So You Wanna Be A Thief?

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(Tynian's notes: Slash posted a series of notes in 1994 about being a thief. It may be interesting from a historical perspective. The notes are taken from the notes data file, and may look a little funny)

Sender  Slash~
Date    Sun May 29 19:37:07 1994~
To      all~
Subject So you wanna be a thief?   Part I~
So you wanna be a thief?

Thieving is fun, and can be done for success and profit.  However, thieving
is not the same as being a warrior, and the on line thieving help is rather
poor.  Here is the straight dope, as told by a Master of Smell:

$$$$  BACKSTAB - Backstab lets you do double (or more) damage on your first
hit.  Once you have some skill, you initiated it by saying BS <mob>.
If you do practice BACKSTAB, make sure you adept in at as soon as
possible, even if you have for skip common.  The reason is, if you miss your
backstab, the mob is going to have a first hit on you, which can be quite bad
if you were expecting to start with a good bit of damage against the mob.
You can only backstab with a piercing weapon.  At first level, this is
your sub-issue dagger.  Not a lot of weapons pierce.  Some daggers don't
pierce, and some things you wouldn't expect to pierce do, like icicles and
chisels.  If you lose your sub-issue dagger, you will need to beg or steal
another, as there are no low-level piercing weapons in the mud.  You might be
able to find one in the weapons shop, but it will probably be higher level
than you are.
Most non-piercing weapons do more damage than piercing weapons at the
same level, so a common strategy is to BS, then immediately wield your back-up
weapon.  This trick is also insurance against being disarmed on the first
If you expect to PK, remember that you can't BS in a PK, as PKs must
be initiated with MURDER.  You also can't BS aggressive mobs easily.
At higher levels with a good piercing weapon, you will be able to BS
cityguards and kill them instantly.

Sender  Slash~
Date    Sun May 29 19:38:25 1994~
To      all~
Subject So you wanna be a thief?   Part II~
$$$   PICK - This lets you pick locks in things like chests and doors.  Locks
have some kind of level, so don't expect that if you adept in this you will
be some kind of Houdini.  (At 25th level I couldn't pick the lock in mud
school).  However, PICK lets you go places you normally wouldn't be able to
without killing some high-level monster, and get treasure with a lot less
hassle.  Also, the people you are going to group with will expect you to have
it.  PICK is also handy when the mud crashes and you are locked in somewhere
without a key or a recall.
You can keep PICKing something for quite some time, so you don't really
need to adept in this skill right away.  Don't endlessly pick a lock, though,
as the mud will kick you off automatically.  Every few times do some other
fast action like FROWN.

$$$   STEAL - Steal is pretty useless when you first get it, as you can't
really use it until you get PEEK.  This is because you can't steal wielded,
worn, or held objects.
If you want to steal from players before you get PEEK, wait until you
see "<player> stops using <object>".  Then steal the object, or better yet,
wait until the player is asleep.
Some objects are called NODROPs, and can't be stolen.  This includes
all potions, and certain 'cursed' weapons.  Also, some mobs are smart and
will hold their key or other object so you can't steal it.
Some people put all their stuff in a container.  You can't steal from
inside a container.  You can steal the whole container though just as easily.
If you are worried about people stealing stuff from $you$, you can use the
container trick and hold the container in your hand, or get a container like
the backpack that can be worn instead of carried.

Sender  Slash~
Date    Sun May 29 19:40:13 1994~
To      all~
Subject So you wanna be a thief?   Part III~
$$$   PEEK - Shows you the non-equipment inventory of a player or mob.  This
is real handy.  Once you have this, you can steal all kinds of stuff from
mobs and players.  Like PICK, you can keep doing this almost endlessly, so
there is no need to adept in this right away.  Remember that the mud is set
up so that in a group of mobs only a few will have the key you want, so you
want to PEEK <mob> until you see "Nothing" in the inventory and then start
PEEK 2.<mob> until you see "Nothing" in the inventory.
Don't expect to get all the things you saw in the inventory when the mob
dies.  Some objects vanish when the mob dies.  Other objects appear when the
mob dies.  This doesn't happen a lot though.

$     SNEAK & HIDE - These are PK skills or for impressing your friends in
town.  Don't expect to sneak around mobs.

$$$   DISARM - This practice is pretty important.  First, it lets you disarm
mobs, so they will do less damage against you.  Secondly, once they are
disarmed, they won't be able to disarm you.  Finally, in the middle levels
it is quite common for the really cool weapon you want to be in the hands of
some mob that you are not able to kill.  You can disarm the mob, get the
weapon, and then flee.  Lamias come to mind here.
Some mobs have the ability to retrieve a weapon after you have disarmed
them.  Therefore, once you have disarmed them you want to GET or SAC the
weapon immediately.
DISARM is also the first thieving skill you can do while in combat, so
you get something to type during a fight.  This makes fighting a lot more fun.

$$$$  DODGE and PARRY - Once you get these, you are set for the big time.
If you can adept in both of these, you will cut your damage by about 90%.
These skills are automatic, you don't have to type anything.

$$$$  SECOND ATTACK and THIRD ATTACK - Once you get these, you are really set
for the big time.  You will start doing two or three times the damage you used
to.  This means the mob will only live for 1/2 as long, inflicting only half
the damage upon you.

$$$$  KICK - Kick is great, especially if you are really strong.  Mobs don't
seem to get a chance to dodge or parry a kick, so for certain mobs you will
find yourself doing as much damage with kick as you are doing with your three
other attacks.

Sender  Slash~
Date    Sun May 29 19:41:03 1994~
To      all~
Subject So you wanna be a thief?   Part IV~
$$$   INFO - This displays a line on your terminal whenever a player starts,
quits, raises a level, or is killed.  Kind of interesting.

$     INFO2 - Prevents you from typing anything for twenty seconds, then
comes back with something lame like "<player> has a long sword" or
"<player> is evil."  You can't use this on mobs.

$$    INFO3 - This lets you know whenever anybody talks anywhere in the world.
This is a pretty useless skill unless people are plotting to PK you.  The
purpose seems to be to let you get a feel for how the other players are
doing, so you can offer to rescue them for huge fees.  You also start getting
an echo in your ears where you hear stuff like "Lendoralin says hello" then

"Lendoralin (somewhere) says 'hello' to someone".
$$    BLYND - This is pretty cool, as it causes the mobs to do less damage
and prevents them from retrieving their weapons.  You only get to do it once
per mob unless you are really lucky.

Sender  Slash~
Date    Sun May 29 19:42:20 1994~
To      all~
Subject So you wanna be a thief?   Part V~
$$    BANDAGE - This is like cure light, but you can only do it to players
that are really close to death.  Also, since you can fail miserably, you don't
really want to do it to a player with 1 hp.  Use it on players who are dying
or have enough hp to take your bandage failure.
Note that you can bandage yourself.  Also, if you have a lot of hit
points, you can $really$ bandage yourself.  At 500 hp, I could bandage myself
back up to 130 hp after a really bad fight.  And there is no annoying wait
for 'mana' or whatever.

$$$   RETRIEVE - This causes you to automatically get your weapon back if you
are disarmed.  This is handy, esp if you are blind or if you didn't notice
that you got disarmed as messages scrolled up your screen.  Don't count on it
working, though.

$$    ENGAGE - This skill misfires so much that it is usually to much of a
pain to use.  Two good uses though are 1) When you are in a group, and some
which level mob is attacking your cleric or mage, you can switch to fight the
mob.  (However, you don't get rescue, so you better be pretty good).  2) More
importantly, when fighting alone and the second mob keeps disarming you you
can switch to him and disarm him.

$     LANGUAGES - Since the mobs don't talk and the signs and notes are all
readable, the language thing is just for talking to other players, specifically
first level players.  Why you would want to talk to a first level player is
not known at this time.