Forgotten Realms: Birthright
Ability Requirements: Dexterity 9
Armour: Leather, padded, studded leather
Weapons: Club, dagger, dart, lasso, all crossbows, knife, short bow, sling, all one handed swords, and staff.
Every town and city has its share of thieves. Most of them live up to the worst stereotypes of the class, making a living as burglars, assassins, cutpurses, and con artists. Often, these scoundrels are organized into a thieves’ guild or crime family. Plenty of thieves operate independently, but even they sometimes recruit apprentices to help them in their scams and heists. A few thieves make an honest living as locksmiths, investigators, or exterminators, which can be a dangerous job in a world where dire rats—and wererats—haunt the sewers.
As adventurers, thieves fall on both sides of the law. Some are hardened criminals who decide to seek their fortune in treasure hoards, while others enter a life of adventure to escape from the law. Others have learned and perfected their skills with the explicit purpose of infiltrating ancient ruins and hidden crypts in search of treasure.
Thieves devote as much effort to mastering the use of a variety of skills as they do to perfecting their combat abilities, giving them an expertise that few other characters can match. Many thieves focus on stealth and deception, while others refine the skills that help them in a dungeon environment, such as climbing, finding and disarming traps, and opening locks.
When it comes to combat, thieves prioritize skill over brute strength. A thief would rather make one precise strike, placing it exactly where the attack will hurt the target most, than wear an opponent down with many smaller strikes. They have an almost supernatural knack for avoiding danger, and a few thieves learn magical tricks to supplement their other abilities.
- Backstab: Thieves are masters of the knife in the back. When attacking someone by surprise and from behind, a thief can improve his chance to successfully hit (+4 modifier for rear attack and negate the target’s shield and Dexterity bonuses) and greatly increase the amount of damage his blow causes.
To use this ability, the thief must be behind his victim and the victim must be unaware that the thief intends to attack him. If an enemy sees the thief, hears him approach, or is warned by another, he is not caught unaware, and the backstab is handled like a normal attack (although bonuses for a rear attack still apply). Sometimes a thief will be able to backstab, and then hide again. A second backstab only works if the thief manages to keep his location a secret, and if the opponent is caught flatfooted.
A backstab can also be used in any situation where the opponent loses his Dexterity bonus. This effectively means that in some situations, the target may be aware of the thief’s intentions, but be unable to do anything to prevent the attack. People lose their Dexterity bonus when they are bound, prone, incapacitated, on a ladder or climbing, webbed, or otherwise ensnared.
The backstab multiplier applies to the amount of damage before modifiers for Strength or weapon bonuses are added. The weapon’s standard damage is multiplied by this value. Then Strength and magical weapon bonuses are added.
Backstabbing does have limitations. First, the damage multiplier applies only to the first attack made by the thief, even if multiple attacks are possible. Once a blow is struck, the initial surprise effect is lost. Second, the thief cannot use it on every creature. The victim must be generally humanoid. Part of the skill comes from knowing just where to strike. A thief could backstab an ogre , but he wouldn’t be able to do the same to a dragon. The victim must also have a definable back (which leaves out most slimes, jellies, oozes, and the like), and it must have vital organs or vulnerable physiology (which eliminates all constructs, for example) . The thief has to be able to reach a significant target area. To backstab a giant, the thief would have to be standing on a ledge or window balcony. Backstabbing him in the ankle just isn’t going to be as effective. Finally, the weapon needs to be large enough to reach the vital organs of the target. Stabbing a giant with a dart isn’t going to be very effective.
- Larceny: A thief selects eight thief abilities from the following choices: bribe officials, climb walls, detect magic, detect illusion, detect noise, dig tunnel, escape bonds, find/remove traps, forge documents, hide in shadows, move silently, open locks, pick pockets, and read languages. The initial values of each skill are modified by race, Dexterity, and armour. Larceny can only be used in light armour or no armour.
At 1st level all thieves receive 60 discretionary percentage points that they can add to their base scores. No more than 30 points can be assigned to any single skill. Other than this restriction, the player can distribute the points however he wants. Each time the thief rises a level in experience, the player receives another 30 points to distribute. No more than 15 points per level can be assigned to a single skill, and no skill can be raised above 95 percent, including all adjustments for Dexterity, race, and armour. As an option, the DM can rule that some portion of the points earned must be applied to skills used during the course of the adventure.
The new thief skills function as described below.
Bribe Officials: This skill allows a thief to sway the reactions of NPCs with “gifts” (money or items). Success depends on the thief’s skill, the NPC’s initial reaction, and the value of the bribe (in gold pieces) being offered. In no way should this skill be used instead of good role-playing, but it can act as a barometer that takes into account the character’s skills.
When a situation may call for a thief character to make a bribe, the DM should roll the NPC’s reaction in secret (noting the exact roll and the reaction). If the reaction is friendly, no bribe is necessary for the PC to achieve a desired result. If the reaction isn’t friendly, the PC might change it by offering a bribe.
The original reaction roll must be modified to friendly through the use of bribes. For each point of difference between the result and the score needed to achieve a friendly result, the thief must pay a bribe. For example, if the player character is being friendly and the DM’s reaction roll for the NPC was 15 (cautious), then 7 is the highest friendly result in that column. The thief must pay 8 times the listed bribe (15–7=8). Next, determine the station of the NPC to be bribed using the list below. The number of ceramic pieces indicated under “Bribe” is the minimum needed for each point of modifier:
Peasant, serf or labourer – 2d4gp
Citizen, soldier, low-level official – 3d8gp
Merchant, officer, mid-level official – 5d10gp
Noble, general, high-level official – 5d100gp
Using the example above, if the NPC is a mid-level official, then the minimum bribe that must be offered is 5d10cp x 8. Of course, only the DM knows the initial reaction and actual station of the NPC, so the thief has a chance of offering less than the minimum bribe. For every cp the thief is short, his skill roll receives a -1% penalty. If the skill roll fails, the bribe doesn’t work and the NPC’s reaction becomes hostile. A successful roll (and the correct amount of bribe) means the NPC’s reaction becomes friendly. A successful check with the etiquette proficiency allows the thief to correctly guess the level of bribe needed.
A bribed NPC performs reasonable services for the PC that fall within the confines of his job or station. Of course, unusually corrupt NPCs might accept the PC’s bribe and then betray him anyway. Bribes may also be material goods of an equal value of ceramic pieces. However, material goods only work as a bribe if the NPC wants them. Services can also be offered as bribes, but these situations need to be role-played carefully.
Detect Magic: A skilled thief learns to sense the magical properties of an object – the faint glow or vibrations peculiar to enchantment. If allowed to examine (and touch) an object for a full turn uninterrupted, the thief can check to see if he detects magic.
The DM should make all the die rolls for this skill. If the result is less than or equal to the thief’s skill level, the thief accurately determines whether or not the object is enchanted. He does not learn the level or nature of the enchantment, only that one exists. If the roll fails and the result is greater than 70 plus the thief’s level, the DM should present erroneous information – magical items appear non-magical, and vice versa.
Note that extremely large objects (entire rooms, walls, dunes, etc.) may, at the DM’s discretion, require more time to examine or be simply too much for the thief’s skills.
Detect Illusion: Thieves can use this skill to detect suspected illusions. This skill is not automatic, like a gem of seeing or similar magic; the thief must state that he is using the skill and spend an entire uninterrupted round viewing the suspected illusion. Other characters must make a saving throw vs. spells to disbelieve an illusion, modified for the situation. A thief can instead roll against this skill. Failure means that the thief believes the illusion is genuine. Success means that the thief knows the illusion is a fraud. Sudden illusions cannot be so detected. Nor can illusions which the thief cannot examine for an entire round
Dig Tunnel: As a part of his career, a thief can learn the fine art of tunnelling. Success depends on the thief’s skill, the material being tunnelled, and the availability of tools.
The list below shows the time required to dig through 10 feet of ground with adequate digging equipment. Having no tools doubles the time for sand/loose earth or packed earth, and quadruples it for rock. Having sufficient unskilled help can speed the process by two hours per 10 feet regardless of material. At the end of every 10 feet, make a skill check. Failure means the tunnel collapses. It can be re-dug at the loose-earth rate.
Sand/Loose Earth -10%, 5 hours
Packed Earth 0, 10 hours
Rock +10%, 30 hours
A thief’s tunnelling skill is limited to shafts no more than a few feet long. It cannot double for mining skill.
Escape Bonds: This skill is the ability to free himself of ropes and chains through contortion. The skill allows a thief to attempt to free himself from tied ropes or leather bonds, manacles, chains, and other mundane restraining devices. It offers no help against magical bonds.
The thief must make a successful escape roll against every item binding him. For example, if a thief is bound at the wrists and ankles, he needs to make two successful rolls to get free.
Locked items also require a successful open locks roil. One failure indicates that the thief can’t slip these bonds, and no further roil can be made for them.
The thief using this skill requires 5 rounds per roll to adequately work free. He can hurry his attempts, but he suffers a -5% penalty for each round omitted (to a minimum of one round).
Forge Documents: This skill allows a thief to mimic the handwriting of another character to produce false-but-passable forms and documents, including items made of paper and papyrus, stone tablets, signet rings, etc. Success depends on the thief’s skill, his familiarity with the original, and the examiner’s level of scrutiny.
A thief attempting to forge a document needs an example of the original on which to base his work. Without such an example, the thief suffers an automatic -10% penalty on every skill roll. Having more than one example can improve the thief’s chances by a +5% bonus, at the DM’s option.
Every time the forgery is examined, the thief must make a skill roll.
An examiner inspects a document in a manner that reflects his attitude toward the holder; if appropriate, the DM can either choose how the examiner should react or roll for the NPC’s reaction. Then check the reaction against the following list to determine what modifier (if any) to apply to the thief’s skill roll. Success means the forgery is accepted as genuine.
- Evasion: At 3rd level, a thief can avoid even magical and unusual attacks with great agility. If you successfully save vs. any attack that applies your dexterity modifier, or any breath weapon, that normally does half damage on a successful save, you instead take no damage. Evasion can only be used if the thief is wearing no armour or light armour. If you are impeded in any way, you cannot benefit from this ability.
Adaptation: At 4th level, the thief does not suffer combat and initiative penalties for fighting in an unfavourable environment. If the environment also includes special saving throws or ability checks due to physical conditions, such as a Dexterity check to avoid falling off a ladder when struck in melee, the thief receives a +3 (or +15%) bonus to the check.
The thief cannot ignore situational movement penalties, environmental factors that are not combat related, or conditions that are physically impossible to overcome. For example, no one can avoid sinking into quicksand without magical aid, and resistance from water still makes slashing and bludgeoning weapons almost useless without a ring of free action or a free action spell. Likewise, characters adapted to fighting underwater still have to find ways to breathe.
- Uncanny Dodge: Thieves have an uncanny sense of their surroundings. It is very hard to flank them, attack them from behind, or catch them unawares. If they succeed in anticipating a threat, they do not lose their Dexterity bonus to AC if they are surprised, and they cannot be back stabbed . The thief starts at 6th level with a 15% chance, which goes up by 5% per level.
Patron: At 10th level a thief can attempt to attract a patron. If you choose to attract a patron, you cannot attract followers and start a headquarters of your own.
A patron is a noble who will sponsor the thief and protect him under his house and name. Such a character is expected to perform tasks for the noble patron, such as theft, spying, and even assassination, in return for lodging and political protection.
The base chance of finding a patron is a percentage roll equal to 5% per level of the thief beyond 9th. Once a patron is obtained, the thief need not roll further – the thief is from then on in the employ of one noble family from one city of the DM’s choice. A thief need not seek out a patron if he doesn’t wish to. Further, once a thief has a patron, the only way to leave his service is through death – a hired thief knows too many of the noble’s secrets to be allowed to resign in any conventional way.
In the campaign, having a thiefly patron will mean several things. First, the DM can assign the thief jobs for the family, which he must perform or be targeted for assassination, himself. Second, the thief can never be personally held responsible for his crimes while working for a patron. Typically, patrons have powerful friends among the leaders of a city or nation to protect both themselves and their thief employees.
Headquarters: At 10th level a thief can attempt to establish an HQ and attract a gang of thieves. If you choose to establish an HQ, you cannot attract a patron.
This may or may not cause conflict with any local guild in the city or area where the HQ is established.
Follow the rules for attracting followers in the PHB or consult your DM.
- Read Scrolls: At 10th level, a thief gains a limited ability to use magical and clerical scrolls. A thief’s understanding of magical writings is far from complete, however. The thief has a 25 percent chance to read the scroll incorrectly and reverse the spell’s effect. This sort of malfunction is almost always detrimental to the thief and his party. It could be as simple as accidentally casting the reverse of the given spell or as complex as a foul-up on a fireball scroll, causing the ball of flame to be centred on the thief instead of its intended target. The exact effect is up to the DM (this is the sort of thing DMs enjoy, so expect the unexpected).
- Improved Evasion: When a thief reaches 11th level she can use her evasion ability to greater effect. Henceforth she still takes no damage on successful saves, but she also only takes half damage on a failed save.
- Fall/Jump: From 12th level, the thief can safely break a fall if there is a vertical surface nearby to help slow his descent. A very accomplished thief can fall or jump from amazing heights and not suffer the slightest injury. The maximum distance for a safe fall depends on the thief’s level:
- Crippling Strike: Upon reaching 13th level, the thief can backstab opponents with such precision, that her blows weaken and hamper them. An opponent damaged in this manner also takes 2 points of strength damage. Ability points lost in this way return on their own at the rate of 1/day.
Featherfoot: From 15th level, the thief can make his footsteps as light as a feather, moving silently and exerting very little pressure on the surface he is moving over.
A thief who makes a successful move silently roll can move a short distance over a surface without exerting any appreciable weight on it, according to the table below:
^ The thief must stop and make contact with the surface after moving this far.
Soft Surfaces: Mud, sand, snow, or other surfaces where normal humans would leave clear tracks.
Very Soft Surfaces: Silt, quicksand, fine dust, or other surfaces where normal humans would sink slowly.
Liquid Surfaces: Water or other surfaces where normal humans would sink immediately.
A thief using the featherfoot skill moves in complete silence ans leaves no tracks on the ground. The character’s weight doe not press down upon the surface at all. The character does not set off any alarm or trap triggered by weight and does not trigger a squeaking floors spell.
- Skill mastery: At 16th level, the thief may select two new thieving skills from the Larceny list above and begin to invest time and effort into improving them. The same rules apply to the new skills.
Non-Detection: At 18th level, thieves can shield themselves from many types of magical divination, as the 3rd-level wizard spell of the same name. When subjected to a spell such as ESP, clairaudience, or detect invisibility, or to a magical item such as a crystal ball, a successful Wisdom check defeats the spell or device. Even if the roll fails, the thief is still entitled to any applicable saving throws.
This skill is also effective against the ability of intelligent or powerful creatures to detect invisible opponents. When subjected to one of these powers, the thief can attempt an opposed Wisdom check to remain undetected. This skill is not effective against the spells know alignment, true seeing, commune, or contact other plane.
- Slippery Mind: At 19th level, the thief may wriggle free from magical effects that would otherwise compel or control her. If a thief fails a save against any such effect, she may reroll the save. She can do this only once per effect.
Shadow Travel: At 20th level, the thief can move rapidly from one shadowy area to another.
To use this ability, the thief must successfully hide in shadows. After entering the shadow, he can move into other shadows at increased speeds. The actual movement depends on the amount of shadow available, according to the table:
|Amount of Shadow||Movement Rate|
Weak Shadows: Twilight, indoors light, moonless/overcast.
Strong Shadows: Outdoors at night, dim indoor light.
Very Shadowy: Near Darkness.
The thief is visible when moving between shadows, but remains hidden while within the shadows and can move at an accelerated rate until he attacks or the shadows weaken. If the thief leaves the shadows to attack, he can enter them again and resume accelerated movement on any round when he does not attack and there are shadows available.