Friday, October 3, 2014

The Thief Who Couldn't

“Gentlemen, can’t we talk about this? I mean, it was just a scroll. One scroll out of thousands of scrolls in the library!”  The man looked between the two guards outside of his cell, batting his eyelashes and smiling his brightest smile. The guards looked at one another, very obviously caving to the prisoner’s charms.
“Well, he’s right, ain’t he? It were just one scroll…” the first guard said, tentatively pulling a ring of keys from the pocket of his jacket.
“And he did do a real poor job of stealin’ it…” the second guard agreed, looking the thief over with narrowed eyes.
“Oh, just the worst! I may as well have announced my intentions to the entire township!” The prisoner agreed amicably.
“As long as you promise not to do it again, I can let you out.” The first guard said, holding the key an inch away from the lock.
“I swear on the grave of my mother!” He said solemnly, neglecting to mention that his mother was still quite alive and owned a thriving tailor’s business in Glensdale, about twenty miles east. In fact, he wore the lovely crimson traveling cloak she’d just sewn together for his 30th year, not a week previous.
That seemed to be enough for the guards, however, as the first slipped the key into the lock and released the prisoner, and the second graciously opened the cell door.  
“Much obliged, gentlemen! I’ll be out of your hair in a moment…” he walked by the table on which his ill gotten gain sat; an unassuming scroll sealed with old wax, then paused dramatically. “Right, nearly forgot my scroll!” As he swiped the paper off the desk, both guardsmen protested loudly. The thief put his hand up. “Now, good sirs, surely you wondered why I would steal a single scroll out of thousands, nay, millions?” This question brought the guards up short, and they hesitated. “It is mine, of course! Been in the family for generations! Wrongfully collected and stored away in that dusty mausoleum of dead tomes and forgotten ledgers!”
“Where’s your proof, then?” The first guard questioned the thief, sounding as though he’d asked something clever.
“I’m afraid I have none, other than to tell you I know that I know opening this scroll would unleash a curse of epic proportions upon the good townsfolk, so naturally I had to retrieve it and keep you all safe from an untimely death!”
“I… well, that does sound serious now, don’t it?” The second guard said, turning to his companion.
“It does indeed. Well, you best get it to safety, then!” The first guard straightened up, and pointed towards the heavy door that led to the upper floor and outside to safety. “Best move along!” He said this as though it had been his idea to free the thief, and allow him his stolen goods, in the first place.
With another flourish of his large hat, the thief made his way towards the door, tucking the scroll carefully into the pack tied at his waist. He confidently grasped the handle, and pulled… and pulled… and grunted… and stepped back from the door.
“Good sirs, might one of you assist me? This door appears to be exceptionally heavy!” He said, no trace of embarrassment or frustration evident in his tone. The guards looked at each other in confusion, and one of them walked down the short hallway to open the door. The thief bowed once more, then disappeared up the stairs.
“If he had trouble with this door, there ain’t no way he’s getting past the one that’s leadin’ outside.” The first guard said. They both laughed, then followed the cheerful thief up the stairs to help him escape the building.
The thief, Delridge von Stealsthings, waited until he’d made it outside the limits of the busiest parts of town before he cracked the wax seal on the scroll. He’d heard from a guttersnipe, who’d heard from a nobleman, who’d heard from a priest, that this scroll contained a powerful spell that would imbue anything he cast it on with the ability to generate gold. He chuckled to himself, proud of how he’d talked his way out of a very problematic experience. But his pride, and elation, drained away as he looked over the contents of the scroll.
He couldn’t read a bloody word of it.

“Chris, this character is useless.” Mark, the creator of the barbarian character that hadn’t been introduced yet, said with a roll of his eyes.
“No, I’ll just have him find the clergyman who knew about the scroll and talk him into translating it for a cut of the gold!” Chris protested, pulling out his d20 to roll.
“Seriously though, if you have to make checks on every single thing like this, it’s going to drag the game out way longer than it needs to be. Are you sure you don’t want to reroll your stats?” The GM, Samantha, raised a skeptical eyebrow as she asked the question.
“You couldn’t even open a door!” Mark added. “A DOOR. There are bound to be at least a few more of those during the game!”
“Whatever, I told you I was going to get through a campaign with a character that sunk all his points into charisma, and I’m gonna do it.”
“Can’t you at least like, raise your strength back up to 8 so you aren’t defeated by doors?”
Chris sighed theatrically.
“FINE. I’ll take my charisma stat down to put strength back up to 8. Is that good enough for doors, Sam?” He looked up to the GM after furiously erasing the “6” next to “Str” on his character sheet.
“Well you won’t be lock picking anytime soon, but regular doors should pose no problem to you.” She laughed at the look on her friend’s face.
“This is what you get for having a high charisma and a low everything else.” Mark muttered, taking a sip of his soda. This was going to be a long evening.