I feel like we’ve covered this before. A dagger isn’t going
to do much when you’re fighting against an armed and armored guard. For that
matter, neither is the leather.
If your character’s going to be going up against guards who are
armed with sidearms (maces, swords, whatever), going after them with a dagger
in a straight up fight is suicide. A knife fighter needs to get much closer to
the target than a swordsman. This means they need to get past the sword. Against
any competent, or even semi-competent combatant, trying to rush past the sword
will end with your character impaled.
The obvious solution to carry a sword of your own, isn’t
necessarily an option either, because 99% of the time, it’s just going to get
in your character’s way. It will hit things, get snagged, make noise, and this
will draw the attention of those same guards your character is trying to avoid.
If they wanted to make good on killing people with the
dagger, then their best bet would be coming in from behind, when the guard
doesn’t see them, and slitting their throat. However, this will cause other
Your character is a thief, they’re already a part of the
underworld that can easily draw the ire of the people who run their world simply by stealing something too prominent or important. This is a
classic genre hook for a reason.
If you have a thief slipping off with a few gems or baubles
and getting out undetected, that’s just a thing that happens. It could have
been the servants, it could have been a mistake, or it could be any number of
other possible scenarios.
However, if you have a thief slipping into homes and killing
people, that will make the setting’s elites feel unsafe, which will lead to
them pushing the city guard to crack down on the underworld. At that point,
your character will put her allies in danger. Remember that old cliche? “No honor
among thieves.” When the city guard is kicking down doors, and kneecapping
fences, it’s not going to take long for someone to offer up your character’s
name, if only because they hope it will let them walk out of their cell with
one or two functioning limbs.
It’s worth remembering, if anyone in the setting’s underworld, knows she’s the one who started
this, they will hold her directly responsible for bringing the guard knocking
through their door, and ruining their livelihood.
As I mentioned earlier, a classic genre hook is a thief
accidentally stealing something ridiculously valuable. It may be an ornate
artifact with ties to some eldritch power, it may be documents that implicate
their victim in some conspiracy, it may simply be a piece of absurdly valuable
jewelry. In any of those cases, it can result in a similar crackdown, no dead
Any competent thief is going to know they should avoid
drawing too much attention to themselves. They can still get into messes like
this unintentionally, but if a guard spots them, it is far safer for them to run, and escape, rather than stand and fight.
If your character was an assassin, then, yes. I’d say taking
a few daggers, a garrote, and maybe a few other fun little party favors is a
good idea. The basic thought with fighting guards would be the same, take them
out without giving them any opportunity to fight back, or avoid them entirely.
That said, assassins are an entirely different animal, they don’t rely on persistent
contact with the setting’s underworld the same way thieves do. They just need
to get paid, they don’t need to fence what they’ve stolen, or keep appraised of
what the City Watch is doing, or stay coordinated enough to avoid tripping over
each other on jobs. An assassin just needs a client (who isn’t necessarily part
of the underworld) and tools (which they may be buying through legitimate
channels and modifying on their own). They may still bring heat down on the
underworld, and make life miserable for the city’s thieves, but they’re much more insulated from that world than your character would be.
I mentioned earlier that leather armor might not be a good
choice for your character. It won’t do much to protect your character from a
guard, but that’s not the real problem. The big issue is that it will announce
that your character isn’t just part of the background. Under the best
circumstances, a thief needs to be able to blend into the crowd and disappear.
If they’ve got a cloak, a dagger hidden away, and a few deep pockets, that’s
going to be much harder to spot in a crowd than someone wearing armor.
Beyond that, if your character is climbing or squeezing into
places, the leather will just be more weight to move around, and more bulk to
pull through tight spaces. Granted, it’s not a lot of weight or bulk, but if
her goal is to remain undetected, then it’s not doing her any favors.
Carrying a dagger is a good idea, but not to use as a weapon.
Knives are very useful utility items, and that’s no different for your
character. It can be used as a
weapon, but it’s something your character would probably want to avoid unless
they were desperate.
So, stab them in the neck and run like hell, I guess. Or, you
know, don’t bring a knife to a swordfight.
On the subject of writing about thieves, or a criminal underworld, in a fantasy setting, the first thing that comes to mind are the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser stories by Fritz Leiber. If you’ve never heard those names before, they’re really worth taking a look at.