The Master Thief

The master thief is a first-level sample character using the Spheres of Might rules by Drop Dead Studios, suitable for use as a PC or as an NPC. Information on its build rules, and how to adjust for different rules, is included below.

The Master Thief

Human technician 1
N Medium humanoid (human)
Init +5; Senses Perception +5 (+6 to notice traps)


AC 16, touch 13, flat-footed 13 (+3 armor, +3 Dex)
hp 9 (1d8+1)
Fort +1, Ref +5, Will +2


Speed 30 ft.
Ranged hand crossbow +3 (1d4+1d4/19-20) or barrage +1/+1 (1d4+1d4/1d4+1d4/19-20)
Situational Bonuses:

  • Barrage Sphere: +1 atk/dmg with ranged attacks when within 30 feet
  • Fencing: fatal thrust (+1d6 damage to flanked/flat-footed/lost Dex to AC)


Str 10, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 18, Wis 10, Cha 8
Base Atk +0; CMB +0 (+3 Dirty Trick/Steal); CMD 13
Feats Extra Combat Talent (Barrage sphere), Extra Combat Talent (Equipment: Expert Reloading)
Traits reactionary, seeker
Skills Appraise +8, Bluff +3, Craft (traps) +8, Diplomacy +3, Disable Device +7, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +8, Knowledge (engineering) +8, Knowledge (geography) +8, Knowledge (local) +8, Perception +5 (+6 To Locate Traps), Profession (trapper) +4, Sense Motive +4, Sleight of Hand +6 (+8 to Conceal Weapon On Yourself), Stealth +6, Use Magic Device +3
Languages Common, Dwarven, Elven, Gnome, Halfling
SQ combat training, equipment: rogue weapon training (discipline), fencing sphere, fencing: fatal thrust (+1d6), gadgets, gadgets: constructed weapon, gadgets: detonator, gadgets: hook and pulley, gadgets: improvised tools, gadgets: launcher, invention: improved crossbow, inventions, martial tradition: thief, scoundrel sphere, scoundrel: cut and run, scoundrel: marked target, scoundrel: swift hands, trap specialist, trap sphere, trap: darts, trap: snares, trap: tripwire (snare), trapfinding
Other Gear studded leather, hand crossbow (30 bolts), thieves’ tools, trapmaking tools, 12 gp


Barrage Sphere Barrage practitioners specialize in using ranged weapons to make fast shots, often from the middle of the melee itself. Practitioners of the Barrage sphere gain a +1 bonus on attack and damage rolls with ranged weapons at ranges of up to 30 ft. Associated Feat: Point-Blank Shot.

All practitioners of the Barrage sphere gain the following ability: Barrage.

Barrage: Barrage As a special attack action, you may make two ranged attacks at your full base attack bonus -2. Beginning at 6 base attack bonus, you may expend your martial focus to make an additional extra attack, increasing the penalty to all your attacks from -2 to -4. For every 5 points of base attack bonus you possess, when expending your martial focus you may increase this penalty by an additional -2 to make an additional extra attack.

Some talents are marked (blitz). You may apply a maximum of one (blitz) per extra attack to a barrage, but only if the barrage meets the prerequisites, including that attack (for example, if a (blitz) requires a target be struck twice, you can only apply that (blitz) to a target that has been struck twice. If he is struck a third time, you could apply a second (blitz) that requires at least two attacks to that target). Associated Feat: Rapid Shot

Combat Training A technician may combine combat spheres and talents to create powerful martial techniques. Technicians are considered Adept combatants and use Intelligence as their practitioner modifier.

Equipment: Expert Reloading Whenever you reload a ranged weapon with which you are proficient, you may decrease the required time; hand and light crossbows become free actions, heavy crossbows and one-handed firearms become move actions, and two-handed firearms become standard actions. If you possess the Crossbow Mastery feat, you do not provoke attacks of opportunity when reloading any crossbow. Associated Feat: Rapid Reload.

Equipment: Rogue Weapon Training (Discipline) You gain proficiency with the blade boot, butterfly knife, garrote, hand crossbow, kukri, rapier, sap, short sword, shortbow, starknife, switchblade knife, sword cane, war razor, and whip. Additionally, you gain a +2 competence bonus to Sleight of Hand checks made to conceal a weapon on your person. At +10 base attack bonus, this competence bonus increases to +4.

Fencing Sphere Fencers are quick fighters who use nimble footwork and expert feints to open up their target before landing a fatal blow. When you gain the Fencing sphere, you gain 5 ranks in the Bluff skill, plus 5 ranks per additional talent spent in the Fencing sphere (maximum ranks equal to your total Hit Dice). If you already have ranks in the Bluff skill you may immediately retrain them, but you do not get to retrain when only temporarily gaining talents, such as through the armiger’s customized weapons class feature.

Practitioners with the Fencing sphere gain the following ability: Fatal Thrust

Fencing: Fatal Thrust (+1d6) Whenever you make an attack action or an attack of opportunity against a target that is within 30 ft. and that you are flanking, that is flat-footed, or that has lost its Dexterity bonus to AC (such as through a successful feint), you deal an additional +1d6 precision damage to the target. This damage is not multiplied on a critical hit. This damage increases by an additional 1d6 precision damage for every 5 points of base attack bonus you possess. A fencer may apply the effects of a single (exploit) talent to any fatal thrust.

Gadgets (4/day) Technicians are experts at building things, be they improvised tools or unique mechanical marvels. These items, called gadgets, are built out of components the technician has prepared in his spare time out of commonly-found items; so long as the technician has access to a trap bag, he is assumed to have access to all the parts he needs to build his gadgets, and to have already prepared components beforehand to quickly create whatever gadget he needs.

Creating and activating a gadget is a standard action, but may be reduced to a move action by expending martial focus.

A technician can create a total number of gadgets in a day equal to 1/2 his technician level + his Intelligence modifier (minimum: 1). If a gadget calls for a saving throw, that saving throw’s DC is equal to 10 + 1/2 his technician level + his Intelligence modifier. A gadget must be used the round it is created, or fall apart back into its component parts, which does not expend the gadget.

Gadgets: Constructed Weapon The technician can expend a gadget to allow an improvised weapon to function as a simple melee weapon of his choice for 1 minute.

Gadgets: Detonator The technician may create a gadget that explodes in 1 round, at the end of his turn. As part of the standard action used to create this detonator, he may throw the detonator (with a range increment of 10 ft.), place it, or hide it in a space within his natural reach. After one round (at the end of his turn), the detonator explodes, dealing 1d6 damage per technician level to everything within 5 ft. of the square in which the detonator sits, half fire damage and half bludgeoning/piercing/slashing damage. Targets within this area may make a Reflex save for half damage.

A detonator counts as a trap from the Trap sphere for the purpose of determining its hardness, armor class, hit points, Disable Device DC, and its Perception DC if hidden, as well as for things such as the Opportunist or Trapper’s Recovery talents. A detonator cannot be placed in the same space as a trap, or another detonator.

If a detonator is destroyed (including by another detonator), it does not explode. If two detonators explode at the exact same time, creatures in the overlapped area suffer diminished results from every detonator but 1, suffering instead 1d6, +1d6 per 5 technician levels for each overlapping detonator after the first.

Gadgets: Hook and Pulley The technician may create a gadget that allows him to manipulate objects from a distance. This gadget counts as a thrown weapon with a range increment of 20 ft. Make a ranged touch attack against an unattended object that he could hold in one hand. If successful, he may move that object to his hand as a free action. Targets whose natural reach includes the path that object must take (i.e., are within the line of effect) can make a Reflex save as an immediate action to attempt to grab the object as it flies by.

Alternately, the technician may use this gadget to attempt a drag, trip, disarm, or steal combat maneuver at a distance. Performing a maneuver from a distance in this fashion does not provoke an attack of opportunity (except as normal when making a ranged attack), but requires the technician to succeed on a ranged touch attack against the target first before the maneuver may be attempted.

Gadgets: Improvised Tools By expending one use of his gadgets, the technician can make any skill check that requires having tools and requires less than 1 hour to make as if he possessed the necessary tools. The technician does not suffer the usual penalties for using improvised tools. If the technician already possesses the necessary tools, the technician can expend a gadget to treat those tools as masterwork for one skill check. The technician can create improvised tools that function as masterwork tools for one skill check, but doing so expends 2 gadgets.

Gadgets: Launcher The technician can create a gadget to allow him to throw an object. The object can travel 10 ft. + 5 ft. per technician level before the technician begins adding range penalties or calculating its maximum range.

This gadget can be used at the same time as another gadget to hurl that first gadget a greater distance. This expends a gadget for the launcher as well as for the hurled gadget. The technician cannot attach more than one launcher to a device or object.

Invention: Improved Crossbow Penalty: Anyone other than the technician himself suffers a -2 penalty to attack rolls per improvement when using an improved crossbow.

Improvement: Powerful Load The crossbow deals an additional +1d4 weapon damage. This improvement may be gaine

Inventions Every technician knows how to create custom items, called inventions. Inventions could be anything from a simple improved crossbow, to a powerful and complex machine that to the uneducated appears to be magic. Inventions are finicky, improvised things that require constant tinkering and fixing, and there is a limit to how many a technician can maintain at any one time. A technician can have and maintain a maximum of 1 invention at 1st level, plus an additional invention at 3rd level and every 4 levels thereafter. If the technician has already reached this limit and wishes to create a new invention, he must select one of his existing inventions to dismantle. Whenever an invention includes an ability that calls for a saving throw, the DC equals 10 + 1/2 the technician’s class level + the technician’s Intelligence modifier.

Some inventions have prerequisites, which must be met before the invention can be created. These prerequisites might be items, a cost in gp for specialty parts, or feats and skill ranks the technician must possess. A technician may create any invention which he meets the necessary prerequisites to create.

Creating an invention takes 8 hours of work. The work need not be consecutive, and the technician can do this work while out adventuring, but in that situation he can only devote 4 hours each day to item creation, and only nets 2 hours’ worth of work due to being in a distracting environment. Once the invention has been created, altering its improvements requires only 1 hour of work.

Martial Tradition: Thief Thieves avoid fair fights whenever possible. Their favorite tactic is to take their opponents unaware, but barring that, a dirty trick or a well-placed feint will let them end the fight quickly. Talents: Equipment: Rogue Weapon Training, Scoundrel Sphere, Fencing Sphere, Variable: Scoundrel Talent

Scoundrel Sphere Masters of subtlety and guile, practitioners of the Scoundrel sphere know how to best manipulate opponents into dropping their guard before taking them for everything they have. When you gain the Scoundrel sphere, you gain 5 ranks in the Sleight of Hand skill, plus 5 ranks per additional talent spent in the Scoundrel sphere (maximum ranks equal to your total Hit Dice). If you already have ranks in the Sleight of Hand skill you may immediately retrain them, but you do not get to retrain when only temporarily gaining talents, such as through the armiger’s customized weapons class feature.

All practitioners of the Scoundrel sphere gain the following abilities: Marked Target, Swift Hands.

Scoundrel: Cut and Run As long as you have martial focus, whenever you successfully perform a dirty trick or steal combat maneuver against a creature, you may move up to half your base speed as a free action. This movement does not provoke an attack of opportunity from the target of your maneuver.

Scoundrel: Marked Target You may make a melee touch attack against a creature as a swift action; if this attack is successful, the creature is battered and takes a -1 penalty on Perception checks for 1 round. For every 4 ranks in Sleight of Hand you possess, this penalty is increased by 1.

Scoundrel: Swift Hands You may use your Dexterity in place of your Strength when attempting a dirty trick or steal maneuver and may use your ranks in the Sleight of Hand skill in place of your base attack bonus when determining your combat maneuver bonus to perform a dirty trick or steal maneuver. In addition, you may apply any enhancement bonuses to your unarmed strikes to your dirty trick and steal combat maneuvers.

Trap Specialist At 1st level, the technician gains the Trap sphere as a bonus sphere. If he already possesses this sphere, he instead gains one talent from that sphere.

Trap Sphere When you gain the Trap sphere, you gain 5 ranks in the Craft (traps) skill, plus 5 ranks per additional talent spent in the Trap sphere (maximum ranks equal to your total Hit Dice). If you already have ranks in the Craft (traps) skill you may immediately retrain them, but you do not get to retrain when only temporarily gaining talents, such as through the armiger’s customized weapons class feature.

Possessing this sphere grants you access to the ability to rapidly deploy temporary traps. You may make a Craft (traps) check with a DC of 5 to place a trap on any solid surface within your reach as a full-round action. This trap persists for 1 round per point that your check exceed the placement DC. The trap is placed in a 5-ft. square of your choice. For every 5 ranks in Craft (traps) you possess, you may increase this area by one 5-ft. square. All squares a trap occupies must be contiguous and you can not place two separate traps in the same squares. Entering a trap’s space triggers the trap. The Perception DC to locate a trap is 10 + your Craft (traps) modifier. Trap talents that require a saving throw use your ranks in Craft (trap) instead of your base attack bonus when determining your saving throw DCs.

Traps are cobbled together from scrap, detritus in the environment, and random bits of string, springs, and other miscellany that have been assembled into easily deployed components. Any creature in possession of a trap bag is considered to have the required materials to build these temporary traps, preparing components during downtime and restocking it for negligible cost at regular intervals, though some talents may allow the use of more expensive components that must be tracked. At the GM’s discretion, some traps may be constructed from materials in the environment even without a trap bag.

You never set off your own traps unless you choose to. Creatures who you warn or who see you set a trap are aware of its location and gain a +5 circumstance bonus on Perception checks to notice the trap and Reflex saves and AC to avoid the trap. A trap may be removed as a full-round action with a Disable Device check with a DC equal to your Craft (traps) bonus +10. You always succeed on removing your own traps. You may choose to recover any expensive components or Alchemy sphere formulae used in a successfully removed trap.

If a trap is perceived, it can be targeted and destroyed by attacks without setting it off. A trap has hardness equal to your ranks in Craft (traps), AC equal to 10 + your ranks in Craft (traps), and 5 hit points + 5 hit points per 2 ranks in Craft (traps) you possess.

As long as you have martial focus, reduce the time required to set a trap from a full-round action to a standard action.

There are two basic types of temporary traps, snares and darts. A trap may only be triggered once unless otherwise noted. Trap sphere talents that allow for the use of expensive components allow for the component (alchemist fire, dose of poison, etc.) to be drawn as part of the action required to place the trap unless noted.

Trap: Darts A dart trap is constructed of spring, twine, and usually a needle or other blade. A dart targets a line originating from one corner of one of the squares it occupies determined when it is set. This line extends out to Close range (25 ft. + 5 ft. per 2 ranks of Craft (traps) you possess) and stops after one creature is hit. When triggered, make a ranged attack roll against each creature in the line until one is hit. You may substitute your ranks in Craft (traps) + your Intelligence modifier for your base attack bonus + Dexterity modifier on this roll. The dart deals 1d6 piercing damage, increasing by 1d6 when your Craft (traps) ranks reach 3 and every 2 ranks thereafter, and has a critical threat range of 20 with a x3 multiplier. Some talents allow you to modify your darts. Each trap may only benefit from one (dart) talent. Some trap talents allow you to forgo dealing damage for benefits as defined in that talent.

You may forgo dart damage to expend an alchemical item (such as a tanglefoot bag), a thrown splash weapon (such as alchemist’s fire or acid flasks), or a dust (a potion containing a spell that affects an area) when making a dart trap to add the effects of that splash weapon to the dart. Resolve the attack verses touch AC. Items with an area of effect count their origin from the nearest corner of the struck creature’s space to the line of the dart’s effect.

You may apply injury poison to a dart as if it were a weapon after it has been set. While setting the trap, you may choose to forgo dart damage, instead expending a dose of a contact or inhaled poison as part of setting the trap. The dart then resolves its attack vs. touch AC. An inhaled poison fills its area as normal, centered on the struck creature’s square (or the first square targeted by the line, if the creature occupies more than one space).

Trap: Snares A snare trap is constructed from rope, wire, and similar materials. A snare targets the first creature to enter one of the squares it occupies. A creature may avoid triggering a snare with a successful Reflex save; doing so leaves the trap untriggered and makes the creature aware of the trap and able to pass through that trap’s space(s) without further risk of triggering it. Some talents grant additional types of snares. Each trap may only benefit from one (snare) talent.

An alchemical item may be rigged to a snare trap. If a creature triggers the trap, the alchemical item is activated, targeting a grid intersection adjacent to the trap chosen when it is set. If the alchemical item is a thrown splash weapon, the triggering creature is affected by the item as if it were struck directly by it. Other small items such as dyes, dusts, vials of perfume, and other items with GM permission may also be attached to a snare trap as well.

An inhaled poison may be rigged to a snare trap. If a creature triggers the trap, the first square entered (the creature’s choice if there is more than one entered simultaneously) becomes the centerpoint for the inhaled poison.

When you first gain the Trap sphere, you gain the following snare: Tripwire (snare).

Trap: Tripwire (Snare) A creature that fails its save against a tripwire snare falls prone. Once knocked prone, a creature is no longer at risk of triggering the trap in that square. This trap is not destroyed when triggered; instead the duration is reduced by 5 rounds per creature that fails its save. Running and charging creatures take a -2 penalty on their Reflex saves against this trap.

Trapfinding A technician adds 1/2 his level on Perception checks to locate traps and on all Disable Device checks (minimum +1). A technician can use Disable Device to disarm magic traps.

Build Rules

The Master Thief is built with a 20-point buy. If you roll well or use a higher point buy, raise Dexterity, then Wisdom. If you roll lower or use a lower point buy, drop Con, then Dex.

Your most important ability is Intelligence, followed by Dexterity, then Constitution. Wisdom is helpful for making Perception checks and Will Saves, but not actually necessary. You have good Reflex and Will Saves already, but you are somewhat vulnerable on Fortitude Saves.

Unlike some thief types, you aren’t too Charismatic, so Charisma is a dump stat. However, this build still gives access to the Fencing sphere, which provides several free points in Bluff, so you may not end up awful at it. Strength and Wisdom should not be lowered below 10 (if you can avoid it).

Playing The Master Thief

This build has a lot going on at first level, so you’ll want to pay careful attention to your options. Your main offense is your hand crossbow, which does 1d4+1d4 damage thanks to your first Invention. Don’t forget about the passive of the Barrage sphere, which adds 1 to your accuracy and damage when you’re within 30 feet. If you can go before the enemy, you can also add another 1d6 damage from the Fencing: Fatal Thrust ability. Expert Reloading will help you keep firing when that’s what you want to do. This build has already purchased 30 crossbow bolts, which should see you through your first adventure. Buy more if you want to.

You have three other major groups of options.

Your Gadgets offer a flexible set of options, including a square-shaped Area of Effect blast that’s good for small groups of weak enemies or swarms. This will automatically gain 1d6 damage per level as you grow, ensuring it remains relevant. This is a good way to soften up a group of enemies at the start of combat (against a single foe, stick with your crossbow).

The Scoundrel sphere is a way to help you get out of trouble. If you can’t easily disengage all on your own, you can use Market Target as a Swift Action to inflict Battered on your target. This is the new condition introduced in Spheres of Might and reduces their CMB against you. From there, you can use dirty trick or steal on your foe, then dart away from them. Neither the combat maneuver nor the movement will provoke an Attack of Opportunity, allowing you to hide behind someone else and start doing ranged attacks again.

The Trap sphere lets you quickly create traps to mess with your enemies. These won’t do much now, but if you can grab some alchemical items (like tanglefoot bags), there’s a lot you can do to make your enemies suffer.

Aside from your direct abilities, you also have a lot of skills, with talents ranging from appraising items to crafting and disabling traps to knowing the locals and hiding weapons on your body. You aren’t as good at social skills as some rogues, but with your +3 bonus, you can Aid Another on someone who does specialize in those and help them out about 70% of the time.

Future Abilities

As you level up, think about the options you use most frequently and either expand those or cover any weak spots that seem to be holding you down. You can deal some damage with your crossbow attacks, especially when enemies are flat-footed, but you aren’t necessarily great at damage. Think about what you can do with your traps to inflict debuffs and slow your foes so the heavy-hitters can take them down for good.

If you want to do well in offense and debuffs, invest in the Fencing Sphere. Fast Feint is a particularly helpful option that will let you move towards or away from your target. Feint Strike can help you do way more each round, though it doesn’t play too well with the Scoundrel Sphere in general. Consider retraining out of Scoundrel in its entirety – and changing your Martial Tradition before your game begins – if you want more offense. The Barrage sphere is good for pure damage.

Also, consider picking up the Scout sphere when you can. You’re probably going to be sneaking around a lot, and it has many talents that can help you with that.

Don’t forget about all the free skill points you’ll get over your first five levels.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Spheres of Might, © 2017, Drop Dead Studios LLC; Authors: Adam Meyers, Michael Sayre, Andrew Stoeckle, N. Jolly

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