Hijinks Comparison

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Mr. Fox
Joined: 2011-12-05 15:13
Hijinks Comparison

Looking at the Hijinks available to a PC that has 15 spies (4th level Thieves) I was stuck by a few things.
Assassinating - Relatively difficult (hardest throw), potential for the harshest penalties, not bad return, can be a good story driver (not available to thieves, only to assassins and nightblades)
Carousing - Obviously intended for low level characters.
Smuggling - Less difficult than assassinating (1 less), relatively harsh penalties, very little return. 12% of 10 loads of common merchandise? Considering the cost of a spy (125gp) this seems like a very poor option.
Stealing - nearly as difficult as smuggling with no ability to increase it with proficiencies (there is no "be better at pick pocketing prof), very harsh penalties, mathematically identical to smuggling in terms of reward. Very poor choice indeed.
Spying - Somewhat difficult (2 profs can give +3 bonus), harsh penalties, very decent reward, good story driver. Overall good choice.
Treasure Finding - Very easy to achieve (13+ with prof), less harsh penalties than stealing, exceptionally good reward 1d6*1000gp / level (4000gp - 24000gp) This is an overwhelmingly good choice.
Why? What is the drawback to treasure finding? Does it only provide a map to an adventure worth 4000 - 24000gp? I understand there is travel involved and thus the potential for a wandering monster, but other than that it seems disproportionately good.
My other concern is for the DM. If each map simply points to an adventure it is then up to the DM to generate an encounter for that map; a lot of work compared to the other hijinks. I see hijinks, domain accounting, and mercantile ventures as something that is done outside of the session, leaving lots of time for fighting and role playing. Is this how you see them as well?
This is a very long winded way of asking for your thoughts behind each hijink so I can better understand them and how they fit in the big picture. I'm guessing that I'm missing something, rather than pointing out a flaw.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Hi Mr. Fox! Thanks for taking a close look at the math. Here is an example of the internal breakdown I did.
At Level 1: Base cost $25 ($=gp)
Assassination: 10% success, 25% caught, $1,000 fee, expected revenue $100, expected cost $293, expected profit -$218
Carousing: 35% success, 5% caught, fee $95, expected revenue $33, expected cost $3.45, expected profit $5
Smuggling/Stealing: Success 20%, caught 15%, fee $360, expected revenue $72, expected cost $137, expected profit -$91
Treasure Hunting: success 15%, caught 20%, fee $350*, expected revenue $53, expected cost $88, expected profit -$61
The costs take into account the expected criminal charges if caught, and the penalties if convicted. Spying, for instance, is likely to lead to much more serious charges than carousing.
This math was done for each level and each type of hijink up. The math works out as follows:
1) At level 0 and 1, carousing is the most profitable option
2) At level 2, smuggling and stealing is the most profitable option
3) At level 3 and above, spying is the most profitable option, followed by assassination
The vast majority if thieves in a guild are level 0-2, so those would be the most common activities in a thief's guild - carousing followed by stealing and smuggling. The spying and assassination hijinks are restricted to the "elite", best of the best sort.
With regard to treasure hunting, I put the value of a treasure map at 10% of the value of its treasure hoard. For example, I rated a treasure map to 3,500gp as being worth 350gp. The reasons for this are as follows:
1) To get the treasure, you have to actually follow the map, which has time and risk
2) There is no certainty that the treasure map is to a location that the adventurers have previously not discovered
3) An adventurer in a typical setting can simply hex-crawl and find treasure similar to the sort found in treasure hoards - it will take some amount of time which I suspect is less than 10x the time required for a treasure map
In terms of actual gameplay, I had two methods of using treasure maps:
1) If there was a previously-designed dungeon near the city where the hijink occurred, I would first associate the treasure map to that dungeon
2) If not, I would associate the treasure map with a "dynamic lair" that had an appropriately sized treasure. Dynamic lairs are discussed in chapter 10 of ACKS, but the basic idea is you create a bunch of creature lairs in advance but don't place them in the world until something triggers it.
If the PCs used up all the dynamic lairs and dungeons appropriate to the terrain, then that was it for treasure hunting... they'd found all the treasure maps in that region. if I later added some more, then they could add some more.

Mr. Fox
Joined: 2011-12-05 15:13

Thanks for the insight!
This was much as I suspected. It seems like there would need to be some dialogue between the PC and the DM for treasure maps, it would be unfair for the PC to spend money on the hijink, succeed, and then be told there are no maps available.
With regards to ruffians, there are:
0th level carousers
1st level thieves (Footpads) capable of all hijinks except assassination
1st level assassins (Thugs) only able to carouse, assassinate, and spy (not much chance of success on assassinating or spying)
1st level bards (Reciters)...not a thief class so only allowed to carouse?
4th level Thieves (Spies) competently able to perform all hijinks (except assassination)
I am curious about the inclusion of bards. They seem to be better suited as a mercenary type as they provide a combat bonus to nearby troops; kind of like a sergeant.
Would it be appropriate to have a ruffian "slayer" - a 4th level assassin, as a counterpart to the spy? I would expect the cost to be higher as assassins require more XP to reach 5th level (170gp?). Or is it expected that the syndicate boss will have to invest considerable time and effort into making his Thugs more useful?
"Knock, knock, knock!"
"Who's there?"
"Goons."
"What?"
"Hired Goons."
"Oh."
(Bonus points for identifying the reference)