Sneaking and Skullduggery

Now that we’ve more or less settled (for now at least) on our D12 thief skills, I’m going to post our success rates for non-thieves attempting many of the same tasks. Each of these is a normal x-in-6 chance similar to the standard hear noise check. I’m actually pulling them straight from the d6-based White Box Thievery I posted last spring, though I’m not going to allow non-thief characters to remove traps, only find them.

Here they are, with some modifiers and notes:

Activity Find Traps Pick Pockets Sneak Quietly Climb Walls Hide Hear Noise
Chance for success on 1d6







Find Traps: Dwarves +1, Halflings +1 for snares and traps in woodland settings. This only applies to non-magical traps. A roll of 6 may indicate that the trap has been accidentally sprung.

Pick Pockets: Half-orcs -1. + or – 1 for every three levels the intended victim is above or below the picker’s level. A roll of 6 may indicate that the attempt has been noticed.

Sneak Quietly: Elves and Halflings +1 when in non-metal armor.

Climb Walls: Dwarves -1, Gnomes and Halflings -2. This chance for success applies to walls with sufficient hand- and foot-holds; smooth stone or masonry gives a -2 modifier (at least). A roll of 6 may mean that a fall from near the top has taken place.

Hide: Elves and Halflings +1 in woodlands. Someone already under observation cannot successfully hide.

Hear Noise is the standard ability as described in the rules.

Obviously these all follow, with the exception of climbing walls, the standard 1-in-6 chance that we all know and love. I happen to really like 1-in-6 for difficult tasks, 2-in-6 for hard tasks, 3-in-6 for simple tasks, and 4-in-6 for easy tasks. So x-in-6 is basically the D&D universal task system, and a look around the old rules will show that, with various tweaks here and there, it always has been.

One thing I’m considering is: When a 1-in-6 chance gets a -1 modifier (when a half-orc attempts to pick a pocket, for instance) instead of becoming 0-in-6 the chance for success becomes 1-in-12. It just goes with the “let PCs try anything they want” vibe I go for.

Here is a little more copied from my White Box Thievery rules that will probably be pasted as-is into our growing homebrew Labyrinth Lord rulebook:

Situational bonuses and penalties will, of course, apply as well. An inattentive sentry may give a +2 bonus to characters attempting to sneak past, while a scroll tucked into an inner pocket may give a -1 penalty to a pick pockets attempt. Similarly, the game master may simply rule on certain actions as warranted. A smooth and polished iron tower, for instance, may be declared un-climbable without assistance, while a wall overgrown with vines may not require a climbing roll at all. An attempt to hide in the plain sight of a squad of orcs which have already spotted the PC will certainly fail, but an attempt to hear a loudly snoring giant may always succeed.

Game masters may list common modifiers appropriate for his or her campaign ahead of time, but, whether or not this is done, on-the-fly rulings during play should be expected. These skills, by their very nature, are apt to be used for unusual and unforeseen purposes.

By clearly establishing baseline chances of success for all adventurers, claims that thief skills somehow restrict such activity to thief-specialized characters should be minimized. Everyone will know that their cleric (or fighter or magic-user) can try to pick someone’s pocket or climb a wall, just as everyone already knows that their character can listen for noise or search for a secret door whatever their class.

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2 Responses to Sneaking and Skullduggery

  1. mactavish says:

    This is the best idea I’ve seen for incorporating thieves’ skills into my old school game. This is truly excellent work, LK. I hope that you’ll produce a third edition for your PDF incorporating the changes.

    mactavish out.

    • Kilgore says:

      I am only waiting for my boxed White Box set to arrive to “finalize” the current draft. If I would have known at the time that the boxes would be delayed so badly I would have just gone off the PDF, but I’ve been busy with other stuff and wanted to get my d12 thief worked out for LL before finalizing the White Box version.

      I don’t see many changes being made at this point.

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