Orc despise criminals or indeed anyone who puts their own interests above that of their group. As a result Imperial Orcs find themselves natural supporters of the Imperial legal system. If an Imperial Orc witnesses corruption or lawbreaking, they are likely to take steps to immediately arrest the criminal, and take them straight to the nearest magistrate for judgement. Thief-takers are orcs who feel a calling to proactively investigate lawbreaking, looking into any sign of criminal activity and hunting down those responsible.

Some thief-takers are members of the militia, working hand-in-glove with the legal system to catch those who break the laws. A few have even became magistrates, devoting themselves wholesale to the pursuit of the law. Others prefer to keep some distance between them and the authorities, finding it more effective to keep a low-profile as they seek our wrong-doing. Vigilance is a common virtue prized by thief-takers and a few work closely with the Silent Bell supporting that group when the opportunity arises.

Most Imperial Orcs take an implacable approach to the law, viewing it is an essential marker of civilisation. Those who break the laws, deserve everything they can get. Successful thief-takers are often as something akin to civic-minded heroes, placing the wellbeing of the entire nation above their own interests. While a few thief-takers are able prosper with the help of bounties and rewards, few are wealthy and most are driven more by a thirst to ensure that those who break the law are brought to justice, than for any personal gain.

Adherence to the letter of the law combined with a single-minded dedication to their task.
Bloodcrow Dorri, Thief-taker


According to their legends, the first five thief-takers were appointed directly by Thrace during the early days of the Orc Rebellion. Thrace was concerned about discipline in the camp, with weapons, equipment, and particularly food always in short supply. He was determined to stamp down on any possibility of theft between members of the group, but also to impose strict rules on the reavers who kept the band supplied. Everyone who fought with the band was required to contribute a share of any loot taken from their enemies. It is claimed that he personally hand-picked each thief-taker, briefing them on the importance of what they were doing and stressing how the success of their rebellion would rest on their efforts.

After the Imperial Orcs joined the Empire, many thief-takers eagerly embraced Imperial law, seeing a way to continue the legacy that had brought them victory. Most did so by joining the Imperial army, where they worked to ensure discipline in the ranks was maintained, but as the Orcs developed a civil society, the need for thief-takers to police their own grew with it. Some began to study the law, and work more closely with the magistrates and the militia.

Irontide Gral was the first thief-taker to become a magistrate, taking up the oaths of office in 355YE. Unusually for a magistrate, he was rarely seen out of armour, wearing a magistrates robe he had specially made to go over the top of his plate. He served nobly for twelve years, famously judging the trial of three Varushkans accused of murdering an Imperial Orc which resulted in a mob descending on the Senate building to confront him. According to first-hand accounts of the incident, rather than flee the scene, Gral chose to openly challenge the mob, weapon in hand, warning anyone that to raise their hand against him was to raise their hand against the Empire itself. Only the arrival of militia reinforcements was enough to save lives being lost on both sides.

Despite his notable successes Gral later claimed that the position of magistrate was too passive, too withdrawn from the thrill of pursuit for his tastes, advising other thief-takers to stick to chasing thiefs rather than judging them. There have been few Orc magistrates since that day, but Gral blazed a trail for orcs in Imperial law, and thief-takers are usually welcomed with open arms. Magistrates must be careful to ensure that those they accept into the militia can be trusted with such weighty responsibilities, but the reputation of the thief-takers is such that they often benefit from a presumption of loyalty and dependability. Needless to say this is a reputation they have fiercely guarded; there is nobody a thief-taker hates more than one of their own who is on the take.


Some thief-takers take a holistic view of the law, seeking to catch law-breakers no matter what rules they have broken. Others prefer to specialise, looking to investigate religious crimes like the Highborn inquisitors or magical crimes like the Marcher threshers. Few will turn a blind eye to any law-breaking, but both religious and magical crimes tend to require special expertise and reward the thief-taker who adopts a dedicated approach.

Whether they focus on one area or not, few thief-takers are content to wait for a crime to be reported. Far better to be actively searching for signs of criminal behaviour, poking their nose into any goings on to hunt for evidence. If a crime can be stopped before it occurs, all the better, but most thief-takers take the view that the innocent have nothing to hide. Only the guilty fear the questions of a thief-taker.

Not all thief-takers will bring evidence of crimes to the Imperial magistrates. Those that work as part of the Imperial militia do, but those who work independently may prefer to expose evidence of wrong-doing to those they judge best able to deal with them. What matters to them is that the guilty parties are caught and punished for their actions - the law must be upheld, it doesn't have to be Imperial magistrates that do it.

Imperial Orcs will sometimes take the view that thief-takers dealing with Orc criminality should let the Imperial Orcs clean house themselves, arguing that it makes the Orcs look weak to have evidence of wrong-doing exposed to the rest of the Empire. Some thief-takers will tolerate this approach, up to a point, provided that suitable punishment is enacted. More commonly of course, such a view is just a cover to try and conceal the actions of the guilty and to protect them from justice. Even the notoriously law-abiding Imperial Orcs are not above such self-serving corruption on occasion. No self-respecting thief-taker would tolerate such a situation for long.

The worst possible crime most thief-takers can imagine is the corruption of a fellow thief-taker. Thief-takers are not immune to such blandishments, the bribes of rich citizens, or the siren pleas to turn a blind eye to the crimes of a fellow orc can weaken any soul. But the best understand that they were given a sacred trust - handed down from thief-taker to thief-taker - to ensure the laws are kept. Those who break that trust can expect no mercy from their fellows.

Creating a Thief-taker

This archetype is intended to appeal to any player who wants to investigate crimes committed at Anvil, and to poke their nose into other people's business. Your thief-taker might be a cynical private investigator, they might be a hard-bitten militia member, they could be a vigilante or even a member of the secret-police. The archetype is perfect for anyone who wants to spend their time trying to find out what is going on and who is up to what.

There are no particular character skills that you must have as a thief-taker. Magician can be useful, the spell Voice for the dead can come in very handy, and there are various divination spells that might be useful to you. But you are never far from a magician at Anvil, and you will rarely be in a position where you simply must cast a specific spell or ritual. Usually you will have time to find someone who can investigate something for you. As such you're free to pick whatever skills and resource fit best with your background and identity. The only time you might need to think about specific skills is if you're planning to specialize on magical or religious crimes - in which case you'll want to make sure you have the skills to back that up.

If you are creating a character as part of a group, then it is a good idea to see if anyone else is also interested in being a thief-taker. Orcs don't like to hang round by themselves, so it's always good to have someone you can investigate crimes alongside. Don't worry if you're the only person interested in thief-taking in the group though, you can still poke your nose into other people's business while hanging round with a warlord, a shaman, or any other orc character.

As a thief-taker your personal morality is vital to your character. The virtues may provide some inspiration: Vigilance is obviously important, but Wisdom and Courage can also be important to a thief-taker. Sticking to a law-abiding path is hard and takes real conviction. You might be tempted to create a corrupt thief-taker, imagining that it will be fun to play a dubious and shady character who breaks the law, but this is a mistake. Most characters you meet in Empire will have highly flexible morals, corrupt self-serving characters are common, characters who are prepared to stick to their moral beliefs come what may are rare and make an impact.

As a thief-taker you're encouraged to poke your nose into other people's business, with a view to finding out if anyone is doing anything they shouldn't be. So it's important to think about how you might respond if you do find something criminal is going on. Will you bring evidence of their malfeasance to the magistrates or report them to their superiors? What will you do if their superiors do nothing? The more determined you are to face these challenges when you create your character, the easier you will find it to live up to those aspirations in play.

Ultimately what makes a thief-taker special is that they personify one of the great ideals of Imperial Orc society. Orcs are fundamentally law-abiding people, they see the law as one of the key hallmarks of a civilised people. Thief-takers are the people that make that real. You can't choose to be as smart as Sherlock Holmes, but you can choose to be as incorruptible as Batman! Ultimately you are the bearer of a legacy that was entrusted to you by Thrace themselves. The more you can do to think about how you will uphold that tradition when you're creating your character, the more impact your character will have.

Playing a Thief-taker

Playing an thief-taker gives you a set of basic character goals: to poke your nose into everything so you can find out what is going on and who is up to what, to bring anyone who breaks the law to justice.

It is a great idea to get to know the militia as soon as possible. You should join the militia if you think you will have fun being part of the organisation, it's a great way to find out about crimes that are happening, and it is a logical choice for a thief-taker. You don't have to join the militia though, you can absolutely chase up crimes and poke your nose into what is happening as an independent investigator. Whichever choice you make, it's useful to have allies in the magistrates and militia, they have resources you might be able to draw on, and ultimately it's where most crimes will end up being reported to.

It's also a good idea to keep your eyes on the winds of fortune and to think about the events that are happening. A surprisingly large number of really serious crimes happen in Empire in plain view of the magistrates and militia and nobody investigates them simply because nobody stops to think "Hang on - that's completely illegal". Poking your noise into political crimes that have happened that nobody is interested in investigating is a great way to make a name for yourself as a thief-taker. And always remember - you're trying to catch criminals, not make yourself popular!

Be aware of the things that are not against the law in Empire. You can absolutely threaten people, blackmail and bribe them - all those things are fully legal. As a thief-taker you're committed to ensuring that people follow the laws, you might be pure of heart, but you don't have to be. What defines a thief-taker is an unwavering commitment to the rule of law, but you can be as hard-bitten and cynical as you want to be.

Your fellow orcs are likely to try and persuade you to overlook their indiscretions, on the basis that Orcs should stick together. You'll have more fun if you resist this pressure and stick to the law. Doing so helps everyone in the nation embody the Imperial Orc brief and improves the nation's reputation for being law-abiding. Don't confine your investigations to just the Imperial Orc camp though - if you've joined the militia you can use that as carte-blanche to justify going anywhere and trying to stick your nose into anything that is going on. Even if you're not in the militia - you're still a thief-taker. Any law-abiding citizen should welcome you - just your presence alone will help to make the world a better place. Never forget that only the guilty, only the people with something to hide, have anything to fear from a thief-taker.

Most of all, don't wait for crimes to come for you. You don't have to be constantly patrolling Anvil looking for trouble - but the more proactive you can be looking for signs of law-breaking then the more fun you'll have.