psychic adepts. So crafted items of psionic locks would be financially limited to those of modest savings at a minimum.

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If I recall it correctly, only player’s characters start all with psionic powers. NPCs had a small possibility of having one, I think.

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This feels like a conversation where what edition you’re talking about will start to matter quickly. 2e or 3e?

2e. The original boxed set says that most NPCs and monsters are wild talents, but the revised one provides a table with percentages:


A good guard dog can be more effective than any lock. A mutually beneficial neighborhood watch is another option. No altruism required. You can use a thin hook from the outside to secure a wedge under the door inside. Fear could also be a factor. Commoners are generally poor and the few valuables they might own probably aren’t worth the risk of being attacked by angry neighbors, or caught by the guards. If you live in a bad neighborhood, a lock probably won’t help, or it’ll act as a signal to thieves, “valuables inside”.

I see no reason why locks and keys can’t be made from hard stone among other materials. Call it an ancient dwarvish invention. Dwarvish locksmithing could be a form of competitive art. If dwarves can make underground cities, they can make granite locks. I could also see locks being stolen and resold.


What about psionically-reinforced (hardened) crystal?

Or even similarly treated bone?

And I think that the two things that Athas has an over-abundance of (sand and fire/sun) would certainly suffice to make plenty of glass which could also be reinforced into lock grade material. Glass locks which shatter loudly and leave sharp (and possibly poisoned) pieces all over the place. Maybe even filled with poison gas to boot for extra effect. Give bards more jobs.