Monday, October 3, 2011

More Level Titles: Thieves

This list of level titles for the Thief is my own attempt to make explicit what is implicit in OD&D — all adventurers are thieves. Therefore, this list can be applicable to every class — the thief (or burglar, as I prefer to call them) is the one class that has no other guild/set of titles as an alternative.

Implied in what follows is another robust guild structure. Note, this is not a thieves' guild as found in later iterations of the game. Rather, it is an adventurer's guild. One of the driving forces behind play, especially as portrayed in Holmes & Cook, is of a desire by the current civilization to recover that which was lost from past civilizations. This is the reason for dungeon delving and the reason that dungeons exist in the first place — there are secrets hidden in places deep built by a lost people in the ancient past.

As such, it makes sense that there would be some kind of societal structure to help support such an endeavor. The following is a way to imply that structure in the game world.

  1. Auxillary — Though these would-be adventurers have the right to pay dues and therefore receive a discount on various adventurer-type goods as well as access to equipment not sold to the general public or otherwise tightly regulated (such as lock picks and greek fire), auxiliaries still must prove themselves in order to gain full membership.
  2. Delver — Having survived one or more expeditions, the delver is officially enrolled in the guild. These lists are made public, therefore delvers are more likely to have access to and attract higher quality henchman.
  3. Adventurer — The adventurer has access to guild experts to help identify and appraise treasures found on expeditions. At this point, the guild will start offering better prices for said treasures than normal street value.
  4. Journeyman — It is expected that a journeyman provide a minimum of three different maps or tomes as donations to the guild's library. After these donations, the journeyman is granted access to the guild's library.
  5. Compagnon — The compagnon is gifted with a necklace or other type of jewelry that when shown to any guild will allow access to that guild library.
  6. Traveller — A traveller is granted the right to borrow a map or tome from their own guild library as long as an item of equivalent value is left in exchange.
  7. Explorer — An explorer is granted the same privilege as a traveler for any guild library.
  8. Burglar — A burglar has the right to "borrow" maps and/or tomes from other guild libraries (one from each) for the express purpose of creating a new guild library.
  9. Master Burglar — A master burglar has the right to found their own guild.

Please note: the term "burglar" is understood to mean one who opens doors.


  1. I was never fond of the idea of an "adventurer's guild," since, like the standard level titles, if felt like game mechanics and game terms were being inserted discordantly into the game setting. But, your interpretation of an adventurer's guild makes good sense. In fact, there was a (now obscure) RPG from the early 2000s (?) called "Fifth Cycle," that made explicit use of this: PCs were were members of chartered "archeological companies," trying to recover the lost treasures of past ages ("Cycles") in return for giving the empire a cut. It was a clever way to make the implicit explicit and yet fit seamlessly with the setting.

    Since you make extensive use of guilds in your game, have you worked out the obligations players have to them, as well as the benefits they can receive?

  2. Actually, the etymology of "burglar" is more appropriate than you suggest. It comes from the same root as "-burg" in place names (Saxon "burh", fortress ) and is short for "breaker into castles" (Greyhawk, Maure, Amber, Ravenloft ...)

  3. I imagine this adventurers' guild as something like the Explorers' Club in NYC, or the early Royal Geographical Society. That is, it's centered far away from the places and people it loots.

  4. Interesting. I can't help but hear "burglar" as spoken by John Huston. :)