Tinkering whit thief skills

ok, two days for my first ACKS game and i cant containg myself of making more house rules. I have a problem whit the thief skills, specialy pick pockets, partialy because i see them as a little to narrow in scope, and partially because i think that a thief should be able to counter a thief; so i am considering implementing these changes:

Find traps is relaced by search: search for traps, details, hidden things or people, a thief that declares that is searching for people can make a throw and if he rolls whit grater margin than his oponent rolled in hide in shadows he locates the hidden thief.
Search still takes time, so declaring that you are looking for hidden people all the time is not an option.

Removing traps is replaced by trap knowledge: understand how traps work, how it is activated, what it does, ect. (just rolling dosent automatically remove the traps in my games, i like the players to think) And the construction and operation of traps in the thief´s favor.

Pick Pockets is replaced by Sleight of hand: pick pockets, “magic” tricks, cheat in cards, etc. And the ability to make a “flash draw”, a sneak attack by quickly drawing a small hidden weapon against an unsuspected foe.

and the last, and i am really not that convinced whit this one:

replace Hear noises whit notice: hear noises, extra opportunity to detect ambushes, last chance to detect an activated trap before it hits you. Also counter to move silently.

Notice will be a thief skill, and people that dosent have the skill uses hear noises as normal.

What do you think?
Specialy Notice, may be to powerfull.

Interesting. I’ve never been fond of generic Search skills or rolls; it tends to turn exploration into, “Okay, I search the area… what do I roll, again?” instead of players actually describing what they are searching and how. Moreover, I like to keep Thief skills as things that other Classes simply can’t do (without burning a Proficiency, in several cases). Note that traps don’t have to be either/or; large scale traps could be worked out and disarmed through interactive play and/or Remove Traps. I believe the ability originally referred specifically to small, undetectable traps (including magical ones) like poisoned needles in locks, and the like.

In terms of Pick Pockets, I already allow sleight-of-hand-type actions (or other feats of manual dexterity) through a Pick Pockets roll, as it is otherwise a very niche skill.

For any situation where Hear Noise is called upon (e.g. avoiding Surprise), I would already go with the Thief’s value over the default 18+. Anything else doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. As a counter to Move Silently, I’d worry that it renders an already difficult skill to pull off (17+ at Level 1) nearly useless, as it can be countered. If a Class with Hear Noise is present, you’ve likely cut a 3rd Level Thief’s chances of Move Silently, for example, from 30% to 20% or less (depending on who’s hearing the noise). Plus, Hear Noise was already significantly cutting the Thief’s chances of Surprise on a failed Move Silently roll. Adding the burden to Move Silently is too much, in my opinion.

I think the Thief (and other Classes with Thief skills) suffer far more from needing coherent and favourable Judge rulings to work. The rules as written do work, but it seems to be an area where Judges very commonly stray, either into forbidding things that any Class can attempt, or by minimising what a Thief can actually do (that’s not to say you’re doing either here).

i agree whit what you say about search, ist more fun if the players have to describe how they search. But i am thinking of a two layer thing: first the thief gets its trhow, a success means that he finds the thing, but a failure still lets you search by interactive play.

Whit the hear noise countering move silently: i dont like that two hing level thiefs could hide in the same room and never see each other. and i like the idea that you need a thief to cach a thief.
as an alternative: if you succed in the hear noises throw (and you ahve it as a thief skill) you get to do an opposed search vs hide in shadows to detect the thief. In this way a the hidden and silet thief would have to be defeated two times in a row to be detected. and by a class whit bouth hear noises and search.

There’s definitely a pleasing kind of symmetry to it. I just worry that it ends up penalising a PC Thief far more than helping, in a Class many already consider weak (I’m not among them, but it’s a pretty common view).

Considering that monsters dont have thief skills, this rule wont change much how the thief moves in the dungeon, but will make more diference in the party vs party scenario. also, now thiefs can operate as bodyguards, and have a powerfull advantage vs assasings.

That’s true about monsters, but that’s not the point. If you’re hoping to have the Thief be able to do this to others, those others will be Thieves (or Assassins, Delvers, etc.), and can do the same to the PC Thief. Yes, the Thief can “break” Move Silently or Hide in Shadows… trouble is, their own can be broken, and there are always more NPCs than PCs. My contention is that it shrinks the effective playspace of the Thief more than it expands it due to this fact. Against an Assassin, for example, the Thief is far better to catch an Assassin by Surprise when the Assassin stops Hiding in Shadows by Hiding in Shadows himself. Straight up combat with an Assassin versus a Thief is probably going to end badly for the Thief.

Yeah, but the assassin dosnt have Find traps (search in this version) or Hear noises, the thief can see the assassin but the assassin cant see the thief.

on the other hand its true, this rules would make the job of a thief harder, but i dislike the “two high level thief in the same room” efect; that and the fact that sending a group of assasing against the party is whit the rules as writen a somewhat shity move. at high level the assasings will be almost imposible to spot, and will hit quite hard on the PCs.

now i am thinking if there is a way to have the “Thief counters thief effect” whitout hurting the PC thiefs.

You can’t move while Hiding in Shadows.

Just to be clear, I wasn’t trying to be cheeky with that last reply. It just looked from your previous comment that your were worried about “invisible-in-shadows” Assassins sneaking up on a regular Thief. It’s not possible, as you can’t Hide in Shadows and move. The standard Thief already has better odds of detecting said Assassins, in that he has a high Hear Noise chance. Yes, the Assassin has to fail his Move Silently check for that to work, but just because the Assassin fails Move Silently doesn’t mean he is heard; a Hear Noise check still applies (18+ for a non-Thief, non-Demihuman). Moving Silently is also slow, so there may well be several rounds of Hear Noise opportunities for an attentive Thief.

OH sorry, thats a Big Mistake by my part. Then you are right, better keep it as it is. Thanks.

Hey, no worries! If it makes you feel any better, I played ACKS for quite some time before I realised ALL monsters are assumed to have Infravision, not just those that call it out in the description (those are the ones with longer-range Infravision). It happens.

There are time where I feel like we’re a bunch of Talmudic scholars on here, quibbling over phrasing or comma-placement in an attempt to discern Alex’s divinely inspired text. Or something.

Sometimes you just have to fall back on, “I’m the Judge.”

I AM the Law!

“There are time where I feel like we’re a bunch of Talmudic scholars on here, quibbling over phrasing or comma-placement in an attempt to discern Alex’s divinely inspired text. Or something.”

My cold, dark heart was warmed by 1*F by this.