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.
May I request possible scenarios of how the Chocobros and Cor got to know their s/o, why they appreciate them and got closer to them?
Yes, yes, yes
you may dear Anon! :D I just want to say though- this was a tad bit rushed because I wanted to get something out tonight but I’ve been so darn tired lately LOL! So if there are any typos, please flag them and let me know <3 Love you all! And enjoyyyy!
Noctis: Noctis first noticed you two months into
beginning high school. He was curious about you, because unlike the other people
in his class, you kind of just sat by yourself in the back corner and stayed
glued to your books. Noctis would find himself staring at you during class
break periods, earning himself a lot of teasing from Prompto. Noctis didn’t
really know why he found you so extremely fascinating, but he couldn’t stop
himself from turning his head every hour just to check and see if you were
still sitting there in the back corner, reading your books and diligently completing
Day, Noctis received many gifts of expensive, foreign chocolates and roses.
Prompto himself had received a whole bunch of gifts from his many admirers
around the school as well. However, Noctis found himself staring right past his
desk, saturated with gifts and offerings, his eyes landing on your desk. There
sat a single rose with a bag of what seemed to be home-made chocolates tied to
the green stem. Noctis had felt a pang of jealousy then- though he soon came to
realise that his jealousy was unfounded.
as he was about to leave for the front gates where Ignis was waiting to pick
him up, you approached him from behind and tapped him gently on the shoulder.
Noctis turned around swiftly at the touch and his midnight blue eyes widen at
the sight of you holding out the lone rose and cute looking chocolate moogles.
His eyes travelled up to your face and he saw your slight blush and endearing
“Um, these are
for you, your highness.” Noctis watches you formally bow down to him, your gifts
outstretched to him. Not even thinking about playing it cool, Noctis gently
takes your gifts from your hands and smiles when you straighten up to face him
with a mildly surprised expression on your face.
Noctis replies back simply, his gratitude evident in his shy tone. Noctis
watches you smile brightly at him, and from that moment on, he slowly grows
closer and closer to you until one day, your lips meet and seal an unspoken
contract- you’ve been inseparable ever since!
Prompto: Prompto met you when the two of you
were each twelve years old. Specifically, he met you when he fell during one of
his morning runs. You were taking a walk down to the local corner store to buy
some bread for breakfast with your family when you caught sight of a chubby boy
sitting on the curb, staring at his bloody knee and crying. Prompto hadn’t even
realised that you had approached him as he cried- he was so used to dealing
with his emotions and problems by himself. So when you tapped him on the
shoulder and offered him a shy, yet determined smile, Prompto was both grateful
and fascinated by you.
He admired how
you took him by the hand and pulled him up with a strong grip before pulling
you along right towards your home. He remembered how your parents were so
welcoming of your new ‘friend’, despite the fact that Prompto was almost
positive someone as pretty and kind as you would never was someone as weird as
him to be their friend. You had just nodded and stuck close to Prompto as your
parents patched him up. He was extremely grateful for that act of consideration
From that day
forth, you and Prompto were close friends. You always made sure Prompto ran
safely and Prompto always made sure you had a buddy to walk with to and from
school. The two of you grew close over the years, and naturally, Prompto had
asked you out on your birthday. At first, you thought it was too good to be
true, so you took his invitation as just an outing between friends. But then,
when he placed a tender kiss against your cheek that night at the end of your
fun filled evening- both you and Prompto knew that it was the start of
something special and long on the books.
day, you and Prompto go to that very spot you first met as kids, and tell each
other just how much you mean to each other. You tell Prompto that he saved you
from a lonely childhood, and Prompto tells you that you saved him from himself.
Gladio: Gladio met you at an official royal
dinner. He was absolutely enthralled with the vision of you wearing a black
lace dress with golden accents, your hair in an elegant up-do. That night, Gladio’s
job was to tail Noctis and make sure that the prince didn’t slip out of the
main hall and sneak off into the gardens. However, he was distracted by your
beauty and, damn it, he paid the price. Within an hour, Gladiolus Amicitia had
already lost the prince.
In a panic,
Gladio began to search amongst the crowds in the main hall. In his hurry, he
began to job backwards to back-track towards the large mahogany double doors so
that he could go and search the prince’s regular haunts around the palace. But
then, he stepped on some flowy material and he heard a rather loud rip.
Gladio stands stock still at the sound of you saddened voice. He cannot believe
it. He ran right into you AND he ruined your beautiful dress. Oh, and he lost
the prince. Gladio turned towards you, an apologetic look on his handsome and
“I am SO
sorry! Follow me to the coat room, I think Iggy left an emergency sewing kit in
there for occasions like this, my lady.”
You nodded and
gathered your ripped skirts, and Gladio felt terrible as he lead you out of the
room. Soon, the two of you were in the coat room, and Gladio frantically
searched for the sewing kit he mentioned, only to find Noctis fast asleep under
a pile of expensive women’s coats. He was about to yank the prince out from
under the pile and give him a piece of his mind when you suddenly cooed and
reached out to run a sheer gloved hand over the thirteen year old prince’s dark
out, poor darling. He may be prince, but he’s still also just a boy.” You sighed
quietly as you stroked the prince’s hair. Gladio couldn’t help but feel a
little jealous. Why did the prince get to have you touching him so tenderly? It
“Yeah, uh, I
guess I should take him to bed then?” Gladio grunted, lifting Noctis gently
from the pile of coats and into his strong arms. Gladio was about to tell you
to wait in the coat room for him, until he caught you shrugging your coat on
over your beautiful dress.
was downcast as he thought you were going to be leaving. You see this forlorn
expression in Gladio’s expressive eyes and you couldn’t help but smile at the
large teen’s endearing reaction. You felt flattered that he wanted you to stay
“I’m not going
anywhere, just so you know. I’ll be waiting for you outside the main hall. It’s
too loud in there and I want to talk to you.”
back to you in record speed after you’d expressed your desire to speak with him
privately. That night, the two of you laughed and shared stories and
aspirations between each other about yourselves. Gladio was absolutely ecstatic
and VERY well-behaved. No wandering hands or eyes (despite your ripped dress)
what so ever.
for your forward nature and natural confident charm the moment he laid eyes on
you, and you fell for his soft, kind heart. The two of you cherish each other
immensely and cannot even imagine life without one another. Gladio is loath to
admit that Noctis is the one who brought the two of you together.
Ignis: Ignis met you when he’d first arrived
at the Citadel at the young age of six. He was extremely withdrawn and
absolutely scared of everyone and everything he had encountered. His uncle ad
advised the Regis that it would be pertinent for Ignis to have contact with
kids his age so that he could normalise and re-socialise after the traumatic
experience of losing both of his parents in a car accident.
And so, Ignis
first laid his eyes on you in the royal day care. He had been plopped down
beside a quietly playing Prince Noctis, and the prince didn’t seem like he
wanted to be disturbed, so Ignis had no choice but to play with someone else
nearby- lest he die of absolute boredom. He had tried to approach some of the
older boys who were playing wrestling on the floor nearby, but he quickly back
tracked when he noticed just how hard the boys were hitting each other.
about to make his way back to Noctis when he felt a tug on his sleeve. Almost immediately
after the tug, his glasses were pried off his face and Ignis felt a wave of
panic settle into his chest, suffocating him as his field of vision became
blurry. Whether it was from not being able to see without his glasses, or the
mere fact that he was about to cry rather violently, he didn’t really know.
He never found
out either, because the glasses thief, after stealing his possessions, had
immediately perched the glasses back atop his nose after seeing the clear
distress on Ignis’s face and in his stunning green eyes.
“I’m sorry- I
just thought your eyes were really pretty. I wanted to see them better. Please
don’t cry- I’ll take care of you! I turned five this year!” Ignis turned to
you, and he was a little mad at first. But then, throughout the weeks, as you
continued to bug him to play with you, he grew fond of you. Soon, you were his
best friend, encouraging him through his specialised Crownsguard training
program and holding him whenever things got to be too much.
while Ignis was walking from the library with you beside him, he couldn’t hold
in his feelings any longer. He had to tell you how he felt. But he didn’t know
how to tell you in words. So he took his glasses off his nose and turned to
face you. When you stopped your gait and stopped to face Ignis, you found him
“I need you
far more than I can say, y/n. Will you take care of me, please?” Ignis asked
bashfully. You tentatively pressed you lips against his in the cool evening
breeze under the murky stars in Insomnia, and it was from then on that Ignis
the caretaker of all had someone special to come home to in order to have
someone take care of him.
Cor: Cor Leonis met you when you were a newly recruited
Crownsguard trainee. Clarus was not available to train you, so Cor had to step
in. With no training experience what-so-ever, Cor was a pretty terrible
teacher. He basically did everything for you and didn’t give you much opportunity
to learn. And so, you naturally had to confront him about this oversight
because you were there to learn and become good at your job.
“Cor… could I
possibly take a solo mission someday soon?” you asked, your voice slightly
shaky out of nerves. You were speaking to the marshal- of course you were going
to be nervous. Cor had immediately frowned at shaken his head in disagreement.
“Of course I’m
not,” you snapped at Cor, “you don’t even give me a chance to practice what I’ve
learned!” you yelled, very frustrated all of a sudden. The man wasn’t letting
you lift a finger, and you had no idea why. “Is it because you think I can’t be
good? If so, then just tell me. Let me look for another job- be rid of me!” you
have started screaming now. Luckily, the training room you and Cor were in was
Cor frowns at
you, his glare softening in its intensity.
immortal too?” Cor asked you, throwing you off all of a sudden. The question
came out of the blue, and was unlike any question Cor had ever asked you in the
past four months of your training. You shake your head silently in response.
Cor lets out a sigh and clasps your shoulder gently with one of his large, warm
hands. “Then how can I let you risk your life out there? I don’t want to see
anything bad happen to you…”
You caught the
soft, barely there blush on Cor’s tanned skin, and your heart began to race a
mile per minute at the affectionate thoughts apparently running through Cor’s
mind, directed solely at you. You were flattered… and you felt special and
protected. Suddenly, you weren’t so mad.
“Cor, I know
what I signed up for. To serve the Crown is my life. My duty. My entire soul.”
unfair- can’t you leave some of your soul for me?”
words from that day were what led you to throw your arms around his broad
shoulders and kiss him senseless. His words were also the reason why you
decided to take on an administration role, much like Monica. Cor was happy with
your decision, and supported you one-hundred percent with your career from then
Over time, you
fell in love with the way Cor only smiled for you, in private. You fell in love
with the way he kissed you so tenderly that you were convinced you would break
if he applied even the smallest amount more pressure because every affectionate
act shared with Cor was extremely overwhelming.
You could feel
the love exuding out of the stoic man for you. And Cor’s simple reason for
having you set in the centre of his world-
absolutely loved the kindness and determination settled deep into your eyes.
One look at you, that first moment he met you as his student… he’d broken his
vow to remain unattached to others. And until now, with you by his side, he didn’t
regret falling for you one bit.
A wicked man–readers could see he was wicked because it said
he was wicked, right there on the page–built a clock of glass in which he captured Time herself, but things went wrong because there was one part of the clock, a spring, that he couldn’t make out of glass, and it broke under the strain. Time was set free and the man aged ten thousand years in a second and crumbled to dust and–not surprisingly, in Jeremy’s opinion–was never seen again. The story ended with a moral: Large Enterprises Depend upon Small Details. Jeremy couldn’t see why it couldn’t just as well have been It’s Wrong to Trap Non-Existent Women in Clocks, or, It Would Have Worked with a Glass Spring.