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A puzzle-based dungeon features a special lock. The first part of the dungeon involves collecting the three parts to the key, which can be assembled in six (3!) arrangements. Each arrangement, when inserted into the lock, opens a different path, each of which leads to other dungeon encounters that must be resolved to 'finish' the dungeon.

What effect would the Knock spell have on this multi-state lock, if any?

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It would need multiple knocks to unlock all pathways

Knock (PHB, 254) covers this potential interaction of a multiple lock barrier:

If the object has multiple locks, only one of them is unlocked.

As your lock has multiple locks, it could fall into this, but it seems your dungeon is based around this, so I think I'd try and approach it differently.

DM override - homebrew items need homebrew solutions

Of course, this layered lock state isn't quite the same as 'multiple locks', so it remains up to you as the DM to determine how you want it to work. Given that the lock mechanism is part of the dungeon itself, I would likely opt to treat it differently.

Doing so means having some means of narrating how it works and what is expected (or at least a clue of some sort for them to follow.) Developing this should resolve the situation and give the players insight as to what needs to happen.

Heck, you could even have the knock attempt be a trigger for a magic mouth or something that gives them information.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Does Knock apply when there is technically no 'locked' or 'unlocked' state? \$\endgroup\$
    – frog
    Aug 31 '20 at 17:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @frog Updated my answer, thought some more about your specific plans. But it does seem like the lock has multiple unlock states, not that it has no unlock state. \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Aug 31 '20 at 17:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @frog Alternatively, Knock could fail but that could be the trigger for the Magic Mouth to tell the players what to do (or give them a riddle to figure out about what to do). \$\endgroup\$ Sep 1 '20 at 1:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ "We're sorry, but the spell you are trying to use does not really make sense. Please check your target and try again" \$\endgroup\$
    – Mike Caron
    Sep 1 '20 at 18:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ On the "Homebrew solutions" side, I'd probably say if the lock is opened by any means other than the key, such as a knock spell or, potentially, lockpicking or something, I'd just roll 1d6 and that's the pathway that opens. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 1 '20 at 18:44
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Knock:

Choose an object that you can see within range. The object can be a door, a box, a chest, a set of Manacles, a padlock, or another object that contains a mundane or magical means that prevents access.

A target that is held shut by a mundane lock or that is stuck or barred becomes unlocked, unstuck, or unbarred. If the object has multiple locks, only one of them is unlocked.

It always sounds like you are targeting the object you want to unlock or open, not the lock itself. Your 'lock' seems interesting, opening 6 different paths. I'm having a hard time picturing it. How is it connected to those paths? Are there six locked doors? Do six sections of wall move away? Do 6 different bridges form over a chasm leading into different tunnels on the other side? What if it is were six doors, each down a different winding pathway so you could not see them from the box where you use the key?

From the spell description it seems like you have to target the object you want open, so I would think you would have to see the door and target it, not the 'lock' you place the key into. It also seems the door doesn't contain the lock itself, though it may contain a mechanism or something else keeping it closed that the key would activate in the other room. That's how I would treat it, cast "Knock" on the door you wish to open, and you would have to cast it six times to open the six doors.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What about the example of a padlock? That seems like targeting a mechanism. \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Sep 1 '20 at 11:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ I see a padlock as the object that is opening. When you unlock it with a key, that allows you to pull up the shackle. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 1 '20 at 14:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ But it never references a shackle. Just a padlock. Can you support that knock requires something more? Especially combined with the idea that this 'lock' is physical (requires a key) and therefore the mechanism must be contained in something for the key to open. \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Sep 1 '20 at 14:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ By 'shackle' I mean the curved solid bar at the top of the padlock that you can pull open once the padlock is unlocked. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 1 '20 at 14:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ RIght, so it's the thing that 'opens' when released. Isn't the pathway opened when the key is inserted? Take a read through this chat from a previously deleted answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Sep 1 '20 at 14:21

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