I’ve noted before that I grant thieves six-sided hit dice in my Labyrinth Lord game rather than a d4. As I stated, I believe that thieves are generally tougher than magic-users but maybe not as tough as clerics. The problem arises because in LL clerics have d6 hit dice and magic-users have d4. There’s no simple middle ground as there is in AD&D where clerics have d8 hit dice and the d6 splits the difference. As I believe that most thieves are adventurers who have ignored advanced combat techniques for some specialized skills rather than normal men who have learned some technical crafts, I give them d6 hit dice.

Now, I find myself making another house rule to benefit the thief class.

The revised Labyrinth Lord rules have made a number of adjustments to armor. The most significant of these, in my opinion, is shift of leather armor to AC 8 from AC 7. Though maybe not a big deal to other classes, this is a major issue for thieves, who “cannot wear armor heavier than leather” and cannot use shields. Suddenly, every thief wearing leather armor is more than 10% easier to hit, and there’s nothing that can be done about it. High dexterity, magic items, whatever…any thief wearing leather armor (which is about 95% of them in my experience) lost half of their armor protection in combat.

So I’m going to allow thieves to wear studded leather armor. Studded also lost an AC point in the revision, and now grants base AC of 7, the same as pre-revision leather armor. Problem solved.

Honestly, I’m not necessarily the biggest fan of the thief class and am not thrilled about constantly tweaking things for them. If their abilities were better at lower levels, I’d probably resist the temptation. But I also don’t want their biggest contribution to be a pick locks or remove traps roll. I see them as adventurers, not specialists.

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4 Comments to “Steel-Studded Thieves”

  1. Jeff Rients says:

    I allow LL thieves to wear studded leather as well. I feel like “cannot wear armor heavier than leather” has sufficient wiggle room to half-assedly justify doing it, i.e. studded leather is a form of leather armor. Just like when Unearthed Arcana came out we assumed that anyone that could wear platemail could also use field plate and full plate. “Plate is plate.”

    They’re still stuck with d4’s in my game, though.

    • Kilgore says:

      Yeah, I’ve seen lots of people allow studded LEATHER armor for thieves before, but I’ve always resisted. Now this change in LL has convinced me otherwise.

  2. JB says:

    Studded leather? Armor class 8? What the heck is LL doing? What the heck is the world coming to?

    I just want you to know, that I am feeling wafflely on the whole D4/D6 thing today…but ONLY with regard to LL, NOT B/X (I’ll keep my D&D pure, thank you very much). I’m not sure what will be the end result, but I’m feeling an overwhelming urge to “do something about something…”