Class Consciousness: The Thief

This thief was an artist of theft. Other thieves merely stole everything that was
not nailed down, but this thief stole the nails as well.”

― Terry Pratchett, Sourcery


As we discussed in the previous Class Consciousness entry on Warriors, character classes are a simple way of codifying a PC’s advancement to greater levels of power. While some players might rather invent a character from whole cloth, others prefer having a structure to hang their ideas on.

The Thief ‘class’ has been at gaming tables since the Greyhawk supplement of original D&D, picking pockets, hiding in shadows, and stabbing backs since at least 1975. Later softened to Rogue, the class exemplified stealth, cunning, and agility.

While its core abilities usually revolved around breaking and entering, lurking, and pilfering, many types of characters were categorized as thieves. Con-men, Tomb raiders, thugs, and swashbucklers often ended up as thieves.


The Crooked Path

Thief Package and Path
Thief Package:
+1ST, +4DX, +2IQ and 2 Expertise. Base Aspects: Melee weapon, Ranged Weapon, Detect Traps, Remove Traps, Silent Movement, Climbing, Thief.

Thief Path:
1. +2 Expertise (Alertness)
2. +1 DX
3. +2 Stamina
4. +2 Expertise (Streetwise)
5. +1 IQ (Recognize Value)
6. +1 DX
7. +1 Expertise
8. +1 Expertise (Acrobatics)
9. +1 DX
10. +1 IQ (Stealth)
11. +2 Stamina, or +2 Expertise (Sly Cut, above)
12. +2 Expertise (Assess Value)
13. +2 Expertise (Master Thief)
14. +1 ST
15. +1 DX
16. +1 IQ
17. +2 Expertise (Master Mechanician)
18. +2 Stamina
19. +1 IQ
20 +2 Expertise (Disguise)

To create a Package for the basic Thief in Heroic Expeditions, we will focus on the skills and abilities that began with D&D. Aspects are very important to a Thief, so they will need a fairly high IQ, Dexterity is also critical, and Strength can not be completely overlooked if we want our thief to survive. Let’s start with 4 points in DX, 2 in IQ,1 in ST and the last point in Expertise. This will give out thief the capability to carry iconic weapons like the rapier and short bow, and hit with reasonable accuracy in light armor. It will also give us the points to start building up our Aspects.

Starting Aspects should include a melee weapon (1-2), ranged attack (2), Detect Traps (2) Remove Traps (2), Silent Movement (2), Climbing (1), and of course Thief (2). Depending on the style of thief you want to play, you might want to take Streetwise, Recognize Value, or a specialty weapon like whip.

The thief’s Path will include increases in DX to improve their success with their Aspects, as well as IQ to access more complex skills. Expertise will be a handy way to maximize their Aspect pool, as only a Bard or Spy would need Aspects beyond IQ 13.

As they progress along the Path, a thief will want to take Alertness, Acrobatics, Mechanician, Assess Value, Stealth, and Master Thief. Master Mechanician is also a goal. If a thief takes a more social route, Charisma, Streetwise, and Disguise might be substituted for lock and trap Aspects.

A cornerstone of the Thief class throughout D&D’s history was the back-stab, or sneak attack. HEX creatures do not have large hit point pools like those games, and combat is run very differently, but if you wanted too replicate that feel, you could house rule something like this.

New Aspect: Sly Cut
Cost: 2
Type: Combat
Prerequisites: Stealth
A figure with this Aspect that attacks an unaware opponent (through Stealth, Ambush, or Surprise) with an aimed attack gains either +4adjDX on the attack or removes 4 AD from the defender. Only one of these can be chosen, and the choice must be made before the attack.

Another old school aspect we always liked was Theive’s Cant. Depending on your campaign world. You might want to have a secret Language Aspect for it that only thieves can learn.

Alternate Packages: Thief

Bards are often considered thieves. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons even required several levels of Thief to become a bard. Bards might not be as skilled at Climbing or Removing Traps, but they will have Charisma, Bard, Diplomacy, Mimic, and Courtly Graces. A Bard would begin with 3 points in DX, 3 in IQ, 1 in ST and 2 additional Expertise.

Advanced Aspects would include Master Bard and Disguise. A bard might also consider learning a spell or two, like Dazzle or even Control Person.

Swashbucklers are also commonly lumped in with thieves. ST is more important to them than other types, and they require less IQ points. A swashbuckler would start with 2 points in ST, 4 in DX, and 2 in IQ. They would need the Sword talent, Weapon Training, and Acrobatics. Depending on their style of play, they might to take Charisma or Sex Appeal as well.

Their path would include DX increases, IQ raises to 12, Expertise to expand their Aspects and Stamina to survive their exploits. Silent Movement, Running, Climbing, and Stealth are among their standard thief talents, along with Fencing, Weapon Mastery, and the Two Weapons Aspect. Swashbucklers like to be the center of attention, and may consider Leadership Aspects was well.

Are there iconic thief builds you would like to see for HEX? Did we overlook some obvious aspect of a thief? Join the conversation and let us know below.


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