Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Rickel's guide to Pick Pocketing for Role Playing Games

Pickpocketing is a much overlooked aspect of thieves bag of tricks.  Players may find the risk of being detected does not out weigh the rewards.  Game Masters would generally be unwise to hinge completion of an adventure on the party thief succeeding on a single die roll.  In first edition Dungeons and Dragons the best possible chance for a first level thief picking pockets was so low players would not consider an attempt until several levels higher.  The thieves guild game did a great job of expanding pickpocketing rules but that material can be difficult to find and is intrinsic to rules of the era.  I want to express my debt to the Gamelords material in writing this post.  My goal is to look at pickpocketing in depth with a eye toward modern games. 

Any time a pickpocket check is made there is potential for a great deal of drama is introduced to the gaming session.  Players, even of low level, should be able to create situations where odds are in their favor.  The game master should feel new avenues of role playing are opened up to them.  A ball or social evening could becomes a goldmine of thievery.

Many games have presented pickpocketing as a skill check that measures the ability of the rogue attempting the theft.  There was the the assumption that failure would be bad, but little was concrete.  I would advise before any roll is made four quests need to be answered.

1. What is being stolen?
2. What is the disposition of the target?
3. What are the environmental conditions?
4. Who else might see?

What is being stolen?  Cutting a coin purse or lifting a wallet are easy tasks for professional thieves.  Taking a watch or jewelry that is being worn if far more difficult.  Removing a dagger from under a belt is going to be easier than removing it from a sheath at least without detection. 

  • Bag        +2    +10%
  • Rings,necklace    -1    -5%
  • Earrings    -2    -10%
  • Small weapon    -3    -15%
  • Large weapon    -5    -25%

What is the disposition of the target? Stilling from someone in a drunk stupor is far easier than someone on the alert.  I wear my wallet in my front pocket and will often check to assure it is in the correct location.  Assume items in hand as not being able to be pick pocketed.  Rogues or anyone whom professionally steals has and additional state that can be applied on top of their disposition.

  • Drunk        +10    +50%
  • Distracted    +3    +15%
  • Apprehensive    -2    -10%
  • Alert        -4    -20%
  • Rogue        -1    -5%

What are the environmental conditions?  Darkness and crowds aid the rogue in their attempt.  Also a particularly engrossing activity can help make the job easier. Apply all conditions that are present.

  • Daylight    -2    -10%
  • Dusk        +2    +10%
  • Night        +3    +15%
  • Crowded street    +6    +30%
  • Alone        -1    -5%
Who else might see?  People generally will alert the target if they witness theft.  The problem is most folks are not often looking.  As we see above crowds actually make theft harder to detect.  If the target is part of a host apply -1 or -5% to account for the added difficulty of being an outsider.  If a bodyguard is present at the time of a theft; the rogue makes a single skill roll that is first used to determine success and then used as part of a contested skill roll against the guards alertness.

There are a few special situations I wanted to address.  Pickpocketing can also be used to plant an item on a person.  This is usually just popping an item into a pocket.  You can apply penalties for larger items as you feel is best.  Spells also can mimic the above effects.  While others will not see some sort of alertness check should be allowed by the target to feel a shift of the weight on their person.  You also have a few groups or individuals I call amenable observers.  These can be anyone from a culture that does not have solid ownership of individual property like kinder, tricksters and other thieves.  These observers often represent even more role playing opportunity.  Thieves will not rat you out but may demand a cut.  A guild may take even stronger steps to assure no one poaches from their patch.  A spy network would perhaps coerce the players co operation .

Monday, July 20, 2015

Never silent my muse

I didn't think I would stick
to this thing so long,
but I know the stories come together
better with you there. 

I wouldn't be lost to the country
if the sunset didn't hang so well. 
I wouldn't need to be lost
if I didn't need be undone. 

I would be at home
in everything I own. 
I would make peace
if I was peaceful.

Lets cut the car off
and walk on home.
It's not too late
I don't want to be alone

Sunset hangs in the country
Pink and broken blue
each made for the other
another day made anew.

Monday, July 13, 2015

I Keep Forgetting

In the far flung veils of autumn is where my home decays.  Time and gravity chewing at the structures that once held me safe.  I am a wing and undone with the winter rain. Unsettled and thrown to flight.  Come to lands forgotten by light.  Give me peace and love but regret and guilt are laid at my door.  How am I to repair when you choose to rush headlong into the fray.  Away through the summer is where I will stay.

Monday, July 06, 2015

The Rose

Last night's true detective was weird, real weird.  first off they failed to execute Colin Farrel, missed opportunity.  I like the thing they are setting up where the actors represent three state organizations trying to stick it to the others, but any Colin Farrel death is a good thing. 

The dream sequence that came out was wacky.  I though OK Elvis but the blue suit was clearly wrong.  The voice was also country and too me back to forced drives in rural California with my parents.  The car would be a Pontiac Bonneville and I would be the dead man Casper.  I am not sure but i think they lip synced over Conway Twitty.  I tracked that info down I couldn't pull that it was Conway off my head but it quickly registered that it was a traditional country star.  I just couldn't place whom it was, I guess i have never been that far before , bum bum bum bum.  I checked and Jake La Botz is actually playing Conway per the imdb credits.  weird man weird.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Skill UP! Roleplaying

I have been checking out the numerous monthly crate projects folks are advertising. I really like them but what I would love to see is a crate that is sent to me with a new Hobby or Skill to try out each month.  I actually passed this along to the folks at Loot Crate.  I doubt they will do anything with it so I figured I would create a DIY version.

This first month I will start with something near and dear to my heart; Roleplaying!  I am going to give you a list of the basics you are going to need to get started.  I have looked for cheaper or entry level products.  This gives you the basics without too much of cash outlay.  All the products to follow are new and can be purchases through their producer or

DICE: Dice are a mandatory component of role playing game.  Even if you are playing a dice less game you need to own dice to be in the milieu of role playing.

GAME:  You are going to need a game to actually play.  So why am I putting forth Splicers as that game?  Cost is the first reason.  A complete game in a single book for under 25$ is a great deal in this day and age.  Also I have always thought the palladium system was a great starting point for the new gamer.  All of the rules are easy to apply and adjudicate.  Percentage chance rolls for skills is something everyone can wrap their head around.  The combat system is simple but plays big and over the top.  This is a great choice for teenagers as it offers a Mondo experience they often enjoy.  Finally the rules are very reflective of the role playing experience as a whole.

GRAPH PAPER: We really don't use this much anymore.  You can download full adventures and information from a ton of websites.  But it's still very much in our blood.  You are going to need to draw up at least one dungeon or villain infested warehouse district.   I don't think you can call yourself a game master if you haven't.  I really don't want to know in all truth!

DORKNESS RISING:  This is not something I have seen but it is said to include some spot on depictions of gamers.  I personally find the gaming scene in Freaks and Geeks a bit to close for comfort.  I don't know how much self loathing I want to conjure up.

The last few odds and ends you are probably going to find around your house.  Pencils for writing this all up.  Pencil Sharpeners for the game session.  Erasers for mistakes and hit points.  I think that will total up to somewhere around 55$ bucks which is a fair new hobby.  You only really need the Game and dice so that is around 30$ which is very fair.  You can not get a good set of darts for that.