Accessing treasure inside boxes is possible by purely magical means without any skill in Picking Locks or Disarming Traps. One may wish to do this for profit, entertainment, and/or small amounts of experience, and if done properly it can be relatively safe. When Unlock (407) is employed, this activity is colloquially known as popping boxes.
- 1 A guide to Popping Boxes
- 2 Exclusion List
- 3 Relevant Training and Statistics
- 4 Vaporizing Boxes with Call Lightning
- 5 Phasing Boxes
- 6 Popping Boxes
- 7 Additional Information
A guide to Popping Boxes
The purpose of this guide is to consolidate information relevant to magically playing with boxes into one place, as well as giving all the practical facts relating to the relevant spells. Although the perspective is largely sorcerous, the approach attempts to be comprehensive. While the guide covers more than strictly "popping" information, it seemed suitable to choose a concise and easy-to-remember title.
As the basic prerequisite for this work is only knowing spells in either the Minor Spiritual Circle and/or Minor Elemental Circle, at least one of which is accessible by every profession (pending the release of Savants), it may be accomplished by anyone so inclined. Pures will tend to learn the relevant spells incidentally as part of their normal training path, and as such this activity tends to be more of a hobby than something to which characters are dedicated. However, there are limitations, as some boxes resist magic, and the profitability and experience gained will be less than someone dedicated to manual disarming and lockpicking skills.
— Kaldonis Harvest-Moon, on behalf of Beacon Hall Archive
Boxes that are enruned, mithril, or with a glyph trap will be impervious to this approach. While the former two will be readily apparent, the latter will require more consideration. Jaws traps that are set off magically also cause the entire box to become anti-magic; see the footnote in the Piercing Gaze table.
As these traps cause difficulty for magic users, yet are not as readily apparent, some explicit discussion is insightful. Using DETECT has no risk. However, even a box with a disarmed glyph trap will still resist magic, so disarming a glyph trap is not useful for a magical approach.
- Phase (704): CASTing Phase at a glyph trapped box will cause it to resist the magic, identifying the trap's presence.
- Piercing Gaze (416): Will set off the trap. Although this does not harm anyone or the box, it is inconvenient.
- Disarm (408) and Unlock (407): The box will resist the magic, but as these can set off other traps, they are poor probes.
Relevant Training and Statistics
The primary spells:
- Call Lightning (125): Vaporize boxes — trap, lock, box and all.
- Unlock (407): Pop the box open
- Disarm (408): Disarm traps
- Piercing Gaze (416): Check for traps
- Phase (704): Directly remove the contents from a closed box or indirectly detect glyph traps
- Presence (402): Likely helps with Piercing Gaze and Disarm
- Lock Pick Enhancement (403): Helps with Unlock
- Disarm Enhancement (404): Helps with Piercing Gaze and Disarm
- Rapid Fire (515): Do everything faster
- Self Control (613): Similar functionality to Disarm Enhancement.
We presume here explicitly not to use manual skills like Picking Locks or Disarming Traps since this guide covers the purely magical approach; of course, a character could train in any fashion s/he chooses.
- Perception: Helps with Piercing Gaze and DETECTing traps
- Arcane Symbols: Helps to spot magical traps (scarabs, glyphs) with DETECT
- Minor Elemental Ranks: Helps with Piercing Gaze, Lock Pick Enhancement, and Disarm Enhancement.
- Spiritual Lore, Summoning: Decrease the build up time for Call Lightning and allow the possibility to cast indoors
- Elemental Lore, Water: Successively corrodes a trap or lock difficulty when using Disarm or Unlock, respectively, up to 10%. Offers a chance to detect the difficulty of a Disarm or Unlock attempt via Piercing Gaze.
All characters interested in magically accessing the contents of boxes should have dedicated training in Perception; 1× per level will yield satisfactory results. Those using the Minor Elemental circle to do so should have at least one rank in Water Lore; as the benefits are seed 1 summation, the return is quite good even for just a few ranks.
It can be seen that aura is the most important statistic for popping boxes. Aura enhancives can be useful for difficult boxes or better safety.
- Lock Pick Enhancement (403): Aura bonus
- Disarm Enhancement (404): Aura bonus
- Unlock (407): Aura bonus
- Disarm (408): Aura bonus
- Piercing Gaze (416): Intuition bonus, Logic bonus (and if using 404, incidentally Aura bonus)
Vaporizing Boxes with Call Lightning
If the box is not impervious to magic, casting Call Lightning at it will, after the build up time, vaporize the box, spilling its contents. This is perfectly safe as long as the box does not resist magic and is on the ground; otherwise it may be fatal. Keep in mind that when a box is impervious to magic, rather than resisting Call Lightning, it will rebound the lightning bolt, probably at the caster. Note that if the box is not mithril, enruned, and has been checked for a glyph trap with Phase as described above, there is zero risk to Call Lightning for the caster.
None of the items inside the box will be harmed, except for any scrolls, which will be 'burned' (making them worthless in the eyes of pawnbrokers and unable to be infused), and silver coins, which will be melted into 'a rough slab of silver' which can be sold, for roughly half the value of the original silver coins, at any gemshop. The silver slab's value can be increased using the first tier of Holy Receptacle (325), Silver to Gold. However, it should be noted that because the box, and later its former contents, are on the ground, they are potentially subject to removal by the janitor, or acquisition by other characters or creatures.
Casting Call Lightning under the jurisdiction of JUSTICE will result in a charge of Endangering Public Safety, despite the fact that opening boxes this way is perfectly safe if they are not anti-magic. Find a preferred location to do your work.
Foolishly casting a box with a glyph trap:
Suddenly a lightning bolt explodes from the small thundercloud and strikes a battered steel strongbox with a brilliant flash! As the bolt strikes at a battered steel strongbox, a brilliant blue light surrounds it and deflects the bolt towards you! ... 20 points of damage! Heavy shock sends you to the ground with convulsions! You are knocked to the ground! You are stunned for 7 rounds!
Foolishly forgetting to drop the box, vaporizing caster and box alike:
Suddenly a lightning bolt explodes from the small thundercloud and strikes a badly damaged fel coffer with a brilliant flash with some of the bolt hitting you! ... 60 points of damage! Terrifying electrical arc destroys spinal column one vertebra at a time! It seems you have died, my friend. Although you cannot do anything, you are keenly aware of what is going on around you... You mentally give a sigh of relief as you remember that the Goddess Lorminstra owes you a favor. ...departing in 16 mins... The fel coffer is vaporized!
Suddenly a lightning bolt explodes from the small thundercloud and strikes an acid-pitted gold box with a brilliant flash! Wow, quite charred! The gold box is vaporized! >look [Vornavis, West Road] The road here was once extremely well maintained, and looks to be more like a city street than a wilderness road. Cobblestones pave the road that runs up to the remains of a broken and ruined tower to the east, and into the distance in the west. You also see a rough slab of silver, some polished red coral, a yellow sapphire, a dark cloud and a large doorway leading into the ruined tower. Obvious paths: west
The best use of Phase (704) is to attempt to phase a box for weightlessness. Regardless of the box's weight and the caster's lore training, if the box 'resists the magic' then the caster knows the box cannot be opened magically. For anyone with access to the spell, this is typically the easiest and safest way to find glyph traps.
Alternatively, one may attempt to phase through a box in order to retrieve its contents directly, by channeling Phase (704). No more than one item can be removed on each successful attempt, and typically a diminishing number of coins are pulled on each attempt.
You channel at a dented iron box. Suddenly you notice the box's form dim slightly as it becomes less substantial. You quickly stick your hand inside it and fish around for something to grab. You grab hold of something and pull it out! You found some neat thrak hide shoes! Roundtime: 5 sec. Cast Roundtime 3 Seconds. Roundtime: 3 sec.
However, phasing into boxes has a good chance of setting off any traps, and extreme failures can sever the caster's hand, leaving it inside the box.
Given that between one fifth and a quarter of the Minor Elemental Circle spells are related to getting inside treasure boxes, it's a good idea for anyone with serious training in the spell circle to familiarize themselves with the application and interaction of these spells. A character with good stats, 1× Perception, and reasonable knowledge of the Minor Elemental Circle should be able to open their own boxes from hunting.
Looking for traps with Piercing Gaze
Successful casts of Unlock (407) and Disarm (408) typically do not set off traps; however, poor attempts can set off some traps, while other traps may be set off from even the best attempt. Furthermore, although Disarm is able to help the caster find and identify traps, using that spell a caster has no way of differentiating between failing to find a trap and a box not being trapped. For these reasons it is best to begin investigating the box with Piercing Gaze which, when successful, almost always shows any trap (assuming proper training with boxes from creatures like-level and below), and it only sets off glyph traps (which while annoying is harmless).
Both Presence and Disarm Enhancement aid the power of Piercing Gaze, and it is recommended for the caster to use these first; unlike with Disarm and Unlock, the Enhancement spell will not drop automatically after casting Piercing Gaze. Piercing Gaze should then be cast at the box until the caster has one (or more) success(es); multiple successes may be desired because not all successful attempts of Piercing Gaze show traps, particularly if the trap is a difficult one. If one possess the above basic skills and stats, failures are rare enough that one attempt is quite safe, and zero failures should ever be encountered with three attempts.
If a trap is seen, the caster should decide their course of action based on the type of trap. Below is a comprehensive table of traps (or similar items), the messaging from Piercing Gaze to uniquely identify each, and triggering information with regard to Disarm and Unlock.
Water Lore training provides a chance to present the success probability for Disarm (for a detected trap) and Unlock. These probabilities are modified with consideration to whether the caster has either of the lore spells active, although the lore benefits may not always be enough to elevate the difficulty from one probability bracket to the next. See the table in the main article for the correspondence between the messaging and the probabilities. While these probabilities are more akin to a mana/time estimate for Unlock, they can assist to inform an otherwise difficult or possibly dangerous decision with regard to Disarm.
The color code correlates with potential danger rather than whether or not a trap is set off. The table could also be incomplete, it is only based on trial and error!
|Trap||Piercing Gaze Message||408||407|
|Scarab||Peering closely into the lock, you spy a <type> scarab wedged into the lock mechanism. The scarab's surface is etched with tiny runes that seem to writhe as the light strikes them.||Sometimes||Sometimes|
|Poison Needle||You notice what appears to be a sharp sliver of metal nestled in a hole next to the lock plate.||Sometimes*||Sometimes*|
|Jaws§||You notice a discolored oval ring around the outside of the <box-type> which makes you suspicious. Your suspicions are confirmed when you look inside the keyhole and notice the spring-loaded jaws pressed flush against the <box-type> walls.||No||Yes|
|Sphere||You see a tiny sphere imbedded in the lock mechanism.||Sometimes||Yes|
|Dark Crystal||You can see a small crystal imbedded in the locking mechanism.||Sometimes||Yes|
|Scales||You see a cord stretched between the lid and case.||Sometimes||Always|
|Sulfur||Peering through the tanik box, you notice that the lock casing is coated with a rough, grainy substance, and a small bladder is wedged between the tumblers of the lock.||Always†||Always|
|Gas Cloud||Looking closely into the keyhole of the lock, you spy a small vial of liquid and a tiny hammer device which seems poised to shatter it if the lock is tampered with.||Sometimes||Yes‡|
|Acid Vial||You notice what appears to be a tiny vial placed just past the tumblers of the lock mechanism. It appears that any tampering with the lock mechanism will cause the tumblers to crush the vial.||Sometimes||Yes|
|Springs||Peering through the <adjective> <box-type>, you notice that the hinges have some springs incorporated into the design in an unusual fashion.||No||Yes|
|Fire Vial||Looking closely into the keyhole of the lock, you spy a small vial of fire-red liquid and a tiny hammer device which seems poised to shatter it if the lock is tampered with.||Sometimes||Yes|
|Spores||You see a thin tube extending from the lock mechanism down into the <box-type>. The tube appears to be filled with a greenish powder.||Sometimes||Yes|
|Plate||There appears to be a plate over the lock, sealing it and preventing any access to the tumblers.||No||No|
|Rods||Near the lock mechanism, you notice a pair of small metal rods a hair's width from rubbing together.||Sometimes||Yes|
|Boomer||The inside chamber is lined with some unidentifiable substance.||Sometimes||Yes|
- * Poison needle traps can be set off by Unlock, but this is entirely harmless.
- § Jaws traps are particularly strange. If they are set off magically, the box itself becomes entirely anti-magic as a kind of surrogate for the trap's inability to take the caster's hand. This poses no risk for the caster unless the caster subsequently casts Call Lightning on a box after setting off a Jaws trap, as it will rebound. This could appear as You notice a discolored oval ring around the outside of the coffer and a slightly reddish glow which makes you suspicious. Your suspicions are confirmed when you look inside the keyhole and notice the spring-loaded jaws pressed flush against the coffer walls. The jaws are surrounded with a reddish glow.
- † Sulfur traps are always set off once detected, but not set off by Disarm probing...
- ‡ Gas cloud traps are set off by directly popping, but the gas cloud immediately begins dissipating. However, if JUSTICE is active it will result in a charge for Endangering Public Safety.
It can be seen that trap properties vary widely, clearly motivating the use of Piercing Gaze. Traps range from the least threatening ones that are not triggered via Unlock and may be safely ignored (e.g. Plated) to the most dangerous traps which are always triggered by either Disarm and/or Unlock (e.g. Sulfur). Keep in mind that boxes with traps easily set off by Disarm and/or Unlock are safe targets for Call Lightning. The most judgement is required for traps which are only sometimes set off by Disarm.
Failure (does not necessarily mean there is a trap):
You gesture at a badly damaged iron trunk. You gaze at the trunk but your vision is obscured. Cast Roundtime 3 Seconds.
Success with no evident trap:
You gesture at an engraved wooden strongbox. You gaze at the strongbox and see. . . An engraved wooden strongbox which contains: A pink-banded coquina shell (in) A snake-etched ora crown (in) A large pink pearl (in) An uncut star-of-Tamzyrr diamond (in) Some silver coins (in) Cast Roundtime 3 Seconds.
Success with an evident (and very dangerous) trap:
You gesture at an acid-pitted steel trunk. You gaze at the trunk and see. . . An acid-pitted steel trunk which contains: A green malachite stone (in) Some ambrominas leaf (in) Some silver coins (in) Peering through the steel trunk, you notice that the lock casing is coated with a rough, grainy substance, and a small bladder is wedged between the tumblers of the lock. Cast Roundtime 3 Seconds.
Lower Risk Traps
If a box is found to be trapped with Piercing Gaze, in some cases one might not worry about setting off the trap. One can often take advantage of the fact that no hard RT is induced magically opening boxes, which wouldn't be true for the case of failing a manual disarm attempt.
Sky-blue and sea-green glaes scarabs inflict powerful disease and poison, respectively, and if the caster or a companion has access to Undisease (113) or Unpoison (114) one might disregard the risk of triggering the trap with Disarm or even directly Unlocking it. However, as scarabs that are deactivated by Disarm do not fall to the ground (and thus cannot be sold), one may wish to have the box manually disarmed (even if just to donate the scarab to the picker).
In the case one intentionally sets off blue and green scarabs by simply Unlocking those boxes, it is a good idea to know the messaging (shown here for a sea-green scarab):
As you cast your spell on the strongbox, you hear the buzzing of a tiny insect coming from within. Suddenly, something darts out of the lock and flies straight at you! You attempt to duck out of the way, but it weaves with you and lands on your neck! You gasp in horror as you feel its stinger enter your flesh and you clap your hand to your neck to stop it, but there is nothing there. You suddenly feel very ill.
As such scarabs do not induce any RT, if the caster is removing the disease or poison him/herself, the caster must only wait for the cast time of Unlock to lapse. It's worth noting that the scarabs can immediately inflict damage, but for anyone with full health points, this shouldn't be fatal itself. There are also alchemy potions for Undisease and Unpoison. Either way, one should have quick actions and not forget the proper remedy. A simple trick to remember which of these spells are which numbers, and which scarab colors are which illness, one need merely remember that the spell number (113/114), initial letter of the illness ('d' or 'p'), and initial letter of the alchemy potion and scarab ('b' or 'g') correlate in numeric and alphabetic order. That is, 113 is before 114, 'd' is before 'p', and 'b' is before 'g'; thus 113 is for diseases which are blue, and 114 is for poisons which are green.
Setting off a Fire Vial trap will not result in any round time, stun or damage for about ten seconds. Because popping boxes only results in cast time, one can immediately begin attempting to extinguish the flames, or get a friend to help.
You gesture at a plain tanik coffer. Now to isolate the offending mechanism and disable it...Uh oh! You hear what sounds like a vial being shattered from inside the lock mechanism. You jump back from the coffer as a cloud of billowing red begins to pour from its seams engulfing you and covering you with globs of fiery goo! >fall You fall to the ground screaming in agony! P>roll You flail about on the ground in an attempt to extinguish the flames! You fail to put out the flames. Roundtime: 5 sec. PR>The flames engulfing you flare up and sear your skin! ... 25 points of damage! Back bursts into a lovely display of flames but you're too busy to notice. You are stunned for 5 rounds! The air swirling about you fans the flames! ... 20 points of damage! Flames incinerate muscle tissue in neck exposing the trachea. More than you ever wanted to see. !SPR>Astru begins to roll you around on the ground in an attempt to put out the flames. Astru fails to put out the flames! Roundtime: 5 sec. !SPR>The flames engulfing you flare up and sear your skin! ... 25 points of damage! Flames incinerate scalp completely and blacken skullcap. Not very fashionable. The air swirling about you fans the flames! ... 30 points of damage! Extreme heat causes your right arm to expand and snap. That hurts! !SPR>Astru begins to roll you around on the ground in an attempt to put out the flames. Astru manages to put out the flames surrounding you!
One may note that the most important thing to do immediately after setting off a fire vial trap is to STOP Spirit Barrier (102) if it is active! Of course, anyone helping you to extinguish the flames is also likely to get burnt.
Magically Disarming a trap
After a trap is found via Piercing Gaze or Disarm, the caster will retain the trap in mind for a few minutes and may directly attempt to Disarm it. If Piercing Gaze is not used, or there is a lapse of time between viewing the trap and attempting to Disarm it, initial casts of Disarm will first probe for traps. Note that a trap found via the manual skills DETECT and/or DISARM will still need to be observed by a magical means before it can be magically disarmed.
Disarm Enhancement assists for magically Disarming traps, but regardless of the outcome, the the Enhancement spell will drop immediately after each Disarm attempt. Thus for the best chances of success, a caster should cast 404 and 408 sequentially until the trap is disabled, meaning each attempt requires six seconds and twelve mana. The process can be sped up by omitting the use of Disarm Enhancement and instead using Rapid Fire (515).
Assuming the caster has even a single rank of Elemental Lore, Water, the lock's difficulty can eventually be deduced once the rotting effect is no longer exhibited on unsuccessful attempts. One takes the number of cumulative rotting effects, times the seed 1 of the caster's Water Lore ranks, times 10.
Unsuccessful attempt to detect a trap, including use of Disarm Enhancement (trap is not in the caster's mind):
You gesture at a badly damaged steel chest. You begin to probe the chest for unusual mechanisms...The chest vibrates slightly but nothing else happens. The focused look leaves you. Cast Roundtime 3 Seconds.
Unsuccessful attempt after the trap has been detected, including use of Disarm Enhancement:
You gesture at a simple thanot strongbox. Now to isolate the offending mechanism and disable it...The strongbox vibrates slightly but nothing else happens. The focused look leaves you. Cast Roundtime 3 Seconds.
Successful corrosion of the trap (one or more ranks of Water Lore), including use of Disarm Enhancement:
You gesture at a badly damaged wooden coffer. Now to isolate the offending mechanism and disable it...The coffer vibrates slightly but nothing else happens. The focused look leaves you. You feel that you have slightly corroded the trap on a badly damaged wooden coffer.
Successful attempt, including use of Disarm Enhancement:
You gesture at a simple thanot strongbox. Now to isolate the offending mechanism and disable it...The strongbox pulses once with a deep crimson light! The focused look leaves you. Cast Roundtime 3 Seconds.
Viewing most traps after they are successfully disarmed will involve messaging including a 'crimson glow', which may be relevant if a caster Disarms but does not Unlock a box and forgets about its status, or Disarms a trap but experiences difficulty Unlocking the box and has the box manually picked.
Magically opening the box
If a caster has determined via Piercing Gaze and/or Disarm that it is safe enough, Unlock should be cast at the box until it is opened and the treasure can be removed from within. This is the only way to gain experience with boxes through purely magical means, granting between 5 and 20 experience each.
As the case with Disarm Enhancement and Disarm, Lock Pick Enhancement assists for magically Unlocking boxes, and regardless of the outcome, the enhancement spell will drop after each Unlock attempt. Thus for the best chances of success, a caster should cast 403 and 407 sequentially until the box's lid flies open, meaning each attempt requires six seconds and ten mana. The process can be sped up by omitting the use of Lock Pick Enhancement and instead using Rapid Fire (515).
Assuming the caster has even a single rank of Elemental Lore, Water, the lock's difficulty can eventually be deduced once the corrosive effect is no longer exhibited on unsuccessful attempts. One takes the number of cumulative corrosive effects, times the seed 1 of the caster's Water Lore ranks, times 10.
Unsuccessful attempt (without Water Lore) including use of Lock Pick Enhancement:
You gesture at a a simple thanot chest. The box vibrates slightly but nothing else happens. The scintillating light fades from your hands. Cast Roundtime 3 Seconds.
Successful corroding (one or more ranks of Water Lore), including use of Lock Pick Enhancement:
You gesture at a sturdy modwir box. The box vibrates slightly but nothing else happens. The scintillating light fades from your hands. You feel that you have slightly corroded the lock on a sturdy modwir box. Cast Roundtime 3 Seconds.
Successful attempt including use of Lock Pick Enhancement:
You gesture at a simple thanot chest. You hear a soft click from the box and it suddenly flies open. The scintillating light fades from your hands. Cast Roundtime 3 Seconds.
Certain kinds of traps can give a messaging if they would have been set off, but either are not set off by Unlock or were already disarmed with 408 (a bug that may have been resolved):
You gesture at a simple thanot chest. Nothing happens. The scintillating light fades from your hands. Cast Roundtime 3 Seconds.
Generally, traps can be set off either on poor attempts or successful attempts, depending on the type of trap.