Now that I’ve finally managed to get a good gaming group together, we’ve been able to give the rules a decent test-drive over the past few months.
From what we’ve seen in game-play, 1st and 2nd level AD&D3 characters are more resilient than their 1st and 2nd edition counterparts. Spellcasters, as intended, have more flexibility with spellcasting. At the same time, classic adventures can be easily converted and are still a challenge for low-leveled groups.
At the same time, we’ve also seen some class-balance issues when it comes to the Thief. As presented in the rules, the Thief class seems mostly on par with its earlier counterparts. At the same time, when measured against other AD&D3 classes, it definitely was in need of some added oomph.
The following rule changes to Thief (and Assassin) class abilities should fix this imbalance without adding complexity:
Backstab (Assassins and Thieves)
Thieves are opportunistic attackers, striking vulnerable foes more effectively than others. When making a melee or ranged attack against an opponent’s rear facing, or when making a melee attack against a flanked foe, thieves gain a +2 bonus to their attack and damage rolls. This bonus to attack and damage rolls increases by 1 point (to a maximum of +5) at thief levels 6, 11, and 16.
A thief may only Backstab creatures that have a discernible anatomy. The thief must be able to see the target well enough to pick out a vital spot. They may only Backstab with weapons listed on the thief weapon proficiency list. If making ranged Backstab attacks, they must be within close range for the weapon used.
Sneak Attack (Thieves)
A thief normally avoids face-to-face combat if possible, preferring instead to use stealth or guile to catch an opponent unaware or off-guard.
If a thief successfully strikes a surprised opponent, the first attack deals twice the usual Backstab damage (4 points of Backstab damage at levels 1-5, 6 points of Backstab damage at levels 6-10, etc.)
Sneak Attacks, unlike normal Backstab attacks, need not be made against flanked foes or a foes’ rear facing. The other requirements for Backstabbing opponents still apply.
Flank Attacks (Page 68 PHB and DMG)
Attacks made against a defender by flanking foes are called flanking attacks. Flanking attacks against a defender are made with a +1 bonus to the attack roll. Thieves and assassins making flank attacks against opponents gain an additional, Backstab, bonus. See Opponents and Facing on page 65 for details on flanking attacks in combat.
Rear Attacks (Page 68 PHB and DMG)
Opponents attacking a defender’s rear facing gain a +2 bonus to their attack roll. Thieves and assassins making rear attacks against opponents gain an additional, Backstab, bonus. See Opponents and Facing on page 65 for details on making rear attacks in combat.
A flanking attacker who is also making a rear attack does not gain both attack roll bonuses. Only the better, rear attack, bonus applies to its attack rolls (though its ally still gains a flanking bonus to its attack rolls).