Arcanum Thief FAQ - Guide for Arcanum: of Steamworks & Magick Obscura

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                  Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura
                    "So You Want to be a Thief" FAQ v.03
                     by Setsuna 
                             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.

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