"Pass me the blue one." said Quinn.
"Are you sure?" asked Elise. "It's just, you were sure about the last two combinations, and that ceiling got closer both times."
"It's a gamble, I agree," replied Quinn, "but whatever's behind this door has got to be worth it."
Elise passed Quinn the blue stone which he placed carefully in the final slot. As the grinding began, Quinn looked to the door while Elise looked up...
"What do you mean the vault is empty?!"
"Just that, sir. It's empty."
"There was a half tonne of gold coins in there! Did you see a cart? Any orcs or ogres? A dragon?! It's not like it just got up and walked away!"
The adventurers hear a noise and turn, only to see a bottle clatter down the street. Shrugging it off, they continue on their way, blissfully unaware of the hulking mass of junk taking shape behind them...
In a city where the justice system features judicial dueling, plaintiffs and defendants are permitted to request a champion to take their place in the duel: Someone chosen by lot from among the foreigners in the city. When anyone first arrives, they are given an enchanted ceramic pendant that marks them as a candidate for "court duty".
Wealthy folk entering the city are often escorted by burly guards, paid to carry pendants on their behalf: They elude court duty in that way.
Adventurers may seek work as a rich man's proxy or may find themselves magically summoned to serve as a champion.