Last Updated on January 22, 2023
Picking locks can be one of the coolest feelings in D&D 5e, especially if the party barbarian just inflicted 1d4 bludgeoning damage on herself trying to break it down with her head.
Conversely, however, failing to pick a lock that separates you and your party from something you oh-so desperately need (like an escape route from an angry and heavily concussed barbarian) can be what I believe the Dungeon Master’s Guide refers to as “a huge bummer.”
Want to drastically increase your ability to grift, thieve, misdirect, pick locks, and anything else requiring the finer sorts of motor skills?
Consider getting your hands on (or in, I guess) some Gloves of Thievery.
Gloves of Thievery
These gloves are invisible while worn. While wearing them, you gain a +5 bonus to Dexterity (Sleight of Hand) checks and Dexterity checks made to pick locks.
Price: 6,000 gold pieces
Requires Attunement: No
For the cost of a mere 6,000 gold, the Gloves of Thievery, this item is a great addition to any Rogue, Bard, or even Wizard’s loadout.
Gloves of Thievery Features
Gloves of Thievery appear in the 5e Dungeon Master’s Guide as part of Random Item Table F (page 146), alongside stuff like the Wand of Web, Winged Boots, and Bracers of Archery.
Essentially, it falls in among the other uncommon wondrous items that typically grant some reasonable bonus or new ability, while staying out of the kind of potential power spikes afforded by the stuff on Random Item Table G (it gets crazy over there).
Gloves of Thievery are a great example of a 5e design trend where, the more specific the designer thinks a tool is going to be, the better it becomes in that situation.
A +1 magic sword which you might swing half a dozen times during a combat is still a good bonus because it’s always ever so slightly bumping up your average roll.
There’s a reason why D&D (a game that is at the very barest minimum ⅓ about combat) more or less caps magic weapons in the rules as written at +3 bonuses. But Gloves of Thievery grant a +5 bonus, which is huge, implying that the designer thought that these gloves had a niche enough application to justify such a high bonus.
Personally, I think they made a terrible mistake.
Gaining +5 to all sleight of hand checks is an absolutely huge advantage, whether you’re playing in a more old-school-inspired, trap-infested game with higher lethality and a DM who always asks “so, how exactly do you disarm the trap?”, or a much more cinematic game.
Seriously, from Temple of Doom to the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie, action scenes in which a group of people are fighting to keep hold of an important (bonus points for fragile) item that’s careening around the battlefield are, in my opinion, criminally underutilized in D&D.
There are virtually limitless applications for nimbler, better-coordinated hands…
- Pick someone’s pocket.
- Pick someone’s pocket with Mage Hand…
- Actually, do just about anything with Mage Hand.
- Plant incriminating evidence in someone’s pocket.
- Remove a magical amulet, brooch, or some other form of magical warding or protection.
- Move an item around your person as you’re being searched, even stashing it briefly in the searcher’s pockets.
- Give someone a really good haircut.
- Solve a magical puzzle intended for creatures much smaller than yourself.
- Do coin and card tricks to amaze local children.
- Cheat at cards in the local gambling den.
- Extricate yourself from your cuffs after being captured by the gangsters running the local gambling den.
On top of all that, you get to apply that bonus to picking locks (which I think a lot of people forget is a different process to just rolling sleight of hand).
That isn’t even covering the especially cool feature that the gloves turn invisible when you wear them, meaning that you’re much less likely to lose them in the situations where you need them most.
Where to Get Gloves of Thievery
While it feels somewhat contrary to the spirit of the item itself, finding a pair of Gloves of Thievery in a magical item shop shouldn’t be too difficult, as they definitely aren’t the rarest item out there in the world.
Any shopkeeper dedicated to supplying a local thieves’ guild, for example, would probably keep a pair in stock. Beyond that, just about any guild or trade that relies on dextrous hand movements – from high-concept gastronomers to surgeons – could conceivably generate demand for these items.
In a big enough city, finding a pair shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
One potential twist you could put on the ease with which Gloves of Thievery can be acquired is that it’s somewhat likely that they would more likely than not be a controlled item, requiring a special permit from either the local authority or the city’s thieves’ guild to buy and wear.
Think of it as a silencer for a gun. While silencers in the US are legal in 42 of 50 states, buying one requires you to go through significantly more regulatory steps than just buying a handgun.
Perhaps there are “Gloves of Dexterity” that are widely sold in your world, offering a +3 bonus to sleight of hand checks, but explicitly enchanted to offer no bonus to lockpicking.
An authentic pair of Gloves of Thievery would therefore be a much rarer and riskier thing to acquire.
It’s also possible that you will find some Gloves of Thievery over the course of your adventures. Remember that, if your players kill an enemy who is wearing Gloves of Thievery, those gloves might remain invisible even after they die, making them next to impossible to find.
You could rule that the gloves are activated by contact with a living being, meaning that they become visible again when their wearer dies.
Perhaps the gloves need contact with skin in order to function, meaning that your party might find a pair worn by the skeleton of a long-dead adventurer, otherwise picked clean of anything valuable.
If you’re a DM who likes to tailor the magic items they give out to their players’ characters, Gloves of Thievery can be a great choice for a fair number of different classes.
Obviously, Gloves of Thievery are most obviously suited to the party’s Rogue.
However, any character who uses sleight of hand – whether they’re a Bard doing card tricks or an Artificer manipulating the interior workings of their latest invention – can benefit.
The other great option for a pair of Gloves of Thievery is the Wizard (or any character that can cast Mage Hand).
Since Mage Hand acts as a one-to-one extension of your own hand, it also gains the sleight of hand and lockpicking bonus granted by the Gloves of Thievery.
Common Questions About Gloves of Thievery
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I played my first tabletop RPG (Pathfinder 1e, specifically) in college. I rocked up late to the first session with an unread rulebook and a human bard called Nick Jugger. It was a rocky start but I had a blast and now, the better part of a decade later, I play, write, and write about tabletop RPGs (mostly 5e, but also PBtA, Forged in the Dark and OSR) games for a living, which is wild.