In some ways, I'm probably the worst person in the world to review a product like Breaking & Entering: A Toolbox for Thieves. Not only am I generally skeptical of the class even in concept, but I also think its presentation in Supplement I opened a game mechanical Pandora's Box, the consequences of which still plague Dungeons & Dragons over 30 years later. Despite that, I'm actually quite fascinated by the thief class, as well as the attachment so gamers have to it. For all my complaints -- and there are many -- I've come round to accepting the fact that, original though it may not be, there certainly is a place for it in D&D, probably even moreso than the cleric, which feels far more like an interloper class than does the thief.
So, I purchased Breaking & Entering (written by Vincent Frugé and published by Brave Halfling) in the hope it would give me further insight into the appeal of the thief and the ways gamers use the class. Retailing for $6.00 (though currently on sale for half that), what you get is a 28-page PDF for OSRIC that gives the referee new material to inspire "his or her own unique interpretation of the thief class." The product is thus interesting for a couple of reasons, the first of which being that it's aimed specifically at OSRIC, a departure from Brave Halfling's usual association with Labyrinth Lord, although B&E could easily be used with any old school fantasy RPG. Second, the product seems aimed more at referees than at players, being a toolbox of ideas from which one can pick and choose rather than a unified expansion of the traditional thief class. I have to say that I very much approve of this approach.
The product begins by offering up a brief revision and expansion of the thief's climb walls ability, as well as a new sub-system devoted to spying. The spying sub-system is simple and looks easy to use, though I expect it's probably of most use for NPC thieves. Following this, we get several new thief abilities, most of which are clearly inspired by the thief-acrobat specialization from Unearthed Arcana. B&E then moves on to provide two new sub-classes of the thief, beginning with the deep scout, which is basically a good-aligned spy used to infiltrate evil nations and organizations. There's also a new version of the bard, which bears some resemblance to the version presented in another Brave Halfling product but tweaked for use with OSRIC (illusionist and druid spells instead of magic-user ones, for example). Also included is a detailed thieves' guild, complete with map, thief-oriented gods, new equipment, and magic items.
The end result is, I must admit, much less of a toolbox and more of a grab bag. That is, Breaking & Entering has no organizing principle beyond being a collection of rules and ideas pertaining to thieves. There's minimal discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of each option presented, instead leaving it to each referee to decide for himself. I don't think that's a bad thing in itself and it's certainly an approach in tune with OSRIC's sensibilities, but it's not one that every referee will like. In addition, some of B&E's content seems a bit lackluster to me, such as the deep scout and the deity write-ups. Given the sale price, I have no cause for complaint, but I do wish the product had felt tighter and less scattershot than it does. A shorter, more focused product might have been more satisfying. There are a number of excellent ideas in B&E but their excellence is obscured somewhat by the presence of what feels like filler text designed to pad out the page count.
Presentation: 7 out of 10
Creativity: 6 out of 10
Utility: 4 out of 10
Buy This If: You really like thieves and are looking to give them new options
Don't Buy This If: If you're not a fan of thieves or are happy with the standard presentation of the class