One of the things I found myself doing obsessively in a jRPG is trying to get all of the things just in case I happen to need one of the things in the future. This means running around to get all of the treasures, buying all of the stuff in a store, doing all the side quests, and stealing all of the things from all of the enemies. Stealing tends to be rather slow, especially since often my best offensive character is also the one who can steal. Certainly Locke and Zidane were heavy hitters as well as the only people who could steal. I guess Rikku didn't do much damage? So for the most part taking the time to steal from enemies can drastically increase the amount of time it takes to get through a given fight. Especially some boss fights with a low percentage chance for steal to succeed where I'll just stop attacking with anyone else until it works!
With those factors taken into account I'd think stealing would be something that wouldn't happen in a speedrun but I've been seeing a lot of runs where people have been stealing stuff. They don't steal all of the things by any stretch of the imagination but they definitely know of a few things that are worth the time invested in stealing. I think the guy who I was watching play the start of FFIX was stealing things from bosses in order to sell them! I imagine skipping every treasure and running from every fight can leave you a little tight on cash.
Anyway, I am getting all the treasures and fighting all the fights and stealing all the things and I'm still tight on cash! But most of my stealing has boiled down to getting potions and debuff removers and not anything of actual value. I'd really prefer to start actually attacking most fights and keep the stealing for things that actually matter. So, how does stealing work and when should I really care?
Stealing in FFIX works under a two roll system. First you make a check to see if you succeed in your steal attempt. This check is based on your level, the enemy level, and your spirit. It's also a check that gets skipped if you have a certain passive ability equipped and I do have that ability so I get to skip this check entirely. Then if you succeed you roll a d256 to see what you steal. Each enemy can have up to 4 items, one in each of 4 categories of difficulty. If you rolled a 1 then you get the rarest item. 2-16 is the next rarest. 17-64 is the next rarest. Any other number gets you the common item. On the plus side you're allowed to steal multiple items from each enemy. On the minus side that means I feel the need to try to hit the 1 in 256 lottery over and over and over and over again. On the plus side there is a second stealing related passive that turns the 1/256 and 16/256 slots into 32/256 slots and has empty slots get passed over. I don't yet have that ability but I wants it so badly!
One other ability that's interesting is thievery which does damage equal to the number of successful steals over the course of the game time half of Zidane's speed. I don't have this ability yet either, but it's not inconceivable that this could be a really high damage ability if I keep stealing from all of the monsters.
How about stuff that's particularly important to steal? From what I can tell pretty much every boss has something worth stealing in a rarer slot, but worth is pretty subjective. For the first 3 disks it's all stuff you're going to be able to buy in a town or two. So having it will get you better stats and abilities a little faster, and it will save you the money of needing to buy it yourself, but you aren't really missing out on anything if you leave it behind. Trash mobs all suck. I read something that indicate this would no longer be the case on disk 4 but I just went through a list of every single item in the game and they all had alternate ways to get them other than stealing them. Maybe it was the 'all the things' guide that said something about stealing on disk 4 since it looked like a few of the items were only stolen or obtained from the chocobo mini game so to have n+1 for 'all the things' you probably need the stolen ones.
What does this mean? Well, I should probably stop worrying about stealing. Either that or I should keep stealing non-stop in an attempt to really max out that one attack whenever it shows up. I think I'm going to stop stealing from the random encounters but I'll keep giving it a few goes on the bosses just to pick up some gear on the cheap. I do like cheap...