Sleight-of-Hand

The Sleight-of-Hand skill (French, Legerdemain, “le-JHER-de-MAIN”, or “light of hand”) represents a character’s knowledge, skill and ability in making objects of his choice (his chosen and prepared props in most cases) seem to appear out of thin air, or disappear, on the spur of the moment with apparently naught but a simple gesture (of misdirection and obfuscation) in the same manner as a conjuration but without the use of magick, making no disturbance in the Ambience. This skill enables the character to execute  purely physical illusions to mimic the effects of true magick.

This skill can provide a ruse and/or an amusing diversion, a stage illusion for the purpose of entertainment, distract the frightened, the grieving, and especially the young, the innocent and simple, to draw the attention of the curious, mesmerize for the duration with feats apparently of magick, to astound and confound the audience for any member of the magickal community can attest to the fact that no magick has indeed been used, and any performer worth his salt will carry letters attesting to the fact that no magick is used in the act. On the other hand, the character can pretend to real magick, as long as he has determined first that there are no practitioners of the Five Arts present to decry him, if that is his aim.

This skill can be used for planning and performing the stage illusion of sawing a living body in half, for making a dove or other small animal appear and/or disappear (pulling a rabbit out of a hat, etc), making objects float and dance, making seemingly death-defying escapes, drawing forth continuous streams of silks, flowers out of a sleeve, glove, hat, or thin air, a coin from a lovely maiden’s ear, scarves, balls or other small objects to appear from nowhere, multiply, and disappear again, making those objects dance on air or on the edge of a cloth, making a kerchief float about as if by its own volition, or any of a hundred other variations on these trick themes.

The process and the type of performance are generally referred to as Sleight-of-Hand, although the larger tricks are stage illusions, while the physical skill involved in performing such acts or tricks with objects no larger than (character height ÷ 10) inches in any dimension [unless specially crafted to break down to that size or smaller, or can by its nature be compressed to this size or smaller, or if a living creature must be less than (AGL ÷ 4) in STA (raw OR modified)] is referred to as Palming an object so as to Cache or Conceal it, as the palm is the chief tool whereby the object is covered or concealed so it may be stashed under cover of misdirection so it will seem to have “disappeared”.

By the nimble-fingered use of the Palm aspect of Sleight-of-Hand, the character makes the item disappear from view and at the same time Caches it away in such a way that it cannot be seen and the manner in which it has been disposed of is completely obscured, undetectable. The Cache/Conceal skill from the Stealth bundle is considered an aspect of the Palm skill, the necessary and unavoidable second step to Palming an object, so the performer may display his hands with a flourish to show that he is NOT somehow simply artfully hiding the object with his hands.

Of course, as an adjunct to the Palm skill is NOT the only way that Stealth skill can  be used, and the greater the degree of skill the character attains with it the more it will definitely benefit his abilities in Sleight-of-Hand, as well.

The character’s ability to Palm objects is critical and integral to the use of Sleight-of-Hand performed without formal stage props, and often is pivotal in many illusions that use smaller props, such as collapsing cages which seem to allow the bird to fly free right through the bars, as it is the only means by which the character can make an item disappear and stow it away into a hiding place about his person, or draw it forth (again), or use any props prepared for that purpose so that the true nature of the ruse doesn’t become apparent. The Palm skill also keeps onlookers from discerning how the character has made the object(s) disappear, and where he is keeping any things he has made to disappear but is still holding on his person, or how he might have arranged by mechanical props to remove any of them from the stage (as applicable).

To avoid the necessity of Caching or Concealing an object on his own body, which might then possibly be discovered if he is Searched afterwards, he can always obvious external props of an appropriate scale made by a Craftsman who has that skill to provide the caches or cover in or by which the object(s) is hidden.

The tricks mentioned above each need to be rated, evaluated. The character may try any stage stunt or gimmick that he can planned or create a feasible gimmick for, regardless of how difficult it is. In the same manner as the songs of a Minstrel or Troubador, or the Chef choosing fine dishes to prepare, the player will basically set the DV with which it can be performed for his character, with the aid of the GM.

The tricks mentioned above each need to be rated, evaluated. The character may try any stage stunt or gimmick that he can planned or create a feasible gimmick for, regardless of how difficult it is.

The base DV for making an object disappear by Palming or producing it “from thin air” with Sleight-of-Hand it is equal to its Size in inches in all three dimension (length, width, and height)

On making an object disappear, the character will then have to stow it safely away in such a manner as to Conceal its whereabouts.

The DV to do so is 1 per 4 inches of the length of objects beyond (CRD ÷ 4) inches, plus 1 per 2 inches of the width of relatively flat objects beyond (CRD ÷ 4) inches, or plus 1 per inch of depth or thickness beyond one inch of each object Concealed on the character’s body. A modifier is assessed per item if the character is going to make more than one appear or disappear in a single movement, +3 for 2 items (1 + 2), +6 for 3 items (1 + 2 + 3), +10 for 4 items (1 + 2 + 3 + 4), and so on. When working with larger stage props, the DV may be rated in feet (as appropriate to the trick, as discussed between player and GM).

The STA of any animal (raw OR modified, the greater), plus its AGL att. mod. should be used as the base DV to perform any illusion centered on such a creature, especially in making it appear or disappear, and most will likely require the character to own no less than a pair of these creatures which he must make sure are visually indistinguishable.

Due to the common role of small animals in their illusions, such performers are commonly Husbandmen of the beasts they use, and rarely, if ever, allow any member of the public to see their private quarters to prevent even the suspicion of the true means by which their work is accomplished to take root. The secrets of their trade truly are and remain mysteries even to the modern day

Once successfully done, only those coming within (AWA feet) will have any chance of noticing that all is not necessarily as the performer is pretending, but requiring an AWA check on d100 vs. a DV equal to the character’s Sleight-of-Hand AV.

The character’s reputation depends upon his success’, so he should feel a need to be as creative and as daring as he can, so as to impress, It is much easier to damage his reputation for success than to overcome any tales of his failures, however.

The character’s Sleight-of-Hand skills is of use when he is running low on coin, as mentioned in the Mountebank trade description. The characters’ Palm ability will facilitate his performing any basic work of Sleight-of-Hand, especially useful for garnering quick coin when gaming at dice or using any of the confidence games such as the Shell Game, the equivalent of “3-Card Monty” (and any of its variations), of which he is the inventor and master, but he can as easily take his stage illusions to the streets and perform for passersby and pass the hat like any other performer.

The remuneration the Mountebank can receive from running street games is detailed in the GM’s information pertaining to that trade, and that due from performing his illusion act in the streets or performing in the halls of wealthy patrons is discussed there as well, although the details concerning the remuneration received is found under the Troubador (etc.) trade description.

IF the focal object for an illusion or Sleight-of-Hand trick has been specially crafted according to the character’s specific needs and instructions in such a way as to allow its folding down or collapse (this fact not readily visible on inspection when held in hand, with a DV provided by the skill of the Craftsman who constructed it, and at arm’s length or farther away there is no chance of suspicion of its true nature), the smaller, collapsed size of the object is used for the purposes of the check to see whether he is able to successfully Palm it when performing the illusion.

When not in use, the manner in which a given prop is employed is no more evident than in the presence or workings of other any secret or concealed device/trap that might be encountered throughout the GM’s gameworld. Only an Artificer-Craftsman might have a chance to figure it out, if he is already aware of the general purpose of the item.

IF he wishes to use special props in this way, especially to perform the larger stage tricks, the character must pay to have the special props built. The costs for these is determined by the GM, in the same manner as the projects produced by Craftsman characters. The more complex, grander in scale, and/or richly ornamented the props, the more expensive they is (GM’s discretion, at the player’s direction).

Once a trick has been planned and any necessary props paid for and built, the character must pay [(trick DV) – (CRD att. mod.)] pence per year each on their maintenance to smiths, carpenters, and or artists keeping his props in good repair, usually in the winter when he cannot travel (northern climes, GM’s discretion), so they is presentable and good working order, ready for use whenever he needs them

Those who also have the Craftsman-Smith and/or Craftsman-Carpenter or -Joiner skill is able to limit their expenses to only the materials and save the cost of labor and common mark-up on props by making his own and/or taking care of his own maintenance, eliminating those expenses entirely, so long as he makes sure the GM is apprised when he is taking the time and making the effort to do so.

With the Artisan skill, the character is able to embellish and decorate his props in a suitable manner to make them appealing for the purposes of performing, saving an additional 11% on the costs of props for each new trick.

Misdirection is the key to Sleight-of-Hand.

The character’s skill, whether performing small tricks by hand or full-scale stage illusions, truly lies in always directing the on-looker’s attention where desired, so the pivotal point and movement is missed.

This is where technique and stage-presence come into play.

The charm and panache of the character performing these feats is everything, integral to the “show” he puts on, which is why the att. mod. for his CHM will always be added to his AV for any performance of this art, regardless of the size of the audience, regardless of whether it be a single child of 5 or a crowd of adult skeptics.

All Players will have an advantage in performing, as their Rhetoric & Bombast SL will provide a bonus to the AV. This combination of physical skill, CHM and showmanship is why they are so hard to spot and catch in the act when they get even reasonably competent.

To work a trick giving the appearance of the rare magicks of dematerialization and re-materialization, shapechanging, transmigration, etc., (according to the nature of the illusion) so on-lookers cannot tell where the original object or creature or being has gone, a successful skill check on d100 with an att. mod. based on the character’s CRD score is required.

The character will receive a bonus based on his Cache/Conceal skill (as applicable) to determine the DV provided by the skill for any on-looker(s) trying to discern where the object Palmed has been stowed (Concealed)

In larger tricks involving objects larger than mentioned above, or the character’s whole person or when trying to manipulate any beast greater than (AGL ÷ 4) in raw STA, the AGL score will provide the att. mod., instead.

The player will please note that other attributes may come into play in performing major works of stage illusion, according to what effect the character is trying to achieve, the point and method of the illusion, ie. CND for holding breath for underwater tank tricks.

In use, first the act must be successfully performed, then those in the audience who are within (AWA) feet is granted an AWA check vs. the DV equal to the performer’s Sleight-of-Hand AV. If the trick is successfully performed, none who are located beyond (AWA) feet will have any chance whatsoever of discerning how it was done. If the d100 check to exercise the skill is failed, everyone will see right through the trick, and the performer is in danger of revealing trade secrets, for which he may be called to task by his colleagues when they hear of it, or especially if they should have a representative in the crowd.

 

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