Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Core 4 Classes - Less 1

We're starting up a new campaign this weekend using just the 4 core classes, and it got me thinking that in the OD&D Boxed set there were just 3 core classes - thieves didn't exist yet.

What roles did thieves fill that wasn't filled prior to their introduction?

Trap Finding? A 10' pole and some cautious players will do much better than a 1st level thief will in finding traps.

Trap Disabling? Same idea. Smart players will find ways to disable or harmlessly set off traps.

Open locks? Isn't that what a hammer is for? As for locked doors, bring your crow bar.

Climb Walls? How many walls are being climbed in dungeons anyway?

Hear Noise? Make sure you have an elf in the party and you are covered.

Pick Pockets? More trouble than it's worth.

Backstab? Almost impossible to set up in the older systems.

I've grown accustomed to thieves in the party, but it's the once core class who's absence probably won't be missed.


  1. Although I play LL/BX almost exclusively nowadays, when I read S&W, it was very tempting to run a thief-free game. I may still do so some day.

  2. I spoke my mind about thieves just recently too. While the idea of the class doesn't bother me much, it's the way the class tends to be played that I can't stand. For some reason, people who play thieves don't seem to understand the difference between being a professional thief on the one hand and a psychopathic kleptomaniac on the other. But I agree, not having a thief around is no big loss to the game.

  3. I don't know... OD&D Thieves have some cool abilities depending on how you interpret the books.

    - The ability of "foil magical closures" sure is handy
    - Hiding in shadows seems perfect for the dungeon... how does in interact with infravision? Up to the DM!
    - Climbing nearly sheer surfaces makes getting out of pit traps a snap
    -At third level, reading 80% of all written languages, including treasure maps, is very handy

    I think a lot of the fun of the Thief class is lost when you focus entirely on the mundane aspects that anyone can perform, and don't emphasize the magical things the class can do

  4. I've never really "gotten" the problem some people have with thieves, but I did come up with a solution for the self-defining skills' issue.

    Give everyone the % thieves skills (except maybe pick pockets) at the same percentages as a thief with racial bonuses. So everyone can try to do that stuff. Thieves, however, get to reroll their failures. So overall they have decent chances to perform (e.g. 30% = 51% with a reroll) but anyone has a chance.

    Any class that gains thief abilities at a lower level gets the reroll at that level (e.g.3rd level Assassin rolls 1st time as Thief3, rerolls as Thief1).

  5. Thieves are always the class/archetype I really want to work in D&D and other fantasy games. Sneaking around, stealing things, trying to not attract the attention of the dragon. After all, Bilbo was a 'burglar'.

    AD&D2e nearly did it well - allowing Thieves to allocate points to different skills allowed you to create a specialist. I see that Lamentations of the Flame Princess practically makes the 'Thief' class - the Specialist - *the* adventuring class.

  6. Thief = Trapped chest disabling. I don't think you can use a 10' pole to pick a locked chest and disable any traps in it. A good trap is one that encourages nimbe fingers and discourages 'I beat it with my sword'.


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