Pen & Paper Role Playing Games

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#1
I can't find the old D&D thread and I have other things to do with my day, so I'm starting a new thread!

To ask for advice!

I'm trying to set up a giant heist adventure for my Pirate D&D group. We haven't had a game in a month and a half because of life conflicts and I still can't figure out how I want to do it, so I am shoving in some filler for my game tonight, but does anyone have any good ideas? I don't want to make it skill challenge night, but I'm running short on ideas, and I really want it to be epic.
 
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#2
Asking advice at noon for your game that evening? I'm glad to know I'm not the only procrastinating DM.
 
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#4
As someone who plays a lot of Payday 2, I find it's actually a great example of how to set up heists (being a game about pulling off Heists). So here are some ideas from there...

- Give them a reason to want to pull a big score. Money is good, but getting back lost items is better and revenge is the best of all. Think Ocean's 11: most of the guys were on board simply to get rich and pull off the heist of the century but Ocean was in it to FUCK OVER Terry Benedict. He would have given up the entire haul just to do that. In other words, motivation is key.

- Force them to make a proper plan. Not just "We go in and get it" but an actual plan. Half the fun of pulling off a heist is in figuring out how you're going to do it. Have them pull favors for info, shake down guys on what might be inside the vault, etc... maybe even give them a map of the place they are robbing. Of course, maybe the map isn't entirely up to date...

- If they are going to need outside help to do it, then it's side adventure time. For example, in Payday, Dallas and the crew have been wanting to get Hoxton out of prison for awhile, but it's not until the mastermind planner known only as The Dentist drops the prison transfer schedule in their laps that it suddenly becomes possible. But this help comes at a price: he wants his payday too. How does this apply to your game? Don't be afraid to make it impossible without help, but make it possible to FIND that help. Maybe your crew needs a distraction? A way in? Well the rivals of the local pirate group are willing to help out, but they need this thing done... and paying off the town guard to drag their feet in responding is a tried and true method of evading the law.

- Always have a Plan B: if a Heist suddenly goes loud/wrong, you need to know exactly how much force you can throw at your group and still have them succeed. Also, the force should escalate as they waste more time at the scene: start with low ranking guys on the scene, but next come heavies checking the alarm and finally the town guard elite out for blood. Punish them for being stupid, but don't wipe them in the process.

- Make sure they have an escape plan. Getting the loot is only half the battle... you need to get it OUT without dying in the process. It should never be a leisurely stroll out the back... make them have to consider dumping the loot and making a run for it.
 
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#5
So right now, I have them on a sidequest which will end with them getting a tip that an object they have been looking for was sold to a dwarven noble. The point of the sidequest is both that end point, and raising their infamy as pirates, since lately they have been doing way less piratey things due to party personality conflicts (characters, not the players).

Also right now, one of the players, who is the captain of the ship, is cursed by a coin he picked up out of a tainted fountain, and is becoming increasingly erratic. They have actually picked up about three extra crew members along the way, with at least one still waiting in the wings (that they know about at least) as I weave the story around them.

We actually do pretty well with straight RP sessions as well, since enough of the players have enough quirks built into their characters that they are willing to make use of to make it interesting.

My biggest concern is not turning it into a night of skill challenge after skill challenge, followed by woo we got the loot yay.
 
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#6
My biggest concern is not turning it into a night of skill challenge after skill challenge, followed by woo we got the loot yay.
Fundamentally, if they need to overcome a static issue (locked doors, traps, convincing NPCs, etc) then yes, it's all skill challenges. But that's only if you only give them one way to do it. Maybe they need a key from a guard to get the door open because it's some special lock... sure, they could just pick pocket the key or kill him for it or talk him out of it or bribe him or whatever and roll some dice, but they could also make it look like someone already got past the door to get HIM to open it (all kinds of voice throwing magic) or they could avoid it by some other means.

The issue here is how smart are the players? If they are smart enough to think of a way past a challenge that doesn't require dice, then you are good. But if they are only going to do it the most obvious way, then it's THEIR fault for being tedious and boring, not yours. Just be sure to include lots of traps/doors that don't involve them just picking a lock and traps complicated enough that disarming them quickly is not an option and you should be good ether way.
 
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#7
Perhaps you could work it out so the heist requires hitting at least two separate locations. Like, say, they need to intercept( and fight) some couriers to get a password and take their badges. They use those to get into a warehouse they can sneak, talk or fight through. Past that is the where the loot is, protected in some way to require the skill challenges, although a raised alarm from before could force a chase as the guards protecting the loot evacuate it an an effort to keep it out of the PCs' hands.
 
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#8
So right now, I have them on a sidequest which will end with them getting a tip that an object they have been looking for was sold to a dwarven noble. The point of the sidequest is both that end point, and raising their infamy as pirates, since lately they have been doing way less piratey things due to party personality conflicts (characters, not the players).

Also right now, one of the players, who is the captain of the ship, is cursed by a coin he picked up out of a tainted fountain, and is becoming increasingly erratic. They have actually picked up about three extra crew members along the way, with at least one still waiting in the wings (that they know about at least) as I weave the story around them.

We actually do pretty well with straight RP sessions as well, since enough of the players have enough quirks built into their characters that they are willing to make use of to make it interesting.

My biggest concern is not turning it into a night of skill challenge after skill challenge, followed by woo we got the loot yay.
The last thing the group should hear before they all die horrible deaths should be "Oh, did I forget to mention that it's guarded by a dragon? Because it's guarded by a dragon."
 
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#9
Oh, a when I said "intercept the couriers" I really rather meant "hijack a courier ship" because that's quite piratey.
 
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#10
My two favorites rogues are Simkin and.... this random story I read on Reddit a year ago and saved.

I hadn't even recognized the seeds the party rogue was planting throughout the campaign until they all came together in perhaps the most amazing heist I've ever played through. To be fair, I was quite thoroughly involved in a sub-plot involving a few other characters' backstories at the time, when I should have been involving the rogue more. Luckily, he made his own fun. :)
The party was working for a collector of many fine pieces of ancient art from a long dead elven empire. Statues, vases, various gem-laden trinkets, and so forth. Mundane, but beautiful and priceless. The party was more or less a glorified treasure-hunting team, combing ancient trap-laden ruins for plunder.
The rogue started his whole heist idea while I was describing the gallery of this collector. When they visited, they were searched at the door for anything suspicious; the rogue's lockpicks were confiscated, which maybe elicited a challenge, something for the rogue to prove, I don't know. Glass cases (all locked) containing all these priceless artifacts, including one black-bronze figurine of a gryphon that he was particularly interested in. I should have recognized from the outset that he was after his own personal Maltese Falcon.
Over the course of several adventures, the rogue built up a web of connections within the collector's employ, and buddied up to the collector himself. I thought nothing of it; it was nice to have a player so interested and invested in my campaign and the NPCs for once. I was forced to keep track of the little guys I made; the butlers, the cooks, the maids, the clerks. I fleshed out a small city because of the rogue's lust for details about everyone that worked the day-to-day for the collector's personal museum.
He had a keen interest in wood crafting, dumping many points in wood carving. I thought it a bit absurd, but he played it off as nothing more than a roleplaying reflection; a harmless, curious hobby of the character and nothing more. He went so far as to purchase masterwork tools for his trade, joining the local guild of wood crafters and discussing it with even more NPCs, peers in the 'hobby' of his character.
And then all at once, it was time for him to put his plan in action. During his downtime, he declared that he spent a lot of time visiting the collector's gallery, and carving replica figurines out of wood of the various artwork he had seen, roleplaying that each time he paid a little more careful detail to what he was making. And then he made the gryphon, and went so far as to decide he was going to make it a masterwork piece of art. I allowed this, naively. Every artist needs a masterpiece, after all.
The rogue needed a way into the estate, under cover of darkness, past the patrolling guards, while the party was distracted, without tripping the magical and mudane wards protecting the priceless art pieces inside their little glass boxes. To do this he:
  • made friends with the trusted clerk of the gallery, became close drinking buddies with him
  • waited until the day of a noble's gala that the collector had made public intention to attend
  • 'requisitioned' the party's wand of dispel magic (much to the chagrin of the cleric for some reason), bought a scroll of alarm
  • made sure the party was going to attend the gala, made sure to point out that, publicly, he would be attending in his finest clothes, and would be arriving late
  • visited clerk friend in his office, informed him that after the gala, they ought to go drinking, and sleight-of-handed the lock on the window open without the clerk noticing
  • convinced the women of the manor to get cozy with the household guards that night
Everything was written down on paper before the session had begun, in a series of prepared notes. I feel like he waited a few sessions until the timing was perfect (the gala) and then put his plan into motion.
At nine bells, in the blackness, with the manor all but empty and the guards snogging in the bushes with the chambermaids, the rogue made his way to the clerk's office. In through the window, out of the office into the gallery, a dispel magic to shut down the basic Alarm that had been set up; he made his way to the glass display case where the gryphon figurine sat. He spent a few minutes disabling a few traps, unlocking the case; he swapped the figurine for the wooden one, locked it all back up, reset the traps, cast Alarm and slipped out the window again. The entire process of swapping the figurines took about ten minutes, from start to finish.
He didn't say a word while doing this, merely passing the notes to me, and waiting for my response. I told him to roll dice as required, and then gave him a nod (of course I did, the little min-maxer couldn't fail at his tasks) and continued running the gala for the rest of the party members.
Eventually the rogue made it back to the party's apartment, put the bronze statue in his personal chest, changed clothing and attended the gala. The party was none-the-wiser, and I was thoroughly impressed.
A few sessions later in the campaign, the rogue and the collector were together in private, when the rogue presented him with the bronze figurine. He made up some story to the collector describing how he recognized it in an acquaintance's home, and stole it back for him. The collector, obviously was flabbergasted (who wouldn't be), and said "There's no way! My figurine is in the case and hasn't moved!"
The truth comes out, the one in the box is a fake, the real one is replaced, and the rogue is given the replica (a masterwork piece of art in its own right) and a substantial, hefty reward for loyalty and friendship of the collector.
The party was floored OOCly when I explained to them what happened on the night of the gala. That was the happiest time I've ever DMed anything ever.
tl;dr - party rogue was awesome, pulled off an amazing heist, and didn't kill anyone in the process. Not even the party knew what happened.
 
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#12
Does anyone have experience playing D&D via Skype? Everyone else in the game will be in the same room but me. We were going to set up a webcam so I can see the board for combat and just voice chat the rest.

Is there any complications or things we may not have thought of?
 
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#13
Does anyone have experience playing D&D via Skype? Everyone else in the game will be in the same room but me. We were going to set up a webcam so I can see the board for combat and just voice chat the rest.

Is there any complications or things we may not have thought of?
 
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#15
We did that over the summer, one guy on skype and the rest of us in the same room - it works fine, but if your DM has access to a laptop or something, using roll20.net at the same time can make things a lot smoother with dice rolling, maps and the like.
 
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#21
We did that over the summer, one guy on skype and the rest of us in the same room - it works fine, but if your DM has access to a laptop or something, using roll20.net at the same time can make things a lot smoother with dice rolling, maps and the like.
It's seriously great, I play weekly with a group and it runs perfect with little work.

I don't remember what we used to work with in the HF group but it was a pain to setup.
 
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#22
Just started playing D&D for the first time with some friends. We've been playing board games for a while and one of us was invited for a session once, and got us all enthusiastic about it.

After some practice sessions to get the hang of things (and dying a lot), we've just started our main campaign. So far, so good! Although some still have trouble saving the few abilities or spells we have at low level for when it matters; they get bored quickly with just attacking and casting cantrips over and over again and go all out whenever there's an encounter :/
 
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#23
Some people don't care for them, but the first two episodes of the Penny Arcade Acquisitions Incorporated they've recently done are all about planning a heist and could give you, @Dei, some pointers. Also, the Kris Straub intro in the first episode is adorable.


 
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#24
I am long past the heist part of my game. Also I watched them the day they came out. :)
 
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#29
Also, since my last gaming with Shadowrun, the juices of DMing a pen & paper is flowing, maybe Shadowrun itself though I clearly have no experience with it or with 5th edition..

mmmm
 
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#32
I'm currently DMing a 5th campaign. It's very easy. Some guys in my group were dudes who liked multi-classing 900 times and they're not the biggest fans, but I love the simplification of most of the rules.

I hated 2 wizard/3 dragon-slayer/2 fighter/2 mage slasher/4 dragon-mage knight of red stones

Fuck off.
 
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#33
I mean, you can still multiclass in 5th, but yeah, the rules are much more straight forward.
 
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#34
I 'm currently playing a 5e Lvl 9 Rogue Thief and love it. We're just starting Rise of Tiamat.
 
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#35
Multi-classing in 5th is kind of a mixed bag: on the one hand, there is basically no reason not to be a pure Fighter if you want to be a Fighter. Applying even just two feats to a fighter can result in something that can do 8d10+5d12+80 damage a round to a single target, apply several effects, ignore all but full cover up to 400 ft away, and essentially fall from orbit and survive... and do all of the twice a rest. Some of the other classes are just as good and that's straight out of the main book.

On the other, some multiclass builds are just utterly better than pures. There is no reason to be a Lvl 20 Tempest Cleric when a 6/14 Tempest Cleric/Evocation Wizard gets better lightning spells (Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning are not in the Cleric spell list) and more utility without losing any of it's melee effectiveness. Sure, you'll never cast a 9th level spell but that hardly matters when you get two free maximized chain lightnings and one free maximized Cone of Cold a rest and you can still bump THOSE into 9th level damage.

But that's all high level theoreticals. In a less high powered game, you will NEVER have these kinds of abuses.
 
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