Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Thief

"Our ancestors lived upon the Ark for many generations, circling the oceans. Our Great Bows are a natural development of the throwing spears we employed in hunting Great Sea Beasts while upon the Ark. During the Settling Time the Tribal-Kings in their Ritual-Battles soon realized that throwing your weapon away simply allowed the enemy to throw it back. The Great Bow and Arrow soon followed as the main Arms of Warfare when at a distance to the Enemy."
-Njabulo, Historian and Resident of the Bantu Conclave in Nein

In this blog post I want to talk about the Thief and its Abilities within the game. For review, all PCs begin at "Level 0" and choose their Class at Level 1. Classes have Primary Ability Scores and Secondary Ability Scores. They receive a single point towards their Primary Ability Score at Level 1 and points towards subsequent Levels as detailed here. In addition, all Classes have Requirements for entry: for the Thief this is a minimum of Agility 1 and Intellect 1 -- a Thief requires at least average speed, reflexes, guile and wit to excel in his craft.

The Primary Ability Score of the Thief is Agility, Secondary Ability Scores are Strength and Intellect. Below is an example of how this all is summarized for a Class, using the Thief as the example:

A Thief exploiting Line of Sight
to utilize a Murder Skill with his Short Bow
Class: Thief, Requirements: Agility 1, Intellect 1
Primary Ability Score: Agility, Secondary Ability Scores: Strength, Intellect

Each PC, at Level 1, rolls for an additional Background element that is added to their existing Background up to the point of selecting his Class. This Background element, naturally, is dictated by Class. I talk about Backgrounds prior to Class selection here and here. Here are some examples of Backgrounds for Thieves:

1: You have spent your training period as a Thug, muscle used to send a message or extract compliance out of Guild membership or City citizenry.
2: You are part of a small group of Cutpurses and pay the local Guild a Tax so as to secure your territory.
3: You have been apprenticed to a Fence as part of your initial training in Thievery: looking out for the Guard and screening potential clients for your Master.

Thieves, in Sophia's Children, are beholden -- to one degree or another -- to the Thief Guilds. The Guild is a coalition of various interests and entities who, themselves, may be more or less organized. But they all answer to The Boss -- who has the final say in the criminal goings on within a City. Some Cities, such as Nein, have more than one Boss -- this always results in an ongoing feud between the competing Guilds as they vie for power, territory and influence over the various criminal cabals they oversee.

Thieves have Skills for their Abilities which come in two general types: Active and Passive. Active Skills are Advanced Abilities and move an Action Point into the Short Reserve when used. Passive Skills are always-on Abilities that confer a bonus whenever certain conditions are met, but require a permanent reduction of Action Points to learn. Thieves are able to, in the interaction between their Active and Passive Skills, employ combination moves that exploit status conditions and leverage buffs. I talk more about Action Points and their use with Abilities in this post.

Active Skills

The Active Skills of the Thief come in two kinds: Murder and Cunning. Murder Skills require Strength to train in (as indicated by the Skill description) and a Thief may only have a number of Murder Skills trained equal to his Strength Score. Similarly, Cunning Skills require Agility to train and the number of Cunning Skills trained in may not exceed the Agility Score proper.

Passive Skills

Passive Skills are called Guiles and function differently than Actives. Guiles have no Requirements, but only one may be learned for every two points of Intellect. E.G.: Intellect 1, 2: One Guile; Intellect 3, 4: Two Guiles. In addition, learning a Guile results in a permanent deduction of 2 Action Points from the Character's Base Action Points.

Indeed, Thieves keep up appearances with and are even
members of the various Overlord Courts

Skill Trees

Active and Passive Skills also exist within Skill Trees where the acquisition of one Skill depends upon having learned a previous Skill. Learning the new Skill "overwrites" the previous Skill instead of using up one of the Thief's available Skill "slots." As with all training in Sophia's Children, this does not depend upon "skill points, feats slots etc.," but only having the available funds, access to a trainer and meeting the Ability Score requirements.

Example Skills

Backstab, Murder Skill (Requirements: Strength 1)
You have learned the excellent methods of killing from behind using cutting or piercing weapons.
Make a Melee Attack using a cutting or piercing Weapon against an opponent you are Flanking. If this attack connects you do Double Damage.

Sap, Murder Skill (Requirements: Strength 1)
You have learned the means by which to stun an enemy using clubbing instruments by way of surprise.
Make a Melee Attack using a bludgeoning Weapon against an opponent you are Flanking. If this attack connects you Stun them in addition to the usual Damage.

Hide in Shadows, Cunning Skill (Requirements: Agility 1)
You can slip into the shadows of battle.
As long as you are Unarmored or wearing Light Armor that you meet the Strength Requirement for, you can Run and slip into the shadows of the battle, acquiring the Hidden status. This movement invokes the usual effects of Running (Provoking Opportunity Attacks) and if this movement is stopped by an Opportunity Attack you do not become Hidden.

Tumbling Attack, Cunning Skill (Requirements: Agility 1)
You use an acrobatic flourish to bound towards your target.
As long as you are Unarmored or wearing Light Armor that you meet the Strength Requirement for, you can Run and make a Basic Attack that CAN NOT be Intercepted by your opponents.

Stabby, Guile
You are adept at causing terrible injuries with cutting instruments.
Whenever you make an attack that HITS with a Melee Weapon that cuts or pierces, you do an additional 1d6 Damage if the attack roll is a Natural-Even number.

A Group of Hassan Thieves
Bruiser, Guile
You know just what to do to with a bashing weapon to upset your opponent's combat effectiveness.
Whenever you make an attack that HITS with a Melee Weapon that bludgeons or bashes, you induce a Slow effect (Standard Save) as long as you roll a Natural-Even number.

The tactics that a Thief will employ in combat are very different from the tactics of either the Fighter or the Magic-user. The Thief must take care to utilize the correct weaponry or armor depending on the focus of his Skills and derives maximum lethal potential from the combination of his Guiles and Active Skills.

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