Old-School Thieves

I’ve long had some issues with the thief class in D&D. This won’t be surprising to many, because it seems that nearly everyone has some issues with it.

I’ve been tinkering with some ideas about how to incorporate thievery into my upcoming S&W White Box campaign, and I’m currently leaning toward a system based on d6 checks similar to standard hearing and searching checks. This will almost certainly NOT be a separate class.

I will probably give standard chances for success for “thief skill” actions such as picking pockets, climbing walls, and opening locks that are available for anyone to try. This fits in well with the idea that “thief” is not a class but a profession. Anyone can be a “thief” by stealing something.

What I’m undecided on is if I will devise some way for characters and NPCs to improve standard chances by declaring that they are professional (or at least semi-pro) thieves. Perhaps some bonuses at certain levels in exchange for an XP penalty (i.e., a character could be a Fighter (Thief) by requiring 130% XP for each standard fighter level.) I’m not really sure at this point.

One thing I am pretty much set on sticking with is the 1d6 check. I want this to match up with the existing standard checks, as I’m seeing thief-like skills as just more standard abilities. A roll of ‘6’ would indicate spectacular failure (caught picking a pocket, a fall from near the top of a wall, setting off the trap being disarmed, etc.). This rough granularity doesn’t permit a lot of fine improvement while leveling up, but I’ve got an idea about how to address that, too, if I go with the “thief sub-class” concept.

All that said, I see that the contents of Knockspell #2 magazine are going to be very thief-centric, with two takes on a thief class for WB and four (count ’em!) takes for the Core rules. I’m sure that there’s going to be a lot of good material there, so I may want to wait to check it out before making my final decision.

Once I work out a few things I will post my current ideas.

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