The roper (a fantasy monster), is a true monster in every sense of the word. They resemble something straight out of a nightmare. When standing still they resemble a column of natural stone (they are also quite adept at pretending to be boulders, stalagmites, and bumps on the ground). They lie dormant waiting for any creatures to approach, then they spring to life, attacking everyone in range.

A roper attacks by shooting out its sticky limbs from its body and constricting them around its prey, before it moves them to its giant mouth. The ropers limbs have an incredible range (up to 50 feet in length), and they shoot out of its body like they were fired from a gun. They are mostly muscle (no bones), and exude a sticky poison that saps the strength of most other creatures.

Ropers prefer to live in mountainous terrain (or well traveled underground passages). They are not a social creature (although a group of ropers may inhabit a good hunting spot). They move very slowly using cilia like appendages on their underside. But they will usually only move if a hunting spot starts to thin out.

The body of a roper will often have gems and platinum coins inside (as the roper cannot digest these items). Many of the roper's internal organs are valuable to alchemists as well (for use in various potions).

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Described by the band as pop-punk with synth "as played by an 80's hair-metal band", Roper is a band formed in 2004 by former Five Iron Frenzy vocalist Reese Roper following the disollution of Guerilla Rodeo.

The band was announced before there was a lineup, or a website, or even an announcement that Guerilla Rodeo, which had released a three song demo only months before and was still thought to be in the process of recording its first full CD, had broken up. Later it was confirmed that the band had disbanded amicably over creative differences.

Information release was scarce over the next few weeks. Roper (the person, not the band), who was an active member of the Five Iron Frenzy messageboard, posted some lyrics that he was working on, but other than that little was known. (These lyrics, changed in places, later became Red Eye to Miami and Quicksilver on the band's debut album.)

Eventually, a website located at http://www.roperisdumb.com offered some basic information and a message board. The band's album, "Brace Yourself for the Mediocre", was set to be released late in 2004, with the instruments played by session musicians while Roper and his long-time label, Five Minute Walk, searched for permanent members.

The band filled out, eventually, with Reese Roper on vocals and synth; Jonathan Byrnside on lead guitar; Johnathan Till on bass; Stephen Till, previously of Dance, Mexican, Dance on rhythm guitar; and Nick White, formerly of Divot, on drums. The band has another connection to Five Iron Frenzy: Stephen Till's wife is FIF sax player Leanor "Jeff" Ortega.

The band began touring in September, 2004, and on October 19th Brace Yourself for the Mediocre was released to positive reviews. While it isn't a product of the current iteration of Roper--FIF producer Masaki Liu, formerly of Dime Store Prophets and Rivulets and Violets; and Ethan Luck, a member of the ill-fated Guerilla Rodeo and currently guitarist for the Supertones wrote most of the music (Roper some music and all of the lyrics)--the band plays it on tour.

In the parlance of the confidence game, a roper is a type of con man, or, more accurately, a role a con man plays in the big game.

In solo cons, of course, there is only the mark and the con. However, for most scams from the two-man con and up, short con or long, the roper plays an important, if not essential role. He is often engaged in direct contact with the mark from the come-on all the way through the blow off.

The roper is an outsider. He (figuratively) stands alongside the mark to give the mark moral support. If there is bait, the roper makes the mark feel safer about pursuing the enticing bait that inevitably lures a mark into the game. Otherwise, the roper's job is to acquire trust.

The roper plays several important roles, all of which require experience, finesse, and expertise. For these reasons, the roper is often one of the most experienced grifters participating in the game. The following steps are listed chronologically, however, many of these steps may occur out of order or may not even occur at all.

  • The roper finds the mark (the victim). A good mark must, of course, be sufficiently gullible, and must be available for the duration of the game (the run-around). Ideally, he should have no connections in the area and above all, have a nut worth taking (i.e. cash, valuables, information . . . the objective of the game)

  • The roper meets the mark and talks him up. This is sometimes called the build-up, the schmooze, the overture or the honeymoon. The schmooze can take anywhere from a few seconds in the case of a short con to as long as a period of years. Often, the higher the stakes are and/or the wiser the mark, the longer the schmooze. During this period, the roper may be willing to lose small amounts of money (buying drinks, dinners, gifts), but regardless, he spends the time making friends with the mark.

  • The roper entices the mark. This is called the pitch or the come-on. Often, the come-on starts with a story or a rumor about a "friend" of the roper who benefits financially or otherwise from a particular condition (the little game). Sometimes, especially in smaller cons, the anecdote is about the roper himself. While some games operate without any come-on at all, this is usually a principal feature of a con.

  • The roper knows when to lay off. Part of the art of the con is letting the mark's greed do the work. After the come-on, it's often useful to have a lay off period during which the mark has a chance to consider the come-on. The roper may continue to schmooze the mark or may lay off for a while. An eager mark, like a fish on the hook, may then take the initiative and suggest that the roper help him take advantage of the condition that the roper detailed in the come-on. After some convincing doubt or suspicion on the roper's part, the roper can bring him in. The best kind of mark is one who primes himself.

  • If necessary, the roper primes the mark. Sometimes this is referred to as hawking. Often the roper invents some change of events that allows the mark to take advantage of the little game. For instance, the roper's friend who made a bundle in the little game is back in town and if the mark wants, they can be introduced. This is often the most difficult part of the roper's job. Once the mark is primed, his mind is set and something will likely have to go wrong for him to run out.

  • In a long con, the roper schedules the meet. Usually, this is between the mark, the roper and one of the insidemen, but in a larger con, some shills might also help out. The mark is brought in to a meeting room, office, boardroom, warehouse or other place with appropriate ambience and the little game is explained to him. Sometimes the mark is given a small taste of the game (a convincer), sometimes a stall is engineered where the mark witnesses, but is not allowed to participate in, the little game. He sees one or more shills profit and his appetite is whetted.

  • When the mark is finally allowed to come in on the little game the roper often acts as a shill, investing or risking just the same as the mark (of course, with none of the real risk the mark faces). The roper often acts as a joker or inverse shill, displaying confidence when the mark is in doubt, fear when the mark is bold, suspicion when the mark is confident. Most importantly, since the roper is in the mark's confidence, if the mark starts to run out the roper must rope him back in.

  • When the sting occurs, especially in a long con, the roper is often nowhere to be found. If the roper hasn't been made by the mark during the sting, it's likely that the mark will turn to the roper for support. This gives the roper an opportunity to cool the mark by commiserating with him, consoling him, validating his anger, etc. After the sting, the best kind of mark is a cool mark. A cool mark often doesn't go to the police or raise a beef. The time it takes the mark to find the roper (whether or not he ends up cool) gives the front man and the rest of the team an opportunity to pack it in. The roper catches up to the team and, of course, the mark never hears from any of them again. That is, if the mark is lucky.

The role that the roper plays in a short con is, of course, briefer and less involved, but the basic structure is the same. The roper, true to his name, ropes the mark in and keeps him roped. A roper can make use of drugs, alcohol, women and other sundry enticements to comfort the mark or impair his judgement. In short or long cons, the roper often collects the payoff (sometimes called the take, score, prize, touch or nut) because he is tightest in the confidence of the mark.

In some circles the roper is referred to as the cowboy, the capper], the shepherd, or the steerer.


References

  1. INTELLIGENCE ANALYSIS OF WHITE COLLAR CRIME

Rop"er (?), n.

1.

A maker of ropes.

P. Plowman.

2.

One who ropes goods; a packer.

3.

One fit to be hanged.

[Old Slang]

Douce.

 

© Webster 1913.

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