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Old 12-01-2022, 10:26 AM   #41
Kromm
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Default Re: Thieves

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Originally Posted by sir_pudding View Post

I like the logic of "the spells exist because most security measures aren't good". But delvers generally aren't interested in busting into the Carter's Guildhall.
Exactly.

The problems many gamers seem to have start with the idea that all spells – and for that matter all other abilities, including mundane ones – are perforce weapons-grade, A-list stuff aimed at other weapons-grade, A-list stuff. Most of the world is mundane and poor . . . most casters aren't delvers, and neither are most thieves. They're just skeevy people who never leave town for fear of monsters.

So, the dungeon needs thieves because security there is close to spellproof. These thieves are the gifted few with a boatload of special gifts. However, there are doubtless all kinds of third-rate thieves in town with attributes of 9 and one thieving skill at 12.

Likewise, the dungeon needs casters because there are things there that no mundane force can confront. These casters probably specialize in spells other than those that upstage thieves . . . spells for buffing, counter-magic, divination, healing, etc. However, there are doubtless all kinds of third-rate casters in town who learn Lockmaster and go around stealing from grandmothers and bakers.
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Old 12-01-2022, 11:02 AM   #42
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Default Re: Thieves

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All of which said, a bigger problem than the basic build is casters upstaging thieves with all their detect this, avoid that, neutralize the other thing spells. They can seek out and negate traps and poisons, open locks, find treasures, etc. My feeling is that in a world where such casters are all over the place, nearly any hiding place, lock, trap, or trick of importance would involve copious amounts of anti-magic, be it mini no-mana zones or meteoric iron . . . sort of how modern-day locks of any quality are tempered steel and not iron, good security cameras are in little armored-plastic cases and bubbles rather than being fragile webcams, and so on. However, GMs seem to prefer the logic "Why would the spells exist if they're useless?" to "Why would security measures rendered useless by spells exist?"
Fortunately, in a game that's all about dungeon crawling, one valid rationale is obvious: such spells are a recent invention (magical TL 4ish) and the dungeons you're crawling through predate them (magical TL 3 through 3+4^). This also explains why adventurers can use such spells in dungeons but not in town.

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Likewise, the dungeon needs casters because there are things there that no mundane force can confront. These casters probably specialize in spells other than those that upstage thieves . . . spells for buffing, counter-magic, divination, healing, etc. However, there are doubtless all kinds of third-rate casters in town who learn Lockmaster and go around stealing from grandmothers and bakers.
For thieves as a dedicated profession, the issue is that it's entirely too easy for other professions to cover the same ground as a thief, even non-magically. A swashbuckler with DX-15 and one point in Lockpicking-14 may not quite compete with a specialized professional Thief who's got Lockpicking-17 due to High Manual Dexterity, but he's good enough to open most doors as needed--and as others have pointed out, iconic fantasy heroes like Fafhyrd and Conan don't need to be specialized in thievery to fit the stereotype! Furthermore, if the Swashbuckler really needs to succeed, Luck generally does a better job than high skill anyway, and the swashbuckler has that built in whereas the thief doesn't, so the thief is only slightly better at opening relatively unimportant locks.

It's actually relatively tough to come up with scenarios where a dedicated thief couldn't be replaced by a handful of quirk points on two other delvers, such as a Swashbuckler/Scout/Martial Artist (Lockpicking, Traps, and... Pickpocket?) and a Wizard/Bard/Cleric/Druid (Traps, Disguise, Observation, and... Streetwise maybe??). The person who spots the trap doesn't have to be the same as the one who disarms it, for example.

The fundamental issue with thieves is that skills are cheap to acquire in GURPS, by design, so being good at skills is not a niche.

Last edited by sjmdw45; 12-01-2022 at 03:05 PM.
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Old 12-01-2022, 06:24 PM   #43
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Default Re: Thieves

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[*]Make Perfect Balance optional (and expect to see it vanish from every character sheet; it's a terrible advantage)
Care to expand on that?
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Old 12-02-2022, 09:04 AM   #44
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Default Re: Thieves

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Care to expand on that?
I can't speak for Anthony, obviously, but I have seen this criticism come up fairly frequently on the forums and on Discord. Here's a Perfect Balance thread that covers some of the concerns.

I generally interpret it pretty liberally, and my players love it. The characters with Perfect Balance have far more mobility in combat than the landlubbers. We imagine it as the Legolas advantage that lets characters balance on floating barrels, leap onto slippery rocks, run across ropes, along banisters, onto the backs of large monsters, etc.
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Old 12-02-2022, 05:14 PM   #45
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I feel that this article on hacking in RPGs is relevant to this thread: https://knightattheopera.blogspot.co...g-in-rpgs.html

Quoting a few key paragraphs:

...the easiest way to integrate hacking would just be to tell the players "make a hacking roll" whenever they want to cheese a device, but then there'll be a player at your table who wants to be the hacker, and they need something more in-depth in order to fulfill their fantasy.

Yes, the vast majority of what hacking actually entails is just normal deception and thievery skills. Maybe it's pretending to be a hustler on Fifth Avenue handing out your mixtape to random pedestrians, banking on at least one of them to plug it into their device at home and upload your malware themselves. Maybe it's seducing someone in a bar for a one-night stand so that you can wait until they're asleep and then steal their work ID and make a clone of it. Maybe it's running up to someone at the bus stop and desperately pleading to borrow their phone so you can make an emergency call because you're in a jam, and then using that opportunity to steal their bank login info. Sometimes it's literally just sending somebody a dangerous URL that looks innocuous and tricking them into clicking it.

...hacking is just one part of cybersecurity, and when you study cybersecurity, you're definitely focused on the computer parts. But an IT guy making sure their company has a firewall on their network isn't the kind of thing your player is talking about when they say they want to play as a hacker. For that, you want what I'm selling: basically just a rogue but with some digital "spellcasting" powers. This is what Mr. Robot understood about the subject and what you'll benefit from as well: you need to focus on how you are using your hacking powers and what you're using them for, rather than on how the hacking itself works.

Now, hacking is different from thievery in that most thief players would probably be perfectly happy just rolling a die at a penalty in order to accomplish thiefy tasks. Thieves don't have the same need hacker-oriented players think they do to have a mechanically-complicated system to interact with. But the things hackers want to accomplish are of interest, such as turning the bad guy's minions against him or taking control of traffic lights, may inspire thoughts about what RPG thieves could potentially do, like rewiring traps to disable the "disable" lever or blackmailing minions.

And the insight that hacking is 90% social engineering hints that maybe a key to making thievery fun in RPGs is to build in social systems complex enough that social engineering is possible. Maybe thieves work better in dungeons with multiple factions; where hobgoblin guards sometimes go off duty and retire to the barracks or go for a meal in a different area of the dungeon; where permissions are differentiated and only members of the High Priesthood are permitted into secure areas of the Blue Temple, which is protected by tougher traps and locks and meteoric iron (per Kromm's posts above).

Hope you get as much insight out of the article as I did.
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Old 12-02-2022, 06:51 PM   #46
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Care to expand on that?
It's 15 points for a bonus to a roll that will probably be attempted (let alone failed) fewer than 15 times per campaign. It's worth maybe 5 points and is a dubious investment even at that price.
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Old 12-02-2022, 07:11 PM   #47
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Default Re: Thieves

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It's 15 points for a bonus to a roll that will probably be attempted (let alone failed) fewer than 15 times per campaign. It's worth maybe 5 points and is a dubious investment even at that price.
It's more than just that bonus to the roll. You also get a +1 to at least 3 skills. And there's also a second bonus .
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Old 12-02-2022, 07:58 PM   #48
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Default Re: Thieves

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It's 15 points for a bonus to a roll that will probably be attempted (let alone failed) fewer than 15 times per campaign. It's worth maybe 5 points and is a dubious investment even at that price.
The running on tightropes without rolling part seems to be the actual value. IME.
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Old 12-02-2022, 07:58 PM   #49
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It's more than just that bonus to the roll. You also get a +1 to at least 3 skills. And there's also a second bonus .
In DF it's only 2 skills since Piloting doesn't exist. Perfect balance is:
  • +6 to rolls for slippery terrain. This is not super common, and characters with DX 15+ aren't terribly likely to fail it anyway.
  • +4 to DX rolls to avoid knockdown. There are all of two situations in DF Exploits where this comes up: missing with a kick (p39) or losing a slam by a less than 2:1 ratio (p40). Both are unmodified DX rolls, so with 15 DX that really works out to a +1, and again, 15 is already plenty reliable.
  • +1 to Climbing and Acrobatics.
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Old 12-02-2022, 08:08 PM   #50
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I checked, it still has "No matter how narrow the walking surface (tightrope, ledge, tree limb, etc.), you can always keep your footing without having to make a dice roll under normal conditions"

Which IME is the real benefit.

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.
+4 to DX rolls to avoid knockdown. There are all of two situations in DF Exploits where this comes up: missing with a kick (p39) or losing a slam by a less than 2:1 ratio (p40). Both are unmodified DX rolls, so with 15 DX that really works out to a +1, and again, 15 is already plenty reliable.
You are missing Knockbsck (p.53)
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