thievery

Discussion in 'Arcanum Discussion' started by DokEnkephalin, Dec 26, 2008.

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  1. DokEnkephalin

    DokEnkephalin New Member

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    The thief types really got shortchanged in design here. Sure they got a whole questline of random errands, but you could pretty much go axe-murdering through it without consequence and they'll just say, "You got our stuff, wonderful! Well, keep up the good work!" No one stops and says, "That's some nasty, unprofessional shit you're doing. If you keep it up, you're going to fuck things up for all of us."

    Usually the thief type is the first one I play in an RPG, because it gets you access to hidden plot details and allows you to pick your battles, sometimes enables you to make informed decisions about who really does or doesn't need to die. In this game you get the most plot by confronting people in dialog, and spying doesn't really get you anything you couldn't get with dirty brute force.

    It's just as well that I didn't try, because the list of skills you need to be a MASTER thief is so big that it doesn't leave much room for flexibility in character permutations. And that list is bloated with useless skills. Backstab -- wtf is that? You know how to use your weapon, you know how to move undetected, wtf do you need a special school to figure out how to hit someone where it hurts? Spot traps and disarm traps -- why are these separate skills? Surely if you know what to keep an eye out for, then you know how they're triggered and where they're targeted, and if you have a working familiarity with where and how traps are set, then surely the results are going to catch your eye when you come across them.

    Thieves in Arcanum just aren't cool, just aren't fun, and I can't imagine they were designed by anyone who enjoys playing them.
     
  2. GarmGarf

    GarmGarf New Member

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    IRL, without special expertise of getting the most out of hitting people when their back is turned, you will just attack them normally. This is reflected in Arcanum with the existence of the backstab skill.

    Also, individuals IRL can know how to backstab well without necessarily knowing how to prowl around.

    These are actually two pretty different skills. Like they even have different supporting attributes. Other skills in Arcanum are more alike than these two (e.g: disarm trap and pick lock).
     
  3. Wolfsbane

    Wolfsbane Well-Known Member

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    Garmgarf's right. And besides, I think thievery is more well-developed in Arcanum than in a lot of other games. Compare it to, say, Oblivion thievery. There, you can't disarm traps and stealing stuff is mostly useless anyway. No-one except for fences will buy stolen goods, and even silverware gets you almost no money.

    In Arcanum, you benefit from your thieving skills outside the actual thievery. Prowling is VERY useful when adventuring, and so is lockpicking, backstabbing and finding/ disarming traps as well. And yes, most things a thief can do in can also be solved by violence; forcing doors/ chests, killing marks and looting them for their stuff etc. But isn't that what Arcanum is about, though? The CHOICE you make. You can choose to kill the shit out of everything and get by (probably with a few killed city guards), or you could choose to go the more discrete way of stealth and thievery.

    I've had loads of fun playing thief characters in Arcanum.
     
  4. Grakelin

    Grakelin New Member

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    Oblivion's thievery would have been much more fun if they had put a fence in every town that you could use from the start, instead of forcing you to earn them for only 3 or 4 towns.

    "HOLY SHIT!! YOU STOLE THE ROYAL CROWN JEWELS!!! But sorry, won't fence them for you, you're not a good enough thief yet."

    I actually did have a lot of fun emptying houses in Burma, where the first fence lived.
     
  5. DokEnkephalin

    DokEnkephalin New Member

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    Oblivion's thievery was one of the best questlines ever, but the contorted mechanics for fencing was just unnecessary. There could've simply been more low responsibility merchants when you wanted to offload booty more than you needed the steal credits for it.

    And I disagree, Garmgarf; knowing where to strike for optimum injury is simply part of learning your weapon. It doesn't take any expertise to fight dirty, but a Master of stealth will know how to get the best opportunities and a Master with their weapon will make the best use of them. If Backstab were broadened to more general critical striking techniques then I could see the justification for it. As it stands, it's just a poorly-considered skill, and always has been dating back to it's D&D conception.

    An old MUD I played had an excellent variety of dirty fighting techniques, from swashbuckling to brutal. Tripping, throwing sand, using a cloak as a shield to distract and/or entangle weapons, you could encircle to get extra back-attacks in or perform in-your-face disembowlment. There were so many one character couldn't learn them all, but you could define your character with the fighting styles you built out of them.
     
  6. Ramidel

    Ramidel New Member

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    Well, the only thiefly skills a thief really -needs- are picklock, pickpocket and prowling.
     
  7. DokEnkephalin

    DokEnkephalin New Member

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    I think Garret would agree, though he does give me gadget-envy. I've played one thief-type, a thrower with explosives, who was a pretty badass build and got along fine without Backstab, Spot or Disarm Traps. Who really needs those skills anyway; you can pretty much march through traps with Virgil flinging heals at you. The place with the highest concentration of traps also has plenty of sense hidden scrolls for the taking.
     
  8. Wolfsbane

    Wolfsbane Well-Known Member

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    So you're a powergamer then, or what? Have you no feel for the actual ROLEplay? Yeah, you could march through the traps but that would just not be entertaining. Would a real person do that in that situation. "Yeah, I know there're traps around here, but so what if I bleed a little or get by face half torn off? Virgil'll just heal me anyway". Just doesn't work that way.

    And, FYI, being "good" with your weapon doesn't mean being especially good at finding weak spots on your enemy. Being good with a weapon is being able to outmanouver your enemy. Assassins didn't have to be awesome swordsmen, they just had to know where to hit to make it count. The everyday soldier didn't have nervous-system expertise. He just knew how to handle himself in a fight. That's the difference between melee and backstabbing.

    And you can't be serious about the Oblolvion thieves guild questline being "one of the best ever". Since when were thieves good? Thieves steal because they want to get by, or get rich. They're not fucking Robin Hood. The Morrowind thieves guild questline was better, and I don't think very highly of that one either. In Morrowind, at least the robin hood questline was optional.
     
  9. Ramidel

    Ramidel New Member

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    Actually, the solution to "Spot Trap" is to solve it by magic or technology, which is a heck of a lot cheaper pointwise. And the solution to disarming a trap is usually to avoid walking into it. And any thief would take advantage of all such tools if he had 'em.

    I would comment on the fact that manning through traps when there's plentiful healing magic is perfectly reasonable for a "real person" in an RPG-mechanics-verse, but that -is- the fighter or mage solution, not the thiefly one above.
     
  10. DokEnkephalin

    DokEnkephalin New Member

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    Do you think that being a Master at melee just means you're better at flailing your weapon around? Have you ever practiced with a weapon? In the process of becoming that skilled, you do become familiar with your opponent's anatomy, and learn a thing or two about expoiting a lapse in their guard to make your strike really count. Their guard will never be lower than when their back is to you, and backstabbing is nothing more than a consequence of taking that advantage. As I said before, this could be justified as a skill if it had the broader scope of dirty fighting and applied to any and all weapons and fighting styles.

    Oh, the Grey Fox story arc leading up to the Ultimate Heist was absolutely one of the best. And the whole protection of the poor policy was purely practical; they've got nothing to steal and they're easily bought, they're frequently overlooked and gather info that people fail to see the importance of. Cyrodill's use of beggars made more operational sense than Gentleman Jim's give-to-the-poor philosophy.

    Thieves have a lot of different motives for doing what they're doing, but however they justify it, it's still just stealing. But I agree with Garret that killing while on a job is the mark of an amateur; and it's smart thievery to leave your marks alive to acquire more stuff for you to steal.
     
  11. Roke

    Roke New Member

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    Well, you can't set traps in Oblivion, so complaining that you can't disarm them is pointless. The idea is to force the character to actually examine his surroundings instead of just standing around until his "Detect Traps" skill highlights something in red. The traps in Oblivion changed depending on which dungeon you were in, and you needed to look for clues (corpses, bloodstains, etc.) to gauge where traps might be.

    Thievery in Oblivion, though, is possibly one of the most lucrative courses through the game. If your lockpicking/stealth skills are high enough, you can rob the Imperial City blind. Not only will you wind up with a ton of usable gear from the Merchant's District, but if you rob the wealthy houses (and only steal the valuables and not the silly silverware) you can garner thousands in gold in a single night. Money which you would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.

    Complaining about the fences is also a little strange. Oblivion's game was immersion. They were going for realism. And most fences in real life wouldn't buy stolen goods from someone who walks in off the street. You could be a cop, or a member of a rival organization, or any number of other unsavoury occupations. It makes perfect sense that fences will only buy from you once you've been vetted by someone within the organization.

    That being said, I enjoyed Arcanum's handling of thievery. Their prowling ability really was the forerunner to Morrowind's and Oblivion's, and they made the thief class a fun one to play.

    I think he meant the questline was the "best" in terms of quality, not morality.

    And I'd have to agree with that assessment. Oblivion was one of the few games where the thief quests involved more than just stealing an object and fed-exing it around. You have to spy on conversations, plant evidence, trick other people into stealing something and then steal it from them, forge documents, break people out of jail, etc. Morrowind's thief quests were boring as all get out: "Habasi wants some diamonds. Go steal them." or "Find me some stupid books." or "I want a Grandmaster's Retort."
     
  12. Wolfsbane

    Wolfsbane Well-Known Member

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    How on earth would a normal storekeeper know that the particular iron shortsword you tried to sell him was in fact stolen from a town at the other side of the country? And why is it that they buy the possessions of looted corpses (even city watch armor!) when they can't even accept a hourglass that they think might be stolen goods? Immersion, yeah? Not really.
     
  13. Ramidel

    Ramidel New Member

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    Honestly, the "stolen property" rule only seems to apply in Oblivion if you didn't kill someone to steal the stuff. But that may just be my suspicious nature.
     
  14. DokEnkephalin

    DokEnkephalin New Member

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    It has it moments, but where it's really lacking is one of my points above; there just aren't the juicy plot tidbits hidden for the thief to find by breaking and entering or hacking or eavesdropping, and for me that's really the rewarding part of playing a thief-type in any RPG or even action-FPS like Deus Ex or System Shock 2.

    Thieves aren't always necessarily motivated by greed; one of my favorite characters to RP was a corrupt sheriff in an MMORPG who kept the peace by burglary and pickpocketing, spying and stealing, blackmail, extortion, gang relations and demonic trafficking, and abducted and sold slaves on the side.
     
  15. Klaz

    Klaz New Member

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    The bad thing about playing as a stealth character is that the game forces you to fight. Getting through the Black Mountain mines will take you forever until you say "Forget this" and simply run through the monsters while consuming potions as if your character was a junkie through withdrawal. Also, you can't deal at all with
    Kerghan
    in a stealthy way, you're forced to kill him with some of the Void NPC's or to go with the diplomatic approach.
     
  16. UniversalWolf

    UniversalWolf New Member

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    I've played one Arcanum burglar character and found it extremely fun.

    Certainly I can see ways it could be improved, but I really don't have any problem with something like the number of skills. For one thing, you don't need to master them all. I find Expert Pickpocketing to be quite sufficient, for example; at that level stealing coin is a snap, and even snatching worn jewelry is pretty low-risk. I also find Expert Trap Disarming more than adequate.

    I had no problem acquiring enough skills to make my character a very effective buglar, and I had points left over for a bit of magic and a bit of tech.

    One thing I wish were done better was the Anesthetizer. It would be very cool to be able to sneak up on someone and drug them unconscious so you could rob them without killing them. Unfortunately the Anesthetizer simply isn't strong enough to do that reliably, which is disappointing for a schematic that requires seven points in Chemistry.
     
  17. DokEnkephalin

    DokEnkephalin New Member

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    A Master prowler with max dex could probably ghost BMC by staying in turn-based. But there wasn't a stealth solution to most of the quests aside from the Thieves' Underground fetching errands, and even those could be done by non-thiefly means.
     
  18. Wolfsbane

    Wolfsbane Well-Known Member

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    Not always, but damn near almost. The whole idea of thievery is to take something that belongs to someone else and call it yours. Not everyone gets the opportunity to become a corrupt sheriff dealing with demonic trafficing. Just saying.
     
  19. DokEnkephalin

    DokEnkephalin New Member

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    There's the added thrill of being somewhere you don't belong, and best of all for me, picking up secrets you should never have.

    Unfortunately, this game doesn't really have that, there's nothing that only a pure thief can access, yet the skillset for being a pure master thief is so big that you miss out on many of the other things the game has, and you're left weak in melee.

    But I've just installed AWIP6.0 which sounds like it has more for thieves, and I'm going to try the thief experience again.

    EDIT: Still, let's look at the break-down in skills: to be a master thief you want max dexterity and perception. This puts dodge and an attack skill in easy reach, without doing damage I've noticed that leveling is tediously slow, in most cases you'd avoid confrontations, but you might want to grind random encounters to make up the exp lost. But you don't have the strength for the heaviest weapons or armor, and additionally pick locks and disarm traps puts you on the tech side, so you're not getting the most out of magick equipment.

    All the best tech equipment you have to craft yourself, and that requires getting the int to go up the smithy or electrical trees. It'd be nice to put more of that low value junk to practical use (and gadgets, gotta love the gadets!) If you learn mechanics for the trap springers, you spend 3 char points for 50 stone consumables...not an acceptible encumbrance allotment when you need to haul loot.

    That's a lot of points for a viable build, and doesn't leave anything left over for the Persuasion to talk yourself out of trouble when you do get caught, which happens to the best of us.
     
  20. Jazintha Piper

    Jazintha Piper Member

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    I've always had some skill in both Disarm Trap, Spot Trap and Lockpick. Lockpick, because there's some pretty nifty stuff to be had around Arcanum. Disarm and Spot Trap mostly because I can't be arsed fixing the damn things all the time. I usually sell quite a bit of stuff if need be, but otherwise, I store it for a future investment.

    My boyfriend only just introduced me to Oblivion. Picking locks and stealing stuff isn't easy. I pick Arcanum over Oblivion any day in regards to that.
     
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