... now with 35% more arrogance!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Welcome, Thief!

Yesterday, Wayne asked if the OSR has embraced thieves now. There were a lot of anti-thief blogposts. Then, there weren't. Have people reconciled with the thief class?

Maybe not. I know what Wayne is talking about in terms of the initial anti-thief posts, but what, exactly, indicates there's been any change of attitude? A decline in anti-thief posts? That could easily be just because, unlike many other hot-button issues, people said their piece on the thief and moved on. Maybe there's just nothing more to say. How many anti-thief rants can one blogger post?

On the other hand, alternative thieves have been discussed... maybe some of those alternatives fixed the problems with the thief, and so the hate has died? Michael Mornard, among others, has tried repeatedly to clarify that the original thief was not played the way many people interpreted it later. The thief skills were more like super versions of standard exploration abilities. Or saves.

I can answer for me, personally. I have arrived at some some solutions to the thief problem so that I could allow them in my game. In fact, I like tweaking the thief to make alternate classes, like the Leech. However, I'm still mad at the thief class for weakening the idea of class as archetype and drifting it towards class as profession.

So consider it a backhanded embrace.


  1. I like the Thief class as it fulfills an archtypical role, that of the clever hero. I do think that the Thief could benefit from better attack potential though.

  2. I think the Cleric class has actually received way more flak from the OSR community than the Thief.

  3. Sorry I'm late; 'been out of town.

    My comment is really a mildly related question: One of the complaints often leveled at the thief is that in old tyme D&D supposedly everyone could do thiefly stuff. My question is, was this explicit--i.e. does it say in the LBBs that every character can attempt to pick a lock or climb walls?--or was it left up to the players to decide if that was something they wanted to try?

    I assume it's the latter--which, to me, seems a far cry from "everyone can climb walls"--but, as you're the resident expert on the olden rules, I thought I'd ask.

    1. Climbing walls -- well, ship hulls -- is mentioned in the naval combat section. Opening locks isn't specifically mentioned, but in the example of play in Underworld & Wilderness Adventures, it mentions that there are poison needles in the lock on one chest, with a check for the person opening it. Neither climbing nor opening locks have any associated rules. Maybe they were automatic, assuming the character was properly equipped?

      Removing traps is not mentioned, but dwarves automatically notice traps underground. Later editions changed this to apply just to large stonework traps, like covered pits, and added "Find (Small) Traps" to thieves. So, it's all sort of a mixed bag.