Skills >

Disable Device (Dex; Armor Check Penalty; Trained Only)

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You are skilled at disarming traps and opening locks. In addition, this skill lets you sabotage simple mechanical devices, such as catapults, wagon wheels, and doors.

Editor’s Note: In the table below we have attempted to organize the various tasks, DCs, and required actions/time to attempt in one table. If information is missing (such as the Take 10/20 columns) it simply means that the answer was unclear to editors at this time. Consult the Core Rulebook or other official sources for more information.)

Table: Common Disable Device Task DCs, Time Required and Modifiers
Device Time DC1 Take 10? Take 20? Example or Special Notes
Disable or rig simple device 1 round 10     Jam a lock
Disable or rig1 tricky device 1d4 rounds 151     Sabotage a wagon wheel1
Disable or rig1 difficult device 2d4 rounds 201     Disable or reset a trap
Open a simple lock   20/30 Yes Yes Number after the slash is without using proper tools
Disable or rig1 extremely complex device 2d4 rounds 251     Disable or reset a complex trap, cleverly sabotage a clockwork device
Open an average lock   25/35 Yes Yes Number after the slash is without using proper tools
Disable a magic trap (such as a symbol spell) varies 25 + spell level2     Only characters with the trapfinding class feature can disarm magic traps.
Open a good lock   30/40 Yes Yes Number after the slash is without using proper tools
Open an amazing lock   40/50 Yes Yes Number after the slash is without using proper tools
With the Technologist Feat
Disable or arm an explosive 1 minute+ 10 Yes No  
Disable electronic device or trigger 2d4 rounds

Without an e-pick the attempt suffers a -5 penalty; failure to disable by 5+ triggers an explosive if such is being attempted

1 If you attempt to leave behind no trace of your tampering, add 5 to the DC.
2 See spell descriptions for specific details

Common Uses

Disarm Trap or Device

When disarming a trap or other device, the Disable Device check is made secretly, so that you don’t necessarily know whether you’ve succeeded.

The DC depends on how tricky the device is. Disabling (or rigging or jamming) a fairly simple device has a DC of 10; more intricate and complex devices have higher DCs.

If the check succeeds, you disable the device. If it fails by 4 or less, you have failed but can try again. If you fail by 5 or more, something goes wrong. If the device is a trap, you spring it. If you’re attempting some sort of sabotage, you think the device is disabled, but it still works normally.

Special A rogue who beats a trap’s DC by 10 or more can study the trap, figure out how it works, and bypass it (along with her companions) without disarming it.

Retry? You can retry checks made to disable traps if you miss the check by 4 or less, though you must be aware that you fail in order to try again.

Sabotage Mechanical Item

You also can rig simple devices such as saddles or wagon wheels to work normally for a while and then fail or fall off some time later (usually after 1d4 rounds or minutes of use

Open a Lock

The DC to open a lock depends on the lock’s quality: simple (DC 20), average (DC 25), good (DC 30), or superior (DC 40).

Modifiers: If you do not have a set of thieves’ tools, these DCs increase by 10.

Retry? Yes. You can retry checks made to open locks.

Table: Disable Device DCs to Open Locks
Lock Quality DC
Simple 20
Average 25
Good 30
Amazing 40


The amount of time needed to make a Disable Device check depends on the task:

  • Simple Device: Disabling a simple device takes 1 round and is a full-round action.
  • Complex/Intricate Device: An intricate or complex device requires 1d4 or 2d4 rounds. Attempting to open a lock is a full-round action.


  • Feats If you have the Deft Hands feat, you get a +2 bonus on Disable Device skill checks. If you have 10 or more ranks in Disable Device, the bonus increases to +4.

Magic Traps

Characters with the trapfinding class feature can disarm magic traps. A magic trap generally has a DC of 25 + the spell level of the magic used to create it.

The spells fire trap, glyph of warding, symbol, and teleportation circle also create traps that a rogue can disarm with a successful Disable Device check. Spike growth and spike stones, however, create magic traps against which Disable Device checks do not succeed. See the individual spell descriptions for details.

Disable Device Unchained

Source PFU

About This Section Optionally, a character who reaches 5, 10, 15, or 20 ranks in a skill unlocks various bonuses and abilities unique to that skill. The unchained rogue uses these rules extensively, but others can gain access to them with a new feat.

In this system, characters unlock additional abilities when they attain 5, 10, 15, and 20 ranks in a skill. The skill unlocks system interfaces with the unchained rogue to make the rogue the true master of skills.

Skill unlocks give characters new abilities and ways to use their skills upon reaching 5, 10, 15, and 20 ranks in a skill. Any character with the Signature Skill feat can earn skill unlocks for a single skill, and they are a prime feature of the revised version of the rogue who uses her rogue’s edge ability to gain skill unlocks for several of her most iconic skills. Alternatively, you might make skill unlocks a universal part of the game, but you should be aware they add significant power and flexibility to skills, so giving them for free to all classes would grant power boosts to other highly skilled classes such as the investigator and bard, particularly in comparison to the rogue. Another alternative is to eliminate access to the Signature Skill feat, limiting skill unlocks to rogues and rogues alone.

With sufficient ranks in Disable Device, you earn the following.

5 Ranks: Reduce the time required to disarm a trap or open a lock by taking a –5 penalty on your Disable Device check for each step by which you reduce the time required: 2d4 rounds, 1d4 rounds, 1 round, a standard action, a move action, a swift action.

10 Ranks: You can disarm magical traps at a –10 penalty even if you lack the trapfinding ability. If you possess the trapfinding ability, when attempting to disable magic traps, you never trigger them, even if you perform the trigger action (such as looking at a symbol). If you fail the check, you can still trigger the trap, and you can’t use this ability to bypass it.

15 Ranks: When attacked by a trap, you can attempt a Disable Device check as an immediate action (adding your trap sense bonus, if any) opposed by the trap’s attack roll or its save DC. If you succeed, you take half damage (or no damage if you exceed the DC by at least 10).

20 Ranks: You halve the penalties for performing a quick disarm as described in the 5 Ranks entry. If you possess the trapfinding ability and accept a –20 penalty while using the ability unlocked at 15 ranks, all nearby allies gain the benefit, and you disable the trap as an immediate action before it can trigger if you exceed the DC by at least 10.


With the Technologist feat, a rogue can use Disable Device to interact safely with explosive devices and disable technological devices and traps.

  • Arm Explosive: If you possess a detonator, you can arm an explosive weapon as a trap. Connecting a detonator to an explosive requires a successful DC 10 Disable Device check. Failure means that the attempt fails, but you can attempt to arm the explosive again. Failure by 5 or more means the explosive is triggered as the detonator is installed. You can attempt to make an explosive difficult to disarm. To do so, choose a target disarm DC of 15 or higher, with a DC increment of 5. This becomes your target DC to set the explosive as well as the DC to disarm the explosive.
  • Disable Electronic Device or Trigger: Disabling an electronic lock on a door or an electronic trigger for a trap (not the trap itself ) is easier if you use an e-pick—without an e-pick, you take a –5 penalty on such checks. Note: The text of this use has been updated per official errata. [Source]
  • Disarm Explosive: Disarming an explosive requires the character to succeed at a Disable Device check as if disarming a trap. The DC is usually 10, unless the person who set the explosive successfully did so with a higher disarm DC. A failure to disarm an explosive by 5 or more immediately triggers the explosive.

Special: A character can take 10 when using Disable Device to arm or disarm explosives, but cannot take 20.

Time: Arming an explosive device takes 1 minute or more, depending on the scope of the job. Disarming an explosive is treated as if the explosive were a complex trap, and takes 2d4 rounds to attempt.

FastPlay Rules
See this skill in FastPlay format.
Section 15: Copyright Notice

Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook. Copyright 2009, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Author: Jason Bulmahn, based on material by Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, and Skip Williams.