On Thieves

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Something like this may have been posted before but I'm bored & I feel like writing about something that isn't on my blog.

I actually wrote something like this on my old Google blog but I thought with a forum post, I might get a little more feedback.

I like the thief class. It's probably my favorite to play out of all the classes with magic-users running a VERY close second. 

Scanning some of the other forum posts on here and on Dragonsfoot, I found that there are a lot of players who despise or at least dismiss the thief class because they think it's weak, especially at lower levels.

Granted, in 1st edition, which we play, you have 1d6 hit points plus CON bonuses if you are fortunate to warrant them, (and that has a max of +2 since it's a non-fighter class)

Taking a bit from Gygax, we allow all 1st level characters to max hit points rather than roll randomly just to give the character a slightly improved chance of survival. 

So you start with 6-8 hp max and all those cool abilities like Moving Silently, Picking Locks etc are appallingly low. You're best armor is Studded Leather which gives you a base AC of 7 which can modified to a respectable 3 if you are fotunate enough to have an 18 DEX with a -4 modifier.

(I don't know how anything past 2nd edition handles all this but I'm not here to discuss Edition mechanics.)

As a thief, you start with 2 weapon proficiencies. 

This is where the fun begins if you want your thief to survive & thrive in AD&D.

Weapon selection.

Most people tend to go for some sort of missile weapon, which is smart. Considering you have a high DEX, you will have bonuses to hit with missile weapons. Most seem to lean toward a bow of some sort.

While I like my thieves to be proficient with a bow, it's usually not one of my first picks starting out.

I prefer slings.

Slings have a lower fire rate but they also have the advantage of doing 2-5 hp of damage (vs M sized and smaller) if you're using bullets rather than ordinary stones.

This means you are doing a minimum of 2 hp of damage per hit vs 1 hp of damage with an arrow.

Also with bows, eventually, your quiver is gonna be empty.

With slings, you may run our of bullets, but then you can find rocks almost anywhere. If things get really desperate, you can improvise with other missiles hurled from your sling. (I've used silver pieces against undead, vials of holy water, flasks of oil and even 1,000 gp gem stones as ammunition for my sling.)

While the range may be affected somewhat, you're still gonna hit for 1-4 hp of damage (plus any other additional damage from the material you use.)

Second, I like daggers. Lots of daggers. With low-level thieves, you should be consciously avoiding melee combat ALL THE TIME.

Daggers are thrown rather than stabbed into a foe (Unless performing a backstab)

They have a fire rate of 2 so you get 2-8 hp of damge per attack. (Versus M size and smaller)

So your thief should be hanging back during any combat & hurling missiles at spellcasters & other targets of opportunity. Spellcasters can ruin a party's day so I favor thieves concentrating on them so they disrupt their spells while the fighter types hack their way through the minions.

No matter what, thieves should ALWAYS fight dirty.

For this purpose, I get away from the standard equipment table & get creative.

I carry no less than 6 small pouches of powdered chalk which I use to hurl into the faces of my enemies, causing non-permanent blindness but if I score a hit, they typically suffer a -2 penalty to hit me or anyone else for a round or two. (If the DM is particularly generous, I try to use lye or something more caustic.)

Since I don't always get a generous DM, I can also use small pouches of ground pepper.

These things function much like the eggshell grenades from AD&D Oriental Adventures.

Ninjas don't have the market cornered on blinding powders or explosives.

If a campaign allows black powder, my thieves get first dibs. 

Flasks of oil are next and i usually equip at least 3 which I prep with rags "wicks" so they become Molotov Cocktails.

Iron spikes, in addition to their traditional uses, are also great for hurling at opponents & while they may not do much for damage, they give a thief a chance to break away from melee, disrupt spellcasters & otherwise fight like a thief.

(If anyone recalls PS2's awesome game "Manhunt" the "hero" James Earl Cash, was a BAD dude! Not in a stand-up fight mind you, but you DO NO want him getting the drop on you! He fought like a thief! OK, more like an assassin but the line there is blurred when it comes to thieves surviving combat.)

Once you have accumulated some funds, it's time to visit the local alchemist for some vials of acid. Acid vials have clear rules in AD&D, cause damage to almost anything & can also be used to disolve that lock you can't seem to pick. 

Other chemicals can be very handy but like anything, including acid, requires DM approval. 

Your thief, should he/she become engaged in melee, should find & do ANYTHING to tilt the field in his/her favor. Overturning tables & chairs, ducking under tables, bringing down tapestries, hurling bottles of wine, bowls of hot stew, flaming torches and whatever else comes handy is tantamount to survival in combat for a thief.

You want to perform a backstab? GREAT! They aren't as hard to set up as one might think if you play your thief ruthlessly. Moving silently isn't necessary in melee since melee is loud and suring combat everyone has tunnel vision and audial exclusion. Look this stuff up & present it to your DM and perhaps you might have to roll a Hide in Shadows successfully but you SHOULD get bonuses simply because no one should be paying attention to you during a fight.

Again, hang back, hurl missiles if you need to, but look for an opening, be patient and when you see your chance, move in for the backstab. 

Your thief should be the busiest character in the party & always doing something. This brings me to dungeon exploring and searching for traps.


I play my thieves like the EOD experts of AD&D. (For those of you who don't know, EOD is "Explosive Ordinance Disposal")

They are certainly at the front of the party as the carefully proceed through the dungeon, checking for traps, tripwires and other things fighters & such tend to miss.

For this purpose, I favor a 100 foot roll of string attached to a lead weigh or a small leather pouch filled with lead beads like a sap.

This is thrown down long hallways and any annoying tripwires are revealed as the string comes to rest on top of the wire. (Special Ops & SWAT use Silly String for this purpose.)

Probing for trap doors is done with the good old reliable 10 foot pole.

Every door should be check by your thief before it's kicked open by the big, burly fighter. This includes not only checking for traps but listening for anything that might give a clue as to what lies beyond the door.

Hear noise should be performed every 50-100 feet in a hallway & not just at doors.

One thing that Special Ops (and professional burglars) will do is when they first enter a place they've never been, (LZ, building etc) they stop & listen for about 10 minutes. They acclimate their senses to the environment, listening for the ordinary background noises as well as odd sounds that tell them all is well or danger is close by.

Your standard Thieves Picks & Tools which is not clearly defined in AD&D can be custom made by your thief to include just about anything your DM will allow. (The kit costs 25 gp so fill it with 25 gp worth of stuff)

My kits always include at least one 18+ inch wire probe which I use to check for traps on chests & door locks. 

I prefer small, wooden wedges vs iron spikes for holding doors open or closed since they are less noisy when you pound them into place and you can carry about 30 of them without fear of encumbrance.

I usually carry 12 wooden wedges and no more than 6 iron spikes. 

I carry at least one pouch of about 50-100 marbles which I scatter on floors or steps to avoid pursuit and if our party has to make camp in the dungeon, I can use them as a booby-trap/alarm in a hallway outside our area to alert us if something wicked this way comes. 

All or at least most of these tricks & tools can be used by monks (except for flaming oil) assassins and bards as well.

Just wait until you see the look on your DM's face when you start using some of these same tactics with your magic-user!

So in order to get really good at all those abilities, your thief has to survive until they make it to those level where the odds arent stacked against them. That's when you can pick up a shortsword and kit it out like a ninja-to with a snorkel scabbard and a hollow grip stuffed with all kinds of wicked goodies.

Like I said, ninjas don't have the market cornered on this stuff!

Happy gaming!

Dungeonmaster314








 
Great post DM, and 95% of that can be applied to a 3.5 rogue as well. That said, sadly, my players are the only group that play such pure-class characters. You are not going to find another person on the boards that doesn't multi-class a rogue out with other classes, or prestige classes, in the ever-present grab for power and tricks as opposed to a role-playing experience.

I like 3.5 mechanics better, but I do miss that pure feeling of AD&D, knowing your role in the scheme of the party. 

Another great post, my friend.

Neue 
Excellent stuff. One of my favorite groups included a halfling thief and my own half-elf fighter/thief. This post makes me want to play a thief again.
Great post DM, and 95% of that can be applied to a 3.5 rogue as well. That said, sadly, my players are the only group that play such pure-class characters. You are not going to find another person on the boards that doesn't multi-class a rogue out with other classes, or prestige classes, in the ever-present grab for power and tricks as opposed to a role-playing experience.

I like 3.5 mechanics better, but I do miss that pure feeling of AD&D, knowing your role in the scheme of the party. 

Another great post, my friend.

Neue 



Optimizing and RP are not mutually exclusive.  In fact, I can argue that Optimization is role playing - not that you'd listen.  ;)

Er, cuz it's incredibly likely that you've already had this explained to you.  I mean, Tempest Stormwind does frequent this board after all.
Resident Prophet of the OTTer.

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[b]If you're terribly afraid of your character dying, it may be best if you roleplayed something other than an adventurer.[/b]

I'd also argue that - with the possible exception of the PHB base classes - 3.5 was intentionally designed around multi- and prestige classing. I'm not saying that it was built with using 4 different base classes and 3 PrCs by level 20 in mind... But things like the Arcane Archer & Trickster kinda speak to the probability, y'know?
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56788208 wrote:
I do, however, have one last lesson on this subject. That last one? The only build in this post that can one-shot average opponents[by dealing twice as much damage as they have HP? I would argue that it is not optimized. Why isn't it optimized? Because it's overkill. Overkill is NOT optimizing. This means that there are portions of this build dedicated to damage which can safely be removed and thrown elsewhere. For example, you probably don't need both Leap Attack AND Headlong Rush at the same time. You could pick up Extra Rage feats for stamina, feats to support AoO effects, feats that work towards potential prestige classes, and so on. However, you could also shift our ability scores around somewhat. I mean, if you're getting results like that with 16 starting Strength, maybe you can lower it to 14, and free up four points to spend somewhere else - perhaps back into Charisma, giving you some oomph for Intimidating Rage or Imperious Command if you want. You can continue to tune this until it deals "enough" damage - and that "enough" does not need to be "100%". It could easily be, say, 80% (leaving the rest to the team), if your DM is the sort who would ban one-hit killers.
Tempest_Stormwind on Character Optimization
So when do you think Bachmann will be saying she met a mother the previous night that had a son who got a blood transfusion using a gay guy's blood, and now the son is retardedly gay?
When she meets CJ's mom?
Resident Pithed-Off Dragon Poon Slayer of the House of Trolls
I'd also argue that - with the possible exception of the PHB base classes - 3.5 was intentionally designed around multi- and prestige classing. I'm not saying that it was built with using 4 different base classes and 3 PrCs by level 20 in mind... But things like the Arcane Archer & Trickster kinda speak to the probability, y'know?



No, I "don't know". Were that the case, prestige classes would have been put in the Player's Handbook "by intentional design". Instead, and I quote, they were merely meant as a diversion. I quote:

"Prestige classes are purely optional and always under the purview of the DM. We encourage you, as the DM, to tightly limit the prestige classes available in your campaign. The example prestige classes are certainly not all encompassing or definitive. They might not even be appropriate for your campaign." ~DMG p. 176

However, instead, the game mutated in this direction instead of the original ideas due to easily bored players, and then the game designers suddenly realized they'd accidently inserted a gold-mine in future sales with the new trend and constant new money-making splatbooks.

This is not my opinion only. I reference a "Save My Game" article directly on WotC's website: www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/sg/200...

 Neue
Yes, because variety invariably turns neckbearded masters of RP into 12 year old munchkins. 

Like it or not, the basic design of 3.5 made multi-classing easier and did so on purpose.  And I'm glad it did because this created an unprecedented variety in character concepts and brought the game as close to classless as we've ever seen it.  The idea was to allow people to be able to make their characters what they thought them to be.  To not constrain them to certain basic types.  And, believe it or not, this aids RP.  Cuz if the paper backs what you have in your head, it's a lot easier to put the two into an actual game session together.
Resident Prophet of the OTTer.

Section Six Soldier

Front Door of the House of Trolls

[b]If you're terribly afraid of your character dying, it may be best if you roleplayed something other than an adventurer.[/b]

The main argument I was going to make has been made already, so I'll touch on a minor point.

I do miss that pure feeling of AD&D, knowing your role in the scheme of the party.


You get that in later editions too - hell, it's a direct point of 4e (Defender/Controller/Leader/Striker are tactical descriptions of Fighting-Man, Mage, Priest, Thief).

You even get it in 3.5. It's just that the role in the party doesn't necessarily need to map on to one of the pre-packaged roles handed out to you by the books, the way it did in AD&D.

For instance, in one of my games right now, there's a fighter-type (ranger), a wizard-type (psion), a cleric-type (ardent), a rogue-type (ninja), and general support (artificer, although the character in question is likely to retire soon and his player is replacing him with a bard). Except, with the exception of the general support character, no one fits the standard distribution of roles. The ranger is fragile and devastatingly strong on the front lines. The ninja specializes in area crippling and healing. The psion focuses on tanking. The ardent focuses on telekinetic takedowns. 

The thing about 3e philosophy is that your role in battle is as modular as your class structure. I've argued in the past that there aren't roles, but rather RESPONSIBILITIES, in battle, and the distribution of those responsibilities is flexible in 3.5 (one of its big strengths). You can combine the typical strengths of, say, the fighter with the weaknesses of the mage, or exchange the thief's precision takedown responsibility for the ability to heal while keeping the sneaky cunning, for instance.




Oh, and if you want examples of multiclassing being suggested by Wizards even early on, look no further than the first player-oriented splatbooks (i.e. Sword and Fist). They often gave very very bad tactical advice, but one thing they emphasized about the system was the flexibility of design even among base classes (they spoke about prestige classes being optional, i.e. "You might even choose to take a prestige class", while emphasizing multiclassing's strengths). Common suggestions were taking a quick dip into Fighter (improved HP, better nonmagical weapon or armor use for many characters, two bonus feats to quickly become reasonable in combat), a splash of rogue (mostly for skills - not a really good reason to do this multiclassing, but early in the game they still suggested it), and even using a level of Sorcerer as a specialist wizard (yes, they really suggested this - it was a way to use arcane wands of any school without a check). This kind of invalidates Neue's argument from authority, doesn't it?

Similarly, I've got nothing against single-classed characters - but I don't see "being single-classed" as a virtue in and of itself. It's the character as a whole that matters, not the number of slashes on the "Class" line of their character sheet. I'm playing a single-classed character right now (Hexblade 20 - admittedly using Mike Mearls' corrections to the class, as he admitted they were being too conservative with its design in hindsight), but that doesn't make the character any "better" than a character with a prestige class or a pastiche of base and prestiges. In the game world, unless the prestige class is organizational-based, no one sees the characters as anything different than what they are - there isn't a real difference, say, between bards and fighter/rogue/sorcerers specializing in enchantment and illusion spells.

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

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These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
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[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
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[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
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[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

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[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style)

[TS] Assassin's Speed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
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[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

I never had any problem with multiclassing. Read my posts, stop assuming! Read the link I posted. My gripe is about multiple prestige classes. (I would enforce "Solution #3" in my game, if I had any need to do so. My players, like-minded as I, have very little use for any prestige classing at all, but a few were mandatory when we switched/converted characters from AD&D 10 or 15 years ago. (There were at least 2 elven F/M, and 2 assassins that I can think of).

Now, with that, I'm done. My discussion with DungeonMaster314 about the difference between a Thief and a Rogue and the two systems was a discussion of exactly that, not meant to get things derailed from his fine post about the well known fact that I disagree with some of your styles of play, and you with mine. Stop being defensive about your style when you were not even attacked.

Endgame

Neue 
Well said NeueRegal!

I'm not here to give offense to anyone. I like my Old School stuff & nothing anyone says is going to change that fact. 

The thief class being changed to "rogue" first occurred in 2E & it was part of the politically correct "kinder & gentler" form of D&D that TSR endeavored to produce after the witch hunt days.

They removed the assassin, demons and devils were given a facelift along with new names that the modern day witch hunters like Patricia Pulling & the crazed televangelists would use to show the game in a bad light.

At a given seminar or one of the court proceedings which took place in those days, people like Patricia Pulling could hold one of the books aloft and say, "See? They encourage kids to participate in bad behavior by taking on the persona of thieves & assassins and have them consort with demons & devils!"

Sheer lunacy I know, but TSR should have stuck to their guns & just fired back. People who look for the Devil will find him anywhere and their arguments are easily crushed.

Which is why I will stick with calling them "thieves" vs calling the "rogues"

Being a rogue is a style of play vs a class. 

And anyone can be a rogue including a Paladin or Ranger just by how they act.

Not everyone can be a good thief. (It can be argued that anyone can filch a pie from a cart & be called a thief but again, it's being GOOD at it."

I'm fairly certain the tactics I described could be used by almost any class in any game but it certainly gives a player a chance to help the so-called "weaker" classes survive until they can reach a respectable level.

I certainly don't want to turn this into an Edition war or an argument over playing style.

I only hope that players & DMs alike can read this & add some flavor to whatever version of D&D they play.

Happy gaming!

Dungeonmaster314




 
Thieves are my favorite old-school class, as a matter of fact. The people who say they're weak are just not playing them correctly, in my opinion.

A thief is not a fighter. This should be obvious, but you really need to pound that into some heads.

I like your post, DM. There are lots of great ideas here, and it shows that you are an experienced player - probably the kind that Gygax would have both loved and loathed simultaneously (because you'd be able to outsmart some of his meticulously crafted machinations).

The thief class being changed to "rogue" first occurred in 2E & it was part of the politically correct "kinder & gentler" form of D&D that TSR endeavored to produce after the witch hunt days.

 



Actually it wasn't until 3rd edition that they dropped "Thief" as a class name.

2nd edition has four categories of classes: Warriors, Wizard, Rogues, and Priests. "Rogue" wasn't a class unto itself, it was just a bucket that contained other classes. In the PHB, there were two classes in the Rogue bucket, and those classes were Bard and Thief.
@Neue: your first post mention things like "pure-class" and "not multiclassing a rogue". I'm sorry if I misunderstood your intent, since it seems that we're mostly in agreement on the issue. In regards to your linked article, my old group used Option #4: PrCs were subject to XP penalties until the class hit its capstone. That's still how I prefer to keep my builds.

@DM314: My first D&D character ever was a Halfling Thief. I still have good memories of that one.
Btw: 314 wouldn't happen to be your area code, would it?
"Today's headlines and history's judgment are rarely the same. If you are too attentive to the former, you will most certainly not do the hard work of securing the latter." -Condoleezza Rice "My fellow Americans... I've just signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. Bombing begins in five minutes." - Ronald Reagan This user has been banned from you by the letters "O-R-C" and the numbers "2, 3, 4, and 6"
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56788208 wrote:
I do, however, have one last lesson on this subject. That last one? The only build in this post that can one-shot average opponents[by dealing twice as much damage as they have HP? I would argue that it is not optimized. Why isn't it optimized? Because it's overkill. Overkill is NOT optimizing. This means that there are portions of this build dedicated to damage which can safely be removed and thrown elsewhere. For example, you probably don't need both Leap Attack AND Headlong Rush at the same time. You could pick up Extra Rage feats for stamina, feats to support AoO effects, feats that work towards potential prestige classes, and so on. However, you could also shift our ability scores around somewhat. I mean, if you're getting results like that with 16 starting Strength, maybe you can lower it to 14, and free up four points to spend somewhere else - perhaps back into Charisma, giving you some oomph for Intimidating Rage or Imperious Command if you want. You can continue to tune this until it deals "enough" damage - and that "enough" does not need to be "100%". It could easily be, say, 80% (leaving the rest to the team), if your DM is the sort who would ban one-hit killers.
Tempest_Stormwind on Character Optimization
So when do you think Bachmann will be saying she met a mother the previous night that had a son who got a blood transfusion using a gay guy's blood, and now the son is retardedly gay?
When she meets CJ's mom?
Resident Pithed-Off Dragon Poon Slayer of the House of Trolls
As far as I understood it, the switch to "rogue" as the class name was to avoid pigeonholing them since, by definition, a thief steals things, which isn't such an important point for adventurers, since they typically make a fortune from adventuring in the more general sense (and it tends to upset people when it happens around them).  Mind you, a lot of adventuring loot might count as theft if the people who owned it were still alive, but it's in a workable grey area in terms of selling the idea.

For comparison, in 3.5 you've got the "spellthief" class, who does have theft (of spells) as his most prominent ability.

Hmm, keeping to the theme of an actual "thief", such a class should excel at debuffing and disabling, since the role of a thief is to take things away; that sort of fits with disarming traps and hitting opponents where they're vulnerable.  I think I'll keep that insight in mind if I decide to make any changes (even if they're to the 3.5 "rogue").

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Co-Author of the Dreamfane, Euralden Eye, Fulminating Crab, Gajuisan Crawler, Gruesome LurkerIronglass Rose, Sheengrass Swarm, Spryjack, Usunag, and Warp Drifter, and author of the Magmal Horror from Force of Nature.

My most popular campaign item; for all your adventuring convenience.
Zauber's Mutable Rod: This rod has a number of useful functions that make it easier to live in the wilderness. It is made of polished wood, with five studlike buttons on one end. Each button produces a different effect when pressed. Unless otherwise noted, the rod’s functions have no limit on the number of times they can be employed. When button 1 is pressed, one end of the rod produces a small flame, equivalent to a candle. When button 2 is pressed, the rod unfolds into a two-person tent, complete with bedrolls and warm blankets. When button 3 is pressed, the rod becomes a one-handed hammer, suitable for pounding pitons into a wall. When button 4 is pressed, the rod becomes a sturdy iron spade. When button 5 is pressed, the rod becomes a wooden bucket able to hold 2 gallons of liquid. Once per day, it can be commanded to fill with fresh water. If the rod is seriously damaged or broken in any of its alternate forms (button 2, 3, 4, or 5), it reverts to its basic rod form and cannot be activated for 24 hours. Moderate conjuration; CL 9th; Craft Rod, minor creation; Price 375 gp; Weight 2 lb.
@Neue: your first post mention things like "pure-class" and "not multiclassing a rogue". I'm sorry if I misunderstood your intent, since it seems that we're mostly in agreement on the issue. In regards to your linked article, my old group used Option #4: PrCs were subject to XP penalties until the class hit its capstone. That's still how I prefer to keep my builds.


That's a fair game answer Draco, and work-able I suppose, for some (okay... "most"). I'd still prefer to keep it #3, "make them earn it" """"IF IT EXISTS""""  

Moral of the story: I've got a killer Arcane Archer for you to play when you get to Salt Lake City. (Waiting for it in fact).

 
@Neue: your first post mention things like "pure-class" and "not multiclassing a rogue". I'm sorry if I misunderstood your intent, since it seems that we're mostly in agreement on the issue. In regards to your linked article, my old group used Option #4: PrCs were subject to XP penalties until the class hit its capstone. That's still how I prefer to keep my builds.


That's a fair game answer Draco, and work-able I suppose, for some (okay... "most"). I'd still prefer to keep it #3, "make them earn it" """"IF IT EXISTS""""  

Moral of the story: I've got a killer Arcane Archer for you to play when you get to Salt Lake City. (Waiting for it in fact).

 

I guess all classes could be considered "thieves" since they plunder treasure hoards from lost cities, haunted tombs and labryinthine dungeons.

"Thief" is a gritty of somewhat derogatory term which I like.  

I look at one of my favorite movies "Thief" starring james Caan. Brilliant film adapted from Frank Hohimer's novel "The Home Invaders" (Frank Hohimer is the pen name of John Seybold, an actual jewel thief who did time in the pen.)

James Caan is brilliant in the film & his character "Frank" uses his wits as much as his prison-forged toughness to get what he wants. He explains to "Leo" the antagonist in the film who wants to have Frank do contract scores/jobs for him that he doesn't steal furs, antiques, coin collections or pull cartage thefts. He steals diamonds or cash. That's it. "No cowboy ****. No home invasions."

Until the climax of the film.

He's actually one of those bad guys who you want to see succeed. He's trying to build a real life for himself doing what he does best.

Our thieves should be more like him.

My thieves will steal from party members as a joke if they are the light-hearted type or they simply don't do it at all.

Everyone else is a target of opportunity.

If they get to some treasure & no one else is looking? They take out their "risk tax" since they feel they've earned it, looking for & disarming all those fiendish traps.

Maybe I'm wrong with why they switched to rogue but it fell in with all the other changes they made to get out from under all the scrutiny of the insane people who wanted TSR burned to the ground.

May the dice be with you!


Dungeonmaster314




 
Thieves are my favorite old-school class, as a matter of fact. The people who say they're weak are just not playing them correctly, in my opinion.

A thief is not a fighter. This should be obvious, but you really need to pound that into some heads.

I like your post, DM. There are lots of great ideas here, and it shows that you are an experienced player - probably the kind that Gygax would have both loved and loathed simultaneously (because you'd be able to outsmart some of his meticulously crafted machinations).

Thanks for the compliment my friend! 

Believe me, I would have LOVED to play with Gygax as the DM!

Growing up about an hour away from Akron, I could conceivably played with Tom Moldvay but i was too young to drive and never realized until recently that he lived in Akron! I was depressed when I learned that one of the greats lived so close & I never looked him up.

Right now, I would be EXTREMELY honored to play with Ed Greenwood.

Spellfire is my favorite book of all that he has written and I imagine that one of his games would be a high-speed gauntlet of endless challenges which would leave you exhausted at the end of the session.

I try to run my games like "Spellfire" but I'm certain that I fall short.

I only hope I would have faired as well as you suggest with Gygax. That guy was just incredible!

If only we had a time machine my friend! I know EXACTLY what I would do!

Along with not eating that leftover meatloaf I found in the fridge one day, meeting Gygax would be at the top of my list.

Dungeonmaster314 
Playing with Gygax would have been awesome. I wish I could try my hand at capturing the "Jeweled Man", but unfortunately the key to doing it must have passed away with Gary. I've made myself sad. :*(
You have made quite a detailed post about the Thief and as I feel strongly about Thieves and Rogues I will try to reply in detail. I like the concept of the skillmonkey and as such have played Thieves in AD&D 2E for nearly 10 years and various Rogueish types in 3E, 4E and Next.

As you focus on the AD&D Thief, so will I.

To understand where I'm coming from you have to understand that we played AD&D in isolation without anybody to teach us but the books. Living in the Netherlands there wasn't really a RPG culture but we found MUDs on the early internet and then found the core D&D books at a local gaming shop. We were playing a very "pure" form of D&D following what the books told us by the letter at least the first few years.
Something like this may have been posted before but I'm bored & I feel like writing about something that isn't on my blog.

I actually wrote something like this on my old Google blog but I thought with a forum post, I might get a little more feedback.

I like the thief class. It's probably my favorite to play out of all the classes with magic-users running a VERY close second. 

Scanning some of the other forum posts on here and on Dragonsfoot, I found that there are a lot of players who despise or at least dismiss the thief class because they think it's weak, especially at lower levels.


I find the Thief sort of ok at lower levels, but really fall behind after about level 7-8 when the Fighters pull ahead by a large margin in combat prowesse and the Wizards get enough utility to make a lot of your skills obsolete.

Granted, in 1st edition, which we play, you have 1d6 hit points plus CON bonuses if you are fortunate to warrant them, (and that has a max of +2 since it's a non-fighter class)

Taking a bit from Gygax, we allow all 1st level characters to max hit points rather than roll randomly just to give the character a slightly improved chance of survival.


This is a houserule you apparently attribute to Gygax. Why use houserules? The designers have thought long and hard about what to put into the books why deviate from it?

So you start with 6-8 hp max and all those cool abilities like Moving Silently, Picking Locks etc are appallingly low. You're best armor is Studded Leather which gives you a base AC of 7 which can modified to a respectable 3 if you are fotunate enough to have an 18 DEX with a -4 modifier.


Like 18 Dex was likely with 3d6. I once rolled a 16 for Dex, which I boosted to 17 by playing a Halfling Thief. That's as good as it usually got. I've only seen two players roll an 18 for a stat in the 10 years I played AD&D 2E. One was a Fighter, who then got to roll for exceptional strength, the other was lucky enough to play a Ranger with his rolls.
(And don't start me on 4d6 drop lowest or anything like that - the PHB 2E tells you to use 3d6)
A Thief would usually not be wearing armor because of the heavy penalties it gave on his skills, so an AC of 8-7 was much more likely.

(I don't know how anything past 2nd edition handles all this but I'm not here to discuss Edition mechanics.)


Later editions made the max HP at first level a rule, AD&D didn't as far as I know. And as we're discussing AD&D (2E in my case) that's what I'll be referencing. I've seen Wizards starting with 1 HP at first level.

As a thief, you start with 2 weapon proficiencies. 

This is where the fun begins if you want your thief to survive & thrive in AD&D.

Weapon selection.

Most people tend to go for some sort of missile weapon, which is smart. Considering you have a high DEX, you will have bonuses to hit with missile weapons. Most seem to lean toward a bow of some sort.

While I like my thieves to be proficient with a bow, it's usually not one of my first picks starting out.

I prefer slings.

Slings have a lower fire rate but they also have the advantage of doing 2-5 hp of damage (vs M sized and smaller) if you're using bullets rather than ordinary stones.

This means you are doing a minimum of 2 hp of damage per hit vs 1 hp of damage with an arrow.

Also with bows, eventually, your quiver is gonna be empty.


As I was usually playing a Halfling Thief, I often used Slings as well. Unlike later editions they were reasonably good. You did comparable damage when using bullets and it had a longer range.

The problem with Slings was that Sling Bullets were heavy. You could only carry a few, maybe 20 or so at most. which in practice meant you were often using stones, if you could find suitable ones, or some improvized ammunition which would be worse than the Sling Stones.

With slings, you may run our of bullets, but then you can find rocks almost anywhere. If things get really desperate, you can improvise with other missiles hurled from your sling. (I've used silver pieces against undead, vials of holy water, flasks of oil and even 1,000 gp gem stones as ammunition for my sling.)

While the range may be affected somewhat, you're still gonna hit for 1-4 hp of damage (plus any other additional damage from the material you use.)

Which was entirely up to how the DM ruled improvized ammunition. Mine didn't allow much tricks like that, there's nothing about it in the books AFAIK.
Second, I like daggers. Lots of daggers. With low-level thieves, you should be consciously avoiding melee combat ALL THE TIME.


At low level the Thief is actually pretty close to the Fighter in melee capability, it's at higher levels that he really starts falling behind in HP and attacks.

Daggers are thrown rather than stabbed into a foe (Unless performing a backstab)


I usually chose a Short Sword first for several reasons:
- Daggers are even heavier than Sling Stones have a much lower range and do less damage. The higher rate of firing only compensates somewhat.
- Daggers are a much bigger investment and a much bigger loss if you can't get them back after a fight.
- At low level a Thief is a reasonably melee combattant and then does more damage with a Short Sword. Also a Short Sword potentially does more damage on a Backstab. (But see my comment on Backstab)

They have a fire rate of 2 so you get 2-8 hp of damge per attack. (Versus M size and smaller)


As a ranged weapon I usually found the Sling superior. It usually had a much higher chance to hit because of the halfling bonus and much longer ranges.

So your thief should be hanging back during any combat & hurling missiles at spellcasters & other targets of opportunity. Spellcasters can ruin a party's day so I favor thieves concentrating on them so they disrupt their spells while the fighter types hack their way through the minions.


I think I've hardly ever fought any spellcasters in AD&D. We played quite a few published TSR adventures but I remember mostly fighting monsters and things like Orcs and Giants.

No matter what, thieves should ALWAYS fight dirty.

For this purpose, I get away from the standard equipment table & get creative.

I carry no less than 6 small pouches of powdered chalk which I use to hurl into the faces of my enemies, causing non-permanent blindness but if I score a hit, they typically suffer a -2 penalty to hit me or anyone else for a round or two. (If the DM is particularly generous, I try to use lye or something more caustic.)

Since I don't always get a generous DM, I can also use small pouches of ground pepper.

These things function much like the eggshell grenades from AD&D Oriental Adventures.

Ninjas don't have the market cornered on blinding powders or explosives.

If a campaign allows black powder, my thieves get first dibs. 

Flasks of oil are next and i usually equip at least 3 which I prep with rags "wicks" so they become Molotov Cocktails.

Iron spikes, in addition to their traditional uses, are also great for hurling at opponents & while they may not do much for damage, they give a thief a chance to break away from melee, disrupt spellcasters & otherwise fight like a thief.

Once you have accumulated some funds, it's time to visit the local alchemist for some vials of acid. Acid vials have clear rules in AD&D, cause damage to almost anything & can also be used to disolve that lock you can't seem to pick. 

Other chemicals can be very handy but like anything, including acid, requires DM approval. 

Your thief, should he/she become engaged in melee, should find & do ANYTHING to tilt the field in his/her favor. Overturning tables & chairs, ducking under tables, bringing down tapestries, hurling bottles of wine, bowls of hot stew, flaming torches and whatever else comes handy is tantamount to survival in combat for a thief.


Which are all things that the Fighter is going to be much better at than the Thief and/or need to be allowed by the DM.
If the Fighter was better at it (higher Str and better To Hit) we had the Figher do it instead (We usually had at least 2 Fighters). Heck even the Cleric was usually better suited for things like this than the Thief.
Secondly a lot of these tricks required DM approval. Which if it wasn't in the books was often not allowed as apparently the designers had not thought it a good idea and didn't include it.

You want to perform a backstab? GREAT! They aren't as hard to set up as one might think if you play your thief ruthlessly.

I only got to use Backstab once in ten years of playing AD&D. I did a total of 3 damage (rolled a 1 x3).
Moving silently isn't necessary in melee since melee is loud and suring combat everyone has tunnel vision and audial exclusion. Look this stuff up & present it to your DM and perhaps you might have to roll a Hide in Shadows successfully but you SHOULD get bonuses simply because no one should be paying attention to you during a fight.

The text of the PHB explicitly states that Backstab in combat is unlikely to work: "Opponents in battle will often notice a thief trying to maneuver behind them--the first rule of fighting is to never turn your back on an enemy!"
Backstab is only likely to work outside of combat, anything else is another houserule. You can argue all you want about how things should work but it's not what the books say.
Again, hang back, hurl missiles if you need to, but look for an opening, be patient and when you see your chance, move in for the backstab. 

Your thief should be the busiest character in the party & always doing something.

Until your DM decices to make combat more tactical by using Combat&Tactics. The Fatique rules in that book are brutal when playing a Halfling Thief.

This brings me to dungeon exploring and searching for traps.

I play my thieves like the EOD experts of AD&D. (For those of you who don't know, EOD is "Explosive Ordinance Disposal")

They are certainly at the front of the party as the carefully proceed through the dungeon, checking for traps, tripwires and other things fighters & such tend to miss.

A Thief needs to get close and personal to find a trap: "To find the trap, the thief must be able to touch and inspect the trapped object."
In my experience this was often quite a lethal thing to do especially at higher levels. After a while we usually let the Fighters take point as they had the HP to take a hit, while having the Thief take point would often meant he got killed.

For this purpose, I favor a 100 foot roll of string attached to a lead weigh or a small leather pouch filled with lead beads like a sap.

This is thrown down long hallways and any annoying tripwires are revealed as the string comes to rest on top of the wire. (Special Ops & SWAT use Silly String for this purpose.)

Probing for trap doors is done with the good old reliable 10 foot pole.

Which are all things that can be done by the Fighter just as well if not better than the Thief.

Every door should be check by your thief before it's kicked open by the big, burly fighter. This includes not only checking for traps but listening for anything that might give a clue as to what lies beyond the door.

Hear noise should be performed every 50-100 feet in a hallway & not just at doors.

One thing that Special Ops (and professional burglars) will do is when they first enter a place they've never been, (LZ, building etc) they stop & listen for about 10 minutes. They acclimate their senses to the environment, listening for the ordinary background noises as well as odd sounds that tell them all is well or danger is close by.

Detect Noise was the abilty that saw most use at higher levels with my Thiefs.
Your standard Thieves Picks & Tools which is not clearly defined in AD&D can be custom made by your thief to include just about anything your DM will allow. (The kit costs 25 gp so fill it with 25 gp worth of stuff)

My kits always include at least one 18+ inch wire probe which I use to check for traps on chests & door locks.


If the DM allowed tricks like this.
I prefer small, wooden wedges vs iron spikes for holding doors open or closed since they are less noisy when you pound them into place and you can carry about 30 of them without fear of encumbrance.

I usually carry 12 wooden wedges and no more than 6 iron spikes. 

I carry at least one pouch of about 50-100 marbles which I scatter on floors or steps to avoid pursuit and if our party has to make camp in the dungeon, I can use them as a booby-trap/alarm in a hallway outside our area to alert us if something wicked this way comes.

I usually would not have the carrying capacity to take things like this along with me. 35 or so Lbs isn't a lot and most of the things you list are heavy.

All or at least most of these tricks & tools can be used by monks (except for flaming oil) assassins and bards as well.

Or Fighters and Clerics would usually make even better choices.

Just wait until you see the look on your DM's face when you start using some of these same tactics with your magic-user!

Meh. The Wizard doesn't need tactics like this at higher level, he's got spells and his To Hit on ranged attacks is usually poor. A Fighter with a Called Shot is much more likely to succeed.

So in order to get really good at all those abilities, your thief has to survive until they make it to those level where the odds arent stacked against them. That's when you can pick up a shortsword and kit it out like a ninja-to with a snorkel scabbard and a hollow grip stuffed with all kinds of wicked goodies.

Like I said, ninjas don't have the market cornered on this stuff!

Happy gaming!

Dungeonmaster314

I don't know anything about Ninjas. I have no idea what you mean here.

Well said NeueRegal!

I'm not here to give offense to anyone. I like my Old School stuff & nothing anyone says is going to change that fact. 

The thief class being changed to "rogue" first occurred in 2E & it was part of the politically correct "kinder & gentler" form of D&D that TSR endeavored to produce after the witch hunt days.

The Rogue wasn't introduced until 3E as far as I know. I played Thieves in 2E.

They removed the assassin, demons and devils were given a facelift along with new names that the modern day witch hunters like Patricia Pulling & the crazed televangelists would use to show the game in a bad light.

At a given seminar or one of the court proceedings which took place in those days, people like Patricia Pulling could hold one of the books aloft and say, "See? They encourage kids to participate in bad behavior by taking on the persona of thieves & assassins and have them consort with demons & devils!"



The USA is funny with it's christian Taliban running large parts of the country.

Sheer lunacy I know, but TSR should have stuck to their guns & just fired back. People who look for the Devil will find him anywhere and their arguments are easily crushed.



It's not about arguments, it's about who has the best lobbists in Washington DC. Go ask the NRA how that things really work.

Which is why I will stick with calling them "thieves" vs calling the "rogues"



We had serious discussions if a Thief could have a Good alignment and how often he should go out pick pocketting to still be considered a Thief.

Being a rogue is a style of play vs a class.
And anyone can be a rogue including a Paladin or Ranger just by how they act.
Not everyone can be a good thief. (It can be argued that anyone can filch a pie from a cart & be called a thief but again, it's being GOOD at it."
I'm fairly certain the tactics I described could be used by almost any class in any game but it certainly gives a player a chance to help the so-called "weaker" classes survive until they can reach a respectable level.
I certainly don't want to turn this into an Edition war or an argument over playing style.
I only hope that players & DMs alike can read this & add some flavor to whatever version of D&D they play.

Happy gaming!

Dungeonmaster314



The name change to Rogue is one of the things I like about the newer editions. It avoids a lot of stigmatizing discussions. I do agree that a rogue doesn't have to be a Rogue.

Now a few observations of my own that I want to add:
- If you rolled well on your Dex and did get the 18 you wanted, +1 from Halfling, you would really start to max out most skills between levels 8-11. As you could not improve your skills above 95%.
- For Move silently and Hide the Ranger would get better than you after level 12 as his skills kept progressing until 99%.
- At higher level (Wizard) Spells started to replace quite a few of your abilities.
- At higher level your saves and ToHit and HP started really to fall behind everyone except maybe the Wizard, even counting you might be a level ahead because of the XP tables.
- A lot of loot in the dungeons would be useless to you as you would not be proficient, it would give penalties on your skills (armor) or it would be to heavy to carry around with your low encumbrance limits.
- Scouting and searching for traps was a very lethal way to go about as you would often end up in an ambush or trigger a deadly trap without having an easy escape or the way to fight yourself out of trouble. Rolling a log down the hallway or having a Fighter or Ranger with Infravision do the scouting was usally a much better proposition.

My point is that while I like the concept of the Thief/Rogue, the mechanics as written usually mean that without a lot of houseruling, they become rather useless at high levels. Any trick they can do, another class can do better. Past level 8 or so, the party is always better off with another Fighter, Cleric or Wizard, instead of adding a Thief to the party. It gets even worse if someone rolls well enough to play a Ranger. Playing a Thief with 17,12,9,9,8,8 in the same party with a Ranger with 18,17,16,16,15,15 for stats really made you feel redundant. (We rolled in front of the entire group, with the same dice)

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)

Oh my friend! How I wish you could play at our table!

You have become victim to the BTB Monster & it MUST be slain!

IMHO, there are no "house rules" since Gary created the game for people to do something wonderful.

From OD&D (That's the ORIGINAL Dungeons & Dragons, the white books with Blackmoor & Greyhawk as supplements.) Gary Gyagx advised STRONGLY that not everything will have a rule in the books so players and DMs have to "wing it" and keep the action fast-paced & the fun alive! Even in AD&D, he ALWAYS insisted that players & DMs come up with methods to ALLOW for characters to do heroic things rather than think up ways of restricting them. Since this was written in the book, how is anything YOU come up with a "house rule?"

In the 1st Edition DMG, he offers not only 4D6 & drop the lowest die but I think 4 or 5 other methods where a player can roll up a character to get decent stats.

If you want to roll 3D6 straight down, be my guest. I also won't banish you for using one of the other methods (Including the ultra-beardy 1E UA method which almost guarantees you will meet any requirements for the class you choose. Almost, because I've seen it fail miserably.) Stats are not as important as playng style & a player playkng smart. If your thief doesn't have a high DEX, then you NEED to use some good tactics & backstabbing isn;t the only trick up your sleeve.

Melees are not static events where one side hits with a weapon while the other side waits to take it on the chin.

Melees are noisy, chaotic, brutal events that include shouting, spitting, cursing, tumbling, chair throwing, leaping, rolling, eye gouging, biting, ducking, dodging and everything else one can think of all happening at once.

Everyone should fight dirty but thieves should fight dirtier than most.

They have to give themselves an edge. They will never surpass the Fighter in an honorable fight so they will never fight honorably.

As for what a DM allows? I'm not sure a DM who doesn't allow a wire probe (Look up how chainmail is made and you can see where an 18" length of wire could be picked up easily from almost any blacksmith) is worthy of the title Dungeonmaster.

It sounds like your group (And I mean no insult here) is more worried about what it CAN'T do instead of thinking of all the possibilities of what it CAN.

You need to let lose and realize that any RPG is YOURS to play with. The rules are a guide and while some things are clearly defined, there are scenarios in which everyone must adapt & move on rather than fuss about what ISN'T defined in the book.

Oh. Ninjas were Japanese warriors/thieves/spies/assassin reputed to have mystical powers because of their incredible training.

They existed but instead of being able to hurl flaming shurikens or turn into smoke, they were just very highly trained men & women who fought with great spirit and determination.

And the rules didn't matter to them either.

Happy Gaming!

Dungeonmaster314






 
Oh my friend! How I wish you could play at our table!

You have become victim to the BTB Monster & it MUST be slain!

I have no idea what the BTB monster might be.

IMHO, there are no "house rules" since Gary created the game for people to do something wonderful.

From OD&D (That's the ORIGINAL Dungeons & Dragons, the white books with Blackmoor & Greyhawk as supplements.) Gary Gyagx advised STRONGLY that not everything will have a rule in the books so players and DMs have to "wing it" and keep the action fast-paced & the fun alive! Even in AD&D, he ALWAYS insisted that players & DMs come up with methods to ALLOW for characters to do heroic things rather than think up ways of restricting them. Since this was written in the book, how is anything YOU come up with a "house rule?"


You keep refering to this mythical Gary Gygax that supposedly told all these things. A lot of the players from the seventies and eighties do. Can you explain where this comes from, it completely puzzles me?

I've just gone back to my 2E DMG and PHB and I can't find any advice like that in there. There is a paragraph on making sure people have fun, and there is this in the introduction:
"The DM's "active hand" extends even to the rules. Many decisions about your campaign can be made by only one person: you. Tailor your campaign to fit your own style and the style of your players."
But directly after that they go on for several paragraphs about the rules being "balanced and easy to use" and that things were "tested, examined and adjusted until we decided they were right".

The whole off the 2E books give the impression that they tweaked those things that were a problem in the original AD&D and that everything has been playtested and thoroughly rebalanced and updated for 2E. Even 20 years later it still give me the impression that you're better of following the rules closely because you're unlikely to come up with something better yourself. There are some gaps where you'll need to make up your own rules because none are provided, but otherwise the books ooze the suggestion that this is the best the writers have after many years of experience and tweaking the system.

There is some advice of first joining an existing group and/or picking up copies of the magazines, neither of which was available to us. We were lucky that a new gaming shop had just opened (they celebrated their 20th anniversary last year) that had the core books.

In the 1st Edition DMG, he offers not only 4D6 & drop the lowest die but I think 4 or 5 other methods where a player can roll up a character to get decent stats.

If you want to roll 3D6 straight down, be my guest. I also won't banish you for using one of the other methods (Including the ultra-beardy 1E UA method which almost guarantees you will meet any requirements for the class you choose. Almost, because I've seen it fail miserably.) Stats are not as important as playng style & a player playkng smart. If your thief doesn't have a high DEX, then you NEED to use some good tactics & backstabbing isn;t the only trick up your sleeve.

Both the PHB and the DMG 2E suggest using "Method I", I didn't have access to the 1E books until a month or two ago, when I bought the reprints. I haven't read those in detail but I'm sure that the 2E books strongly suggest 3d6. And they must have thought this an improvement given that things were "tested, examined and adjusted until we decided they were right" to improve upon 1E. In the DMG there is also a chapter about trying to get players to play and have fun with "Hopeless Characters".

Melees are not static events where one side hits with a weapon while the other side waits to take it on the chin.

Melees are noisy, chaotic, brutal events that include shouting, spitting, cursing, tumbling, chair throwing, leaping, rolling, eye gouging, biting, ducking, dodging and everything else one can think of all happening at once.

Everyone should fight dirty but thieves should fight dirtier than most.

They have to give themselves an edge. They will never surpass the Fighter in an honorable fight so they will never fight honorably.

I stay with my comment that in combat anything a Thief can do, a Fighter can do better. It's up to the imagination of the players, not the abilities of the class. The Thief has some advantages out of combat, but at high levels the spellcasters start to encroach on that.

As for what a DM allows? I'm not sure a DM who doesn't allow a wire probe (Look up how chainmail is made and you can see where an 18" length of wire could be picked up easily from almost any blacksmith) is worthy of the title Dungeonmaster.

I'm saying that because it again has nothing to do with the Thief class. It's again up to the player's ingenuity and what the DM allows.

It sounds like your group (And I mean no insult here) is more worried about what it CAN'T do instead of thinking of all the possibilities of what it CAN.

You need to let lose and realize that any RPG is YOURS to play with. The rules are a guide and while some things are clearly defined, there are scenarios in which everyone must adapt & move on rather than fuss about what ISN'T defined in the book.

Our group has changed and had different styles of play over the years.

My core point is not about what houserules and different playstyles different players and DMs develop. Those are subjective and everyone has their own opinion about them.

My point is that which makes a game D&D and which makes 1E different from 2E and 2E different from 3E are the rules, musings and advice in the books, especially the PHB and DMG.

My point is that a lot of discussion about classes seems to be "Class X is great because they could shoot lasers out of their eyes and command armies of flying sharks." without any of that being supported by the books. Especially for AD&D and older, this is often accompanied by claims that Gary Gygax told to do things that way.

Your whole post is in that vein, about Gygax supposed intentions and about that if you have a smart player things can be fun. I see a lot about things that make the game fun if you have smart players and a good DM, I see very little about Thieves/Rogues specifically that's independent of the DM and player. My core argument is that if I would replace Thief with Fighter or Wizard in your posts, it would not really change anything.

The only thing that comes in that direction is your comment about fighting honourable, which you apparently expect more of a Fighter than of a Thief. I'd suggest that's more a question of alignment. I've been in a group with a NG Thief and a NE Fighter and the Fighter did much more dishonourable things.

I'm trying to understand where this glorified mythical AD&D comes from and what it really means. I know it's very different from the AD&D game we learned from the books.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)

Gary Gygax was certainly NOT a mythical figure. He is recognized by most as the "father" of D&D and RPGs in general. It was through his work and the collaborations of a few friends that the game exists today and many credit him with bringing RPGs into such popularity.

I will agree that had he not been born, some other person would have ended up with all the recognition he's been given but the same could be said about the Wright Brothers, Alexander Graham Bell or any other inventor/entrepeneur who came up with an idea at the right time and with the right marketing.

My reference to the "BTB Monster" is a jest. It speaks of players and DMs who feel that if something isn't covered in the rulebooks, then it simply cannot be done.

Nothing is further from the truth.

I have the 2E stuff on my computer and I have all the Monstrous Compendiums.

(My single most favorite aspect of 2E was the Monstrous Compendiums. Three-ring binders which could be opened and specific Monsters a DM needed could be selected for use in a particular dungeon or adventure rather than being forced to tote around a half dozen, heavy tomes. The biggest problem with that particular set-up was they were fragile, pages were easily torn, lost and disorganized so I'm sure that's why we won't be seeing any of the monster books in that format again.)

But I digress.

I think I see what you're saying about what a Thief can do, a Fighter can do better but let me help you look at this another way.

Back to the ninjas.

Samurai were the warrior class of feudal Japan.

Highly skilled warriors that followed the very strict code of Bushido. They were feared by all.

And they feared the Ninja.

Ninjas, by AD&D OA rules, are considered a sub-class of Thief. 

Samurai are a sub-class of Fighter.

Like ALL classes, each has it's strengths and weaknesses but what it mostly comes down to is playing style.


If you prefer a guy who wears light armor for speed & agility who skulks in the shadows, isn't afraid to throw acid in his opponent's face and has no code except to win by any means necessary, you are more than likely drawn to being a thief, assassin or ninja.


If you would rather look your opponent in the eye, stand at the forefront of any battle, wear heavy armor, swing a big axe or sword and follow a code of "honor above all", then you are a Fighter, Paladin, or Samurai.

Certainly one could play a Fighter who was just as dirty in fighting as a Thief but then you're likely not as adept at all the other cool stuff as Picking Locks, Finding and Removing Traps, Walking a Tight Rope or Moving Silently. (It's difficult to be sneaky in metal armor.)

And if your a Fighter, you likely will disdain the lighter armor types since the Fighter's main job is...well...FIGHTING.

Look, all I am offering is a different way of looking at things in an effort to get players and DMs who love the game as much as I do, to open their minds and let imagination take precedent over anything written in a book by anyone.

I'm certainly not against 2E but here we are today and we have 3.5, D&DN and all these other things which I find simply unnecessary to have a great time and enjoy the game.

There are elements of 2E which I've been using since BEFORE the books came out. (There are some hardcore old school people who don't even recognize 1E UA as canon because for them, it spelled the begining of the end for 1E. They certainly disdain 1E books like The Dungeoneers Survival Guide and the Wilderness Survival Guide.)

1E has its problems. Unarmed combat is incredibly complex and switches from a D20 based combat to percentile dice and it was the option that Gary Gygax put in the DMG despite the fact that he didn't even like it himself. (Long story there.)

Psionics are SO complex & incomplete and they threaten to make the game so unbalanced, that many people discard them altogether.

You have to find fixes for these things if you want to include them & Gygax encouraged folks to do just that on their own without pestering him with all these questions. (I have all the issues of Dragon Magazine saved on my computer. If you read some of the early letters that fans wrote to Gary, you might be surprised.)

You can't have a rule for everything. Some player is going to have a brilliant idea and as a DM, rather than just telling them they can't do it, I believe, it's our job to make it so they can. 

I certainly don't give my players carte blanche and permit unrealistic endeavors or impossible stunts to succeed simply for the benefit of a story, but I do encourage daring, ingenuity and thinking out of the box with the tools available.

Let me give a for instance.

I run three different campaigns right now. All 1E.

Currently my focus is on my World of Greyhawk campaign with plans on running the players through the Village of Hommlet all the way up to The Demonqueen of Spiders. This could take awhile.

I'm also running a FR campaign.

Underneath the City of Waterdeep is a place called Undermountain. It's what is known as a "mega-dungeon."

A massive, underground complex and something I have wanted to see for years as both a player and a DM. I was floored when it first came out.

In the bowels of this dungeon is a city called Skullport. It's a dark city filled with pirates, smugglers, mind flayers, beholders and other unsavory sorts. The buildings of the city are criss-crossed with rope bridges, ship's rigging, ladders, and rickety stairways.

Wouldn't it be more daring and fun to have a battle amongst all that chaos with the characters making heroic leaps from a scaffold to a rope bridge or swinging from a rope to a balcony in an acrobatic, death-defying melee worthy of legend?

Or would you rather play it safe and just have the fight take place in a tavern or a dark alley?

If you choose the former then you are likely going to have to come up with a means for all your players to make those leaps and tumbles in the midst of a chaotic melee with their enemies shooting at them with crossbows, cutting the rope bridges they're standing on and rolling barrels full of nails down the stairs they're climbing.

None of that is covered in the books.

I mean, exactly how long does it take to hack through a rope?

What kind of damage does a barrel of nails do when it's rolled down the stairs at you?

How many DEX saves are needed for a leap from a balcony, onto a teetering rope bridge, to vault over the side and grab a rusty chain hanging from a beam to slide down to a dung cart and then leap onto the back of an evil magic-user who is floating on a flying carpet & about to cast a fireball at your comrades?

(1E UA has a sub-class of Thief called the Thief-Acrobat which would be very handy in a fight like this.)

Are you aware of Dragonsfoot?

It's another forum site which is dedicated to old school style of play. They are mostly 1E people there but there are also many fans of 2E who I'm sure you could get on board with. There is a tremendous amount of knowledge among the people on that site but like everywhere else, you can run into some real jerks.

(My most recent visit has me thinking of doing away with the Thief-Acrobat and simply adding the special skills available to that class to the standard thief. There are some pretty sound arguments people have made on there for doing this.)

I don't profess to be playing a "glorified, mythical" form of AD&D, but I've been playing for over 30 years and it's still going strong. I had one friend who I'd lost touch with for 15 years or more and when he moved back home, we picked back up where we left off & got right back into gaming. It was like he never left.

That says something about OUR game, if not, THE game.

It also says something about friendship which is far more important than any rule in any book.

Which is why I'm not interested in starting an Edition War because if you play 1E, 2E, 3.5 or D&DN and you and your friends are having a good time, then the game is serving it's purpose!

Don't let me or anyone else tell you how to enjoy yourself and the company of your friends as you make yourselves heroes for a few hours and escape to other times & places so this real world gets tuned out for just a little while.

We all need that these days my friend.

May You Always Make your Saving Throws!

Dungeonmaster314

PS

By the way! My 3rd campaign that I run is a 1E Oriental Adventures campaign. The players first adventure is taking place on an island where an evil wu-jen (Sorceror) named Han the Many-Handed, is holding a "tournament of truly epic proportions."

If you've ever seen the movie "Enter the Dragon" you will know pretty much exactly what is taking place in this adventure. I will post further details on this campaign in another thread.





 
Gary Gygax was certainly NOT a mythical figure. He is recognized by most as the "father" of D&D and RPGs in general. It was through his work and the collaborations of a few friends that the game exists today and many credit him with bringing RPGs into such popularity.

I know who the historical Gary Gygax was, I think he's even in your profile picture. I'm referring to the mythical EGG who keeps telling people how to play the game. Your text and many like it are laced with "Gygax told this, suggested that, advised such and such, etc.". You must have a source. I want to know what that source is. Have others told you, did you read it in some of the early books, talk at conventions, magazines, interviews? That's the mythical Gary Gygax I'm looking for.
...

My reference to the "BTB Monster" is a jest. It speaks of players and DMs who feel that if something isn't covered in the rulebooks, then it simply cannot be done.

Nothing is further from the truth.

I still have no clue what BTB stands for. My group works mostly from the point of: If there is a rule for it, it should usually be followed, if there is no rule the DM makes one up.
I have the 2E stuff on my computer and I have all the Monstrous Compendiums.
...

Never seen any of those. I have the PHB, MM, DMG, Combat&Tactics, Skills&Powers and some of the Complete X's handbooks.

I think I see what you're saying about what a Thief can do, a Fighter can do better but let me help you look at this another way.
...
If you prefer a guy who wears light armor for speed & agility who skulks in the shadows, isn't afraid to throw acid in his opponent's face and has no code except to win by any means necessary, you are more than likely drawn to being a thief, assassin or ninja.
...
Certainly one could play a Fighter who was just as dirty in fighting as a Thief but then you're likely not as adept at all the other cool stuff as Picking Locks, Finding and Removing Traps, Walking a Tight Rope or Moving Silently. (It's difficult to be sneaky in metal armor.)

Well now at least you're giving some examples of things were the Thief might actually be better than the Fighter. The examples in your original post were all things that the Thief isn't particularly good at but might want to do because he's even worse at spellcasting and swinging big pieces of metal. I see the ethics code still more as an alignment thing than a class thing although in AD&D all of that was pretty vague especially if you take into account Kits.
Look, all I am offering is a different way of looking at things in an effort to get players and DMs who love the game as much as I do, to open their minds and let imagination take precedent over anything written in a book by anyone.

Then you should write a post about how to make the game fun to play and the other things you mention. Instead your posts are titled with the names of classes but then offer very few class specific things (Except the Magic-User one) and mostly ramble along about how cool it is to play the game with a good DM and smart players. I know a game is more fun that way, but it has nothing specific to do with the class.

In a post about Thieves, I'd expect to see a lot of stuff about traps, locks scouting and sneaking, etc. About how to make Backstab useful, about how to stay relevant in a world with Invisibility, Fly, Knock, etc. How to survive an ambush when out scouting alone, how to find hidden doors/treasure, etc. You give a few small morsels like the detect noise every 50 ft, or what to put in a Thieve's Kit.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)

Aha! 

I see what you're looking for!

My focus on Thieves was for some of the posts I've read on here & on other forums with people dismissing them out of hand as being weak.

I was offering some tactical tips on how to give the class an edge so their special skills have a better chance of success & they can have more use to a party.

At first level, all those great skills for Finding/Disarming Traps, Hiding in Shadows Etc. are low & make players relcutant to even attempt them.

Certainly Magic-Users. Clerics and other spell casters can eventually get spells that allow them to do magically, what a thief can do inherently and often repeatedly.

I have a player who had a female thief is his bunch of characters & he armed her with two scimitars much like Drizzt Do'Urden. (This was not his inspiration & he had conceived of the idea long before the books.)

Also she was human.

She'd been a slave in Calimshan and had escaped to the Dalelands where she started her career as a 1st level thief.

Problem was, aside from the occasional picking of a lock or disarming of a trap, he didn't do a whole lot with her.

In combat, he engaged in melee with his swords.

Of course his character died rather quickly, never making it past level 2.

This is what's funny.

He's a huge Martial Arts/Ninja nut.

So in playing Oriental Adventures he ran a Genin. It's a class that was in a Dragon Magazine article which allowed a player to play a basic Ninja without having to have a second, undercover class from the Oriental Adventures book.)

Like Thieves, they have all these nifty skills with very few other special abilities making them seem rather weak at first glance.

But when he played this character, he used all sorts of ingenious things like tossing Tetsu-bishi (Caltrops) on the ground as he fled from pursuers, when those ran out, he threw his shuriken (Throwing Stars) into the ground so the points stuck up & those chasing him would possibly step on them.(The dice favored & they did!)

I mean I could go on with all the stuff he tried! It was brilliant.

I asked him after his Thief was slain why he didn't play her using the same dirty fighting tactics that he used with his Genin.

His response?

He couldn't get into the mindset of the "Western" Thief!

This is the kind if thing that makes be relaize that SO many players seem to look at things from their stereotypes or from a very limited viewpoint.

(Oh! BTB stands for "By the Book")

Sorry about that.

Anyway, I think it sucks you live clear across the Atlantic Ocean because you certainly would be welcome to hang out and play at our table! (I serve some awesome food during our games too.)

I think you would benefit from the experience & perhaps, so would I.

Diversity in the game is not a bad thing which is why I don't begrudge those who enjoy the newer editions.

I just know 1E has worked for us for over three decades and we still love the game!

My friends and I discuss things like this for hours when we aren't playing so call us crazy.

I will endeavor to get you some of the quotes about the game from Gygax.

(You can find most of them on the Dragonsfoot forum.)

Roll On My Brother!


Dungeonmaster314



 
The Monstrous Compendiums were pretty cool. I used to have the 3rd one... I think. It was the one that came with the frogmen.
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56788208 wrote:
I do, however, have one last lesson on this subject. That last one? The only build in this post that can one-shot average opponents[by dealing twice as much damage as they have HP? I would argue that it is not optimized. Why isn't it optimized? Because it's overkill. Overkill is NOT optimizing. This means that there are portions of this build dedicated to damage which can safely be removed and thrown elsewhere. For example, you probably don't need both Leap Attack AND Headlong Rush at the same time. You could pick up Extra Rage feats for stamina, feats to support AoO effects, feats that work towards potential prestige classes, and so on. However, you could also shift our ability scores around somewhat. I mean, if you're getting results like that with 16 starting Strength, maybe you can lower it to 14, and free up four points to spend somewhere else - perhaps back into Charisma, giving you some oomph for Intimidating Rage or Imperious Command if you want. You can continue to tune this until it deals "enough" damage - and that "enough" does not need to be "100%". It could easily be, say, 80% (leaving the rest to the team), if your DM is the sort who would ban one-hit killers.
Tempest_Stormwind on Character Optimization
So when do you think Bachmann will be saying she met a mother the previous night that had a son who got a blood transfusion using a gay guy's blood, and now the son is retardedly gay?
When she meets CJ's mom?
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