On Thief Magic Abilities, Theubaz, a Basic Class

Recently some discussion about Warlock, the old west coast revisions of Dungeons and Dragons surfaced. One of the things was that Warlock did was treat thief abilities as magic spells. For your perusal, here is a write-up of a rogue - a basic style thief that uses abilities in magical slots.

This is intended for use in FLAILSNAILS games, please let me know how it goes!

On the Theubaz

A theubaz is a class for classic versions of the game that is similar to a thief, but allows some customization of ability. Each level they are granted a number of ability slots, similar to wizard spells, that they may fill with abilities. However, there is no limit to the number of times they may use these abilities. Each ability once chosen is permanent. There are three tiers of abilities, basic, expert, and master.
By Christi-B

Experience Level Hit Die (1d4) Basic Expert Master
0 1 1 4 0 0
1,250 2 2 5 0 0
2,500 3 3 5 1 0
5,000 4 4 5 2 0
10,000 5 5 5 2 1
20,000 6 6 7 2 1
50,000 7 7 7 3 1
80,000 8 8 7 3 2
120,000 9 9 8 4 2
180,000 10 9+2 8 4 3
250,000 11 9+4 9 4 3
480,000 12 9+6 9 5 4
710,000 13 9+8 9 6 5
960,000 14 9+10 9 6 6

Level Breath Attacks Poison/Death Petrification or Paralyzation Rods, Staves, and Wands Spells
1-3 16 13 12 14 15
4-6 15 12 11 12 13
7-8 14 11 10 10 11
9-12 13 10 9 8 9
12+ 12 9 8 6 7

They fight as thieves,  and may not use any armor heavier than leather armor. They may not use shields. Each point of protection armor gives over that of leather, reduces their skills or rolls by 5% or 1 on a d20. Each 2 points of protection reduces their chance in 6 by 1.

Abilities: Each rogue may select a number of abilities equal to their slots. Once selected these abilities are permanent. These abilities are semi-magical in nature. The list of abilities follows. Ability totals may reach over 100% (6 in 6), but there may never be a greater than 95% chance of success (reroll sixes, and if a second six is received, the skill fails). However difficult tasks may have penalties, and the totals may be used to offset those penalties. Abilities are modified by the relevant statistics (A Dexterity bonus of +2 will provide a +10% bonus to a Dexterity based skill)

Multi-Classing: You may add the Theubaz class to your class advancement at any time. If you are a third level mage, you may simply add Theubaz level 1 to your classes. This means you require 50% more experience to increase your level (i.e. if you need 40,000 experience to level, then you will need 60,000). You receive no hit points, saves, or any other class features, besides the Theubaz abilities. You must abide by all Theubaz restrictions. Once the class is added it may be stopped at any time. Once stopped, advancement may never be restarted.

Basic Abilities

Archer: you are +1 to hit with ranged weapons, and double all range increments for shots made with ranged weapons and thrown items.

Backstab: This grants the Theubaz a +4 bonus when attacking unseen or from behind (as opposed to the default +2), and doubles any damage they do.

Blessed: The Theubaz receives a +2 bonus on all their saving throws.

Climbing: The Theubaz has a 90% ability to climb (5 in 6). Anyone can climb of course, but this ability allows the thief to move along walls and ceilings at 1/2 his movement. This does not cause any attacks from nearby people or monsters, although they may attack the thief normally. The Theubaz himself may attack from this position as normal, even if that attack requires both hands. If unseen and not moving, using this in conjunction with stealth grants a +40% bonus (+2 in 6) to that skills chance of success.

Detect Noise: A Theubaz is excellent at hearing noise. This grants the Theubaz a 50% (+2 in 6 to your chances to hear noise) chance to hear through doors or nearby. A success allows the Theubaz to determine number and general type of creatures nearby, as well as their mood and activity.

Devices: This is the Theubaz's ability to open puzzle locks, disable complex mechanisms and otherwise affect mechanical devices. They have a 40% (2 in 6) chance of success. This may also allow them to sabotage a construct, set a snare or trap, or repair a simple device. If sabotaging a construct or setting a snare, damage is equal to 1/2 their level in dice (minimum 1d6)

Diplomat: You receive a +2 bonus on any Charisma checks you make.

Loremaster: You have a lot of random knowledge. You have a 40% chance of success (2 in 6) of identifying a magic item, Reading an unknown language, or knowing an uncomfortable fact about an NPC. You may try once per item or non-player character.

Poisoner: You are adept with poisons and may apply them to your weapons the same round in which you attack. You are also immune to accidentally poisoning yourself.

Second wind: Once per day, the Theubaz can gather herself, regaining some of her energy. She recovers 1d8 + 1/2 level hit points. It takes a round to do this.

Slight of Hand: This allows the Theubaz to pick pockets, filch small items, plant items on creatures and otherwise use slight hand motions unnoticed. It grants a 60% chance of success (4 in 6 chance) of success. For every level or hit die higher than the Theubaz or wisdom point bonus the target has, the chance of a successful pick pocket is reduced by 5%

Sneak Attack: This grants the Theubaz the ability to do an additional 1d6 damage any time they strike before a creature has a chance to act, or any time the Theubaz is attacking an opponent that an ally is in combat with. This damage can not apply when the Theubaz is performing a backstab.

Stealth: The Theubaz has a 40% chance (2 in 6) to travel unnoticed. This includes moving silently and hiding in plain sight, as long as their are obstructions or shadows nearby.

Thug: The Theubaz is particularly skilled at fighting and gains +1 hit points per level, and a +1 on melee attacks.

Use Magic Items: The Theubaz has the ability to rig magic items to work, even if he is the wrong class or race. He has a 40% chance to succeed.

Expert Abilities

Improve ability: Many basic abilities may be taken a second time. Each improved basic ability counts as a single pick of one of your expert abilities. You must possess the basic ability. This grants another +40% to the success rate (5 in 6), or increases it in use or effectiveness.  The list of basic abilities that may be improved follows, with notes.
  • Stealth: 80% (5 in 6)
  • Devices: 80% (5 in 6) Damage versus constructs does not change.
  • Backstab: Triples damage done, no increase in bonus to hit from rear
  • Slight of Hand: 120% (6 in 6)
  • Sneak Attack: Does an additional 2d6 damage
  • Thug: Grants a +1 on damage to all attacks, gives no additional hit points
  • Use magic items: 80% (5 in 6) chance of success
  • Blessed: +4 on all saving throws
  • Loremaster: 80% (5 in 6)
Dagger Expert: You are +1 to hit with daggers, and their range increment is doubled if you throw them

Ranged Expert: You may fire into melee without penalty. You may used a ranged weapon without drawing an attack from a melee opponent. You may aim with a ranged weapon, each action spent aiming at a target gives +2 to hit and adds to the damage die. (i.e. if your bow does 1d6 damage, after one round you are at +2 to hit and do 2d6 damage, after two rounds you are at +4 to hit and 3d6 damage, etc.)

Disabling Strike: On a successful sneak attack or backstab, the opponent is wounded. The Theubaz  may choose to have their opponent move at 1/2 speed, fall prone, or acquire a -1 on all their rolls.

Acrobat: The Theubaz gains the ability to make incredible leaps.They may leap vertically a number of feet equal to their level. From a standing jump they may jump horizontally a distance equal to twice their level, or 4 times their level if they can get a running start. They may fall a distance equal to 1/2 their level in 10's of feet

Armor Master: The Theubaz can now use light and medium armors, and reduces the penalties to their skills from such armors by 10%.

Trickmaster: You gain a +20% (+4 on a d20) on any attempt to physically manipulate an opponent, as long as it doesn't directly cause damage. You can trip someone, push or pull them, dodge past them, or anything else you can work out with your dungeon master.

Master Abilities

Master ability: As Improve ability, abilities may be taken a thrid time. Each mastered ability counts as a master ability selection. You must possess the basic and improved ability. This grants another +40% to the success rate. On a d6 system, you only fail if you roll two sixes in a row. The list of the improved abilities that may be mastered follows. The exclusion of Use Magic Items, Loremaster and Blessed is intentional.
  • Stealth: 120% (6 in 6)
  • Devices: 120% (6 in 6) Damage versus constructs does not change.
  • Backstab: Quadruples damage done, no increase in bonus to hit from rear
  • Sneak Attack: Does an additional 3d6 damage
  • Thug: Grants another +1 to hit. Also grants an additional hit point per hit die.
Silver Tongue: The Theubaz has a silvered tongue. They may make suggestions at will. Targets must understand the Theubaz's language and must at least be indifferent to the Theubaz, it does not make targets friendly. Finally, they receive a saving throw versus the effect. If they succeed at the saving throw, they are immune to the effect for 24 hours.

Nightbreed: You gain the ability to see perfectly in darkness. When fighting anyone else in normal darkness, you gain a +2 to hit and damage. When fighting in magical darkness or while blind, you receve no penalties.

Luck of the Damned: You gain the ability to re-roll a number of dice during a session equal to 1/2 your level. You must take the new result. You may use these re-rolls on any result, even the same result more than once, though you must decide to keep the roll before you know the outcome. 

Magically Adept: You gain the ability to cast some minor spells. You may select a number of spell levels equal to your level, but no spell of a level more than 1/2 your level. i.e. a Fifth level Theubaz may select two second level spells and a first level spell for a total of 5. You may cast any of these spells up to three times per day, total i.e. you can cast one spell three times or three spells once each or one spell twice and another once. It does not matter which spells or levels you choose to cast. You do not have to prepare the spells, you may cast them spontaneously. Once you have this ability, you do not need to select which spells you know until you wish to. A fifth level character can take it and select a single first level spell, and then when they reach sixth level select a third level spell and a second level spell. You must have access to a scroll or spellbook of the spell to learn it. You are considered a caster of 1/2 your level for all effects. 

Hack & Slash


  1. Wow. That seems a bit overpowered. By 5th level, if you max out Thug and take some other combat-oriented abilities, you're:

    wearing medium armour,
    wielding daggers with +4 to hit and +1 damage,
    with d4+2 hit dice (equivalent to d8),
    +1 to hit with ranged weapons on top of massive aiming bonuses,
    super-powered sneak attacks (+2d6 damage, plus aiming bonuses, THEN quadrupled?),
    PLUS you have all kinds of more traditional Thief abilities
    PLUS you're looking forward to spell-casting down the road...

    This sounds like a class that would very quickly overshadow fighting men and, at level 5+, magic users as well.

  2. A fifth level character in leather armor, 22 hit points, and a +4 to hit only when wielding daggers for 1d4+1 damage does not seem overpowered compared to a fighter.

    I think the feedback is good though, and will adjust the sneak attack text to make it clear that it cannot be used in conjunction with backstab. I think you might be over-estimating how many powers the class actually gets, versus their situational utility in play.

    1. I've made some adjustments, (Dagger master reduced to +1, second level of thug doing +1 damage only, some corrections). Let me know if they feel better to you now.

    2. Maybe I've misunderstood what edition of the rules you're using. If you're using a system where Fighters get all kinds of Feat bonuses etc, then I guess I'm out of my element. But if you're using an early edition of D&D:

      1. The +4 to hit is on top of the usual Thief bonuses, which puts him well over the THAC0 of a level 5 Fighting Man (and even farther over a lvl 4 Fighting Man at 10,000 XP).

      2. I also didn't realize you were using variable weapon damage, so the daggers-only thing is a bit more significant as a limitation. Still, 1d4+1 is only 1 less damage than a longsword at 1d8.

      3. Also, like I said, he gets to use medium armour at level 5, so s/leather/chain/ in your comment above.

      4. 22.5 hit points is exactly the same as a lvl 5 fighting man in early editions (d8 HD). And at 10,000 XP, your lvl 5 Thuebaz has MORE hit points than a 10,000 XP (lvl 4) Fighting Man: this is even true of later editions with d10 HD Fighters (22.0 hp at lvl 4).

      Other than the use of shields and heavy armour (instead of medium), does a fighter have any advantages over the Theubaz at 10,000 XP? And are these advantages at all comparable to the wide range of thieving skills and spellcasting the Thubaz has access to?

    3. First, thanks for your comments. This is exactly the type of feedback that's useful.

      I'm using the active environment of Flailsnails. This means B/X sometimes, 1st edition other times. I've met fighters with d6, d8 and d10 hit points. Every DM is different. However, after two years of play, my first level fighter has a flying motorcycle that runs on blood, sleep arrows, three goblin henchmen, magical armor that protects as plate but is actually filth covered rags, and an alcohol problem. Sometimes things happen.

      Now to the comments.

      1. I have adjusted the bonuses. The +4 to hit from the rear is just the standard bonus thieves get for the backstab in most editions of the game. If you are talking about other bonuses, after the change, thug gives a +1 and dagger master gives a +1, and if you want to use one of will most likely only ever be two expert abilities on another +1, well, Then what you are saying is "I want to be about equivalent to a fighter for a little while in a limited way."

      Unlike more modern games, I don't see many classic games reach much beyond 8th or 9th level. And for those that do, Having a +3 to hit with a specific, kind of crappy weapon isn't going to break the bank, especially when you consider what you are giving up.

      2. Oh, but it's much more than that - They can only use that bonus on daggers. Daggers are terrible weapons in a lot of ways. It may be 'only 1 less damage' but I have yet to, in 30 years of play, run across a talking magical dagger. That being the largest advantage over the other classes the classic fighter gets, access to the magic sword.

      3. Yes, leather->chain, but this breaks down into two types of ways. Most games online run a leather/chain/plate triad, in which case this pick provides a bonus of. . . (drumroll please) +1 to AC. (+1/+2/+4) or they are using classic 1e style armor, in which case it allows Studded leather or chain (Armor class 6 or 4 respectively) with a penalty of -15% to pick pockets and climb walls and a -5% to stealth. That's fine if you're not, you know, taking those skills, but it sure is different then "Magical Plate + Shield" which is what any decent FLAILSNAILS fighter has on by level 5.

      4. I agree with you. They can choose to be thuggish and bring their hit points in range of some of the weaker fighters in B/X or BECMI. Then they are just like fighters that can't wear heavy armor, can't hit as well, and are limited to one or two weapons, They get even weaker compared to 1e fighters (no exceptional STR, no extended constitution bonus).

      As far as other advantages of the fighter. In may in-play FLAILSNAILS experience across a dozen tables, Fighters generally get access to cleave opponents or strike multiple weak opponents, and have the ability to intercept attacks meant for other players. They also are usually encouraged to walk in front.

      And that's really the whole of it. "Almost" reaching the fighting ability of the fighter, or getting in range of their hit points for a window of a few thousand experience (which doesn't matter so much when 1st level adventurers are going around with 8th level guys) means just that. They are 'almost' a fighter. And when they get to a door they can't open, everyone will want to know why they are there instead of a fighter.

  3. A minor note: a 2 in 6 chance is 33%, not 40%. The latter would be a 2 in 5 chance.

  4. Absolutely. Since lotfp doesn't use the d5, I marked it on ice.

  5. This is awesome! Please do one for the fighter!

  6. It could be interesting to just expanding this out more. Break down all the class abilities of all the classes into these tiers, and each player could build their own. Could be a nice way of building a class-less game.

  7. I agree with the above! Please please please at least do up a fighter using this sort of set up. It would be amazing!


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