hide results

    Thief FAQ by Mochan

    Version: 0.03 | Updated: 09/11/01 | Search Guide | Bookmark Guide

                      Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura
                        "So You Want to be a Thief" FAQ v.03
                         by Setsuna <setsuna@mochan.cjb.net>
                                 Created 7-7-2001
                              last modified 9-11-2001
    Best viewed on a text processor with a fixed size font, width of 79 characters.
                                  MISSION STATEMENT
                               "I want to be a thief." 
                       (Say this out loud 10 times every morning)
                                    E-MAIL POLICY
    I welcome comments, suggestions, contributions, and I enjoy the occasional
    flame. However, if you are to mail me anything I require you to put this
    in the subject tag:
    [Arcanum FAQ] 
    This will help me sort my mail better. Thanks for your consideration.
                                  SOME ANNOUNCEMENTS
    Sorry if it seems I've been ignoring your e-mails lately. My harddisk crashed
    and I lost quite a bit of mail that was sent in. Understand that I try to
    answer everyone who writes in, but there's too much to write and far too
    little time. Maybe if I quit my day job, hehehe....
    Be sure to check out the GameFAQs Arcanum board. Being the thief I am, I'm
    stealing from it left and right. Any FAQs I write for Arcanum, I owe to the
    people at the message boards. This one's for you guys.
    Now finally, you might have noticed that I changed my name. Don't worry, it's
    still me. I just felt like changing my name to something that, to me, sounded
    1.  Playing the Thief Way
    2.  Building you Character
    3.  Thieving Technicalities
    4.  Thief Skill Trainers
    5.  Thieving Secrets
    1. Playing the Thief Way
    Playing a thief in Arcanum usually means tackling quests in a different
    way from usual. There are basically 4 ways to play the game: as a brute
    force fighter, a sly talker, a tech/mage warrior, or a thief. The 
    difference is mainly in the approach you take to solve a quest or 
    The most common type of problem is getting past a particular point. Many
    quests require you to talk to person, who gives you a task to do, and 
    you'll only get past after that task is accomplished. Fighters or talkers
    typically do this in the straightforward fashion by accomplishing the task
    set out for them. Tech/Mage types typically use a combination of the 
    fight/talk method, the main difference being that instead of swinging
    a weapon mindlessly they use their intellect skills to augment the fight
    (such as by using guns or attack magic). 
    The thief, however, often takes a different approach. Usually being
    weaker in terms of fighting, and not particularly good at speech, the
    standard thief method of getting past a problem requires subterfuge.
    This usually means bypassing the task altogether and finding another
    way around. 
    For instance, take a door that is locked. The guard will open it only 
    once you accomplish some task, say killing a bunch of enemies. A 
    fighter will just kill the enemies, and the guard will open the door.
    A talker might try to convince the guard to open it anyway, or get
    the guard to give him another easier task. The thief, though, will
    likely steal the key from the guard to open the door.
    This is what I mean by the art of subterfuge. To get the best out of
    your thieving character, you should strive to play the thieving way.
    Arcanum is a "role playing" game after all, and I can assure you you will
    be enjoying yourself more if you "play your role" correctly. As a thief,
    your role is to use subterfuge; be elegant and precise where others would
    be bungling and violent. You'll enjoy yourself more. Believe me.
    2. Building your Character
    Important Attributes:
    Dexterity - this is your number one stat. Most of your thiefly activities
       require this attribute. I suggest you start off with a dexterity of 10 
       or so. More is better.
    Perception - You'll need this for sneaking around. Start off with at least 8. 
    Intelligence - thieves should be smart too, you know. I consider 5 to be
       the absolute minimum for a thief's intelligence. You need at least that
       much to get all the dialogue options needed for a fun thieving experience.
    Important Skills:
    Prowl (Per) - for sneaking around leaving enemies unaware
    Pick Locks (Dex) - for opening those locked doors and treasure chests
    Pick Pockets (Dex) - for making other people's things your own
    Make sure that you have lock picking skill at the start of the game. This is
    because lock picking is easily the most vital skill for you to survive early
    on. Since you'll be focusing on thief skills, your combat potential will be
    far weaker, and as such you need to compensate by getting good items from the
    shops early on. Lock picking is vital to getting these items.
    Also, starting out with lockpicks gives you a free set of crude lockpicks at
    the start. However, you can also either buy a lockpick from the starting
    shop (not a good idea) or open the crate behind some tarpulin/wing wreckage
    at the crash site directly to your right for some free lockpicks (better
    Setting up your Character:
    I'm not sure which path is the better one for a thief to take. I think the
    beauty of being a thief is that you can be either magical or technological.
    I'll just say this: there's a lot of magical stuff to steal in this game.
    More on this later, when I've played more of the game.
    Traditionally, the best thieves are halflings. They have bonuses for your
    prime requisite -- dexterity -- and they are small and tiny, making
    prowling and picking pockets easier. Myself, though, I didn't want to be
    some half-pint so I decided to play a human. (I would have chosen elf, but
    I was playing a techno-thief. In the future I'll choose elf for magic thief).
    Someone suggested to me that a Dwarf would make a good thief because the
    trade off is that you get 2 points in tech skills for the dexterity penalty.
    I thought this was good, but I realized the tech skill bonus was not equal
    to one dexterity penalty in terms of skill points. For some reason a skill
    bonus is only like 1/4th of a normal skill point. So nevermind. Never liked
    playing dwarves anyway. ^_^
    The best backgrounds for a Thief character would likely be Arsonist, Feral
    Child, or maybe Pit Fighter. I think you can also be very effective as a 
    pretty or charismatic thief, in which case Model/Lady's Man or Charlatan
    would be great choices. I was also planning to use Sold My Soul but that's
    for magicians, and I wanted to be a techie.
    I would suggest putting points into your dexterity and perception, but not
    too much. I think you should concentrate on the more important stats to make
    your life easier: Pick Pockets and Lock Picking. Be sure to put maybe a point
    or two into Melee -- the reason is that in combat experience is given 
    according to how much you hit your enemy, and if you don't have melee skill
    it will be tough to hit enemies, thus giving you less experience points. 
    Invest in some fighting skills early so you can level up faster.
    Alright, that should get you started off in the world of Arcanum. Now, I
    will discuss some things about the thieving profession.
    3. Thieving Technicalities
    When you activate the prowling skill, all NPCs on the screen will have an 
    awareness level of your presence. The levels are: Safe, Risky, Dangerous,
    Perilous, and Aware. You can basically get away with sneaking around a
    person if it is Safe or Risky. If it becomes Dangerous, chances are the
    person will shift to Aware in a few seconds, especially if your prowl skill
    is low. Perilous, you should only get this close if the NPC is asleep.
    If an NPC is sleeping, apparently the NPC will not wake-up unless you
    try to do a pick pocket and fail. This is especially useful when sneaking 
    into shops at night to steal some goodies.
    The higher your Prowl skill, the closer you can get to an NPC without
    him becoming aware. Most NPCs also have less visibility in darkness,
    so try to do your sneaking at night.
    Q: How do I douse a torch or lantern?
    A: You can attack inanimate objects and other parts of the scenery by
       holding down ALT while attacking. If you do this on a light source,
       it will extinguish it, putting you in the dark. This I believe lets
       you sneak easier, although I have not verified this yet. 
    Also, what you wear has a big effect on your prowling percentage. Noise is
    a factor in prowling, and most armors have an NP (Noise Penalty) rating
    which impairs or aids your skulking around. For instance, Bronze Plate
    has a NP of -50%, which really makes it unsuitable for thieves prowling
    around. Leather Armor is only -10%. Some items actually help you sneak,
    like the Elven Boots which give a +10% chance.
    Take note that, depending on whether you are tech or magical, some items
    may or may not give you their bonuses. For instance, if you are highly
    technical, Elven Boots (which are magical) will not give you the sneak
    By the way, take note that magic items will not give you a bonus if you 
    are not magically-inclined enough. 
    Picking a lock can result in three things: you are successful, in which 
    case the lock will open, you fail, and the lock is as is, or you mess
    up, in which case the lock is jammed and it cannot be opened. Also 
    attempting to pick locked objects under guard will result in the guard 
    getting angry at you. See Breaking In.
    Q: If I jam a lock can I open it later?
    A: I've tested it out, and it seems that if you jam a lock now, you can
       come back later and it will revert to normal Locked status. I have
       not determined whether this is true for all locks, though.
    I define "breaking-in" as getting into a room that you're not supposed to
    be in. This usually refers to locked houses or establishments at night, 
    the backroom of a merchant shop (where the goodies are usually kept), and
    similar areas. 
    Now, as far as I can tell, there is no specific area designation for a 
    room that is off-limits. The only way NPCs check where you can or can't
    go, is through the entrance to that room -- a door or window. If you
    try to enter a backroom for instance, you will likely try to go through
    the locked door. If you hack, fiddle, pick the lock, or otherwise try to
    gain unlawful entry, anyone who sees you will get mad, and their reaction
    towards you will go down (probably to Suspicious) and they will tell you
    to leave it alone (or else).
    If you are in Prowl mode, however, and the guard is not aware of you
    (Safe or Risky or Perilous, but not AWARE!!) you can attempt to pick
    the lock without them reprimanding you. Once you are inside the house
    or whatever room you were trying to get into, no one will reprimand
    WITHOUT GETTING SEEN. Once it's open you can traipse about the place
    and no one will think you're up to anything naughty.
    A weird thing, though: if you happen to have the key to the door, you
    can open it and walk through without drawing the ire of the guards,
    even if you do it right in their face, even though you're not supposed 
    to have access to that door! And of course, the best way to get the key 
    to someplace you're off-limits, is to steal it from the guard. (i.e. -
    pickpocket. Yeah you can whack him, but that isn't very elegant)
    Q: How do I "break-in" to the Wise Women's "backroom" where all her
       stuff is? I don't want to pick-pocket each item individually.
    A: Sorry, I still have not figured out where those old hags keep their
       stuff. ^_^
    Like lock-picking, picking pockets can result in three things. You succeed,
    in which case you are happy, you fail, in which case you try again, or you
    bungle up, in which case whoever you were trying to steal from will have
    noticed and will be so pissed-off that he wants to spill your guts. Exercise
    Of course, the higher your pick pockets skill, the less likely you are to
    fail or mess up. It also helps if you try to do the action from behind your
    target, and it's easier to pick pocket someone who is bigger than you are
    (inverse is true, it is harder to steal from small people). It also seems
    to be easier to steal from someone if they are "unaware" of your presence 
    (i.e. -- you are in prowl mode and they are not AWARE!!! of you).
    Note: you can also use this skill to "plant" items on a target, and not
    just take things. I have not found an instance in the game where this can
    be of use, though I suspect you can frame people with this ability in
    certain quests.
    Q: Can I plant lit dynamite onto a person and not have him notice?
    A: I've tried this stunt and so far I haven't managed to succeed.
       I'll keep trying, though!
    Q: Is stealing gold from people profitable?
    A: NO! Only do this for chump change. The reason is that you can only steal
       100 gold pieces at a time, which means if you want to steal 4000 gold
       you must successfully pick his pocket 40 times! Not worth the effort.
    Stealing gold outright is not necessarily a smart idea, since you can only
    steal 100 gold pieces at a time. Kinda tiresome. The best proposition is
    still to sneak into the backroom and pick his chest open. Then steal all
    his money as well as whatever other stuff you want from his shop in one
    fell swoop.
    4. Thief Skill Trainers
    Here is a list of trainers for the thieving arts. As of the moment it's
    still VERY incomplete, give me some time to find all the expert and master
    trainers. Take note that this list is not and will never be definitive; 
    apprentice training is available practically anywhere. I'll only list the 
    easiest, most convenient apprentice trainers. Experts are harder to find, 
    though, typically there are only two or so areas to find expert training, and 
    there is only one master for all skills.
    In general, Apprentice training costs 80 gold. Expert training is 500, and
    Master Training requires you to both find the master (usually a tough act)
    AND doing some sort of quest or fulfilling a special requirement. Before
    you receive Master Training, be sure you are an expert and that you have
    something like 4 skill points invested in the skill, if not maxing it out
    with 5. Usually you will not be able to trigger the Master Training option
    if you do not have at least Expert Skill with 4 points. In some cases, like
    the Pick Pockets, you can receive Master Training without Expert skill, but
    your skill WILL NOT UPGRADE and you will be screwed forever because you
    can only receive Master Training once, so don't try it. 
    Pick Locks
    Apprentice - Mellik Bungerton (The Boil, Tarrant)
               - Most blacksmiths in Arcanum
               - Any Thief (the guys who give you Underground quests)
    Expert - Garret Almstead (Blacksmith, Ashbury)
    Master - JT Morgan (Caladon, Prison) 
           * To receive his training, you must break into Caladon's prison,
             then talk to him. Accept his quest to help him, then go to his
             mother in Roseborough. She will give you his master tool kit.
             Bring this back to him and receive your Master title.
    Pick Pockets
    Apprentice - Any thief in any major city (the guys who give you thief quests)
    Expert - Poone (Poone's Flophouse, Tarant)
    Master - Sammie White (Kensington Park, Tarant)
           * To receive his training, you must match wisecracks with this bastard.
             Talk to him, and keep insulting him like hell. He actually likes 
             being insulted. Then ask him why he likes insults, and be friendly
             with him (agree all the way). Then he will tell you to run around
             Tarant naked. This will give you the Pervert of Tarant reputation
             (reduces Reaction to you from people in Tarant, but who cares), and
             after you've received this rep you can talk to him again and he will
             grant you Master status. Now sneak up behind him and backstab him for
             all the misery he put you through.
    Apprentice - Any Elite Bow Guard (Dernholm)
    Expert - Any Elite Bow Captain (Caladon)
           - Any Thief Fence boss (e.g. - Mr. Black in Tarant)
    Master - Albert Leek (Sobbing Onion, Caladon)
           * To receive his training, the hard part is actually finding him.
             Whoever trained you as an expert will give you a scroll with four
             parts. Each part has a riddle which you must solve, to lead you to
             the next part. Frankly I never figured it out past the 2nd part, but
             someone told me that the guy in the Sobbing Onion was the master.
             Anyway, go to Mr. Leek and ask him to buy you a drink. Keep drinking
             until you're so wasted that you journal looks like demented crud and
             you're talking like a simpleton. Anyway, after several drinks you
             can ask Mr. Leek about prowling training and he will admit being 
             the master. Receive your training and sleep the booze off. ^_^
    Disarm Traps
    Apprentice - Mellik Bungerton (The Boil, Tarant)
               - I think any low-level thief can train you in this as well
    Expert - Adam Maxwell (24 Dragon's Turnabout, Caladon)
    Master - Daniel MacPharson (right across Mr. Maxwell, Caladon)
           * To receive his training, you must go through the gauntlet and 
             jump down his hell-hole training maze and get back up. This is
             quite time-consuming, damn the bastard, and it can be dangerous.
             Basically he tells you to run through his trap maze and survive.
             Try to go in with good Trap Spotting skil, or bring a Flow
             Spectrometer. If you can, bring a couple dozen Trap Spring devices.
             Or a ton of healing potions/salves, plus poison curing stuff, 
             depending on your magical or technological bent. You'll be taking 
             lots of damage down there, and your Expert Trap Disarm skill will 
             not be enough to take out all the traps. Anyway, once you run it
             through and go back up he will name you Master.
    Spot Traps
    Apprentice - most human guards anywhere
               - any low-level thief anywhere
    Expert - Hakmer Oggdoddler (or however you spell his name) in Blackroot
           - supposedly someone in the Wheel Clan can teach you too
    Master - Fred Fitzgerald (Bride's Dale Inn, Tarant)
           * Now, I admit I haven't achieved Master Spot Training yet. For 
             some reason, I can't find Mr. Fitzgerald where I'm supposed to
             find him. So if anyone knows, please write in and I will credit
             you. ^_^
    Apprentice - Magick Shop Clerk of Barach's Magerium in Tarant
               - Any thief city-dweller in the cities.
    Expert - Any Thief Fence
    Master - Edmund Craig (Somewhere in Tarant)
           * Sorry, haven't found him yet either. If you know, don't 
             hesitate to write in okay? ^_^
    5. Thieving Secrets
    1.) How to kill enemies with minimal or no risk   
    Hehehe, it just sounds good to call it that. Anyway, there are many
    many ways to abuse this game's combat system and come out on top with
    minimal fuss. For a thief, the secret is the Prowl skill. No other
    skill will help your thief make such a bad ass of himself without
    getting caught.
    The first order of business is to go into Turn-based combat mode. 
    This mode will allow you the leisure of doing bad things to your
    opponent without giving them any chance to react. So use Turn Based
    mode, it's your best friend.
    Second, as a thief you've likely increased your dexterity skill, right?
    If you're smart you will have pumped it up as high as it'll go (20
    sounds just about right). The reason for this is to get lots of
    action points per round, AND to get initiative. If you move first,
    you can kill first, right? Good, now let's get to specifics.
    If you're a mage-thief, you don't actually need the Prowl skill. Just
    use the ultra-cheap Disintegrate spell, and you'll be wiping enemies
    out left and right. 
    If you're a tech thief, and favor guns, I've found that if you have a
    high enough prowl skill, you can sneak when you see an opponent, go
    into combat mode, and fire away. They will NOT know where it's coming
    from, even if you're not using a hushed revolver, so you can pick them
    off at your leisure. I find this utterly ridiculous, since they enemies
    will not even run about in confusion. They all just stand there and take
    it like a man. What happens is that they know they're getting hit, but
    since you're still "Safe" in prowl mode, they don't know where you are,
    so it is truly a case of ninja shadow-art sniping. I get a sadistic
    kick shooting the toes off of my victims while doing this. ^_____^
    This of course also works with bows, boomerangs, and other ranged
    weapons. Take note that if you have a companion, he will likely rush
    the enemy when you do this, blowing your cover. So, as I always say,
    "He who kills the sneakiest, kills alone." In other words, if you're
    a true-bred thief ditch Virgil and all the other worthless riff-raff
    and go the Lone Wolf style. ^_^
    If you're one of those backstab type thieves, well, backstabbing lets
    you do massive damage but it usually just works one on one. Still, if
    you're feeling cool and want to be like a "real thief," arm yourself
    with your best melee weapon (like the Pyrotechnic Axe or something),
    make sure your Backstab skill is as high as it can go, turn Prowl on
    and move up behind the unwitting opponent. Strike. Dead man. ^_^
    If there are several opponents, the trick is to click on the Combat
    Mode button when you get close enough. Then when you whack someone
    it's still your turn and you should still have some time left. Walk
    up behind the next enemy and give 'em another backstab. You should be
    able to take out 3 enemies this way, depending on the speed of your
    weapon. Still, it's generally safer to do this on only 1 opponent.
    If there's more than that, use a gun or a bow. 
    2.) How to be a Cheap Ass Thief
    Here is a bug in the game which you can exploit to be a "cheap-ass thief."
    For a definition of "cheap ass," please refer to my Evil Summoner FAQ
    (also available at GameFAQs!)
    In the town of Tarant, go to Madam Lil's brothel (the one with four ladies 
    in their underwear). Ask her about a night with her girls, and she'll tell
    you they cost 100 gold a pop. Ask her for less expensive options, and she'll
    give you a quest to find a ruby necklace. It is with the maid at the house
    she mentions. Finish the quest, and go back to Madam Lil for your reward
    (ahem). Afterwards ask her for more work, and she'll tell you about Mr.
    Langley, a patron with outstanding accounts. She'll ask you to collect 400
    gold from him. He's the gnome doorman in front of the inn. 
    Now, follow these dialogue options: (I'll put in the exact wording later)
    "Madam Lil sent me to speak with you."
    "Yeah... I know what you mean. But she wants her 400 coin."
    "[menacing] Listen mister... she wants what is due her... now!"
    "I don't trust you, Langley."
    "It will have to do. [You take the coin] I'll be back for the rest."
    He'll offer to give you half the gold (200) and tell you to come back
    five days later for the rest of it. After this series of dialogues,
    you'll be 200 gold richer.
    Now here's the fun part. Talk to him again and follow the same options.
    He will give you 200 gold again, and tell you to wait five days again!
    That liar, he's loaded! Do it again, and again, and again... and you'll
    be a millionaire. The best part is, you can come back to him a month
    later and he'll still say the same thing and you can still get 200 gold.
    So effectively, you have unlimited gold forever! The only drawback I see
    is that you can't complete this quest and get other jobs from Madam Lil.
    But WHO CARES! You've got unlimited gold! That's way better than anything
    Lil and her "customer service" workers can offer you!
    Q: If I am a moron with less than 5 intelligence, will this work?
    A: I do not know. Haven't tried it yet. It's possible that with 
       less intelligence the proper dialogue options won't be possible.
    Now, I've found that there are other quest which can afford you similar
    unlimited money. Frankly, though, this is only a good thing to do near
    the start of the game when money is tight. It's usually a better idea to
    steal some nice expensive item from a merchant and sell it right back to
    him. Merchants here are so stupid they don't realize it. ^_^ 
    Of course, the best proposition is to just manually hack the gold to
    give yourself unlimited gold. But I'm not going to teach how to do that
    here so you'll have to find out for yourself. :P Come on! Try enjoying
    the game without cheating first.
    This is the initial version of this FAQ. Give me some weeks to flesh it out
    thoroughly to be a complete thieving guide. This guide is a work of fiction.
    Any resemblance to real events or people is purely coincidental. Do not 
    attempt to do these things in real life.
    If you are constantly reading the legal information of FAQs looking for new
    jokes, get a life! There's nothing to see here! 
    This FAQ is copyrighted by me. Whatever that means. I hold all rights to it. 
    But since I'm teaching you all to be thieves, I think it would be hypocritical
    of me to say "don't rip me off." But I'll say it anyway. Please don't rip me 
    off. Thank you. You may display this FAQ on your website, refer to it in your 
    own work, you may even use it as a base to write your own FAQ. Go ahead. Just 
    give credit where it's due.
    As far as I know, this is the first Arcanum FAQ to be posted. Since I still 
    have not played enough of the game to make a full-blown FAQ/walkthrough, I 
    will concentrate on my favorite kind of character -- the thief.
    I've only been playing Arcanum for a couple of hours at the moment, and I
    haven't gotten very far. But I've tried to explore as much about thieving
    as I possibly can. Expect more updates to this document in the near future.
    I'm aiming to complete all major portions of this FAQ before Arcanum is
    even released in the US! ^_^
    After I get more downtime with Arcanum, I might make a true FAQ/Walkthrough.
    But I doubt that I will be able to do that before the game is released in
    the US.

    View in: