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Skip Navigation LinksHigh Fantasy HERO>Conversions>D&D>AD&D 2nd Edition>Rogues / Bards
Conversion Document
FROM: AD&D 2nd Edition
TO: HERO System 5th Edition
Rogues are those who stray outside the straight and narrows. They are ultimately the most skilled of all classes, surpassing all others in sheer variety of abilities. Examples of Rogues range from Walter Slovotsky to Jimmy the Hand, from Matrim Cauthon to Regis, from Roo Avery to Kami D'Shai, from Master Thinal to Pel, to perhaps the most well known rogues of them all, Gord of Greyhawk and the Grey Mouser.
While other classes develop martial abilities and practice arcane arts, Rogues tend to concentrate on skills that allow them to operate outside "the System". They hone their personal skills and develop their dexterity. A Rogue will put almost all of his points into increasing old and learning new skills and abilities. Speed and agility tend to be a Rogue's trademark, for a slow rogue is often a dead one. Rogues also often have preternaturally sharp senses and an innate sense for danger which saves their neck where a less attuned man would die. Also many Rogues seems possessed of absurd good fortune and luck in dire straits.
In AD&D 2nd Edition there were two basic types of Rogues available for play; Thief and Bard. The following guidelines provide advice on how to take an AD&D character from one of those classes and convert them into the HERO System.
Thieves concentrate on getting in where they aren't supposed to be (and hopefully getting out again), taking what they shouldn't take (and getting away with it), finding out things they aren't supposed to know (and doing something with the skinny), and most importantly, looking out for number one (which means ensuring survival of self).
In pursuit of these various means, Thieves typically concentrate on learning the skills most appropriate to their mode of operation and niche.
Some Thieves are out and out Burglars, others are Pickpockets, Muggers, Swindlers, Fencers & Brokers, Smugglers, Spies, Highwaymen, Bandits, Pirates, Kidnappers, Extortionists, and other nefarious never-do-wells (some are even Lawyers). But other Thieves turn their skills to more constructive ends, such as Scouts, Bounty Hunters, Swashbucklers, Courtiers, Trapspringer, Thief-catcher, and Fortune Hunters.
Sample Thief Package Deals
A number of Thief Package Deals can be found here.
AD&D 2nd Edition Thief Conversion
Consult the Rogue column of the AD&D 2nd Edition Class Level to Character Points Chart to determine how many Character Points your Character has available to them in the HERO System. Either use one of the Thief Package Deals provided above or create your own. The Thief (Generic) Package Deal is ideally suited for playing a 2nd Edition Thief in the HERO System.
Thieves are generally dexterous, nimble individuals. In AD&D Dexterity was primarily defensive, aside from improving ranged combat capacity. However in the HERO System Dexterity determines a character's base chance to hit and to not get hit. Its also priced at a steeper rate than all other Primary Characteristics.
This can have some odd effects, resulting in Thieves that are much better at hitting by default than highly skilled warriors. There is nothing wrong with this by default, as more martial types are sure to invest in Combat Skill Levels which will eventually offset the difference. The biggest downside from the perspective of the Thief is that many of their class abilities are DEX based, but due to the cost of DEX it is expensive to raise their DEX to the levels the player thinks adequate.
There are 3 basic alternatives to this, and they can be combined.
The first option is to buy DEX with a -1 Limitation, Only for DEX Rolls. The downside to this option is that it is only good for making actual DEX Rolls, not DEX based Skill rolls. As a compensatory factor, DEX bought in this fashion does not count against Characteristic Maxima.
Adroitness: DEX only for DEX Rolls: +10 DEX (30 Active Points); Only For DEX Rolls (-1); Real Cost: 15 points
The second option is to buy Skill Levels. There are many variations of Skill Levels, and a Thief should consider 10 point Overall Levels (which are usable for combat, Perception Checks, and Find Weakness rolls, among other things), 8 point Skill Levels with All Non-Combat Skills and 5 point Skill Levels with DEX based Skills.
A character can start off with Dex Based Skill Levels and then upgrade them to All Non-Combat and/or Overall Levels (or start with All Non-Combat and upgrade them to Overall Levels) with Experience.
Adept: +3 with DEX Based Skills; Real Cost: 15 points
Well Rounded: +2 with All Non-Combat Skills; Real Cost: 16 points
Puissant: +2 with Overall; Real Cost: 20 points
The third option is to buy the Talent Lightning Reflexes, which is effectively DEX bought with the Limitation Only To Go First In A Phase (-1). You can buy Lightning Reflexes with 1 attack or with all attacks. The downside to Lightning Reflexes is that you cant move or reposition when you use it, so it effectively costs a Half Phase Action to use. The upside is that you can get the drop on an opponent that is otherwise quicker than you.
Lightning Reflexes: +10 with One Action; Real Cost: 10 points
Improved Lightning Reflexes: +10 with All Actions; Real Cost: 15 points
Thieves' Cant
An odd ability, this skill allowed Thieves to communicate to one another "on the low down" via hidden meanings, unobtrusive gestures, special lingo, and concealed markings and signs. Essentially, the fantasy equivalent of street lingo. In the HERO System, this is just treated as an (unusual) language.
Thieves' Cant: (Language; basic conversation; literate); Real Cost: 2 points
Pick Pockets
In the HERO System this is handled quite simply as a skill purchase. Sleight of Hand serves as an all purpose skill for Thieves in fact, allowing all sorts of applications where a fast and/or unseen hand can be made handy.
Pick Pockets: Sleight of Hand Skill (DEX based); Real Cost: 3 points. To raise the percentile, buy levels with Sleight of Hand (2 points for +1), or with all DEX based skills as a group (5 pts for +1)
Skilled Pickpocket: Sleight of Hand Skill (DEX based) +3; Real Cost: 9 points.
Expert Pickpocket: Sleight of Hand Skill (DEX based) +6; Real Cost: 15 points.
Master Pickpocket: Sleight of Hand Skill (DEX based) +9; Real Cost: 21 points.
Open Lock
In the HERO System this useful Thief ability is handled quite simply as a skill purchase as well; Lockpicking. To be able to regularly pick through Very High Quality locks, a Thief should be able to casually take a -9 penalty in stride.
Open Lock: Lockpicking (DEX based); Real Cost: 3points. To raise the percentile equivalency, buy levels with Open Lock (2 points for +1), or with all DEX based skills as a group (5 pts for +1)
Skilled Lockpicker: Lockpicking (DEX based) +3; Real Cost: 9 points.
Expert Lockpicker: Lockpicking (DEX based) +6; Real Cost: 15 points.
Master Lockpicker: Lockpicking (DEX based) +9; Real Cost: 21 points.

Magic Locks

Some locks are mystical rather than physical and require magic to get through; others are strangely designed compared to conventional locks. However, in some games it may be appropriate for a particularly adept Thief to be able to circumvent even this kind of "lock"; seek GM's permission before purchasing this sort of ability however.
Sublime Lockpicker: Suppress vs. Unusual Locks: 16d6, Variable Effect One Power At A Time (Any 1 Power construct "Lock"; +1/4), Delayed Return Rate (points return at the rate of 5 per 5 Minutes) (+1/2), Reduced Endurance 0 END (+1/2) (180 Active Points); Extra Time 1 Turn (Post-Segment 12) (-1 1/4), Character May Take No Other Actions (-1/4), Limited Special Effect Uncommon SFX (-1), Lock Completely reset after 5 Minutes (-1), Required Hands Two-Handed (-1/2), No Range (-1/2), Concentration 1/2 DCV (-1/4), Requires A Lockpicking Skill Roll (No Active Point penalty to Skill Roll, RSR Skill is subject to Lockpicking Skill vs. Magic Skill of Locking Caster -1/4); Real Cost: 30 points

Find & Remove Traps

This ability was not only good in the pursuit of lining a Thief's own pockets, but also a significant advantage in terms of usefulness-to-the-party. The ability to Find and Remove Traps made a good Thief a necessity for most dungeon crawls.

Find Traps

The most direct way to "find" anything in the HERO System is to define a custom Detect for the thing you wish to "find"/detect.

Detect Traps: Detect A Class Of Things 14- [Separate Sense], Analyze, Discriminatory, Increased Arc of Perception: 240-Degree, Range; Real Cost: 25 points
Sense Traps: Add Sense to above: +2 points

Remove Traps

The Security System skill is used to both remove and to install traps in the HERO System. Similar to Lockpicking, there are heavy penalties involved depending on the quality of a particular trap; thus it behooves a Thief to have a very high skill roll, capable of absorbing a -10 penalty or more in extreme cases.

Trap Mastery: Security Systems +5; Real Cost: 13 points
Master Trapspringer: Security Systems +10; Real Cost: 23 points
In a genre with magic available, invariably some traps will be Magical in nature. In some High Fantasy games it might be appropriate for an experienced Thief to be able to disarm Magical traps as well. This can be managed with a Dispel vs. SFX: "Magic Traps". The SFX is that the Thief figures out some way to circumvent the magic, trigger the trap harmlessly, or otherwise disarm it. The GM determines the method for disarming any particular trap, but the Power construct presented below requires the Thief to either manipulate the trap directly or to set it off from an adjoining hex or similar. A failed roll may or may not set off the trap as determined by the GM, but a roll missed by 3 or more should certainly trigger the trap. Due to the variation in the RSR: Dex roll Limitation depending on how good the character's Dex roll is, this ability will cost  more for more dexterous Thieves.
Sublime Remove Traps: Dispel Traps 20d6, Expanded Effect One At A Time (+1/4), Reduced Endurance 0 END (+1/2) (105 Active Points); Extra Time 1 Turn (Post-Segment 12) (-1 1/4), Character May Take No Other Actions (-1/4), Required Hands Two-Handed (-1/2), Concentration 1/2 DCV, Must Concentrate throughout use of Constant Power (-1/2), No Range (-1/2), Requires A DEX Roll (No Active Point penalty to Skill Roll -1/2); Real Cost: 23 points

Detect Noise

About the only outlet for the concept of a "Perception Check" in AD&D, the Detect Noise ability was an often underestimated tool in a crafty Thief's repertoire. This maps directly into the HERO System as Perception bonuses to Hearing, and can be easily expanded upon into general Perception levels. A more crafty player might consider making Hearing Targeting, with GM's permission.
Detect Noise: +5 PER Normal Hearing; Real Cost: 5 points
Advanced Detect Noise: +5 PER Normal Hearing (Real Cost: 5) plus Targeting Sense (Normal Hearing) (Real Cost: 10); Total Real Cost: 15 points

Move Silently & Hide in Shadows

The trademark Thief abilities, this maps directly to Stealth and Concealment in the HERO System, but can also be modeled using the Invisibility Power with GM's permission.
Move Silently & Hide in Shadows: Stealth +1, Concealment +1; Real Cost: 10 points
Advanced Move Silently & Hide in Shadows: Stealth +1, Concealment +1 (Real Cost: 10) plus Invisibility to Sight Group, Normal Hearing, Reduced Endurance 0 END (+1/2) (34 Active Points); Only When Not Attacking (-1/2), Only in Shadows or Darkness (-1/2), Requires A Stealth or Concealment Skill Roll (Active Point penalty to Skill Roll is -1 per 20 Active Points -1/4) (Real Cost: 15); Total Real Cost: 25 points

Climb Walls

Another very useful trick when one is in the business of breaking in to places; this maps to the Climbing skill in the HERO System, but can also be modeled using the Clinging Power with GM's permission.
Climb Walls: Climbing +4; Real Cost: 11 points
Advanced Climb Walls: Climbing +4 (Real Cost: 11) plus Clinging (+15 STR) (15 Active Points); Cannot Resist Knockback (-1/4), Requires a Climbing Skill Roll (-1/4); Total Real Cost: 26 points

Read Languages

The information brokering potential of this handy skill was oft overlooked. In the HERO System this is best modeled as a version of Universal Translator.
Read Languages: Universal Translator 22- (31 Active Points); Written Only (-1); Real Cost: 15 points


The great Equalizer. This is the Class ability that ensured that no one could completely discount a Thief. It meant that if you couldn't see the Thief, you had better assume he was lining up to take a choice piece of meat from your back. Untold encounters were abruptly ended or swung when the Thief finally managed to work into position and plant a short sword between the bad guy's shoulder blades.
The most efficient way of modeling this ability is via a Talent new to Fantasy HERO with the most recent release, Deadly Blow (Sneak Attack variant).
Deadly Blow (Sneak Attack): 1d6 KA Only With Blows Struck From Behind or Against Surprised Targets; Real Cost: 7 points (per d6)
Backstab Master: 3d6 KA (see above); Real Cost: 21 points

Scroll Use

This was always a kind of strange "what the?" ability of the Thief. In the Magic System used in this conversion, this can be replicated with a Custom Talent called "Scroll Comprehension". Scroll Comprehension is not needed by any caster to use a Scroll bearing a Spell effect which that caster has the appropriate Magic Skill for, and is available to all classes.
Scroll Use: Scroll Comprehension +5; Real Cost: 15 points

In 2nd Edition people would hear about what smooth operator a Thief was, and would show up to follow them, automatically once the Thief got to a certain Level threshold. Alternately, the Thief would seek the followers out, in some cases by the expedient of taking over an existing Thieves Guild or equivalent. There are a few ways to handle this in the HERO System detailed here.

Bards were one of the most unusual classes in AD&D 2nd Edition. They combined elements of Fighters, Thieves, and Wizards, plus plentiful flavor of their own. A complex and multifaceted class, Bards were often jacks of all trades and masters of none. Often depicted as itinerant wanderers with an urge to expand their horizons, their versatility made them useful to a small adventuring party, while their lack of a standout feature made them not so good in a larger group where more skill sets had a dedicated representative
Bard Package Deals
A Package Deal tailored for an AD&D 2nd Edition Bard can be found here.
AD&D 2nd Edition Bard Conversion
Consult the Rogue column of the AD&D 2nd Edition Class Level to Character Points Chart to determine how many Character Points your Character has available to them in the HERO System. Either use one of the Bard Package Deals provided above or create your own. The Bard (Generic) Package is particularly well suited for converting a AD&D 2nd Edition Bard.
Bards in AD&D 2nd Edition
For a traditional 2nd edition Bard, use the Generic Bard Package Deal linked to above. However, since each Bard could theoretically be a unique entity unto themselves feel free to either adapt the Generic Bard, use one of the alternate Bard Package Deals, or create your own custom Package Deal (with GM permission). Otherwise, consult the Thief and Fighter common Class ability suggestions above and in the Warrior Conversion page for many ideas that could apply to even custom Bards.
The ability to cast Spells was one of the Bard's primary Class Abilities. They were the only class other than Wizards to have access to Arcane Magic. This is handled using the guidelines provided in the Wizardry Magic System.
Information Insert
  • Only Arcane Magic (-1/2)
  • Only Change Spells With Spell Book & Study Time (-1/2)
  • All Spells Must Have 1 Charge (-1/4)
  • Variable Limitation (-1/2; each Spell must take -1 of Limitations from Extra Time, Concentration, Incantation, Gesture, Limited Range, or RSR: Magic Skill vs. Spell Resistance in any combination at a MINIMUM)
Control Cost per Spell Level (15 Pool) = 2.5 Real Points
Total Cost per Spell Level (15 Pool) = 17 Real Points
For all mechanical purposes, there is no difference between a Bards and a Wizards Spellcasting in AD&D 2nd Edition save some limits on the Bard such as max Spell Level and the ability to create new Spells and Magic Items. Unlike Wizards, Bards could only cast up to 6th Level Spells (105 Active Points or less) and could not create Spells; it's up to the individual GM whether they wish to apply these same limits in the HERO System or not. Further, Bards could not create Magic Items either, but again there's nothing other than GM preference preventing a Bard from buying the appropriate skills and creating Magic Items.
Bards follow the Wizardly paradigm of Magic use and divide Magic into 8 Categories, with 8 corresponding Knowledge Skills. They are:
Wizardly Arts: Scholar, KS: Abjuration, KS: Conjuration, KS: Divination, KS: Enchantment, KS: Evocation, KS: Illusion, KS: Necromancy, and KS: Transmutation; Real Cost: 19 points
By definition Bards are generalist Magic Users, and thus it is appropriate for a Bard to get by with just Spellcraft, as explained in the Arcane Magic System guidelines.
Basic Wizardry: Spellcraft; Real Cost: 15 points