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Adventure April: Jewel Heist (The Legacy Con)

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Remember a while back when we ran a one-shot based on the Crime World setting in Volume 2 of Fate Worlds? Well today’s April Adventure is going to be that very adventure we ran. I’ve taken my 2 pages of notes and reworked them into a format that other people (lucky you) can actually understand and use to run your own adventure.

For those of you that have not heard the podcast yet, here is the basic plot and pitch: The Baron of Bloont is auctioning several rare and valuable artifacts at an auction this weekend, most notably the rare Legacy Diamond. You simply must see this gem for yourself, but even the invitations to the auction are expensive. So you and your team have decided to steal the diamond instead. After all, a bad man like the Baron does not deserve such a prize. Get together with your crew, make a plan, and slip past all the security measures the night before the auction to steal the diamond. Oh, and try to get out alive with the prize. That’s important, too.

The group “wins” if they can get the Legacy Diamond from the mansion with at least one crew member free and able to sell the item. Alternatively they can steal enough valuables for a total of 6 wealth levels for a lesser but still somewhat rewarding victory. Also, if they prevent the Baron from proposing to Felicia Parsons, they gain an ally that would be very interested in buying their loot and setting them up with future work.

How Crime World Works

Fate Worlds Volume 2 is worth the price you pay just for Crime Worlds alone, but if you want to give crime games in Fate Core a try before you invest your money then here are the basics of what you need to know. A con is built around three things: a Score, a Mark, and a Box. The score is the valuable thing you are trying to take. The mark is the person you have to con in order to get the score. The box is the place protecting the score. So in this adventure, the party is trying to steal the Legacy Diamond (score) from the Bloont mansion vault (box) that is owned by the Baron (mark).

Adventures are not built scene-by-scene because so much of the story relies on player actions. How are the characters going to trick the Baron? What criminal skills to they bring to the table to overcome the vault? And why do they even want the Legacy Diamond in the first place? Any plan is possible if the skills and dice are there. The fun is in seeing if the party’s crazy plan works.

With that in mind, here are the details on these features for The Legacy Con:

The Score

The score in this case is the Legacy Diamond, and in order to make a Score valuable you need to understand why everyone NEEDS the Score. The Baron needs it for the auction because it is the real reason wealthy bidders are coming. Felicia Parsons (a plot NPC) needs it because it is part of the Legacy Ring, a key artifact that will unlock the secrets of her family. Other people might need it because it is a rare gem or possibly to tap into its hidden powers or even use it as a focus for a death ray.

Certainly the player characters should also NEED the Legacy diamond or they would not be plotting to steal it. Let the individual players answer why for their characters. “I want money,” is a weak reason, since there are easier things to steal. Make them get specific. “I need a big score by Saturday or the mob is going to hunt me down,” is a lot more motivating.

The beauty of Fate Core is that anything can be treated as a character (given skills and aspects), and the Score is no different. It has a High Concept of A Large Perfectly-Shaped Diamond and a Value aspect of An Untapped Source of Secrets and Power. These two aspects will aid the GM with interactions. Knowing its size lets them judge how it can be secretly transported, for example, and knowing its value helps establish NEED for random NPCs that might need to be generated to deal with PC plots.

One final note about the Score: there are treasure alternatives in the vault. After all, the Baron does not have just one diamond in his vault. While these can be used to “win” the adventure if the group still fails to obtain the actual diamond, they are really there just to tempt greedy thieves into taking more loot (and raising the risk of getting caught) for a potential higher reward.

These items are merely aspects based on their names, but if you plan to run future adventures then these items could be used as hooks or means to obtain tools or used in future cons. The items are: Carved Jade Idol, Ivory Bowl with Animal Carvings, Silver Egg with Dragon Figurine, Obsidian Hand Mirror, Engraved Gold Scarab, Beautiful Painting of an Unknown Planet.

The Mark

The Mark is the person that can get the group access to the Score (often the owner). This is a fully fleshed-out NPC with allies, enemies, skills, and aspects. For this adventure, the Mark is Ivan Grigori Ramonat. He is the one that the party will need to con in order to get the Legacy Diamond.

Ivan Grigori Ramonat wants to rule, but nowadays his title is mostly an honorary one to reflect his ownership of the Bloont Manor and his wealthy income. He demands absolute loyalty from his employees and vies for as much social power as he can muster, never quite satisfied. All of his aspects, skills, and resources are built around this concept.

Aspects

High Concept: The Power-Hungry Baron of Bloont

Trouble: I Should Be a Real Ruler of This Land

Other: Not Aware of the Score’s True Value

Skills

Superb +5: Provoke, Resources, Will

Great +4: Contacts, Investigate, Lore, Rapport

Good +3: Deceive, Empathy, Notice, Shoot

Fair +2: All other skills

Other Factors

Aids: The people that work for the Baron but are only loyal as employees. Staff and Security

Allies: These people are dedicatedly loyal to the Baron: G.W. Voss, the head of his security forces; Pete Riske the bumbling auctioneer

Enemies: These are the people most likely to willingly aid the player characters against the Baron: Felicia Parsons, who has a family claim to the Score; Graham Pike, The one who holds the most political power in the region and has no desire to share with the Baron.

Authorities: These are the people that the Baron must answer to, and thus the people that can be called on to “bust” the Baron and foil his scheme. The local police force are a nuisance, but fairly easy to overcome. The royal family and their national guard are a much more intimidating force that can arrest him and deny his attempt to gain political power.

The Box

The vault where the Score is stored is designed to both protect and show off the Baron’s private collection of wealth and powerful objects. It also has a High Aspect and a Trouble (to aid a way in). The skills of a Box are different than the standard list of skills from Fate Core, but they still function the same way (roll and add the bonus). All skill checks made by the vault are opposed skill checks initiated by a PC.

Aspects

High Concept: The Baron’s Elaborate Vault

Trouble: Also Functions as a Private Display Room

Skills

Access +2: Large and heavy turn combination vault door. Thick but simple. Roll this skill against anyone that tries to get in without the proper combination

Eyes +4:  Great cameras outside of the vault, motion sensors in the hallway, and guards posted to guard at all times with occasional guards passing by. Roll this skill against anyone near or inside the vault that does not want to be seen.

Bolts +5: Bulletproof glass display cases, weight sensor pedestals, and elaborate locks to keep every prize in the vault while beautifully displayed for all to see. Only roll this skill against someone trying to obtain the actual Score. If a PC rolls to take one of the other valuables, have them roll against a different but appropriate skill.

Getting In

After the group has done research with some rolls to learn some aspects and maybe obtained some bonus resources, the group needs to figure out how to insert themselves between the Baron and his need (trouble). Somehow they need to convince him that they can help him rule, or at least gain authority, with their aid. To keep things interesting, additional security skills for the rest of the Baron’s House are also given for when the group attempts the actual theft/con.

Possible Hooks for a Con

The Straight-Up Offer: We hear you have a problem, and we can help. The group sets up a con to trade political power for the Baron in exchange for a price. This could be the Score or a red herring to distract the Baron from the group stealing the Legacy Diamond.

The Expert: We specialize in helping people with your problem. The group sets up a con where they want to sponsor or campaign the Baron into power, setting him up for failure while they make their own plans for the diamond.

The Unwitting: How do you think we can help you? The group makes the Baron come to them, possibly as wealthy auctioneers or someone with political power that the Baron could obtain. As he is already considering proposing to Felicia Parsons in order to marry into political power, this could be done with her aid or with a PC playing a more tempting target.

Breaking the House

1st Base: (Great +5) Front door and patrolling yard security

2nd Base: (Fair +2) Creeping through the dark halls without alerting smaller patrols

3rd Base: (Good +3) Elevator Shaft leading down to the Vault Room (Box)

Notes on Running the Adventure

The Baron plans to use the diamond to secure his future political power. While he is auctioning off a number of items, he knows that the Legacy Diamond is the only reason he is getting any bidders from the politically powerful community. He will not part with the Legacy Diamond easily since it will risk his chance to schmoose with his desired peers.

A piece of advice for making a con work: Amp up the need to get the Mark hooked. If the party is rolling to obtain information on how to con, or the players are having trouble coming up with a plan, point them in this direction. Encourage them to come up with a scheme that makes the Baron feel like he needs more political standing BEFORE the auction to have a chance at interacting with political figures as an equal.

Also, be sure to avoid dead end skill rolls. The group does not have to achieve success with every roll in order to obtain victory. When the crew fails a skill challenge, create an aspect and call for an immediate skill challenge to overcome that aspect while the others can continue on. Have them fall forward, and if they fail the new overcome action then raise the difficulty of another zone or skill on the BOX as is appropriate. This back and forth tension will actually make the game much more fun then everyone getting caught and losing at the first bad roll.

For example, if the hacker wants to hack the security cameras but fails the check, create an aspect of No Outside Access. Now call for a skill check to overcome this aspect. The hacker can roll another hack check against a Superb difficulty (3 to remove an aspect plus 2 for the free invoke of that new aspect). If the hacker wins, a back door is found and the aspect is removed. If the hacker fails, they have been delayed and will have to find a new solution to the problem.

Other PCs can help overcome new obstacles, even with the immediate skill check if it seems appropriate. For example, the sneaky thief could cut a camera wire and make security open up outside access temporarily to make things work. Or the grifter could invite themselves into the security room and plug a remote access device into the security computer.

Closing Thoughts

If you want an example of how this sort of game plays out, feel free to check out our podcasts where we ran this very adventure.

If you still find yourself confused or want to hear more about burglary and con games, let us know. We can write up a few more or give you a more traditional scene-by-scene adventure to help teach players how crime games work.

As always, if you have any fun stories or questions let us know!

 

~Joshua

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Author: Burn Everything Gaming

Website that mostly produces Actual Play Podcast as well as game reviews and other musings on the topic. Hope you enjoy.

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