This is the second post in my weekly series of looking at each of the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG character classes. Last week I looked at the Warrior class and some of the unique ideas it brought to the table. This week I am taking a look at the thief character class.
The thief character class in DCC RPG can take the shape of the small, wily thief or the bigger, brute type of thief or anything in between. The thief will need to rely on their cunning though as their hit points are determined by a d6 at each level. Their trained weapon list is much smaller than the warrior I looked at last week as one would expect. Choice of armor will of course affect the skills of the thief as well.
The thief can choose one of the three alignments in DCC RPG. This choice will affect how their skills advance as their levels increase in the game.
Thieves’ Cant makes a welcome return in DCC RPG. The cant is spoken only and not written. I always liked thieves cant for those thieves in older editions that were members of a guild.
The thief class also comes with a more extensive list than the “your occupation determines your skills” methodology. We see 13 skills added to the thief class and include many of what I would call traditional thieving skills. The list includes skills such as Backstab, Hide in Shadows, Pick Lock, Find Trap, and more.
The modifier progression for these skills are determined by alignment. A table outlines how much the modifier increases at each level for each of the three alignments. For example, a chaotic aligned thief has a Backstab skill that increases faster than either a Lawful or Neutral aligned thief. Whereas a lawful aligned thief has a find and disable trap modifier that increase faster than a chaotic aligned thief.
Finally the thief has a different luck mechanic than a typical character class. When a thief burns a point of luck they get to roll a “luck” die for each point of luck expended. The luck die increases as the thief increase in level, so from a d3 to a d4 to a d5 and so on. A thief can expend more than one point of luck to gain additional dice on a roll.
A thief also has the ability to recover luck. Each night the thief is able to recover a point of luck, not to exceed their starting luck score. This allows the thief character to rely on their luck and wits to make those crucial rolls due to the enhanced recovery of expended luck points.
The thief class in DCC RPG fits right in with my view of what a thief is. Surviving on luck and wits, access to thieves cant and a skill list that truly makes them the most skillful character class in the game while supporting traditional thieving roles, the thief in DCC RPG hits all the right notes for me.
The skill list helps boost the thief and make them a more skillful class than other character classes in the game. This skill list also gives the thief the ability to do the things thieves are known for – pick locks, pick pockets, move stealthily, and more.
The modified luck mechanic for the thief gives them the chance to use luck more frequently to boost an attack roll or make sure they succeed at a particularly important skill check. Due to their recovery of luck points they are able to do this just often enough to reinforce the notion of a lucky thief.
The last DCC RPG session I ran had a thief in it. The character seemed to work out pretty well in the party. I think the biggest adjustment for a player coming from 3.x/Pathfinder to DCC RPG is that the backstab skill does not quite equal sneak attack.
Backstab means you have to attacking with the target unaware. Simply flanking someone does not mean you are going to get the backstab bonus. The thief in the game I ran did work himself into positions where he could gain backstab, but after that initial attack, the opponent was obviously aware of him. I do not think this is a bad thing, but it is different from how sneak attack works in 3.x/Pathfinder.
As with the warrior I looked at last week, I think Dungeon Crawl Classics has again found the essence of the Appendix N thief and done a wonderful job emulating it with this ruleset.
What are your thoughts? Does the DCC RPG thief let you play the style of thief you would want? A brute? A skillful individual?