Hey all, so I am pretty new to table top RPGs and GMing.

Hey all, so I am pretty new to table top RPGs and GMing.

Hey all, so I am pretty new to table top RPGs and GMing. I played two 8 hours sessions with some friends, and both were amazing.

Anyway, I am trying to plan a new session as a bit of a one-off because one friend is moving away, and I am trying to be a bit more planned out and structured in the greater narrative and front. I am making it similar to a heist in GTA5, because we all played that together. What I have so far is that the team is being hired by the thieves guild of medium-to-large sized city-state to rig the election of the new governor. The quest has 3 parts: 1) break in to a mage guild to obtain the special paper used to cast the ballots, 2) bribe, impersonate, blackmail, control, etc the council head who actually controls the voting process, 3) replace the real votes with the fake votes on the day of the election.

I am coming up with some sub stories for each side quest, and any advice or ideas would be welcome! Also any ways you think I can improve upon what I have so far.

Sorry for the ramble, and thanks for the help!

21 thoughts on “Hey all, so I am pretty new to table top RPGs and GMing.”

  1. I do not have access to the fate worlds book, but I will see if I can track it down…

    And yes, we are looking to play this in dungeon world. I totally understand the leave blanks principle, and I was about 95% blank and making it up as I went for the first 2 sessions we played. I am just trying to have a bit more of a adventure front i guess. Any ideas how to draw that line?

  2. Stop planning out what the PCs will do. Start planning out what the NPCs will do. That’s what an adventure front is; the series of events that lead to A Bad Thing happening if the player characters don’t get involved.

    Who are your NPCs? What do they want and why? How will they make this thing come about? What are the resources at their disposal? Start figuring that out.

  3. My understanding of how Fronts work in Dungeon World is that they inform the kinds of dangers that inevitably stalk your party wherever they go. As such, what you plan out in DW isn’t “in order to accomplish D, they first need to do A, B and C.” Rather, you say, “If they don’t accomplish D, these bad things will happen.”

    So, a few questions: how has the thieves guild convinced the party to do this? Is it just an offer of money? Is there blackmail involved?

    If the party doesn’t rig the election, what happens? Does the guild retaliate?

    If the party does try to rig the election, what kinds of consequences will there be along the way?

    There’s a reason that, in DW, every Front has Dangers, each with Grim Portents and an Impending Doom. This isn’t just dramatic labeling; this is an intrinsic part of how DW is intended to operate, with the Think Dangerous principle informing your GM moves. So, don’t think about what they need to do (that’s for the characters to figure out.) Rather, think about all the horrible, horrible ways it can go wrong.

  4. Chris Stone-Bush Ahhh, so true. I think I got a bit wrapped up in writing out the scenario that I forgot about the true objective. I guess I should re-read the fronts chapter again probably…

  5. Dan Bryant awesome questions. I think I got a little too lost in writing the scenario that I forgot this points. Rather than stating that they must do them, do you think it would work to just state that they use special magic paper for the ballots and that the council head controls the vote, and then let the characters go from there?

  6. Jonathan Burns Yeah, describe the situation and let the players figure it out. After all, planning the heist is half the fun. They may very well surprise you with their ingenuity. You don’t even necessarily need to give out details like the magic paper for free; if your players are sufficiently resourceful, let them Spout Lore or do other research to determine these things.

    One cool trick if you plan to run this over several sessions is to go into the first session of the heist and ask the players a few questions to get things rolling:

    Thief, who contacted you about this job and how do you know them?

    Wizard, how are elections typically magically protected?

    Bard, who do you know in the city who is connected the election process?

    Your first session might involve some more generic dangers as your party gets their bearings and starts planning. The answers to these questions, in conjunction with other details that came up in play, then help you construct more concrete fronts for your next session. You thought it might be magic paper, but maybe the Wizard knows of an even more elaborate protection that you weren’t aware of.

  7. Dan Bryant yeah that sounds really great, and a lot more similar to how I ran my session. My only concern is that I’m trying to doing this story in one night because one guy is leaving. not entirely necessary as most most of the group will still be around, but just a thought.

  8. Jonathan Burns , I’m usually one for very much sticking to the original design and approach of the game – and as such, I’d immediately tell you that DW isn’t really built for heists, and not to plan that stuff in advance. However, it seems to me that you already know this, and have your own reasons for wanting to do this in DW, so maybe what I’d advise you to do is to look at how you can handle this – and possibly modify the game slightly to do so.

    First things first, remember that planning in RPGs is always somewhat of a risk: sometimes players get stuck in the planning stage, trying to cover for every possible risk and talking themselves out of actual solutions. This quickly stops being fun.

    My advice is, take a look at Blades in the Dark – it’s an RPG that’s more or less inspired by Apocalypse World/Dungeon World (though very different), that is all about planning heists and hits for a criminal crew. It handles the preparation part in a very cool and fun way. I’m not saying you should run your game using Blades in the Dark, though it would certainly do the trick, but what you can do is look at how Blades handles it, and figure out a way to use those ideas in Dungeon World. Maybe you could write a couple custom moves! (I’ve tried my hand at a couple, if you want to take a look below!)

    Similarly, in a normal game of Dungeon World, it is definitely best not to simply present the players with a quest – in this case, I think that starting the game on the assumption that they’ve been asked to carry out the heist is fine, and even having an idea of some of the key “steps” in the heist – though I’d definitely put them as “goals”, so that characters can decide how to pursue them. For example, I’d rewrite the first two parts you’ve proposed as such: 1) Get the special magic paper used for ballots: they can break in at night, they can derail or substitute a shipment, they can kidnap the alchemist who prepares it or steal the formula and have it made; 2) Gain access to the votes on the day of the election: they can bribe or impersonate a councillor and get in, they can steal them while they’re being brought to the palace of the governor, they can murder the guardians and substitute them at the last minute. How they do it, is up to them.

    Also, whatever ideas you have about how the mission will unfold, hold on to them VERY lightly, because DW brings unpredictable results and a lot of mayhem, which is definitely cool – and we all know that heist movies really start getting exciting when the plan goes to hell and they have to wing it, right? For the rest, you can use your fronts normally, as a danger that, if gone unchecked will have consequences on the characters, as they already explained above.

    The suggestion you got above of asking leading questions in the beginning of the game – and probably whenever they set down and start planning the next step – is solid gold. Do it!

    Now, this is probably how I’d do the custom moves for planning heists and/or for getting away clean:

    When you plan a hit, roll. Add one to the roll for every one of the questions below you have an answer to (max+3):

    What’s your point of entry?

    Who’s your ally on the inside?

    What’s the weakness in the target’s defenses?

    How are you going to deceive the guardians?

    What’s your route to the target once inside?

    On a 10+, hold 3. On a 7-9, hold 2. On a miss, hold 1, and the GM will hold 1 too.

    Any member of the team can spend the hold, one for one, to declare that they had planned for this contingency, and introduce an element that will help them: this may be a feature of the environment (a trap door to the basement, a window where they’d already place a line to zip out from, etc.), a small piece of appropriate equipment they had procured beforehand (a copy of the keys to the cellars, a forged certificate, etc.), or something similar.

    The GM can spend their hold, one for one, to declare that an element of the team’s plan was inaccurate, or that the opposition had prepared for the heist.

    The list of 5 combined with the “Max+3” limit is because they will and should not need to fill in all of these: these are just options and jumping-off points for them to hatch a cool plan, but like, if they’re sneaking in into the night, they may not need a method of deception, for example, or if they’re going in pretending to be city guards, they won’t need to know a specific weakness in the target’s defense – they can get past them on the strength of their . In general, it’s probably best to interpret these pretty loosely. Also for some of the answers, they can probably just invent it on the spot, like “Oh yeah, we’re definitely coming in from the roof!”, while for others they may have to do stuff in-game, like find a shady broker with a map, or bribe someone so he’ll be their ally on the inside. This is all cool bits of prep, and then they have the skeleton of a plan, and can just jump right into the action. The hold are there to provide a cool moment of “ha, we’d totally planned for this!” even with the freewheeling structure of DW. In total, it should give you a very “cinematic” heist, if that’s the feel you’re looking for!

    For a longer game I might think of introducing a custom move about getting out of a heist and seeing if they’ve left traces behind/if the authorities are onto them, but you probably don’t need it, as this game may be a more compact affair.

  9. Alberto Muti

    I really, really like that custom move.  It lets you play out the heist like a movie where you flash back to the planning stage as you proceed through the heist and face the challenges it poses.  That’s a lot more exciting than actually planning it in-character and fits the DW flow perfectly.

  10. Alberto Muti wow, thank you so much for this post and all the info!! wish i could give you +10. I think the way you put is basically how i want to do it. I want to give the PCs the situation and maybe a couple check points, but leave it completely up to them how to do it, and go from there.

    I really liked the custom move you did, but I am unsure when they would execute it. So i am guessing it would be after they set their target, do some info gathering, and then right before they break into a place? And with their hold they can basically make it easier for themselves to break in from the start? Did i read that correctly?

  11. Dan Bryant thanks for the link Dan! I actually found that over the weekend and was reading through it. If you have any other suggested guides I would appreciate the recommendations 🙂

  12. Thanks! I genuinely think that it could be a lot of fun to play with, though I’m sure it can be adjusted 🙂 I find that DW works well when you allow it to be cinematic and loose, and a move like that helps!

    But really, I should give credit where it’s due:

    The idea of deciding only the key steps of a plan, and skipping the in-depth preparation, as well as the idea of the flasbacks, are key component of Blades in the Dark, which is a great design really.

    Similarly, I’ve recently read a couple really cool moves with the “Roll, add +1 for each of these questions you can answer” structure in games by Magpie Games, both Masks and their most recent game in beta, Velvet Gloves.

    These are all cool games, check them out! All I did was mash these ideas together, shake well and pour into a glass 😛

  13. Jonathan Burns, happy to help, I had fun toying with that concept! 🙂

    I’d say, play it by ear: show the custom move to the player right at the beginning, then do all your necessary introduction of the problem and the environment they’re in – they might investigate stuff immediately, or not. Once they say they set down and start planning the heist, then have them look at the questions once again. If they realise they still need information, feel free to break out of that, go back and have them do what they need to establish the answers they’re interested in. When they actually answer all the question they want to answer (and again, they don’t have to asnwer them all – only the ones that make sense for their plan and that they are interested in), have them roll (one character rolls for the whole team), mark how much hold they get, and then cut to the action – the plan is starting, they’re in motion! Go!

    They can use their hold at any moment to help themselves carry out the heist, making it like they’d planned for something specific while actually they’re making it up on the spot.

  14. Another possible interesting variant on this would be to ask your player who is about to leave whether he’d like to be the ‘double-crosser’.  I would do this all in plain view at the table, so the players are aware that the departing player is trying to screw over the rest of the team, but the characters are not.  Perhaps as part of preparation, have a move that gives the betrayer some hold to spend on interfering with the plan.  If you plan to continue with the rest of the group after the session, this gives a nice reason for the other player to be gone (regardless of what happens to his character) and can potentially make for some great tension during the session.

    It does require that your players are the type who would enjoy this kind of tension and won’t get too meta-gamey or competitive about it.  I also wouldn’t try to do it in secret, as this could put the players at odds with each-other, which isn’t what you want.  The conflict should be between the characters.

  15. Dan Bryant Wow, i actually really like this idea, and i think my group would probably love it as well haha.

    Do you think something like this would work: Start with 3 hold. When you would betray your companions during a heist, roll +hold. on 10+, spend 1 hold to name one part of the current plan, process, burgle, break-in, impersonation, or heist that you sabotage, and explain how you do it. on 7-9, your team notices something is going wrong and are able to counter the mistake, but not fully. The GM will say how. On 6-, spend 1 hold but you are unsuccessful in your attempt.

    What you do think?

  16. Jonathan Burns

    I think it would work best if the sabotage happens ‘on the fly’ during the heist.  Just like the players can invent things they had planned to make it successful, the saboteur can invent obstacles.  It’s a little tricky since you don’t want a 6- to be a traditional miss (since most hard moves on a miss would hinder the job); but perhaps a 6- somehow works against the saboteur’s ulterior motives.  I’m sure he wants more than just failing the mission; he must have some reason for betraying them.

    I like the idea too, but would probably take a bit of tweaking and probably playtesting to get something that works well.

  17. Building off of the “Plan the NPCs actions,” also think about how you would make sure your election wasn’t rigged if you were running it and knew about the Thieves Guild tendency to influence the vote. Don’t worry about how the PCs will break it. It not only will make the game more fun, it will also guard against plot holes.

Comments are closed.