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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Norse Thieves

I decided to go with a more "straight" B/X approach to the game and stick with the character classes, more or less, as written. I may be getting a brand new D&D player, so I thought that might be easier, and I still have a pretty inexperienced player too, so she might appreciate less deviation from what she already knows. The one BIG change I am making though is that I am allowing Thieves to use Shields in combat, they won't be allowed to do all the cool, tricky combat maneuvers with them, when I finish writing them, that Fighters are going to get, but since Armor of any sort is so bloody expensive in the Norse world, and "Shields Shall Be Splintered" is going to be in effect and that is such a life saver, but would otherwise be denied to them, I decided to let them have them. I really don't think the extra point of AC is going to be a game breaker, and I have already decided that their Thief abilities won't work while using a shield; except maybe Backstab. It's hard to be all that stealthy while you are heavily laden with a shield though, and most Thief abilities are rather stealth dependent, except Climb Sheer Surfaces, and doing that while holding a shield would be pretty tough too. I guess Hear Noise would probably be unaffected. So would Read Languages I suppose. OK, the list of exceptions is pretty much half of their skills/abilities, still.

I'd have liked to come up with a better name for the class, something that fit the Norse theme better, for that matter, I'd have liked to rename all the classes, but the Thief is a particular annoyance of mine recently.

Anyway, here are the party Thieves-

1st Character-

Str-4 (ouch)

Starting Coin-130SP

Equipment- Short Bow, 20 Arrows, Quarterstaff, Quiver, Sling, 20 Slingstones, Knife, 10 Silver Pieces. 

HP:4+1=5 Alignment:Chaotic

Blond, 5'10", 140lbs, 16 years old. Harald is a kid from a respected farming family. Nobody understands why he turned out the way he did.

His excellent Intelligence and Wisdom scores allow me to min/max his already pretty good Dexterity up to an 18 without lowering either of them too badly. Too bad about the Strength though, that might make him get passed over in character selection. His randomly rolled Alignment and poor Strength make me think he was a weak kid that probably got picked on and learned all the wrong lessons from it, he seems kind of like a dick character, despite my desire to rehabilitate the Thief class. Maybe he had a childhood disease or a birth defect or something, or maybe he's just lazy and hates physical labor. Since I loaded him up with ranged weapons, I feel like I should point out that I also use the 3rd edition style "Sneak Attack" rule, rather than the literal "Back-Stab" of earlier editions.

Character 2-


Starting Coin- 80SP

Equipment- Shield, Helmet, Spear

Brown Hair, 5'7" 140lbs, 16 years old. Jorunn comes from a poor family of former thralls, she is determined by force of will to better herself by any means necessary.

Another Chaotic Thief, awesome; it's like the laws of randomness do not want me to rehabilitate the Thief as a class. Oh, well. I kind of min/maxxed her too, the loss of Intelligence didn't drop her a category and neither did the loss of Wisdom, but the points added to Dexterity were totally worth it. The only thing I worry about with her really is the crap starting cash and will people be able to pronounce her name properly? Should I just start changing the spellings to match English pronunciation? If I do that should I make all of the Js I or Y?

Character 3-



Starting Coin- 130SP

Equipment- Leather, Shield, Helmet, Spear, 10 Silver Pieces


Blond Hair, 6'3" tall, 195lbs, 20 years old. Torstein is the son of a wealthy farmer/raider and was raised to be a warrior. He has a lack of natural aptitude and physical strength that make it unlikely that he will ever be successful as a conventional viking warrior, so he has chosen to take a steathier path towards success.

 I can't say I was displeased with his alignment turning out Neutral. Two low Ability Scores might make him a less attractive option than th others though, despite his pretty decent starting funds, particularly since I couldn't raise his Dexterity to 18 like I did with the others. I did the best I could by him though to make him an attractive Thief character Dexterity-wise. Odd that both the male Thief characters ended up with below average Strength scores.

4th Character-



Starting Coin- 60SP

Equipment-Spear, Shield, 5 Silver Pieces

Alignment: Neutral

Blond, 6', 155lbs, 17 years old, alone and kinless, Borghild made her way to this colony from Norway by selling everything she owned to start a new life here. She was fleeced by a dishonest merchant, but it took her months to realize it. Rather than continue to live as a vagrant, she has decided to take up the life of an adventurer.

All I have to say is that my dice hated this poor girl, if it wasn't already after midnight, I'd have re-rolled her. Sure, she's playable, but my guess is she'll get passed over in the selection phase. She couldn't even be a Thief in AD&D, but there is no minimum Dexterity requirement to be a Thief in B/X. Best of luck to her, and I would be pleased if some one did take her and play her. I have a soft spot for hard luck cases I guess.


  1. Good call on the shield for thieves.
    I was running a vaguely Norse campaign before and considered calling thieves 'outlaws,' but it doesn't quite fit since Viking outlaws were so often warriors etc. Likewise 'skald' seemed like a possibility, if you think of thieves as 'specialists' in the LotFP sense. I keep thinking of the characters in sagas who live more by their wits than their brawn, but I don't know if there is any suitable term really...maybe 'rogue' is the best fit, despite its 2e associations.

    Anyway I think the idea of pre-generating all the PCs is interesting. Does it bother your more experienced players that they can't roll themselves?

    1. I talked over the idea of pre-generating the characters with my players before I started doing it, we put it to a vote and it came out three in favor, two abstained, one against, with one person absent. As DM I was in favor of doing it this way just because I could also give the characters some slight personality for the players to build off of, some pre-existing relationships between the PCs, and a small stable of ready NPCs/back-up PCs with the same benefits. The one vote against wanted to do a point build system so every PC was equally designed, so I vetoed that idea outright anyway. I prefer the randomness of 3d6 in order, or 4d6 drop the lowest, arrange to taste if we're playing AD&D, but we're not here.

  2. Trickster?


    1. Fighter and Magic-User I can pretty easily translate into Old Norse and have a unique Class name for the campaign. The Thief and the Cleric are harder, the Thief because if I just translate Thief into Old Norse it still comes across as a dishonorable outcast type and I want them to be more like a specialist stealthy commando type, the Cleric just because the Norse really didn't have much of an established tradition of priesthood, particularly not of the "crusading-warrior priest" that the Cleric class is modeled on. I suspect I will keep the traditional Class names and just deal with it.

  3. I forgot to mention, but it's worth noting, that I didn't change the random chance for each Alignment. I rolled a d10 for Alignment and 1-5 was Lawful, 6-8 Neutral, and 9-10 Chaotic; it just seems that random chance favored the Thieves in the party being Neutral and Chaotic. My thinking on this is that any Norse population has a strongly Lawful bent, when seen within the context of their own culture; to the outsiders they were raiding I am sure they seemed like horrible savages, but the English and French might as well have been Orcs and Goblins to them.

  4. I just realized as I was rolling up the Clerics that I used the wrong hit die type for all of these Thieves, so they will all need to be amended. You can take the boy away from AD&D....