And what are you? Thieves!

“What daring! What outrageousness! What insolence! What arrogance! I salute you.”

Re-reading the Locke Lamora series had me thinking about thieves and fantasy settings.  It also has me swearing more, so you might want to brace yourselves. I have a splitting headache, have just drunk a lot of water trying to deal with it and there isn’t any painkillers or ice cream in the house (Admitedly, I just ate it, though there was barely more than a spoonful), so I’m a little grumpy.

“Someday, Locke Lamora, someday you’re going to fuck up so magnificently, so ambitiously, so overwhelmingly that they sky will light up and the moons will spin and the gods themselves will shit comets with glee. And I just hope I’m still around to see it.”

Anyhow, thieves in fantasy settings. So, the cliche is, near as I understand it, is for all black, some sort of leather armour, a shortsword or rapier and a cosh. (A blackjack, not a Vorlon.) Why? Conan could steal everything in your house with nothing more a longsword and a loincloth. Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser didn’t have much more. Hell, there’s a group of theives in Zamora who wear nothing but a red silk loincloth when on the job, though there’s few gamers I know I’d want to see in that. Anyway, dressing that way is loudly announcing you’re up to no good, and it’s the sort of thinking that leads to a moment in the first D&D movie where the protaganists are trying to hide, and are all wearing black cloaks. Actually, it’s the sort of thinking that leads to the D&D movie, and who wants that?

“I cut off his fingers to get him to talk, and when he’d confessed everything I wanted to hear, I had his fucking tongue cut out, and the stump cauterized.”
Everyone in the room stared at him.
“I called him an asshole, too,” said Locke. “He didn’t like that.”

I spent a bit of time a while ago looking at playing a thief in a LARP I’m in (Remembering that partially kicked this off) and there was some hilarious ‘advice’ and kit on offer. For starters, there was more black cloaks that I’ve had hot dinners and all manner of ‘armour’, stuff like this or this that screams “I’m 15 and trying to be Evil McEvil”* and is covered with enough nickle studs that if anyone shines a torch near you you’ll light up like a fucking Christmas tree. Shit like that is not subtle and while I’m somewhat lacking in criminal knowlege, I’m fairly fucking certain some degree of sublety is required.

“I was badly misinformed, I deeply regret the error, go fuck yourself with this bag of money.”

Which brings me to why on Earth would you want to wear all that stuff? I mean sure, it get’s the point across that you’re (apparently) someone not to be trifled with but that brings attention. Why not go the quieter road? Play a merchant or noble (Or at least pretend to be those things) and con people out of their coin with a smile rather than a blade – leave them penniless and thanking you for it rather than swearing a blood oath. (Ah capitalism!) I heard about someone in a LARP recently who decided to play someone like the Joker and expressed that by wearing all black and backstabbing folks left right and center. That, to me, is abnormally fucking stupid. It’s the worst sort of “I’m Chaotic Neutral” BS I expect from 14 year olds and it should be savagely beaten out of people. Well, not literally. But I’ve had some players over the years that I wouldn’t have minded had they accidentally walked into heavy doors. I’ll teach you to split the fucking party 20 minutes into the module…

“There’s no freedom quite like the freedom of being constantly underestimated.”

There was a point to this, I think. I guess it could be to ignore cliches and try to plan ahead? Sure, my knack for that is roughly equal to Cory Bernadi’s talent for not being an asshole, but at least I realized that. Every so often I’ve tried and it’s failed, but I keep fucking trying. In a game a few years back a friend of mine pulled off a scheme that almost elevated his character to godhood and I had no idea about it until I was technically dead. The lance was meant to kill the dragon (and did), but did a bit more than that. I got better. At least that’s what I think happened, I’m Captain Oblivious when it comes to that sort of thing.

“Mew,” the kitten retorted, locking gazes with him. It had the expression common to all kittens, that of a tyrant in the becoming. ‘I was comfortable, and you dared to move,’ those jade eyes said. ‘For that you must die.’ When it became apparent to the cat that its two or three pounds of mass were insufficient to break Locke’s neck with one mighty snap, it put its paws on his shoulders and began sharing its drool-covered nose with his lips. He recoiled.”

Was there a point to this inarticulate fury**? Not really. It could be to put some actual thought into your characters and don’t have them wear stupid things. Well, unless it’s dramatically appropriate. Or you’re acting as a distraction for the actual thieves. OK, it’s less a point and more ‘things I think are stupid.’ I’m trying not to put this as some sort of ‘One True Way’ thing – by all means feel free to coat yourselves in more spikes and studs than Rob Halford, but know that also means I’m going to laugh at you, long and loud. And that’s OK – you’re welcome to laugh at me as well. Given my love of kilts, it could be said I encourage it.

“When you don’t know everything that you could know, it’s a fine time to shut your fucking noisemaker and be polite.”

Oh, and one last thing: don’t try to play the mysterious loner or the last of your race or any of that shit- you’re just going to be bored when no-one talks to you, you very special snowflake.

OK, I’m glad I got that out of the system. I’ll try to be cheerier tomorrow.

*Just go and buy a Slayer album instead. It’s better for you and cheaper.
** The more I think about it the more I wish I’d called this site it.

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