Saturday, January 28, 2012

Thief Skills

At the tail end of my last posted I remembered that even though I use d6 for everything I'm still using d100 for Thieve's in particular.  That got me thinking, if I'm going to be using d100 anyways why not make Thief skills a little more fun and a little less rigid.

I've already talked about swapping out classic Thief skills for ones that would more suit your concept.  That's all fine an dandy but what I'm referring to is letting player's parcel out their percentile points at character creation and at level up.  If you're familiar with Fallout in either it's original isometric or more mordern 3d incarnation you may have an idea of what I'm getting at.

First let's take a look at the standard D&D thief after the break.



I will be excluding Climb Walls and Hear noise as Climb starts as an extreme outlier while Hear noise is not percentile based.  At level 1 the thief has:
Pick Locks: 17.   Increases by 6, then 4 per level, until 6 where increases by 10 per level.
Find And Remove Traps:  14.  Increases by 3 per level until 5 where it increases by 10 per level.
Pick Pockets:  23.  Increases by 4, then 3, then 7, then 3 twice and finally 10 per level.  A bit of a roller coaster.
Move Silently:  23.  Follows the same progression as Pick Pockets.
Hide in Shadows: 13.  Follows the same progression as Move silently.

As you can see the stats follow somewhat of a patter, Pick Locks and FaRT have a linear increase whereas the remaining skills may as well be an inverse vibrational function until they level off at 10 per level.  Speaking of 10 all the skills by level 7 begin increasing by 10 per level.  Let's look at the total percentile points increased at each level.

Total at Level 1:  90 points.  (17 + 14 + 23 + 23 + 13)
Level 2:  21 points.  (6 + 3 + 4 + 4 + 4)
Level 3:  16 points.  (4 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3)
Level 4:  28 points.  (4 + 3 + 7x3)
Level 5:  23 points.  (4 + 10 + 3x3)
Level 6:  29 points.  (10 + 10 + 3x3)
Level 7+:  50 points.

It's curious that level 3 has the smallest bump.  While the rest stay in the 21-29 range.  If we were to average the increase for the first 6 levels we'd get:
(21 + 16 + 28 + 23 + 29) / 5 = 117/5 =  23.4
If we average without the 16
 (21 + 28 + 23 + 29) / 4 = 101/4 = 25.25

So from this we can ballpark it and say that for the first 5 level increases the Thief has 25 points to play with.  After that point it nicely doubles to 50 points per level to spend on their 5 skills.  Now if you wanted to ensure that the Thief did not neglect any skills you could require them to put 3 points into each skill, giving them 10 points to play with.  If you double that requirement at level 7 then they'd be putting 6 points into each skill and have 20 points to play around with.

So let's take an example Thief, give him his 90 starting skill points, and advance him a level.  For this particular Thief we're going to have him be a Burglar, so Hide, Move Silently and Pick Locks are his most important priorities.  Let's say the designer also had the foresight to limit the amount of points into one category by 25.
Pick Locks: 20  Find and Remove Traps:   15  Pick Pockets: 5  Move Silently: 25  Hide in Shadows: 25
For contrast here is the Classic Thief
Pick Locks: 17 Find and Remove Traps:  14  Pick Pockets: 23  Move Silently: 23  Hide in Shadows:  17

Now let's advance to level 2.  Each skill gets a 3 point boost and we have 10 points to play around with.  Let's say our Burglar came across a nasty trap over the course of this level so he's decided to strengthen his trap finding ability.
 Pick Locks: 23  Find and Remove Traps: 25  Pick Pockets:   8  Move Silently:  28  Hide in Shadows:  28
Again we contrast with the Class Thief.
 Pick Locks:  23  Find and Remove Traps: 17  Pick Pockets: 27  Move Silently:  27  Hide in Shadows:  17
(I'm beginning to think an Excel sheet would have been easier on the eyes.)

As you can see by giving the Thief an allowance of points each level he gets to develop his character how he wants to.  I've played honorable Thieves in the past that have regarded Pick Pocketing as a role of the Urchin not for the Dashing Rogue, so by point allocation this concept would be much easier to create.

Now I mentioned Fallout before.  In Fallout typically each skill starts at a percentile equal to the sum of two ability scores (rated from 1 - 10) and some skills would have a flat boost, i.e. Small Guns starts at 35 in original FO.  You also "Tagged" certain skills, in older version a tag meant you get double your points worth, in the newer version this is simply a 15 point boost. Each level you got a number of skill points based on your level.  The formula has changed over the games but let's use INT / 2 + 10 for the purpose of this example. Let's make a Thief using the Fallout method.

 Pick Locks: (INT+DEX)  Find and Remove Traps: (INT + DEX)  Pick Pockets: (DEX+CHA)   Move Silently: (DEX + WIS)  Hide in Shadows:  (DEX + WIS)
D&D Stats don't perfectly apply but we do the best with what we can.  A quick 3d6 in order gives us:
STR 9  DEX 12  CON 6  INT 10  WIS 8  CHA 9.  My aren't we average.  Adding up the formulas we get.

 Pick Locks: 22  Find and Remove Traps: 22  Pick Pockets: 21  Move Silently: 20  Hide in Shadows:  20
When we include DEX in every skill our results unsurprisingly have little variance.
The total at level 1 is 95, so this average character is 5 points better than our classic Thief.  Not bad, let's try this again with Stat Inflation Thief.
STR 10  DEX 16  CON 9  INT 14  WIS 12  CHA 9
 Pick Locks: 30  Find and Remove Traps:  30  Pick Pockets: 25  Move Silently: 28  Hide in Shadows:  28

For a total of 136.  Quite a difference this makes.  Since my method of stat generation in my current game has backfired into lots of 18's and 6's this could easily get out of hand if I went with this method.  I think I'll stick with the first one instead.