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Videogame Stealing
In video games, "stealing" is about more than just grabbing an object held by somebody else and slipping it into your pocket before they notice. Many video games let the player "steal" from their enemies in ways that border on magical or otherwise turn the skill into an Acceptable Break from Reality.

  • First off, Video Game Stealing is fast. Any thief can dip into their opponent's pockets - in the heat of combat, no less - in the same time it takes to swing a sword. This applies even if you're fighting something that doesn't have pockets. How did your thief lift a gold nugget from that giant amoeba? Best not to think about it.
  • You can steal things like monster body parts or entire suits of armor that should be logically impossible to remove with sleight of hand. Or even lift. You may even be able to steal things which are not actually physical objects — emotions, or statistics for example. See Impossible Thief.
  • In many cases an item is not really treated as part of the enemy's possessions, and seems to be created at the moment you steal it. The enemy almost never uses the item itself (even if doing so would help it out a lot). If they do use the item themselves, stealing it from them won't keep them from using more, and the game won't redraw them as lacking that fang or suit of armor you just stole.
    • In fact, once you defeat an enemy, it's too late to "steal" from them; for some reason, stealing before killing generates more rewards.
    • This also means you can get different stuff by stealing from enemies than by killing them and looting their corpse, making you miss out on lots of neat stuff if you don't bring a thief along. There may even be "common" and "rare" items you can steal, extending the Randomly Drops paradigm to theft. Expect to pick up items or skills that increase the chance of a rare item being stolen.
  • Thieves can only steal one item at a time (or sometimes multiple copies of a single type of item), no matter how many the enemy is carrying.
    • Combined with Organ Drops, Thieves may steal "items" that should logically cause death with its removal, or somehow the enemy may drop an extra copy of something it should only have one (like a skull)
  • Sometimes you can steal the bad guy himself. Not that he (or it) will disappear or stop fighting or anything.

See also Impossible Thief, Mooks Ate My Equipment.

Not to be confused with Stealing Video Games; for that see ROMs and Digital Piracy Is Evil. For mundane looting of NPCs' homes, see Kleptomaniac Hero.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Action Adventure 
  • In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, it's possible to steal collection items from the monsters that drop them if you use the grappling hook in combat. In the case of Moblin Skull Necklaces and Darknut Knight Crests, they actually disappear from the monster, and he's actually surprised. You can also steal Chu Jelly from ChuChus before they die. It's also the best way to get those Golden Feathers off the Kagorocs, given that they tend to die in the air over cliffs, and therefore don't leave drops in convenient places.
    • In Skyward Sword it's possible to steal horns from bokoblins with the whip which is presented much more realistically.
  • The Thief's Glove in Ōkami allows Issun to become a kleptomaniacal projectile, attacking enemies for damage and stealing from them. The damage is low at first but increases with every use.

    Eastern RPG 
  • Chrono Trigger and most Final Fantasy games are full of this.
    • Chrono Trigger wasn't actually theft, the technique was "charm" and it coaxed a monster into giving the item.
    • Final Fantasy VI had an amusing aversion of this: At one point, you had to use the "steal" command to grab the uniform off of a guard — leaving him in his underwear in mid-battle and causing him to flee. Everywhere else it was played straight.
    • In Final Fantasy X, stealing from a robot would destroy the robot, and gain you a grenade. Presumably it was the machine's power source. Other robots could be frisked for Al Bhed Potions.
      • An interesting play on this occurs in the first battle against Seymour. His subordinates have the Auto-(Hi-)Potion skill, which means every time you deal damage to them or the boss, a Mook will counter with a Hi-Potion, restoring 1000 HP to the target. The only ways to get around this are to use status effects, use attacks that will deal over 1000 damage...or just steal their Hi-Potions so they can't use them.
      • The bribing system, oddly enough, falls into this trope by providing a different set of rare items that may not necessarily be stealable or won through spoils. Enemies now become hidden shops.
    • The Thief class in Final Fantasy X-2 could steal a whole bunch of stuff; HP, MP, time, sanity & will. Granted, it cost MP to do it, implying that this was somehow magical.
    • It really gets ludicrous in Final Fantasy XII. You don't get money from most monsters, instead getting loot to sell. While you can get the same loot either by killing or stealing (in most cases), the things you steal suggest that your party is made up of the world's fastest dentists, skinners, and butchers. Stealing a wolf's pelt mid-battle? Priceless.
    • Stealing is the only way to get the Darkness augment back from Odin in Final Fantasy IV DS.
    • In Final Fantasy Tactics, the Thief's cheapest ability is "Steal Heart," charming the opposite gender and monsters.
    • Final Fantasy games also have an upgrade to stealing: Mugging. Instead of covertly stealing, you attacked and got some money or an item out of it. Or in the case of Final Fantasy IX where the main character is a thief, it was more like stealing and getting in a sucker punch.
      • Zidane actually got stronger the more you stole this way. Every successful steal would power up the damage done by a certain cheap ability. Zidane can become capable of dishing out far more magic damage then the dedicated Black Mage, and while Zidane can't cast osmosis to full his casting the extremely cheap cost of this ability will still allow him to spam it in boss battles. Making him as good a Black Mage as ViVi while still having higher health, good damage, and of course the awesome steal ability.
  • The Atelier Iris series and the subsequent Mana Khemia series allow you to steal the bones and eyes off dragons, or the underwear off of demons and angels!
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door employs a nice variation of the stealing mechanic. In that game, stealable items are actually visible on the enemy; badges give the enemy their full benefit, and they can and will use other items if given the chance. If you steal from "empty-handed" enemies, you just get some pocket change.
    • It actually is possible to get an item from empty-handed enemies, although it is quite unlikely.
    • Also possible in Super Paper Mario. When fighting against Mr. L, or Dark Luigi, one of his attacks is to heal with a Shroom Shake. By using Thoreau, you can steal the shakes before he uses them.
  • Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter has some odd subversions. In some cases (one monster's favorite doll), stealing an item from an enemy will enrage it and make it stronger. In others (notably, batteries and generators for mechanical enemies), it weakens the monster. But stealable items are never found on the body, and you can steal enemy skills.
  • In the Star Ocean games, you can steal things off townspeople and even party members with a steady enough hand. They apparently weren't aware they had it before you took it. (Dias, you jerkass. Why, exactly, didn't you know you had that Infinity+1 Sword in your pocket until after I yanked it out?)
    • In that the original Star Ocean: The Second Story, which introduced pickpocketing, you could only make a single attempt on any given ally or NPC in the entire game. If you failed, you couldn't try again. This resulted in a whole lot of Save Scumming. In the PSP remake of the first Star Ocean, you could pickpocket over and over again until you succeeded. On the other hand, unlike the original Star Ocean 2, overuse of pickpocketing would reduce your party's "friendship meter" towards your main character, regardless of whether you were in a "Private Action" at the time.
    • In addition to the original Pickpocket skill, Star Ocean: The Last Hope allows Meracle to steal from enemies at a low chance by hitting them from the front with regular attacks. This is required for quite a few of her battle trophies.
  • In Pokémon, the attacks Thief and Covet are notable when used on a Trainer's Pokemon. For one, the Trainer will block Poke Balls, yet not ask for the item back? Also, it leads to the question of why they would give their Pokemon some of the items they do (Rich Boy Winston in RSE is notable...who puts a Gold Nugget on their Pokemon unless their inventory is full or they are trading it to another game?). Also, Colosseum and XD have the Snag Balls. You would think that somebody who wasn't part of Cipher would complain to the police and get you arrested for stealing their Pokemon...
    • Part of this trope is overall averted in Pokemon, however, since Pokemon do use the items they hold (wild Zigzagoon use their Oran Berries, Ditto are aided by their held Silverpowder, etc.), and if you steal those items, the Pokemon no longer have them. However, if you catch them before they use it, they will still have the item when they're in your party or a PC.
    • You actually do this in-game in Pokémon Red and Blue and the remakes...you sneak into the back room of the lab in Celadon City and swipe the Eevee off the table.
  • Tales of Symphonia had Colette's "Item Thief" and "Item Rover" skills (the latter also stole gold Gald), which could get you rare items...sometimes. Unless you had the EX Gems to make it work all the time. There was one item that could only be obtained by stealing it from a boss that appeared early enough that you wouldn't have the EX Gems needed unless you were on a New Game+.
    • Colette's animation for stealing is tripping near the enemy, complete with a "Whoops!", while still managing to rip the bear's pelt from his still living body. Since she uses two huge chakrams, fans like to joke about how she's just pretending to be a klutz. Considering her constant tripping on things is a Running Gag, one has to wonder how terrifying she must be in a fight to foes and friends alike...
  • Repede from Tales of Vesperia can steal items with his Thievery arte. In the PS3 version he gets a variant that causes damage in the process and new character Patty Fleur can steal money with her Steal Gald arte.
  • Leia from Tales of Xillia can steal from enemies by simply knocking them down while she's linked to another character. It also has the side effect of permanently disabling the enemy's item usage (Which is really useful for the few enemies and bosses that abuse them for healing).
  • In Tales of Graces you can get titles for every character that upgrades certain artes into having a stealing effect. Since artes are the only attacks in this game, you can probably just forget about the stealing effects and fight normally and then notice an item stolen during combat, if you notice you stole an item at all.
  • Several of the Dragon Quest games have a Steal ability. Oddly, in most of them, it's essentially treated as a chance to get another item after battle — instead of stealing something mid-combat, you get a message along the lines of "<Character> stole <Item> from the enemy!" during the post-battle text.
    • In Dragon Quest VIII, the ability is available to Yangus if you put points into his Scythe skill. It first becomes usable as "Steal Sickle", then with more skill points upgrades to "Stainless Steal Sickle".
  • Phantasy Star II has resident thief Shir Gold, who has a random chance of stealing a given item from any arms or item shop the party visits, travelling all the way back to Rolf's house in Paseo to rejoin the group. This includes on whole other planet Dezoris. However, this ability is useful for snagging the Visiphone, a global Save Point, from Paseo's Central Tower.
  • In Chrono Cross, three characters (Kid, Fargo, and Mel) are capable of stealing items. To avoid abuse from the "can always run from enemy" system, running will cause you to drop the item. A bit annoyingly, you can only use steal once per battle (like all other techs), even if you can simply run from battle to reset your chances if you miss.
  • Riki of Xenoblade is capable of stealing items, as well as various intangible possessions from enemies such as HP and agility.
  • Earthbound provides a subversion to one of the usual rules: Jeff can steal items from enemies with his "Spy" ability, but he will only get an item if the enemy would have dropped it on defeat anyway.
  • Stealing can be done in Parasite Eve by using a Tonfa that has the ability to steal items. Tonfas have an extremely short range, forcing you to get closer to enemies, and you are not always guaranteed to steal items on your first or later attempts. Luckily, all Tonfas have an extremely short recharge, allowing you to keep trying in quick succession and it's amplified when you cast Haste on yourself. Stealing, especially in the Bonus Dungeon, is the only way to get duplicates of Revive, Medicine 4, and Full Cure.
  • Bravely Default plays this completely straight with the Thief job, which can Steal from an enemy. They can also steal life (though the game calls it Life drain which implies it's a standard draining effect than simply stealing life) or Mug an enemy, dealing the same damage as a normal attack but also stealing. Eventually they can learn to steal from every enemy in battle in one turn.

    Hack And Slash 
  • While not stealing, the "Find Potion" and "Find Item" barbarian skills in Diablo II allow you to find additional items on corpses that are not there when you simply loot the killed enemy. Both of these were explained in the manual. The potions aren't really bottles of potion, but the enemy's internal organs with the same properties as healing or mana potions, concocted into a drinkable form. Ewwww. The Find Item skill was explained as barbarians used to living a hardscrabble life and willing to look a little harder through the carnage to find the good stuff. Considering that, at higher skill levels and on stronger monsters, this can get you hundreds of gold or rare magic items, they must be looking really hard.

    Massively Multiplayer Online Games 
  • Final Fantasy XI had the things you could steal be things that the enemy could logically have, such as enemy currency from the humanoid and sentient Beastmen, but not from giant pots or worms. Everything else this trope stands for, however, is followed dutifully.
  • EverQuest lets you steal such things as bat wings from a bat (and you could get three), bone chips from a skeleton, serpent fangs, heads, etc.
    • This particular example ran to the absurd often because the skill would use the creature's loot table. Well-known examples include pickpocketing a goblin and stealing its brain (after which it kept fighting), stealing a watermelon from a Dwarf miner (where did he have THAT?!?) and stealing a magical claymore (big, two-hand sword) from an eagle.
  • World of Warcraft lets rogues steal locked boxes from humanoids, insignia, etc., which are not present if you kill the enemy. Of course, this was probably done so Rogues weren't essentially stealing loot from their party members. However, every enemy can only be pickpocketed once. If you can't find anything on a monster, another rogue probably pickpocketed it before you and didn't kill it.
    • A rogue of the appropriate level can pick the pocket of almost any hostile humanoid, with exceptions governed more by game mechanics than what they're wearing. An oblivious priest NPC in flowing robes might have nothing a rogue can find, but a nine-foot-tall ogre poses no challenge. Even if he's only in a loincloth. Same for a fur-covered bear-man.
    • At least through late Burning Crusade, rogues could technically pickpocket a given enemy more than once if said rogue pickpocketed enough enemies in between the two attempts without any of them being killed. A pacifist rogue could endlessly pickpocket kobolds in the human starting area (counting the mine) even in the absence of other players killing them.
    • It should be noted that this ability wasn't nearly the amazing a talent as Video Game Stealing could be in other games. The lockboxes had minor money and some useful trade skill items, but nothing too rare or hard to get. In addition the lockbox had to be picked which required training the skill and some slight time spent picking each box. Between the lost of inventory slots filled with lockboxs (you won't have time to open in a dungeon) and the time it takes to actually open the lockbox the whole ability is okay, but not much better then spending the lockpicking time killing things the old fashioned way.
  • Kingdom of Loathing has some items, like Frigid Mote, only available by stealing. You could even steal a gold ring off a Gold Ring and body parts off monsters. The game's creators jokingly claimed that since you are pickpocketing, the monster's skin counts as a pocket and thus you could steal body parts. Considering the atmosphere of the game, this isn't too out of place.
    • Also considering how non-Moxie classes can now do pickpocketing: you're holding a miniature black hole. (This is why you shouldn't put the lime in the coconut...)
    • The community of the game at one point held a competition to find a screenshot for the most ludicrous thing pickpocketed. The winners were the fellows who stole Yeti Skin off of a yeti, Bat Guano from a bat (it was in Nature's Pocket), and worst of all, a "Mind Flayer's Corpse" off of a mind flayer. This led to a running joke in the game that mind flayers carry around the bodies of other mind flayers in case they run into adventurers.
    • The four-shadowed mimes introduce a new one: you can pickpocket their souls, apparently without harming them. Considering how friggin' creepy the mimes are, this may be intentional.
    • And lest we forget one of the early quests has the main character STEAL THEIR OWN PANTS.
  • RuneScape has an entire Thieving Skill, with chest looting, pickpocketing, stealing from street stalls, looting tombs and even knocking out thugs and rummaging through their pockets. Not all NPCs can be stolen from, but the ones that can be generally fall into this trope.
    • However, contrary to the trope, thieving does not work during combat
    • There's one pvp minigame in particular that lets you pickpocket other players for the first time. Granted, it takes place in an arena where you have temporary items and you can't really steal anything valuable from other players, just whatever they make in the arena. Such as daggers, runes, summoning pouches... entire sets of platemail...
  • Achaea handles this by having no 'steal' skill as such, meaning players cannot steal from NPCs but instead use tricks like hypnosis to make other players give items away. Drama erupted when a powerful one-off item sold by the developers to help protect from theft — essentially a magic box — was bought by a thief, and used in a way they hadn't expected to make theft much harder to avoid. It was swiftly confiscated, and replaced with a different item.
    • Similar mechanics were at play in Lusternia. However, a prolific and imaginative thief in the first year or so of the game led to the playerbase, rather than the admin, cracking down on theft. These days, stealing from people is a good way to make yourself a pariah, and fair-game for griefing tactics (including retaliatory theft) in return.
  • A MUD based on Terry Pratchett's Discworld exists, with its own Thieves' Guild and the fun 'steal' command for things that are carried, like coins or miscellaneous items. Anyone else can learn to 'steal' too. But thieves also learn how to 'filch', which takes things that are worn or held. Ever experience the joy of stealing a sword out of the hands of an unsuspecting victim? How about his armour? Or somebody else's underwear?
  • Ultima Online: used to let you steal from anyone, player or humanoid NPC alike. Players often had rather elaborate counter measures against such actions. Locked boxes, poisons, explosives, nested containers full of decoys. To walk up to a bank and see someone suddenly explode wasn't uncommon.
    • After a patch allowed characters with high Wrestling to have a chance at disarming their opponents with a special attack, a change made to help mages who weren't allowed to hold weapons in combat, 'disarm thieves' began to appear who could literally steal the weapon out of your hand and beat you to death with it.
  • Guild Wars 2 has the thief, who apparently can steal items from an opponent and use it against them.

    Platform Game 
  • Sly 2: Band Of Thieves allowed pickpocketing valuables from guards — but valuables included such things as gold watches and diamonds (which most people don't carry in their back pockets) and you couldn't find them by killing the guards. Of course, being a Sly Cooper game, it provided a reason for why this happened in some missions (the keys you're after are fragile and will break if the guards are defeated) but not all.

    Roguelike 
  • In Nethack, your pets can pick up an item in a store, carry it outside, and drop it, thus stealing it for you; presumably the shop-keeper is keeping such an eagle-eye on you that he completely ignores your pets. Can still get pretty ridiculous if your pets steal item after item from the same shop without the shop-keeper noticing, or if you sell back a stolen item without the shop-keeper realizing it.
    • There are also monsters with special item-stealing attacks. Any monster that is covetous will attempt to steal one or any of your plot coupons or your class's special item from you. Leprechauns steal gold and nymphs steal anything they can get their hands on. Foocubus are a lot classier as they'll try to undress you and only seldom steal some gold for their troubles if they succeed (players consider it etiquette to have some gold on hand for the foocubus).
  • In ADOM pickpocketing generates a random new item rather than taking an item the monster alread has, so pickpocketing the monsters and then killing them nets you more loot than just killing them.
  • In Elona you can only pickpocket items a monster already has, and the heavier the item is the longer it takes to steal, giving the victim and bystanders more time to notice your attempted theft. However, an item being worn makes no difference, so it's easier to steal a ring the monster is wearing than the plate-mail armor the monster is simply carrying.

    Stealth Based Game 
  • Metal Gear Solid soldiers in later games have dog tags that the player can only receive by holding soldiers at gunpoint and shaking them down. For some reason you couldn't collect them by stunning them, sneaking up on them while asleep, or killing them. This for an item that was designed to be removed from soldiers when they died!
  • Castle Wolfenstein. In the original Apple II version by Muse Software your character could steal the uniform of a guard or the bulletproof vest of an SS trooper and then put it on and use it, all while holding the guard/trooper at gunpoint. This was the best way to kill an SS Trooper, actually, since it usually took a full clip or more to take one down. Sneaking up on them, telling them to give you their bulletproof vest and then shooting them? One.
  • In Digimon World 3, some monsters carry items. These are sometimes collected as spoils after the battle, or can be stolen by using one of two attacks that have the bonus effect of maybe (yes, maybe) stealing the enemy's object, "Picking Claw" or "Snapping Claw". Of course, enemies never think of using these items, some of which have game breakingly good effects, like being able to attack two to three times in a single round or counter an opponent's attack with one that causes more damage for free, even when the monsters themselves use techniques with similar effects (For instance, the Etemon line has a chance of carrying healing items, and yet they prefer to waste MP on healing techniques instead of using the item that heals more HP than they can possibly have). Worse, some monsters have items with a constant effect (accessories that add a highly visible elemental effect to your physical attack) and still don't use them, so the game essentially handicaps itself for no reason.
  • Averted in Dwarf Fortress Adventure Mode: stealing something requires you physically grab the item off the person and pull it off, always works on unconscious enemies, and anything you steal will still be there if you kill the enemy.
  • In Assassin's Creed II (and by extension Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood) Ezio could steal small amounts of money from people just by bumping into them. Quite fun just to way through a crowded street stealing from everybody leaving tens of confused people - although they'll rapidly figure things out and start shouting for the watch. Also paying a herald and then stealing the money back is an Achievement in the Da Vinci Disappearance DLC.
    • Revelations adds the 'Counter Steal' move as one of the defensive options; if timed correctly Ezio both dodges a guards attack and uses his hookblade to grab all the money, ammunition and bomb supplies the guard is carrying, which would otherwise require looting the guard's corpse. This also stuns the target for a second as he tries to figure out what on earth just happened.
  • Dishonored allows you to take items from guards, crusaders, plague-infested victims, pirates, the mafia, witches, and a master assassin by pressing one button while their backs are turned. You can even steal in plain view of the guards in the Boyle mansion (justified; everyone does it there because they have so much and it's treated like a game). Usually, it's easier to just knock them unconscious; you can even take their money as you're picking up their heavy unconscious/dead bodies!
  • The Thief series, of course, has this to a degree. Often, you will be able to steal some loot that a character seems to be observing, and they will say or do nothing as it disappears before their eyes unless they see the perpetrator. In Deadly Shadows, Garrett can instantly pinch an unsuspecting passerby's shiny purse, bracelets and collar, and it'll still take them about ten seconds to notice. The "only stealable in battle" bit is averted, though, as pickpocketing an enemy who's already noticed you is often impossible.

    Turn Based Strategy 
  • In Final Fantasy Tactics many of the most powerful items in the game can only be acquired by stealing them from enemies mid-battle. Furthermore, you're allowed to steal helmets off people's heads, weapons out of their hands (which they can't use anymore), and armor and clothes right off of people's backs.
    • In one special case, a Guest Star Party Member pulls a Face-Heel Turn and you have to fight him while he's wearing the equipment you put on him. At the end of the battle the game gives you the equipment back as a reward to prevent So Long, and Thanks for All the Gear; unfortunately (or fortunately), it doesn't check to see if you stole the equipment during the battle first. Those who know what's coming can easily duplicate the best equipment they have.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance lets you steal just about anything related to your enemy, including stats, experience and skills. That's one good thief. The one and only thing you can't steal? Boots. Stealing plate mail off someone is trivial, and you can't steal someone's armor if they're unconscious — but you can still steal it if they've been turned into a frog. And in some cases, stealing the weapons will not disarm the enemy - they will immediately pull out a spare. And they have a lot of spares. It is made even more interesting when, after a dozen or so spares, they pull out a different, better weapon... which you immediately can steal, and in most cases is what you are actually after in the first place.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics A2 tones this down. You can only steal Gil, Loot, Accessories, Limelight (a stat that determines if a Scion can be summoned and how powerful they would be), and Armor (the last one can only be done by a Viking using Pillage, and for some reason both he and the Thief can never steal Ribbons).
    • The Tactics games do subvert at least one part of the standard - afflicting an enemy with Sleep, Stop, or Stone gives you a 100% chance to steal. Paralysis and Don't Move do not, however - they can apparently wiggle just enough to potentially fend off thieves.
  • In Disgaea, enemies never drop their equipment when killed, but what you steal is taken from the equipment: Steal an enemy's weapon, he's now reduced to his fists. The strange part is that you can even steal character stats (by stealing things such as a kiss or their innocence). Some very valuable and useful items can only be gotten by stealing them from enemies in combat. Including a Legendary Equippable Horse Wiener.
    • The standard Thief units in Disgaea 3 count to some degree, since they can steal stats from enemies (in the form of "vigure" for attack and so on). Their Standard Status Effect abilities claim to be stealing things like "consciousness" and "movement" but the animations show them simply cracking their target over the head and such. It does avert one facet of this as it's possible for anyone on your team to steal items (but not stats), it's just Thief's are much better at it (one thing it's based on when calculating your chance of successfully stealing is level, and when a Thief does it he's treated as having a level twice as high as it actually is).
  • In the Fire Emblem series, most, if not all, of your enemy forces are humans. Thus, it makes sense for an enemy to carry an extra weapon or healing item. More importantly, you can't steal a weapon the enemy target is currently wielding, or any weapon at all in 6, 7, or 8. In Fire Emblem 4, thieves automatically stole an enemy's money (and only their money) when they hit one in combat (most enemies carried small amounts of money) and were the only units able to give money to any ally at will.

    Real-time Strategy 
  • Battle Bugs has a unit called a "Robber fly", which steals one of the enemies' bombs/eggs/cheeses/whatever as soon as they engage in combat, and is the only unit that can disengage a unit during fighting.

    Western RPG 
  • Spiderweb Software's Avernum and Geneforge avert this. Characters can only steal from NPCs (and not suffer the consequences) when they are out of those NPCs' line of sight. Similarly, items can not be stolen in combat and will need to be looted off of corpses: whatever items the characters take, it was likely that their original owners actually had a probable use for them.
  • In Baldur's Gate it was possible to steal a monster's head while leaving it alive, since you were supposed to kill the monster and take the head from its corpse, but the head was implemented as an inventory item.
    • One side quest involves bringing in bandit scalps for gold. A bug means a Thief is able to pickpocket their scalps.
    • Stealing from stores was an exception in that the items were created when you steal. The storekeeper must keep his stock in Hammer Space.
    • In Baldur's Gate 2, stealing the Ring of Gaxx in the moment before Kangaxx talks to you will net you a ring and another copy of the ring when he finally kicks the bucket. The mechanics behind it stem from the fact that he goes One-Winged Angel in battle - and you loot his final form, while stealing from the starting one.
      • Similarly, the first game included a wizard wearing the game's only +2 Ring of Protection. You meet him once outside his tower and once inside (where you fight him). Both times you meet him you can pickpocket the ring, and when you kill him he drops another one.
  • The Ultima series usually avoided this trope completely, but still gave opportunities to steal.
    • Ultima allows you to steal from shops until you get caught, in which case the guards chase you out of town. When you re-enter, the guards are passive. Starting with III, you could steal from some chests. However, stealing in Ulitma IV causes you to fall back in progress to completing the game.
    • Ultima VII: Serpent Isle introduced the "vibrate" spell, which lets you steal objects from an enemy. However, enemy spellcasters' spells were sometimes implemented as objects, letting you "steal" the spell and gain infinite uses.
    • Ultima Online lets thieves steal anything a monster or player is carrying but not equipped. This made going to banks during the early part of the game very risky, as thieves would often rob you blind — including stealing house/boat keys, and thus, everything in them.
    • And let's not forget the Pickpocket spell from Ultima VI, which allows you to steal meat from inside a cow.
  • Wizardry 8 has two theft options, Pickpocket and Shoplift. However, these can only be performed on a very small number of NPCs (and only those who already trust you), or in stores, and are typically hard to do. However, storekeepers apparently don't keep money on their person, because even if you rob them blind, they'll still buy stuff from you.
  • The Fallout games were interesting in this regard. They were generally very reasonable, even taking into account such things as the facing of characters to determine if someone noticed — obviously, if you were in front of someone, they were more likely to notice you stealing something than if you were behind them — but you could steal truly ridiculous things, such as thousands of coins and heavy machine guns.
    • In Fallout 2, it was possible to short-circuit a very long quest to get an old junk car running again by pickpocketing the needed part from a junk dealer, until the patch screwed that up.
    • There is no explicit way of freely getting items from party members, since the Fallout engine was not initially designed to support followers, a late addition. As a result, the game allows you to "steal" items from followers, unless you want to barter with them for equivalent cost. The best part about that is in the original game, bartering would check both parties' weight limit - but stealing wouldn't. Thus, each follower became a pack mule with an unlimited carrying capacity. The only downside is that when they died, you'd have to leave some of the 500 pounds of junk they were carrying behind...
    • In all the games you could use your "Steal" skill to plant items on any person not engaged in combat. The first and second games allowed you to plant ticking time bombs on them, while in the third it's possible to give NPCs live grenades and watch them casually walk away before exploding.
      • Leaving a bomb was usually the easiest way to pull off an assassination on otherwise well guarded targets. Also, early in Fallout 2, you could pull a fun variant with the thieving kids. Carrying a bomb in your inventory and setting the timer would result in the kids pickpocketing you, grabbing the bomb, then running off to hand the loot to their boss. Which would then blow up and take him with it, while leaving his store inventory unharmed and available for looting.
      • In the same vein, Fallout 2 allowed you to plant a bomb on the "Shitty Comedian" who is protected by a screen from a hostile crowd. If you casually walked back into the audience to watch the comedian literally bomb, the game may crash being unable to determine how all the NPC's should react to the death. (Starting a fight in the area was a long, drawn-out process because of the game's turn-based mechanic, meaning all the patrons get a turn to run, panic, or pick up weapons from the fallen and try to fight back, often hitting others due to their lack of skill, which would... well, you get the picture)
      • Louis Salvatore can be assassinated by stealing his oxygen tank. Cue him gasping for breath before keeling over.
    • Deathclaws were an interesting case in the early Fallout games because their hand-to-hand damage was actually accompanied by an inventory weapon. On death, this weapon usually deallocated but, if the Deathclaw died quickly enough, they would drop their claws, an awesome equippable hand-to-hand weapon with a glitched visual.
    • Fallout 3 the introduced the ability to steal the bullets out of an enemy's loaded gun. On the other hand, you can't steal the gun itself or their armor—not directly that is. What you can do is give them an item the AI considers "better", which is mostly decided by DPS or DT/DR (depending on if you're playing 3 or New Vegas), then steal the original item once they switch to the one you gave them.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In Daggerfall, you can pickpocket from NPCs and from monsters, but you could only ever get five coins at a time. This includes from the bats and the rats. Additionally, you could repeatedly pickpocket five coins from said rat or bat until it died and it could be hostile to you while you stole those five coins.
    • In Morrowind, you pickpocket items directly from the target NPC's inventory. Sometimes, it seemed like larger, worn, or held objects were harder to pilfer; sometimes, it didn't seem that way. Due to the way the Sneak skill worked, though, an awesome thief could stand in front of the target, while quite literally stealing the pants off them, without being caught
    • Oblivion worked much as Morrowind did. You could actually kill NPCs by reverse pickpocketing poisoned apples into their inventory and waiting for them to eat them. You could do the same with lightweight hoods enchanted with continual health damage spells. It's also possible that some items won't appear on an enemy until they're killed—usually this is to prevent breaking quests. Finally, some weapons and items are just not meant for player use—you can't normally find them on corpses OR steal them, even if similar items can be stolen from other characters.
      • You can go into someone's house, while they're there move slightly out of their line of sight, rob them blind then when they walk into the room you just pilfered, have a friendly conversation with them. They apparently don't seem to notice that all of their possessions are now gone, and the one person who just came in to their house and began sneaking around may be the culprit.
    • Skyrim upped the ante yet again by introducing the Pickpocket skill tree perks. A player who's fully invested in the Pickpocket skill can harm enemies just by putting poison in their pockets (Poisoned), or even steal their equipped clothes and weapons right off their backs. (Misdirection, Perfect Touch.) You have to wonder where they draw the line on the term "pickpocket"
      • If you sneak up on a Forsworn Briarheart, you can pickpocket the briarheart he carries. Said heart is his actual heart and he keels over dead, with a hole in his chest where you pulled his heart from.
      • A fun thing to do if you take the time to fully level up pickpocket (and for the best effect, alchemy) is to steal the clothes of people, give them a high powered weapon and put a (preferably long lasting) poison of frenzy on them. So as an end result you have a naked priest running around and killing people with a war-hammer. Videogame Cruelty Potential at it's finest
  • In Lord of the Rings: The Third Age, the "rogue" Morwen could use her Thief Craft skills to steal unique items, Strength and Dexterity points, and even XP.
  • In Might and Magic VII you could steal from creatures, good or bad. However if good creatures caught you, they would immediately become hostile and attack you. This could also be done in stores, but you run the risk of being caught, kicked out, and not being allowed back inside. Kinda sucks, right? Well don't get caught next time.
    • This becomes hilariously broken once your party's Thief has enough skill that he succeeds automatically. In which case you can casually walk into a store, take absolutely everything on the shelves and sell it right back. Of course, by this point in the game gold has long since stopped mattering, but...
  • Darkstone lets you pickpocket eggs from chickens.
  • Dragon Age: Origins has Stealing as a skill that can be learned by anyone (except Dog and Shale). Steal ranks 1 through 3 can only be used outside of battle and rank 4 can be used in battle. Ideally you can get some top-tier loot this way, but a lot of it is programmed incorrectly and cannot be obtained without muckin around with the Toolset.


Non-Video Game Examples:

    Pinball 
  • Police Force has a "Take Highest Score" feature, where a player who uses his last ball to shoot the right ramp twice in a row gets the highest score of all players added to his own (on a single-player game, the player's score doubles).

    Tabletop RPG 
  • In Exalted, Sidereal Exalts — fate-ninjas extraordinaire — can perform the following: stealing dice and armor from foes, stealing names, and pickpocketing the ability to dream.

    Web Comics 
  • The use of this in Final Fantasy X was parodied in Adventurers!: Drecker, the resident thief, destroys a robot by stealing a grenade, and notes that all robots are built around one. When Ardam asks if that's dangerous, Drecker replies "Only if you pull the pin".
    • And earlier than that, when he steals a sword from someone threatening them with a knife.
      Bandit: Wait... I had a sword!? Why was I using this thing, then?
      Drecker: Yeah, well, it's ours now.
  • In 8-Bit Theater, Thief soundly defeated a zombie dragon by doing what he did best: Stealing. A few vertebrae. He also stole the lich's soul from his Soul Jar, and then stole it back into him. He can also do it with memories. And, allegedly, souls and secrets.
    • He also stole his class change 'from the future.' In a later strip his past self is shown stealing the change from his future self.

    Web Original 
  • Parodied, like many other tropes, in College Saga. Here, the hero steals several items from his roommate, but he notices and attacks the party... only to be put asleep, pickpocketed and then left alone as the party flees from combat. At least they had the decency not to slaughter him.
  • Parodied in the Umineko fan novel "Witches and Woodlands." Jessica, having spent the entirety of the dungeon crawl segment trying and failing to use her "Steal" command to actually steal anything, finally succeeds during the Boss Battle with Satan, acquiring... Satan's panties. Jessica is disgusted, George is amazed at the stat bonuses they bestow, Battler wants to equip them on his head, and Satan is understandably pissed off.


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