Skip to main content

Kleywelt: Sneak Skills

In my Kley-inspired setting, I'm calling the thief and thief-adjacent classes The Sneak because it seems to address the tactics of the class. Fighters fight, Sneaks sneak. Sneaks can be thieves, con-men, spies, assassins, detectives, merchants, reporters, diplomats—anyone who chooses guile as their way of getting things done.

All illustrations in this post by Honoré Daumier
An ongoing event in the OSR Olympics is reworking the thief skills. They're an inelegant fit with the rest of the rest of the game, what with their exclusive claim on tasks that had previously been open to anyone who could describe their character doing something sneaky, and their weirdly low levels of competency. And yet they loom so large in the broader conception of what the game is supposed to be that it seems churlish to just excise them.

So here's my take, with the Sneak Skills.

These skills are based on the assumption that everyone can hide, and look for traps, and climb, and whatnot by rolling appropriate attribute checks. Sneaks, however, get automatic successes at their basic sneaky activities. Other skills become less a matter of if they succeed, than how long it takes (finding traps, picking locks). Skill checks are reserved for attempts to preform remarkable feats of Sneakery (hiding in shadows from active searching or disguising yourself as a specific person). And, at higher levels, they can do things that border on the superhuman, (hypnosis, spider-climbing).

A lot of different attributes are called upon for the different Sneak skills, encouraging either well-rounded thieves, or specialization in one's strengths.

This is very much a first stab at these skills (f'rinstance, I don't have an Advanced version of Sleight of Hand yet), so please let me know what could be improved!

Sneak Skills
Acrobatics, Alertness, Ambush, Climb Walls, Code, Disable, Disguise, Forgery, Poisons, Search, Sleight of Hand, Size Up, Stealth, Swindle

Begin with 5 Sneak Skills.
Every five levels, the Sneak can either gain two more Skills, or a known skill can become Advanced.
New skills, including Advanced skills, only count level bonuses for levels gained after the skill is achieved.

1. Acrobatics
Balance. Stay upright in most circumstances. Skill Test: Automatic

Safe Fall. Take less damage when falling from heights. Remove 10’ per level. Skill Test: Automatic

Hazardous Acrobatics.  A skill roll is required when preforming under extraordinarily difficult situations, such as balancing on a dragons back during a windstorm, or avoiding a trap while under fire. Skill Test: Dexterity + Level bonus

Avoid Traps. Pass traps without triggering them. Must be aware of the traps in order to avoid them. Skill Test: Dexterity + Level bonus

Evade. One a successful saving throw against an area attack, avoid all damage. May move up to their entire movement rate during an evasion. Skill Test: Saving Throw

2. Alertness
Lightning Reflexes. +1 to avoid surprise; +(level) to initiative. Skill Test: Automatic

Keen Senses. Preform extraordinary feats of observation: seeing, hearing, smelling, or feeling things that would otherwise be imperceptible. Skill Test: Wisdom + Level bonus

Detect Invisible. Skill Test: Wisdom + Level bonus

3. Ambush
Backstab: +4 to hit when striking with surprise; add one dice of damage for every four levels, or part thereof. Skill Test: Melee Combat
Snipe: +2 to hit with ranged weapons when striking with surprise; add one dice of damage for every four levels, or part thereof. Skill Test: Ranged Combat

4. Climb Walls
Climb. Can climb even sheer walls without apparent handholds. Skill Test: Automatic

Hazardous Climb. Skill is only tested when rushed by dangerous conditions, such as strong winds or missile fire. Failure results in drop from half total height of climb attempted. 1d6 damage per 10 ft. fallen. Skill Test: Strength + Level bonus

Spider Crawl. Can climb overhangs, even ceilings. Skill Test: Strength + Level bonus

5. Code
Thieves’ Cant. Fluent in the coded language of Thieves’ Cant without spending Language Points. Skill Test: Automatic

Decipher. Attempt to break codes and read unknown languages. Skill Test: Intelligence + Level bonus

Read Magic. Can read and cast from magic scrolls. Skill Test: Intelligence. 10% chance of misfire with unexpected results, whether success or failure.

6. Disable
Remove Traps, Pick Locks. Skill Test: Dexterity + Level bonus
1st attempt: takes one round.
2nd attempt: three rounds.
3rd and subsequent attempts: one turn each.

Reconfigure Device. Rework the circumstances that trigger, lock, or unlock a trap, lock, or other device. Skill Test: Intelligence + Level bonus

7. Disguise
In Cognito. Obscure own identity enough to not be recognized. Skill Test: Automatic

Impersonate. To imitate a specific person or another race requires a skill roll and a Disguise Kit. Without a kit, there is a -2 penalty for improvised materials. Skill Test: Charisma + Level bonus

Mimic. No longer need a disguise kit. The disguise can be maintained indefinitely. Skill Test: Charisma + Level bonus

8. Forgery
Copy Document. Can make copies and derivations of letters, maps, official documents, even artworks, given time, proper materials, and an original to work from. Skill Test: Automatic

Counterfeit. Can lighten coins by recasting them with lesser materials such as tin. Requires a metalworking shop. Takes one day per 100 coins. The lighter the coins, the greater the chance of discovery. For every 10% by which a collection of coins is extended, there is a 20% chance of people refusing them and officials beginning an investigation. Skill Test: Automatic

Improvise Document. Roll to forge documents when working without time, proper materials, or an original to work from. Skill Test: Intelligence + Level bonus

Copy Magic. The forger can reproduce magic scrolls. An original is required, and the process takes both one week and 100 gp per level of spell being copied. If the Sneak cannot Read Magic, they still cannot read the scroll. Skill Test: Intelligence + Level bonus

9. Poisons
Handle Poisons. Safely work with poisons and maintain poisoned weapons. Skill Test: Automatic

Brew Poisons. One poison recipe per level. Skill Test: Automatic

Identify Poisons. A successful roll will tell the poison’s nature, effects, and antidote. Skill Test: Intelligence + Level bonus

Identify Potions. Skill Test: Intelligence + Level bonus

10. Search
Search. Find traps, secret doors, and other hidden details. One turn per attempt. Skill Test: Intelligence + Level bonus

Detect Magical Traps. Skill Test: Intelligence + Level bonus

11. Sleight of Hand
Conceal. Move and conceal items without being detected by passive observation. Skill Test: Automatic

Pick Pockets. A 2 or less means the subjects noticed the attempted theft. Skill Test: Dexterity + Level bonus  – (1/2 Opponent’s Level, rounded down)

Active Conceal. Keep items hidden even when being actively searched by continually moving them. Skill Test: Dexterity + Level bonus – (1/2 Opponent’s Level, rounded down)

12. Size Up
Detect Lies. Always know when being lied to by anyone of the same level of lower. Skill Test: Automatic

Read Person. Determine level and class and alignment of another character. Skill Test: Wisdom + Level bonus

Deductive Observation. On a successful roll, the GM will provide 1d3 accurate (but not necessarily relevant) facts about the NPC. Skill Test: Wisdom + Level bonus
13. Stealth
Move Quietly. Half movement rate, +1 to surprise. Skill Test: Automatic

Hide. With shadows or minimal cover, cannot be found by passive observation. Skill Test: Automatic

Move Silently. Completely silent; automatic surprise. Failure means merely Move Quietly. Skill Test: Dexterity + Level bonus

Active Hiding. Cannot be found even when searched for, given shadows or enough cover to move around. Skill Test: Dexterity + Level bonus

Disappear. As long as there is an available exit, leave unobserved from a room if others are distracted for even a second. Skill Test: Dexterity + Level bonus

14. Swindle
Haggle. Always gets a 1d30 discount on purchases in markets where one is not known as a swindler. But if the second roll is lower than the first, the result is a price hike of 20%. Skill Test: Automatic

Ingratiate. A successful roll results in an NPC’s reaction raising one level. Can be preformed multiple times for as long as the rolls succeed. Skill Test: Charisma + Level bonus

Intimidate. Force a morale check. Will not work after a failed Ingratiate roll. Skill Test: Charisma + Level bonus

Hypnosis. Can automatically put anyone who engages in conversation with them for more than two consecutive rounds to sleep (subject allowed a Will Save). On successful skill roll, can instill one belief in the sleeping subject, or make one request. Skill Test: Charisma + Level bonus


Popular posts from this blog

Knaves, fancypants

I've prepared a new layout document of Ben Milton's Knaves . Knaves is a great, light rules set that has an extremely elegant core mechanic while retaining total compatibility with OSR material. It's pretty much the rpg of my dreams. This document contains the complete rules, plus a bunch of useful hacks from the community, plus a few of my invention, plus some useful resources from Ben Milton's previous effort, Maze Rats . EDIT: I've updated the layout to fix errata and make a few tweaks. Further, I've made 3 variations: KNAVES TABLET LAYOUT The Tablet Layout is meant for scrolling on screens, and contains hyperlinks. KNAVES SPREAD LAYOUT The Spread Layout is set up to print on Letter-sized paper. KNAVES A4 LAYOUT The A4 Layout is set up to print on A4 paper, and is probably the most elegant of the three versions. This is presented with generous permission from Ben Milton, and should in no way be an excuse for not purchasing a copy of Knav

Reviewing Rules for Play-by-Post Optimization

I’ve played a lot of PbP games: all your favorite flavors of OD&D, AD&D, and their retroclones, Call of Cthulhu, Marvel Superheroes, Traveller, Dungeon World, etc. ad nauseam. In almost every instance, I forgot what ruleset we were using at some point. Which is a good thing. Once chargen is over, you spend a lot more time describing your characters actions and poring over the GM’s descriptions than you spend interacting with rules. When you do roll, it’s usually a combat to-hit roll, which you’ve probably programmed into the online dice-roller as a macro. Pretty much any game will work for PbP. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t points of possible optimization. Point 1: Resolution. Anything that can keep the action moving is a boon to PbP. A game that requires a back-and-forth exchange of information to resolve an action is going to progress very slowly. A good rule of thumb is that it’ll take 2 or 3 days to get a response from any given player. At that pace, an exch

Maze Rats by Post

In my previous post , I reviewed a bunch of my favorite rulesets for optimization for Play-by-Post. It occurred to me almost immediately that I hadn't really thought about Maze Rats enough. In fact, I'd mis-remembered and mischaracterized it. Upon reflection, one of the mechanics I took issue with is actually a big strength. Re-reading the rules, it seems like just a few very simple hacks could make it a highly-optimized PbP game. As follows: Danger Rolls are rolled by the GM. Danger rolls usually fail, so it is in the player’s interest to describe their actions plausibly and mitigate as many risks as they can, in the hopes that they don’t trigger a danger roll. 2d6 + ability bonus ≥ 10 If you have taken enough precautions to have a distinct advantage in an action, but not enough to have eliminated the distinct possibility of danger, the GM will give you a roll with advantage. 3d6 keep 2 + ability bonus ≥ 10 Because each character only has 3 ability scores (S