17
Oct
09

Disable Device: A Brief Communication to the ACS

Good fellows of the Amateur Cartography Society,

Although it does not involve a map in the usual sense, I thought the following findings from my recent attempt to disable a device might be of interest.

In 2 minutes 27 seconds I, a commoner with no special training in mechanical or electrical lore, successfully de-activated a digital stopwatch that was cheaply mass-produced in Thailand sometime in the first decade of the third millennium. The device was not harmed by the attempt, and I expect that it will take me approximately as long to re-activate it later using the same tools (but a new battery).

Figure 1: Chronological Diagram of the Device-Disabling Process

Disabling a device

Disabling a device

I estimate that it took me thirty seconds – what D&D would call three segments in the Advanced edition or three rounds in the Third and Fourth editions – to either remove two screws, or figure out what I was doing and remove one screw. It took me a little more than two minutes (or AD&D rounds) to disable this particular device using masterwork thieves’ tools (a stainless-steel screwdriver with a tiny head, taken from an eyeglass repair kit probably also cheaply mass-produced somewhere in East Asia earlier this millennium). In ten minutes (an AD&D turn) I could probably have disabled four such devices.

Note that this two-minute time is similar to what the 3E System Reference Document would call taking 20 on a Disable Device check, assuming this was a simple device. It is not clear to me that even the most skillful rogue could have reversibly disabled this particular device in six seconds, but I look forward to being surprised by further investigations by my brothers and sisters of the Society.

Figure 2: Materials Used

Components of the device, and the tool used to disable it

Components of the device, and the tool used to disable it

Pictured: front of the device, back of the device, screwdriver, screws, battery that was removed to disable the device. I felt like the dudes from The Hurt Locker as I did this, except that I had very little expectation that I would be killed or wounded in the attempt to disable this device, and I was listening to Beau Jocque and Parliament instead of heavy metal.


1 Response to “Disable Device: A Brief Communication to the ACS”


  1. 1 Greg
    October 18, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    Thanks for the good work! I remember when I was running rolemaster the players and I were actually interested conducting on the spot researches into things like our personal rates of acceleration, measuring our reach and the height of the ceiling in the room and such.

    good times!


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