Goblin Knave: Thief


Let's cut to the chase, click here for the class.


Complexity: Medium.
Suggested Ability Scores: Dexterity, Intelligence.
Playstyle: Stealthy specialist.

This is a tweak of the GLOG thief to fit with the rules for Knave, a fantastic rules-light RPG you can pick up for $3. It refines the class to fit with the Knave ruleset and also adds a reputation system. You can slot the class right into the Knave rules, or use it with any GLOG-compatible system. 

If you're interested in the Director's Commentary on what I've done with the Thief and why, read on. I have 5 more of these classes to release so I'll see you next time. 

Here are 2 of the big goals I wanted to achieve with this class tweak. 

No basic stat bonuses

As I was reading GLOG classes, I noticed there were a lot of small bonuses. +1 from the noble's banner, +2 for being friends with the Really Good Dog, +3 to attacks from being a fighter, +1 for knowing a fact about your target, etc. As I considered these bonuses, I realised that all of these things are already taken care of by the basic Knave system. 

For anyone who doesn't know, every time you level up in Knave, you choose 3 ability scores and get +1 to each score. This gives you a simple bonus to every basic action you take: If you have a +3 strength bonus, you get +3 to every melee attack. If you want to get better at hitting things, you can do that every time you level up. The ability scores go from a minimum of +1 to a maximum of +10. 

So I went through and removed all basic stat bonuses from the GLOG classes. +1 attack, +1 stealth, +2 to checks, all that stuff is gone. Your ability score is the only stat bonus you need to care about when making a check. 

Here's the big advantages I see from this:

  • Simplicity. Everything is incredibly simple in this system, because you only have to care about your basic stat bonus. If you have +3 Strength, you have +3 to melee attacks. That's it.
  • Flexibility. If you want your thief to be better at punching stuff, just take +1 Strength when you level up. You don't need to mess around with a multi-class or sub-class or feat, you can just do it. This system makes it really easy to make a sneaky fighter or a punchy wizard or a smart barbarian. You choose what you want to be good at. 
  • Focus on Options over Upgrades. Everyone needs to be able to successfully complete basic actions like hitting stuff or sneaking. Normally you have to get that stuff from your class. But because the basic Knave system takes care of all that, the classes now have more breathing room to give you interesting tools rather than +1 buffs. For example, you'll notice that the thief gets 1 Mysterious Package per template rather than the +1 stealth upgrade.
  • Easy for the GM. You don't need to worry about weird custom classes and items combining together in an unexpected way to give the party +20 to hit for every attack. The range on every single dice roll is +1 to +10. It can never get better or worse than that.  
You can see the way I've achieved this with the Thief is to use their re-roll ability instead of a skill system. Twice per day, when they're trying to do something they specialise in and they fail, they can reroll the dice. For example, they could use this when they fail a stealth check.

I think this is great because it gives them a safety net. Everyone can climb walls or sneak around or try to disarm a trap - but the Thief knows they have an ace up their sleeve if something goes wrong. This helps them to be more daring and devil-may-care than other classes, just as they should be.


You can have 1 reputation ability active at any one time. Whenever you level up, you can choose to use the reputation ability from any of the classes you have templates in (So if you're a Thief / Assassin / Fighter, you could choose to use the Thief, Assassin or Fighter reputation). 

Each reputation comes with 1 short term reward for doing something appropriate to your class. For the thief, if you steal an important personal item from someone, you get advantage to all checks to hide from, steal from or use combat tricks against that person. This helps reward you for doing Thiefy things.

Each reputation also has a selection of long term rewards. As you establish a name for yourself, you can create a lair, a home turf for yourself, all that fun stuff. This acts like a smooth transition into a kind of Domain-level play. You start as a humble dungeon delver, and as you become more important and influential, your focus shifts to larger-scale things.

For example, the Thief is rewarded for collecting Enemies. When they have 6 major living enemies, you get to pick a reward from the Reputation list. This is a flavourful goal for the thief to care about and it naturally helps the DM build up interesting NPC relationships as the game goes on. It also gives them a nice, concrete way to get new stuff after they've gotten all their abilities at level 4.

I think this will be a really simple, smooth way to encourage players to think about these kinds of things as they level up. It's very easy for this stuff to be forgotten or overlooked. But having a hidden thief lair right on the character sheet acts like a gentle suggestion to the player: "Hey, as you get more powerful and influential, maybe you should consider getting a lair." It gives the player and the DM some long-term goals to latch on to. 

(Of course it's not meant to be exclusive - if the Thief finds another way to create a hidden Thief lair, they should 100% do it and skip the Reputation table. This is all heavily inspired by the Legendarium stuff from Arnold K's Goblin Guts V2)

If you want to add a Reputation Ability to your own classes, here is the basic template to use. You don't have to follow this exactly, it's just a simple baseline to get you started.

Basic Reputation Template

Whenever you achieve a meaningful goal that is relevant to your class, write it down on your character sheet. You get a small but meaningful reward (roughly equivalent to advantage in 3 niche or specific situations). 

When you achieve that goal roughly 6 times, your reputation grows. Cross them off and choose 1 reward from the list below. (They must be major examples of completing your goal, something you could complete about once or twice a session at max. You can keep doing this as long as you keep completing the tasks - you get a reward for every 6 tasks. You can add your own options to this list, with the blessing of your DM).

  • Home base. You get a lair or base of operations with tools and facilities that suit your class.

  • Support NPC. You get an NPC who can support you, get relevant items for you, etc. 

  • Gang. 2d6 low-level NPC's who do something relevant to your class.

  • Expert. A level 2 NPC with expertise that helps your class.

  • Information. A resource that helps you gather information.

  • Home turf. You choose a location you have explored thoroughly (about the size of 1 city block). You now have ownership or dominion over that place. The people there know you and respect or fear you. 

  • NPC relationship. You gain a new relationship with an established NPC (Eg, blackmailing them, framing them for murder, they're friends with you now, etc).

  • A weird one. Something fun or funky, a unique capstone for the class.

That's all for now

I'm very interested to hear any feedback or comments you might have on this. I'm writing up 6 more of these classes and I'm going to release them over the next few weeks. I'll see you all next time with The Assassin.

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