There’s a very special NPC in Thief II: The Metal Age. In the dimly-lit games room of the Truart Estate, surrounded by the discarded playing cards and abandoned dartboards of the recent party held by the Sheriff and his debaucherous toff friends, a lone drunken City Watch officer disconnectedly rambles to the barmaid on duty. His name is Officer Benny, and I love him.
“I can’t believe that s-some (hic) taffer went and spilled mead all over that rug!” he yells as you approach unseen, his model swaying unsteadily in a dramatic display of intoxication. The barmaid, clearly worn out by a harrowing work shift, sighs wearily.
“Benny… you spilled the mead on the rug,” she explains patiently. “Anyway, someone is on the way to clean it up already.”
“But you don’t understaaand!” Benny wails, now clearly, inexplicably on the verge of tears. “These (hic) taffers have no respect for such… b-beautiful things!”
Around this point, it’s likely that you’ll start to tune out and skulk around in the gloom, looking for the telltale glint of loot to funnel into your pockets. Stacks of coins and rings litter the gaming tables, tempting you to sneak a hand under the hanging lamps. One of Karras’s Children—a hunchbacked steam-powered automaton with a head like a brass football —clanks around the room, mindlessly praising its creator to the heavens. It’s not much of a threat, but it’s certainly an annoying little contraption. One water arrow to the boiler grate usually does the trick.
“Benny, I think you’ve had too much to drink. Aren’t you supposed to be on duty?”
“Hah. So what if I am, huh?” he says, sounding more than a little defensive. “Anyways, I work mm-better when I’m drunk. It makes me fearless! If I see a bad guy, I’ll just point my sword at him, and saaaaaay… HEY, BAD GUY!”
You freeze, momentarily worried you’ve been spotted trying to snaffle the discarded goblet from beside the fireplace. Benny continues with his charade, utterly oblivious.
“You’re not s’posed to be here! G-go home or I’ll stick you with my sword ‘til you go ‘Ouch, I’m dead!’ Ah-hah-hah-hurgh!” He makes an indescribable sniffing, gurgling, chuckling noise, and momentarily falls silent. “See? Ain’t no one gonna be messin’ with ol’ Benny.”
“Whatever, Benny. I think you should sleep it off. No more mead for you.”
In the grand scheme of things, it’s a fairly trivial exchange: it doesn’t tie into some larger arc, it doesn’t impart any useful information about objectives or security system vulnerabilities, and neither Officer Benny nor the barmaid will ever be seen again. Benny’s emotional ping-ponging is unconvincing at best, and while his delivery certainly isn’t lacking in vigour, the only character in the room with exceptional voice acting is Garrett, the Master Thief; the one surreptitiously pocketing everyone’s gambling winnings during this exchange. And yet, Benny’s rambling accomplishes something very special. It’s the perfect, emblematic example of a quality present throughout the Thief games; one that shapes how we approach them, and in turn, the experiences they provide.
Thief II gives you a sword. Not a discreet little knife, fit for a slippery cutthroat, but a proper blade; the kind for lopping off soldiers’ limbs on a muddy, arrow-strewn embankment. It’s a silent acknowledgement that you may have to kill men, not in a surprise scuffle where you jump them from behind the bins, but in a full-on fight with multiple assailants. It’s the kind of thing you defend yourself with when things are rapidly going downhill and there’s nowhere to run; a tool for when the halls are filled with the sounds of alarm bells and clattering jackboots. In the right hands it can be quite effective, and it’s entirely possible to hack n’ slash your way through a legion of aggravated soldiers, provided they’re courteous enough to approach you in a narrow corridor or something.
Something doesn’t add up here, does it? Stealth needs reasons for you to stealth, so to speak. There have to be incentives to keep you in hiding, and those incentives usually start with some sort of punishment for being caught. You’re supposed to be outmatched and outgunned, or at the very least, have some higher-level motive for not wanting to be seen. If Garrett can accomplish his goals by going where he pleases and stabbing everyone who looks at him the wrong way, what’s stopping him, really?
Well, it’s kind of a dick thing to do, of course, but gamers have never been above murdering NPCs for slightly inconveniencing them. It’s also a flat-out fail state on many missions if you attempt them on a higher difficulty setting, but by the time you get around to them you’ve almost certainly put the idea out of your head long ago in any case. Dishonored, Thief’s darling modern protégé, would invisibly bump up the Chaos meter—a hidden metric that determines whether Corvo’s been naughty or nice—but Thief itself has no such system, and other than occasionally dropping remarks along the lines of “remember, murdering people is for poser scrublords”, does little to impress upon you the moral wrongness of your actions. A corpse is functionally identical to an unconscious body—indeed, were it not for a single line of HUD text, they’d be impossible to differentiate at all—and sure, people might be a bit more screamy if you clobber them over the head with a blade rather than a blackjack, but what does that matter if you’ve already established you’re not interested in being quiet?
No, Thief II chooses instead to work with characterisation. Who, of the people you encounter throughout its missions, are your enemies? Not the tired watchmen trudging through the halls on a cold evening; not the harmless peasants, trying to prosper in an industrial revolution even as it crushes them between its wheels; not even the Mechanist underlings, suckered into a fad cult and set to work fulfilling Karras’s insane agenda. Your foes are far away, clinking glasses in rooms full of light and music, and most of them will never meet you face-to-face. What direct quarrel do you have with the guards who patrol the game’s moody locales, besides the fact that they’re between you and your goal?
Right. They’re not your enemies, so Thief doesn’t characterise them as enemies. Engendering sympathy to discourage murdering NPCs is hardly a novel concept, but Thief’s approach stands out, primarily because it’s less about pre-emptive guilting and more about subtle humanisation. While you creep around behind their backs, guards will hum, whistle, recite passages, moan about the cold, mumble to themselves, even wonder aloud when they’re getting dinner. You’ll find guards cracking jokes, trash-talking each other’s employers, discussing financial management, complaining about the weather, worrying about being replaced by the new-fangled mechanical eyes, and a thousand other ordinary things totally unrelated to the here-and-now of their work shift. They’re not goose-stepping around shouting “boy, I sure hope nobody stabs me in the back while I’m pacing back and forth, how would my wife and three children ever survive on the streets without a loving father like me?”; they’re just… well, bored, usually. Wouldn’t it be terrible to have to cut down a person like that, just because they made the mistake of investigating some footsteps a little too closely? Thief makes you wantto stay unseen, not for your own sake, but for the sake of those who might see you.
And Officer Benny? He’s the epitome of this humanisation. Not only is he drunk, chatty, skiving off work and chewing the scenery with an unprecedented level of unhinged abandon, but through his babbling, he offers an insight into his attitude. There’s no black, tarry pit of hatred boiling away somewhere in him, fuelled by some personal vendetta, waiting to bubble over in fury at the sight of a wayward miscreant; he’s just doing what he’s supposed to. Benny sees himself as the cop in the proverbial cops and robbers: a figure of authority in a simplistic world, out to stop the scoundrels and ruffians in a game where everyone mutually agrees on the rules. His inebriated cry of “HEY, BAD GUY! You’re not s’posed to be here!” is born of this position, announcing what he sees as incontestable truths, spoken more out of convention than anything else. And what’s his ultimatum? Go home, or get stabbed. Go home. Even faced with someone absolutely, undeniably in the wrong, in his morally black-and-white world, his first thought is of telling them to scarper; to leave peacefully, without accountability or interrogation. He’s not smart, or nuanced, or even—if you catch his attention—particularly true to his word, but Officer Benny’s attitude is charming in its simplistic naivety, devoid of real malice or antagonistic ideals. For that, I could no more swing my sword at him than kick a puppy, and that’s why he holds Thief II’s formula together—along with countless other watchmen, guards and Mechanists.
Thanks, Benny. I hope your hangover wasn’t too rough.
Hi Taylor, I’m Allison! I just want to say thank you for making these beautiful masterpieces! You and your music make me so happy! I don’t know where I would be without you! You are such an amazing person! I love how you go above and beyond for your fans! I saw you at BOTH Texas shows it was the magical and so much fun! It felt like you were talking to me and only me! I love you more and more each day if that’s even possible! Your concerts are always the best nights of my life! I have been lucky enough that I got to go to 6 of them! I hope one day I get to meet you! It is my 10 year plus dream! I’ve been a fan from the beginning since the curly hair days! I love you so much Taylor and I’m so proud and happy for you! Thank you for always being here for me! I love you forever & always!😘
Hi could you do an imagine with Peter Pan where you are in Neverland not for so long, you and Peter are always sarcastic and sassy towards each other and Pan likes how you can take care about yourself, how you’re not like any other girls who’s still crying and how you’re sassy to him and at the end could be a kiss where you admits your feelings. Please? :D :)
“Y/N, go help them, will you?” Peter ordered with a low growl. He was beyond annoyed with the boys today.
“As if I’d help them clean their bunks. It’s their mess, not mine.” You rolled your eyes and walked away.
Peter growled again. He was frustrated. You were new to the island, and that caused the Lost Boys to react in a weird way. They became more unruly, more o trying to impress you. All it did was get them in trouble. Now they had to fix up camp.
“You’re the reason this happened, Y/N. So help.”
“Oh yeah, you’re right. I definitely asked to come to an island full of boys via Shadow–”
“I saved you and took you away from that hellhole you called a home!”
“I was taking perfectly good care of myself there,” You retorted.
Peter rolled his eyes, waving you off. You walked away once again, entering the jungle.
“I don’t know what it is about her, Felix. She’s not like most girls or boys. She didn’t cry once when she got here. She’s only full of sass and sarcasm.”
“Just like you.”
Peter was talking to Felix. You were so different and not like most of the people who entered Neverland. You were tough and fierce, not afraid to sass him. It baffled him since he’d never experience it before with anyone.
“She’s… We’re nothing alike!”
“Except that you’re both blunt and like each other,” Felix smirked.
Peter shot him a glare, huffing out air. “I don’t like her. Why would I?”
Felix only gave him a knowing look. It was obvious with the tension that there was something there. The sassy remarks and the fact that sometimes your’s or Peter’s sin would flush after an interaction.
“You like her, mate.” Felix patted him on the back, standing up and walking off.
Peter only scoffed, crossing his arms and pouting. “I don’t like anybody.”
That wasn’t the case, however. There was tension, there were feelings. You both found one another attractive. The sass and sarcasm was only a bonus. In lots of ways, you guys were alike.
Later that day, when you and Peter crossed paths again, was when things took a turn…
“Stalking me, I see?” You raised both your brows at him, crossing your arms.
“Just checking in. Don’t want the little girl getting lost.”
You glared at him. His tone had obvious sarcasm in it.
You were still in the woods, passing through the large trees and admiring the nature. You were enjoying yourself. Then Peter came along and ruined your peace.
“I told you, I can take care of myself. So piss off.” You sent him a glare, not wanting to deal with him. But of course, Peter made it worse by pointing something out.
“Are you… blushing?” Peter smirked.
Your face fell. No, you couldn’t have been blushing. You no longer felt heat on your cheeks from moments before. You were thinking about Peter before hand, thinking about how cute he was and stuff he’s said to you. It caused you to blush. Maybe you began to blush again when you saw him.
“No?” You tried to play it cool.
Peter cocked an eyebrow up, crossing his arms over his chest.
“Really?” He said. “Because… I quite like it when you blush.”
You averted your eyes from the ground to him. He couldn’t be serious, could he? Your mind was racing. These words were not leaving Peter Pan’s mouth.
“I like you a lot, Y/N.” Peter stepped closer. “So much. You make me crazy. You’re fearless, sassy, cute…”
“Don’t what? Don’t continue?” Peter got real close. The tip of his nose touched your ever-so-lightly. His breath hit your face and neck. He was in your personal space.
You looked at Peter’s green eyes. They were so pale, even this close to you, they still seemed so pale and light. They were beautiful.
His eyes distracted you from noticing that he was leaning in to kiss you. Once you realized what was going on, you flinched. It was too late to back out, however, as Peter’s lips were on yours. He kissed you tenderly, holding your cheeks in his hands. You didn’t know where to put your hands, you were in such shock. You only stood there, kissing him back.
“Now that that’s out of the way…” Peter spoke the second he pulled apart.
“Out of the way? What do you mean out of the way?” You immediately got defensive.
“No worries, love. I just needed to kiss you… And maybe make you my…” He was having issues saying the word. Now you smirked, cracking a Cheshire grin.
“Yeah, that,” he mumbled. Now he was the one blushing.
Peter looked at you with wide eyes. His hand was on the back of his neck, and he looked genuinely shocked. You smiled hugely, grabbing his hand.
“C’mon, boyfriend. Let’s walk back to camp. I’m hungry.”
Peter followed you, his hand in yours. He didn’t take his eyes off you the entire way back.