Lockpicking - A Rogue's Guide.
Q: How do I raise my max lockpicking skill?
A: You will gain five points of max lockpicking per level, to a (current) maximum of 350
Q: How do I lockpick?
A: First you'll need to learn the skill at your rogue trainer. This becomes available at lvl 16. You will require a set of thieves tools, which you can purchase, but the rogue trainer should send you on a quest line that will require you to practice lockpicking, and along this quest line an NPC will provide you with a set of tools for free. Once you've learnt the skill it will (in common with every other skill in the game) appear in your skill/spell book (bound to the P key by default) under the general tab. You might want to drag and drop this button to your action bar, to save having to open your skill book every time you want to use it.
There are three ways to actually pick a lock. In the case of locked footlockers, chests, strongboxes et al (i.e. those not currently in your inventory) you can simply right click on the box and you will, dependant on your skill (see below), automatically pick the lock. In the case of junkboxes and lockboxes, you will need to click your lockpick button, then click on the box in your inventory. Dependant on your skill (again), the box will be unlocked and you can right click it to retrieve it's contents. The third method is only applicable when picking lockboxes and junkboxes carried by other players. Usual procedure, and generally best practice, is for the other character to open a trade window and drop their locked box into the 'will not be trade' slot. There will be some text beneath the box indicating that the box is locked. Click your lockpick action button again, and click the box. The text will change to 'pick lock'. Now all you have to do is both click the 'trade' button et voila, the box is now picked.
On to the tool-tip and skill dependancy. When you mouse-over a locked box, either in world or in your inventory, a tool-tip dialog will open displaying the name of the box, e.g. waterlogged footlocker, with the word 'locked' underneath it if the box is (you saw this coming) locked. 'Locked' will be coloured in a scheme that should now be fairly familiar to you. If it's red, you're not going to be able to open it; you don't have sufficient skill. If it's orange then good news; not only can you open it, you'll gain a lockpicking point for doing so. Go you. There's a slender chance you'll fail to open the lock but, in that event, just persevere; you'll get it eventually. If it's yellow, then don't lose heart; you might still gain a lockpicking point. If it's green, your chance of gaining a skill point just nose-dived, but you'll be able to liberate the contents so all is not lost. Grey, no skill point, but you get to liberate the contents (if it was your box) and feel that deep sense of satisfaction at a job well done.
Q: Where do I train my lockpicking?
A: The short and dirty answer is 'everywhere'. Not descriptive enough? Then I shall go into more detail. You might want to get a coffee.
As stated in the paragraph above, different boxes have different skill levels; be they lockboxes, footlockers, strongboxes, junkboxes or whatever. The trick is to find the appropriate boxes for your level and skill in lockpicking.
For the Alliance, the first 75 levels of lockpicking are a cakewalk. At lvl 16 you'll be sent on a quest to Lakeshire. There a dwarf will send you up to Athler's Mill to retrieve an item from a locked box. When you first arrive there (be wary of spiders, orcs, gnolls and wandering Horde on the way) you'll find the box in question, surrounded by an arc of smaller boxes. The quest box will be 'red' and therefore unlockable by you, but fret not, the other boxes will be within your range. Position yourself properly and you should be within range to pick three, maybe four at a time. The respawn time on the boxes is super low, so by the time you've finished picking box the first box should have repopped. Continue in this fashion until you reach skill lvl 75-100; they should all have gone grey now.
For the Horde you'll be pleased to note there's a similar situation. Your quest will send you to a ship off the Merchant Coast, south of Ratchet. In common with the Alliance quest, there are a number of boxes with short respawn times in close proximity to one another. Same directions apply.
You're the boss, applesauce!