Thieves’ cant in Dnd 5e Language for Rogue
Rogues used Thieves’ Cant to hide their secret language. This secret language was more slang and innuendos than an actual language. Thieves’ Cant was used to communicate rogue actions such as burglary, banditry, finding marks and discussing loot.
There was an actual class called a Thief in the early editions of Original D&D and 2nd Edition AD&D.
The flavour text stated that you were a professional criminal who was a city’s thieves guild member. The thief was renamed to the rogue in 3rd Edition D&D.
The 2nd edition was named for a group of classes that included the thief or the bard.
The 5th edition thief subclass of rogue carries the archetype, early edition thief. Another class is the assassin, which was in 1st edition AD&D. The Arcane Trickster is a prestige class that requires levels as a rogue, usually a wizard.
The Inquisitive is another archetype, which is for a detective. The Swashbuckler is a flamboyant melee fighter. And the Scout, who is most likely to have a soldier background, as a former military trooper.
It is absurd that these characters should all know Thieves Cant as a standard feature. It may be more sensible to make it a background function for criminals or urchins.
Have you ever seen a character use Thieves cant in D&D 5e
The short answer is yes.
Standard answer: Thieves Cant does not have a specific spoken language. It is a set of words and markers that can be helpful to communicate with other people who understand this type of nuance. That was done by weaving pieces of it over a more extended interaction.
A rogue should ask the DM for help in finding rogues. The DM should also include markers for the rogue to locate. It takes two to tango. A game can be full of fun and enjoyment without it. However, these details in interpersonal play and dialogue are essential for creating fantasy stories with thieves and rogueish elements.
The Longest Answers: Oh, my, I can go on and on…
Thieves’ Cant can be thought of as a rogue to rogue courtesy. It can be helpful to confirm your identity to members of a guild. The secret handshake should begin with the introduction of a topic. That is a code phrase that refers to ‘people in the know’. This handshake, issue and something cosmetic are what will identify you to other characters that want to get in touch with you. A decorative item would also be desirable: a feather in your cap, a cut on your cape, or a brooch marker on the armour. These markers attract the attention of anyone observant enough and trained to see them. It’s strange. This season, the fashion is all about flamingo feathers. “How garish!”), but then followed up with other markers, such as conversation or substitutions of words for words in a sequence that communicates to others in the guild that you are indeed one.
You may play it if:
1) your DM is interested in this type of detail in your campaign;
2) your guilds or societies are used to organize the unsavoury or sub-rosa elements of society.
3) Your gaming table allows this kind of interaction (it takes up more time if you’re doing it with other characters, as you need to pass notes and interact with NPCs for more extended periods)
4) You want this kind of character option for interaction.
5) It should not require any ability checks or skills unless you try to validate your identity across cultures.
Imagine that you are a Crimson Knife, and you want the Shadowed blades to recognize you. That is Charisma (Deception). This DC is directly proportional to the amount of information you have gathered. It could take 15 hours of work. However, if you’re able to improvise, the DC can be 25+.
You can also use this language to convey a written message. Short notice can say a lot of words. It takes about one word per four. This communication is not a way to substitute words. These are the rules in writing:
You’ve learned thieves’ Cant. This secret combination of dialect, code and jargon allows you to conceal messages in everyday conversation. It takes four times more to communicate such a message than to say the same thing.
Thieves’ Cant doesn’t work as a cypher. Suppose you want to send a message written using Thieves’ Cant woven through another message’s message’s text. In that case, it will only work if the text is sufficiently long to include your message. That can be frustrating. I prefer to let the players decide and then write everything. If you have the proper geeks in your group, it is possible to level up your game.
A cypher is required to encrypt your message. Suppose you give a hint or key, such as “When a G or a D is a G, all letters fall back three” or “When a B is a C”. A simple numeric or letter substitution can make it easy for players or parties of characters to decipher.
- A B C E F G I J K M L M N O Q R S U V W
- 1 2 4 5 6 7 7 8 9 1 2 2 3 4 6 7 7 8 9 1 2 2 4 5 6 6 7 7 8 9 1 2 2 3 5 6 6 7 7 8 9 1 2 2 4 5 6 6 7 7 8 9 1 2 2 3 5 6 6 7 7 8 9 1 2 2 3 5 6 6 7 7 8 9 1 2 2 3 5 6 6 7 7 8 9 1 2 2 3 5 6 6 7 7 8 9 1 2 2 3 4 6 6 7 7 8 9 1 2 2 3 4 6 6 3 3 3 4 6 7 7 8 6 7 7 8 7 8 7 8 8
That will show that all letters have been offset by -3. It could be helpful to encrypt any message by simply offsetting each letter by three.
You get the idea. Keep ‘Rule Zero” in your head, and make sure you check in with your teammates. If they’re willing to listen, you can then tell them the story that follows (in any way you like, and not just repeating the cypher).
You now know why they call you ‘Dances with Words.
All cyphers can be solved once the key has been found. It’s similar to assembling IKEA furniture. Follow the steps. It’s identical to building IKEA furniture if the key is only partially understood. However, you may need to add a few screws or a tiny wrench. Some messages can be decoded with a partial key without too much effort, but it may not be clear what the transmission means.
Use something similar in your campaign. Once they have figured out the cypher, you can give the message to them. You don’t have to force them into deciphering the text. While some will enjoy the challenge, others will be preparing for your death. You can reduce the time if it takes more than 20 minutes (only one player is paying attention; the rest are distracted). The best scenario is for them to be excited enough to work together using the key to decipher each message. Let it happen naturally if it is. Keep it short if it’s not.
You could give a player a background-specific challenge (that they would presumably enjoy. Don’t vex players who aren’t into this type of thing). Or you could use Enigma-like encryption where each letter substitutes for the other 26 letters. A page must match a message. This model is called the “one-time pad”. It can be helpful for all messages that have changed from the mentor. These pages may be found in the spellbook gifted to the character, which is different from the first ten pages. Nature initially assumed these spells were beyond his comprehension. The character believed that these were spells beyond his knowledge. However, his understanding of the subject grew, and he began to lose those pages from his memory. He recalled (or retconned) the messages from his mentor to help him find the [quest objective] for the character.
It’s a message in a bottle, but it’s a book!
Summary: Thieves’ cant
Yes, I have done this. Both of us enjoyed the story elements. However, we kept most of the work off-camera for other members of the table. That would have been wasteful of game time if I had figured it out at the table. The DM did this for me as a player in the game. I was a rogue/wizard (mastermind/diviner) when we reached the 11th character (rogue 4/wizard 7) level. He retconned a story from his mentor about an immense task that he had not completed.
And he used Dream to remind me about each mentor’s spellbooks’ final page and interior pages. My mentor said that I would “understand one day” if I was worthy of completing his most excellent work. That led to adventures to recover the spellbooks adjacent to/woven into the main adventure hooks that we continued to the end.