In Game Theft from a Merchant


Liberty's Edge

Hey all, So if this is has been covered before I apologize but in my session last night the party was in a city ruled by a pirate lord (this is a home brew setting) now the Quartermasters for the various vessels set up shop in this city when they are docked to sell their loot and in general improve the quality of the pirate fleet. There are non pirates in the city as well as dignitaries from the other two pirate lords.

Now with that set up the rogue in my party decided to steal from a Quartermaster he had met earlier in the day. After successfully getting past the security on the Quartermasters stall and getting inside he handily stole the quartermasters gold chest (it was just his on hand gold no more than 100-200 gp worth) and managed to break into the wares safe from which he took a mithril dagger, a iron wood dagger, a staff of some kind and a sword. Now of these items only the iron wood dagger is magical.

What should I do with this player? should i make him pay a in game cost for stealing a couple thousand gp worth of items? should i just settle at having the pirate company out for his head? what are your suggestions? and any suggestions for handling in game theft from NPC's?

Liberty's Edge

I would have the pirates want his head. Because if you think about it why punish him for getting past the DC checks? Doesnt make much sense but on the other hand in a real world there would be a man hunt for the items so if he shows them off the have the pirates go after him otherwise give him a clap on the back and say GJ man.

Certainly the pirates will be trying to find the culprit but my question is does the pirate company have any reason to suspect it was him? If not then I say let him have his ill gotten booty. After all thieves get away scott free everyday and if he's clever enough to make this happen then good on him.

If you think it's going to be a serious WBL issue then jigger the next few instances of loot to have things tailored more towards other party members.

- Torger

Liberty's Edge

Thanks for the replies. The pirates dont know it was him and i like the idea that they are out for the items. Seems kinda obvious now... good idea on adjusting the wealth by level for the next little bit. Thanks guys.

Lantern Lodge

Do the pirates even know who took the stuff? If not, I can't see them wanting his specific head unless the items are discovered. And the quartermaster may not want to risk his own reputation by letting the theft become common knowledge. He may want to do some investigating himself. Some opposed Bluff/Sense Motive checks may allay or arouse suspicion.

The PC overcame a challenge and gained a reward. Why do you want to do anything about that in the fist place?

If one is inclined to punish a roguish thief, ala' "You can steal from whoever you want, but you NEVER steal from the Family," don't forget that NPCs can use divination magic too!
The local water oracle or cleric of the sea god or mean arsed diviner uses spells such as locate object, divination, augury, etc. to locate the thief. Particularly, because that magical iron wood dagger actually was intended as a gift for the pirate lord's girlfriend... And nobody steals from baby, nobody!!
I also love doing stuff like that to help establish the flavor of a city and the politics of a cutthroat place (my campaign features Riddleport quiet a bit).

Liberty's Edge

VRMH wrote:
The PC overcame a challenge and gained a reward. Why do you want to do anything about that in the fist place?

The problem is though while he did overcome a challenge I dont want this setting a precedent cause it will make wealth by level all kinds of wonky.

but i do enjoy the ideas that every one else has but forward.

Silver Crusade

A smith will have put his mark on a crafted item. Should your rogue start waving around the stolen goods, have a knowledgable NPC pirate ask to see the weapon. NPC pirate sees the mark, asks how the rogue acquired the weapon, so on and so forth.

As Jeffrey Palmer said, Locate Object would find that magical Iron Wood Dagger easily enough, I am sure it is pretty unique...

1 person marked this as a favorite.

So... lotta angles to this....

First, if the rogue's alignment isn't consistent with this action, I'd want to explore that.

Second, instead of making this a player action issue, I would do my best to make it an NPC action issue. The theft is a cause. What's the effect? I use divination a lot for stuff like this. But I also use mundane detective activities too.

Depending on the Pirate Lord, and their relationship with this particular quartermaster, the consequences could range from the Lord having the quartermaster publicly lashed for allowing the theft, to the Lord publicly proclaiming the theft and putting a reward out for the capture or killing of the thief.

I might even turn this into a plot hook. The dagger is not merely magical, but is part of a set of clues to find an ancient treasure.

All I see here are opportunities... not problems.

Is there a caster capable of divination in the party? Wouldn't it be interesting if an agent of the Quartermaster came to the party to ask them to divine who stole the items? I'd like to see where that development goes, when the rogue has to tell his wizard buddy to fake a divination for him :)

This is why I love it when the players do interesting things! A "normal" loot the store can become a hook for treachery, treasure hunting, backstabbing, bounty hunts, angry pirate lords and drama. God, I love role-playing games...

What would happen if random NPCs did this? Would the pirates employ divination magic to find the goods and the thief? Or would they write it off as just ordinary 'shrinkage'. How far up the divination ladder would they go? Would they employ bounty hunters, detectives, etc? Do they have an arrangement with the thieves guild in the area? What would the thieves guild do?

The answer to all of these questions should be the same regardless of whether the deed was done by npcs or pcs. As far as wealth by level goes, consider this:

Any time PCs are at, near, or below wealth by level, they get zero to negative attention from local thieves, guilds, corrupt politicians, or the like trying to relieve them of their goods. I mean, what kind of idiot tries to mug a band of off-duty Navy Seals? Or a group with a reputation for extreme retributive violence and the ability to conduct same. But...on the other hand, if that band of ex-Seals was carrying 100 million in bearer bonds (i.e., is significantly above WBL), the risk calculus changes, doesn't it?
All of this of course assumes due dilligence on the part of the PCs---if they go passed out drunk in a common room of a seedy inn, well, some of the local thieves might well get or award Darwin awards.

Locate object

Wizard level 3, 2nd level spell, x 10 = 60 gold to cast the spell.
Sorcerer level 4, 2nd level spell x 10 = 80 gold to cast the spell.
Cleric level 5, 3rd level spell x 10 = 150 gold to cast the spell.

The Object needs to be withing range, or object is not located.

3rd level wizard = 520 foot radius circle.
4th level Sorcerer = 560 foot radius circle.
5th level Cleric = 600 foot radius circle.


If your worried about the players, making a habit out of it. Just talk to the players, and let them know, not to make a habit out of it.
They will either agree, problem solved.
They will either disagree, let the traps, pits, ghosts, cursed items, or rust monster come there way :D, let the fun begin :)

The Exchange

As others have pointed out, a character who acquires items dishonestly from what you, the GM, believed to be reasonable security measures (given the value of the items and the resources of the NPC that owned them) hasn't done anything but 'overcome a challenge', thus earning a nice XP kicker.

And as others have pointed out, this sort of extracurricular... challenge-seeking... is very likely to cause the same NPC to take whatever measures are within his power to A) get the property back and B) ensure nobody else tries the same trick, ideally by making an example of the thief. Don't assume this merchant is going to be fanatically obsessed, or sell his soul to a demon for a chance to kill the thief, or anything; but it would be astonishing if a few bounty hunters weren't offered a private contract to retrieve the items and whoever's carrying them and drag them back for a long discussion about property rights... depending on the merchant's alignment, this discussion may include a little 'freedom tickling'*.

The one point I want to stress to you as a GM is that this sort of activity, however lucrative for the player in question, was a waste of valuable game time for the rest of the group, so even if no consequences ensue you should probably let the player know that you won't be GMing this sort of thing often because the others deserve an equal share of game time.

* 'Enhanced interrogation'.

So, thieves (not Rogues) should always flee a mile from town? Noted. :P

The Exchange

Wh - oh, you mean in reference to locate object? Sure, but it's a good idea to do that anyway. Among other things, fences in the next town might be able to sell swag that's too recognizable in the burg you looted it from. May as well get some mystical side benefits too!

I'm not a fan of divination magic making theft impossible.

Fortunately, with respect to locate object, it's radius limit would be well known in the game world among professional thieves.

So, I am not sure a merchant would lay out 60gp, knowing that the item would likely have been moved.

Furthermore, the spell is blocked by the simple expediency of putting the item in a lead box. Any self respecting thieves guild would keep their significant loot in one, at least until they could spirit it out of the area for sale in a distant market.

Now, that merchant is probably paying protection money to the local thieves guild. So he goes to them and says, 'why did you steal from me; I payed my taxes'.
They in turn become upset with whomever is stealing on their turf.

And _that_ is how I think I would keep this from getting out of control. Because fighting the thieves guild can be a fun adventure, unlike going to jail.


Lincoln Hills wrote:

The one point I want to stress to you as a GM is that this sort of activity, however lucrative for the player in question, was a waste of valuable game time for the rest of the group, so even if no consequences ensue you should probably let the player know that you won't be GMing this sort of thing often because the others deserve an equal share of game time.


It’s simple. You are either a Adventurer where you gain your wealth thru loot and rewards, or your are a Professional Thief where you make your wealth thru your Profession rolls. Which does the player want to be? Also note that the loot he got is his WBL for several levels, explain that stealing like this does not increase your WBL.

And most importantly- D&D is a cooperative game. Just make it clear you aren’t going to run one on one games. Lincoln Hills is 100% correct.

Does the Player know the iron wood dagger is magic? If no, then just skip the magic part.

Unleash Izchak's Wrath upon him!

I would let a player get away with this if he or she were clever about it, but I'm going to get tired of dealing with it every time the group spends the night in town - if that becomes the case. It would not be a big deal if it takes as much time as another player getting the spotlight while they interact with an important NPC, follow up on a personal quest, or research spells/craft items. The time investment is important. It would also not a big deal if the criminal activities are prompted by fun rather than greed. I see it as a great opportunity if it is fun for the other players too.

Liberty's Edge

All great advice. Yea no one saw him take it other than a drunk pirate who was supposed to watch the store and he was too drunk to remember much. Also it should be slightly easier to sus out who done it since this is a psionics campaign and arcane magic doesnt exist yet. But yea the pirate lord is not pleased after hearing about the dagger and has decided to flog the quartermaster and leave him strung up out side the city for several days as punishment. he has also sent a tracker on the trail of the dagger which means investigating the store and using his powers to track it down. (the traacker is a mulit-classed ranger/ cypher prestige classed into sighted seeker all from the dreamscarred press material.) so yea it will be fun to see how the players react to this especially since the dagger is now a key to finding a council of druids that they are hunting for.

Silver Crusade

It seems rather counter-intuitive to tell a rogue that stealing won't do anything to help his WBL. It's like the GM saying "I don't like how you play your character, so I'm PENALIZING YOU." The rogue now has to risk his life adventuring AND then stealing on the side just to make the same amount of wealth his fellow party members do? That doesn't make any sense at all. A rogue can be a professional thief AND an adventurer at the same time. You don't necessarily need to go into nitty gritty time wasting details on every sojourn the rogue takes, that is what profession checks are for. It's like the healer going to temples and making a wage off of healing that week. If it is something worth considerable gp, then it becomes part of the story, or stealing comes with cause and effect. No rogue can go around every single town, stealing everything in sight without slipping up and landing himself in jail or worse, and then that becomes part of the story.

Adjusting loot tables to deter good roleplay sounds like you as the DM are wasting your time because you're hung up on "fairness" in wealth. If the game was fair in terms of wealth then everyone would start with the same gold at character creation. Playing a rogue should mean your skill and wit garners you more access to blackmarket items, plus more money, etc. If that is the type of rogue the player wishes to play.

Everything you're worried about getting out of hand can be fixed by roleplaying, adding awesome story elements to your campaign or simplifying it down to a skill check. The rogue doesn't need to be punished.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Advice / In Game Theft from a Merchant All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.