|Image by Sidney Sime, found HERE|
One of the fun things about exploring old D&D is the search for the origins of its many elements. Rangers are Aragorns, rust monsters came in a pack of Japanese dinosaur toys, etc. The thief has often been linked to the Leiber’s Grey Mouser and Vance’s Cugel, but I would propose a different Ur-Thief … Thangobrind the Jeweller.
I’ve been boning up on my Dunsany lately, to help me apply the finishing touches to Bloody Basic – Weird Fantasy Edition, and last night read through the “Distressing Tale of Thangobrind the Jeweller” in his Book of Wonder. I draw your attention to the following passages, which seem very thiefy to me:
HIDE IN SHADOWS
“O, but he loved shadows! Once the moon peeping out unexpectedly from a tempest had betrayed an ordinary jeweller; not so did it undo Thangobrind: the watchman only saw a crouching shape that snarled and laughed: “‘Tis but a hyena,” they said.”
“Once in the city of Ag one of the guardians seized him, but Thangobrind was oiled and slipped from his hand; you scarcely heard his bare feet patter away.”
“At night they shoot by the sound of the strangers’ feet. O, Thangobrind, Thangobrind, was ever a jeweller like you! He dragged two stones behind him by long cords, and at these the archers shot.”
“… but Thangobrind discerned the golden cord that climbed the wall from each [of the emeralds] and the weights that would topple upon him if he touched one …”
LISTEN AT DOORS
“Though when a soft pittering as of velvet feet arose behind him he refused to acknowledge that it might be what he feared …”
Okay, not at a door, but keen listening nonetheless.
“… – now like a botanist, scrutinising the ground; now like a dancer, leaping from crumbling edges.”
“Oh, he was cunning! When the priests stole out of the darkness to lap up the honey they were stretched senseless on the temple floor, for there was a drug in the honey that was offered to Hlo-Hlo.”
Which, of course, means the Thief needs to be reintroduced as a class in its own right into the Weird Fantasy edition, sending the vagabond back to the “subclass” category. This thief will likely have a couple different skills to bring to the table, though.