High INT, low WIS
Stephane Breitwieser, noted art thief, has been caught trying to sell more stolen art after he went to prison, wrote his memoirs and became world famous for doing exactly that.
Now White Collar would have you believe that the way out of this mess is a high CHA, but I say the most successful con men are the ones who never get caught. In other words, respected practitioners and citizens, not lowlife imitators.
You know where I’m going with this, don’t you? What use is a thief that everyone knows is a thief (or an assassin, while we’re about it)? And here’s my counter-proposal to Jovial‘s and others’ thieves: don’t make it a split class like OA’s ninja. Instead, ditch the thief class but award specifically thiefly xp every time anyone of any class does thiefly stuff. Sneakily, so the other players don’t see. And it has to be dishonest, secretive stuff: finding and disarming traps should be roleplayed, and boring or standard traps shouldn’t be in your dungeon anyway. There, I said it. No more bomb disposal experts, because bombs are most fun when your players, with no specialist skills, are the ones who have to figure them out.
Mechanics TBD. Don’t worry too much about balance, rate of advance, numbers of xp to award for this side game, the numbers for skill rolls – in fact I might abstract all such rolls to a save vs. whatever at your thiefly level. And maybe you have to amass N thiefly xp to get onto level 1.
Adventure seeds from this sorry art fiasco:
– a treasure evaluator is coming to town. Only you know the baron’s castle is full of fakes and fool’s gold. Deflect manure from a/c.
– it turns out your treasure is all fake. Oops. Only this gnome with the twinkling eyes knows about it though. Hey, where’d he go?
– fashions change, values go down as well as up. That’s a nice emerald necklace you got there, for 2 seasons ago. Maybe they still want that stuff in the provinces. Also, gold? Pfffff, since the mine opened up what we really need around here is steel. And food. You go find us some of that.
– Cugel’s in the slammer again, and he’s taking all your contacts down with him. Who knew the only cleric in town who could Raise Dead was also a big time fence?
– you know that Eye of Vecna you found? There’s a guy here calls himself Vecna… He says yours isn’t the real deal… He has 30 others he wants to compare yours with…
– where’d you get those scrolls? They say they do what? You wanna get that verified?
– funny, all those magic items worked fine in the shop.
The best tamper-protection I’ve ever seen on a magic item is around the rim of John Dee’s Holy Table, a kind of procedural True Name generator for all angels/demons ever: Merely to see the names of these entities is enough to make them manifest. And it’s in Enochian, so you have to have someone who can read magic script before you get to know you’ve let the monsters out.