Beyond Warriors and Wizards: Thieves and Rogues
July 27, 2018
As discussed last time (posted here), The Fantasy Trip dumps restrictive “character classes” for more free-form and flexible character creation. Wizards and non-magical Heroes can overlap in interesting ways not definable as just one word or a stereotypical trope. This doesn’t mean that TFT can’t emulate anything the more traditional character classes offer. It can!
Where would Heroic Fantasy be without the rogues and thieves to give an adventuring party a little edge (and, sometimes, a lot of grief)? For every group of battlers and spell-casters, there’s a nondescript little figure in an alley who can pick them clean of their dungeon loot without them being the wiser — and it may be more fun sometimes to be that guy!
As the traditional sneak thief, you may specialize with the subtler weapons such as daggers and blackjacks (treat as a small club), or rely on stealth and skill and carry no weapons at all. Or you can carry a sword and be good with it! You might steal for your own enrichment, or work for others who need something “liberated.”
There are other rogues, though. In The Labyrinth makes it easy to be exactly the type of morals-flexible person you like. As a noble gentle-rogue you can seek the finer things of life, such as art, artifacts, and memorabilia. (Learn the proper Talents to recognize value when you see it, and perhaps speak multiple languages.) You might not even care about profit at all. You may want glittering pretties just to adorn yourself or your lair, or just enjoy the thrill of lawbreaking.
Not all thieves are in it to take advantage of innocents, either. As a moral thief you may rob the rich to give to the poor, work only to recover goods stolen from others, or be like Tolkien’s half-pint “burglar” and seek to use stealth and deftness in a just cause.
But if you are devoid of conscience, even a little bit, you don’t have to do your own thievery at all. Like the character from Oliver Twist, you can be a fagin, running your own band of harmless-looking urchins who you can train to steal from the unwary. It can be fun to begin as a party of urchins yourselves, children of the streets with a cap on your starting ST to reflect your small stature. If you are daring — and careful — you could work your way up being able to challenge your own cruel fagin for control of the operation.
Spies are rogues as well, perhaps well-dressed and debonair, perhaps rough and tumble. Espionage is about as dangerous a job as you can find, requiring stealth, skills and maybe sex appeal. Any Talent you can use to hide your real agenda, persuade others to say too much, or make a fast escape when you are caught will be useful to a spy.
The only roguish profession even more dangerous than spying is being an assassin. You might work for a king, quietly eliminating traitors to the throne, or hire yourself out to anyone who needs a target terminated. Assassins need stealth but also good weapon abilities, especially those you can exercise from a safe vantage point. Bowmen make great long-distance assassins. There may be no more dangerous foe than a wizardly assassin, and a player character of this stripe would be both challenging and exhilarating to portray.
In our third and final installment, we will take a look at some interesting outliers — characters and adventures on the fringes of fantasy that you would not expect from a mere “dungeon game.”