Thief RPG

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I am a big fan of the Thief series of video games. I've always wanted to play an RPG in that world (or something loosely inspired by it). Chatting with Matt just now lead to us writing the game. You have two stats (stolen from 3:16):

Sneaking Around (SA)

Not Sneaking Around (NSA)

Divide 10 points between them; roll under to succeed. Done and done. Might have to actually play this at some point.


Anonymous gremlinlegions says:  

Initially that seems like a great idea (being a fan of 3:16...). But I would almost want a third ability...for cunning or fast-talking (which is often more overt)... Of course, I haven't played the Thief games at all, so I may be suggesting sheer heresy...

Blogger John Harper says:  

Cunning? Fast-Talking? Both are Not Sneaking Around, clearly.

Blogger Nick Wedig says:  

If you have two roll under stats, why not make it like Trollbabe: you have one number, which you pick freely. Roll a d10 to do anything. If you're sneaking around, you try to get under. If you're not trying to sneak around, you try to roll over it.

Blogger watergoesred says:  

Like 3:16's Fighting Ability, do you imagine a successful SA would mean killing x number of mooks? Or would the 'kill' equivalent be something like 'bypassing' security, including walls, traps, alarms, mooks etc.?

Blogger John Harper says:  

Yeah, that would work, nick. But I think I want to keep some "level up" component from 3:16, and split stats makes that easier to deal with.

Oli: No, I don't think the killing stuff would translate at all -- the game just isn't about that. We don't need the range and combat stuff at all, I don't think. Just the stats and a shared understanding of Thief and I think we're good to go.

Oh, and our mad story-gamer skillz, of course.

Blogger John Harper says:  

Actually, Nick, on second thought, we really don't need any leveling up for this at all.

Still, SA and NSA amuses me so much, I'll keep the two stats anyway.

Blogger Nick Wedig says:  

Levelling up could be in the form of rerolling (which is how Trollbabe works, I think). Which fits with a heist sort of scenario: you're sneaking into the palace, and roll to walk silently past the guards. Oh no! You rolled an 8, meaning you fail! But using some quick thinking, the player can invoke some method of gaining a reroll (other stuff on their sheet or taking a bigger risk or whatever). The reroll is a 2, meaning that the thief is able to duck into shadows before the guard sees him, or toss a stone to make a noise elsewhere as a distraction or something.

Going up in level grants more ways to get rerolls.

Blogger Matthew says:  


As long as Sneaking Around encompasses a wide range of proficiencies.

Knocking someone out from hiding = SA

Shooting a torch out with a water arrow = SA

Wry observations about one's mark = SA

Sarcastic observations about Hammerites = SA.


(grave pour for Looking Glass Studios)

Blogger John Powell says:  

Thief, huh? I was thinking of a Battlestar Galactica (new one) adaptation of 3:16. My two skills:

Dramatic Bullshit (DB)

Non-Dramatic Bullshit (NDB)

What do you think?

Blogger Keith Senkowski says:  

So a big draw of that game was sorting out the puzzle of the level... How exactly does sneaking and not sneaking translate to the whole puzzle solving part?

Blogger Tazio Bettin says:  

Well... see the context, usually I remember that puzzles were done while sneaking around...
I second the trollbabe idea. Works greatly from my point of view...

Blogger Gregor Vuga says:  

Well, damn I've been toying around with a Thief-inspired game myself, but with considerably more crunch (no more than three or four pages altogether however).

My idea came from the realisation that I haven't seen sneaking done well in any RPGs yet. It's always just "Roll stealth. Ok, you sneak by." none of the skill and excitement of a thief-like game.

Anonymous Will Hindmarch says:  

I'm a little late to this, but I have to comment. THIEF is the game that made me need to be a game designer. I think two overlooked keys to modeling stealth action are... timing and voyeurism. Timing has as much to do with WHEN you roll the die as what you roll, and voyeurism is all about the storytelling — rewarding the character with overheard secrets and telling details. They conspire to create moments where the Narrator/GM puts the player on decision points that sound like these questions: "Do you want to strike now... or wait?" "Do you move now or watch to see if the guard comes back around?" "The valet's keyring is almost within reach... do you reach out to grab it?"

You don't roll to grab the keyring, you reach out for the keyring, hand exposed... and then you roll.

It's subtle, but it's a valuable trick.

Blogger John Harper says:  

Excellent point, Will. The voyeurism thing is key. The GM will need to come to the table with a head full of Thief-y imagery and NPCs to showcase while the PC watches and waits. A little relationship map sketched out ahead of time with a few juicy secrets would go a long way.

Blogger alan says:  

Black seven. It actually does sneaking _well_.

Though it takes a few tries to work out the rules as the writing is a little opaque.

Really simple trick of using statuses to deal with hidden/noticed and well placed/exposed and assuming success on everything that isn't sneaky.

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