On thieves and Tricks of the Trade.

On thieves and Tricks of the Trade.

On thieves and Tricks of the Trade. This is the skill about letting thieves do thieving stuff such as pick locks. What about non thief characters? If there is a locked door in the game but no one playing a thief does that mean they can only open it through bashing it apart or any other option except actual picking?

Can players do any thief moves? Say the wizard wants to use his nimble fingers to lighten someones coin purse. I know you could defy danger and basically get the same result with a success (the danger-being noticed while stealing. A success- you steal without the danger of being noticed coming to pass).

25 thoughts on “On thieves and Tricks of the Trade.”

  1. Harrison s it would seem that cheapens the thieves tricks of the trade move since its basically a specific defy danger move that any character could pull off if the fiction made sense.

  2. the key is HOW the characters setup the fiction to trigger the defy danger

    sticking some bits of metal does not pick a lock, that takes a skilled thief (hense the move)

    fighter wants to bypass the lock he needs to setup the fiction to do so cram a bar in the lock and apply pressure, besy defy danger, wouldnt want any bits of exploding lock flying into your face

  3. I think that’s way over expanding defy danger. The move is defy danger not “try a thing and hope I don’t blunder into danger I didn’t know was there”.

    There needs to be some established “OMG if I do this I could be well and truly fucked” element or there is no danger to defy.

    Also I think PbtA games are generally not well served by accommodating GMs. It’s fine to simply ask “what are you doing to get through that door?” And then say “no, that clearly isn’t going to work”.

    There is no “roll and on a 10+ come up with a crazy reason it worked” move. There is “tell me what your character is actually doing to accomplish that” and the 3 possible responses are:

    A) that description triggered a move.

    B) yes that worked

    C) no it didn’t.

    But if it didn’t trigger a move it doesn’t get a roll.

    One of the worst things you can do in PbtA games is say “well this is the sort of thing that we’d normally roll for in another game, so it feels like we ought to roll something…let’s try and stretch one of these other moves to cover it, just so we can roll”

    Don’t do that.

    Simply ask the player to describe what their character is doing. Don’t accept what they want to accomplish as an answer. It isn’t. Frequently following up with “and how are you doing that” is a good technique here.

    “I want to find a way to open this door”

    “Great, how are you doing that”.

    Don’t let them off the hook. Make them describe exactly what their character is doing.

    If that matches a move trigger, great.

    If it doesn’t then use your judgement. Is that a reasonable way to get through the door or not…and what other GM Move consequences might it kick off.

    That’s what Lead with the Fiction / Fiction First means.

  4. Corollary to Ralph’s point, Dungeon World is pretty specifically OSR pastiche. In that framework, only thieves have thief skills, and only fighters bend bars/lift gates. If you aren’t a member of that class, and you attempt those things, your fate is entirely in the referee’s hands. 

  5. And just to elaborate a tiny bit on Ralph Mazza’s answer (which I agree with), DW (as I run it anyway) makes assumptions that other systems don’t. For instance, a Fighter with a high strength score says he uses a crowbar from his Adventurer’s Kit to force a locked door open. Presumably you’ve already described the door. Unless it’s made of stone, is magical or for some other reason wouldn’t budge in spite of a strong Fighter forcing it, he opens the door – no roll required. Of course, if there are creatures nearby, they surely heard it break, any traps in place probably triggered, etc. I guess my point is follow the DW assumption that PCs are good at what they do. There’s little worse in a conventional game than having a really strong character roll a 1 (or whatever the worst roll is in that system) and just “failing to open the door”. What a boring result!

  6. So lets look at picking pockets. I would think most characters would have some chance of pulling this off. Using defy danger to not being caught seems apt.would you let any character do this?

    Picking locks seems very specific to thieves. But if a player choose lockpicks out of their adventure pack and said they used to be a petty thug before finding their diety and becoming a paladin.

    I would personally allow the picking of pockets. The thug background would slide to as it adds character flavor and potential story elements.

  7. It’s a valid question, though there are two issues at stake here. The first is abandoning the notion that moves are buttons to push which accomplish a certain goal. Instead, think of moves as ways the world reacts to your actions. If a player ever says, “I use move X,” the GM should respond with, “Tell me how you do it.” If the characters actions don’t trigger the move, the move doesn’t apply.

    The second point, and perhaps more relevant to the question, is what privileges having the move grants. Trying to pick a pocket or open a lock is something that anyone can try, simply by defaulting to Defy Danger. If this is the case, then what is the benefit to having this move? The first thing that comes to my mind is having the move grants either an easier ability to trigger the move or greater control over the result. With the case of Tricks of the Trade, the Thief can simply state his intention to pick their target’s pocket. A character without this move may be asked to first meet a prerequisite condition, such as distracting the target enough to allow them to pick their pocket unskilled, so to speak. Likewise, someone attempting to break down a door without the Fighter move Bend Bars, Lift Gates is fully at the mercy of the GM’s requirements. Without the move, the GM can state that breaking down the door takes several minutes of loud noise and leaves you with a bruised shoulder.

  8. Erik Buchanan I differ a bit in that it isn’t reasonable (to me) to say anyone can pick a pocket. I know I personally can’t and don’t have to test the theory to prove it. However, magicians do it all the time, as do actual thieves. That’s because they are trained at it.

    So, unless a player gives me a good fictional reason for why their character has a shot at picking a pocket without getting caught, my assumption is that they aren’t the least bit good at it, regardless of how dexterous they may otherwise be.

  9. Erik Buchanan I wouldn’t allow either. Anyone who isn’t a thief has been practicing the skills of their class, not picking pockets and locks. I would warn them, “You don’t know anything about misdirection or sleight of hand – if you try to pick his pocket, he’s going to know. Are you sure you want to do that?” and if they persist, it’s my Golden Opportunity. Also, lock picks are way too specialized to be handily available in your adventuring kit. And I would say to the paladin, “Yes but you gave up that life and consecrated yourself to a higher cause to obtain your holy might. Aren’t you afraid of losing it if you debase yourself like that?” Again, if he persists it’s my Golden Opportunity to make a GM move. 

  10. Peter J this actually makes a lot of sense to me if im fully getting your point. To make it simple as possible ; the thief says im picking this lock. Their Trick of the Trade made it this simple. Any non thief needs a detailed description of how they intend to do a specific thiefy thing and its still at the gm’s discretion. Is this your point?

  11. Marshall Brengle No no, escalate! “Oh, your paladin used to be a petty thug? Well then, tell us who you used to know before you became a paladin, and why they’re after you now.”

  12. The trouble with the Thief class (and this applies to D&D as well as DW) is that their special abilities are supposed to work in addition to the basic skills everyone can do, which a lot of people either forgot about or ignored over the years. Anyone can hide, for example, but thieves can hide in nothing but shadows. Anyone can move quietly, thieves can move silently, etc. Failing the roll still meant you could accomplish then same feats the other characters were capable of.

    The trap finding/lock picking skills have always been in a grey area in that respect (I’d add the DW Fighter’s feat of strength move to that category, as it’s something anyone should be able to do really). I’ve always ran it in my own games as a kind of class specific saving throw of sorts: that sixth sense that lets you pull back from the undetected trap at the last second before setting it off. 

    Not necessarily 100% pertinent for DW, I realize, but still food for thought.

  13. I tend to go with the notion that while everyone can be a criminal, True thieves are something else. Touched in some way by shadow and trickery allowing them to move stealthily and detect traps by some kind of implied minor magic.

  14. My ruling: If you dont have the move you cant do it. Fighters can break down the door. Wizards can blast it with a fireball. Druids can slither under it. The bard… Well he’s going to die anyway.

    But only THE thief picks locks.

  15. About two years ago this came up at my table. Tired of a stupid debate I pulled out a padlock and a bunch of jewelers tools and told the group that, “if anyone could open the lock then fine, any hero can attempt it.” That lock remains unopened in my dice bowl to this day.

    I feel that doing anything not covered by a Basic move, special move, or one of your class moves basically works like rolling a 6-, “the GM tells you what happened.” Doesn’t mean you necessarily failed, but the player doesn’t have any input on what is about to happen.

  16. If it’s specifically trying to clone a playbook move and nobody with that playbook is around, assuming there’s any kind of attempt to justify it at all, I will make it come off one step worse.

    You need a 12+ to get the 10+ result.

    On a 10-11 it works like a 7-9.

    On a 7-9 it’s a charitable failure.

    On an actual 6-, mwahaha.

    And I mean, y’know, say that up front, and if they’re cool with it roll, and if not, not.

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