Knowledge Check: Thieves' Cant Dictionary
Thieves’ Cant is one of the most storied secret languages in history. The English Language version originated in the 16th century and was a mix of Romany, Irish, and Cockney Rhyming Slang. Several “dictionaries” of the language were released, each one purporting to reveal the “true” Thieves’ Cant, but a full representation of the language was never written down…until now!
Just kidding, this dictionary should serve as a play-aid for your PC and NPC thieves, rogues, and ne’er-do-wells as they make their way through the criminal underbelly of the fantasy world. Most of the terms here are taken directly from historical records of Thieves’ Cant, though some have been modified to reflect fantastic worlds, or to remove specific regional references.
Why are there so many words for “sheep”?
You’ll note a lot of words in here for animals and everyday objects. There’s a simple reason for this – that’s what thieves stole. Pickpockets focused on items that came out of pockets, naturally, and livestock was one of the simplest cash items whose provenance was hard to determine.
So let your criminal-minded characters pepper their speech with some true slang of the streets! And get your clouts to Uncle before the Scout gives you bracelets.
Knowledge Check is a product line for players and gamemasters. Each book is a collection of rules and information designed to add a little knowledge to any fantasy campaign, focusing on a particular aspect of the skill system and adding depth and breadth to your play experience.