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The Steal command (and mug, also known as capture, and all other attempts to steal) has a success rate determined by the following formula. Note as Kaiser points out below, you can cut your enemy's level in half with the Discord Lore (unless they're immune to instant death, like bosses)

Success % = (Locke's Level + 50 - Target's level)/128

There's also lots of ways to steal more than one time per turn. You can have any two of the following relics:

  • Brigand's Glove: turns Steal into Mug
  • Genji Glove: allows two weapons, thus two attacks (affects Mug)
  • Thief's Bracer: Doubles percentage chance of stealing
  • Master's Scroll: 4 random attacks instead of 1, per weapon

There's also the Thief's Knife item which has a random chance of attempting to steal. Possible combos I'm considering are:

  • Brigand + Genji: 2 Mug attempts per turn
  • Brigand + Master: 4 Mug attempts per turn (but random targets)
  • Master + Genji + Thief's Knife: 8 attacks per turn, possible chance of theft

So what's the most effective combo? Without (previously) knowing the % boost of the Thief's bracer or the % chance of the Thief's Knife, I've been going with Brigand's Glove and Master Scroll (Genji Glove before it) to maximize attempts per turn, but what's the most efficient way to do this?

Ideally I'd like the most chances to steal inside a single turn when using mug (or normal attack + Thief's knives, if necessary). Yes I know I can use Steal without an attack and be sure I won't kill things, I'd like to know the most effective way per turn to do this.

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I'm a bit lazy to do the math, but perhaps filling in some constants will help? The success rate is Success % = (Locke's Level + 50 - Target's level)/128 and the Bracer doubles it. Either way I think you have a 1/8 chance of rare, or 7/8 chance of a common item if you succeed. I couldn't find the chance to steal of the knife, but it's certainly not 100%. – agent86 Nov 9 '12 at 20:14
@agent86 ohh, thanks, didn't know there was a formula. I've been digging around the wiki but didn't see that. Also that explains why 50 attempts at stealing from level 97 gilgamesh didn't work... – Ben Brocka Nov 9 '12 at 20:15
You can use the Lore "Dischord" to increase your success rate as far as the level check goes for stealing (the Lore will fail on against enemies immune to Instant Death), but it has no impact on the Rare vs. Common Steal though. The Thief's Bracer, on the other hand, does not help you overcome the level deficit. It just doubles the rate AFTER the subtraction is done. – Krazer Nov 9 '12 at 21:43
A double attempt with the Genji Glove had not occurred to me… or I forgot it in the intervening years. – CyberSkull Nov 10 '12 at 9:31

Stealing once with the Thief's Bracer has a higher rate of success than stealing twice with the Genji Glove + Briggand's Glove combo.
The chance will be greater by (Locke's_natural_chance_to_steal)^2

Concerning Ben Brocka's answer, that's not really how probability works, though it is an extremely common misconception. For this example, I'm going to claim these assumptions to be true, based on my understanding of the game mechanics:

  1. Steal has a fixed percentage of success, based on the formula:
    Success % = (Locke's Level + 50 - Target's level)/128
    (FF Wiki via agent86's comment)
  2. The Thief's Bracer (originally Sneak Ring) doubles the steal success rate
    (FF Wiki via agent86's comment)

Let's call our fixed steal percentage rate "S". With the Thief's Bracer, all we have to do is double the rate: 2*S. We can't just double the success rate with the Mug command, though. To find the probability of success over multiple tries, we want to sum up the probabilities of each successful outcome. Here are our scenarios:

We steal successfully on the first try - Success!
We miss on the first try, but steal successfully on the second try - Success!
We miss on both the first and second tries - Fail!

So, with each attempt to steal having an S chance to succeed, and a (1-S) chance to fail, our probabilities for each of these scenarios looks like this, and add up to 100%:

Success: S
Success: (1-S)*S
Fail:    (1-S)*(1-S)

So our probability of success is the sum of the probabilities of each successful outcome:

S + (1-S)*S = 2*S-(S^2)

Using Ben's example of an assumed rate of 1%

Thief's Bracer:  2S     = 2*.01     = 2%
Brigand + Genji: 2S-S^2 = .02-.0001 = 1.99%

So in this example, the difference is pretty negligible. But let's take a look at stealing from a monster that's Locke's same level, so both levels = "L".

S = (L + 50 - L)/128 = 50/128 = ~39%
Thief's Bracer:  2S     = 2*.39     = 78.0%
Brigand + Genji: 2S-S^2 = .78-.1521 = 62.8%

The higher the success rate of steal, the less effective the Brigand+Genji combo is over the Thief's Bracer, and it will be S^2 less of a chance.

I like to run with the Brigand+Genji when I'm strolling around the world (So that Locke can actually do some DAMAGE!), and Thief's Bracer when I'm hunting for a particular treasure or fighting a boss. I can't comment on the thief's knife since I don't know the % for it, but it could be hashed out in a similar way if there were only one enemy target. Everything else in Ben's posts is spot-on. I kinda miss ye olde glitchy SNES version, though it's refreshing to play a version of the game where I can't exploit so many bugs!

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I have this all worked out except for the Thief Knife bits; I don't know how often they steal so I can't say how effective Genji Glove + Master Scroll + Thief Knife is (theoretically up to 8 attempts to steal, less in practice).

Given a base chance of 1% chance to steal (just to make the math easy, the real formula is above):

  • Brigand + Genji = 1% x2
  • Thief's Glove = 2%
  • Brigand + Master Scroll = 1% x4 (random targets, plus a bug noted below)

So if your focus is just on getting the item, there's no difference between Brigand's Glove + Thief/Genji glove except that using the Genji glove will do more damage (which may be a good or a bad thing). Since the Thief's Glove is just as effective as 2 Mug attempts, if all you want is the item, you can just forgo using the Mug command since anything without the Master's Scroll will be just as effective (or less) than using just Steal + Thief's Glove.

Using the Master Scroll and the Brigand's glove is clearly the best option but it has a bug when attempting to steal multiple items: the Capture Glitch. From the Final Fantasy Wiki:

Additionally, there is a glitch involving Capture and the Relic Master's Scroll, or any attempt to steal multiple items within a single turn. After having Locke use Capture while equipped with the Master's Scroll (or any character using two Thief Knives), the first item stolen will always be stolen, but any items that would be stolen afterward will not be added to the player's inventory (unless the monster is alone). Any items stolen after the first item cannot be stolen again under any circumstances, meaning that some items, such as Ultima Weapon's Ribbon, are lost.

Note that "capture" used to be the name for the "mug" command in the original US release (the commands are Steal and Mug in the GBA translation) and I'm not sure if this affects stealing from monsters with a "common" steal and a "rare" steal. Either way it seems that the Master's Scroll is risky to use when stealing from multiple targets, but this generally only matters for bosses (which usually spawn solo) since they have the only stealable items which can be lost for good due to this glitch.

So, if you want to play it safe, just use the Thief glove and the normal steal command. Using Mug + Genji is more effective in normal combat (where killing things is okay). Master Scroll + Brigand gives you the theoretical best chance of stealing but only against a single target.

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FYI, Capture is the old Mug command – Northborn Design Jun 18 '13 at 2:35
@Bracketworks forgotten about that, I most recently played the more recent GBA translation. Added a note about that in the question/answer's wording. – Ben Brocka Jun 18 '13 at 12:56
Awesome :) Yea, I was just playing FF3-US SNES last night; gotta love the original translations sometimes; "You spoony bard" – Northborn Design Jun 18 '13 at 13:26
@Bracketworks they actually kept Spoony Bard – Ben Brocka Jun 18 '13 at 13:39

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