Monday, January 9, 2017

Monday Recap: Old Wounds
Leap before you look

A game I was supposed to be a player in fell through this weekend, so I decided to write up a quick heist game for my gaming group. I used this fantastic outline on how to create a heist game, but I did end up changing it to be a little more planned out. In the end, I really am not that good at improvising plots on the fly.

Also, I'm not sure if I'll do a Monday Recap for games I play in. Maybe just a quick note at the beginning of any other Monday Recaps that week.

Old Wounds: A Heist Game

Nate has had enough of your crap
Cast of Characters:
Jon: Dungeon Master
Will: Nate Mortcombe, older thief, has been around the block, used to be the Face in the Phantoms
Wade: Fernar Vale, half-elf wizard, used to crack magic wards for the Phantoms
Bria: Harlor Maren/Rowen Miller, socialite with a million identities, loves to steal from the rich
Megan: Voralah Ostymon, halfling thief, loves gold and has high aspirations
Shannon: Mina Maeghor, half-orc bruiser and former pirate, known as "Four-Fingers"
Quinn: Tom Samble, young musician and amateur thief that Nate picked up for this heist

This was a shorter game, with no combat. I had planned for at least one combat to happen, but the players used all the skills and spells at their disposal to avoid it (to Shannon's displeasure!).

Phinneas Blythe, local fence, had gathered a crew for a job he needed done. His client was interested in a rare magic item being auctioned off, a Sphere of Annihilation. The person auctioning off the Sphere was Selena Kingsley, a former member of the Phantoms and Nate's old flame. Blythe had put together this team to pull off the job, partly because he knew Nate and Fernar would jump at the chance to steal from Selena. She and their other partner Lucious were the reason that Nate and Fernar had spent a stint in prison.

The group planned out exactly what they were going to do. They spent four days preparing the various contacts, covers, and equipment they would need to bust this job wide open.

Like any good adventure, this happened mostly in a tavern
To get to the sphere, they had to get past six layers of Selena's brand of magical security. The outer perimeter of the tower was being warded by alarm spells, phantom dogs, and impenetrable Wall of Force spells. However, Nate and Rowen decided to simply walk in the front door (in disguise of course). Easier said than done, since their old friend Lucious was standing right outside the entrance gate, wearing a medallion of thoughts to cast Detect Thoughts!

Nate knew even with his disguise, Lucious would probably recognize him. So Rowen decided to play the bait. From speaking with Volorah (who had worked at Selena's tower and been hit on by Lucious), Rowen knew exactly what sort of thing Lucious liked in a woman. She approached, making sure all those qualities were the only thing on her mind. Lucious immediately took the bait, and while he slunk off with Rowen, the rest of the gang showed their forged invitations to the new guard.
Rowen: Best at whatever it is they do
A few minutes later, Rowen rejoined the group, with a shiny new medallion of thoughts in hand and Lucious tied up back in the bushes.

Volorah, knowing it would be useful later, took a chance and pickpocketed the new guard of Lucious' key ring. If they were going to crack the final layer of security, that key would be important.

Next, the group had to get past the main entrance. Heavy-set bouncers were checking for signed invitations, and they had a Zone of Truth spell set up. Rowen had forged a set of invitations for a noble house that had declined to come to the party, House Islington. Even though he was forced to tell the truth, Nate slyly convinced the bouncer that he was indeed Goniffer Islington, Patriarch of the House. The bouncer smiled and let them pass.

While passing through, Mina noticed one of the bouncers was an old pirate friend of hers. She made a note of it, knowing that if he was paid he wouldn't mind starting a brawl as a distraction.

They entered the lavish main hall, where nobles mingled and decorations were everywhere. Nate immediately noticed Selena herself standing at the top of a large double staircase. She looked fantastic.
Can't really blame Nate at this point
Rowen immediately got to work. This was their element! Chatting it up with nobles, asking all the right questions, winking and nudging their way into the nobility's trust. Rowen was surprised, however, to suddenly be approached by a servant and given a message.

The note read, "Sorry darling, couldn't make it! - Mabel". Rowen crumpled the note in anger. Mabel was supposed to be their Sphere expert, someone who had been paid off to move the sphere for them once they reached it. She had been bribed, Tom had gone on a date with her, and now she had vanished. The entire crew swore revenge.

They weren't completely out of luck, however. One of Mina's contacts was there, a rare magic item collector that they had contacted about getting an Amulet of the Sphere. They hoped that it would be enough to enable Fernar to move the Sphere himself.

Fernar, Mina, and Volorah walked up to one of the robed wizard guards who was watching the door to the undertunnels. It was Tom! He had gotten himself a position here for the party. He quickly filled them in.

Tom Samble, off the job
The wizard guards were supposed to be casting spells such as Detect Thoughts, Detect Magic, and See Invisibility on the party. However, the crew had sabotaged the magic scrolls a couple days before and now they all simply made it feel like the spell was being cast instead of actually casting it.

Nate and Rowen decided to stay up and work the party room while the other four headed through the door to the undertunnels.

The undertunnels were simple stone passages, but they were guarded by a Guards and Wards Spell, and invisible Imps patrolling. Fernar had made a deal with the devil who provided the imps, and he hoped it would hold.

He tried the password to dispel Guards and Wards, but it failed. Selena must have changed it for the party! They decided to use brute force to get through this section. tom pulled out a scroll of "Find the Path" and they began to head towards the inner sanctum, where the Sphere would be kept.

Ain't no stinkin' spell can stop these picks
After muscling their way through foggy corridors and Volorah picking her way past an arcane lock, Tom noticed a door reading "Prison". Volorah started to pick it, but the door suddenly opened and a crossbow bolt slammed into her.

Thanks to an uncanny dodge, the damage was minimal. The jailer who had fired the bolt looked ready to fight. Mina grinned, Volorah drew blades, Fernar readied his spells. Tom, however, cast a quick suggestion. They were just lost, no need to attack. With the help of Fernar's portent, the jailer believed them and closed the door.

Meanwhile, up at the party, Lucious came bursting into the room, having freed himself, and headed straight for Selena. Rowen made a quick interception, telling him she had stolen the medallion to make sure they saw each other again. Lucious fell hard for that one, and ten minutes later he was knocked out and strung up again outside the washroom window.

Another time, you'll hear the story of Fernar and the much-too-big sword
Downstairs, the group finally reached the inner sanctum. Tom headed back upstairs to retake his post, and Fernar got to work on cracking the safe. Working through the multiple layers of magic, avoiding alarm spells and exploiting his dispel magic scrolls, the others watched on as he did his finest work.

However, it wasn't quite enough. He only had one layer of protection left, an Arcane lock, and he had just run out of scrolls. Volorah suggested they use Lucious' key. Knowing there was a heat metal spell on the keyhole, they clicked it open quickly.

The inner sanctum door swung open.

Upstairs, Selena approached Nate and told him to drop the act. Nate acted surprised, but he had been thinking about talking to her anyway. She began to grill him on what he was doing and who he was here with.

In and out burglar
The Sanctum was empty! Mina and Volorah started to panic, but Fernar was well aware of Selena's tricks. A simple illusion spell had made the sphere invisible. He put on the Amulet of the Sphere and began to move it.

Nate smiled at Selena, and said a strange little phrase they both knew meant a job had just been completed. Selena's face dropped. She immediately ran towards the undertunnels, gathering her guards.

She slammed open the door to the sanctum, but it was empty. All that was left was a perfectly-round hole leading out of the back wall, which the crew had made using the sphere of annihilation itself to escape.

Outside of Auraglow, a few days later, Phinneas Blythe shook Nate's hand. The Sphere was being transported in a specially-made levitation chamber, and the crew would be well paid for their fantastic work. The group headed out of town, into a life of great riches... at least, until the next job came up!
A job well done!

This game was really reminiscent of the games I started playing RPGs with. They were more theatrical, less combat, more deduction and problem solving. I really enjoyed the game, and the players seemed to respond well to it. I think I could have included more character building components, but for a one-shot I thought the level of character interaction was perfect.

I'd highly recommend using the format I linked above to run your own heist games! Even though I did more scenario creation than it suggested.

Thanks for reading!

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