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Revised Thief Class OD&D

by Giampaolo Agosta

This revision aims at correcting the common perception that OD&D Thieves are weak combatants (inferior to Clerics) and limited skill specialists (since at low levels their ratings are too low to be usable, and at high levels spells can substitute Thieving Skills). Where nothing is said, assume that the standard rules apply.

This article collects a number of ideas that came up in the general OD&D discussion thread for the sake of readability and storage.

Improved Combat Skills
In this variant, the Thief uses d6 for HD instead of d4. This gives some more survivability at lower levels, when the Thieving Skills have low ratings and don't make a difference.
The Thief also receives one more starting Weapon Mastery slot (giving it more breadth in weapon choice) and one more slot at level 27.
The Thief can use Weapon Mastery slots to buy proficiency in armour: for one slot, he can use scale mail, while for two slots he can also wear chain mail. However, he receives a -10% penalty to all Thieving Skills when wearing scale mail, or a -20% when wearing chain mail (or -2 and -4 respectively if using the d20 based Thieving Skills proposed in the following).

Rakes and Bards also have the improved combat skills if Thieves do, but they get as many Weapon Mastery slots as Fighters.

Revised Thieving Skills
This variant allows a more compact and flexible management of Thieving Skills, with distribution of skill points as in AD&D 2e, but using d20 instead of d100 for Thieving Skills roll.

At first level, skills start at the following levels (equal to the original/5):
OL: 3; FT: 2; RT: 2; CW: 17; MS: 4, HS: 2; PP: 4; HN: 6.

At first level, the Thief divides 20 more discretionary points among the skills, with no more than 10 on a single skill.

At every level thereafter, the Thief divides 4 more discretionary points among the skills, with no more than 2 on a single skill.

Skill ratings cannot exceed the following limits: PP: 40; HS, MS: 20; all others: 25.

Rakes and Bards can use the revised system, but have no PP starting score, receive only 16 discretionary points at first level and only 3 more at each new level.

High level options
These high level options allow for more combat-oriented Thieves.
They can be chosen at 9th level, and are incompatible with other high level options (such as those presented in the Gazetteer of Myoshima or the F-Gazetteer of Landfall).
The Swashbuckler is compatible with the Rake and Bard variants, which is not the case for the Marksman.

The Swashbuckler is a Thief specialising in the two-weapon style of melee combat.
He receives the following Combat Options starting at 9th level.

Two Weapon Fighting: the Swashbuckler can fight with two weapons ignoring the -4 to hit penalty. He still has reduced Weapon Mastery by one rank for the off-hand weapon.

Weapon Finesse: the Swashbuckler can add his Dexterity bonus instead of his Strength bonus to his attack rolls when using any small, one handed melee weapon or the rapier or sabre.

The Marksman is a Thief specialising in ranged combat, using missile or thrown weapons.

Ranged Weapons Focus: the Sniper gets a +1 bonus to hit rolls with ranged weapons. He must devote more than 1/2 of his Weapon Mastery slots to ranged weapons (missile or thrown).

Sniping: the Marksman can perform backstab attacks using ranged weapons.