"[As for] the thief, the male and the female, amputate their hands
in recompense for what they committed as a detterant [punishment] from
And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise."
THE THIEF (OSRIC)
The profession of
thief is not dishonorable, albeit is neither honorable nor highly respected
in some quarters.
The major ability for a thief is DEX,
and a character must have not less than a 9 to become a thief.
High<gif.mj> intel is also desirable.
Any thief character with a DEX greater than 15 gains the benefit of being able to add a bonus of 10% to XP awarded to him or her by the referee.
A glance at the CHARACTER ABILITY section preceding this will reveal that high DEX also benefits thieves in the performance of their class functions.
These functions are detailed a bit later.
All thieves are neutral || evil, although they can be neutral good (rarely),
and of lawful || chaotic nature. Most thieves tend towards evil.
A large number of gamers prefer to use the
earlier ruling, established in the PH
(page 27), that thieves may start the game
as NG. Granted, UA has
changed this rule so that thieves may only be
non-good (UA, page 7), but Kim
Mohan's "Arcana update, part 1" (DRAGON®
Magazine issue #103, page 12) modified this
ruling to mean that, though they must start as
non-good, thieves may become good later in
their careers. This article even noted that assassins
could change alignment to neutral or even
good status, given time. Furthermore, Zeb noted in OA (page 26)
that a yakuza, an urban underworld character
class, may be of the LG AL
(presumably starting the game this way). Being
good, then, is no problem.
the explosion of new class combinations
possible for AD&D characters with the UA and "Arcana update" rules
(particularly the surprising neutral good ranger/druid
combination for certain elves, elaborated
upon by Frank Mentzer in DRAGON issue #100,
page 9), a ranger-thief is not unthinkable. It
even sounds workable and reasonable.
Consider a ranger-thief's abilities and outlook.
Here is a powerful scout, one equipped to
infiltrate enemy positions, commit sabotage and
theft, and rescue kidnapped victims of humanoid
armies. He or she is the best alternative to
using an assassin when one needs a spy. The
ranger-thief is an espionage agent and commando
warrior with ties to both wilderness and
urban areas. If he or she does not belong to a
thieves guild, then the necessary training is
gamed through a military or paramilitary force
controlled or aided by rangers.
did I place it in your article? This is
harder to answer. I fear that on occasions I may
tinker with certain articles, adding new material
that seems appropriate to the nature of the
topic and, in my feeling, that makes the articles
more complete and enhances their usefulness.
For example, I added half-(aquatic) elves to the
mariner NPC class (DRAGON issue #107) and
additional info on "broken arrows" to
the "Agents and A-Bombs" article in issue #108. I
try to avoid gilding the lily, so to speak, and I
confine my tinkering to minor additions.
Given the nature of half-satyrs and half-dryads
as outlined in your article, the ranger/thief
combination seemed very reasonable for
them -- which it does (to my way of thinking)
for elves && half-elves as well.
Can Thieves be CG? <>
I have three players who are, and we are wondering if they will have to make an alignment change.
We are also wondering whether or not this alignment change is considered voluntary on their part?
If it is, will I have to make them drop a level?
Thieves can be neutral or evil, but not good. In this situa-
tion, I don’t think you should force them to make an alignment change.
Just have them become their new alignments as if they have always
been of that alignment This way they won’t be penalized for not reading
their PH, but the next time they don’t read the book,
don’t show them any mercy—unless,of course, you goofed too.
(Update: Thieves can be NG, but cannot start as NG).
According to the PH (page 27)
thieves can be NG, but Sage Advice (TD #35) says
that thieves cannot be good. Which is correct?
The PH — but remember, good thieves
should be very rare. — W. Niebling, J. Ward
(Update: Thieves can be NG, but cannot start as NG).
Thieves are principally
meant to take by cunning and stealth. Thieves have
six-sided HD (d6). They are, however, able to wear light (leather)
armor and use a fair # of weapons. Although they fight only slightly
more effectively than do M-Us, they are able to use stealth in
combat most effectively by back stabbing. This ability is xplained
The primary functions
of a thief are:
1) picking pockets,
2) opening locks,
3) finding/removing traps,
4) moving silently, and
5) hiding in shadows.
These functions are basically self-explanatory. The chance for success of
any performance is based on the ability level of the thief performing it.
This is modified
with respect to picking pockets by the experience level of
his or her victim and by the powers of the observer with respect to hiding
of a thief are:
1) listening at doors to detect sounds behind them,
2) ascending and descending vertical surfaces such as walls, and
3) back stabbing those who happen upon the thief in the performance of his or her profession.
Additional abilities which accrue to thieves are:
Cant: All thieves, regardless of alignment,
have their own language,
the "Thieves' Cant". This language is known in addition to
others which may be learned because of race and/or
2. Read Languages:
3. Read Scrolls:
At 10th Level (Master
Thief), thieves are able to decipher magickal writings and utilize scrolls
of all sorts, excluding those of clerical, but not druidic, Nature.
However, the fact that thieves do not fully comprehend magick means that there is a 25% chance that writings will be misunderstood.
Furthermore, magic spells from scrolls can be mispronounced when uttered, so that there is an increasing chance per level of the spell that it will be the esrever of its intent.
Perhaps a table such as this:
Gary, there seems to be a confusion about the TSR Hobbies, 1st Edition ADandD rpg thief class using magic scrolls.
Look here: http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewt ... 996#398996
The answer to your first query is there on the thread:
the thief can read clerical scrolls ONLY if they are druidic in nature,
not purely clerical."
These primary, secondary,
and tertiary functions are displayed on a table
Thieves cannot build strongholds as some other classes of characters do.
They can, however, build a tower or fortified building of the small castle type (q.v.) for their own safety;
but this construction must be within, or not
more than a mile distant from, a town or city.
Any thief character
of 10th or greater level may use his small castle type
building to set up a headquarters for a gang of thieves, and he or she will
accordingly attract from 4-24 other thieves. However, this will bring the
enmity of the local Thieves Guild, and they will struggle to do away with
the rival organization. Once begun, warfare will end only when and if all
the Master Thieves on either or both sides are dead, or if the thief
character removes to another locale.
|Experience Points||Experience Level||6-Sided
|Saves||Proficiencies||NPC XP Value|
|0 ---- 1,250||1||1||Rogue (Apprentice)||20 (n), x2||d13, p12, r14, b16, s15||2/3||-|
|1,251 ---- 2,500||2||2||Footpad||20 (n), x2||d13, p12, r14, b16, s15||^||-|
|2,501 ---- 5,000||3||3||Cutpurse||20 (n), x2||d13, p12, r14, b16, s15||^||89 (T2), 116 (T1)|
|5,001 ---- 10,000||4||4||Robber||20 (n), x2||d13, p12, r14, b16, s15||^||207 (T1)|
|10,001 ---- 20,000||5||5||Burglar||19, x3||d12, p11, r12, b15, s13||^||-|
|20,001 ---- 42,500||6||6||Filcher||19, x3||d12, p11, r12, b15, s13||3/4||-|
|42,501 ---- 70,000||7||7||Sharper||19, x3||d12, p11, r12, b15, s13||^||989 (T3)|
|70,001 ---- 110,000||8||8||Magsman||19, x3||d12, p11, r12, b15, s13||^||-|
|101,001 ---- 160,000||9||9||Thief||16, x4||d11, p10, r10, b14, s11||^||-|
|160,001 ---- 220,000||10||10||Master Thief||16, x4||d11, p10, r10, b14, s11||^||3522 (T1)|
|220,001 ---- 440,000||11||10+2||Master Thief (11th level)||16, x4||d11, p10, r10, b14, s11||4/5||-|
|440,001 ---- 660,000||12||10+4||Master Thief (12th level)||16, x4||d11, p10, r10, b14, s11||^||-|
|660,001 ---- 880,000||13||10+6||Master Thief (13th level)||14, x5||d10, p9, r8, b13, s9||^||-|
|880,001 ---- 1,100,000||14||10+8||Master Thief (14th level)||14, x5||d10, p9, r8, b13, s9||^||-|
220,00 XP per level for each additional level beyond the 12th. <1> <2>
gain 2 h.p. per level after the 10th.
CON-based HP adjustments no longer apply after the 10th level. - OSRIC
FUNCTION TABLE (PLUS RACIAL ADJUSTMENTS)
<(PLUS DEX ADJUSTMENTS) (Consult DEX TABLE II. if DEX is 12 or less)>
Base Chance to
[17: 05, 18: 10]
[16: 5, 17: 10, 18: 15]
[17: 05, 18: 10]
[17: 5, 18: 10]
Notes Regarding Thief Function Table
are rolled to determine whether the thief is successful or
not. Any score equal to or less than the percentage shown for the
appropriate level of thief performing the designated function will indicate
- original idea by Gary Schweitzer (Grognardia)
Thieves and their Sub-Classes
AT A GLANCE:
There are those whose abilities lie not with the sword or the Art, but with quiet motion, dexterous action, and stealth.
Such talents often lead to thiefly endeavors, which plague most major cities, but are often placed to good use in dealing with dangerous monsters and lost treasure. <> <>
As more people gather in large cities, more individuals who prey on large collections of mankind gather as well.
Chief of those are human scavengers who seek their profession by stealing from others.
In the wilds, such behavior is oftimes useful and beneficial to the group, but in larger cities, usually spells trouble, so that most lawful towns hae injunctions against such activities.
Despite such laws, thieves and thievery
Most major cities have a number of "thieves' dens" competing in stealing and theft.
A few cities (such as Zhentil Keep) have an organized group of rogies controlling all such activity, and can (in the Keep's case) operate from a building in broad daylight.
Most "thieves' dens" are secret gathering spots, often beneath the city itself, and change as guards and lawful groups discover them.
The city of Waterdeep had once been home
to the most powerful guild of thieves in the North. <>
The Lords of Waterdeep smashed that guild, forcing its leaders to flee the city (those leaders are now the Shadow Thieves of Amn).
There are still thieves, thief-acrobats, and even assassins in Waterdeep, but they are broken into innumerable small groups, or operate alone.
The most common respite for such robbers
is what they themselves call "The Honest Trade" -- adventuring, where such
abilities may be used and indeed lionized in song and legend, when what
they are actually doign is fairly similar, the only difference being that
instead of a lord's manor they are burglarizing a lich's
Many thieves take to this life, adhering to a code that keeps them out of trouble in civilized areas but keeps them in gold.
Some leaders of important organizations are of this type--their fellow membbers would trust the cash-box with such an individual in the city, but keep an eye on him in the wild for pocketed gems and magical items that had "found" their way into his high-topped boots.
Thieves and their sub-classes have the abilities as given them in PH and UA.
The would-be thief is encouraged to practice his trade for the benefit of others.
<"Of the other portions of the AD&D game stemming from the writing of Jack Vance, the next most important one is the thief-class character.
Using a blend of “Cugel the Clever” and Roger Zelazny’s “Shadowjack” for a benchmark, this archetype character class became what it was in original AD&D."
- Gary Gygax, Jack Vance and the D&D game>
JASON THE RULESREADER,
Characters should have as much free will as possible in an RPG, don't you agree? The concept of the DM banning them from class-bestowed activity is odious.
If the thieves expect to be protected by the other party members, healed by clerics, given a shgare of party treasure, their pilfering from their comrades should be greatly limited. It is up to the other PCs to lay it on the line to the rampant thieves. The majority of the party might well dictate death for theft from any party member, and carry out an execution of a guilty party without loss of ant Good and/or Lawful alignment.
Of course, as a DM I encourage thieves who risk thier lives scouting and opening possibly trapped containers and all to filch a bit--say a few gems or a piece of jewelry. Reasonable PCs in a party can not seriously take offense at such relatively petty theft.
On the otther hand, my PCS have attacked and killed a PC thief stealing party treasure for his own gain at the expense of the remainder of the party,
Just bumping an unanswered question of mine:
Do you have a penchant for thief-type characters?
No, I do not particularly like thief-type characters.
To the best of my recollection...
The only thief PCs I have played were demi-humans with that class as one of two or more possessed, like my gnome illusionist thief PC that is my most recent OAD&D character done up only about five years back.
the chance for a thief character messing up a spell remain as noted, 25%
regardless of the level of the Thief.
If you don;t feel comforatble with that, then make up a house rule that you like--perhaps 25% at 12th, -5% per level thereafter, but always with a 5% chance of mis-speaking even at 17th level.
Thank you for the clarification! I was mislead by the subsequent "Furthermore..." sentence regarding the increasing chance of failure.
With your suggestion the system is mechanically similar to Basic D&D.
Perhaps a table such as this:
CHANCE FOR 12th LEVEL THIEF TO MIS-SPEAK SCROLL SPELL
1st or Protection: 5%
Reduce each category by 5% per level of thief above 12th, but there is always a 5% chance of mis-speaking any scroll's spell.
The Thief was based on Jack of Shadows (Zelazny) and Cugel (Vance) with a touch of REH's Conan, rather than solely on the Gray Mouser.
Mouser was too good a swordsman to serve as the pure model.
Originally Posted by Geoffrey
Gary, back in my AD&D days my group liked to stick to the basics when creating PCs. Everybody tended to be human rather than demi-human, and we almost never used the sub-classes (which are noted as optional, anyway). Thus, everybody tended to be one of the following types of characters:
However, of the four the
thief always seemed to be the least popular and the least useful class.
Maybe this was because of our gaming style, or perhaps because we seldom
had city-based adventures. My question is this: How essential to a balanced
party is the thief? While I don't see how a party could get by without
clerics, fighters, and magic-users, I've long scratched my head on just
how essential the thief is to a party's continued success. To us, the thief
always seemed more non-essential (similar to a druid or a monk) than one
would think since it's one of the four core classes.
The thief is a strong archetype in fantasy and adventure stories in general.
The main drawback to having one in the party was...theft!
Otherwise, we always appreciated a thief PC being able to scout ahead, check for and remove traps, pick locks, cimb up where the rest of the PCs couldn't reach easily, and even pop out of shadows to strike a dangerous opponent for added damage.
As encounters became more
complex and dangerous, the party's thief became a lot more in demand.
Just being able to have a member go ahead, see what was awaiting, and return to warn the other PCs was often the difference between success and failure.
Thief characters that prospered
understoon that their purloining had to be kept to a reasonably modest
"extra share," or else the other PC would grab them, turn them upside hown,
and shake them
Of course when I was DMing I did my best to encoutrage thieves to be greedy, so as to give the party problems from within, that seeming logical when they had a sneaky stealer of wealth along.
When I played a multi-classed demi-human with that ability I made sure to keep on the good side of the non-thief PCs too.
<note: get the Jeff Dee image for this one>
1. SUBCLASS = n/a
2. SOCIAL CLASS MINIMUM = LLC (01: LLC)
3. ABILITY SCORE MINIMUMS
STRENGTH = 6 (6d6)
INTELLIGENCE = 6 (5d6)
WISDOM = 3 (3d6)
* DEXTERITY = 9 (9d6)
CONSTITUTION = 6 (7d6)
CHARISMA = 6 (4d6)
COMELINESS = 3 (8d6)
4. POSSIBLE RACES & MAX. LEVEL ATTAINABLE = all races (U)
5. MULTI-CLASS POSSIBILITIES = CT (dg, ed), DT (eg, eh, ev, ew, 1/2), FT (all), MT (ed, eg, eh, ev, ew), IT (gd, gs), CMT (ed, eg, eh, ev, ew), FMT (ed, eg, eh, ev, ew)
6. HIT DIE TYPE = d6
7. MAXIMUM NUMBER OF HIT DICE = 10
8. SPELL ABILITY = no (Thieves of 10th level or higher and assassins of 12th level or higher gain the ability to read M-U's (and illusionists') spells from scrolls). <>
9. ARMOR PERMITTED = any
10. SHIELD PERMITTED = none
11. WEAPONS PERMITTED = bow (short), caltrop, club, crossbow (hand), dagger, dart, garrot, knife, sap, sling, sword (broad), sword (falchion), sword (long), sword (short)
12. OIL PERMITTED = yes
13. POISON PERMITTED = DM's option
14. ALIGNMENT = LN, LE, NG (rarely), N, NE, CN, CE (Most thieves tend toward evil.)
15. STARTING MONEY = 20-120 gp
16. WEAPON PROFICIENCIES = 2, 1/4 levels (1st: 2, 5th: 3, 9th: 4, 13th: 5, 17th: 6)
17. NON-PROFICIENCY PENALTY = -3
18. NON-WEAPON PROFICIENCIES = 3, 1/4 levels (1st: 3, 5th: 4, 9th: 5, 13th: 6, 17th: 7)
19. STARTING AGE = human (18 + d4: m21), dwarf (75 + 3d6), elf (50 + 5d6), gnome (80 + 5d4: m91), half-elf (22 + 3d8: m41), halfling (40 + 2d4: m), half-orc (20 + 2d4: m)
20. COMBAT = T
21. SAVING THROWS = T
22. MAGIC ITEMS = T
Q: Why are thieves
restricted to short bows?
Why can't they use long bows?
A: There are two reasons
for this: game
logic and game balance.
From the standpoint of game logic, a
long bow is simply too large. A thief carrying
such a weapon would have difficulty
hiding or climbing. Therefore, the thief
learns to use other, more easily concealed
weapons. There are other logical considerations.
A long bow requires more strength
than the average thief has. Rather than
writing a strength requirement for the
long bow (and every other weapon on the
list), we put a class restriction on it; only
fighters who normally have high strength
scores can use it.
From the standpoint of game
only fighter-types have unlimited choices
of weapons. In order to make thieves less
effective than fighters in combat, they
have fewer weapons to use. Thieves are
not supposed to get into long-range firefights
with opponents; they're supposed to
be sneaky. This distinction between classes
is very important for several reasons. It
prevents a character with extremely good
stats from totally dominating the game,
since no character can do everything. It
also promotes teamwork and gives everyone
a chance to have some fun, again
because no single character can do it all.
A similar line of logic applies to all the
other class distinctions. The AD&D game
simply would lose its appeal if clerics
could use edged weapons, if mages could
wear armor, or if fighters could pick locks.