Your thief knows four ways to manipulate locks:
But maybe she also knows you never Bump a Dwarven lock, ever. And you never start a brass lock with a Twist. And maybe as she gains experience (levels) she can Bump and still recompose herself when she realizes that was the wrong thing to do.
A DM might have a whole folder full of locks-- different difficulties, different makes. The players would not see these images, but hear a description-- "It is a heavy brass lock, with a D inscribed on it."
Update: I got all excited this morning because I woke up with what I thought was a solution to generating these easily and then I realized Zak had already proposed it in his comment. Anyway, yeah, assign a number to each of the lockpicking verbs, the "moves," roll 3d4 and the results tell you which the thief has to use. Use dice in a color progression and you know the order the lock requires them in:
But, all this fiddling is not getting us much for the player above just rolling a 25 on d%, so it would be essential that you as DM:
- Have locks of certain types, that players can gain expertise on. This is contradictory to our method of generation, but if you say that all brass locks start with Probe, you could then just randomly determine the other tumblers for that lock.
- Give some kind of advantages with level, that would allow for some skill at the game. Like "one free get out of a Jam," or "Reveal the move on one tumbler in any lock."