Thievery House Rules

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K-Slacker
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Joined: 2013-02-23 21:32
Thievery House Rules

Reopening an old topic of conversation... I've made a post on my gameblog about why I'm sticking with my own house rules for Thievery rather than adopt the "fixes" from the forthcoming Heroic Companion.

Here's my new post: Further Thoughts on ACKS Thieves

And my original thoughts on the subject: Thieves Suck

In my ACKS games, I bumped most Thievery Skills up by 4 (a 20% improvement) at 1st-lvl, then smoothed the progressions somewhat so they eventually match the RAW. I’ve left Climb Walls alone and adjusted Hear Noise by only 2 points because these skills already had better odds.

Revised Thievery Skills Table

I provide three reasons against using Heroic Companion suggestions:

  1. Thieves suck the most at low level. If you don’t have the gold to buy the good gear, then you don’t get the bonuses. But those who can’t afford it – apprentice Thieves – are precisely the ones who need the biggest boost.
  2. Tracking all the bonuses from gear adds another level of bookkeeping to the game. Do I really want to double check that the character has his ear trumpet, padded shoes, thieves’ garb, companion kit, and superior (or masterwork) tools accounted for properly? Not really.
  3. And third; I go back to my original complaint that this opens up the slippery slope of variable “target numbers” on checks. In ACKS, most probabilities are intrinsic to the character, which seems more “pure” to me.

Anyhow, I figured I'd post this here as well and see what folks thought.

BigFatStupidHead
Joined: 2017-07-30 22:31

I have always run thief skills as if they are a "save". When attempting anything thiefy, thieves start by using exactly the same methods other classes would. They only roll their skills after the fact, if they would have failed. So a thief might take off her boots, take off her clanky backpack and carefully creep up behind the drowsy orc guard, and if that guard still succeeds at a hear noise check, the thief rolls her move silently as a second chance. I believe skills shouldn't limit anyone without them, rather; they should advantage those with them.

K-Slacker
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I view them more as a "core mechanic" for a thief - similar to a fighter making an attack roll. That's why I think the odds should be better for starting characters.

By the time a thief reaches higher levels, their abilities are outclassed by spells (such as find traps, detect secret doors), but at least a thief is not limited by spell slot limitations. In my house rules, the Thievery skill odds generally match up with the rules as written between 7-9th level.

BigFatStupidHead
Joined: 2017-07-30 22:31

I view them more as a "core mechanic" for a thief - similar to a fighter making an attack roll. That's why I think the odds should be better for starting characters.


-K-Slacker

Yes, if you have players actively use their thief powers (ie: "I hide in shadows!"), the original numbers are quite terrible and almost always a bad choice. This is probably how the 'thieves suck!' meme came about. Inflating the numbers to be reliable is certainly the right thing to do.

By the time a thief reaches higher levels, their abilities are outclassed by spells (such as find traps, detect secret doors), but at least a thief is not limited by spell slot limitations. In my house rules, the Thievery skill odds generally match up with the rules as written between 7-9th level.


-K-Slacker

I quite enjoy the contrast between thief and magic powers (and now the parallels in function between thief powers and ceremonial magic). One is a limited resource that is a guaranteed success, the other is a unlimited resource that is not guaranteed to succeed. I also play thief powers so that they are repeatable, but use time as their resource. (A thief may try to pick that lock again, but it takes another full turn. Another turn of torches burning out, wandering monster checks, etc.) I don't see why it makes sense to punish them with a once per level per event restriction.

...I think I may have got a bit off subject there.

jojodogboy
Patreon Supporter
Joined: 2017-09-04 12:05

 

I have chosen to move towards a simpler system for thieves skills - with the exception of climb walls, and pick pockets the roll is 15 - lvl.  That gives a range of 14 at level 1 and 1 at lvl 14.  Although it make most skills the same, I don't find much value in a difference between most of the skills.  For climb walls I use 7- lvl/2 (round down) for a range of 7+ at level 1 to 0+ at lvl 14 (assuming there are negatives).  Pick pockets also need to increase at a higher rate because it can be contested.  As a result pick pockets = 15-lvl through lvl 7 and -2 per for lvl 8 through 14.  This results in a roll of 14+ at level 1 and -6 at lvl 14.  

This ​results in a much simpler and easier to remember system.  It also gives thieves a 35% chance at 1st level, making them not feel quite soo useless at low levels.  

Thieving skill = (15-lvl)+ except for

pick pockets = (15-(lvl + lvl o/7))+

climb walls = (7-lvl/2(round down))+

read languages = 5+

backstab 1-4 2x, 5-8 3x, 9-12 4x, 13-14 5x

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

 

I have chosen to move towards a simpler system for thieves skills - with the exception of climb walls, and pick pockets the roll is 15 - lvl.  That gives a range of 14 at level 1 and 1 at lvl 14.  Although it make most skills the same, I don't find much value in a difference between most of the skills.  For climb walls I use 7- lvl/2 (round down) for a range of 7+ at level 1 to 0+ at lvl 14 (assuming there are negatives).  Pick pockets also need to increase at a higher rate because it can be contested.  As a result pick pockets = 15-lvl through lvl 7 and -2 per for lvl 8 through 14.  This results in a roll of 14+ at level 1 and -6 at lvl 14.  

This ​results in a much simpler and easier to remember system.  It also gives thieves a 35% chance at 1st level, making them not feel quite soo useless at low levels.  

Thieving skill = (15-lvl)+ except for

pick pockets = (15-(lvl + lvl o/7))+

climb walls = (7-lvl/2(round down))+

read languages = 5+

backstab 1-4 2x, 5-8 3x, 9-12 4x, 13-14 5x


-jojodogboy

Cool system.

wilmer
Joined: 2011-10-19 17:02

I let thieves use the normal table but roll as if 4 levels higher when adventuring. Not sure how I'll handle them when they outgrow the chart, but possibly add superhuman feats at a more difficult die roll like fighting silently, running up sheer walls, hiding in plain sight etc.

Using the demographics of ACKS compared to The City in the Thief games Garrett would be at least 9th level (even has the right amount of hit points for a D&D thief of that level) and while there is no randomness in the resolution of skills he is completely invisible in shadows, walks silently over most surfaces etc. so I figure his thief skills are almost perfect. A 9th level thief should be as much of a menace as a 9th level wizard.

Loswaith
Joined: 2017-05-12 02:19

I like those rules.  I always have felt that a first level thief should atleast be close to the innate demi-human abilities that do much the same thing and modified the thief skill numbers to similar values as the op sugested.

Garret is actually quite a good representation of a 'name level' or higher thief (though I suspect many players think of him as much lower level).  Though he wasn't quite invisible in shadows if someone got realy close to him they could still spot him (not that you would really let them get that close) in all but the darkest of rooms (though it was dam close to invisibility).  Which would make sense given low visibility for the spotter anyway.

It is rather interesting though that in many RPGs the distance of a spotter from the thief doesnt really effect how well the thief can hide from them, from a mechanics stand point. Which could actually be a good break point for the stealth skills, being as a novice thief they could hide just as well as a master from spotters a fair distance from them, but have real troubles if the spotter was much closer, where as the master could hide from a spotter even within arms reach.

wilmer
Joined: 2011-10-19 17:02

From my own experience of stealth, if you have a sufficient shadow or proper camouflage (some camouflage patterns only work on certain distances) distance isn't as important as stillness and position. If they can make out a human shape close they'll see it at range too. If you're in a ghillie suit people stepping on you is a greater risk than them spotting you.

A magic item that makes Garrett a great sneak is the light gem. If I had it in the game it would allow people to see their HiS roll and know if they failed.

Loswaith
Joined: 2017-05-12 02:19

The distance thing was more not so much as "you dont see a shape" so much as the spotter discounting the variances they do see as being a humanoid shape.  Though I guess that could be factor more on the skill of the opponent (thus the roll check in RPGs) than a distance thing and a nuance that doesnt really needed to be codified.

Actually thinking on the light gem as a magic item is a good way to go about it and I had never really considered that aspect, treating it more as a way to indicate to a player what Garret would naturally know himself, being the very skilled thief.