Glim Dropper
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Basic Information

The glim-dropper is a con that requires several accomplices, one of whom must be a one-eyed man. One grifter goes into a store and pretends he has lost his glass eye. Everyone looks around, but the eye cannot be found. He declares that he will pay a thousand-dollar reward for the return of his eye, and leaves contact information.

The next day, an accomplice enters the store and pretends to find the eye. The shop keeper (the intended target), thinking of the reward, offers to take it and return it to its owner. The finder insists he will return it himself, and demands the owner’s address. Thinking he will lose all chance of the reward, the storekeeper offers a hundred dollars for the eye. The finder bargains him up to $250, and departs. The one-eyed man, of course, can not be found (the address is bogus) and does not return.


2. Book: A Cool Million, or, The Dismantling of Lemuel Pitkin (1934) by Nathanael West.
3. NPR Article How Scams Worked In The 1800s - The article features a variant that uses a horse the victim owns, instead of a glass eye the conmen own.

Variants of this con have been used in movies such as The Traveller (1997) and Shade (2003).

Game and Story Use

  • Similar tricks, for even higher profits, can be pulled in a Cyberpunk campaign. "I lost my multispectrum eye - and they don't make that model any more! It'd cost me $20,000, plus surgery and rewiring to upgrade to the new model - I'll give you $16,000 if you find and return my old one before my next doctor's appointment."
  • Also has a place in Fantasy genre campaigns - they say this is how Vecna got his start. :)
  • An adventuring party with a reputation for honesty1 is sitting around in their favorite tavern when the barkeep offers them a job. Someone dropped a glass eye, and someone else found it, can they go collect the reward in exchange for a cut?
  • Bear in mind that a fantasy glass eye could have a lot of potential value attached to it - Alastor Moody's prosthetic eye, for example, from the Harry Potter novels, was quite a potent bit of kit and would be worth ransoming … or not …
  • An equivalent version of this grift can occur whenever you have a setup man offer to pay over the odds for a specific item or type of item that the vendor doesn't have access to … the grifter then appears with said item, sells it to the mark for more than it is worth (but still less than the setup man offered) and the mark then waits for the return of the setup man … who is never seen again.
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