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[Where I read] The Complete Bard's Handbook and The Complete Thief's Handbook

Catharsis Cat

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Depending on how you read the Gygaxian prose about bardic requirements, the earliest a PC could be a bard would be as F5/T5/Brd1, with only 5d10 hit dice at 11th level. The latest potential bard would be F7/T9/Brd1, a 17th-level character with 7d10+2d6 hit dice.
The Bard would actually be a lot closer to level 6 and level 10 respectively and the bard level would catch up to the other 2 rather quickly compared to the rest of the members in your party. The way TSR D&D's experiences points work mean that each pre-name level cost double the previous one did, allowing dual classed characters to roughly catch up with their single classed counterparts.
 

DarkMoc

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The Bard would actually be a lot closer to level 6 and level 10 respectively and the bard level would catch up to the other 2 rather quickly compared to the rest of the members in your party. The way TSR D&D's experiences points work mean that each pre-name level cost double the previous one did, allowing dual classed characters to roughly catch up with their single classed counterparts.
For fighter, it's "at least the 5th level...prior to attaining the 8th level." For thief, it's "sometime between 5th and 9th level." The only question is whether thief is inclusive (i.e. 5 to 9) or exclusive (6 to 8). A level 10 thief cannot become a bard per RAW.

I had forgotten bard actually has an extremely friendly chart (level 16 at 1,000,001, where clerics will be 12, druids 13, fighters 12, paladins 10, rangers 12, magic-users 12, illusionists 13, thieves 14, assassins 14, and monks 12). AD&D1e isn't quite a double per level system (I think 2e was more consistent). Illusionists go 35k/60k/95k at levels 5-7, while druids have a consistently short chart at 2k/4k/7.5k/12.5k/20k/35k/60k for the first 7 levels, meaning that while a doubling would have level 8 require 128k XP, it really only requires 60k.
 

Taarkoth

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He's obviously a custom class with a d12 hit die, combat bonuses based on intelligence, and a swashbuckling skill that boosts armor class when not wearing armor.
I think one of my more absurdly rolling players had a variant of that class. And every one of his attacks was either a miss or a crit.

All I can say is it never affected my games because nobody ever qualified for the class. On 4d6 drop lowest, 0.15% of characters would have the stats to become a bard (1 out of 685). On 3d6 straight, it was .0017% of characters (1 out of 58,000). And that assumed they survived being a fighter and then dual classing into thief.
From both the DMG and some comments from Gygax elsewhere (maybe also in the DMG, don't remember), my preferred rolling method was 4d6 DL placed as desired, with a minimum of two fifteens. Gets a nice range of decent scores and most classes are available.

Depending on how you read the Gygaxian prose about bardic requirements, the earliest a PC could be a bard would be as F5/T5/Brd1, with only 5d10 hit dice at 11th level. The latest potential bard would be F7/T9/Brd1, a 17th-level character with 7d10+2d6 hit dice.
Minimum and maximum F/T levels were 5/6 and 7/8 actually. And you got your level totals wrong. The weakest version becomes a bard just as the rest of the party's hitting 5th to 6th level (total xp required 38,002) while the 7/8 f/T becomes a bard at party level 8-9 (total xp 140,002).

EDIT: Partly ninja'd. Also unlike other types of dual-classing, the 1st level bard has immediate access to his fighter and thief abilities along with all his bard and druidic powers and spell, which is part of why they were so powerful.
 
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Catharsis Cat

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For fighter, it's "at least the 5th level...prior to attaining the 8th level." For thief, it's "sometime between 5th and 9th level." The only question is whether thief is inclusive (i.e. 5 to 9) or exclusive (6 to 8). A level 10 thief cannot become a bard per RAW.
I meant theoretical levels. As in a starting Bard should have the same experiences value as somewhere between level 6 and 10. (though Taarkoth's math is probably more accurate that my rough estimate.)

EDIT: Partly ninja'd. Also unlike other types of dual-classing, the 1st level bard has immediate access to his fighter and thief abilities along with all his bard and druidic powers and spell, which is part of why they were so powerful.
I'm not really seeing the power. They will never fight as well as a fighter, theif as well as a theif, or cast spells as well as a druid. And the former 2 stop progressing the moment you get into the class. It seems to be a jack of all trades, master of none class just like later editions. Is there something I am missing?
 

DarkMoc

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I meant theoretical levels. As in a starting Bard should have the same experiences value as somewhere between level 6 and 10. (though Taarkoth's math is probably more accurate that my rough estimate.)
Ah, my mistake. Now I'm curious. A minimum bard is Fighter 5, Thief 5 (using inclusive numbers). The absolute (and improbable) minimum would be 18,001 XP as a fighter and 10,001 as a thief, for 28,002 XP to become a level 1 bard. That's the same as a level 5-6 character, depending on class. The maximum would be Fighter 7 and Thief 9, which max out at 125,000 XP and 160,000 XP, for a total of 285,000, or level 8 (monk, paladin) to level 11 (thief).
 
Ah, time now to begin my Complete Thief's Handbook review.

Notably, my delay was caused by a spark of inspiration for my YA Steampunk novel. I felt my opening wasn't strong enough so I decided to do most of the novel in flashback and see if I could spread some more gonzo-technology around the place. I also decided to write a scene where our heroine encounters some racism against "Foreigners" despite the fact she's lived in her home city her entire life.

And...none of you care, right.

Okay, back to thievery!

Introduction

The world of the thief is a world of darkness and stealth, hidden from the eyes of respectable folk, yet often under the scrutiny of the zealous enforcers of the law. It is a world of courage and fear, of bravado and cowardice, of violence and treachery. Yet it is also a world of color and laughter, lively parties and bustling markets. The thief, more than any other character class, practices his arts among his fellow men (or halflings, or elves, or whatever). He seeks the gatherings of population, the confluence of wealth and avarice, where treasures are there for the taking.

To be sure, many a thief has proven his worth time and again in the darkest reaches of a forgotten dungeon, among the snowy peaks of the bleakest of wild vistas, or within the halls of a fortress or military camp. Quests into the wild contain as much appeal for the thief as they do for other characters. In fact, should the prospect of treasure appear significant enough, many a thief will lead the way in encouraging his companions to embark on such a mission.

But when the adventurers return to the sheltering walls of their homes, wherever these may be, and rejoin the population, the thief is best equipped to find adventure there. And when such adventure is discovered, it is thiefly skills that are most often called into play.
Some background thoughts here, Dungeons and Dragons is really the bastard child of fantasy and it's interesting to realize it's the Bastard-Who-Would-Be-King. After all, the following things are creations of Dungeons and Dragons: Final Fantasy, World of Warcraft, Dragon Age, 180+ Dragonlance novels, almost as many Forgotten Realms novels, The Chronicles of Riddick, and (oddly enough) the Anita Blake series since before it was porn, LKH decided she'd use a lot of her D&D ideas for it.

D&D, of course, has gone through its own metamorphisis(es) over the years. It started off as a product of wargaming, became very influenced by Moorcock and Lieber, drifted more Tolkien-ish, became influenced by other RPGs, and then 4E was accused of being "World of Warcraft-ish" which is an insult to both. The point I'm trying to make is the Thief is the product of D&D's Sword and Sorcery roots. Conan, Lieber, and the general "Dark Fantasy" which everyone assumes is new and edgy but pretty much is actually the start of the hobby.

It's the oddity of fantasy fiction that people like to think Darker and Edgier is the beginning but, really, it's the D&E which is the start and everything becomes Lighter and Softer. Then, of course, people chug out the D&E and everyone is surprised. It's a process which goes back and forth repeatedly across the system. George R.R. Martin is no more grim, really, than unvarnished Arthur who murders a bunch of babies to kill Mordred and sacks Fairyland for shit and giggles.

The Thief is, at heart, the anti-Tolkien character yet existing at the nexus of this divide. Of course, I know you're going to say Bilbo Baggins is the first Halfling thief but that's part of the fun. People forget Tolkien started as a SATIRIST of the fantasy/fairy tale genre (though he was working on LOTR well-earlier) and they just can't reconcile the idea fantasy existed LONG before Tolkien. Long enough Tolkien created a Sir Atropos of Nothing parody of Heroic Fantasy with a dowdy English landowner as a thief.

In any case, the problem is if you're running a campaign which isn't filled with wall-to-wall traps and primarily motivated by treasure--the Thief can seem the odd man out.

The Role of the Thief

The skulking burglar pilfering through the night is perhaps the most common picture of the thief. Neither players nor Dungeon Masters should blind themselves to other possibilities, some of them more useful (and socially acceptable) than common theft. The thief character kits introduced in Chapter 3 provide a variety of thief types. These are not new character classes by any means, but the kits can help players define thieves in one of several areas of specialty. Some of these include:
As Catwoman illustrated, Burglarly is the most endearing of thieving activities. There's something fascinating about the idea of our hero trying to get past armed guards and security systems designed to kill you. It's the heart of the enjoyment factor behind "Thief" which is about the most D&D thief ever realized. Sadly, burglary isn't exactly a party-style activity and thieves are restricted from doing this sort of thing save in solo-adventures. I bring this up because I really enjoyed Skyrim for doing an excellent job of making me feel like a Burglar. Oblivion did a semi-decent job but I could never get past the graphics.

The Spy, long a noble practitioner of the thiefly skills. Indeed, lockpicking, moving silently, hiding in shadows, and the like are all skills of prime importance to the Spy. The Scout can do for an adventuring party what skirmishing troops do for an army: he is a fast, lightly armored individual who can utilize stealth and speed to study terrain and watch for ambush. Thief-scouts and rangers in combination make splendid
reconnaissance bands.
Other kits include the Troubleshooter (the dungeon-crawling thief), Acrobats, Beggars, Bounty Hunters, Swindlers, and many more. Typical thiefly personalities are also provided, allowing players to create detailed PCs based upon these archetypes, but also providing useful pieces of imaginative roleplaying information for many long-lived, high-level PCs.[/quote]

I'm going to flat-out say I found all of these kits to be underwhelming. The imagination which made the Bardic kits so enjoyable is more or less absent from this particular work and the best Kit for this game is actually one which was used as an example of making your own Kits. Were *I* to be designing this, I would have done this:

Thief Kits

Adventurer Archaeologist
Assassin
Barbarian-Thief
Casanova/Femme Fatale
Classy Burglar
Costumed Vigilante
Detective
Gentleman Pirate
Guild Thief
Master of Disguise
Ninja
Spellthief
Spy
Zealot

These aren't even particularly original ones but I think they would have livened this book up tremendously.

Chapter 2 describes additional nonweapon proficiencies of particular use to thief
characters. New equipment types, both magical and mundane, are introduced in later
chapters. And a few new rules cover areas of concern to thieves—lethal and non-lethal
poisons, for example, and how to determine the quality of workmanship used to build a
lock or trap.
I really love the tools in this book, though. The Kits are crap but the tools were awesome. Dog Pepper, for example, was abused mercilessly at my table--enough that it became banned. Basically, if you want to make a character who has the equipment to be Batman--this was your book.

A section on running a thief campaign provides players, and most particularly DMs, with suggestions and guidelines on ways to tailor the campaign toward the thief PCs' areas of interest and expertise.
Again, this is a great section I look forward to discussing.

Whatever area of the book yields the most use, players and DMs alike who wish to expand the domain of the thief in their campaign world should find many things of interest between these covers.
Which is true.
 

Leonaru

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Adventurer Archaeologist
Cool, it's Indiana Jones!

I thought they ruled that "everybody can kill for money"?

Barbarian-Thief
Conan?

Casanova/Femme Fatale
Wait, we already had that one in the Bard's Handbook.

Classy Burglar
Arsène Lupin.

Costumed Vigilante
Zorro.

Detective
Aren't you supposed to commit crimes?

Gentleman Pirate
Ah, never liked romanised pirates.

Guild Thief
I want to see that one.

Master of Disguise
Aaaaaaaaaah!

Later got his own handbook.

Spellthief
I want to see that one too.

Sounds like interesting fluff.

Cleric/Thief?
 
Cool, it's Indiana Jones!
Obviously, the first person to deal with traps and snares would be the person most likely to deal with them.

I thought they ruled that "everybody can kill for money"?
I see it as the difference between "someone who can walk up to someone and stab them" and "someone who has all the skills to infiltrate a place and get out clean."

Jason Bourne: You sent me to kill Wombosi.

Conklin: Kill Wombosi? We can do that any time we want. I can send Nikki to do that, for Chrissakes. Mr. Wombosi was supposed to be dead three weeks ago. He was supposed to have died in a way where the only possible explanation was that he'd been murdered by a member of his own entourage. I don't send you to kill. I send you to be invisible. I send you because you don't exist.

One might as well say, "anyone can steal for money."

Very much so. Basically, the Barbarian was later retconned into being a Berserker but a Barbarian Thief is still tougher than the majority of his kind but also graceful and catlike. It would be going with the idea of the barbarian not just as a Strength creature but someone who has to know about how to sneak around and stealthfully hunt--before using those skills to enrich himself (like Conan did).

Wait, we already had that one in the Bard's Handbook.
Yes, but this would be the Dark Side of the Gallant.

Arsène Lupin.
Yep.

I actually had Batman in Eberron, he was called the "Shadow Dragon."

Aren't you supposed to commit crimes?
My house-ruled version of Detective boiled down to. "Trained in the skills of a thief to catch them."

Ah, never liked romanised pirates.
It doesn't mean they're nice people but, truth be told, history is full of complete and utter bastards who were able to make themselves members of the nobility through the extraordinary power of being very-very rich. I suppose this limits options, however, and should probably just be the Pirate class.

I want to see that one.
It'd emphasize connections and the ability to influence members of a community he's established himself with.

Hehe.

Later got his own handbook.
Which was a bit TOO much for the concept but was still pretty good.

I want to see that one too.
I was inspired for this by the fact so many spells were catered to wizards being thieves. Knock, especially.

Sounds like interesting fluff.
Yeah, the Herald does much of it already but you always need people stealing papers and listening in on meetings.

Cleric/Thief?
The fluff I wrote out for my home-brew kit was this: "Not all religions are tolerated in the lands they're worshiped in. Many religions are oppressed by the reigning forces or shunned by the populace as a whole. Even those which are welcomed in public may have enemies behind closed doors. The Zealot is a fanatic chosen by the members of his clergy for the purposes of carrying out the unpleasant duties of protecting the faithful from its enemies when the Paladin isn't always available and the Clerics require plausible deniability."

It was based on the Zealots of Judea but, in retrospect, it could well be the terrorist class. Thankfully, they played it more like Assassin's Creed.
 
They fill the same goal. I loved that Kit, it inspired one of my earliest-PCs.

"HATAR THE HALF-ELF! He worships death! He's neutral!"

Seriously, that was his entire pitch.
 
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