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Most of the question's above. I shall be running a campaign tomorrow where thieves and traps may have a higher profile than usual, and it occurred to me to wonder whether the thief skill of "find/remove traps" (FRT) means "find or remove traps" or "find and remove traps". That is, does Lemmy Lightfingers have to make his FRT roll once to find a trap, then a second time to disarm-without-tripping it; or does the one successful roll do it all for him? If you think it's the latter, what happens in the case of failure (does he fail to find, or find-but-fail-to-remove-safely)?

I'm most interested in canon statements from 1e, since I can't find anything yet; failing that, I'd be very pleased to hear reasoned arguments. Rules quotations from other games, including later editions of D&D, aren't so useful to me.

Thanks for any light anyone can shed.

Edit: when I raised this, one of my powergamers - with just the tiniest amount of raised eyebrow - pointed out that the English edition 1e PHB is clear about this on p.28:

Roll for each function separately (a trap must be located before removal can be attempted).

However, it's unclear about what happens when you fail the remove roll, and several of you have provided the excellent suggestion that you just can't remove it, except on a 96-00, when you trigger it.

So thank you all. I shall accept M.C.'s answer because it's closest to the authoritative, contemporaneous 1e reference that I'd asked for; but any of your answers would have been enough, and they're all excellent; I'm sorry not to be able to accept them all.

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4 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The italian version of the AD&D Player Handbook explicitly states that you need two separate rolls.

Pag 56 (roughly translated):

To find a trap, the thief must be able to manipulate the item which contains it. Usually the DM rolls the dice secretly...

[...]

Once found, the trap must be disarmed. This roll requires 1d10 round. If he succeed, the trap is neutralized. A failed roll means that the device is too complex for the thief, but he will be allowed to try again once he levels up. If he scores between 96 and 00, he triggers the trap immediately.

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Thanks for that. Does the Italian version of the AD&D DMG say wha happens if the second roll fails? Is the trap triggered, or just not disarmed? –  MadHatter Jan 20 '12 at 21:31
    
Yep! Failing a roll doesn't trigger the trap (unless the thief scores between 96 and 00), but the thief won't be able to try again until he levels up. I'm adding this to my answer. –  Flenyar Jan 20 '12 at 21:44
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Personally (and I insist on that point: this is only my opinion) I always ask two rolls - it would be a "find or remove traps" for me. Different reasons for that:

  • I consider that detecting a trap and disarming it require different skills, even if there is only one skill for both in many games.
  • The thief does not necessarily want to disarm the trap (for instance, if he knows that a bunch of goblins are very likely to go through it). Or does not have the time to do it (if the bunch of gobs is actually ten meters behind). Or both (...).
  • Some traps are easy to spot, but difficult to disarm; an easy "detection roll" followed by a not-so-easy "disarm roll" seems logical to me in that situation.
  • It conveniently allows me to avoid the "what happens in case of failure" problem.

On the other hand, if your scenario is full of traps, too many rolls are bad for the ambiance... still, I think the two-rolls approach is more realistic, and I'm convinced realism helps players to immerse themselves in the game.

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A good argument - might well get used tomorrow! –  MadHatter Jan 20 '12 at 21:31
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Since you mentioned "canonical" sources, the D&D Wiki covers the separation and evolution of Open Locks, Find/Remove Traps and Disable Device on their Charactonomicon page, apparently part of the 3.5 Dungeonomicon Sourcebook.

Additionally an article posted on the Wizard's community site, Using Traps, states:

The best-case would be a thief with 18 Dex who'd have a 25% chance of finding a trap and a 25% chance of disabling it.

More definitively, Stop, Thief! an article by Mike Mearls posted in Wizard's Legend and Lore section states:

If there was a trap in the dungeon, the thief had a 1% chance (yes, that’s 1%, not a typo) of both finding and removing it; this from a 10% chance to find and a 10% chance to remove it. That’s a worse chance than rolling a 17 or 18 on 3d6.

My reading of the above would lead me to the requirement for two rolls. Which is surprising because I had personally thought that a single roll would do. Why find it if you aren't going to disarm it? I'll leave a discussion of bypassing traps for another question.

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That second reference is most interesting, thank you! –  MadHatter Jan 20 '12 at 21:31
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It requires two separate rolls

AD&D 2E PH Electronic Edition (from Master Tools CD), Thief Skills explanations:

Normally, the DM rolls the dice to determine whether the thief finds a trap. If the DM says, "You didn't find any traps," it's up to the player to decide whether that means therare no traps or there are traps but the thief didn't see them. If the thief finds a trap, he knows its general principle but not its exact nature. A thief can check an item for traps once per experience level.

Searching for a trap takes 1d10 rounds. Once a trap is found, the thief can try to remove it or disarm it. This also requires 1d10rounds. If the he dice roll indicates success, the trap is disarmed. If the dice roll indicates failure, the trap is beyond the thief's current skill. He can try disarming the trap againwhen he advances to the next experience level. If the dice roll is 96-100, the thief accidentally triggers the trap and suffers the consequences. Sometimes (usually because his percentages are low) a thief will deliberately spring a trap rather than have unpleasant side effects if the trap doesn't work quite the way the thief thought, and he triggers it while standing in the wrong place.

Note that the DM rolls for finding it, and the Player Rolls for removing/disarming it. So while it's a single score in AD&D 2, it's still two separate applications.

As an aside and partial confirmation of this principle, and for better clarity, BECMI & Cyclopedia D&D lists them separate skills (and gives lower percentages)(Cyclopedia, p.22)

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