Pickpocket by Felicia Cano - Check out all her artwork here
This is another post on the thief theme. Today, we're going to examine picking pockets, or rather cutting purses. In most fantasy RPG campaigns, the setting is reminiscent of the middle ages in terms of both clothing and attitudes. Few pieces of clothing in the medieval period had pockets sewn into them at all and most people chose to carry their valuables in a bag, pouch, or purse tied to their belt. Thus, most "pick pocketing" that occurs in a fantasy setting is probably really "purse cutting" - that is cutting either the strings that tie the purse, pouch, or bag to the owner, or slicing a hole in the container so that the contents fall into a bag or pouch the cut purse has ready. Clearly, all of this depends upon the setting, but a skilled rogue can steal the clothes from your body without you realizing it.
Not only to prove that the last statement is NOT hyperbole, but also to teach you a little bit more about pick pockets, I offer the following short video for you to watch. . .
Apollo Robbins has made a lifetime study of the art of misdirection and is clearly a master of it. If you are truly interested in how humans are easily distracted, with more examples, I recommend that you also watch Mr. Robbins' TED talk video as well. Be warned however, this is almost nine minutes long so you may not want to invest the time . . .
As Apollo Robbins demonstrated, one of the key elements to successfully picking a pocket or cutting a purse is clearly distraction. Thieves want to be certain that their targets attention is focused someplace other than the items on their person. It is for this reason that pickpockets and cutpurses work crowds of people milling through a festival, watching a hanging, or shopping in the town square. These people make good targets because they are already distracted. Whether you are a GM or a player who plays rogues, thieves, and their ilk, I hope that you found this information useful and entertaining. Now on to the list, itself.
What follows is a list of the contents of twenty random bags, pouches, or purses that a rogue might steal by picking pockets, cutting purses or slight of hand. The list has a couple of entries that are incredibly valuable, as well as a couple that are worth nearly nothing. For the most part though, there is a moderate amount of value to each entry. The thought behind the list NOT containing a lot useless items is that cutpurses choose targets that look like they will have something valuable. Thieves don't generally steal from poor peasants to make their living; the people that do that are called "the nobility". Here are 20 Purses Waiting to be Cut. As always, Happy Gaming!
Only coins: 9 copper pieces, 11 silver pieces, and 3 gold pieces.
2 copper pieces, 4 silver pieces, and 45 gold pieces plus a rolled-up piece of seemingly blank parchment tied with a yellow ribbon.
2 copper pieces, 3 silver pieces, and small vial of expensive perfume.
4 copper pieces, 12 silver pieces, and 35 gold pieces plus a wanted poster, a vial of sand, a plain wooden snuff box, and a 4 pieces of hardtack.
Only coins: 6 copper pieces and 1 silver piece.
11 copper pieces, 8 silver pieces, and 9 gold pieces plus a page torn from a magic ritual book.
12 copper pieces, 2 silver pieces, and 16 gold pieces plus a jar of healing salve.
3 copper pieces and 4 silver pieces, in addition to a signet ring, a stick of sealing wax, a small flask of holy water, and a pair of finely-made spectacles.
19 copper pieces, 18 silver pieces, and 95 gold pieces plus a ring of keys marked with the symbol of the bankers guild.
18 copper pieces, 6 silver pieces, and 3 gold pieces plus a small leather map of the area and crumpled "Dear John" letter.
2 copper pieces, 6 silver pieces, and collection of various magical spell components.
90 copper pieces, 20 silver pieces, and 33 gold pieces plus a gem of true seeing.
16 copper pieces, 14 silver pieces, and 3 gold pieces plus a jar of rare spices and a half-written musical composition carefully scripted on a piece of folded parchment.
36 silver pieces and 72 gold pieces plus a perfumed love letter and a fine silk scarf.
6 copper pieces, 20 silver pieces, and 86 gold pieces plus a page torn from a ledger, a potion of persuasion, and a 200 gp value diamond.
2 copper pieces, 6 silver pieces, and 1 gold piece plus a 15 gp value aquamarine.
9 copper pieces, 15 silver pieces, and 17 gold pieces plus a set of loaded dice.
9 copper pieces, 48 silver pieces, and 31 gold pieces plus an ornate scroll case with a scroll of protection from lycanthropes in it.
2 copper pieces, 16 silver pieces, and 11 gold pieces plus a set of 3 well-crafted darts.
4 copper pieces and 1 silver piece plus a button and a piece of string.