Here is a little story to start us off on Monday morning. So, there is this raging wild fire. It is consuming everything in its path, causing mayhem and destruction. It burns its way through a field, towards a stand of trees. “Quick,” someone says, “we must cut down the trees! They are in the path of the fire and will fuel the flames!” It burns its way towards a house; “Quick,” another says, “that house is in the way, so we must tear it down!” They tear down the house, and the fire continues to burn. At no time, however, does anyone say “There is a fire consuming the trees we have planted and houses we have built, so we must put the fire out!”
Seeing some thief-talk on Jeffro’s feed got me thinking: people new and old to the game often don’t understand the role of the thief in a party. I’ve got some crap from a couple players who are fairly new to RPGs about how I play my thief in the DCC game. Not like real crap, but the whole “what good are you anyway, why are you in the party again?” sort of thing. I get it because when initiative is rolled, my first action is always to run and hide. At most, I might throw a dagger from the shadows for 1 or 2 points of damage, but that generally seems like more trouble than it’s worth, so I’ve skulled and cowered my way through several encounters all the way to level two. On the other hand, my character is ALWAYS the one who takes point exploring, some 30-40 feet ahead of the party; she disarms the traps, unlocks the doors, and oftentimes solves the puzzles. What she won’t do is go toe-to-toe with 8 foot fleshy monsters so she can be killed in one hit. Now that I’ve made level 2, I might try to take advantage of my significantly improved backstab and crit, but so far we’ve tended to fight in such close quarters that I haven’t been able to get into position to take advantage of it yet.
Thieves are not fighters. They’re not sneaky swordsmen*. They are individuals who must live by caution and patience, whether in searching for and disarming traps or in waiting for the right moment to go in for the kill. If you play your thief as a fighter, it will die, usually in a single hit.
I think I’ve also come upon the one thing that I really don’t like about DCC. I know that they want to do some sort of xp for treasure thing, because that’s so integral to balancing adventure rpgs that you don’t want to just be bug hunts by murder hobos, but I don’t think I can abide by the using GP to buy XP system. On one hand, it’s a good way to keep your economy from becoming over-liquid, but on the other it very strongly discourages pack-ratting. In some settings, I can understand wanting to discourage it, but we’re in an urban setting, and it punishes players who’d like to keep a weird collection of trophies (non-coin treasures). On a third hand, it’ll give me some leverage to keep my own weird stuff separate from the party’s split.
*Grey Mouser was not a straight thief, he was like Fighter/Thief/Illusionist or something, and Fafhrd was a high strength/high constitution bard who sometimes stole things.