BECM Thief (Revised)

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BECM Thief (Revised)

Postby ExTSR » Thu Dec 15, 2016 12:01 am

Offered for input. Pls use this thread for comments & discussion.

Download the attached PDF first, tho. ;>
Edit/update: 1st revision linked here.


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Re: BECM Thief (Revised)

Postby Ashtagon » Thu Dec 15, 2016 12:17 am

The bodywork skill seems to have a weird grouping (Hide, Move Silently, and Listen). Personally, I'd have called it Stealth, and moved Listen over to the same space as Search, under a general "Perception" heading. Other than that, looks good.
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Re: BECM Thief (Revised)

Postby Big Mac » Thu Dec 15, 2016 12:34 am

MODERATOR NOTE (by Big Mac): Redirect from Classic D&D forum added to topic.

I don't play BECM myself, but thanks for doing this Frank. :)
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Re: BECM Thief (Revised)

Postby Ambreville » Thu Dec 15, 2016 12:59 am

Ashtagon wrote:The bodywork skill seems to have a weird grouping (Hide, Move Silently, and Listen). Personally, I'd have called it Stealth, and moved Listen over to the same space as Search, under a general "Perception" heading. Other than that, looks good.

Good point.
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Re: BECM Thief (Revised)

Postby feline74 » Thu Dec 15, 2016 6:13 am

Haven't read it yet, but an idea has already occurred to me. Even if a DM doesn't want to replace the thief rules with these, they could still be used as a replacement for the Rake class in Dawn of the Emperors.

Aaron Allston was one of my favorite Gazetteer authors, but the sheer scope of that set meant that something had to give. One of those somethings was the Rake class where- in spite of wildly varying social and role-play circumstances- the pick pockets skill was judged to be The thing that separated untrustworthy thieves from trustworthy rakes. Why? Why couldn't the same manual dexterity be used to legal ends? Even if it couldn't, is the extra trust from an R next to the name worth the lost physical ability? The gnoll jailer certainly isn't going to care one way or another, even if he's heard of rakes. And what's to keep a scheming, untrustworthy thief from claiming to be a rake, anyway?

Starting from scratch, with similar skills designed to highlight legal (or at least ethical) uses avoids all that.
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Re: BECM Thief (Revised)

Postby Morfie » Thu Dec 15, 2016 8:42 am

1. Shall we call this Rogue One? :D
2. Search and Climb have been given a Start and Maximum value, while Fingerwork and Bodywork haven't. Either the Search and Climb values are superfluous, or the *work values should be populated.
3. WIth the Bodywork grouping, is this used for opposing rolls as well? eg: A PC Rogue is moving silently in the shadows, but can the NPC Rogue hear this?
4. Search - Does this also include looking for Secret Doors? Not technically a Thief ability but this looks like it could be used for that purpose.
5. Find Traps and Remove Traps were annoying as separate rolls, but this still stays the same as Search and Fingerwork (Defuse Traps). Other editions overcame this by combining these two.
6. Variable Skills progress: the +2 and +5 make sense from the text, but looks odd on the chart.
7. Of the Variable skills, I would probably only use the Guild Value. For the calc of this I would use the Bodywork rate of progression, so by Level 19 everyone in the guild should have heard of the character with the Fame subset.
8. The Variable - Treasure seem far too inaccurate to be useful, especially at higher levels.

Overall I like the new skill values and would use these in my campaign.

Side topic.
On the BECMI group in Facebook, Mr Heard wrote you did this because: ..hardly anybody played higher than Level 12.. I fit in the hardly anybody category, but does this mean the CMI portions of BECMI sold poorly?
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Re: BECM Thief (Revised)

Postby rabindranath72 » Thu Dec 15, 2016 2:52 pm

I was expecting a way higher baseline for most of these skills; instead it seems the probability mass has been shifted to the higher levels, where IMO there wasn't a particular need anyway. On average they are now lower than they are in Basic. Around 6th level, where the Cook and Mentzer progressions start to diverge, the new skills don't offer a significant improvement. By 10th level, apart from Climb, the Cook thief is better, and even the revised Mentzer Expert thief isn't that bad. Given the statement that people usually don't play beyond 12th level, I would have expected a redistribution of probabilities to the lower, rather than higher, levels. For uniformity with the other mechanics in the game, where the 2/6 works well, I'd start from 35% at least. "Search" for example doesn't seem realistically useful, considering that all characters have a default 1/6 chance, RAW, to find traps (and dwarfs 2/6).
Also, any thoughts about using Dexterity and Race modifiers?
Other than that, I like the general idea (and I agree with Ash's comment.)
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Re: BECM Thief (Revised)

Postby ExTSR » Thu Dec 15, 2016 3:15 pm

Wonderful input, modifications are in order.

Thanks and keep it coming!

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Re: BECM Thief (Revised)

Postby Ashtagon » Thu Dec 15, 2016 7:38 pm

Another random thought: If you want to avoid Bodywork being a synonym for Stealth, you could roll in what 3rd edition calls Balance, Tumble, and Escape Artist — basically, make the skill everything about with body-kinaesthetic function that isn't traditional athletics.
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Re: BECM Thief (Revised)

Postby Havard » Thu Dec 15, 2016 9:39 pm

Fantastic Frank!

Thank you very much for sharing this with us.

Some thoughts:

1) This is really cool :)
2) I don't really mind the name Thief. I guess if BECMI had come out today it would make more sense to call the class Rogue, but the nostalgia part of me just like having a Thief class. I don't hate the name Rogue either though, but I just thought I would mention it.
3) What happens if a non-Thief attempts to perform any of these actions? What happens if a Thief wants to climb something that a regular guys could also climb (like a tree)?
4) I'd throw Hear noise in with Search. Also, does the character still have to declare that he is searching for traps? I think I would just allow a check before the trap is triggered. Possibly at a penalty, but starting at 5% is pretty low in the first place so maybe not so harsh...? I love that traps can now be of different difficulties.
5) What happened to read scrolls etc?
6) Do they still have 1d4 as their HD?
7) Treasure: I would rename this Evaluate or something like that
8) Guild & Network: These are REALLY fascinating ideas. I may post more thoughts on them later, but I am really liking this new aspect of the class.
9) This is really cool :)


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Re: BECM Thief (Revised)

Postby ExTSR » Thu Dec 15, 2016 10:43 pm

Havard wrote:3) What happens if a non-Thief attempts to perform any of these actions? What happens if a Thief wants to climb something that a regular guys could also climb (like a tree)?


This isn't about non-thieves. :)
5) What happened to read scrolls etc?
6) Do they still have 1d4 as their HD?


Nothing's changed if I didn't cover it. This is an add-on.

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Re: BECM Thief (Revised)

Postby Big Mac » Fri Dec 16, 2016 9:32 am

ExTSR wrote:Offered for input. Pls use this thread for comments & discussion.

Download the attached PDF first, tho. ;>

F


I've had an enquiry from RPG Geek (I am in the process of putting a page up for your PDF) over the name.

You called this "Thief" here, but then crossed it out and put "Rogue". They are wondering if I should submit this under the name Rogue. :?

Is it "Thief" because people will be looking for "Thief" or should it be changed to "Rogue" on RPG Geek?
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Re: BECM Thief (Revised)

Postby ExTSR » Fri Dec 16, 2016 4:22 pm

Big Mac wrote:Is it "Thief" because people will be looking for "Thief" or should it be changed to "Rogue" on RPG Geek?


PLEASE note that this is in Rough/Tweak stage (as clearly noted in the PDF). There WILL be various changes.

As to the name... part of the problem is that this isn't just a 'revised Thief', it's opening up new doors entirely. I put large emphasis on the Campaign, the context within which characters function (not mere dungeon crawls), in the Variable section (Guild & Network).

So at this point I'm thinking a new class entirely, leaving the old Thief alone, for tradition if nothing else. ;>

Currently leaning toward: Tinker

btb definitions:
1. A traveling mender of metal household utensils.
2. A member of any of various traditionally itinerant groups of people living especially in Scotland and Ireland; a traveler. (British)
3. One who enjoys experimenting with and repairing machine parts.

aka Handyman, Factotum, or Jack of all Trades.
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Re: BECM Thief (Revised)

Postby Urieal » Sat Dec 17, 2016 3:20 am

While I'm not a large fan of the Thief class (and a couple years ago I vacillated about the title of the class), there's some to like and some to dislike here.

Likes:
Combining skills into broader meanings

Dislikes:
Bodywork should be renamed to Stealth (IMO), otherwise, shouldn't climbing be part of bodywork?
Fingerwork could be renamed to Finesse

Puzzling:
It's not that I'm confused about Variable Skills, but these seem more like tools for the DM rather than the player. Does the player need to know what's going on behind the screen with selling and buying items? I think it's just easier for the DM to sort of make stuff up as he goes, rather than relying on dice and the player's Network score.

I think the concept of Network is pretty cool, don't get me wrong, but tying it to level with a base +2 and a variable granularity of 1-5 each level seems like too much micromanagement (from a player and DM perspective).

I would rather see Guild and Network wrapped up under a heading called "Reputation", but it isn't tied to level, rather, it's something awarded by the DM based on events in the campaign.

Treasure, I don't see a need for at all. It really adds to the minutia of record-keeping by the DM. If the player rolls to figure out the value of Art or Jewelry, then the DM not only has to keep track of the actual value, but also the variance that was rolled. Just too much work for my taste.

I like Rogue better than Tinker, and keeping it completely separate from the Thief, not a revision.
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Re: BECM Thief (Revised)

Postby Irondrake » Sat Dec 17, 2016 5:52 am

Hi Frank,
Oddly enough, the same day you posted your revised version of the Thief class was the very same day I finally finished my own first draft of a revamped version of the Thief class for my BECMI campaign (which I had been putting off doing for about a year and a half). I had to chuckle at the irony. :lol:

As you have asked for some feedback, here is what comes to mind:

- I do like the idea of possibly renaming the class "Rogue" as it seems to fit the concept better (although I do like that you have considered making your version a separate class from the traditional Thief class).

- Some of the starting percentages seem a tad low. Maybe an increase is in order? How about having the Dexterity ability score have an impact on the percentage chances? I believe AD&D 2nd Edition did something like this in the Complete Thief Handbook, and it is a model I used for my own revamp of the Thief class.

- I agree with Ashtagon that Bodywork should be renamed, and Stealth seems like a good fit for the grouping of the Hide in Shadows and Move Silently skills. Also, his suggestion that Listen should be moved to the same space as Search, under a general "Perception" heading seems like a good one as well.

- I do really like the new Guild and Network additions, even though they seem to complicate the class a bit (more on this below).

- Not to crazy about the Treasure skill, as it can easily be duplicated or surpassed with the Appraisal general skill. (I can't be sure, but I seem to recall you were not a fan of the General Skill system that was added into the Rules Cyclopedia, but it is used by many who play BECMI).

- Not particularly fond of the term "Fingerwork." Maybe simply renaming it "Thieving"? This is a minor quibble though.


Overall, the new revision has a lot of interesting ideas, but just needs to be streamlined a bit. What struck me most about the revision is that, well, it seemed to be a bit more complicated than I would expect for Basic D&D. I mean, compared to your BECMI Fighters, Clerics, and Magic-Users, this version of the Thief seem to have a lot going on. If I would suggest anything above all, it would be to streamline the revision so that it is very simple and easy to understand at a glance, just like all of your wonderful work for the core character classes of BECMI.

At any rate, thanks for taking time to revamp the Thief class, and an even bigger thank you for asking our input and feedback on your design. :)
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Re: BECM Thief (Revised)

Postby Ashtagon » Sat Dec 17, 2016 7:41 am

For me, "Tinker" calls up images of a proto-engineer type, sitting in his workshop making things. Doc Brown in Back to the Future II would fit that name, as would most prototypical clockpunk engineers (e.g., Serraine's sky gnomes). It feels very weird a class name for characters that have highly active "physical" skills.
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Re: BECM Thief (Revised)

Postby Toefinger » Sun Dec 18, 2016 6:20 am

Unfortunately I can't say I find the proposed variable skills interesting. ;(

Guild - Fame shouldn't be a dice roll a player can improve by investing points in. It's the cliche role-play vs roll-play situation. Characters should earn fame by the context of their adventures (or heists in the case of thieves) and leveling doesn't always equate to accomplishing some great deed that will earn the respect of your peers. A thief who breaks into the kings treasury to steal a legendary magic item may not necessarily gain a level but she should gain more fame than a thief who gained a level killing some kobolds in a mundane dungeon crawl.

The Services aspect of the Guild skill seems to me like it interferes with the existing rules for hirelings. Services insinuates that these types of hirings become specific to the thief class (much like how anyone can climb but only a thief can climb "sheer surfaces")...making it so that only a thief can hire another thief. That's no way to run a Thieves Guild.

Network - Again the aspects of this skill don't seem like something that should be made specific to the thief or should be reduced to a dice roll. Network did make me think of the merchant rules in the Darokin and Minrothad Gaz's and if Network was made into something closer to those rules it might be a fun meta-game.

Treasure - As mentioned by a previous poster it's basically the same as the Appraisal skill.


Lastly I'm giving a +1 for renaming fingerwork and bodywork...they sound like something a seedy "masseuse" would offer a customer. :?
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Re: BECM Thief (Revised)

Postby ExTSR » Sun Dec 18, 2016 4:02 pm

Toe, you seem to be saying "none of this matters to me".
Wondering why you posted... but anyhow:

Toefinger wrote:Unfortunately I can't say I find the proposed variable skills interesting. ;(
Guild - Fame shouldn't be a dice roll a player can improve by investing points in. It's the cliche role-play vs roll-play situation.

It's not 'Fame'. It's your inside connections with guild members. imho the most 'connected' may be totally anonymous to most.

A thief who breaks into the kings treasury to steal a legendary magic item may not necessarily gain a level but she should gain more fame than a thief who gained a level killing some kobolds in a mundane dungeon crawl.

And neither applies to a character who, as a legitimate adventurer, provides support services and does nothing illegal. You don't seem to understand the crucial difference. Why would some alleged (almost certainly unproven) combat event affect your Guild standing in civilization?

Services insinuates that these types of hirings become specific to the thief class ...making it so that only a thief can hire another thief. That's no way to run a Thieves Guild.

Insinuate (v): suggest or hint something bad or reprehensible in an indirect and unpleasant way.
Your position is that ANYbody can walk in and buy a burglary or assassination? I'll pass on that blanket assumption, thanks.

Network did make me think of the merchant rules in the Darokin and Minrothad Gaz's and if Network was made into something closer to those rules it might be a fun meta-game.

Very sorry, I'm focusing on what I wrote, and trying to offer an alternative. I am not going to read all the gazetteers and other supplemental material published in the decade afterward and try to integrate the entire game system.

Treasure - As mentioned by a previous poster it's basically the same as the Appraisal skill.

See above. I didn't write a skill system for D&D (nor did Gary btw), and I don't presume that others use it either. The focus is BECMI, not 0e or 2e or RC or other editions.

Lastly I'm giving a +1 for renaming fingerwork and bodywork...they sound like something a seedy "masseuse" would offer a customer. :?

I'm sure all your players agree with you. You seem quite opinionated, which carries over to your gaming table.

Thanks for dropping by to mock.
But I see nothing helpful here, in sharp contrast to several above.
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Re: BECM Thief (Revised)

Postby Dragon Turtle » Sun Dec 18, 2016 5:07 pm

Hi there. This is a friendly reminder to keep this discussion constructive and friendly. It is awesome that Frank decided to share this BECMI addition with us here at the Piazza. Let us keep that in mind. :)

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Re: BECM Thief (Revised)

Postby Toefinger » Sun Dec 18, 2016 6:15 pm

I apologize if you read my comments as harsher than they were intended. I will not post any more after this, so that I don't offend you again.

However, before I remove myself from your thread, let me point out that your rules clearly connects itself to the Rules Cyclopedia (they're even the first two words at the very top of the PDF) and the General Skill system and Gazetteers were also a part of that rule set. Pardon me if I didn't know you considered those sections of the RC irrelevant.
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Re: BECM Thief (Revised)

Postby ExTSR » Sun Dec 18, 2016 7:03 pm

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Re: BECM Thief (Revised)

Postby Recklessfireball » Mon Dec 19, 2016 3:09 pm

Having read over your revisions, I would offer the following comments...

Naming Conventions (Class name, skills names and such): These things are pretty subjective to the individual. For example, I have a strong love for classic pulp S&S tropes, so I prefer the term "Thief", myself. That doesn't make me right and you wrong; it's just a preference. Likewise, I would rename "Fingerwork" and "Bodywork" to something else, as they just sound off to me. Not a big deal. I do this all the time, with many games. If folks are bothered by your own preferences, they can just re-fluff them to preference.

Thief skill groupings and percentage progression over levels: Truncating the skills into groups is cool. I have no problem with that and have done it myself (e.g combining Move Silently and Hide in Shadows into a Stealth or Skulking skill). It seems like unnecessary granularity to split tightly interrelated skills into separate skills. If nothing else, you can just roll twice for different end effects (detecting traps and disarming them, for instance). So, basically, I like your changes here. With regard to tweaking the percentage progression, I think you are damned if you do and damned if you don't, as the system that is in place is quite unsatisfactory as it produces characters that are grossly incompetent at their chosen trade (compared to other classes) from low to mid levels- a problem that only slowly resolves itself over time. My own preference is to front load the skill percentages more, so characters are reasonably competent at their niche skills at lower levels, and then taper them off toward maxing out by name level or a little after. High-level benefits need not be related to thief skills at all, IMO- though you can certainly add more devastating effects to Backstab (similar to the Assassin's assassination ability). This leads me to...

Thief Guild Benefits: Here is the good stuff. It's what is really needed for High-Level play, IMO, which is often about challenging the players with intrigue, political wrangling, spying and such- and less about individual power as wandering tomb robbers. I don't really do any play over 14th or 15th level, myself. I just don't find that I enjoy it- either as a DM or player. However, if I did, this is the kind of thing I would want rules for to expand my options as a player of a Thief. I think, overall, these are good rules and needed for that sort of play. I would include rules for Extra-Planar thieves guilds that operate across dimensions and trade in high-powered artifacts and relics, steal from the vaults of gods, and so on. As you are addressing vastly powerful characters that interact with such beings, and in such environments, I feel that that is the one thing you are missing in this respect.

I hope that helps, Frank. Thank you for posting your work for review. :D
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Re: BECM Thief (Revised)

Postby DuBeers » Mon Dec 19, 2016 4:58 pm

Frank, I appreciate your thoughts on revising the Thief class. I have nothing constructive to add, I've read the PDF and feel the Thief could be used as proposed. I'll tell you what I especially liked:

1) Grouping skills. Nice idea.

2) Thief Guild Benefits.

That said? I also look forward to your further revisions. Have a great day!
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Re: BECM Thief (Revised)

Postby ExTSR » Thu Dec 22, 2016 12:52 am

Here's a massive revision, for those tracking here.
(Link updated in Original Post.)

Unannounced elsewhere as yet. As before, feedback solicited.

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Re: BECM Thief (Revised)

Postby Recklessfireball » Thu Dec 22, 2016 6:22 am

I'll mention a few things that grabbed me with this version...

The name. Again, this is not that big a deal, really. DM's and players can always refluff that (e.g. as you are not fond of the term "thief", I'm sure you and your players probably already call them rogues or tradesmen already, right?). This version feels more like Indiana Jones than a thief to me (no pick pockets, but still has read languages/read scrolls). I would probably go for a bit more pulpy or scholarly sounding name, myself. Maybe Daredevil or Tomb Raider or Antiquarian or Vault Breaker. Tradesman sounds more like cobblers, coopers, masons and smiths to me.

Replacing the percentile dice with a D20 is a fresh approach. It may be more intuitive and comfortable for people that are used to weapons combat (and with newer editions of the game), since it uses the same dice. I also like the probability spread, as it's more front-loaded and gives lower level characters a more reasonable chance of success. Skills seem to max out between 12th and 15th level. That feels about right to me. I am not a fan of adding situational modifiers, but the ones you listed for the time crunch make sense and the -1 per level of trap creator is simple, logical and consistent. I don't care for the 1/2, 1/3 partial modifier method, though. It feels overly penalizing and arbitrary.

I particularly like the following two rules and would just use them in lieu of any circumstance modifiers...
Skill ratings of 20 or higher are automatically successful in many circumstances (DM’s discretion).
A roll of 20 on any Skill Check indicates failure, regardless of the target number.

I also like this rule...
Multiple actors: If a skill or action can be improved by adding more personnel (notably Searching and Listening), consider their scores cumulative, and make one d20 roll for the group effort.

But if you're going to use modifiers, I wonder if you ought to apply a +1 bonus to the Skill score for each additional member of the party helping in these circumstances- or perhaps just reduce the amount of time it takes to complete the skill check?

Having a separate table for non-thieves attempting these things is a good addition and makes sense. Just because you aren't trained, doesn't mean there's no possible way for you to sneak or climb or avoid a trap- you just aren't going to be anywhere near as good as a trained professional.

This version is more interesting, overall, though I would personally retain Pick Pockets (I can't imagine playing roguish characters without trying to filch the odd item there and there; it's one of the most fun tools in the skill set), and I think a lot of players may be put off by that decision. Also, as this is intended to address play across all levels (B/E/C/M), I still feel like the class is missing some wowza elements that I mentioned earlier- things that would come into play after hitting the late Companion/Early Master levels. Fighters get godlike combat maneuvers, MU and Clerics get awe-inspiring spells. Thieves should get some kind of mind-boggling coolness that makes them equally appealing at the same levels. Ordinary thief skills and guild connections just don't cut the mustard there. I would look at things like making Backstab more epic and extending Guilds to magical, Plane-spanning organizations and such. I believe someone suggested adding abilities that were more mystical/ninja-like in nature. That kind of stuff.

Anyway, it's interesting to see the evolution as you work on it. Again, thanks a bunch for sharing. :D
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