The Bolo Man PC Class…a new way to interpret Thief skills

June 10, 2011

Bolo Men/Women are the daring heroes of the jungle clans.  The most famous is Ceptaar.  You too can play a Bolo Man!

The Bolo Man character class is a lot like the standard thief class, but with a few differences that emphasize it’s role as a “jungle specialist” instead of an actual “thief”:

  • Always carries a Bolo, but may have other weapons too.  (check out some sweet Bolo variations here)
  • Cannot use metal armor, but can use shields made of animal hide or bark or other jungle resources.
  • Instead of the Pickpocket skill, a Bolo Man has a Vine Swinging skill.
  • Instead of the Open Locks skill, a Bolo Man has a Beast Riding skill.
  • Uses an additional “reinterpretation” of thief skills.

For example, here are the skill percentages of a Level 1 Bolo Man:

  • Beast Riding: 15%
  • Vine Swing: 20%
  • Remove Trap: 10%
  • Move Silently: 20%
  • Climb Wall/Tree: 87%
  • Hide in Shadows: 10%
  • Hear Noise: 33%

Standard thief skills often involve dangerous tasks that, upon failure, can seriously mess up the thief or get them into trouble. For this reason a thief player may sometimes be discouraged from using thief skills, especially at low levels. The Bolo Man reinterpretation of thief skills makes them less risky and encourages their usage.  Here is the key:

The thief skill percentages don’t measure the chance of successful action, but instead measure the chance of the thief properly assessing the situation/obstacle in relation to his own capabilities.

For example, consider a Bolo Man examining a tree to climb. A successful climb roll means he determined that he is sufficiently skilled in this situation, so he climbs. A failed climb roll means he decided that he is not skilled enough to make this particular climb, so he doesn’t even try.   No risk of falling.

In essence, the action isn’t performed until after a successful skill roll has been made.   If the skill roll is not successful but the player insists that the PC attempt the action anyway, the judge can treat it the same as if a non-thief/Bolo Man were attempting the action.

This reinterpretation of thief skills is best used in conjunction with the possibility of a “fumble” to allow for an occasional dangerous failure. A fumble would indicate the Bolo Man attempted something he thought he could do, but either misjudged or fell victim to an unforeseen circumstance. For example:  an unseen twig foiled an attempt to move silently, a loose section of wall caused him to fall, a trap had a devious fail-safe mechanism, etc.  Fumble occurs on any double roll (00, 11, 22, 33, 44, 55, 66, 77, 88, 99), but only if the skill roll failed.

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2 Responses to “The Bolo Man PC Class…a new way to interpret Thief skills”

  1. Alex said

    Hm. Your reinterpretation of the thief class is interesting, and begs the question: can it be utilized for other types of classes?

    • dpbrandt said

      Yeah, the idea works for any “skill” attempt where failure is especially dangerous. I guess it all depends on the kind of game being played and how dangerous you want it to be. Overall, I think it’s a good way encourage the players to use skills in creative ways more often.

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