My suggestion of "an extra roll on the treasure table for using lockpicks/keys on chests" is sounding better and better. Yes, functionally, it's little different than "smashing chests breaks things". (No, I don't really think they'll use this idea.)
I don't really believe a single extra roll on the treasure table is going to justify the use of investing precious points in Lockpicking. Especially when the reward system is so random, you're more likely to get something you don't need.
As I already stated before in the linked threat, I would think that if you bash open a container with magic instead of lockpicking (or the key) you get less loot would be a proper solution to the issue.
Makes perfect sense. I agree. Those who do not... well... they identify their "type" by admission.
It's not that there's anything wrong with the proposal, it's just that rather than focusing on a solution for chests we should probably be focusing on one that applies to any kind of barrier (a chest, a door, etc).
I'm almost ready to accept that doors and chests should be immune to elemental/spell/summons damage. Balance before "realism", in this case. You either pick the lock, use a key, or you take a ton of durability loss on a weapon by beating the chest/door with it. And damage weapons should sell for *significantly* less money than pristine weapons (that way people aren't relying on throwaway weapons that they can then turn around sell for full price).
What's the worse that happens with that setup, beyond people griping that it's not realistic?