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Old 10-13-2023, 04:50 AM   #1
Michael Thayne
 
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Default [DF] (Kleptomaniac) Halfling's Code of Honor

I wrote this up for an NPC I was creating, thought it might be of interest. The basic idea is "what sort of norms would develop among a community of kleptomaniacs living among humans who don't look kindly on stealing?"
If a fellow halfling wants to unload some merchandise, be willing to make an offer, no questions asked (it doesn't have to be a good offer). Sooner lie to a fellow halfling than burden them with information they don't need to know—including the source of any merchandise you want to unload. If a fellow halfling steals from you by stealth or trickery, you should pay them back in kind, but resorting to violence is an admission of defeat.
Thoughts?
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Old 10-13-2023, 05:24 AM   #2
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Default Re: [DF] (Kleptomaniac) Halfling's Code of Honor

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Thayne View Post
I wrote this up for an NPC I was creating, thought it might be of interest. The basic idea is "what sort of norms would develop among a community of kleptomaniacs living among humans who don't look kindly on stealing?"
Since everything about the code is self-protective, it can't be anything more than a Quirk level Trademark, "Preferred M.O."
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Old 10-13-2023, 06:26 AM   #3
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Default Re: [DF] (Kleptomaniac) Halfling's Code of Honor

Interesting. The components, as Pursuivant notes, don't sound too tough to live by - but you list three components, and I could see each one worth [-1]. That's worth [-3]; just a little more push could make this a proper [-5] Code of Honor.

How about this addition: A halfling thief caught within the community is punished however halfling justice and social mores dictate (which might be pretty lax) - but when any halfling's thievery gets him in trouble with the outside world (i.e., Big Folk), the Code of Honor means you cover for him, hide him, spring him from prison, etc. When the Big Folk are involved, halfling kleptomaniacs look after their own.

Edit: I meant to point to Pursuivant's comment about the code being quirk-level stuff. Fixed.
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Last edited by tbone; 10-13-2023 at 08:09 AM.
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Old 10-13-2023, 06:36 AM   #4
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Default Re: [DF] (Kleptomaniac) Halfling's Code of Honor

That sounds like a good rationale for many other races to adopt things like Intolerance (Halflings) or give Halflings a racial Reputation (thief) regardless of an individual's actual proclivity for thievery.
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Old 10-13-2023, 09:47 AM   #5
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Default Re: [DF] (Kleptomaniac) Halfling's Code of Honor

Don't the original source materials for klepto-halflings (i.e. kenders) state that no one ever gets mad at them for being kleptos?

So: "If caught in the act by the Big Folk, just smile and cheerily hand over the shiny; lie about 'protecting' the shiny if you need to."
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Old 10-13-2023, 11:00 AM   #6
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Default Re: [DF] (Kleptomaniac) Halfling's Code of Honor

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pursuivant View Post
Since everything about the code is self-protective, it can't be anything more than a Quirk level Trademark, "Preferred M.O."
It's meant to be self-protective at a community level rather than an individual level—for example you're expected to be willing to haggle over probably-stolen merchandise even if, viewed as a one-off, there's no price at which risking punishment for receiving stolen goods makes it a good deal for you. Of course, it benefits you in the long-run insofar as your fellows will be willing to repay the favor in kind. I don't think that's particularly unusual for codes of honor, especially not at the -5 point level.

I am open to possible additions to the code, though. Maybe "work to promote the positive reputation of the halfling community among Big Folk".

Quote:
Originally Posted by benz72 View Post
That sounds like a good rationale for many other races to adopt things like Intolerance (Halflings) or give Halflings a racial Reputation (thief) regardless of an individual's actual proclivity for thievery.
The code was written on the assumption that halflings have Kleptomania as a racial disadvantage (as they do in Dungeon Fantasy). Given that baseline assumption, having most people on the same page re: your community's survival strategy seems probably good for the reputation of the community.
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Last edited by Michael Thayne; 10-13-2023 at 11:09 AM.
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Old 10-13-2023, 04:30 PM   #7
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Default Re: [DF] (Kleptomaniac) Halfling's Code of Honor

To me this COH is going to turn kleptomania from an individual problem into a communal problem. Every store will have a "No Halflings Allowed" or "No Shoes, No Shirt, Halflings: No Service" signs.

As, to the code it's self:
Quote:
If a fellow halfling wants to unload some merchandise, be willing to make an offer, no questions asked (it doesn't have to be a good offer).
It's the same as not having to make an offer. Just make a super low offer.
It's the princess' necklace worth $5,000? I'll give you 5 coppers...
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Old 10-13-2023, 06:20 PM   #8
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Default Re: [DF] (Kleptomaniac) Halfling's Code of Honor

On second thought, I have to go with TBone. In a community of compulsive thieves this code is well on its way to being Professional Ethics (Stereotypical Sticky-Fingered Halfling).

Practically, a cultural willingness to make an offer to buy stolen goods, no matter how blisteringly "hot" they are and how marginal the resale value, is adaptive because it's an out for the original thief. The seller is no longer in possession of the goods and can claim whatever credit they want for a successful theft. Meanwhile, the worst thing that can happen to the buyer is getting busted on receiving stolen goods and the seller owes them a serious favor. If the goods are too hot to handle, the buyer will just abandon the item or try to return the stolen item that they "found" and hope to get a reward for its return.

If the whole "steal, sell, give back for a reward" shtick is tolerated by the larger community, it opens up a legitimate line of work. Halfling "Finders," might specialize in tracking down lost and stolen objects from stray cats to purloined crown jewels. If the Halflings regularly "find" things that the Big Folks find useful and which are stolen from strangers or trap-filled holes in the ground rather than neighbors, they might be fully accepted by communities of less-than-law-abiding citizens. Taken to extremes, you get the Ankh-Morpork Thieves' Guild, whose members leave receipts after every burglary.
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Old 10-13-2023, 11:07 PM   #9
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Default Re: [DF] (Kleptomaniac) Halfling's Code of Honor

I figure that racial Kleptomania alone is more than enough to make halflings universally mistrusted in a DF world. The setting chooses to ignore the consequences, which is fine, but it probably should saddle halflings with a negative Reputation if we wanted to get all realistic.

But... maybe Code of Honor (Halfling Kleptomaniac) (plus Honest Face) is what prevents halflings from being barred from shops (or even Town)? In addition to what Pursuivant just said, the Code could specify that strangers in town, and merchants rude to halflings, are fair game for theft but "theft" from fair-dealing, polite folk is more of a trickster-level game: the thief quietly returns the goods later, or leaves behind something else of fair value, or reveals the "trick". "Ah, good one, Mr. Undershire! I never would have seen you pocket that. Now let's have that back, shall we?"

Code of Honor halflings would leave many townies with an impression of pranksters and minor annoyances, not outright thieves. (Of course, there would also be halflings without the Code, so a negative Reputation ("Thieving little buggers", some townies) remains reasonable, as does Intolerance (Halflings) among bad-tempered merchants who keep getting cleaned out.)

I like the sound of that, with one misgiving: it arguably dilutes Kleptomania, a disad worth a lot of points.
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Old 10-14-2023, 03:12 PM   #10
Michael Thayne
 
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Default Re: [DF] (Kleptomaniac) Halfling's Code of Honor

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tinman View Post
It's the same as not having to make an offer. Just make a super low offer.
It's the princess' necklace worth $5,000? I'll give you 5 coppers...
Not quite, since you're taking on the risk of getting caught with it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tbone View Post
I figure that racial Kleptomania alone is more than enough to make halflings universally mistrusted in a DF world. The setting chooses to ignore the consequences, which is fine, but it probably should saddle halflings with a negative Reputation if we wanted to get all realistic.

But... maybe Code of Honor (Halfling Kleptomaniac) (plus Honest Face) is what prevents halflings from being barred from shops (or even Town)? In addition to what Pursuivant just said, the Code could specify that strangers in town, and merchants rude to halflings, are fair game for theft but "theft" from fair-dealing, polite folk is more of a trickster-level game: the thief quietly returns the goods later, or leaves behind something else of fair value, or reveals the "trick". "Ah, good one, Mr. Undershire! I never would have seen you pocket that. Now let's have that back, shall we?"

Code of Honor halflings would leave many townies with an impression of pranksters and minor annoyances, not outright thieves. (Of course, there would also be halflings without the Code, so a negative Reputation ("Thieving little buggers", some townies) remains reasonable, as does Intolerance (Halflings) among bad-tempered merchants who keep getting cleaned out.)

I like the sound of that, with one misgiving: it arguably dilutes Kleptomania, a disad worth a lot of points.
All this is exactly my intent, glad you like the sound of it!
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