Be A Thief, Not A Jerk

No, that’t not me.

I have played a rogue so often in games that, at this point, I refuse to take any rogue skills on my character sheet: I can hide and sneak and steal and beat-feet with the best of them.

I end up having to give a lesson on being a thief/rogue that people don’t hate A LOT.

The biggest problem with being a successful rogue is that you are doing things that are going to make people mad.  You are going to be thieving and lying on a regular basis.

Sadly, this tends to make you enemies.  Having enemies IN-GAME is a good thing.  Having enemies OUT-OF-GAME is a bad thing.

You want to avoid being a dick.  I am sorry for the frank language, but it is true.



You are going to lie as a rogue.  It just happens…

Don’t mistake being a rogue with HAVING TO LIE.  You CAN tell the truth and still be in-character.

Be smart.  Does it actually do anything for you to lie about where the main villain went?  Then don’t do it.

Unless you can actually make bank or have a real reason to have to lie, don’t do it habitually if you want to be a successful rogue.  People won’t ever believe you, and then how can you get them to look in the wrong place for the Treasure Of MasterGoldEnStien?

(Being a habitual liar for BAD reasons is an entirely different character concept.)



If you are going to steal, NEVER STEAL EVERYTHING.  This is a HUGE rule.  Yes, I know that your character would probably steal everything that is not nailed down, but then you are going to make out-of-game enemies.

There is psychology behind this that may make so called “role-play purists” mad, but if you think that no one is going to be mad at you for stealing their shit, you need to go home.  Understand that people spend a lot of time gathering up their money, components, items, etc.  If you take all of it, they will become disheartened, angry with you, and may even not want to play anymore.

You can still steal things!  But you have to use good judgment so that you can be a successful thief without making players mad, or being a jerk.

Here are some good rules of thumb:


Only ever steal  (at most) 10% of what people have.  If they have 10 gold, steal one.  This means you have more money, and they can’t really be too angry.  It’s only one gold!

Never Big

If you see a bunch of items that someone has, never steal their coolest, best item.  They probably spent a lot of time getting that, and it will dishearten them Out-of-Game if you take it.

Yes, I understand that your character would take it, and I know that you think that they are bad role-players if they get upset, but you are wrong.  You, not your character, are being mean if you take someone’s favorite toy.  Take something else!  If you see a Staff of Blasting, a Pendant of Dodge, and The High Gift Of The Gods To Magey McMageinstine: take the staff or the pendant.  Leave them their awesome toy, so that they don’t get mad at you out-of-game.


You want to be a rogue who can thieve and such, and you can!  Just make sure that you don’t alienate the other players at the game.  Get yourself a reputation as a good rogue, but also as an awesome player.


One thought on “Be A Thief, Not A Jerk”

  1. If I may expand on these concepts some…

    When you are being a thief, never take unique items that everyone knows belongs to a specific person. There are two reasons. First, the victim will often move heaven and earth and hell itself to get the item back. Nobody is going to want to associate with you after the bounty goes out for someone to give up you or the item… and anyone who does stick around you can certainly not be trusted for one second.

    The cruel, ugly truth is that LARP player-bases are small. If you are very, very lucky, you’ll have more than 50 people to pilfer from, but that’s still no more than 5-7 groups that hang together. If any of your victims is friends with more than 2-3 groups, you’re screwed.

    Second reason? Unique items are difficult to deal with anyway. If you use them in public… you’re caught. If you don’t, you can’t usually find a fence for them (unless there’s some weird situation where one of the players or an NPC can do this for you and is trusted to ferry items back to proper owners). The longer you sit on it, the more the odds go up that eventually someone will stumble upon seeing it, and subsequently call for a raid against your cabin, group, person, etc.

    So unique items are a no-no. But that still leaves a lot of useful loot to swipe.

    Currency, whatever its form, is always a top notch prize. Virtually untraceable, you can actually USE it to obtain more things you need or want. Forget about the low-hanging fruit of other people’s stuff; with enough money, you can just hire a spell-caster to make your own custom swag that is even more useful to you personally because of your profession. (And, possibly, less useful to others, making it less likely anyone will take it from you in turn.) Do be aware, if you pull a particularly large pile of coins from a target, you need to play it very, very cool for a while.

    Potions, scrolls, and similar consumable items are just as good as money in most cases. Likewise untraceable, they can contribute directly to your continued survival. They are also good to sell, because practically everyone has a need for them.

    Spellbooks are not nearly a good thing to take. Those that use them often know each other well, so the only buyers likely are allies or friends of the victim. Plus, with a real-world value to those books, you’re actually depriving someone of actual money.

    Ritual magic stuff is good to take in most games. Scrolls not so much, unless very common; rare ones will start wars for control of them. But components for those rituals are golden; even the components for rare magic rituals can be sat on and retain pretty good value. If such magic needs multiple components, even better; sell them off very erratically and bit by bit, and nobody will key to you taking them.

    Finally, most games have a form of wand (known as a “focus” in the games based on the older rulesets). These are pretty fair game; they can’t necessarily be used by everyone, but most folks are more than happy to pay for these one-shot spells for their own use. If you’re using magic, keep a few choice spells for yourself just in case.

    Most LARP rogues basically are murderers. This is bad. It never fails to make new players hate you for the rest of their time, even if they themselves become thieves. If you get caught killing veteran players, their friends may seek revenge (for friendship or even for a political favor). So avoiding killing someone is always preferable, despite what anyone will tell you otherwise.

    How to get away with stuff? Best way is merely to cover up head to toe, and use things to knock targets out with sleep, paralysis, etc. The infamous “waylay” is great, but difficult to execute without blowing your cover; use it only at night and only while in your thieving outfit, where they can’t see your face too good. They may recognize your voice out-of-character, but if you don’t kill them, the player is more likely to shrug off any minor loss of some coins and potions as “easy come, easy go”. They wake up short a little in their pockets, but their life and their good stuff is still intact.

    In addition, many games have poison-type items that alter memory, either wiping it or actually editing it. These are dynamite; they usually take a bit of effort to make or acquire, but they are worth their weight in magic items. If you ever do take something unique, you need to ensure that you dope the target and edit their memory in a way that will throw off suspicion of being doped (so that friends aren’t likely to use some way of “curing” the edit, which is usually possible).

    Dealing With The Town:
    You are not a thief. Ever. You don’t talk about it in-character. You NEVER talk about it out-of-character. Not even with your bestie in the whole freaking world. You didn’t rob Baron Mucketymuck this weekend! You were knocking out newbies for a heap of silver after they hit that goblin raid on the edge of town. What a shame about the Baron’s chest of gold…

    Basically, if you want to be a LARP rogue, your entire life in the game is a lie. Forever. Deny, deny, deny. You will never be famous, never celebrated for being the best thief in the entire world. Because if they knew you did it… you’d be getting caught, which means you aren’t a good thief at all.

    Your targets? They can never become enemies. If they drop in a field battle, you go out of your way to help them survive… even at risk to yourself, if you can. Use your potions or whatever to get them up. If you go on a module that could use their help, invite them.

    You can be a thief with other thieves, but they also can never talk about it… except the gang there. In front of even a single non-member, even two states over in another town, you talk about that great field battle you guys ruled in. Back home over a deck of cards and playing with game money you stole, you guys can talk all you want to about that job you all pulled off.

    The goal is that everyone “knows” what you do, but out of politeness, nobody talks about it that much. They know you mean little actual harm. In time, you may not even have to steal much to be successful; you will find yourself invited on adventures and whatnot where your discretion and stealth are useful.

    In closing, nobody talks about the good thieves, because nobody knows who they really are. Only the good thieves know each other.

    You become a thief to acquire loot. If you want to be famous, become a knight or a wizard or a healer or something.

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