Thief - The tabletop game
#1
So... I have been mulling this idea over for a while and would be interested to see what you guys think.

I want to make a tabletop version of the computer game Thief.

I have started scratching down some ideas, but the basic concept is a 2 player game, where one player controls the thief and another is in charge of everything else (ie: guards and stuff).

The game can be run on 2 different sets of terrain - basic mordheim style terrain OR an internal modular style of terrain (like spacehulk but obviously fantasy themed or like djmothra's dungeon tiles) which would represent the inside of a building. You could potentially use both styles together - roam across a mordheim style gameboard but with the internals of the house done modularly on another table.

The basic game would be for the thief to complete a mission (steal something, assassinate a nobleman, something like that) while also collecting loot which can be used between missions to buy equipment (better armour, better weapons etc.)

Some of the ideas I have so far (you'll quickly note that I haven't put too much thought into it yet):

Instead of linear movement, the thief will use a movement cord which can be laid down around or over obstacles to simulate free movement.

Guards sight lines will be done using a clear triangular overlay (approx 30 degree arc with different distances marked on it (ie: within a certain distance the thief is obvious, outside of that the guard would have to roll against his attentiveness score to see the thief and then outside of that it is too dark to see the thief at all). If the thief is within a light source (torches, fireplace - I'm thinking a clear plastic overlay to show how far the light goes) then he able to be seen at all times if he is in the arc. I want the guards to move randomly while the thief is undetected to introduce an element of chaos (something like the 40K scatter dice), but be controlled by player 2 when they are alerted to his presence.

I want to do a very simple combat system - I'm thinking a simple weapon skill + D6 roll - highest number wins and the guard only having 1 wound while the thief maybe has 3-5. I think I'll have armour saves too and maybe the ability for models with long blades to parry (reroll opponents to hit roll once per fight). This is the part I'll have to think about a bit more. I do want fairly simple though. I do want the thief to be able to sneak up and stab from behind.

As far as attributes go, I'm thinking:
Weapon skill
Attentiveness (this will be the number that guard roll against to see if they notice the thief if he is close enough)
Initiative (this will be rolled each turn to determine the order of movement - most of the time the thief will move first (he will have significantly better initiative than guards but only slightly more than the noble home owner), but if he rolls badly, then maybe some of the guards get to move before he does).
Armour (for saving throws - guards will probably need a 6 on a D6 while the thief can have different armour types with different saves and maybe movement penalties for heavier armours).


And... that's about as far as I've gotten so far.

Feedback and ideas welcome.
Reply
#2
Hi Blocky.

It's always difficult to design a game from scratch!
I don't know the original computer game, I can suggest a few things:

I guess it doesn't make sense if the thief wears heavier armour than the guards. Maybe two kinds of different guards with more or less armour. Heavy soldiers would have a lower initiative and/or move slower.
However, the thief could have some equipment or skills that allow to bypass armour.

Regarding chaotic movement, you could use the mechanics of "commando" games in Wh40k (4th or 5th edition if I recall correctly) as a base. I really enjoyed this kind of game.
Each turn, the "guard" player could decide to activate or disactivate any guard he wishes. (Or maybe just a random amount).
Unactivated guards would stay still until activated.
Then he would throw a die for each unaware and activated guard (might be a roll off with the other player) to determine who control them in the movement phase. So the "thief player" would scatter the ones he controls.
When a guard has spotted the thief (or a body), he becomes alerted. Alerted guards cannot be controlled by the thief player and add one each to the alert level each turn until taken out of action. "Noisy" combat/actions also add to this alert level. The alert level add bonus to the guard player when he rolls to control the guards. The alert level could also increase automatically at each turn (this would need tuning to balance the game, obviously).


I hope it helps.
Reply
#3
I wasted many hours playing Thief in my youth.

Learning the path that guards take on their rounds. Finding the places where it's possible to hide undetected.

What about sound? There was always the chance of being heard!
Reply
#4
As far as sound goes, I was thinking a modifier to the guards atentiveness based on the floor surface - obviously rugs good, wooden/metal floors not so much. Was also thinking that if the thief model wanted to do something silly like climb on the furniture, force open a window etc... then he would roll against his initiative and if failed then would alert any guards within a certain radius. Combat noise would do the same thing.

As far as armour: Most of the time the thief would have worse armour than the guards, but there may be missions that are more smash and grab where the thief is certain of being found and the heavier armour may help (this would be something the thief player would have to think about before the start of that game). I want the player controlling the thief to have a lot of autonomy and basically if there is an action he wants to do that isn't specifically covered in the rules (maybe he wants to swing across the room on a chandelier for a squick escape) then he just rolls against his initiative to see if he can - kind of a cross between classic tabletop game and RPG.
Reply
#5
(01-11-2017, 07:51 PM)Blocky Wrote: basically if there is an action he wants to do that isn't specifically covered in the rules (maybe he wants to swing across the room on a chandelier for a squick escape) then he just rolls against his initiative to see if he can - kind of a cross between classic tabletop game and RPG.

I really like the idea of a Combat Maneuver type of attribute to covers all actions that aren't already covered by the combat system. It works equally well for the guards. If both the Thief and the Guards are modeled the same attribute wise, it'll make balance a lot easier in the end.
Reply
#6
(01-11-2017, 02:29 AM)Blocky Wrote: So... I have been mulling this idea over for a while and would be interested to see what you guys think.

Blocky my friend, you have run into the classic Imperfect Information problem in game design.  I congratulate you and sympathize with you simultaneously.  I personally refer to this as The Submarine Hunt (you'll see the analogy shortly), and whereas it's easy to deal with on a computer, putting it on a table is a little more problematic.  I am not familiar with the original game, but I can probably give you a few insights as I have run into this a few times myself.

The big problem, as you have already realized, is that although the Guard ('hunter') player can see the Thief player's miniature on the table, the actual in-game guards don't know where the Thief is, and as such the Guard player can't use this information to make strategic decisions (movement, combat engagement) or make rational in-game decisions before the Thief is detected.

One way to deal with this is to have the Thief player mark his movement on a map of the table out of sight of the Guard player.  This serves as a record of the Thief's movement and keeps the position of the Thief secret until he is detected, at which point a mini can be placed on the table.  This brings us to the necessity for a detection mechanic.

You could give the Thief something like a 'stealth rating'.  This rating varies throughout the game and is  modified by the Thief's actions and/or environment.   Every turn a detection roll is made against this rating to determine if the Thief has been detected and once the roll fails he is detected and the Guard player can go active and the Thief mini gets put on the table.  Examples:  Any time the Thief makes a sound the rating is modified; the closer the Thief gets to guards, ambient lighting, floor composition, and Thief actions can all be accounted for in this way.  This then also works in reverse if the Thief is trying to escape after being detected; once the Thief is out of line of sight of active guards the stealth rating and modifiers continue.

Other modifiers might depend on scenario-specific situations, such as the Guard player  knowing if a threat is eminent or not.  "We suspect an attempt will be made on the king's life/to steal the Crown Jewels" et cetera.  All you really need to do is modifiy the Thief's initial stealth rating for any giving scenario and keep the standard modifier table as-is.

I think you have a great idea for a really fun game and you are on the right track.

For more info on the abstract concepts presented here, start with this Wikipedia article.  If you'd like to discuss the finer points of your design without wasting space here, I am willing to converse with you via email.
Reply
[+] 2 users Like Tob's post
#7
Nice analysis, super helpful.

I do like the idea of keeping the thief hidden from the other player but I am willing to sacrifice this aspect of reality for easier playability. I feel that you would need a 3rd player to dungeon-master the thief's movement to add some oversight, otherwise the thief player could get away with a lot of stuff that the guard player would never know about.

I think the way of getting around this is to rely on the explanation that any activated guard model can hear what's happening so it makes sense that once activated they will all swarm to the thief anyway. In my head, I see the thief falling over an object, the closest guard being alerted, then shouting for help (allthough I'm thinking a 2 tier system of "alerted" and "actively concerned/high alert" - any guard within earshot will come running and potentially alert any guard near them until the thief realises that he is now 1 against 2+ and poops his pants from fear and has to escape.

Hope that makes sense.
Reply
#8
as an additional idea to the last post:

I want to give the guard players some options - ie: run towards the thief and apprehend, call for help, activate an alarm system, release the hounds etc... depending on what action is taken, the thief may have time to hide or escape of change location. I'm thinking if an alerted model hasn't actively seen the thief within 2-3 turns, then their alertness is downgraded back to random movement again.
Reply
#9
My plan going forwards:

Build some basic terrain (just an empty floor plan at this point)
Start playtesting.
I think with a good set of rules and the random movement of the guards, I can get away with playing this as 1 player and not have too much player bias come into it.
Reply
#10
(01-12-2017, 09:18 PM)Blocky Wrote: I feel that you would need a 3rd player to dungeon-master the thief's movement to add some oversight

Whereas a 3rd person umpire would be ideal (like Kreigspiel, Fletcher Pratt, etc) you're absolutely right that playability would greatly suffer.  This is the biggest compromise for these types of games.

Blocky Wrote:I'm thinking a 2 tier system of "alerted" and "actively concerned/high alert" - any guard within earshot will come running and potentially alert any guard near them...

Sounds good.  You could go with the inverse too, with the thief having a two or three level stealth factor.  It's the same concept, just the other side of the coin; either way will work, just don't do both.

Blocky Wrote:I'm thinking if an alerted model hasn't actively seen the thief within 2-3 turns, then their alertness is downgraded back to random movement again.

I agree.  There's got to be a threshold.  The problem arises when the guard player knows where the thief is, but the model on the table is out of LOS of the thief.  How does the player know where to move the model?  Objectivity gets lost, but you can probably iron this out and find a compromise during playtesting.

Blocky Wrote:I think with a good set of rules and the random movement of the guards, I can get away with playing this as 1 player...

Bingo!  You have hit the nail on the head; this game will actually play BETTER as a solo game since guard player subjectivity will be eliminated.  I can see that you are understanding some of the difficulties here, and as such, I would recommend that you design the game as a solo game to begin with.  After you have a well-functioning engine, you can then modify it retroactively for 2 players.  This will save you a LOT of headaches.

As for your "movement cord", I personally like to use ball chain for this since it lies flat and is easy to manipulate.  HIGHLY recommended.
Reply


Forum Jump: