Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My Little Thief Rework

I was at a seminar the other day, and during one of the...shall we say, less illuminating segments, I started reworking the B/X Thief in my notebook.

I think the whole x-in-6 thing, a la Flame Princess, might be the way to go. A lot of people who complain about the thief bring up the pretty legit point that many of his abilities have a 5-10% chance of working. Of course, AD&D and further iterations of the game would mitigate those low scores somewhat, but I think the Thief needs some love at the B/X or Cyclopedic level.

Okay, so here's what I'm thinking:
-At level 1, thieves get Pick Pockets, Open Locks, Find/Remove Traps, Move Silently, Hide in Shadows, Climb Walls, and Hear Noise all at 1-in-6. They get three points to spend, each point raising the chance by 1-in-6. (So spend 1 point on, say, Open Locks and he's got it at 2-in-6.) The thief may spend these points however he wants.

At 2nd level, and every level thereafter, the thief receives 2 points to spend. These points are restricted, however, in that the thief may not spend them on the same skill for the same level. A skill may not improve past 5-in-6.

At 4th level, the thief learns to Read Languages at 1-in-6. This can be raised immediately with one of the thief's 4th level points. If the DM doesn't really dig thieves reading languages, feel free to start it at 0-in-6.

Backstab and read scrolls work as written. If you're one of those symmetry loving folk, consider making read scrolls a skill and starting it off at 5-in-6, so that you're doing d6's for everything. I know it's not exactly equivalent probability-wise, but it's damn close enough.

Oh, one optional consideration for backstab...I liked Hackmaster 4th edition's take on backstab, which adds extra damage dice to the attack rather than a multiplier. x2 becomes +1 die, x3 becomes +2, and so on... the die matches the weapon type, so instead of getting double damage with a dagger, the thief rolls 2d4.

This has probably been done somewhere by someone, but I'm just throwing it out there.


  1. Hey, I like what you've done here. The d6 thing is very shades of LotFP, while the multiplier deal is sort of the way it works in d20. Both are very simple, however, and they work together nicely.

  2. Been done before, in 1d6 and 2d6... check your email :)

  3. Not bad at all. The assign pips thing (shades of 2nd edition?) isn't something I remember seeing before in D6 variations,,,although I don't own LotFP. I think the "add dice to damage" is overly complex though, and prefer a straight X2 multiplier up to level 14 (in B/X play anyway).

    If I still bothered making thieves roll skill checks at all, I'd probably want to use something like this.
    : )

  4. I was thinking about this recently as well. I decided to keep things simple. Note, I usually retire characters around 9th level or so.

    Basically, a thief rolls a d12 for every 'thief ability' other than listen checks which remain d6. All abilities succeed at 3 in 12 at first level, 4 in 12 at second level, 5 in 12 at third level, etc.

    This is easy for me to remember, the PCs always increases in ability and a first level thief has a 25% chance to do anything, which is better than 1 in 6 and worse than the 2 in 6 chance that demihumans have at their "thiefy" abilities.

  5. Thats not a bad house rule. I did something like this with d12's a way back...

    If you like the idea that these are adventuring tasks as much as skills you can (ala LOTFP) start everyone at 1d6 and give fighters say 2 points to start and 1 per level after.

    Spell casters can also get 1 starting point and 1 per any level they get no new spell level (i.e 2,4,6,8 and so on)

    If you like other classes can get read languages as well but at 0 in 1d6. Its very thematic for magic users IMO.

    Also I use bonus d6's ala 3x for backstab (x2=1d6, x3=2d6 and so on) this gives a small boost to daggers, leaves short swords roughly as is and limits bigger blades. This way the longsword or in other editions the 2 hander is not the ganker of choice. Its more fitting and thiefy IMO

  6. *Drew- I got the idea from LotFP, but I wanted to apply it to "classic" thief skills.

    *myrystyr- I took a look at the file you emailed me. It's always nice to see how people tackle stuff differently (or I guess similarly) than I do. Do you find that using 2d6 over 1d6 results in more of a curve?

    *JB- Yeah, 2nd edition is kind of what I was going for. I like having thieves with varied abilities, so that not all thieves of equal level are totally the same. This way you can customize your thief character a bit without having to add all kinds of crazy kits and prestige classes and other detritus.

    *Professor- Interesting take, plus the d12 gets some love. When I was a kid I tried to design an rpg system that used only d12s... but that's another post.

    *5stone- I flirt with the idea of giving everyone a 1-in-6 chance. Honestly, I'm not totally sold. I would be more likely to give certain classes certain skills. Actually, this gets some ideas cooking in my head, but I think I'll turn them into a full post rather than a half-baked comment...