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RoleplayingTips.com Pick Pockets Contest
« on: May 16, 2010, 12:40:41 PM »

 e-mail: johnn@roleplayingtips.com
 web site: http://www.roleplayingtips.com

Pick Pockets Contest = Win NBOS Software

 Time for another contest. The theme is items you'd find when
 picking pockets. But there's a twist, as I'll outline below.
 But first, what are the prizes?

 Thanks to new ezine sponsor NBOS, three winners will be
 selected at random and each gets their pick of one NBOS
 software title. Visit http://www.nbos.com to see what GM
 software you can choose if you win. Perhaps Fractal Mapper
 will help your campaign mapping. Maybe Astrosynthesis is
 what you need to chart the galaxy. Have you checked out The
 Keep yet?

 Deadline = Monday, May 31. There's not much time for this
 one, so get your entries in now - multiple entries are
 welcome.


 Pick Pockets + Hook

 Imagine you found a fortune cookie in every pocket you
 picked. Instead of a future prediction or lottery numbers
 though, you find a juicy detail about your world, your
 enemies or your quest.

 Every GM's dream:

 "In his pockets you find [roll, roll] 23 gold pieces and a
 handful of rice. One grain looks rotten due to its brownish
 tinge."

 "Oooh! I throw away the money and investigate that brown
 piece of rice. Does it have any markings? Has it been carved
 into a shape? I look very closely at it in the best light I
 can find."

 When a character picks a pocket and comes away with some
 loot, try to use that treasure to enhance the game with
 details and hooks. Sure you can roll up 2d20 copper pieces
 and a bit of lint, but that's boring. Liven up your games
 with interesting pocket contents.

 For example, in a past campaign a pocket contained a locket
 with a painted portrait of a beautiful young lady in it. The
 PC investigated and learned where the lady was. He paid her
 a visit and this spawned a new side quest, which was to
 eventually tie back into one of the main plots (which was
 unplanned but I seized the opportunity of the PC's
 interest). Unfortunately, the PC died before he could take
 things further.

 Here are examples of types of details you can add to pocket
 contents to enhance your campaigns:

 Types of Details
 * Clues
 * Answers (i.e. a detail finally explained)
 * World development
 * Plot development
 * Race and class development
 * Character development
 * NPC development

 Types of Objects
 * Notes
 * Lists
 * Maps
 * Names or initials
 * Special material that can be traced
 * Picture, drawing
 * Symbol or rune
 * Letters
 * Cards
 * Poem
 * Unique item that can be traced

 Remember that the pick pocket victim is rarely killed in
 RPG. So, based on what is found in his pockets, the PCs can
 return to attempt to parley, shake down, follow or
 investigate the person.

 The pocket contents do not have to shoulder the burden of
 supplying a lot of answers. The contents just provide enough
 information to help the PCs decide to take further action.
 Whether the action gets the group closer to their goals or
 not is up to you and the pocket contents. A red herring once
 in awhile helps players stay on their toes.

 Pocket contents do not have to lead the PCs back to the
 victim, either. The interesting detail can point the
 characters to groups, other NPCs, locations or keywords for
 research. The detail could also reframe existing
 information, helping the PCs with a breakthrough by new
 interpretation of known facts. It would get repetitious for
 pocket contents to always lead the PCs back to the victim
 for follow-up action, so make contents details point to all
 aspects of your campaign.

 Sometimes a PC chooses a random victim. They're bored or
 need more wealth, and they either target a random NPC or you
 let them know a juicy target just walked by. Sometimes,
 however, the victim is chosen for a reason. In either case,
 you can use pocket contents to propel your game forward.
 Just avoid too much of this with random victims because
 sense of disbelief disappears once every pocket contains a
 plot element.

 Targets picked for a reason can have the desired item in
 their pockets, plus another item or two with juicy details
 that lead the PCs to new directions. Do not be satisfied
 with the status quo: "Item found. Quest over. Check."
 Complicate things or dovetail things so there are always
 interesting possibilities afoot.

 For example, the PCs pick an enemy's pocket and come away
 with a small bag. Inside is [roll, roll] 1 small emerald, 4
 gold pieces, the diary the group was after, and a pair of
 dice. Further investigation reveals the dice have been
 expertly shaved. The party gambler takes these and starts
 using them. As the game plays out, the dice generate all
 sorts of interesting acquisitions in pots won, plus get the
 group in trouble from time to time when the gambler is
 caught cheating. All this great gameplay from a small,
 extraneous detail in a pick pocket encounter.


 How to enter

 Email your entries to me at johnn@roleplayingtips.com

 Each entry is one pick pocket item that has an interesting
 hook or detail that would enhance a GM's game.

 Multiple entries are welcome.

 Use the tips and ideas above for inspiration if you get
 stuck. I think the best way to enter would be to develop
 five or ten interesting pocket contents items you could use
 in your campaign right now. Not only does that give you a
 bunch of contest entries, but you've just done a bit of
 campaign planning as well!

 Example entries, item + hook:

 A napkin with a crude map on it, and the name of the tavern
   where the napkin came from.
 A claw from a monster the PCs are about to quest for.
 A pair of ladies' gloves with the initials A.L. on them.
 A key with a symbol of Kane on it.
 A rock made of some strange flecked material with the word
   "Barakus" written on the bottom.

 Good luck! If you have any questions, drop me an email.

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