Post by oakesspalding on Sept 22, 2014 21:50:06 GMT -6
First, note, as you probably already have, that the bonus roughly tracks that of the Greyhawk Thief. Since in Zylarthen you can 'trade in' +5 to hit for an extra die of damage (and +10 for an extra 2 dice of damage, and so on) the, say, +9 at 1st level is equivalent to the Greyhawk +4 with double damage.
Well, all things being equal, a typical character has a 2 in 6 chance to surprise, modified by various contingent factors such as those described on pp. 7-8 and 18 of Vol. 4.
However, Zylarthen Thieves may Hide in Shadows, and it is implicit that the success of this may not require any die roll (in contrast to Greyhawk Thieves who only have a 10-20% chance of success at lower levels) subject to the possible exception that 'many monsters and animals will have a keen sense of smell'. I left it open how the referee may want to handle that. That exception aside, and given that the victims are unaware and unwary of a possibly hiding Thief, I would generally give a hiding Thief complete surprise.
So they will often get a powerful free first attack, which clearly might be a pretty nice advantage. (Note also, though, that unlike the surprise mechanic in, say, AD&D, the surprising attacker only gets ONE free attack.)
I think personally that this is by far the biggest advantage the Thief has, in the end probably more useful to the party than that 'mulligan' roll. But the negative side to it is that after the first round, if your victim is still standing (or if there are other opponents around him that survive a probable morale roll), then you're in the midst of a melee battle with a weak armor class of 6, 7, 8 or 9 (depending on your encumbrance preferences).
Does what I just said come out from the rules as written?
Post by oakesspalding on Sept 23, 2014 5:31:09 GMT -6
That's right. unencumbered.
Now in truth I went back and forth for a million years as to how many items you could carry and still be unencumbered. At one point it was only 2 (as opposed to 5) and at that time more items-such as helmets-were designated as 'double dot' or even 'triple dot' items (which an unencumbered character is not allowed to carry). But it started to just seem too punitive-'oh great, I can drop all my gear, strip naked, and surprise that giant spider with a dagger.'
So you can be carrying, say a sword and buckler, be wearing leather armor and even a helmet, and still fade into the shadows. You don't have to look like a civilian. The way I think of it, leather armor isn't a full suit a la emma peel, but rather a set of accessories like gauntlets, etc. So if you consider back to, say, that illustration on the cover of Dragon magazine with a Conan-ish warrior, half-unclothed but with a small shield, sword and a Trojan-style helmet, and you thought, 'that's cool but why, under the rules would anyone ever dress like that?', you now have an answer. He's a Thief.
I suppose some referees might want to modify that in the interests of realism. No helmets or bucklers (because they glint) or no leather armor (because it creaks), etc. You can do that easily by 'double-dotting' them. But I think then you would be left with a very weak character class indeed.
Post by oakesspalding on Oct 31, 2014 22:47:51 GMT -6
Thanks angelicdoctor! That makes me feel better because I really agonized over that Thief. Though, I confess that despite your gracious comments I'm still second-guessing myself, for example--that luck roll.
I found the Thief tricky for three reasons:
1. I wanted him to be "thiefy" without making him too fussy, which I think the standard Thief with his too long (in my view) list of abilities, sort of is.
2. I wanted him to be "thiefy" without implying that other classes couldn't also do many otherwise-standard thiefy things, such as sneaking and climbing (if suitably unencumbered, of course).
3. The 'play-balance' aspect is really tough. I've always thought the standard Thief was way underpowered. But in my experience people love playing them anyway. So it's hard to know where to set the dial, so to speak. And to make it harder, it isn't completely clear to me how valuable the surprise attack thing will turn out to be, or rather, how valuable it will turn out to be for the Thief himself. It obviously needs to better than an albeit powerful suicide attack.