Friday, November 17, 2017

Some Thief Options for the Holmes Ref


Dwarf: +5% Open Lock, +15% Remove Trap, +5% Move Silently, +5% Hide in Shadows

Elf: +5% Pick Pocket, +10% Move Silently, +15% Hide in Shadows

Hobbit: +10% Open Lock, +5% Remove Trap, +5% Pick Pocket, +10% Move Silently, +10% Hide in Shadows, Hear Noise +1

These are from the Greyhawk OD&D supplement, and are presumably the "special rules" found in OD&D that Holmes referred to in the Holmes manuscript.


Human thieves can specialize, raising a skill by lowering another by an equal amount, to a minimum of 5%. This can be done with each of the five skills that increase each level other than Climb Walls and Hear Noise. Thus, a specialist has 50 percentage points (50%) that can be adjusted at first level.

These are some specialists that are possible at first level:

Picklock: 55% Open Lock

Disarmist: 55% Remove Trap

Filcher: 55% Pick Pocket 

Sneak: 55% Move Silently

Skulker: 55% Hide in Shadows

By maxing these out, the other four skills will be at only 5% each (not including Climb Walls and Hear Noise). Many other combinations are possible, e.g. 35% Open Lock, 25% Remove Trap, 5% other skills

Higher levels:
At levels 2-6, a thief gets 25 more points per level to be distributed among the five skills,
At levels 7-8, a thief gets 35 more points per level
At levels 9-11, a thief get 50 more points per level
At levels 12 and up, a thief gets more 25 points per level

This option inspired by similar rules in 2E AD&D. The total points for first level and higher levels matches the progression found in the Greyhawk Supplement.


As the prime requisite of thieves is dexterity, it will affect their abilities as follows:

Dexterity of 15 or more: add 10% to each thief skill except hear noise
Dexterity of 13-14: add 5%
Dexterity of 9-12: no bonus
Dexterity of 7-8: subtract 10%
Dexterity of 6 or less: subtract 20%

These value of these bonuses and the Dex ranges are the same as the prime requisite XP bonuses on page 6 of Holmes. The idea is inspired by Gary's OD&D houserules, which mention a bonus for a Thief skill based on Dex, and the more complicated Dex modifiers in 1E AD&D. 


  1. No.

    I mean, you're the authority on this stuff, but it just doesn't feel Holmes to me.

  2. I have to agree with Scott, if we want this, we have 1st ed AD&D. I love the simplicity of Holmes.

  3. I like the idea of specializing your their but it seems like too much math. In Basic all thieves would be human. Yes?

    1. Yep. Anything on the OD&D --> Holmes --> Arneson glide path has only human thieves.

    2. The "Special Rules for Dwarves..." is a direct quote from the Holmes Basic rulebook, and is found in the manuscript. Holmes was referring to the Greyhawk rules. Holmes also wrote, "all halflings and dwarves are members of the fighter class, unless they opt to be thieves."

    3. Also, the thief pre-gens in the Holmes version of the module B1 include dwarves, elves and hobbits along with humans. There's a long tradition of considering the thief an acceptable class for non-humans in Holmes Basic, it's just that the "special rules" (the bonuses outlined above, and perhaps the rules for multi-classing) for them are not detailed. The non-human thieves in Holmes are usually cited as the reason that the Holmes rules are not race = class.