Gentleman Thief
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Basic Information

He's handsome, suave, charming; he's impeccably dressed and excruciatingly well-bred. He looks just like Cary Grant, or perhaps David Niven. He has all the gentlemanly virtues… except honesty. He's the Gentleman Thief, and when he kisses a lady's hand he's evaluating how much he can get for the diamond bracelet she's wearing. His tuxedo comes with rubber-soled shoes, the better for sneaking through second-story windows at night. He's a lady-killer, and might leave a rose next to her pillow after he's rifled through all her jewelry. Generally speaking, he only robs those who can afford it. After all, a stolen Tiffany necklace will get you more champagne and caviar than a stolen TV.

In a fantastic setting, this character is often involved in the theft of significant supernatural artefacts of various kinds - and indeed his more mundane counterpart is probably not adverse to dealing in stolen antiquities either. In any case, there's a good chance he steals to order - or at least with a buyer in mind - and is not to be found peddling his wares speculatively around the smoking room of a gentlemen's club. Such a thief may also be a collector and steal for his own account.

His thieving skills involve finesse, stealth and sometimes deception - he is not, ordinarily, the sort of man who blows open safes and cuts through glass cases with a tube of thermite.

His distaff counterpart is the Classy Cat Burglar


2. fiction: The Amateur Cracksman by E.W Hornung on Project Gutenberg — Short stories about the archtypical Gentleman Thief, A.J. Raffles.
3. fiction: Arséne Lupin by Maurice Leblanc on Project Gutenberg — The French contemporary of Raffles. Much classier than his manga/anime descendant Lupin III.
4. movie: To Catch a Thief (1955) — Cary Grant plays a retired cat burglar out to clear his name.
5. movie: The Pink Panther (1963) — In the first movie, Inspector Clouseau is a secondary character and the plot revolves around the competition between a Gentleman Thief played by David Niven, and his nephew and rival, played by Robert Wagner.

Game and Story Use

  • The Gentleman Thief usually works alone or with only one or two confederates, so it might be difficult working him into a group of PCs. Not impossible, though.
  • He also works well as an NPC foil, perhaps even a recurring villain.
  • A semi-retired Gentleman Thief could make a good NPC contact or supporting character.
  • Indiana Jones' rival Belloc probably fits into this niche as well, especially with regard to the theft of antiquities.
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