Pickpocketing

 

B/X Pickpocketing

In the glorious Basic/Expert rules of Moldvay and Cook, pickpocketing relies on rolling under a target score on percentile dice. Thieves begin with a 20% chance (meaning they must roll a 20 or less on percentile dice) and gain +5% chance each time they level. Some additional caveats apply as the character advances in level and attempts more complex maneuvers; I advise you to reference page B8 in the Basic book and page X6 in the Expert book for more detail. The important part here is that we all understand how a basic pick pocket attempt works, so I can introduce my subsystem to add randomized flavor items to pickpocket attempts.

New Pickpocketing Subsystem:

If the success is 0-5% better than the requisite score (e.g. a 16 rolled for a 20% requisite), roll once on the general contents table, and once on a single applicable subtable.
If the success is 6-10% better than the requisite score, roll twice on the general table and twice on a single applicable subtable if necessary.
If the success is 11+% better than the requisite score, roll three times on the general table and three times on any applicable subtables.


Example:
A 3rd level thief must score better than a 30% on percentile dice to pick the pockets of a 1st level neophyte elven archer guarding a tree house. The thief rolls a 15, which is more than 11 better than the required roll of 30. The thief therefore has earned three rolls on the general table and three rolls on any applicable subtables. The DM rolls on the general table three times, the elven table once, and the warrior table twice. The thief successfully steals a handful of goods containing some lint, a wooden spoon, jerky, a harp string, a whetstone, and a leather lace for armor fixtures.

Alternatively, if the dice slow you down and/or you hate fun and random chance, just eyeball it and pick the appropriate number of items from each list according to the results.



General Contents

Found on common folk of most varieties, including tradesmen, craftsmen, merchants, travelers, adventurers and military personnel, brigands, and so on. 

3d20
General Pocket Contents
3
Lint
4
Small wooden spool of bone white thread
5
Small ring-lock pocket knife, dull
6
1d4 wooden buttons
7
1d4 horn buttons
8
Small fabric pouch of tobacco
9
Awl
10
Three fishing hooks knotted together
11
1′ length of sinew cordage
12
Wooden spoon
13
Pewter spoon
14
Tin fork
15
Venison jerky
16
1d4 simple bronze keys
17
3′ jute twine
18
Unaddressed love letter written in shaky handwriting
19
Pair of six-sided dice carved from horn
20
Wooden nit comb
21
Folding pot metal sundial
22
Scrawled food recipe on stained paper
23
Cork from an excellent vintage wine
24
Small rock shaped vaguely like a duck
25
Dingy iron shears with spots of rust
26
Piece of hard, dark chocolate wrapped in cheesecloth
27
Tin earscoop
28
Copper tweezers
29
1d6 small seashells
30
Curry comb with several russet horse hairs trapped in it
31
Poorly-drawn map showing the location of a nearby cottage
32
Short drinking horn with rudimentary etchings in geometric patterns
33
Lock of blonde hair tied with a tight bow
34
1d4 copper nails
35
1d4 discs of beeswax in a fabric pouch
36
Longstem clay pipe
37
Pair of knitting needles
38
Damaged iron bridle
39
1d8 glass beads with eyes painted on them
40
Copper calipers
41
Chisel
42
Steel hoofpick
43
Lead plumb bob with 20’ of cord
44
Strange hook-shaped surgical knife
45
Lead pilgrim’s badge
46
Small earthenware pot of thick glue
47
Wooden box of salt
48
Small gourd filled with vinegar
49
1d8 sachets of strong-smelling tea
50
Small burlap sack of beans
51
Bundle of hot peppers tied together at the stems
52
Thin tin flute
53
Bulb of purple garlic
54
4’ long scroll of music and lyrics to a common song
55
Wooden weaving comb
56
1d6 plums
57
Large knob of ginger root
58
Sour green apple
59
Small jar of honey
60
12’ of snare wire


Dwarven Contents

Found on dwarves and those who are in constant contact with dwarves, as well as many miners and smiths.

1d12
Dwarven Pocket Contents
1
1d8 fine iron nails
2
Small tin funnel
3
Flint and steel
4
Copper key
5
Metalsmith’s scriber
6
Jeweler’s steel stamp featuring a dwarven rune
7
Folding gimlet
8
Small tin flask
9
Recipe for homemade juniper spirits
10
Silver ring with an incomplete setting
11
Paper packet of dried cave moss for smoking
12
Leather band for tying beard


Elven Contents

Found in the possession of elves, half-elves, and those who are in constant contact with elves.

1d12
Elven Pocket Contents
1
Harp string
2
Sentimental bronzed leaf
3
Sparsely embroidered silk handkerchief
4
Green silk hair ribbon
5
Delicate sewing scissors in the shape of a crane
6
Folded paper with an expertly drawn erotic scene
7
Small card holding a dozen sewing needles
8
1d12 different teeth hanging on a length of cord
9
Small vial of perfume, which smells like rosewater and honey
10
Ornamental brooch of enameled ceramic in the shape of a brilliant red beetle
11
Leather sling tooled with a floral motif
12
Lump of fine soap


Halfling Contents

Found on halflings and those who are in constant contact with halflings. Would also be found on gnomes or other small, homebody sorts of creatures.

1d12
Halfling Pocket Contents
1
Lute string
2
Wooden whistle
3
Tin measuring spoon
4
Tiny vial of seasonings
5
1d8 delicious raspberries
6
Corncob pipe
7
Tin butter knife with smooth horn handle
8
Small earthenware flask filled with bacon grease
9
Ring of iron keys
10
4d12 tiny seeds in a paper packet marked CARROT
11
Pair of wool socks made for broad feet
12
Flat wooden tray containing small amounts of paint pigments in red, blue, and yellow.


Monster Contents

Found on mostly-humanoid monsters, such as goblins, orcs, hobgoblins, gnolls, and kobolds. Bipedal snakemen, lizardmen, or other weird hybrids of the animal kingdom might also have these items.

1d12
Monstrous Humanoid Pocket Contents
1
Crude iron shiv
2
Meat skewer, still dirty with baked-on lizard remains
3
1d6 small, round stones
4
Scrap of fur
5
Moldy domestic cat jerky
6
Damaged flint spearhead
7
1d12 human teeth wrapped up in a leaf
8
Long leather laces for wrapping makeshift sandals or boots
9
1d4 leeches in a small jar filled with water
10
Shriveled finger
11
Leather eyepatch
12
Small gourd filled with vile liquor


Magic-User Contents

Found on magicians of all types arcane; suitable for all mages, witches, warlocks, illusionists, etc.

1d12
Magic-User Pocket Contents
1
Large lizard hind leg
2
1d4 seeds of unknown origin
3
Tattered, absent-minded notes about carrier pigeons
4
Rabbit’s foot
5
Small linen pouch full of ersatz pixie dust
6
1d8 frog eyes
7
Half-finished scroll of an indecipherable spell
8
1d6 iron rings
9
Charred purple feather
10
Small glass jar with unknown organ floating in alcohol
11
Circular copper token marked with strange symbols and ADMIT ONE
12
1d4 mummified bird hatchlings


Warrior Contents

Found on martial characters, such as fighters, rangers, guards, knights, cavaliers, most henchmen, archers, gladiators, and so on. Paladins can also be rolled on this table or the following table.

1d12
Warrior Pocket Contents
1
1d4 lead sling bullets
2
Whetstone
3
Bowstring
4
Leather lace for securing armor
5
Stubby piece of chalk
6
Flint and steel
7
1d4 arrowheads
8
Birch kuksa
9
Rolled-up linen gauze bandage
10
Bronze challenge coin
11
Empty leather costrel
12
Serrated paring knife from an incomplete mess kit


Holy Men Contents

Found on the persons of priests, clerics, paladins, mystics, and so on. Paladins may be rolled on this table or on the previous table.


1d12
Holy Man Pocket Contents
1
1d4 cubes of incense
2
Wooden figurine of saint, spirit, or demigod
3
Prayer beads
4
Empty alms pouch
5
Parchment square with seal of church/order/school stamped prominently
6
Bundle of small papers featuring handwritten prayers
7
Cheap wooden holy symbol
8
Wooden spoon inscribed with a truncated devotion of appreciation for food
9
Small ceramic flask of holy water
10
Scribe’s pen
11
1d4 half-burned candles
12
Inkpot



Thief Contents

Found on thieves, assassins, brigands, highwaymen, and assorted other criminals.

1d12
Thief Pocket Contents
1
Bent lockpick
2
Marked cards in leather sleeve
3
1d4 loaded dice
4
Wax mould of a key
5
Poorly-drawn map of the layout of the grounds of a nearby manor home
6
1d12 steel balls
7
Slim metal bottle filled with cheap booze
8
Small vial of oil
9
1d8 assorted keys
10
Broken stick of chalk
11
List of names on a rolled piece of vellum in fine penmanship
12
Small wedge-shaped prybar



Druid Contents

Found on druids, primitive relicts, frontier humans where the old ways still reign, and feral tribes of elves or halflings.

1d12
Druid Pocket Contents
1
1d8 nuts
2
Pear
3
Squirrel pelt
4
Antler
5
1d12 knuckle bones
6
Expertly-knapped flint knife
7
Sinew bowstring
8
Crude wooden figurine of an elk
9
1d8 rat skulls
10
Rich, red soil wrapped up in broad leaves
11
Ogham staves
12
Fox jawbone



Determining Cash

In addition to flavor items, you probably were pickpocketing for a specific item – a key on a guard, maybe – or to inflate your own wealth. In the case of the former, if the attempt is successful, you automatically also steal the item in question. In the case of the latter, there’s a little more granularity.

First, the DM determines how wealthy the target is, and then a d10 is rolled. The result is the value of coins stolen – perhaps a pouch is lifted right off a belt, or a purse is cut and its contents are caught in the thief’s outstretched hand. These assume a gold-centric economy, as in TSR D&D; for in the case of silver standards like in LOTFP, please decrement all coin types by one (e.g. listed value of 5 gold coins becomes 5 silver coins, listed value of 4 silver coins becomes 4 copper coins). A roll of 10 naturally requires you to explode the roll, because that’s just fun.

These values are separate from treasure found on corpses, and should not count against treasure discovered on corpses. If a goblin in your system should have 10 silver pieces on its body when it dies, and it is pickpocketed earlier for 1 silver piece, it should still have 10 silver pieces on its body when it dies.

Impoverished
Most monstrous humanoids and rural or disenfranchised commoners, including paupers and those who have taken vows of poverty.
1d10 CP, explode the roll.

Getting By
Many commoners and tradesmen, other adventurers, most clergy, some bandits.
1d10 SP, explode the roll.

Comfortable
Specialized tradesmen, landowners, successful merchants, ranking clergy members of organized religions, renowned adventurers, infamous bandits.
1d10 EP, explode the roll.

Prosperous
Lesser and intermediate levels of nobility, greedy or corrupt clergy, very successful merchants, bandit kings.
1d10 GP, explode the roll.

Wealthy
Kings and queens, heads of state or religions, invincible overlords, and other tremendously powerful folk.
1d10 PP, explode the roll.

Hopefully this ruleset helps you make pickpocketing a little more interesting in your games when it comes up. Thieves need their chance to shine too! As an aside, these can also be used as “what is on the body” tables for littering corpses with trivial items. You should feel free to chop the tables up as you see fit. Replace items, expand them to larger dice, etc.

If you like this take on pickpocketing, or you hate it and it feels slow at your table, or you just want to take my lunch money like it’s middle school again, hit me up in the comments or over on Twitter @dungeonspossums!

2 comments on “Pickpocketing

  1. Dr. Delight

    I like these charts, although if I used them I think I'd rearrange the 3d20 table so the more specific results were less likely and the more generic items came up on the most common rolls around 32 and 33. Or maybe roll on it with d6x10+d10.

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