Dabbling with the Thief (pt. 2)

(Following up on part 1 here)

So, with the goal of re-organizing the Thief, I’d begin by breaking the Thief skills down into circles, or levels, by the Magic User spell they imitate (or close enough, and with some additions to play up an alchemical angle):

First Circle

  • Intoxicating Draught (Charm Person)
  • Read Languages
  • Sap (Person) (Sleep)
  • Sleeping Draught (Sleep)
  • Sleight of Hand (Ventriloquism)

Second Circle

  • Climb Walls (Levitate)
  • Find and Remove Traps (Locate Object and Knock)
  • Hallucinatory Draught (Phantasmal Force)
  • Hide in Shadows and Move Silently (Invisibility)
  • Pick Locks (Knock)

Third Circle (Just go with it)

  • Elixir (Cure Light Wounds)
  • Paralytic Draught (Hold Person)
  • Sap (Structure) (Fireball)
  • Serpentine Powder (Fireball)

Hear noise I’d treat somewhat differently, awarding an escalating bonus with level.  I’d match this with a bonus to missile weapon damage, with the idea that the steady hand and anatomical knowledge required for the draughts (not to mention the sapping) makes the character a deadlier shot.  It may be too much, but these numbers are all hypothetical. Speaking of numbers:

target numbers for skill checks

Two notes:  First, any character should be able to attempt non-alchemical first and second circle skills.  I’d recommend a target number of 10, with mishaps on 2-4: This is effectively the same as success on 6 and mishap on 1 on a d6, but puts the targets in the same framework as the proposed mechanics.

Second, the preparation of draughts, elixirs and powders should require a facility not dissimilar to a Magic User’s laboratory for research. Moreover, these alchemical efforts should be expensive- 5g and a day of work at first circle, 25g and a week at second circle, and 100g and a month at third circle.

I’d stick with the same hit dice (d4) and combat progressions (Cleric/Thief).  I think a class like this- well, frankly, it sucks less that the Thief, so I’d bump the experience progression up.  This post is already getting unwieldy, so I’ll leave notes about the skills and mishaps for another post.  What do you think?  Does thinking of the Thiefly bits as an outgrowth of tinkering and alchemy work?

11 Responses to “Dabbling with the Thief (pt. 2)”

  1. 1 David Wellington
    June 21, 2011 at 4:35 am

    The work you’ve been doing on this is fascinating and inspiring, but it still feels wrong to me somehow.

    The alchemical stuff feels like a good start at creating a whole new class… an Alchemist class. The archetypicals for the thief class do sometimes go in for such stuff–I’m thinking the Thief video game with its various gadget arrows–but to me the thief isn’t Batman working with test tubes in the Batcave, it’s some dirt-poor runaway peasant lurking in an alleyway looking for an easy score.

    There’s got to be a way to make the thief not suck. It’s tempting to think the easiest answer would just be to bump the skills up two points at first level, or allow the Dex bonus to apply, or… but as we both know, no self-respecting DM is ever going to go there.

  2. 2 Bargle
    June 21, 2011 at 4:43 am

    Do I see the Chainmail wizard peaking behind that variant thief? Looks very cool.

    In od&d it’s 100gp per spell level to make a scroll. As the dabbler has a much smaller selection and more of a knack for alchemy than wizards, I can see a 1/10 cost meant to simulate 10x the usage. A wizard can make a 100gp scroll of sleep but the dabbler makes one for 10gp? Sure.

    I wouldn’t worry about 10 gp being pricy. If you run gp=XP then the player has already benefited from the gold, all that’s left is where to allocate it.

    The other benefit of tying to wizard item creation rules is that it’s easy to determine the XP awarded for finding a vial of 10 doses of serpentine powder (750gp 3 weeks to create). Or elixer/clw 250gp for 10 doses.

    You could even let dabblers expand their list of alchemies with the 2000gp per spell level grant a cumulative 20% research chance perhaps.

  3. June 21, 2011 at 7:01 am

    Although I understand David’s genre concern, it’s not scaleable. The second level thief already has money enough to stop skulking in alleys mugging people for a living. A credible high level thief is someone like Milady in The Three Musketeers.

    I love where you’re going with this: that the thief is becoming more of an assassin doesn’t bother me at all. It’s adapted for a deadly environment: pretending con men or cat burglars are well adapted to raiding the goblin caves has never made any sense to me. I also like how it can be reskinned as a ninja or Arabian Nights villain – someone with tricks up their sleeve. Nice.

  4. 4 Charlatan
    June 21, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    @Dave: I agree, that’s a thief. Where I begin to disagree is whether the thing in the Thief class slot should be a skulker in alleyways (for long, anyway). Put another way: Like a common soldier is a 0-level fighter, the alley skulker is a 0-level… something. Maybe fighter, or maybe something else (there’s a reason I have sap in the first circle skills!). I think this framework could be used to describe a cat burglar type, but maybe not. Then again, I also think it’s hard to incorporate cat burglar types into dungeoneering groups. I also want to be able to answer the age-old questions “What if my Halfling wants to pick his pocket?” and “Why is his Halfling better at picking pockets than my Thief?”

    @Bargle: Good to see the numbers aren’t immediately alienating. I hadn’t thought about the XP implications, but I’m definitely going to pretend that I had.

    @Richard: The skinnability is certainly something I was shooting for, so I’m glad that comes through!

  5. June 27, 2011 at 10:40 am

    I like this :)

    It’s more of a dabbler/professor/indiana jones that the archetipal thief (like in the conan movie) but it’s a nice twist :)

  6. June 29, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    I think it’s a great concept for a different sort of thief (this one is begging to be called a Rogue).

    I played a Rogue character in a LARP years back who maxed out in alchemical skills, it was the most bang for my skill points and let me have game mechanics that supported my dashing roguery.

  7. 7 Naked Sam
    June 29, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    I like the divergence from the strict pickpocket/backstabber, too. Indiana Jones/Specialist is really a good way of looking at it. There’s an unfortunate impetus to the ‘Thief’ nomenclature, even if most player don’t really play it that way.

  8. July 7, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    This posts conjures Enoch Root all over the place. therefore I love it and require permission to steal/adapt the concept :)

    @fabio Hey, quanto tempo :D

  9. 9 Charlatan
    July 19, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    @James: My deepest desire is to call it ‘the Barber’, but that’s probably got an audience of one.

    @Naked: Yeah, the expectations built into the word ‘Thief’ don’t really align with dungeoneering (which is a totally different kind of theft!)

    @tsojcanth: That’s high praise indeed!

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Past Adventures of the Mule

June 2011

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