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 Post subject: Thief Skills
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 6:46 am 
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So, a thief goes to pick a lock. If the roll fails, can he try again? If so, is there any limitation to the number of times that he can try?

If an average lock is DC 10 and a very good lock is DC 20, unlimited rerolls would imply that a 1st level thief, given time, could pick any very good lock he came across.

I have a hard time believing this was the intent, but it came up last night, and I was wondering if how others have ruled before setting my own ruling in stone.

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SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.


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 Post subject: Re: Thief Skills
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 6:52 am 
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Raven_Crowking wrote:
So, a thief goes to pick a lock. If the roll fails, can he try again? If so, is there any limitation to the number of times that he can try?

If an average lock is DC 10 and a very good lock is DC 20, unlimited rerolls would imply that a 1st level thief, given time, could pick any very good lock he came across.

I have a hard time believing this was the intent, but it came up last night, and I was wondering if how others have ruled before setting my own ruling in stone.


Two ways I usually handle it:
  • You can try it again, but it takes time, and every x minutes I roll for random encounter.
  • You can try it up to three times. If you still fail, it means you have no idea how to pick the lock. You have to level up to try again.

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 Post subject: Re: Thief Skills
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 6:55 am 
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I have personally always believed that any action which has only "no progress made" as a consequence of failure in the real world should be allowed unlimited attempts in an RPG... of course, I also think it is worth noting that picking a complicated lock can take a long time even if you know what you are doing, and that fantasy scenarios are the perfect place for locks with anti-tampering devices like deadly traps or permanent sealing mechanisms connected in such a way that failure to pick the lock correctly the first time means dire consequence or that the door is no longer simply locked, but is now heavily barred so as to be sealed shut.

It's been my experience that the time it will take for a retry (I usually use 1d10 minutes) is enough incentive for the less patient members of the party to shove the thief aside and start at battering the door down.


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 Post subject: Re: Thief Skills
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 7:08 am 
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One of the important considerations, for me, is avoiding an on/off switch.

In 3e, when the DM sets the DC for the lock, it either falls within the Rogue's Take 20 or it does not. If it does, the lock is automatically pickable (the switch is set to ON) and, if not, not (the switch is set to OFF). In an old-fashioned dungeon exploration, picking the lock may allow the players additional choices, but it isn't the only possible way to deal with a door. In a persistent environment, having to come back to a door and deal with it later isn't a bad thing.

In DCC, the Thief has a neat mechanic whereby he can improve his attempt, turning a failure into a success, which can lead to interesting choices (Should I burn Luck now to get this lock open, or should we scout around to find the key, or try to find another way through?), but not if it is clear from Level 1 onward that you just need to keep rolling until you make it....or, even worse, you need to keep rolling to determine if the switch is set to ON or OFF.

In RCFG, I used a "Three Strikes" rule, and I am strongly pulled toward the same with some checks in DCC. It allows there to be a randomness to the level of difficulty to certain tasks without the Judge having to declare them either ON or OFF.

But I am still considering options, and my mind is not set in stone. I would like to know what others think.

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SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.


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 Post subject: Re: Thief Skills
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 7:41 am 
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Does the skill roll represent an attempt, or does it represent the probability of being able to do the thing in question in the present circumstances?

I lean toward the latter. Rerolls can follow when the circumstances have changed, either through player inventiveness, leveling-up, or environmental changes...

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Gnome Boy (a.k.a. "Jon") • DCC play-tester @ DDC 35, Feb 2011. • Beta DL 2111, 7:00 AM PT, 8 June 11.
Playing RPGs since 1977 • Quasi-occasional member of the Legion of 8th-Level Fighters - Holds the power to play gnomes at will!

Here Be DCC Monsters...

General Yoros, Warrior, Str 13, Agl 8 (10), Stm 17, Per 13, Int 11, Lck 8; Law, HP 39, AC 17, R+2, F+4, W+2, band/shld, warhammer, longsword, longbow, pitchfork

Han Dee, (Weaver) Neutral Thief, Str 10, Agi 13, Stm 11, Per 11, Int 15, Lck 14, AC 13 (Leather), HP 25, Luck Die d6, Backstab 3, Sneak Silently 10, Hide In Shadows 9, Pick Pocket 10, Climb Sheer 10, Pick Lock 9, Find Trap 9, Disable Trap 9, Forge Doc 10, Disguise 3, Read Lang 5, Handle Poison 3, Cast Scroll d14+2, birth augur (Born under the loom) +1 to all skill checks (including thief skills), Banepicks (auto pick lock/disable trap, but lose 1d3 random ability loss, if a 3 then 1 pt is perm)


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 Post subject: Re: Thief Skills
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 7:46 am 
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Echoing Raven, the Thief has a Luck ability. My instinct is to let him use it - if you allow rerolls, then this ability is devalued. Some of the best in-game moments come when players have to decide if/what and how much they will sacrifice for something (like Luck, regardless of your character class).


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 Post subject: Re: Thief Skills
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 9:39 am 
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http://ravencrowking.blogspot.ca/2012/0 ... stabs.html

It may be revised based on feedback, but here is what I am going with right now.

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SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.


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 Post subject: Re: Thief Skills
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 10:01 am 
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This immediately made me think of the "hazard" bit in the D&D5 doc. Basically, if you fail by 10 or more your REALLY blow it. It might be nice to think of it that way. If the roll is close, then you can roll again or burn luck, if its not even close, then you messed it up. In the event of a re-roll, I'd definitely make wandering encounter checks, as appropriate.

As for your backstab rule, I am totally into Warrior Deeds allowing Backstabs, but I probably wouldn't ask for a further Stealth check. I do like the idea of higher Deed rolls offering higher bonuses. Maybe Deed based backstabs could be limited ones that are auto crits for thieves, but with bonuses to hit = (Deed roll -2).

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 Post subject: Re: Thief Skills
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 10:26 am 
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caveman wrote:
This immediately made me think of the "hazard" bit in the D&D5 doc. Basically, if you fail by 10 or more your REALLY blow it. It might be nice to think of it that way. If the roll is close, then you can roll again or burn luck, if its not even close, then you messed it up. In the event of a re-roll, I'd definitely make wandering encounter checks, as appropriate.

As for your backstab rule, I am totally into Warrior Deeds allowing Backstabs, but I probably wouldn't ask for a further Stealth check. I do like the idea of higher Deed rolls offering higher bonuses. Maybe Deed based backstabs could be limited ones that are auto crits for thieves, but with bonuses to hit = (Deed roll -2).


The problem with failure thresholds (fail by 10 or more) is that (1) there is more math involved, and (2) it doesn't remove the ON/OFF switch. If the player has a bonus of +5, and the DC is 15 or less, the switch is ON, because the player can always roll closer than 10. Meanwhile, the DC must be set to 36+ before the character both fails and knows he cannot potentially succeed (without burning Luck). Again, characters are encouraged to just keep rolling (if they can), and the Judge is encouraged to decide ahead of time whether or not he wants this particular lock to be picked (i.e., should he set the switch to ON or OFF?). More fun, IMHO, to design adventures where the dice determine outcome, and both Judge and players must be prepared for some lateral thinking.

EDIT: Oh, and that "hazard" bit is from 3.0 before it showed up again in 5e's materials. In 3e, you can suffer different penalties from a failure of 5 or more or a failure of 10 or more.

As for the Backstab rule, consider the following:

(1) You would probably not allow a Warrior to use a Deed to gain an automatic Critical.

(2) The discussion of Deeds explicitly allows for saves or other checks to be required for the Deed result to occur.

(3) You don't want the Warrior to simply become the set-up guy for the Thief in every combat, or change the Thief's forte from "stealthy guy" to "guy who stabs people after the Warrior distracts them". You don't want this to be the One Obvious Deed that gets used all the time because it is obviously so much better than everything else. A good option? Yes. The obviously optimal option in most circumstances? No. Otherwise the Warrior becomes the Thief's stooge, and the Thief becomes the mighty melee opponent who actually drops most of the foes.

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SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.


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