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I need sleight of hand difficulty modifiers


Advice


My players have gotten themselves in a situation where they are probably going to get a bunch of stuff stolen. I've tried to subtly warn them and last session had a few items get stolen, but let the party catch the thieves.

This session I'm letting the LBEGs (Little Bitty Evil Guys) have at the party. They probably are going to lose a bunch of stuff. I don't want to screw the party too hard, but I also want to let the bad guys do their thing.

The books say the DC to steal something with slight of hand is 20. But that's a pretty easy to hit DC. It doesn't look like there are any official modifiers out there, so I'm looking for ideas. What can be stolen and what should the DCs be?

Sovereign Court

Sleight of hand is dc 20 to get the item, true. But sleight of hand is still an opposed check, sleight of hand vs perception check. Perception check has various modifiers depending on the situation, which what you should be reading mostly.

Which means even if they succeed in stealing something, they can still get noticed and most likely whoever notice you pickpocketing them, it's going to end badly.

Sleight of hand dc 20 only covers small object. It doesn't cover anything special. Dc 20 is one small object.

Anything bigger than a small object(such as a weapon for example), you need the disarm or steal maneuver.

Sleight of hand is also a standard action to do it without penalties, if they try to do it as a move action, it's a -20 penalty. So even if Bob succeeds in pickpocketing somebody and get noticed, he would have used his standard action, so the person can literally beat them up or at least get one shot before, the pickpocket get a chance to react.


The bad guys are not so much the subtle thief you never notice. They are more the snatch and run type that you notice too late. Slight of hand as a standard action an then duck into a dark alleyway as a move action.


Mostly I will be using a band of Eldritch Scoundrels making heavy use of the Pilfering Hand spell.

The idea is they stealth up to the party and use Pilfering Hand to snatch an item from 35 feet away and run into the darkness. Rinse and repeat.

But the DC 20 is a little too easy. I was thinking of some higher DCs to steal some items and maybe a reflex save to grab the item before it is whisked away if they make the perception check.


If you read the spell description of pilfering hand, and you want them to be a more snatch and run type, without being stealthy, I would suggest using the abrupt maneuver version, and target their CMD.

Abrupt Maneuver: You instantaneously attempt a disarm or steal combat maneuver against a target within range. Use your caster level as your Combat Maneuver Bonus, adding your Charisma modifier (bard, oracle, sorcerer), Intelligence modifier (magus, wizard), or Wisdom modifier (cleric) in place of your Strength or Dexterity modifier. This combat maneuver attempt does not provoke an attack of opportunity from its target, but casting this spell might. If you are successful, you pull the target object to you, and if you have enough hands free, you can catch it. Otherwise, the object lands in your square as if you dropped it.


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Also target less expensive things that they may have showing, like spell component pouches, a scroll case or potion. Don't grab their +3 sword or 20k staff, unless you want them to be chased to the end of the world and beaten to a pulp.


Even though the bad guys are only about half the level the party is, they are actually quite good at stealth. Good enough to sneak up on the party most of the time. They also are pretty good at slight of hand, which is why I am concerned that the DC 20 is pretty trivial.

The concept I have for them is more like the classic street urchin that is good enough to steal stuff but not quite good enough to get away clean all the time.

The steal combat maneuver is more like a mugging in my mind, using strength and attack bonus to take things from you. My bad guys are more sneaky with nimble fingers. The problem is, I'm worried a few low level arcane thieves could steal the party blind and have them adventuring in their underwear in short order.

And the thing is, I've been trying to warn them. They've kinda bitten off something bigger than they can chew. They are determined to kick in some doors and kick some butt. Unfortunately the bad guys don't fight that way. They don't go toe to toe. They hide in shadows and hit with debilitating sneak attacks and other underhanded tricks.

And now the party wants to make an assault on the lair where they are outnumbered about 80 to 1.

So, to me the choices are:

1. TPK

2 Nurf the crap out of a truly challenging bad guy so the party can slaughter the entire dungeon.

3. Humiliate and demoralize the party until they come up with a better plan, some reinforcements, or a few more levels of experience. Or, who knows, maybe they surprise me and kick some more butt.

But back on topic, I'd like some suggestions on DCs and things to steal.


They know the location of the lair?

Tell the constabulary. Coordinate a raid. Law enforcement will be more than happy to hit a criminal gang where they live.


Thanks for the idea. That won't exactly work, but with a few tweaks I could do something similar. That helps.


DC 20 slight of hand is to lift a small object from someone. So the best they will get away with is a coin/spell pouch or other small things like potions or scroll cases, or at best, a dagger. They will not be able to grab a weapon or strip the armor off the PCs backs. So the issue of them running around town naked is a non-issue. Slight of hand is also an opposed check against perception, and most PCs have that maxed.

Second, when using pilfering hand as a combat maneuver, you would use your caster level and casting modifier as your CMB, and at range, not strength and BAB. This makes it much more arcane trickster-like, and less of an in your face mugging, imo.

Finally for the thieves den, as you already stated, most of these guys will be half the PCs level. So maybe after they see a group or two get their butts handed to them, the other lower level guys realize they have no chance and retreat to inform the higher level bosses and enforcers about the intruders. Not everyone needs to be a combatant, nor will most street urchins be willing to fight to the death to protect some loose knit organization they belong to.

Hope some of these ideas help you.


There's a difference between sleight of hand and steal in combat.

Just as a point since youbsaid they are less than subtle. Once combat starts sleight of hand is no good.


Sleight of hand can be used in combat by a unseen opponent.

The small object limit is a little vague. How small is small. Neck slot items, rings, many wrist items are all small. Ioun Stones and most other slotless items are small. I would say a belt is small. Spare weapons are small. Hats and headbands should be small. Backpacks and bags of holding are probably not small, but most everything inside would be. A good thief could start randomly grabbing stuff out of a pack.

I don't want the bad guys to run from the party. It doesn't make sense.

Think of it this way: A party stumbles across a dragon hatchling. They dispatch it easily. Then they say "Hey that was easy! Let's go find this things parents and kick their butts too."

Having a mated pair of elder dragons run in fear or get taken out easily just doesn't work. Same for this situation.

Sovereign Court

Heh, quite honestly if they already know the score, sometimes, to keep consistency with your world, just don't be afraid to show them what it means.

I mean threats don't mean a thing, if you never act on them. That's like having an epic villain and keep saying that the guy is cruel and whatever, then suddenly a player starts dicking around, knowing that the GM won't kill him or harm him.


Kifaru wrote:

Sleight of hand can be used in combat by a unseen opponent.

The small object limit is a little vague. How small is small. Neck slot items, rings, many wrist items are all small. Ioun Stones and most other slotless items are small. I would say a belt is small. Spare weapons are small. Hats and headbands should be small. Backpacks and bags of holding are probably not small, but most everything inside would be. A good thief could start randomly grabbing stuff out of a pack.

I don't want the bad guys to run from the party. It doesn't make sense.

Think of it this way: A party stumbles across a dragon hatchling. They dispatch it easily. Then they say "Hey that was easy! Let's go find this things parents and kick their butts too."

Having a mated pair of elder dragons run in fear or get taken out easily just doesn't work. Same for this situation.

Well, let's be clear. Not unseen, unaware.

If they are aware of you, seen or not it doesn't matter. A small detail but one they made a point to make.


Uh, are you ignoring the spell manifestations FAQ? Because otherwise Pilfering Hand is a terrible idea. The players might try to track down the giant glowing runes even if they don't notice they've been robbed (or make the Spellcraft and realize they've been robbed). Even without the manifestations, if they make the Perception check then they're going to follow the item as it gets yanked away (it's not hidden). And the only way "ducking into a dark alley" works is if the enemies have darkvision and absolutely none of the players do, and they're walking around at night with no light source and no easy way to generate one.

...this really sounds kind of contrived. Do your players really have no darkvision and no way to generate light outside of torches?


They are assaulting the bad guys in their lair. I believe I've mentioned this before. The bad guys are small and live underground. It's like a small city. There are about 400 of them.

The bad guy swipes something and takes off down a sized small side tunnel. The small critter moves at full speed while the medium party members are squeezing. The bad guys are also accomplished trap makers and the party has no rogue. The party starts a full speed chase and finds themselves in a spiked pit.

Things go from bad to worse.


Kifaru wrote:
They are assaulting the bad guys in their lair. I believe I've mentioned this before. The bad guys are small and live underground. It's like a small city. There are about 400 of them.
You did mention a lair, you did not mention "sized small tunnels". What you said implied something very different, specifically:
Kifaru wrote:
The bad guys are not so much the subtle thief you never notice. They are more the snatch and run type that you notice too late. Slight of hand as a standard action an then duck into a dark alleyway as a move action.

There's a big difference between "dark alleyway" and "cramped tunnels". A better metaphor would be "duck through a hole in a fence".


What I asked for, is some ideas on sleight of hand difficulty modifiers. And maybe some ideas on what can be stolen. Everything else is fluff.

I didn't think I needed to describe in minute detail every aspect of the set up and get away to get a little feedback on possible sleight of hand difficulty modifiers.


Sorry buddy you're right let's focus.

Necklaces and scrolls and potions make for great items to knick. Wands too.

Basically things tucked in belts or loosely around a neck.

If it's more stuck on, add a little extra DC.

Hey maybe they could use distractions like those traps so the group is focused in one spot to allow the sleight of hand to happen. That would lower the DC significantly.

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