Saturday, March 19, 2011

[The Realm] What You Need To Know As a Thief

A thief is a pickpocket, mugger, bully boy, rum cove, spy, beggar, buffoon, burglar, rogue, cheat, counterfeiter, second-storey man, cutpurse, footpad, forger, gambler, bard, highwayman, archer, bandit, horse thief, swashbuckler, litigation trickster, peasant hero, acrobat, mountebank, picklock, robber, pirate, sharper, shoplifter, smuggler, brigand, swindler, and often, vagabond. He’s the guy who goes in and searches for traps, disarms them, and steals the jewels out of the pile of silver and gold. He’s the guy who buys you a drink just before he stabs you in the back. He’s the guy who sneaks in and slits the orc captain’s throat while the rest of the party waits outside where it is mostly safe…

Cugel the Clever, Liane the Wayfarer, Conan, Taurus of Nemedia, Gray Mouser, Gord the Rogue, Ali Baba, Aladdin, Bilbo Baggins, Lazarillo de Tormes, Robin Hood, Will Scarlett, Zorro, Fagin, Artful Dodger, Moll Flanders, Huckleberry Finn, and Hanse Shadowspawn.

You use 4-sided dice for Hit Dice. You get one HD per level up to and including level 9; you add your Constitution modifier to each die roll. At level 10 and above, you only gain 1 hit point per level (Constitution modifier no longer applies).

You get +5% XP if your Dexterity score is 13 to 15; you get +10% if your Dexterity score is 16 to 19.

A thief can be of any alignment; most are Neutral. Few follow the Gods of Law, while many follow the Gods of Chaos. The choice to steal and commit other anti-social activities is poorly regarded by the Gods of Law, and well-regarded by most of the Gods of Chaos.

A thief can wear any kind of armor, however, he is only skilled at wearing padded, leather, and studded leather armor; any other armor types inhibit or prohibit the use of most of his skills. Also, any other armor provides one point less protection than normal when the thief is wearing it, and causes him to suffer a -2 penalty to all attacks and saving throws while wearing the armor. Similarly, a thief can wear a leather cap or light helm without penalty, but not a normal helm or great helm. He can use a small shield unskilled, but then suffers a further -1 penalty to attacks and saving throws.

The Parrying Dagger ability allows a thief to use a dagger, main gauche, sword-breaker, or similar item in your off-hand as either a weapon or a shield… but only if you choose that ability.

You can use any weapon you like. However, no weapon is better than any other in the hands of a thief!

Light Weapons: d6
Medium Weapons: d6
Heavy Weapons: d6

At 1st level you may backstab an opponent if they are unaware of your presence or your intent to attack. You might have to use stealth, hide in shadows, bluff, or similar abilities to sneak up or get the drop on the target. If you are successful, you receive an attack bonus of +4 to hit and add 1d6 to the damage dealt. At 5th level the added damage is 2d6, and 9th level 3d6, and at 13th level 4d6 (maximum damage bonus). Backstab damage is never modified due to critical hits!

At 1st level you choose eight Thieves Abilities (i.e., skills) from the following list: Acrobatics, Arson, Bluff, Climb, Decipher, Disguise, Entertain, Escape, Evaluate, Gambling, Hide in Shadows, Intimidate, Listen, Litigation Trickster, Locksmith, Parrying Dagger, Poisons, Puzzles, Sap, Scrutinize, Slight-of-Hand, Stealth, Trail, and Trapsmith. You place them in order, from best to worst, and get percentile scores in each that improve as you advance in level. You gain new abilities at levels 5, 9, 12, and 15. Additionally, at levels 2, 4, 10, 14, and 16 you may switch the ranking (and thus, score) in any two abilities that are next to each other in ranking; thus you can switch your 3rd and 4th ranked abilities, showing your further development of the 4th ranked skill at the cost of the original 3rd ranked skill.

At 1st level you start with 1 Luck Point, plus 1 Luck Point for each point of Dexterity bonus. Each level thereafter you gain a number of Luck Points equal to your new level plus your Dexterity bonus. You may use a Luck Point to re-roll any failed Thief Ability roll you just made, before the results are applied. You must accept the re-rolled result, even if it is worse. You never “regenerate” Luck Points.

Thieves Cant is a special dialect of Common used by thieves and lower-class types. It evolved from the patois of the lower classes in the big cities and towns, and spread as thieves and thugs mingled with migrants and refugees of wars and disasters. Essentially, you can speak with fellow coves (thieves) and not be understood by others, though you rarely speak such in public! It is an inelegant tongue, designed to speak of thievery; there is no Thieves Cant poetry, save for bawdy limericks. There also exists a series of symbols and runes used by thieves, again, such signifying ideas important to thievery and thieves.


  1. This is a cool take on the Thief. I don't play Labyrinth Lord myself (it's one of the few retro-clones I haven't gotten around to checking out), but this write-up is intriguing enough that I want to check it out.

  2. Martin, I should note that much of the material outlined consists of my own House Rules... especially the weapon damage rules, list of abilities to choose from, and the Thieves Luck ability. The standard Labyrinth Lord thief is essentially no different from the classic B/X thief.

    The thing I love about LL is that, like B/X and OD&D before it, it is infinitely adaptable.