|Art copyright William McAusland, used with permission|
This topic came up yesterday in the Swords & Wizardry Facebook Group. It was interesting enough to me that I decided to answer it here.
This is how I see thief skills - they allow for certain tasks to resolved by a simple die roll. Other classes don't have access to these "skills" - its really quite that simple. Its not that they can't attempt to duplicate the results, but they must use other methods.
Locked door? Kick it open. Batter it down. Destroy the lock with an iron spike and hammer. Only thieves can "pick the lock" but others can try other methods.
Locked chest? Bust the lock with a hammer or axe. Use acid on the lock.
Picking a pocket? Really hard for a non thief to attempt, because quite simply, the untrained will nearly always be caught. Getting your subject drunk might be your best option.
Climb walls? Grappling hoop and a rope. Mountain climbing gear. Fly spell. Levitation.
Find Traps? Judicious use of a 10' pole. Searching. Much like secret doors, you probably need to explain where and how you are searching. Thieves just need to roll some dice.
Remove traps? Set them off from a safe distance. Block the mechanism. Of course, you need to find it first.
A thief simply gets a die roll. The rest actually have to puzzle it out and may need to roll some dice.
That's how I roll :)