Breaking Out The Thief Niche

by mshrm

About a year ago, a conversation about the Thief template in Dungeon Fantasy was passed around here, here, and here, probably elsewhere as well. The word seemed to be that the Thief as written was in danger of having its thunder stolen. Its strengths are in mundane skills that others can pick up, as well, or that can be replaced by magic or a Barbarian with good healing support and a thick skin. When I was getting (semi-)organized to start my own game, I did my research, so I had seen these discussions. Accordingly, when one of my players started rolling up Needles, I had him make some of the recommended modifications to the template. Furthermore, I mentioned that he might feel overshadowed in combat as a plain-vanilla Thief, so Needles came out a multi-class Thief-Swashbuckler.

I feel like I give the worst advice when it comes to making characters. That same day, I mentioned that I suspected Bards and Druids wouldn’t fare well in the dungeon. Days later, I finally realized that I had been overlooking the strengths of the Bard in town. Still later, I realized that I had underestimated the potential of diplomacy, when backed by the Bard’s abilities. Now, we’ve got a Bard, and he seems to be doing fine, just fine.

In previous sessions, we’ve seen a bit of a rivalry developing between Needles and Gabby. Not surprising, really, since they both share the Swashbuckler DNA. They’ve each got their own approach, but there’s still a lot of ground shared between them. So, I’ve been fretting, on and off, about niche protection and so forth. Not that anybody’s said anything, or anything; this is all just me picking things over.

Meanwhile, I’m digging in to the new PDFs. One of them is Pyramid #3-50, which includes “Power-Ups For Assassins”. Now, this gets me thinking about Assassins and Ninja, both from DF12: Ninja. I’m not sure my campaign could support either one. The Ninja, maybe, since they’ve got the gadgets and the mystic kung fu stuff going for them.

But the Assassin… I just don’t know if there’s enough distance between “kill things and maybe take their stuff, sneakily” versus “maybe kills things and take their stuff, sneakily”, if you get what I’m saying. I don’t have enough urban intrigue to support them.

So, with all of this in mind, I’m thinking about rolling the role of poisoner in with the Thief’s other duties, and allowing the Thief access to all the Assassin’s suggested power-ups. What with overlap, this pretty much means the new Perks and the ability to move a Weapon Bond to a new weapon. I think the Bane Brewer, Combat Poisoner, Poison Mixer, and Practical Poisoner Perks are all likely to be useful for any backstabber. Poison seems a natural mix with the Thief’s ability to set traps, not to mention the criminal mind in general.

I think that might put a little space between the Thief and the other templates, without overshadowing others or intruding on anybody’s chosen niche.