Excerpts Archive | 2/12/2013
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Unearthed Arcana: Thief-Acrobat
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"Thus, Good Reader," Gary Gygax wrote in the preface to Unearthed Arcana, "here is the 'last word'—by far not the last word ever, but the latest so far. It is, after all, high time that those who enjoy the challenge and excitement of the AD&D game be presented with a tome such as this, a package which gathers all of the new discoveries, plus a wealth of just uncovered secrets, between one pair of covers. Preliminaries aside, here is Unearthed Arcana. It is now the moment you have waited for. Read on, and may you have as much fun with your creation as we are having with ours."

Originally published in 1985, Unearthed Arcana brought a wealth of material to the game, for both players and Dungeon Masters alike. For players, the book contained new classes and races to play (including the drow!), further spells and equipment, and even an alternate ability score: Comeliness (reflecting physical attractiveness, social grace, and personal beauty, and was considered a different attribute from Charisma).

For Dungeon Masters, the book offered further explanations of everything from the new weapon and armor types (full and field plate!), weaponless combat, non-human deities, and a wide array of new magic items incorporated into usefully revised treasure tables.

Of all these elements, it's perhaps the book's three classes that are best remembered. The Dungeons & Dragons cartoon had just run (1983-1985) and introduced many young gamers to the cavalier, barbarian and acrobat (adventuring alongside the ranger, thief and "magician"). Now here was the chance to play these classes!


In today's preview, we look at the first page for the next of these classes: the thief-acrobat.

An early version of the barbarian appeared back in Dragon Magazine #69. As Gary Gygax prefaced in his From the Sorcerer's Scroll article, A “split class” for nimble characters: the Thief-Acrobat:

"This time, rather than reveal a new sub-class such as the Barbarian, I thought the Enlightened Readership of this splendid vehicle might enjoy another concept. What you are about to read is the information so far developed pertaining to a split class. This is a first: To my knowledge, such a possibility has not been expressed before in any similar game system. There is nothing similar to it in the AD&D game system, although choosing to change from one profession to another is not too unlike the idea. Let us then get to the business at hand. I bring you, without further ado, the official new split-class for thieves."

As it appeared in Unearthed Arcana, this split-class character would begin as a thief for the first 5 levels of experience, and then specializes as a thief-acrobat. While some thief skills were then retained and others lost, new acrobat skills then gained: tightrope walking, pole vaulting, jumping, tumbling...

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