Thieves’ World and d20

Thieves' World Players ManualMy old group broke up spring of 2002 and through EN World I found two more groups first one then another.  The Thieves’ World books were boxed up with other games that were not getting played and I dove in the d20 craze head first.  Online so many settings and games were being translated to d20 that there were endless threads about what property needed to be d20.  I was one of the lone voices calling for Thieves’ World.  A few people seemed to remember it but as I talked about my games and posted some personal created classes, prestige classes, and house rules I think I helped kick up the following in a minor way.

I was shocked when I heard Green Ronin had picked up the license and new books were being written.  I don’t know if it was intended but the new books fit in well with the old.  They offer a lot of well-done rules and setting information that is not in the box set.  They have options for characters from all over the place; they must list every little city state ever mentioned in any of the short stories and novels.  The time line might have been advanced but the struggle for day to day survival remained the same.

Thieves’ World Players Manual is about perfect.  They make some simple changes to the d20 rules and supply plenty of classes and character options d20 players are used to seeing.  It has great information on the setting and really allows people not familiar with it to have a clear understanding.  They made magic more dangerous and difficult to use.  I like that and it helps keep a delicate balance d20 always lacked with spell casters and non-spell casters.  Almost everything has been fine tuned for the setting.  The classes have their own abilities and look a bit different from the normal PHB classes.  It has an emphasis on the more mundane.

Shadowspawn’s Guide to Sanctuary is much more of the setting and a great resource for GMs.  It offers great descriptions and insight into many of the characters from the books both old and new.  It offers a few new player options but it is mostly just a GM resource.  The book does a good job of describing the city as it was in the old stories and then how was changed when they advanced the time line a few decades and brought in even more complications.  One of the more useful sections is small sample adventures in the city.  These are great to just get ideas of all the kinds of possibilities and potential the city of Sanctuary can hold for players.

Sadly, the only times I have gotten to play using these books is one shots run by Robert Schwalb at Origins.  For a few years he always ran something at 8am Saturday morning which was not the ideal hour.  Those games never did sell out but I was there with probably a bit more energy and fully awake than anyone else.  Nowadays at Origins they don’t seem to have as interesting of a gaming selection.  I bring that up only because Origins starts up Wednesday June 12, the day this should get posted.  I’ll be there for five days running some Paranoia, but I’ll leave that for next week’s blog entry.

Thieves’ World is always going to be my favorite fantasy setting.  It doesn’t have the shine of Eberron, or the scope of the Forgotten Realms, but it has dirt and grit that can never become clean.  It is a setting with potential because really there are lots of buildings and NPCs left undefined or just slightly defined.  It is a great sand box for a GM and players wanting the gritty and dangerous low fantasy setting.

Chris Gath.  I’ve been gaming since 1980 playing all kinds of games since then.  In the past year I’ve run Pathfinder, Dungeon Crawl Classic, Paranoia, and Mini d6.  My current campaign is mini d6 and we are using that for a modern supernatural conspiracy investigative game.  On some forums I’m known as Crothian and I’ve written a few hundred reviews though I took a sabbatical from reviewing for a few years as it burnt me out.  I was also an judge for the Gen Con awards (ENnies) six times.  Jeff, the owner of this blog, is one of my players and a good friend.