Thief Essay

Return to: Stealing
Professions: The Thief


The Thief
by Shinobi, October 2009


My name is Shinobi. Since around 2002, my main character has been a PvP Thief on the Atlantic shard. With the exclusion of my dexxer, which I rarely play, the only character I play on UO is my thief. After all of these years, I am still not tired of it.

The only way I have known to make gold in this game is through stealing from players. Literally everything I own in the game has either been stolen, given to me, or bought with gold from selling stolen items. I’m not exaggerating in the least when I say this.

I didn’t start my thief until after AoS, so I wasn’t able to experience “The Golden Age” of the thief class. I have been dealing with insurance since the beginning. People constantly speak of how insurance (and Trammel) nerfed the thief class into oblivion, rendering it completely useless. While those changes were a set back, they did not end the thief class. Thieves can steal anything they want, if they try. There are ways to get around insurance, making it simply an obstacle rather than a road block.

The following info is based off of four books I wrote in-game. They are How To Train A Thief, The Basics Of Stealing, The Thief NPC Guild, and Thief Macros. I originally wrote these books for use in my guild.

I run the biggest thief guild in UO. I like to find new thieves, and assist them in training. After so many years, I was hearing the same questions asked over and over again. That is when, rather than repeating myself, I decided to write the books. Soon after writing them, I decided that in order to help increase the thief population, I would put the books into circulation on multiple shards. Players will be more inclined, and intrigued, to create a thief if they know what they are doing. Now the books are here, fully revised, and as up-to-date as they can get. I hope this info helps you as much as it has others.

How To Train A Thief

Training a thief is very simple. The following section will tell you exactly what you need to know in order to train your thief’s skills. It will also talk about template suggestions.

Training Stealing

Training stealing is simple, but can get old really quick. In order to train stealing, you will need a pack horse or pack llama. First, find a place in Felucca to train (preferably somewhere safe). Before you start training, make sure to tell your packy “All Guard Me”. If you don’t make your packy guard you, you will turn criminal when you attempt to steal items from it. If you are in a guard zone, this can cause you to be guard whacked.

If you are starting at 0 Stealing, go find NPCs that can train you in Stealing (such as the Thief Guildmaster, or Guildmistress, and gypsies).

Before you begin training, make sure you aren’t wearing any Stealing bonus items (jewelry, Burglar’s Bandana, Shadow Dancers). Like all skills, the higher the skill is, the harder it becomes to train. That’s why you don’t want to wear bonus items while training.

In order to train Stealing, you must put items into the packy’s backpack, and steal the items from it (do not use Random Steal when training Stealing). You will need to steal items that are a certain weight at certain points in your training. Follow these guidelines when training Stealing (if you are starting at 0, you should be able to gain at least 30 Stealing from the NPCs):

Find which section your Stealing skill falls under, and steal items of the corresponding weight.

30-37 Stealing: 3 Stones38-47 Stealing: 4 Stones48-57 Stealing: 5 Stones58-67 Stealing: 6 Stones68-77 Stealing: 7 Stones78-87 Stealing: 8 Stones88-97 Stealing: 9 Stones98-107 Stealing: 10 Stones108-117 Stealing: 11 Stones118-120 Stealing: 12 Stones

The easy way, of course, would be to boost your Stealing skill with as many bonus items as you can. If anyone tells you that real skill is better than boosted skill, they are lying. Boosted skill not only saves you time you normally would have spent training, but it also allows room for extra skill points in other areas of your template.

Training Snooping

To train Snooping, find a player who will allow you to train on them (you should also be able to train off of NPCs with backpacks). Then simply double-click the backpack you want to snoop, and stand near the player, or NPC, while holding down the Last Object macro (see Thief Macros section). Continue holding down the button for Last Object, and watch it gain.

Like Stealing, Snooping can be unnoticed. At GM Snooping, you will be unnoticed 100% of the time, allowing you to snoop people undetected.

Training Hiding

In order to train Hiding, lots of thieves like to set a macro for Hiding on their spacebar, so whenever they type, they train without even meaning to.

Training Stealth

To use Stealth, simply hide, and then start to walk while hidden. The higher your Stealth is, the further you can walk without revealing. After a certain point, you will not be able to gain anymore Stealth unless you are wearing the correct armor. Follow these guidelines:

Whenever your Stealth reaches the following points, equip the corresponding armor.

60 Stealth: Full regular leather armor suit (do not wear a leather cap).75 Stealth: Full studded leather armor suit (no cap).85 Stealth: Along with the full studded leather armor suit, throw on a Close Helm (can replace with a Bascinet if you do not have enough strength to equip the Close Helm).

An easy way to train Stealth in your house is to place two corresponding teleporters along the same wall. Walk from one teleporter to the other, which will then teleport you back to the first teleporter. This allows you to walk infinitely. You can then set your mouse to auto-walk (simply walk in one direction with right-click, then while holding down the right mouse button, left-click). When you are auto-walking along the two teleporters, have your Hiding macro set to spacebar, then place a weight on the spacebar to hold it down (or you can tape it down). This will allow you to train Hiding and Stealth without even touching your computer.

NOTE: Do not do this and walk away from your computer. If found, you can get in trouble (possibly banned) for afk macroing.

Template Suggestions

The only skills a thief needs are the following:

120 Stealing100 Snooping100 Hiding100 Stealth (at least)

The rest of your template is just accessories. However, there are many directions you can go with a thief template.

If you plan to steal at spawns, you will almost certainly need Ninjitsu. This will allow you to Shadow Jump (teleporting while hidden/stealthing), use Animal Form for quick getaways, and use other useful techniques.

If you just plan to steal at gates and towns, and you don’t want anything too complex, then you can be what I call a “Pure Thief”. This template consists of:

StealingSnoopingHidingStealthHealingAnatomyDetecting HiddenTracking

If you wish, the Healing/Anatomy can be replaced with any form of healing, but I do not suggest Chivalry. As a thief, you will have bad karma, which will affect how well your Chivalry works.

Detecting Hidden and Tracking work very well together. Tracking will allow you to have an actual arrow on your screen pointing to the player you choose to track. You can then keep track of where they are at all times, until the skill runs out. If they leave the area, or cross a server line, you will lose track of them. At 20.1 Tracking, you are able to successfully track every player without Hiding or Stealth, 100% of the time. The higher another player’s Hiding/Stealth, the harder it is to track them. However, if you repeatedly use the skill, you will eventually be able to track them. That is why 100 Tracking is not necessary for a thief.

Detecting Hidden will allow you to reveal players who are hiding. This works great if you can manage to track someone you are attempting to steal from, and they hide from you. You can then reveal them and steal the item. This also works wonders at Felucca gates. Simply listen for the sound of someone entering the gate, and then detect it. The higher your Detecting Hidden, the easier it is to reveal hiders/stealthers. The radius of which you reveal will also increase.

A Tamer Thief is a deadly combination. Who will retaliate after you steal an item if there is a super dragon guarding you? The only skills required to be a Tamer Thief (along with the main four) are Animal Taming and Animal Lore. A super dragon can be a great distraction when attempting to escape from a sticky situation.

As long as you have the main four thief skills, any template will work.

The Basics Of Stealing

Anyone can make a thief, train Stealing, and start taking items from backpacks. However, if you don’t know the basics of stealing, then you will have a long, tough road ahead of you.

The Outcomes Of Stealing

There are four possible outcomes when stealing items:

Unnoticed StealNoticed StealUnnoticed FailNoticed Fail

Of course, the best possible outcome would be the Unnoticed Steal. This is when you steal an item, and you do not turn “grey”. When this happens, neither the victim (nor the surrounding players) receive an alert message saying that you are attempting to steal an item. The only way the player will know that you have stolen the item is if you bring it to their attention, or they have their backpack open and see the item vanish themselves.

After making an unnoticed steal, guards cannot be called on you. So let them spam “GUARDS!” as much as they wish, and if you want to add insult to injury, chime in and help them call for the guards yourself. Also, if the victim (or any player) tries to retaliate against you after an unnoticed steal, you can call guards on them and have them killed. If an unnoticed steal is made in a town, it would be smart to immediately bank the item.

A noticed steal is whenever you successfully steal an item, but you turn criminal. If this occurs in a guard zone, and you are not instantly guard whacked, then run OUTSIDE of the guard zone as fast as possible and hide. If you are killed by a player or guards in a guard zone, while still criminal, then the stolen item is automatically returned to the victim’s backpack. Also, if a player retaliates against you when you turn criminal and you try to hide inside a guard zone, if your criminal status ends and you are killed, then the item will drop to your corpse. That is why it is never a good idea to hide inside the guard zone.

An unnoticed fail is the same as an unnoticed steal, except you fail to steal the item.

A noticed fail is the same as a noticed steal, except you fail to steal the item.

NOTE: After successfully stealing an item, unnoticed or noticed, the item becomes “temporarily blessed”. This means, if you are killed while still in the two-minute “criminal” period, and you are outside of the guard zone, then the stolen item will remain on your ghost rather than dropping to your corpse. However, instead of killing you, another thief can steal the item from your backpack.

NOTE: The reason I have said “grey” instead of just “criminal”, is because all four outcomes of stealing turn you criminal (whether or not you are “grey”). If you attempt to steal an item, no matter the outcome, you are not allowed to leave the area for the following two minutes because you are criminal.

NOTE: If you successfully steal an item, but you are noticed, and you manage to run far enough out of the guard zone before being guard whacked, there is a possibility of keeping the stolen item on your ghost.

NOTE: If you insure an item that you have just stolen, and you are guard whacked or killed in a guard zone while still criminal, the item will still be returned to the victim…but now it will be insured. You then will not be able to try to steal the item again, because you have insured it for them.

How To Steal Unnoticed

Stealing unnoticed is always a random occurrence, but there are factors which affect the chances of getting an unnoticed steal.

One of these factors is the weight of the item you are planning to steal. The weight of items affects the chances of you stealing an item successfully, as well as the chances of stealing it unnoticed. The higher the amount of stones an item is, the harder it will be to steal it unnoticed.

Crowded areas can also lead to trouble with stealing unnoticed. The more players and NPCs surrounding your general area, the higher the odds of you being noticed.

Another factor is the speed at which you are moving. Lots of thieves prefer to stealth at all times, steal an item on foot, and then run away using Animal Form. This is a great method of stealing, but it can affect whether or not you steal the item unnoticed. The best method to stealing unnoticed is to be running, while on a mount, when you make the steal. Also, it seems that the longer you are “touching” the victim when making a steal, those split seconds, the higher the chances of you being noticed. This is also a reason why “pushing through” the victim when running to make a steal is not necessarily a good idea. Therefore, the best way to go about making a steal would be to line yourself up with the victim, run at them while mounted, make the steal the second you touch them, and then quickly “jerk” away. It takes a while to get the timing right. I personally have found this to work great over the years. This method is all in theory, of course, but it seems to help a great deal when attempting unnoticed steals

The Two Ways To Steal

There are two ways to go about stealing:

Direct Stealing

Random Stealing

Each has its own advantages. Which you should use just depends on the situation you are in when making a steal.

Direct Stealing is the way you will be stealing the majority of the time as a thief. A direct steal is whenever you simply choose the item you wish to steal, and you steal it directly by either targeting it (see Thief Macros section) or by using the Stealing skill and clicking on the item. This works great for items which weigh 1-12 stones. You can attempt to direct steal items which are 13-15 stones (16 or more stones, single items not stacked items, tell you “This item is too heavy to steal from someone’s backpack.” when you attempt to steal it), but 99% of the time you will fail.

Random Stealing is whenever, instead of targeting or stealing a specific item, you target or click to “steal” the player themselves. By clicking their actual character, it allows you to random steal.

At first glance, Random Stealing seems pretty pointless. When you use a random steal, it randomly selects ANY item in the backpack to steal. This includes runebooks, spellbooks, blessed items, etc. So, if the player has a cluttered pack, Random Stealing might not be such a great idea.

The purpose of Random Stealing is to greatly improve your chances of stealing an item successfully. The higher your Stealing skill, the better your chances of a successful steal, of course. In a test, we had three thieves at 120 Stealing attempting to steal a 15 stone tunic directly, failing every single time. At the same time, we had a thief at only 53 Stealing, stealing the tunic randomly, succeeding every attempt.

You should only use Random Stealing in three situations. The first is if you are trying to piss someone off by stealing their potions, regs, etc. If their pack is full of these, then Random Stealing might be your best bet if they’re running around too much to snoop them frequently and choose an item to steal directly. The second situation is if your Stealing is very low, Random Stealing may be your only chance at success. The third is if the item you are attempting to steal, whether it is a single item or a stack of items, is 13 stones or higher.

NOTE: Neither blessed nor insured items can be stolen, direct or random.

The Thief NPC Guild

The following will explain everything you need to know in order to join the Thief NPC Guild. There is also a section that gives tips on stealing with your thief.

What Is The Thief NPC Guild?

The Thief NPC Guild is the guild you will need to join in order to steal from other players. If you are not in the NPC Guild, you will not be able to steal from other players. However, if not in the NPC Guild, you can still steal from other players’ pack horses and pack llamas.

Joining the Thief NPC Guild is not like joining an actual Player Guild. If you are in a Player Guild, you will not be booted from it upon joining the NPC Guild. Player Guilds and NPC Guilds are two completely separate things.


In order to join the Thief NPC Guild, you must meet the requirements. The requirements are:

60 Stealing (at least)

48 in-game hours on your thief character

The 60 Stealing is the easy part. While you wait for the 48 in-game hours to count down, simply train Stealing as much as possible. Also, you cannot use items to boost your Stealing over 60 to join. It must be 60 “real” Stealing skill.

The in-game hours is the tough part. The hard part about it is that it is almost impossible to time how close you are to 48 in-game hours on that character. One good way, which I only suggest if you have just recently created your character, is to get a murder count. Murder counts take 40 in-game hours to lose. If you have just created that character, and you lose your murder count, you then have only 8 hours left.

The best thing to do is to simply use an old character, and convert it into a thief.

Finding The Thief GM

The Thief Guildmaster and Guildmistress can be tough to track down. All you can do is search all over towns until you find one. I suggest the following towns:

Skara Brae

New Haven




When you finally hunt him/her down, say the following to attempt to join (let’s assume his name is Dexter):

“Dexter join”

If you are not 48 in-game hours yet, he will tell you that you are too young, and to return in a week. The stupid part is that even if you are only an hour from being able to join, he will still tell you to wait a week. This is their way of saying you are not 48 in-game hours yet. Do not log off of your thief for an actual week, and then log on expecting to get in the NPC Guild, because you’ll just receive the same message.

To burn hours, the best thing to do is leave your thief online all day and night, in a populated area to prevent from being disconnected. Check back with the Thief GM frequently to try again.

Disguise Kits

The first thing you should do when you have joined the Thief NPC Guild, is get a disguise kit. In order to buy a disguise kit, walk up to the Thief GM and say:


They then will ask for 700 gold pieces, and in return give you a disguise kit.

Disguise kits can be useful, and most thieves prefer to use them often. I personally despise them, because they are more of a hassle than they are worth. A disguise kit will allow your name to be changed to a random NPC name (if you use it repeatedly, you can scroll through the names until you find one you prefer), and it will allow you to change your appearance (hair type and facial hair type). However, it does not allow you to change the color of your new hair. Disguise kits automatically give you white hair, which to a watchful eye, is a dead give-away that you are a thief.

After using a disguise kit, change your clothes and armor completely, and also get some cheap hair dye from an NPC Alchemist vendor (such as the one past the hedge maze in Moonglow). Do not worry, when the disguise wears off, your original hair color and hair style will return.

Disguise kits last two hours, but it feels like ten. They are also known for screwing up your macros temporarily. When you use a disguise kit and log off while still disguised, upon logging back on, your macros will be messed up. Set your macros to whatever you need at the moment because, like the hair style/color, when the disguise wears off, your macros should go back to normal again.

Also, after logging off while disguised, when you are attempting to log back on you may notice that your character’s name on the Character Selection Screen is the disguise name. This is normal. When the disguise wears off, your character’s actual name will return.

I Want To Kill Someone

If there is a person you hate, or just someone you feel like killing, go for it. If you kill another player and you are given a murder count, you will not be booted from the Thief NPC Guild. Just make sure that you don’t get five murder counts, because you will turn red.

Consequences Of Joining

There are only two consequences to joining the Thief NPC Guild:

You cannot give counts when murdered.

Your corpse can be freely looted whether you are criminal or not.

The only problem with this is that you can be freely looted in areas other than just Felucca. If you and a guild buddy are messing around in Trammel, and you are killed, surrounding players can loot your corpse. Be careful with this.

Thief Tips

Aside from when you are training Stealth, never wear non-medable armor as a thief. If you are wearing non-medable armor, it will affect everything from how successful you steal, to how well you can stealth. For instance, even at 120 Stealth, if you are wearing a non-mage armor chainmail tunic, you can fail to stealth.

Constantly be looking for items that are uninsured/unblessed. If someone has an item equipped that is not insured nor blessed, try to trick them into placing it into their backpack. For example, if they are wearing some uninsured/unblessed gloves, ask them to remove the gloves so you can see the jewelry they are wearing on their paperdoll. If they fall for it, they will then drop the uninsured/unblessed gloves into their backpack, and you can steal them.

Can’t find anyone to steal from in Felucca? Try joining a Trammel guild. Pretend to be something other than a thief, and join a guild. Upon joining, you will be able to freely steal from the guild members in all areas, not just Felucca. Feel free to then stealth around while they sell items at banks, shop at vendors, or just hang out. When the perfect opportunity presents itself, steal a good item. Using a disguise kit before making the steal might allow you to get away without anyone finding out whom you were, allowing you to stay in the guild and make another steal later on.

Be careful when stealthing around elves and other stealthers, you may get auto-revealed. Shadow Jump is great when dealing with this.

Don’t look so suspicious. If people can tell you’re a thief (for instance, if they can see your Burglar’s Bandana, Shadow Dancer Leggings, or thief jewelry), then they will steer clear of you. Also, people like their personal space. Crowd someone too much, and they’re bound to move away from you.

Thief Macros

The Thief Macros will make stealing a lot easier. Just open the options menu and go to the macros section. Set the following macros:

Use Skill: Stealing


Last Target

This macro will allow you to make steals on the run, and keep track of the items you’re attempting to steal. To use this, after setting the macro, find something that will turn your cursor into a target (double-clicking a dagger or bandages, using Arms Lore, etc). After you find the item you want to steal, make your cursor a target, and click on the item. The item is now on Last Target. Hit this macro near the person to steal the targeted item.

NOTE: Until your cursor is turned into a target once again, the item you originally targeted should remain targeted.

NOTE: In rare occasions, your target may unexpectedly reset for no reason. If this occurs, then you must retarget the item.

NOTE: If you are going to use a skill, such as Arms Lore, to target items, be sure that the skill does not have a wait timer. Otherwise, after targeting the item you will have to wait to use the Stealing skill to steal it.

Use Skill: Stealing

This is to be used for quick steals. For example, if someone is recalling and you don’t have time to target the item, just hit this macro and steal the item instantly.

Last Object

This macro is to be used for Snooping, as well as many other things. When pressed, it will automatically double-click the last thing that you double-clicked (does not work with opening paperdolls or mounting non-ethy rides). To snoop, double-click the backpack in a person’s paperdoll, then use this macro near them. Until you double-click something else, you can hit this macro to snoop that person without having to worry about opening their paperdoll again.

Use Skill: Hiding

This macro is used to hide yourself. If you are being attacked and can’t hide, run around the corner of a building to break their line of sight, and hide.

Use Skill: Stealth

This macro is not necessary, but there is a technique that can be done with it. This is only useful at GM Stealth or higher. First, figure out about how far you can run while stealthing (most probably about half a screen). While stealth-running, hold down this macro. Stealth will recast itself faster than waiting for your steps to run out, allowing you to run almost non-stop while stealthing. You may have to stop running and walk a few steps until the macro recasts stealth, so you don’t reveal.

NOTE: After hiding, you must first take an initial walking step to enter stealth, before you can stealth-run.


Congratulations, you now should know everything needed to be a successful PvP Thief. Keep in mind, being a thief does not have to be as simple as clicking an item in a backpack. Be creative, and come up with new ways to go about stealing. Despite popular opinion, the thief class is not dead.  I hope that your experience as a thief will be as satisfying as my own.

NOTE: If anyone finds any of this info to be false, or needs further assistance, please feel free to PM me on the UO Stratics Forums.

Last modified: February 11, 2013

2 Comments to “Thief Essay”

  1. Mark Taylor says:

    To macro stealing 60+, have two rogues steal from each other.

  2. Ender bir adam says:

    Wow that was a great article, made me wanna become a thief for sure! Thanks for info.


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