I’ve always been curious to see how the rich and powerful really live, especially those whose riches and power are built off crime. I imagine their abodes are filled with luxuries and expenses most wouldn’t even consider buying, even if they did get rich. I’m not just talking about tiger-skin rugs, either. These people have real tigers. They might feed their servants to these real tigers! I jest, but even in this day and age, you never know what really goes on behind the thick ivory walls of the world’s less-than-honest top dogs.
This is part of a continuous series. Read more about Dark Narrative here.
Garrett loots his fair share of corrupt lords’ manors, including the crooked Bafford’s, but his mission is more personal when he goes after Lord Ramirez. Ramirez had sent his tough-boys to kill Garrett. As explained in the mission’s briefing, Garrett’s made a number of enemies by working independent. Fortunately for players, the assassins kill the wrong man, so Garrett is able to follow them back to Ramirez’s place and enact a little payback.
Because of this, I’ve got another opportunity to see how an eccentric, selfish, egomaniacal crime lord might live behind closed doors. It’s win-win, for both me and Garrett.
Ramirez’s bedroom betrays his rich appetite and insecurities. He’s got an alarm button right next to his bed. Bafford didn’t even have that, so Ramirez must be extra paranoid that his enemies might try to slip in at night. A golden wine bottle and two golden goblets lie on the floor. His bathtub is marble and extravagant, with a golden candlestick sitting on each corner, in addition to other valuables. There’s a secret passage in the fire place that has his prized silver poker within, a treasure chest, and a one-way peek into another bedroom. This isn’t the only secret passage in the manor—Ramirez is quite a sneak, or voyeur, or both. Lastly, there’s a scroll lying on the floor addressed to the Commissioner, detailing Ramirez’s displeasure that his influence hasn’t been protecting his hired thugs. Ramirez is in a network, part of a racket. More readables speak to this. In the library, you can read a letter from Lord Bafford addressing Ramirez as "Master" and referencing their work in an underground criminal network. Another readable, by Ramirez, reveals his desire to tap into the walled-off section of the Old Quarter. This area of the City is abandoned and haunted by spirits and monsters—so the rumors go—but all Ramirez can think about is unclaimed property.*
Sneaking throughout the rest of the manor house, you find out what kind of a temper Ramirez has. One readable, in particular, demonstrates this. A scroll with a message from one house staff member to another shares advice on how to deal with the lord's ill temper and mood swings: when he's in his library "cosset him with tea," but when he's down in his treasure room "don't dare bother him," only if he doesn't ring, in which case "hop to it like the Trickster's on your tail."
There’s more that paints Ramirez out as the irritable crime lord he is. In another readable, Ramirez gives an interrogation lesson to his hired arms. Breaking legs, he says, is too much, because "clients" need to be active in order to work and pay back their debts. So, instead, Ramirez suggests interrogating like a gardener "who trims off one branch" at a time, noting that fingers are more easily spared than legs. Garrett might be glad Ramirez was going straight to the heart with him.
Once you get down to Ramirez's basement, you see more of his eccentricity in action. I mentioned at the start that I’d bet most criminally rich people have live, exotic pets, like tigers. Bond villains have alligators or sharks, after all. Ramirez? He’s got burricks. “What kind of a nut keeps these things as pets?” Garrett wonders aloud. Indeed, who would want these belching, tunneling, far-from-cuddly lizard beasts as companions? A conversation between guards early on reveals that sometimes one of them is assigned burrick-duty: “You’ll be down there, rubbing their tummies…” “I’ll quit, first! See if I don’t!”
I’d rather work at Bafford’s.
One readable, written by some contractors, notes that they cannot guarantee even the metal walls they’ve installed will keep the burricks from tunneling. This leads me to an aside: You can imagine a neighbor of Ramirez’s hearing something in the middle of the night and feeling a bit of wind and moisture. So he lights a candle, then sees the burrick leering at him. He bursts out of his house, burrick right on his heels, screaming, as the beast starts to rampage in the City streets. It’d be knocking over food stands, terrorizing townsfolk, breaking shop windows, and committing other acts of mayhem, all because Ramirez is an evil crime lord who has to have off-the-wall pets.
Why is it even legal to own burricks? Maybe it isn’t, which I’m sure wouldn’t stop Ramirez, anyway.
Just near the pits where his precious beasts are kept, Ramirez paces his treasure room, mumbling to himself about all the people he needs to smash for crossing him. To satisfy an objective you have to swipe the purse from his belt but can leave the rest of the loot alone. You might be stuck in there when he rings for his servant, who comes dutifully bearing a goblet. “It might be time for me to move along, now,” Garrett thinks. I wouldn’t want to overstay my welcome either in the house of a powerful, eccentric, criminal-minded burrick owner. Heck, the same is true if I were in the house of a weak, normal, honest burrick owner. (You can’t trust people who keep burricks.)
Thief once again shows us the character of someone via their home and objects, conversations, and readables within, and I got to satisfy my fantasy of seeing a crime lord behind doors. I also got to see burricks pinned up, just below civilization. The rich and their indulgences.
*A chance conversation between servants discussing the “barricaded area” can be heard near the kitchen. This is a tease of the same walled-off area. I will be writing about a couple missions located here later in the series.