How were these "rules" supposed to work, anyways???

If I recall correctly, the Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide had rules for non-Thieves attempting some thief skills, like Climb Walls.

I think that 1e classes can generally be classified into three categories: classes that start off very weak but come into their own later (Magic-Users and Thieves); classes that front-load, but take forever to level up (Barbarian); and finally, classes that are pretty good throughout, like the Fighter and Cleric.
 

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dagger

Explorer
We did not bump up the skill percentages, they just had to suck it up. Also, most of the thieves people played where some kind of multi-class, many being fighter/thief and even one magic-user/thief.

A few times we allowed the thief characters to use the 2e Method if they wanted to allocate skill points themselves.

I still run a AD&D 1e game btw, but no player has a thief at the moment. We don't play very often because the main game is a 5e game, but occasionally we run AD&D.
 

Gentlegamer

Adventurer
Good descriptive action/favorable circumstances pre-empts move silently/hide in shadows, for all characters.

A thief can roll as bonus to the normal surprise checks, given the circumstances.
 

Jan van Leyden

Adventurer
If I recall correctly it was a Problem we learned to live with, back in the days.

Pre 3.x, many rules and procedures are vague at best. A basic check to spot something, move stealthily, and so on, are essentially not addressed. Sure, the thief has move silently/hide in shadows, but any such attempts by non-thieves aren't covered. There is mention of using ability checks in place of some saving throws, which could be implemented for things not detailed... but this method clashes with thief abilities. In other words, if you use a dexterity check to move silently, you're supplanting the thief's ability (which is probably inferior to boot).

My question is: how have you filled in these proverbial holes? When a thief has a 15% chance to hide in shadows, s/he's going to fail 85% of the time, discouraging the player from attempting the ability. Does the DM in your campaign say that a failure means that any NPCs must still make a roll to see the thief? Do you borrow surprise rules in some fashion?

Nowadays I'd make a clear distinction between something every character might do and something only a thief might achieve. If there is some shadow to hide in and the hidee has a Chance to get there unnoticed, I'd have a non-thief character roll for it (Dex or maybe Wis) while a thief would get there automatically without rolling. But if there's next to no shadow and/or a guard watches pretty closely, the non-thief would have no chance at all, while the thief could roll his hide-in-shadows check. So while he's got only a chance of 10% (1e for 1st Level thief), he actually has one.

Climbing up a tree or easy cliff? Non-thieves roll an Attribute check while the thief's already up there without a Chance of failure. Climbing up a brick wall? Well, only the thief might even try it.
 

was

Adventurer
...We usually just rolled an ability check (roll under your ability on a d20) in such situations. So, for example, if a wizard wanted to stealth he/she would roll a d20 and try to roll under their Dexterity stat.
 

fuindordm

Adventurer
I forget how 2nd edition handled it.

But in AD&D, your average PC schmuck sneaking up on some orcs had a base 33% chance to surprise (1-2 on a d6). Some classes had a bonus penalty to the surprise chance. If you manage to surprise your opponent you get the concrete benefit of a partial round lasting 1-2 segments before the orcs can act.

So what does that pitiful 15% roll do for the thief? Well, it takes some digging in the DMG to work it out, but let's say a thief is sneaking up on the same orcs.

If they succeed at one of Move Silently/Hide in Shadows, then their chance to surprise goes up to 1-4 on a d6.

If they succeed at both rolls, then their chance of surprise goes to 1-6 on a d6.

So the thief has a chance to surprise BETTER than other classes, gaining more time to act in the surprise round (up to 6 segements!), and that's what the rolls are for.

As for the backstab, I was pretty liberal as a DM and allowed it in combat with only a move silently roll provided the target's attention was occupied elsewhere by an allied opponent. Backstab just needs inattention and facing, not surprise.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
But in AD&D, your average PC schmuck sneaking up on some orcs had a base 33% chance to surprise (1-2 on a d6). Some classes had a bonus penalty to the surprise chance. If you manage to surprise your opponent you get the concrete benefit of a partial round lasting 1-2 segments before the orcs can act.
With various exceptions, this is pretty much it.

So what does that pitiful 15% roll do for the thief? Well, it takes some digging in the DMG to work it out, but let's say a thief is sneaking up on the same orcs.

If they succeed at one of Move Silently/Hide in Shadows, then their chance to surprise goes up to 1-4 on a d6.

If they succeed at both rolls, then their chance of surprise goes to 1-6 on a d6.

So the thief has a chance to surprise BETTER than other classes, gaining more time to act in the surprise round (up to 6 segements!), and that's what the rolls are for.
By the book, all true. I've modified this all to hell, but the general idea is the same.

As for the backstab, I was pretty liberal as a DM and allowed it in combat with only a move silently roll provided the target's attention was occupied elsewhere by an allied opponent. Backstab just needs inattention and facing, not surprise.
To me, inattention and facing gives surprise...but only for one segment. Otherwise, this is what I also do.

Lan-"and backstrike can only be done with handheld weapons, not ranged"-efan
 


Gentlegamer

Adventurer
As for the backstab, I was pretty liberal as a DM and allowed it in combat with only a move silently roll provided the target's attention was occupied elsewhere by an allied opponent. Backstab just needs inattention and facing, not surprise.

AD&D combat isn't tactical, and facing isn't a consideration in a 1 minute combat round, save when a combatant is surrounded.
 


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