20 jobs for a group of low-level thieves


Advice


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Low-level thieves, not rogues. It's a mixed party -- rogue, bard, monk, wizard -- they're just all *thieves*. And I want to come up with some short jobs for them. The idea is that they can do two or three jobs per session during breaks between the episodes of the larger plot. So each job should be short -- something that can be played out in an hour, with no more than 2-3 combat or social encounters. An ideal job will be short, will have an interesting twist or challenge, and can get all the PCs engaged. Here's an example:

1) Steal a head. Someone has hired your group to steal the head of an executed criminal. The heads are posted on stakes above the local jail. Someone has to climb up there and steal it.

Challenge: The heads are protected by a gargoyle and also a glyph or warding or similar magical trap.

Possible clever shortcut: if you wear the holy symbol of the obscure god of executioners, you won't trigger the trap and the gargoyle will hesitate before attacking. You can learn this by bribing or enchanting the executioner.

Twist: the purchaser says he wants the head for one thing (decent burial) but really wants it for something else (cast speak with dead to learn the location of a treasure).

Anyone?

Doug M.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

See The Kidnap Job for ideas.


That's a fine scenario, but "PCs need to rescue a kidnapped PC" is not what I'm looking for.

Anyone else?

Doug M.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

2) The House Always Wins

A big-time gambler has a Rube Goldberg-esque plan to wildly cheat in a casino and needs to subcontract out some of the complicated parts. His plan will fall to pieces in the middle, but the PCs will be in the casino with a perfect distraction to pull a quick job if they're on the ball.

No, their employer won't hang around to pay them.

3) Get Out

"So I took the wrong wagon from the stableyard," (nudge, wink) "and there was this big chest in the back. Full of bones mostly. Now the Knucks want me strung up. Help a gal get out of town without being seen, would you? I can pay with some old gold headdresses from a tomb if you're interested."

Possible complications include a ghost.

4) Crackdown

A large number of members of some lawful cult/religious order have come into town to assist the guards. You can gain status in the local underworld by pulling flashy tricks on them and getting away with it, or just duck your head and try not to be persecuted.

5) Fire Lizard Season

Someone's offering a bounty on live dragons. No, not the ones the size of a house, the little pyraustas which infest the city, especially near the smiths. Collect all you can?

Some of them it turns out are actually will o'wisps under a magical disguise. This may be the reason for the bounty.

***

I could write stuff like this all day.


avr wrote:

2) The House Always Wins

A big-time gambler has a Rube Goldberg-esque plan to wildly cheat in a casino and needs to subcontract out some of the complicated parts. His plan will fall to pieces in the middle, but the PCs will be in the casino with a perfect distraction to pull a quick job if they're on the ball.

No, their employer won't hang around to pay them.

Seed, could work, might not be a good fit at low levels.

Quote:

3) Get Out

"So I took the wrong wagon from the stableyard," (nudge, wink) "and there was this big chest in the back. Full of bones mostly. Now the Knucks want me strung up. Help a gal get out of town without being seen, would you? I can pay with some old gold headdresses from a tomb if you're interested."

Possible complications include a ghost.

My tentative "graduation exercise" for this guys is The Lyrie Scenario, which is pretty much this.

Quote:

4) Crackdown

A large number of members of some lawful cult/religious order have come into town to assist the guards. You can gain status in the local underworld by pulling flashy tricks on them and getting away with it, or just duck your head and try not to be persecuted.

This is more wallpaper / metaplot than a short scenario.

Quote:

5) Fire Lizard Season

Someone's offering a bounty on live dragons. No, not the ones the size of a house, the little pyraustas which infest the city, especially near the smiths. Collect all you can?

Some of them it turns out are actually will o'wisps under a magical disguise. This may be the reason for the bounty.

Oh I like this one. Not really for thieves as such, but I love the twist. "Something very different and much more dangerous under a magical disguise" is always a good idea, and the WWs could lure people into something nasty. There's a low-level but really unpleasant monster called a Hungry Pit that would fit perfectly. Again, not exactly for thieves, but I could do something with this.

Quote:
I could write stuff like this all day.

Please continue!

Doug M.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Someone paid to steal an artifact from a museum, but the stolen artifact was fake. Now the PCs are hired to determine whether the first set of thieves switched the artifact with a fake to keep the real one for themselves, or whether the museum had a fake artifact.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

4a) you might have your Father Chains figure come up with a scheme to humiliate the Hellknight hangers-on or whatever; getting them into possession of stolen wine then having the guards bust in as they raise a toast, for example.

7) True Charity

There's a cleric who works for the city casting truth spells. She also heals cuts and minor injuries for free among the poor. She gets some respect for this, but not a lot; she never spends a bent copper in the poor districts or gives anything to beggars as she walks around in rich robes and glittering jewelery and a pair of guards at her heels. An annoyed spouse of a man convicted on the strength of her spells has put a bounty on her holy symbol.

The cleric has a friend in low places willing to act on her word.

8) Buyer Beware

A young noble is very annoyed that the magic on his new sword failed. If someone could go into the slums and get his aunt's best tea-set that he traded to that damn duergar back he'd be most appreciative.

Traps aren't exactly a twist but are the danger here. Try not to get the tea-set broken.

9) After The Flood

The largest silk-dealer in the city has lost her stock after a flood damaged most of it. She needs to fulfill a contract but the only major shipment passing through in time is literally passing though and won't sell at any price.

There's a fey in the caravan or ship who will try to play pranks on thieves. Also just shifting heavy bolts of silk may be a problem if everyone in the party dumped Str.

10) Ashes to Ashes

After a fight burned out an inn a former resident wants a cache recovered from her former room there. It was in the fireplace which she can see is still standing, and it was fireproof naturally. She's not the owner and has been denied access.

The main danger is falling beams, collapsing masonry, and a local landowner who's afraid that his own property next door (which was miraculously spared) will be damaged by falling beams etc, from the inn. He's keeping an eye out to shoo intruders off or to shoot them if necessary.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

11) Not The Hair!

Another thief wants to impersonate a particular businessman but doesn't have the time to get a convincing outfit. Help them out (and get paid) by stealing one complete outfit, including one of their distinctive hairpieces.

The hairpieces are actually animate hairs who share the job of controlling the businessman. This is not known to the thief. They may try to ambush and control wealthy looking PCs, or just to run and hide. Depending on the evil of the GM they may have mesmerist levels.

12) Paper Trail

The Wizard's Guild is about to receive an order of the special papers and inks they use for spellbooks. Replacing them with ordinary paper & ink without being detected will make a healthy profit while confusing the issue of who is responsible for the loss.

An investigator will show up immediately. She's not trying to recover the paper or even to find the thieves, just to find out where it vanished to establish responsibility for the shippers' insurers, but paranoid PCs are likely to try to interfere in her work.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

13) Lost Will and Testament

Ardolf, a young noble, has been living the high life in town for some years. He has just received word that his elder brother Ferdias is about to arrive in town with their recently deceased father's Will, which Ardolf believes will deprive him of his inheritance and high living standards. He contracts the PCs to steal the Will and replace it with a forgery.

Twist: Ferdias arrives on a ship which stays moored 100 yards offshore, and he keeps the Will on board. He has some hired guards.

Twist 2: Ferdias is actually a Doppelganger who murdered the original. He refuses to meet Ardolf in person, knowing that he would know the difference. The ship's captain suspects something fishy is going on.

The PCs might of course substitute their own forged Will.

14) Spice of Unlife

A new restaurant has opened in town, attracting rave reviews. The food is expensive, exotic and enticing. All the best people are seen there stuffing themselves; Chespy Skipler the halfling chef is feted around the town.

The town's other expensive restaurant (run by the mob) is feeling the pinch, and wants to deal with Chespy. Murdering him would be too obvious, so the proprietor contracts the PCs to infiltrate the kitchen and spoil the food, maybe by swapping the spices for something less wholesome.

Twist: Chespy is a cleric of Urgathoa, leading the good folk of the town into gluttony. And some of the exotic meat is (dun dun dunnn!) human. In time, gluttons will turn into real ghouls. The PCs might spot the unusual cuts of meat, or that some of the spices radiate magic and evil.


Raid the morgue

Coppers want to cast a speak with dead on a fellow mate that meet a messy end. Need you to go nab his body before he can talk his fool head off.

Guards to get by, a door or 3 to pick with alarm (traps) to get through. Then have guard dogs, constructs, or something else guarding the bodies. Skip the undead, they'll expect those.

Then the escape with the body. Which could turn into a chase scene.


avr wrote:
4a) you might have your Father Chains figure come up with a scheme to humiliate the Hellknight hangers-on or whatever; getting them into possession of stolen wine then having the guards bust in as they raise a toast, for example.

One thing these scenarios run up against is the Elliot problem from Leverage. Elliot was the fighter, and there always needed to be someone for him to fight. The weaker episodes would just have him beating up some guards or something, but they got very creative sometimes.

Quote:

7) True Charity

There's a cleric who works for the city casting truth spells. She also heals cuts and minor injuries for free among the poor. She gets some respect for this, but not a lot; she never spends a bent copper in the poor districts or gives anything to beggars as she walks around in rich robes and glittering jewelery and a pair of guards at her heels. An annoyed spouse of a man convicted on the strength of her spells has put a bounty on her holy symbol.

The cleric has a friend in low places willing to act on her word.

To make this fun you want the cleric to be obnoxious and/or a hypocrite. A cleric of Abadar, for instance, HAS to charge for services and presumably everybody knows this. Possibly a cleric of some LG god who is herself LN and, frankly, unpleasant -- services to the poor are delivered _de haut en bas_ with a condescending lecture.

Here's one possible wrinkle: she's pretending to be a cleric of a good god, but is actually worshipping an evil one. So swiping her holy symbol won't shut down her spellcasting -- she has another, hidden one. It might force her to reveal her true affiliation, though...

This one definitely has potential. The problem I see is that it too easily turns into a simple sleight of hand / pick pocket roll. Okay, you have to distract the bodyguards... add a Bluff roll. Still pretty straightforward. Needs some thought.

Quote:

8) Buyer Beware

A young noble is very annoyed that the magic on his new sword failed. If someone could go into the slums and get his aunt's best tea-set that he traded to that damn duergar back he'd be most appreciative.

Traps aren't exactly a twist but are the danger here. Try not to get the tea-set broken.

The fragility of the MacGuffin is what makes this one interesting. Possibly the duergar is a rival who needs to be taken down a peg.

Quote:

9) After The Flood

The largest silk-dealer in the city has lost her stock after a flood damaged most of it. She needs to fulfill a contract but the only major shipment passing through in time is literally passing though and won't sell at any price.

There's a fey in the caravan or ship who will try to play pranks on thieves. Also just shifting heavy bolts of silk may be a problem if everyone in the party dumped Str.

This one may be challenging for low-level thieves. You'd reasonably expect a major shipment of very valuable goods to be well guarded, no? May work if there's one important guard (a djinni or some such) and the PCs are given a way past it.

Quote:

10) Ashes to Ashes

After a fight burned out an inn a former resident wants a cache recovered from her former room there. It was in the fireplace which she can see is still standing, and it was fireproof naturally. She's not the owner and has been denied access.

The main danger is falling beams, collapsing masonry, and a local landowner who's afraid that his own property next door (which was miraculously spared) will be damaged by falling beams etc, from the inn. He's keeping an eye out to shoo intruders...

And there's something else -- a haunt, or maybe some sort of fire-resistant spirit, or anyway something to complicate matters further.

These are very promising. Thank you! (And feel free to continue...)

Doug M.


I hadn't thought you had a player who thinks Jayne was the coolest part of Mal's crew - at least from the class list in another thread there wasn't a fighter. And this does seem to be about your game rather than trying to write a generic list. BTW, do you want these as detailed as your 'Lyrie scenario'? Assuming what character levels if so?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Look up a random episode of Leverage and you'll probably get something fun.


avr wrote:

11) Not The Hair!

Another thief wants to impersonate a particular businessman but doesn't have the time to get a convincing outfit. Help them out (and get paid) by stealing one complete outfit, including one of their distinctive hairpieces.

The hairpieces are actually animate hairs who share the job of controlling the businessman. This is not known to the thief. They may try to ambush and control wealthy looking PCs, or just to run and hide. Depending on the evil of the GM they may have mesmerist levels.
{. . .}

Linkified for your convenience.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

To be honest, I had a different American entertainment product in mind. The guy with orange hair & skin.


^The combination of both is perfectly plausible.


avr wrote:
I hadn't thought you had a player who thinks Jayne was the coolest part of Mal's crew - at least from the class list in another thread there wasn't a fighter.

No, but the monk needs to do something...

Quote:
And this does seem to be about your game rather than trying to write a generic list.

It's both. I'll probably develop one or two of these into short scenarios, and then the list itself is fun to have. -- So, on one hand, you could totally stop now. OTOH, it's fun reading these and thinking about them.

Quote:

BTW, do you want these as detailed as your 'Lyrie scenario'? Assuming what character levels if so?

Oh no no. The outline in the OP is what I'm looking for. Job; challenge(s); possible shortcuts, if any; twist. One or two sentences each, boom, done.

Low levels, as it says on the tin. It's actually challenging! You can't use high level monsters or NPCs, or if you do, you need to provide a neutralizer or a way around them. And you have to think of a reason why this is something a group of low-level thieves can deal with; and if it's valuable, you need a reason why higher-level thieves haven't been there and done it already. A bit trickier than it seems at first glance.

Doug M.


blahpers wrote:
Look up a random episode of Leverage and you'll probably get something fun.

Leverage is definitely one inspiration here! But it's actually kinda hard to do Leverage with low level characters in PF.

Doug M.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

16) Overpayment

The Bix Street gang sell hallucinogens and run a protection racket. Recently a 'confused' racketeer high on their product demanded a second payment in the same week, and took a bunch of heirlooms in lieu of the cash which victims didn't have on hand. One of the victims found the gang's secret hideout - not on Bix - and wants their heirloom back.

The hideout is underground (whether basement or tunnels or sunken houses depends on your setting's city) and is full up with fungi and similar, shriekers and giant amoebas and whatever else is a reasonable challenge for your PCs. Shriekers going off will bring the gang running.

17) Parade Day

"There's a big parade for some high muckety-muck coming through. You know what that means? It means all the guards will be out in the parade or the crowds. The room with the evidence for the trial next week, that's just locked. I want you to burn it out. Just don't get seen and by Pharasma's curls, don't kill anyone."

Greedy players may consider that the other evidence may be valuable. It's too hot to sell or even keep on hand though and at there's at least one cursed magic item in there.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

18) "I sent in someone who, well, he's no longer with us, who stole the wrong items, on a job. The duchess returns from her winter estate in three days, and will notice her favorite jewels missing, and we can't have that, because the duke will burn the poor quarter to the ground to please her. These are the royal jewels. Your job is to break into the manor and *put them back.*"


There may be a lack of obvious twists in my 16). Alchemy/distillation equipment which has a tendency to catch fire when there's combat next to it might help.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Mudfoot wrote:

13) Lost Will and Testament

Ardolf, a young noble, has been living the high life in town for some years. He has just received word that his elder brother Ferdias is about to arrive in town with their recently deceased father's Will, which Ardolf believes will deprive him of his inheritance and high living standards. He contracts the PCs to steal the Will and replace it with a forgery.

Historical trivia: exactly this happened to King George II of Great Britain. He and his father, George I, hated each other. When George I died, he left a will cutting his son out of his estate entirely -- meaning, George II would still become King, but he wouldn't inherit a huge chunk of royal property. However, the person responsible for the will brought it straight to George II. That person was lavishly rewarded... and the will disappeared, never to be seen again.

Anyway: this is a promising seed that could be tweaked in all sorts of ways! If we want to keep with the general theme of "PCs are the good-ish guys", then either the late parent or the will-bearing brother should be a wrong 'un. Or both. And the brother who stands to be disinherited should be innocent and good. The complication here will come not from the client betraying the PCs, but from something else -- a rival gang of thieves, perhaps. Or maybe the sudden unexpected appearance of Buddy the Shark, guardian of the docks...

Doug M.


avr wrote:

16) Overpayment

The Bix Street gang sell hallucinogens and run a protection racket. Recently a 'confused' racketeer high on their product demanded a second payment in the same week, and took a bunch of heirlooms in lieu of the cash which victims didn't have on hand. One of the victims found the gang's secret hideout - not on Bix - and wants their heirloom back.

The hideout is underground (whether basement or tunnels or sunken houses depends on your setting's city) and is full up with fungi and similar, shriekers and giant amoebas and whatever else is a reasonable challenge for your PCs. Shriekers going off will bring the gang running.

They're gnomes, and they're trying to avoid the Bleaching, which makes them desperate and dangerous. They're holding up other gnomes, which is why the authorities mostly don't care -- gnomes lie a lot, everybody knows that.

The gang leader is actually a derro alchemist. He's got the gnomes convinced he can beat the Bleaching. Actually he's insane and is just trying to demonstrate some deranged theory or other. He's using the money to buy alchemical supplies from the Underdark, but a fair amount of loot is just lying around in his lair.

This works even better if the alchemist is a bomb-thrower and the McGuffin heirloom is something really fragile, like the china tea set mentioned a while back.

Quote:

17) Parade Day

"There's a big parade for some high muckety-muck coming through. You know what that means? It means all the guards will be out in the parade or the crowds. The room with the evidence for the trial next week, that's just locked. I want you to burn it out. Just don't get seen and by Pharasma's curls, don't kill anyone."

Greedy players may consider that the other evidence may be valuable. It's too hot to sell or even keep on hand though and at there's at least one cursed magic item in there.

This is for when they're at least 3rd level, maybe higher -- you'd expect an evidence locker to have respectable defenses.

Doug M.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

These should work at any lowish level.

19) If Something Can Go Wrong It Should

A man wants his brother to miss a family meeting in the next town over. To be thoroughly deniable he wants you to avoid affecting the brother with anything; his horse, any of his gear when it's not on him, city guards and servants and carriage drivers are all fair game though (assuming you can get away with it of course.)

20) A Shaggy Dog Tale

A misanthropic woman left her considerable wealth to a trust set up to feed and protect Princess. To be clear, Princess is a natural, non-magical small dog. The trust board (who are paid for their time; they have an interest in this) are afraid her relatives will try to have Princess killed to make contesting the will easier. The case will be resolved within a week - can you keep Princess alive that long?

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Advice / 20 jobs for a group of low-level thieves All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.