Heist

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Snarkythekobold
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Heist

Post Sat Aug 17, 2019 8:44 pm

In our current campaign, my players are about to sail into a large city. I have been asking them what they would like to do (because, I am told, that's what a good GM does!). And they told me that they would like to do a heist.

However . . . the city will be their base of operation for a while and it would not be good for them to get totally run out of town. Especially since it took me a long time to fill in the city. I don't want to railroad but I was wondering if anyone had any ideas.

1) How to allow them to do a heist but if they fail (and they might, I don't hold their hand) . . . how does it not totally get them kicked out of the city (or worse).

2) Has anyone ever done a heist? It seems like it would be hard to do with a pen and paper RPG.
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teaman
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Re: Heist

Post Sat Aug 17, 2019 9:59 pm

Snarkythekobold wrote:
Sat Aug 17, 2019 8:44 pm
In our current campaign, my players are about to sail into a large city. I have been asking them what they would like to do (because, I am told, that's what a good GM does!). And they told me that they would like to do a heist.

However . . . the city will be their base of operation for a while and it would not be good for them to get totally run out of town. Especially since it took me a long time to fill in the city. I don't want to railroad but I was wondering if anyone had any ideas.

1) How to allow them to do a heist but if they fail (and they might, I don't hold their hand) . . . how does it not totally get them kicked out of the city (or worse).

2) Has anyone ever done a heist? It seems like it would be hard to do with a pen and paper RPG.
Could they steal from a crime lords headquarters, pirate ship, or evil cultists' cave or sewer? Have to fight off guards, maybe get past some traps the bad guys set in place. Then they'd end up being the heroes?
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Solomoriah
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Re: Heist

Post Sun Aug 18, 2019 7:55 pm

That's what I'd do. You know the bad people have most of the cash anyway...
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sean8223
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Re: Heist

Post Fri Aug 23, 2019 9:37 am

The key to success with a heist is stealth, otherwise it just devolves into a murder spree. To underscore the need for this, I've had the sponsor give the party a potion that creates a 25' sphere of silence around the imbiber on the pretext that this will facilitate easy entry/exit to the site. Of course it will also prevent them from casting spells in said sphere, but I didn't advertise that ... :D

On a somewhat related note, I've been toying around with the idea of a reverse heist (plant?) in which the party is engaged to stash some piece of incriminating evidence amongst the possessions of a local notable. The mission's sponsor would presumably use this for blackmail or some other nefarious purpose.

If the party is caught, they could always spill the beans and burn whoever hired them. The target of the plant would presumably have incentive to keep things quiet and not go to the authorities. And if they succeed, then they are "loose ends" that need to be tied up. Either way, it keeps things interesting for the PCs.
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Clever_Munkey
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Re: Heist

Post Tue Aug 27, 2019 10:59 am

I have never run a heist, but I have played in a heist... as a criminal, so I can't help you with the staying out of trouble thing, but the above suggestions sound good.

As Sean said, the key to a heist is stealth. However I will say that it doesn't have to be acrobatic sneaking through the shadows. Most caper movies involve a crew of people with very different skill sets (sound familiar?). The details of the plan itself are dependent on the party composition, but generally there is a greater emphasis on deception rather than pure stealth, and it often involves technical skills (which could mean magic), people skills, and "muscle," in addition to the skills that the thief class is known for.

A typical caper crew might look something like:
The Backer (Usually an NPC with money and ambition)
The Face (does the talking)
The muscle (heavy lifting, intimidation, and might crack a few skulls)
The hacker/gadgeteer (nullifies security devices, or provides alternate means of entry)
The burglar (see thief class)

When I played through the heist, most of the game was spent in preparation. We were given a goal (take a "gem" from a bank vault), and had to work for everything else. Most of what we did was information gathering (bribes, reconnaissance, schmoozing), and we were on a time limit, so there was only so much information we could get (it would have been nice to know the vault floor was electrified, and the "gem" was a ~5ft diameter sphere, and the bank manager was a disguised metallic dragon that slept in the vault!). The execution of the heist itself went fairly quickly, but it was all made more fun by the fact that we had planned it ourselves, and the piecemeal information we had gathered led us to numerous fun surprises, that left us asking how we forgot to look into that!!

As far as planning a heist adventure to run, I would give this advice:

- Provide a simple goal (Steal the crown, plant the dirt, kill the king(pin), [verb] the [noun], etc.). Whatever you do, keep the goal simple. It helps keep everyone on the same page, and working together. And you can always complicate the situation even more.

- Provide a complicated situation. There should be some assumed default complexity in whatever the goal is. Presumably there are guards and security measures in place preventing normal people from walking in and doing what they want, but the twists help make it fun (see 5ft diameter gemstone). Time limits help a lot here as well. Stealing the crown is easy with years of preparation, but stealing the crown before next week's coronation is a different matter entirely.

- Know the facts. Know all of the facts of the location, target, surroundings, and "Players" (meaning important NPCs) of the heist. This doesn't have to be much more complex than knowing the details of a dungeon crawl, but you should also be more aware of timing, especially if there are patrolling guards or something (although a well designed wandering encounter table might help you "cheat" just a little). And, in general, don't change the facts after the players have them. For unreliable information, err on the side of omitting useful information, or giving misleading interpretations, rather than providing purely false information.

- Provide the facts -- for a price. All the information should be available to the players, for the right price. This could be gold, or using up those favors with that contact, or using up that expendable magic item, or risking discovery with an early side heist, or con. The players should not be able to see every twist coming from the start, but they should be allowed to gain access to every twist at a comparable cost and/or risk. Do similarly with the "tools" of the heist. Fake guard uniforms might be fairly easy. Getting replica keys to the vault, might be more difficult.

- Let them plan their own heist (Unless they really don't want to, but this is usually part of the appeal). If you know "all" the facts, then there should be relatively little improvisation for you to do. Keep discrete contacts nameless and flat, and be "realistic" (consistent) about what tools, and crazy ideas actually have a chance of working.

- Lastly, be fair, and err on helping the players. Let them know that it's ok for you to know their plan (because you aren't going to change the facts, right?). Knowing their plan will help you be more consistent, and fair. And if their plan is too wild to work, let them know that as well; it's usually because they misunderstood something simple.
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coldrage101
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Re: Heist

Post Wed Sep 18, 2019 6:39 am

As someone who has just run a heist, make sure they players have a clear plan. It will help you (the GM) as you will know what to expect the players to do, so you can react appropriately. As an additional aside I like to give the guards during a heist a bit more personality that your typical cultist so they feel a bit more human, as this makes the players think twice about going on a murder spree, even if they could. I typically do this by having a pair of guards talk to each other while the PCs are sneaking past, etc.

Good luck though, as heists are really fun, both to play and to GM.
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