Welcome back to the weekly D&D and Tabletop Gaming thread! Here’s a place where we can talk about Dungeons & Dragons or any other tabletop games that you nerds might be into. Tell us about the games you’re playing, speculate about future expansions, recruit your fellow Avocados into new groups, whatever you want.
This week, I’m taking a closer look at the Thief Rogue. The Thief is really the classic rouge archetype of D&D, specializing in picking locks and disarming traps. It’s a role that any competent adventuring party should seek to fill.
Starting off at level 3, the Thief gets Fast Hands, which lets them make a sleight of hand check (say, to pick someone’s pocket), use thieves’ tools to pick a lock or disarm a trap, or use an object (for instance, to throw down caltrops or administer a potion) as a bonus action. While these bonus actions aren’t always going to be useful, when you need to snatch the MacGuffin from the boss and stab him at the same time, you’ll be grateful to have it.
Also at level 3, the Thief is adept at climbing. The Second-Story Work ability makes it so that climbing doesn’t cost any extra movement for the thief, and also allows them to add their DEX modifier to the distance they can jump.1
By 9th level, the Thief has become a Supreme Sneak, and has advantage on any Stealth checks, provided that they only move half their speed that turn. Since you’ve likely taken Expertise in Stealth by this point, adding advantage makes you almost impossible to spot.
At level 13, you get the ability to Use Magic Devices, meaning you can ignore any class, race, or level restrictions on magic items you acquire.
Finally, at level 17, you’re Thief’s Reflexes been honed to such a degree that you get to act twice in the first round of combat, as long as you’re not surprised. You take a turn on your normal initiative count, then take a second turn on your initiative roll minus 10 (ie, if you roll an 18 for initiative you would go again on count 8). Note that, since this is a different turn, you have another opportunity for dealing sneak attack damage.
While most of the Thief’s abilities are somewhat situational, they’re all pretty useful perks when those situations arise. The Thief archetype isn’t terribly fancy, but it’s broad enough to include a wide range of character types, from the small-time pickpocket with a heart of gold, to the shifty-eyed loner you’re not sure if you can trust, and more.
The Hayes Code is guiding us through the Ghosts of Saltmarsh campaign, with the setting adjusted to a fantasy version of 1930.
- Sgt. Vivian Aequoreus, a Dragonborn Sorcerer, an admiral’s daughter and naval officer serving as representative of the Navy in Saltmarsh (The Wasp)
- Rainn Cloud, an Air Genasi Bard, of uncertain origin and purpose (Wafflicious)
- Festuca Glauca, a Human Cleric, raised on a floating brothel and now striking out on her own (Otto)
- Constable Renard Muldoon, a Half-Elf Paladin, a life-long resident of Saltmarsh assigned to this new task force as liaison to the local town guards (TheCleverGuy)
- Rielle, a Human Druid, who’s definitely NOT a mermaid transformed into a human through magic (Anna Nomally)
- Dr. Nickel Ferrous Testling, a Kobold Artificer, a scientist currently working for the WPA in their cultural archivist project, primarily focusing on folklore and legends, local religious cults, and regional variations in spellcasting technique (Josephus Brown)
From the journal of Constable Renard Muldoon, of Saltmarsh…
After successfully capturing the Sea Ghost, we had a couple of weeks of quiet while the Saltmarsh castle debated among themselves. I took the opportunity to get out of town for a bit and visit the Temple of Pholtus. I spent a night in vigil there, and came back with renewed fervor in my sworn oath to uphold the law.
After I returned to town, the council called on our little task force and asked us to check out the lizardfolk settlement in the swamp, about a day’s walk up the coast. The council were concerned about the lizards gathering weapons and wanted to know whether they could be threatening the town. The lizardmen we’d dealt with aboard the Sea Ghost had assured us that they meant no harm to the town, but that wasn’t enough for the council. I can’t say I blame them for being nervous.
Oceanus, the Sea Elf we’d rescued from captivity on the smugglers’ vessel, asked to accompany us, and to save time we took the newly re-christened Sea Ghost Coast to Coast northwards toward the swamp where the lizardfolk live. After a few hours of sailing, we came to a rocky promontory, beyond which we could see a trail leading from the coast into the marshland. We also saw a cave entrance in the promontory, on sea level. The ship was too big to enter the cave, but it was possible to row a smaller boat inside. However, we wanted to approach the lizards diplomatically, rather than try to sneak inside their village. We dropped anchor and followed the well-traveled trail into the marshland. The trail eventually crossed the Dunwater river, then split in two directions. To the left, the trail led up the promontory; to the right, it led to a cave mouth in the swamp. We could see some large tracks of some kind of beast leading toward the cave, so we decided to try the other trail first.
The slightly overgrown trail led up to a crude, but sturdy wooden door in the rock wall of the promontory, partially hidden behind some shrubs. Rainn gave a knock. The lizardman (or maybe lizardwoman–I have to admit I have a hard time telling the males from the females) at the door spoke in Draconic, so Sgt. Aequoreus and Dr. Testling took the lead. They said we’d been sent as representatives of Saltmarsh to see if we could offer any assistance to our lizardfolk neighbors with whatever it was they’d been gathering weapons for. The lizardfolk guard kindly offered to bring us to their queen, but wanted to confiscate our weapons first. I can’t say I was happy to give up my hammer, but it is a reasonable security measure. I’d have done the same in their position.
The guards brought us to the throne room, with lizardfolk children following along curiously behind us, where the Sergeant once again made our offer of assistance to the lizard Queen herself. The Queen, who goes by the name of Othokent, seemed surprised to be approached so openly. She didn’t trust us, clearly, but said we were free to walk around the lair and explore. Queen Othokent told us her minister, Serriv, would want to meet us, and warned us against the getting too close to the western cave entrance, where the lizardfolk’s watch animals would be likely to attack. She also said to be cautious near the ocean pools on the eastern side of the lair, as the lizards currently had some guests who might not take kindly to land-dwellers.
I wanted to get a good idea of how many warriors Othokent could muster if they wanted to attack Saltmarsh, so being allowed to wander freely was a perfect opportunity for observation. But I knew that we also being watched over. I’m proud to say that we acquitted ourselves admirably. Dr. Testling made some small toys for the children who were constantly following us, and Rainn played some music to entertain them as well. We came through a a training area, where we saw some lizardfolk sparring and shooting arrows at dummies with crude, fish-like heads. Dr. Testling also hit it off with the queen’s minister, Serriv, as they appeared to have many common interests. Serriv told us that the sahuagin have been becoming more aggressive lately, and that the lizardfolk have been putting together an alliance of sea-dwelling creatures to deal with this threat. Oceanus didn’t know anything about that, but Serriv mentioned that one of their new allies, the koalinth people, were vehemently opposed to dealing with elves, so the sea elves were left out of these dealings. We offered our assistance to this alliance as well, on behalf of Saltmarsh. Serriv seemed receptive, but any formal alliance with the town would have to come from the queen. He suggested that if we impressed Othokent, she may be willing to ally with us.
We continued our exploration of the lair, passing through the banquet hall, saw a few barracks (there seemed to be at least two dozen armed warriors housed in this cave), and even visited the prisons, where we saw a lizardfolk imprisoned for disobeying orders, as well as a captive sahuagin. I was very impressed with their adherence to the law, imprisoning one of their own under the same conditions as their enemy.
We also visited the pools, and met with another member of the new alliance, a fish-like creature called a locathah. The locathah was affable and friendly, but didn’t seem too impressed with us, and was skeptical that we land-dwellers could really offer anything in the fight against the sahuagin. We also visited a temple of the liardfolk deity, Semuanya, and learned a bit about their religion. It seems Semuanya is a god that doesn’t ask much of her chosen people–just that they continue to exist.
After wandering through the lair for some time, we met with Queen Othokent again. She was impressed with our behavior and our apparent willingness to help her tribe. But she wanted to see how we handled ourselves in battle as well, and it just so happened that there was a test of sorts that she could use. It seems a giant crocodile had recently taken up residence a little ways from the lair, which the lizardfolk had named “Thousand-Teeth the Devourer.” This beast has been devouring any lizardfolk that come near it, hindering their patrols. The lizardfolk couldn’t destroy the beast, since crocodiles are sort of a sacred animal to them, but Othokent recognized that Thousand-Teeth was too dangerous to keep around. She made it known that if we were to remove the threat of this crocodile, it would go a long way to confirming Saltmarsh as part of this alliance.
We spent the night with the lizardfolk, and they invited us to dinner. The lizardfolk, for the most part, seemed to have taken a liking to us, and oddly enough to me in particular. I guess I have more in common with them than I thought before. Their customs are strange, but they seem to have a respect for law and order that I share. The next day, we set out to hunt for Thousand-Teeth the Devourer…