Cut Purse

The skill of the light touch, the name Cut Purse is actually only a generalization for convenience’s sake, and should not limit the player’s concept of it or of its use in play. This skill enables the character to attempt to remove any single item (purse, jewelry, or other accessory or even accessory to clothing) from another person’s body, clothing, gear, etc. where ever it may be upon their bodies, without their becoming aware of the fact until later. This skill also encompasses the smooth skill of the shop-lifter, enabling the character to casually Palm the item taken, though he must then have a place to Hide it or put it, a “mule” to hand it off to, or the skill with which to Cache/Conceal it upon his own person to prevent any observers from seeing the crime and alerting the victim. The larger the item of which the character attempts to relieve a victim, the higher the DV.

Any attempts at using this skill on a given individual after the third try or all attempts allowed by skill have been failed immediately alert the target to the character’s intentions.

The character may use the Player and Silver Tongue aspects of Presence skill to create a ruse to distract a victim, one hand sitting like a friend upon a shoulder or arm while the other offers a drink, a pipe, a pinch of snuff, or maybe an article supposed to have been dropped on the floor/ground by the target. The character might bump into his target or “mark” or trip at his feet and allow himself to be helped up, or vice versa, any kind of casual, non-threatening and especially accidental physical contact can hide his efforts.

Being over-eager in victimizing a particular mark, preying on him repeatedly, especially within a short period of time, raises the DV in a Progressive manner.

Using the Player and Silver Tongue Presence skills to create a ruse or distraction which involves direct contact of some sort with the mark increases the risk involved in approaching him repeatedly. The mark may begin to associate the presence of those working on him with the losses he is discovering afterwards. The DV is increased by half again (x 1.5) in these cases, double (x 2) if previous encounters were made more memorable by physical contact of some sort.

In addition, the character’s BTY att. mod. is added to the DV, regardless of whether positive or negative in nature, as this indicates how much his appearance may stand out from the faces in the crowd. It certainly increases the chances of the mark remembering him if he should see the character again after the fact, after discovering his loss. Positive integers of negative att. mod’s is used, so a -4 is as bad as a +4 att. mod. for this purpose, equally remarkable to the mark afterwards. This emphasizes the advantage of using the skill under cover of Stealth.

Since this is based on the victim’s AWA score, of which the PC can have no knowledge, much less any means of determining, the player should use a simple two week rule of thumb for those marks who the Cut Purse considers to be ‘average folk’ to avoid an unnecessary increase in DV, allowing that amount of time to pass without allowing the victim to see him again before preying on him again.

IF the character is intent on preying on the same person over and again, the DV penalties due to frequency can be avoided entirely when using the Masquer skill to approach the mark each time under the guise of a new masquerade.

The increase to the DV for additional attempts is waived when the Cut Purse uses Stalker or Padfoot to come upon his target from behind and work his craft on his mark with Stealth.

Cut Purses should be very cautious about engaging in the sort of activity this skill represents, as getting caught can result in the loss of an ear, a finger, or of a whole hand, or the branding of his forehead. The justice meted out in the medieval period of the game can be most brutal, and the Cut Purse have none but himself to blame when he gets caught and punished.

IF at any time a character fails an attempt at exercising his skill as a Cut Purse, his intended victim is assumed alerted to his illicit intentions. For this reason, these checks are always conducted in tactical time, from the very approach. Surprise affects the Cut Purse’s victims normally, when the trouble is taken to establish it, and thus his ability to deal with his target’s reaction. Tactical time is used to measure out the interaction of the character’s and mark’s Actions in determining the character’s efforts to disappear after success, OR the outcome of the character’s efforts to escape should he fail.

How long the victim goes without becoming aware of the loss of the object after it is taken is determined by the GM, according to the circumstances.

The att. mod. for the use of this skill is based upon the character’s CRD score. When creating a ruse to cover the use of the skill, as described above, the character’s CHM att. mod. and his Player SL (if applicable) may also be added.


GM’s Notes: 

Again, the name of this skill is only a generalization for convenience’s sake, and should not be used as a justification for limiting the uses of the skill in play. In many games this skill is named after pick-pockets, however, pockets were not invented until the 1600’s and were tied on underneath clothing, accessed through a slit in a side-seam. They were not actually sewn on the access slit until the late 1700’s – early 1800’s, so there can be no such people or skill. For the GM’s reference, most NPC’s should stash their valuables in their voluminous sleeves (such as those of a houpeland which can be a yard wide but cut to come in to rather a narrow cuff) or in purses at their waists or under/in a sash. While “Pick Sleeve” is pretty silly to modern ears for this skill, a “Pick-Sleeve” is something that a NPC might actually call a character he catches red-handed as he raises the Hue-and-Cry against him.

The DV for cutting, lifting or otherwise extracting a purse or other similar small object is equal to the target’s AWA att. mod. or Sentry AV (as applicable).

The GM should add a Progressive modifier to the DV for every 4 inches by which the length of the object to be lifted is greater than (Cut Purse’s CRD ÷ 4) inches, another for every 2 inches by which the width of relatively flat objects are greater than (CRD ÷ 4) inches, and another for every inch of the item’s depth or thickness beyond 1 inch.

The character should be allowed the normal DV break based on the speed at which his target is moving and the normal “distracted” modifier which is noted in in the description of Task Resolution.

How long the victim goes without becoming aware of the loss of the object taken depends on both the Cut Purse’s skill and the victim’s AWA and activity at the time it was taken. Barring any circumstance that would alert the victim sooner, the victim may become aware of his loss until after (Cut Purse AV) – (victim’s AWA att. mod. OR Sentry AV) minutes have passed. If subtracting the victim’s AWA att. mod. reduces the number of minutes to zero or a negative number, the deficit should be subtracted in CS’s from the remaining minute.

For example, if a Cut Purse with an AV of 12 took a valuable silk scarf from a lady with a Sentry AV of 17, she would notice in less than one minute – a bare CS later. The resulting deficit is 5, so the GM should subtract 5 from the 6 CS’s that compose that last minute. If the thief doesn’t hie himself away out of sight or at least get the scarf passed off to a compatriot or stowed away and Concealed before that time passes, the lady will have a chance to spot him with it and raise the Hue and Cry against him.

This could be important also in cases where an item is taken for a short period for use as a model, to take an impression, with the intent of returning it before it can be missed. The Cut Purse would have to be particularly skilled or the victim rather dull to carry this off in most cases, however.

Of course, this interval won’t apply when circumstances indicate the necessity of earlier discovery. If a Knave takes a significant piece of clothing from a victim in cold weather, the victim must notice it as soon as he begins to feel the bite and effects of the weather, regardless of the normal interval according to this skill description. Also, if the victim goes to use the item taken he must, naturally, discover its absence immediately at that point, regardless of whether the normal interval has passed or not.

IF the Cut Purse is still within sight when the stolen object is discovered missing, the GM should allow the victim an AWA check against an appropriate DV based on the heaviness of the crowd in the area (see the GM’s Notes for the Rogue trade, Appendix B.), plus the Cut Purse’s ability to fade into the crowd as a Skulker.

IF this check is made successfully, the victim should then be given an AWA check against the Cut Purse’s skill (AV) to connect the Cut Purse to the theft, BUT only if the Cut Purse’s face was seen, particularly if the theft was accomplished through the use of a ruse to misdirect the mark. If accomplished by Stealth the Cut Purse’s appropriate Stealth skill AV or his Cut Purse AV may be used for the DV, whichever is greater.

The Cut Purse’s AV with the Player and/or Silver Tongue aspects of Presence should be substituted in making this check if that skill was used to orchestrate some sort of ruse for misdirection, for that incident will no doubt stand out strongly in the victim’s mind when he spots the Cut Purse again. This second AWA check will determine whether or not the victim connects the sight of the Cut Purse to his crime.


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