The World of the Thief-Dabbler

In worlds within which magic and roguery mix, it is inevitable that the bottomless well of arcane potential is drawn for acts of petty criminality.  Let us consider some of the unfortunate charms and hexes born of the Thief-Dabbler!

Prestidigital Adherence
Level: Magic-User 1
Range: Touch
The miscreant mage is able, by means of this spell, to instantly transport an object weighing up to one pound into a bag or pocket on his person, so long as the caster is in physical contact with the object when the spell is cast.

Tergiversant Testimony
Level: Magic-User 1
Range: n/a
Also known as mystic mendacity, this spell allows the caster to tell the target of the spell a lie regarding a recent event that matches the event’s apparent outcome. The target adopts this lie as a true memory, receiving a saving throw versus spell if they are confronted with contradictory evidence.
“I did not throw this lamp to the floor! I tried to catch it when it fell from the table.”
“Pick your pocket? I tripped on that flagstone!”
“I’m sorry, but I think you wrote that entry in your ledger before you paid me.”
(The last would require a save versus spell if the clerk counted the contents of their changebox).

Boon Contrivance
Level: Magic-User 1
Range: 1 large table
This spell allows the caster to determine the outcome of a minor chance occurrence immediately before it happens, and is used almost exclusively in conjunction with sleight-of-hand maneuvers to affect gambling outcomes.

8 Responses to “The World of the Thief-Dabbler”

  1. 1 Charlatan
    January 11, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    Are the levels wildly wrong? Probably. But Thief-Dabblers don’t live long.

  2. 2 Jack Colby
    January 12, 2011 at 12:47 am

    We’ve got a player who’s been using your Thief-Dabbler in our weekly Moldvay basic game. She seems to be liking the class so far (the character is 2nd level.)

  3. 3 Zak S.
    January 12, 2011 at 12:55 am

    I feel like I have a little problem with these spells in the same way I have with the Rolemaster Magent I’m playing which is: the spells help with things that the thief is supposed to be good at anyways, which kind of seems to leech mechanical complexity away from the thief side and just transfer it, in simpler form, to the wizard side.

    The Grey Mouser knew some magic, but he used his thief stuff to do thief stuff, and used his magic a little more obliquely. If I remember, correctly…maybe I’m wrong, but I still feel like the thief’s magic should be stuff that has to be cleverly adapted in order to be useful to the thief

  4. 4 Charlatan
    January 12, 2011 at 1:29 am


    I agree that the stickyfingers spell has some overlap with the Thief mechanics; the lying and cheating spells less so. I’m somewhat less troubled by it: it’s difficult for me to imagine a world with Thief-Dabblers in which no spells like this come about, and while there’s a certain obvious appeal to knowing something should work, the trade-off is large compared to the Dabbler’s more wizardly spell options. I definitely wouldn’t suggest that this stuff should comprise an alternate spell list for the Thief-Dabbler.

    I should also observe that Prestidigital Adherence “works” in that an item goes in your pack, but attaching that to a successful theft requires some additional factors beyond the scope of the spell (e.g., the target not noticing). I had intended it to be a spell to be adapted- but maybe I’m failing!

    Has your Dabbler lined up any dramatic moments of skill-roll and spells at your table?

  5. 5 Bargle
    January 12, 2011 at 2:40 am

    Zak makes a good point. Like a Mu/th memorizing invisibility, he might as well not hAve the thief abilities and just roll up a magic user.

    I think the spells skirt that line though. The lying spell would work as a, “these aren’t the druids you’re looking for”. Otherwise slightly under powered, charm person would seem a better bet unless against a high level opponent.

  6. 6 Bargle
    January 12, 2011 at 2:42 am

    Unless it were AoE anyone in earshot. “I didn’t stab him, he fell on his own sword.”

  7. 7 Jack Colby
    January 12, 2011 at 4:43 am

    Charlatan: unfortunately, no, not yet. But this game has been really unusual so far, a lot of wilderness travel and NPC interactions, and not much call for thief abilities yet. It’s an interesting combination of classes though, the potential is there.

  8. 8 nackered
    January 12, 2011 at 4:48 am

    I generally feel these are underpowered and agree with Bargle that the lying spell should definitely affect those within earshot, although this could create trouble with saving throws and the like. I could imagine it used in conjunction with a Ventriloquism spell, possibly, or imagine it used in a political situation, as before a senate.

    I also think the prestidigitation spell is underpowered. A good sleight-of-hand magician does exactly what the spell describes, without a spell being cast! I’d consider expanding its small-level teleportation ability — i.e. to anywhere within the caster’s sight, or a specially designed receptacle anywhere else.

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Past Adventures of the Mule

January 2011

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