Proficiencies/Thief Skills with Ability Modifiers

I love ACKS so far. My group did char-gen this week, and I’m darned excited to start our first campaign next week.
One thing struck me as odd/confusing while reading through the rules. It seems really inconsistant as to what throws can benefit from your ability modifiers and which can’t. For instance, a high INT will modify your Magical Research throw, as will a high or low CHA with a NPC reaction roll. But a high DEX won’t help you with Thief skills or Acrobatics, nor will a high INT help you with Loremastery or Navigation.
Was there a particular reason for this? I know thief skills weren’t effected by DEX in BECMI, et al, but I’ve been spoiled by 2nd edition.
A more specific question: Do you think Game Balance* would suffer if I let our thieves/nightblades/etc use their high (or low) scores to modify their Thief Skill throws by +1 to +3?
Thanks in advance for your advise and input. Keep up the great work!
*(Capital letters, so you know it’s important!)

Luftmensch, great question.
The short answer is “yes, you can allow thieves/nightblades to apply their Dex to their thief skill throws without damaging the game.” In an Oriental Adventures adaptation of ACKS I’m currently running, I allowed DEX to modify Monk, Ninja, and Yakuza abilities. It’s been fine.
The long answer, then, is why we didn’t make that the Official Rule. Three reasons:

  1. Legacy - Thief skills in B/X were not modified by Dexterity*
  2. Desire to avoid ability score escalation - The more factors that are impacted by ability scores, the more players insist on having great ability scores.*
  3. Intra-ability balance - Dexterity already provides a bonus to initiative, AC, and missile attacks. It seems hard to justify making it even more useful.*
    One compromise might be to create a new proficiency called “Nimble Workman” which allows the thief to apply his Dex bonus to his thief proficiency throws. (This is the route I took with clerics/Wis/Turning, and it appears as Righteous Turning in the game.) That would give high Dex thieves an option to benefit from their high Dex, without making low Dex thieves feel like they inherently suck.
    *In 1e Oriental Adventures, Dex does affect ninja/monk skills and ability scores are by default much higher because the classes are so hard to qualify for, which is why I went the other way when it came to creating what I call “Ronin, Daimyo, Shogun”.

Thanks again for the feedback, Alex!
“Desire to avoid ability score escalation” is an issue that I totally failed to recognize. Good point.
I really, REALLY like the idea of the “Nimble Workman” proficiency! I think that’s the way I’m going to go with my game. I’ll offer it to our Nightblade next session.

You know what would rock? A (semi-)official wiki where we could collect these nuggets of design intention. :slight_smile:

That is actually on our to-do list demoss. It’s just that our to-do list is really long…

Alex, I for one would love to see your Oriental Adventures adaption!

Its not in publishable form. Maybe one day. I have a notion we could do a whole series of ACKS genre adaptations -
Ronin, Daimyo, Shogun (oriental adventurers)
Mercenary, Commander, Overlord (military sci-fi)
Survivor, Marauder, Warlord (post-apocalyptic)
Gentleman, General, Viceroy (steam punk)
But before that I have to finish Player’s Companion, Lairs & Encounters, Auran Empire Gazetteer, and Domains at War!

Those would be so awesome :slight_smile:

I second the (semi-)official wiki idea! STOKED on the system and am eager to get my own campaign flowing.
Have got a few things in the works, still in their infancy…
ACKS HTML Character Sheet Template:
Mercenary Company Campaign:

and let us not forget of course, the Supers version:
Aquaman, Batman, Superman

James - it took me a minute to realize how funny that was. Brilliant.

hehe. Thanks :slight_smile:

Found an optional rule for Basic Fantasy that choose different ability scores to modify different thief abilities which I’m running with (mostly because, frankly, low level thieves really, really suck… in almost all additions).
Open Locks, Pick Pockets, Move Silently are modified by Dex
Remove Traps and Hide by Int
Hear Noise by Wisdom
Climb by Strength
This also keeps Dex from being the only attribute that matters. Though, honestly, that’s not actually that bad if it were. I mean, Fighter’s main functions (hitting and doing damage) are modified by a single stat and it’s well more important than any other to them (ditto for Int and Wis for Mages and Clerics so… meh).