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In D&D 5th edition, can any class disarm a trap, or can just the Rogue class do that?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What kind of trap? There is a difference between, say, a mechanical booby trap, a simple pitfall or a magical trap. \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Jun 23 '18 at 0:37
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There's no specific class requirement for the general action of disarming a trap. There's really no specific "disarm a trap" action, either, it's just a thing you can do like other interaction with your environment.

If disarming a trap requires an ability check, the only real guidance is that it may involve a Dexterity check (PHB p. 177).

The main aspects that a Rogue has are:

  1. If one has proficiency with Thieves' Tools (as a Rogue does), then one can add one's proficiency bonus to the check (PHB p. 154).
  2. If one chooses the Thief archetype at 3rd level, one gets the "Fast Hands" ability which allows for using your Cunning Action Bonus Action to disarm a trap (PHB p. 97).

Under "Detecting and Disabling a Trap" (DMG p. 120):

A trap's description specifies the checks and DCs needed to detect it, disable it, or both. A character actively looking for a trap can attempt a Wisdom (Perception) check against the trap's DC. You can also compare the DC to detect the trap with each character's passive Wisdom (Perception) score to determine whether anyone in the party notices the trap in passing. If the adventurers detect a trap before triggering it, they might be able to disarm it, either permanently or long enough to move past it. You might call for an Intelligence (Investigation) check for a character to deduce what needs to be done, followed by a Dexterity check using thieves' tools to perform the necessary sabotage.

So, there may be more specific requirements depending on the specific trap. For example, the sample "Poison Needle" trap (DMG p. 123) says that a "DC 15 Dexterity check using thieves' tools disarms the trap", though I'm not completely confident whether that means that having thieves' tools are required in order to even attempt disarming it, or whether that language is just saying that in the Dexterity check one can add one's proficiency bonus if one has proficiency with Thieves' tools. That's just a sample of a kind of trap that a DM might use, though, and each trap can be different. There certainly could be a trap that some DM has used somewhere that could only be disarmed by a character with the knowledge that comes from having the Rogue class. But there are no general requirements that apply to disarming all traps that require any particular class.

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It depends on the trap type

There is no particular "disarm a trap" action in 5e rules. Various adventures describe plenty of magical and mechanical traps, simple and complicated. Some traps, like Hunting Trap, are meant to be disarmed by anyone without any tools. Some traps can not be disarmed at all. For instance, Lost Mines of Phandelver from Starter Set has a Pit trap in the forest — it is just a pit 6 feet wide, 10 feet deep, camouflaged with leaves.

You probably have to be proficient with Thieves' Tools

Talking about deactivating mechanical traps, the Dungeon Master's Guide implies using Thieves' Tools in the process:

You might call for an Intelligence (Investigation) check for a character to deduce what needs to be done, followed by a Dexterity check using thieves' tools to perform the necessary sabotage.

Some trap descriptions explicitly say you can disable them with Thieves' Tools:

The trip wire is 3 inches off the ground and stretches between two support beams. The DC to spot the trip wire is 10. A successful DC 15 Dexterity check using thieves' tools disables the trip wire harmlessly.

It is unclear if the character has to be proficient. He/she has to, apparently, since the DMG requires a burglar to be proficient with Thieves' Tools in order to unlock a door:

Characters who don't have the key to a locked door can pick the lock with a successful Dexterity check (doing so requires thieves' tools and proficiency in their use).

The final decision is up to the DM.

You don't have to be a rogue, though

Rogue class gives you proficiency with Thieves' Tools. But you don't have to be a Rogue to be proficient — you can get the proficiency from your background or gain it during a downtime activity.

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Yes, although rogues are often better at disarming traps.

According to the Player's Handbook, p.177:

Other Dexterity Checks. The DM might call for a Dexterity check when you try to accomplish tasks like the following: [...]

  • Pick a lock
  • Disable a trap

You may require thieves' tools (p. 154), and having proficiency in those tools will allow you add your proficiency modifier whenever you use them, which will improve your chances of picking a lock. A rogue gains proficiency in thieves' tools automatically, so rogues are better than average, but it's not an exclusive ability like in earlier editions of the game.

It's up to the DM whether a particular trap requires thieves' tools to disarm. This is different to earlier editions of the game, where, for example, Disable Device skill could not be used untrained. Anyone can attempt to disarm a trap untrained in 5th edition.

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From page 177 of the PHB, under "Other Dexterity Checks" (formatting is mine):

Other Dexterity Checks. The DM might call for a Dexterity check when you try to accomplish tasks like the following:

  • Control a heavily laden cart on a steep descent
  • Steer a chariot around a tight turn
  • Pick a lock
  • Disable a trap
  • Securely tie up a prisoner
  • Wriggle free of bonds
  • Play a stringed instrument
  • Craft a small or detailed object

This makes no mention of being a rogue, so anyone can make a Dex check to disable a trap.

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  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Almost any creature can make Dexterity checks in 5e. The rules say the DM might call for a Dexterity check when you try to disable a trap. That doesn't mean the only requirement for disabling a trap is a possibility of making Dexterity checks. Quite the opposite — the list also mentions picking a lock, which explicitly requires proficiency. \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Jun 24 '18 at 11:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @enkryptor It's not clear that one requires proficiency in order to pick a lock. \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Cooper Jr. Jun 24 '18 at 15:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterCooperJr. you still can't pick a lock when you are a snake, despite the fact that snakes can make Dexterity checks. \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Jun 24 '18 at 17:59
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You do not have to be a rogue or have proficiency with thieves' tools. The other answers discuss that enough.

However, I want to mention something from Xanathar's Guide to Everything. Having thieves' tools and being proficient with them can give you advantage on checks related to traps if you are also proficient in the skill applied (p. 78):

Skills. Every tool potentially provides advantage on a check when used in conjunction with certain skills, provided a character is proficient with the tool and the skill. As DM, you can allow a character to make a check using the indicated skill with advantage. Paragraphs that begin with skill names discuss these possibilities. In each of these paragraphs, the benefits apply only to someone who has proficiency with the tool, not someone who simply owns it.

About thieves' tools in particular (p. 84):

Perhaps the most common tools used by adventurers, thieves' tools are designed for picking locks and foiling traps. Proficiency with the tools also grants you a general knowledge of traps and locks.

Components. Thieves' tools include a small file, a set of lock picks, a small mirror mounted on a metal handle, a set of narrow-bladed scissors, and a pair of pliers.

History. Your knowledge of traps grants you insight when answering questions about locations that are renowned for their traps.

Investigation and Perception. You gain additional insight when looking for traps, because you have learned a variety of common signs that betray their presence.

Set a Trap. Just as you can disable traps, you can also set them. As part of a short rest, you can create a trap using items you have on hand. The total of your check becomes the DC for someone else's attempt to discover or disable the trap. The trap deals damage appropriate to the materials used in crafting it (such as poison or a weapon) or damage equal to half the total of your check, whichever the DM deems appropriate.

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My opinion on this is thief tools are required to pick a lock. They are not required to disarm a trap, but I would give disadvantage to disarm with out them. Being proficient with such tools just allows you to add the proficiency bonus to the roll. This is how i run my game.

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