A thief (or a Rogue in more polite vernacular) is a human who specializes in stealth, lock picking, trap removing and other such activities. As the name indicates, however, most characters belonging to the thief class do steal. They rarely steal from their friends or members of their own groups, however. A thief who steals from friends is usually not permitted to adventure with them ever again!

The thief’s job is to use his special abilities where needed. A thief’s skills can be very useful and they can be used over and over. For example, a magic-user may use a spell to open a lock, but the spell only works once; a thief may try to open locks whenever desired. Consequently, thieves are found in most groups of adventurers.

Most thieves have high Dexterity scores. Since this can improve their ability to use missile weapons, most thieves use one or more type of missiles. The thief will also find it useful to have a sword at dagger in situations where he can’t avoid close combat.

Thieves may advance to 36th level.

Thieves are one of the basic character classes. A full description is available in the Rules Cyclopedia. These rules are summarized here:

Class Details

Experience and Special Abilities per level

10 15%10%10%87%20%10%20%30%
32,400 25%20%20%89%30%20%30%40%

At 4th level a thief gains an 80% chance to read any normal (non magical) writing, language, code, or map
At 10th level a thief gains the ability to cast magic-user spells from spell scrolls (10% chance that the spell will backfire)

Saving throws

Death Ray/Poison13119754322
Magic Wands141210865432
Paralysis/Turn to Stone13119754322
Dragon Breath1614121086432

Prime Requisite: A thief’s prime requisite is Dexterity. If a thief has a Dexterity score of 13-15, he gains a 5% bonus to experience points earned in every adventure; if his Dexterity is 16-18, the bonus is 10%.

Hit Dice: Roll a 4-sided die (ld4) to determine a thief’s hit points. A thief starts with 1d4 (1-4) hit points (plus Constitution bonus, if any) and gains 1d4 more hit points (plus bonus) with each level of experience. Two additional hit points are gained for each level after 9th level.

Armor: A thief may only wear leather armor, and may not use a shield.

Weapons: A thief may use any missile weapon and any other weapon usable with one hand (two-handed weapons are prohibited).

Special Abilities

Thieves have numerous special abilities. They receive some of them at 1st experience level, when they begin play, and receive others as they gain experience levels. At 1st experience level, thieves know the following skills: Open Locks, Find and Remove Traps, Climb Walls, Move Silently, Hide in Shadows, Pick Pockets, and Hear Noise. They also learn the skill of Backstabbing. The Thief Experience and Special Abilities Table above shows the development of many of the thief’s special abilities. Each number on the table above is the percentage chance that the thief is successful in using that special ability. Tell the Dungeon Master whenever you want your thief to use a special ability; at the DM’s discretion, either the player or the DM will roll percentile dice (d %). If the result is equal to or less than the percentage given, the thief’s attempt is successful.

Descriptions of the Special Abilities

Open locks (0L): With successful use of this special ability, and with professional lockpicks (often called “thieves’ tools”), the thief may open locks. The character may try to use this skill only once per lock. The thief may not try again with that particular lock until he gains another level of experience. Without lockpicks, he may not use this ability.

Find Traps (FT): With successful use of this special ability, the thief may examine a room or an object and determine whether it is rigged with traps. He may check only once per trap, and failure prevents the character from finding any trap in or on the object searched. (Since the DM actually does the rolling, the player doesn’t know how many traps he’s rolling to find.) If the thief finds a trap, he may use his Remove Traps ability to remove or deactivate it.

Remove Traps (RT): With successful use of this special ability, the thief may remove or deactivate a trap. He may not roll this ability against a trap unless the trap has been found. The thief may try his ability only once per trap; failure to remove a trap triggers the trap.

Climb Walls (CW): With successful use of this special ability, the thief can climb steep surfaces, such as sheer cliffs, walls, and so forth. The chances for success are good, but if failed, the thief slips at the halfway point and falls. The DM rolls for success once for every 100’ climbed. If the roll is a failure, the thief takes 1-6 (ld6) points of damage per 10’ fallen. Falling during a 10’ climb will inflict 1 point of damage.

Move Silently (MS): Successful use of this special ability allows the thief to move silently. When the thief tries to use this skill, he always ability, believes he has been successful, but a failed roll means that someone can hear his passage. The DM, at his discretion, may modify the thief’s roll at any time: When he tries moving silently across a field of dried leaves, his percentage chance will go down, while if he does so during a loud tournament, his chance will be greatly enhanced. Note that it doesn’t do the thief any good to use this Skill against someone who is already aware of him.

Hide In Shadows (HS): Successful use of this special ability means that the thief moves into and remains in shadows making him very hard to see. While the thief is in shadows, observers only get a chance to see him if they look directly at him, at which time he must roll again; success means that he remains unobserved. While in shadows, the thief may use his Move Silently ability but attacking someone reveals the thief. If the thief tries to hide in shadows but fails, he will not know that his position of concealment is a failure until someone sees him and announces the fact. Note that if the thief is under direct observation, he can’t hide in shadows against the people watching him; they’ll be able to follow his progress with no problem.

Pick Pockets (PP): This special ability allows the character to steal things from another character’s person without him noticing. It’s a very risky skill to use. If the attempt succeeds, the thief is able to pick the other’s pockets without anyone noticing. If the roll is a simple failure, the thief fails to get his hands on what he’s seeking. If the roll is greater than twice what the thief needs to succeed or an 00 in any case, the thief is caught in the act by his intended victim, and possibly others.

When using the skill, subtract 5% per level or HD of victim. (Normal men-men and women who have no adventuring ability at all and do not belong to any adventuring character class are treated as being 0 level.)

Example: A 1st level thief tries to pick the pocket of a 1st level fighter walking along the street. His chance is 20% (normal) minus 5 (5 times 1), or 15%. The DM rolls the percentile dice and rolls a 41. This is over twice what he needed to roll, so the thief is caught in the act.

Hear Noise (HN): This special ability gives the thief the ability to hear faint noises-such as breathing on the other side of the door, or the clatter of distant footsteps approaching fast. The DM can rule that any loud situation, such as a battle, prevents the thief from using this skill.

Proper Use of Thief Abilities

Watch for opportunities to use special abilities, and simply tell your Dungeon Master when you want your thief to use one. A stuck or exceptionally difficult lock, carefully hidden trap, slippery wall, or very faint noise may cause a penalty to be applied to the normal chances of successful skill use. The DM could assign the task a penalty of – 5%, – 10% , – 20%, or higher depending on the difficulty of the task. If, after applying such penalties, the chance of success remains 100% or greater, the DM should adjust it to 99 , allowing a 1 minimum chance of failure in all cases. However, the DM should not modify Move Silently or Hide in Shadows skill chances unless the thief is undertaking actions that are outside the ability’s usual functions (trying to move silently while running at full speed or across a floor covered with peanut shells, hiding when very near to torchlight, etc.).

Other Thief Abilities

Backstabbing: If a thief can sneak up on a victim, completely unnoticed, the thief may backstab-if he is using a one-handed melee weapon, he may strike at particularly vulnerable points of his target’s body. (Though the ability is called “backstabbing,” the weapon doesn’t have to be a stabbing weapon. A thief can use this ability with a club, for example.)

When backstabbing, the thief gains a bonus of +4 on the attack roll; if the target is hit, the damage done is twice normal (roll the damage for the weapon, multiply the result by two, and then add any pertinent modifiers). If the intended victim sees, hears, or is warned of the thief’s approach, the thief’s attack is not a backstab; it is an ordinary attack, doing the damage appropriate for the weapon used. When no battle is in progress, a backstab attempt may require a Move Silently ability check. The DM will make all the necessary decisions on that matter.

Read Languages: When the thief reaches 4th level, he gains an 80% chance to read any normal writing or language (including simple codes, dead languages, treasure maps, and so’ on, but not magical writings). If he tries but fails to read a piece of writing, he must gain at least one experience level before trying to read it again.

Cast Spells from Magic User Scrolls: At 10th level, a thief gains the ability to cast magic-user spells from spell scrolls. However, there is always’ a 10% chance that the spell will backfire, creating an unexpected result, because of the thief’s imperfect understanding of magical writings. This ability only allows thieves to cast spells from existing magic scrolls, not to write their own.

Higher Experience Levels

When a thief reaches Name (9th) level, he is called a master thief (whether male or female).

Land-Owning Thieves

Name level thieves may construct a hideout (a fortified house in a city, a cave network, etc.). A thief who has constructed a hideout will attract 2d6 1st level apprentice thieves, who come to learn from a master. These will generally (though not always) be loyal to the thief, but will not automatically be replaced by others if they die or leave; the character will have to recruit new thieves himself.

At this point, a player character thief may want to consider setting up a Thieves’ Guild.

A thief who wishes to settle must contact the Thieves’ Guild of the region where he wants to settle. If the thief has not been an enemy of this Guild (or, even if he has, if he can persuade or bribe the Guild to cooperate), the Guild will help establish the thief as a guild master. He may be the master of a new branch of the Guild, an expansion branch in a new neighborhood, or of an established Guild whose leader has stepped down or died.

The Dungeon Master will describe how many new thieves arrive at the new Guild, or will describe how the existing Guild is currently organized. The Guild will generate income from its illegal activities.

The character can, at some point, ask for control of a larger branch of the Guild (this is recommended when 18th level is reached), and may eventually become a powerful official in the Guild Headquarters.

Skilled (high level) thieves are always needed for difficult and unique adventures, and the Guild master thief is the person adventurer’s contact when such jobs are available. You, as the Guild master, may choose to take the jobs or allow one or more of the Guild members to have them-but you have first choice, in any case.

Traveling Thieves

A Name level thief who chooses not to establish any hideout or any station in the local Guild authority is a traveling thief, known also as a rogue.

  • A rogue must remain a member of a Thieves’ Guild, though he need visit the Guild only once a year.
  • Once a character becomes a rogue, the character can never become a Guild master in an established branch of the Guild. However, if he later decides to settle down, and if the Guild master permits, he may set up a new branch of the Guild where none currently exists.
  • A rogue has a chance (checked by the DM once per game week) of discovering treasure maps or rumors about the location of great treasures. This chance is based on him keeping his ear to the thieves’ grapevine.
  • Likewise, the rogue may visit any branch of the Thieves’ Guild to see the Guild master and learn local information, tips, and rumors-if the local Guild master is willing to suffer his presence in the territory. If the Guild master is willing, it will only be under the condition that the character hire assistance from several low level thieves on a temporary basis.


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