THE UNDERGROUND | adepts | avatars | rituals | artifacts | dukes | cabals | rumors | unexplained | unnatural | misc | scenarios | mods | fiction | THE OVERGROUND | news | forum | submit! | search | links | downloads | ua-ml | NEWEST SUBMISSIONS | Thin Black Line | Dance of the Red Spiral Part 2: Collateral Damage | Shrekomancy | Ablutomancy |
Overshadowed by the Kleptomancer, and threatened by the Embezzler, the Thief Archetype still holds some power in the modern world.
Attributes: For as long as man has had material possessions, there have been those who have tried to seperate him from said possessions. The Thief short circuits the path between work and reward by letting somebody else do the work and running off with the reward when everyone's back is turned.
It's an old archetype, and there have been attempts to overturn it in the modern age; just look at Enron. Still, the image of the burglar, the mugger, and the pickpocket hold strong in the collective unconscious. The Thief can run the gammut from a noble Robin Hood that steals from the rich and gives to the poor, to the greedy man that will steal food out of a starving child's hand if given half a chance, and all the shades of grey in between, but ultimately narrows down to one simple goal: To take what others have.
Taboo: The Thief lives in the realm of shadows, the uncertainty of where things actually are in the dark, and more abstractly, the uncertainty of the concept of property itself. Therefore, light, or certainty, is the anethema of the Thief; he must be always in the grey zone between good and bad, rich and poor, right and wrong, possible and impossible. Deception is a tool of the Thief, but his true power lies in the realm of ambiguity.
As a result, the Thief must eschew honesty and certainty. He can't just come out and say "I am a thief," for example. This does not preclude half-truths or careful ommissions, however: "Yeah, I always get stuck working at night." It also does not preclude dropping a single true statement in an uncertain situation to misdirect. On the other hand, blatant falsehoods can have the same effect; give a man something that he knows is untrue and he can use that as the basis to uncover other lies, determining the truth of the situation. Therefore, every lie must have some truth within it. The spirit of the Thief is to stay in the shadows, where his true nature, intentions, and even presence can't be determined. And while total darkness makes it impossible for others to see the Thief, it also means he can't see what he's doing either.
Symbols: The hood, the ski mask, the dominoe mask, and black clothes especially. The short knife, dagger, or the more modern switchblade are popular. Rapid technological advancement has brought the thief new symbols, such as lockpick sets, infrared goggles, and suction cups.
Masks: Robin Hood (English), Ishikawa Goemon (Japanese), Carmen Sandiego (Modern)
Suspected Avatars in History: Depending on who you ask, Robin of Loxley was a Thief Avatar. Anyone implicated in a plot to steal anything as valuable, rare, or proverbial as the "Crown Jewels" has a fighting chance, but in a way not unlike that of the Loyal Laborer, the best Thieves are not known to history at large since they were never caught.
1% - 50%: The thief is not easy to see or detect. At this level, you can flip-flop any skill roll for skills such as Stealth, Sneak Around, Move Silently, Never See Me Coming, et cetera. If used on the Conceal skill, it applies only when hiding yourself, not somebody or something else.
51% - 70%: The thief is supernaturally profficient at his art. When you attempt to pick somebody's pocket, open a lock, or bypass a security device, you can make an Avatar: Thief check. If the check succeeds, so does the task, subject to one limitation: If the person whose pocket you are picking can make a Notice check higher than half your Avatar: Thief skill, he realizes what you're doing.
71% - 90%: The thief is totally untrustworthy, and for good reason. With a succesful Avatar: Thief check, the Thief can throw off any magickal obligations placed on him by Merchants, Gamblers, Judges, and the Plutomancer Spell Devil's Deal. The channel cannot be blocked from use by such agreements beforehand, but it cannot protect from obligations that are not related to property and law; Pornomancer and Amoromancer spells, for example, as well as the channels of the Demagogue, still affect the Thief as normal.
91% - 98%: At this point, the Thief is undetectable. With a successful Avatar: Thief check, the Thief can hide in plain sight, and could not be detected while walking across a football stadium at high noon with thousands of people watching, so long as he moves at the pace of a slow walk and doesn't make eye contact with anybody. This channel does affect cameras, mirrors, etc. The effect lasts for five minutes unless the effect is broken by behaviour that stands out (singing and dancing, for example), and for three rounds in a combat situation. Then another check is required.
Present Godwalker Channel: The current Godwalker of the Thief, Lars Evans, has the unique channel he calls The Five Fingers of Discount. As long as nobody is looking at him at the time, he can steal objects without having to obey the laws of physics in the process. If you're not paying attention to him, he can steal your wallet, house keys, undergarments, and/or pacemaker without you realizing it. The effect takes a little under a second and comes with a feeling of disorientation. At the moment, Mr. Evans uses this technique to befuddle the authorities in Detroit, while simultaneously thumbing his nose at his long time rival in the Criminal Underground, Kleptomancer Gary Smith.
What You Hear: A number of criminal executives are trying to steer the act of thieving away from taking physical objects and towards fudging the books, replacing the Thief with the Embezzler. The Enron fiasco may be one such attempt at ousting the present Godwalker through unparralelled acts of theft, along with many disasters involving Savings and Loans in the past. It hasn't worked yet, but sooner or later somebody will probably pull it off.
Avatar Interaction: Despite the third channel, it's not uncommon for Thieves and Merchants to get along pretty well. After all, every criminal needs a fence. The only certainty is that Thieves and Judges hate each other, much like the Masterless Man and Dark Stalker do.
On the subject of Kleptomancy: On the surface of it, there is no reason why A Thief Avatar cannot also be a Kleptomancer. And there isn't. However, finding somebody who is both at once is exceedingly rare. Kleptomancers are obssessed with theft, while the nature of the Thief, for some reason, does not actually lie in theft, but ambiguity. If somebody can take "your" watch, was it ever really yours to begin with? Kleptomancers can sometimes be mysterious, but they are usually so dedicated to theft that they throw ambiguity to the wind.
Add in the fact that using Thief channels to steal objects means they can't gain a charge from the theft, and it's all wrapped up in simple economics; it's not worth the time and effort to be both at once. The only known Thief Avatar and Kleptomancer is a woman named Pam Douglas in Idaho, who can only use the first Avatar Channel and hasn't yet been able to develop any significant formula spells.
Being a big fan of kleptomancer's (so fun) I like this archtype.
This is excellent - I don't know why there wasn't one of these ages ago.
I don't know, maybe I'm being too direct, but this really feels a bit too philosophical. Since avatars are based on universal subconscious or however you look at it and since the majority of the world is not quite so abstract as that, particularly when it comes to you taking their stuff, I sorta feel that the Avatar of the Thief should focus more on the central defining factor OF being a thief: Taking What is Not Yours. In a lot of ways, it's actually pretty simple. There is some ambiguity to the idea of the thief, so a channel or so of deception/obfuscation makes sense, but having that be the definition of it? That's really closer to the Two-Faced Man or the Trickster.
Kleptomancers cannot be obsessed with stealing, but with magic, or at least stealing magic, theft of vitae if you like. (I once allowed a kleptomancer to have stealing stuff as his obsession. He could flipflop every charge-gathering roll. Wow did it get out of hand... Killed an entire campaign.
Mattias | profile | Jul 18, 05 | 5:08 am
I did think about that, making the essence of the Thief actual theft, but I kept running into problems. How to define something as valuable enough to steal, would some culture define something as more important than another culture, is an heirloom a better prize than gobs of cash when stealing, and it turned into one of those circular reasoning things. Eventually I went and got UA2 and took a look at the different Archetypes, hunting for inspiration, and then I looked at the Merchant Archetype.