IDEA: The thief's sudden appearance causes NPCs a momentary pause.
IMPLEMENTATIONS: As a thief grows, so too does the effects.
Imagine, right now in front of your screen, someone suddenly appeared next to you! It might take half a second to notice them and then another half second to believe what your senses were telling you. And only then might you react; in shock or fear or flight or fight. Thus the thief amplifies these reactions in their favor. Anyway, that is the premise. Here is what I mean, ...
VERSION 1: A set of independent tiers...
- At 50/25 "Confuse" becomes available. It is a tiered version of the mentalist disc Confusion. It causes a % of the NPCs to lose focus for 2 rounds. As the XP/Skill of the thief grows, so too does its power (it affects bigger NPCs). But not its duration.
- 60/25 "Flash". A tiered version of the healer disc Blind. It causes a % of the NPCs to disbelieve their senses. As the XP/Skill of the thief grows, so too does the tier's power and duration (max 3 seconds).
- 70/30 "Shock". A tiered version of the healer disc Stun. It causes a % of the NPCs to hesitate in shock for 1-2 rounds. As the XP/Skill of the thief grows, so too does its power to affect NPCs. But not its duration.
- 80/30 "Slow". A reverse tiered version of the mentalist disc Haste. It causes a % of the NPCs to slow and thus reduces the #of NPCs that have time to hit the thief. As the XP/Skill of the thief grows, so too does its power and its duration (max 3 seconds).
- 90/40 "Poppers". A tiered version of the healer disc Lightning. It causes a % of the NPCs to flinch and take a step back for one round. As the XP/Skill of the thief grows, so too does its power. A second round of poppers occasionally fires.
- 99/42 "Shadow". A tiered version of the thief disc Darkness. If a thief's hide is broken then there is a 50% chance for a shadow to instantly appear on the thief's hex, followed by a 50% chance for the thief to 0-round auto-hide. The shadow only lasts 2 rounds. [Not a precise fit to the premise, but a bit of random fun in staying alive.]
VERSION 3: Only one tier, "Startle", would exists. All the above internalized tiers would fire serially. Meaning one tier stops as another begins. So, when you make 60/25 you never see Confuse again, and so on.. Note: Rolling it into a serial bit of logic means this could be a Quirk instead. Where instead of being based on XP/Skill, it would be based on Quirk points.
WHEN PARTIED: When a thief is in a party all power effects are halved. Note that while the above tiers are in effect the other party members get value from a thief who is constantly backstabbing. Every other round, some NPCs temporarily pause and therefore the NPCs/Bosses are not hurting the party as often. Does this break tradition, to imagine a thief as a support class (instead of just a hitter), or does it push the genre?
NOTE: Breaking hide is the trigger. It does not have to be tied only to backstabs' loss of hide.
LATER: Thief only items can be added to decrease NPC reaction times too: Encrusting gear or weapons with Dragon hearts (brewed) that flash its image at the NPCs, encrusting with a baked Leviathan bladder (a brewed gem) which frequently projects a pungent odor, and so on. Encrusting allows the thief keeps their favorite weapon and gear, but can now enhance them. Eventually, this would also open up encrusting gems to make magical items for all classes and effects. And would make shields useful again too; by allowing only shields to hold many gems at the same time. Gems can be broken most easily on shields, so it would also allow for upkeep and replacements and quests.