Thursday, March 12, 2020

Variant Thief and Martial Artists

I really like these two posts over at The Chaotic GM:

Thief Buffs for Dungeon Fantasy


Martial Artist Buffs for Dungeon Fantasy

The thief ones I can get behind very strongly. The martial artist ones, less so, but only because I have my own, different approach. One I'd like to see in print when I have the time to write it. But I endorse both of these as good reads and potential sources of ideas if you're unsatisfied with how the thief and martial artist templates turn out in your own DF games.


  1. I'll admit, those changes do make the Thief a lot sexier for the Dungeon... but I still prefer my method:

    Drop the Thief, let the DX fighters (Martial Artist, Scout, Swashbuckler) pick up Lockpicking, Traps, Observation, and Search skills (add them in as Background skill options) and add High Manual Dexterity, Perfect Balance, and Double-Jointed/Flexible to their Optional Advantages lists.

    Though now, I'm contemplating a rebuild of Thief into a non-magical Dungeon Face... I might have to take a long hard look at the Aristocrat and Rogue from Pyramid 3-64 again...

  2. You know, looking at the Rogue from Dungeon Fantasy Denizens: Swashbucklers...that's hard to pass up; if we needed a "thief" in our game, I'd go with that guy, have 4 points in Lockpicking, High Manual Dexterity 1, pick up Traps and Merchant, and go with that. You probably can't compete with the Thief in all areas, but you're pretty damn good and can basically hold your own in combat with Weapon Master and Luck. It's not too hard to get your guy to 21 skill (20, plus one for weapon bond), use an Edged Rapier, and even with ST 11, you can have a respectable 1d+3 cut and 1d+2 impale for a guy who is not a front line fighter, but CAN act as one (not too hard to pick up Combat Reflexes, Enhanced Dodge, and Enhanced Parry, and at no encumbrance, have a 12 Dodge and 15F parry). I'd definitely play that guy.

  3. And when I say I'd definitely play that guy, I mean THIS guy:

    Name: Felipe Cristobal (250) - Swashbuckler (Rogue)

    Attributes: ST 11 [10]; DX 15 [100]; IQ 12 [40]; HT 12 [20]

    Secondary Characteristics: Dmg 1d-1/1d+1; BL 24 lb; HP 11 [0]; Will 12 [0]; Per 13 [0]; FP 12 [0]; Basic Speed 7 [5]; Basic Move 7 [0]

    Advantages: Advantages [86]; Combat Reflexes [15]; Enhanced Dodge [15]; Enhanced Parry (Rapier) 1 [5]; Extra Cash 5 [5]; High Manual Dexterity 1 [5]; Increased Perception 1 [5]; Luck [15]; Weapon Master (Rapier) [20].

    Perks: Weapon Bond [1].

    Disadvantages: Disadvantages and Quirks [-55]; Code of Honor (Pirate's) [-5]; Greed [-15]; Laziness [-10]; Lecherousness [-15]; Sense of Duty (Adventuring Companions) [-5].

    Quirks: Quirk 1: Has expensive taste and spends money on fine items [-1]; Quirk 2: Mild form of cowardice [-1]; Quirk 3: Hates orcs and has bloodlust against them [-1]; Quirk 4: Is somewhat afraid of water and can't swim. [-1]; Quirk 5: Likes wine, borderline addiction [-1].

    Skills: Rapier DX+5 [20]-20; Brawling DX+1 [2]-16; Fast-Draw (Rapier) DX+1 [1]-16; Acrobatics DX+0 [4]-15; Climbing DX+0 [2]-15; Crossbow DX+0 [1]-15; Jumping DX+0 [1]-15; Stealth DX+0 [2]-15; Lockpicking/TL3 IQ+2 [4]-14; Carousing HT+0 [1]-12; Merchant IQ+0 [2]-12; Search Per-1 [1]-12; Streetwise IQ+0 [2]-12; Traps/TL3 IQ-1 [1]-11;

    Clothing [$0; 2 lb];
    Edged Rapier [$1,000; 3 lb]--Skill 21, Damage 1d+3 cut, 1d+2 imp, Parry 15F at No Encumbrance;
    Fine Light Leather Armor [$1,500; 13.5 lb, DR 1, all except face/eyes];
    Pistol Crossbow [$150; 4 lb];
    Shoulder Quiver [$10; 0.5 lb];
    12 Bodkin Point Crossbow Bolt [$2; 0.06 lb],

    Total Weight = 23.72 lb (no encumbrance).

    Quick-Release Backpack [$300; 3 lb] includes:
    Elven Rations [$15; 0.5 lb];
    3 Rations [$2; 0.5 lb];
    Giant Spider Silk Cord, 10 yd [$100; 0.5 lb];
    Lockpicks, Good [$250; 0.5 lb];
    5 Monster Drool [$20; 0.5 lb];
    Personal Basics [$5; 1 lb];
    Wineskin [$10; 0.25 lb] with Water (1 Quart) [$0; 2 lb];
    Wineskin [$10; 0.25 lb] with Fine Wine (1 Quart) [$20; 2 lb],

    Total of Backpack and Items = 14 lb, which takes Felipe to Light Encumbrance when carried (Move 5, Dodge 11, Rapier Skill 20 instead of 21, Parry 14F).

    1. This guy will be fighting in the front line before you even make your first Lockpicking roll. It's just facts - he has a very effective suite of melee combat skills, emergency-backup level missile abilities (Pistol crossbows are weak, and Crossbow-15 means you'll need to aim to hit anything vulnerable), and is just good enough at thief skills to pick a few locks while playing backup to the Scout on traps. I'm not saying it's not a good character, but it's a good fighter-type who can occasionally do a few thiefly things.

    2. Oh, no doubt--he's built to handle a *few* thieving-type abilities, but be able to perform very capably in combat, and, where possible, being able to stab from a distance and dart behind front liners when possible (due to DR 1). The pistol crossbow is definitely meant to be aimed at the vitals with bolts covered with Monster Drool, but that's purely secondary. If he's forced to front line, he's got to get a Main Gauche (skill 17, parry 12F without retreating) that he can fast-draw when he ditches the crossbow (and still be at no encumbrance).

      The real issue with the Thief template seems to be that there's major limits in combat. Wizards have a big role, Clerics have a big role, Druids as well (more situational), but the standard Thief...seems like he or she can't do a heck of a lot, maybe take some aimed shots at people with a ranged weapon, and such. But even having Weapon Master [Knives] and Striking ST [Backstab Only] doesn't do a heck of a lot until the group is down to fighting one or two combatants--otherwise the Thief gets behind the line, gets one good stab in, and is dead meat. Outside of combat--yeah, very helpful. But when wizards have Lockmaster, only meteoric iron locks are a huge problem, and forced entry is best left to the massive guys. The other skills on the Thief template seem more suited to a campaign with a lot more non-dungeon activities.

      There's also another version of this guy that doesn't have High Manual Dexterity [5] or Increased Perception [5] at the start, but has Wealth [10]--good for starting cash, which either frees up two points to use on other skills (since he can have $3,500 with only 3 points) or allows him to get Fortify +1 on his Fine Light Leather Armor. That is great for selling loot at 60% instead of 40%. Definitely a pretty decent build for a campaign starting out at 250 points and with one or more tanky types to do most of the heavy hitting and heavy lifting.

    3. In fact, he's quite a good fighter, because with Acrobatic Dodge (which he'll pull off 95.4% of the time), he has an effective Dodge 14 without retreating (90.7% success). The biggest issue, as ever, with lightly-armored and low HP fighters is, of course, the critical hit. With Luck, he can avoid one. But two critical hits in a combat is often fight-ending for the Swashbuckler. Still, he'd be fun to play.

    4. All probably true, except he's a very poor thief substitute. I think he gives the illusion of having a "thief" in the group but not enough substance to be useful when you really need him to be.


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