Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Disappearing for DF Thieves?

Over on Dungeons on Automatic, I mentioned how I have trouble with the rules-literal use of Backstab and how it allows some non-explainable events ("I pop out of hiding in a place I couldn't get to undetected even if I was Invisible! And couldn't reach in the time alloted!") This is especially common in cases where the Observer Effect has already told us the thief can't have been sneaking.

Barrbaric mentioned using Disappearing, from Action 2, instead.

I think I like that idea.

I will still use Backstab, but with my more limited interpretation - you only get a roll in circumstances I deem conducive to hiding, and can only get behind a foe if you could reach them in a stealthy way. And I'm not assuring you it'll happen the first turn, either.

But it's nice to give as you take away.

So I will also allow thieves to use the Action 2 rule Disappearing (p. 37.) Obviously, not just thieves. But it's hard to absorb -10 in basic penalties to Stealth if you haven't gone crazy-go-nuts on Stealth.

I think that rule has some great value for a sneaky type:

- it's escape focused. Getting into the mix isn't really as important for thieves as getting out.

- it's situation limited. You can't disappear unless there is something to disappear behind.

- it's Move limited. You do get to pull off some unlikely escapes, but you don't get to move faster doing them.

- it's skill limited. You can climb or tic-tac away, but you have to be able to do that.

So I think I'll allow that. Non-thieves can try it, but -10 plus encumbrance plus -5 for lack of significant cover might take care of that. A standard Thief with Stealth-18 will have an 8 or less to pull this off, 7 or less with Light encumbrance. A Scout with Stealth-13 has a 3 at None, and mostly it gets worse from there.

I do limit Backstab more than the book does, but perhaps this will help DF thieves to a degree.


  1. I basically agree that the semi-teleporting aspects of Backstab should be revised. However, even with the addition of Disappearing, I'm not sure I'd want to play a DF thief. Even then I'd be very leery of backstabbing, since in so many circumstances it trades one credible attack for lots and lots of inevitable pain. (Even with Disappearing.)

    Have you got much interest in Thief aside from that one PC that got throttled?

    1. We had two, but neither were run by players who can play regularly.

    2. Are those two players experienced GURPS Players?

    3. But one more is coming up! :)


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