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More Options for Thieves

by Scott Moore

In 1981, the original D&D Expert Rulebook promised a slew of new abilities that would be available to thieves over 14th level in the forthcoming D&D Companion supplement. These included the ability to climb overhangs, upside down, ventriloquism, powers of distraction, and the ability to mimic voices. Unfortunately, by the time the D&D companion rules had been published, the D&D core rules, particularly thieves' abilities, had gone through some revising and the new abilities never made it into the rules.

For those interested in giving high-level thieves a few more tools in their arsenals, the following guidelines are provided for thieves of Companion-level and higher. These abilities may also be made available to rake characters as well, but note that no self-respecting rake would ever use their legerdemain or vocalisation talents with malicious intent.

With little or no modification, these abilities could also be granted to thief and rogue characters in AD&D or d20 games.

Special Abilities

The new thieves' abilities are divided into three talent trees, based on a mechanic borrowed from the d20 Modern SRD.

At 17th level, and every two levels thereafter up to and including 31st, the thief may select a single talent from the following talent trees. Some trees have a set order which must be followed, while others provide a list to choose from. As long as the character qualifies, he or she can select freely from any and all talent trees. No talent can be selected more than once.

Climbing Talent Tree

Climb Overhangs: The character may climb over or around difficult overhangs by taking a -25% penalty to his Climb Walls score.

Upside Down: The character may move upside down by taking a -50% penalty to his Climb Walls score. Staying in one place while upside down does not require a check, but each round of movement (at 1/4 their standard rate) does. Failure indicates the character loses their grip and may take falling damage, depending on the situation.

Prerequisite: Climb Overhangs.

Legerdemain Talent Tree

Juggling: The character may juggle a maximum number of items equal to his level divided by 6, rounded down, plus any Dexterity modifier. The chance for success is equal to the Pick Pockets score for a thief of half the character's level, rounded up, minus 5% for each item after the second.

Palming: This is the ability to fully conceal a small item (coin, dagger, gem, potion vial, oil flask, etc.) in one's hand without it being noticed. If employed successfully, this talent could be used to have a dagger readied much in the same way as the Alertness general skill. The chance for success is equal to the Pick Pockets score for a thief of half the character's level, rounded up. This talent may only be employed on an item already in the character's possession.

Powers Of Distraction: Any standard sleight of hand trick or prestidigitation falls under this talent, including the disappearing coin, rabbit-in-the-hat, bird-from-a-balloon, etc. The chance for success is equal to the Pick Pockets score for a thief of half the character's level, rounded up. Successful use of this talent in a public place may earn the character a few copper or silver pieces from interested spectators.

Prerequisite: Palming.

Vocalisation Talent Tree

Mimicry: The character gains the Mimicry general skill. If they already possess that skill, they gain a +1 bonus to it instead.

Impersonation: The character may use the Mimicry general skill to impersonate the voice of anyone they have heard speak before.

Prerequisite: Mimicry.

Ventriloquism: Successfully use of the Mimicry general skill allows the character to make his voice sound as if it is coming from somewhere else, as per the ventriloquism spell.

Prerequisite: Mimicry, Impersonation.