Making thieves in tabletop rpg’s more interesting is going beyond just picking pockets and opening locks. Inspired from a post from Grotonomu. 


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Random Encounter

Mike Watkins phones one in

Edwin emails us on D&D Survey

“Some of my worst gaming experiences have been with home brew adventures.” —Brett   “And the rest were with published adventures.” —No Shit

That was a fun episode.  I enjoyed hearing some of Brett’s responses to the survey.  One comment on the world building piece.  I have been frustrated as a player and seen my table get stuck as a GM with the PC-based hooks if they either pull in opposite directions or if they don’t lend themselves to pulling the entire group.  It generally works out fine if there is only one, but if two PCs have strong reasons for going in opposite directions, blggh.  Once when I accidentally did this, I had the players make up secondary PCs so that both primary PCs could high off to their corners of the world without leaving the rest of the players twiddling their thumbs.  I’m a big fan of PC-based hooks, but cautious about having conflicting personal hooks at the same time and even more cautious about that hook that can really best be resolved by one PC but requires significant in-game time or travel.

Cheers all!


Beholders Horde comments on Why Do PC’s Wander Off?

One thing I have found very useful in times the Players go a direction I’m not totally prepared for is a few level appropriate non-plot affecting encounters. A micro dungeon, or a small investigation side track for a village they pass on the way to the unexpected journey.

This can often get the group to the end of a session instead of having to stop early because of an unplanned turn.

Some simple little encounter say like a little girl wants the PCs to get her kitten out of the tree. Once the tree is located the kitten is a manticore, that is now aggressive towards the party believing the group has kidnapped the child. “You can’t hurt Fluffy!” Extra credit/treasure for creative roleplay!

Could be a good place to drop a plot clue out of the blue.

Yeap it rhymed. Lol

Phil comments on PC’s wandering off

I was thinking about Sean’s comment, how if you give the players less options, they’re less likely to go in unexpected directions. Definitely. As the GM, if you hold out the shiny lure the players may bite on it, even if it’s earlier than you wanted or expected them to.

I think you, Brett, talked about how providing fewer options to explore, to keep the game on track, isn’t railroading. Again, definitely. You hope the players trust you, as the GM, to have something cool planned. You don’t present multiple options cause the thing before them makes sense within the context of the campaign and playing it is gonna be killer.

I’m running two separate Punk Apocalyptic games. Rob Schwalb wrote it. It uses Shadow of the Demon Lord mechanics. It’s visceral. The game moves at a good pace. I’m ripping off lots of Mad Max and Escape from New York references. The players love it.

So far, for both campaigns I haven’t had to produce separate missions. The hooks are sometimes presented differently, due to how previous missions have been played out, but the mission objectives are the same.

What’s important is the players have the agency to accomplish those missions however they please. And they have been drastically different! One group uses trickery, deceit and more targeted hits against the enemy while the other tends to go off flame throwers blazing. One group identifies dangerous areas and avoids it. The other explores it. One group falls for the bait and gets ambushed, the other doesn’t and through investigation locates the enemy base and ambushes them. It’s brilliant.

For me, that’s been one of the great surprises of the campaign. Three missions in and each has played out so differently.


This may eventually lead to the campaigns splitting off. A secondary threat is starting to be established in one game due to player activity while in another it hasn’t come up. That might grow in importance. It depends on what the players continue to do. We’ll see.

In the meantime, as a GM who has never done this before, playing two very different games with the same outcomes has been pretty awesome.

Beholders Horde on Thieves

One of my favorite things is the forgery kit a rouge can have. I love the roleplaying opportunities a good forged note or document can get started. Even just an innocent note form the local guard captain can really liven up a session. Lol. I also like to provide encounters where more than just the rouge get to try their hand at roguish things like pulling con game style stuff to buy/sell questionable goods. Some players can do a good “use car salesman” roleplay. “Really this buggy was owned by a little old elf from Pasadena! “


Grotonomus on Thieves

A specific adventure to look at is DCC Free RPG Day 2012 ‘The Jewler that Dealt in Stardust”.

That is a weird and fun thieves adventure built around the burglary of a storefront in Punjar the original DCC city setting. Punjar is basically Lankhmar and has elements that fit in with Avalon as well.

Also there was the Goodman Games ‘Greatest Thieves in Lankhmar’ Kickstarter this summer.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the funds to back it, but I’m hoping I can buy it for Christmas this year.

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About the Author
The 'S' of Gaming and BS podcast. Besides producing and hosting the show, Sean enjoys long walks on the beach, running rpg's, and killing player...characters.