Dabbling with the Thief

I was too busy to participate in this discussion when it happened, but I’d like to suggest another way to reconsider Thief-type classes.  I’d start with this vision of the BX Thief:

The Thief is a 3rd level Magic User that trades their limitations on number of spells for reduced scope and a chance of failure.  The high chance of failure at early levels is compensated for by improved melee abilities. The chance of failure diminishes as the Thief gains levels, putting the character on a trajectory to perform mundane, sometimes slower versions of a subset of first and second level spells at will.

The Thief knocks-off magic missile with missile weapons; knock with pick lockslocate object with find traps; levitation with climb walls; invisibility with hide in shadows; read languages with… you get the idea.

My reboot of the Thief would be a class that crystallizes this vision: A Thief derivative whose skills are rearranged so that those mocking first level spells are easier than those mocking second, with an escalating bonus to hear noise and missile damage as they increase in level.  And possibly some sapping skill (both kinds!).  This class is a roguish dabbler in sleights of hand, tinkering, archery, and minor alchemies and biologies… a crypto-medieval Indiana Jones, without the respectability of university backing.  Not a pickpocket, but a gray-market businessman with insight into fringe sciences and less-than-respectable studies.

But that’s another post. First, tell me where my vision of the BX Thief is inaccurate.

6 Responses to “Dabbling with the Thief”

  1. June 16, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    I can’t speak to BX specifically, but I could see how this would work. I once proposed letting clerics and magic-users have mundane skills equivalent to any spell they know; if we merge my idea with yours, we would wind up with a modified “dabbler” class that has the ability to use scrolls at 10th level, but no ability to memorize spells; however, they can pick a number of mundane skills, rated by comparison to 1st through 3rd level spell, with something like 30% starting chance for 1st level skills, 20% for 2nd level, and 10% for 3rd. Seems doable.

  2. June 16, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    The combination of the two ideas seems to be greater than the sum of its already very nifty parts.
    –What a pleasant co-incidence. :)

  3. June 17, 2011 at 2:12 am

    I have found that there are two ways to understand the thief among those of us who like to fiddle with it. One is to try and do what I did in my post about Mr. Baggins — find ways to allow them to do things every body else can already do but better. The other way (which I have also dabbled with) is to understand thief skills as some form of supernatural/magic ability.

    Obviously, your line of thinking falls squarely into the second category, and I very much like your line of thinking. I look forward to seeing how you fiddle with the mechanics to make it work…

  4. 4 James N.
    June 18, 2011 at 12:38 am


    I think it’s an interesting idea. It also implies that a Thief might be able to select a different array of “lite spells” out of the 24 first-and-second circle spells. If I’m doing the math right, there would be 735,471 possible combinations without duplicates.

    As one example, selected at random:

    * Seductress (Charm Person lite)
    * Flash Bomb (Light lite)
    * Rumor-Monger (ESP lite)
    * Snare-master (Web lite)
    * Heavy Armor (Shield lite)
    * Appraisal (Detect Magic lite)
    * Scroll-Muddler (Read Magic lite)
    * Stun Bomb (Sleep lite)

  5. June 29, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Welcome to Tunnels & Trolls, in which the Rogue always was more of a “rogue wizard” and jack-of-all-trades than a cut-purse.

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Past Adventures of the Mule

June 2011

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