30 Street Crimes and Cons
Entering a new city there are street urchins, hustlers, con men, kidnappers, thieves and burglars looking to make their day’s prophet. The victim, in many cases the PC, is known as the mark and is the target of whatever kind of hustle they have planned. These hustlers are always on the lookout for easy pickings.
1. Pickpocket: The oldest trick in the book and really requires no explanation. The mark would be released of the inconvenience of carrying anything of value not nailed down. From rings, necklaces, bracelets and, of course, their wallet/purse/pouch.
2. Kidnapping: Whether a foreign ship came to the city overnight snagging a few stragglers for the slave trade or nabbing some royalty for an attempt at a ransom, kidnapping is a common way to profit for those bold enough to engage in it.
3. Robbery: Plain old knock over the head steal the valuables robbery. Grab the drunk one walking from the bar too close to the alley to the lone traveler through a abandoned area, a sword threatened towards the chest or a rock on the back of the head can release the property fairly quickly from the unaware.
4. The Street Artist: Yes, that is a beautiful charcoal picture of the lovely Queen Morda on a large parchment. Her delicate features play so gracefully with the painstaking shading. The artist hunches over and adds another small detail and then assesses his work once again. The small wooden bowl in front of him has only a few coppers and a small crowd of watchers ebbs and flows through the day. What few know is that he has been done with this picture for 8 weeks and just sits out there pretending to add small details with a charcoal that won’t make a mark.
5. The Bar Wench: Hey, she is beautiful and looking at the PC. Unable to resist, they call her over to show their manliness. Sit on the lap, breasts in the face, giggles and twirling of hair…with her one hand. Her other could very well be removing, well everything. If not that then play the “buy me a bottle of champaign” or the expensive brew of the house and “I will meet you tonight when I get off work.” Meanwhile she gets a cut of every overpriced drink purchased.
6. Horse Hustler: It could be cold and dark or warm and sunny. Coming up to an inn a super helpful young sole comes up and offers, “Can I take your horse inside for you sir?” The PCs, being just back from a great plunder toss a gold and ask for the best feed and a good brush down. In the morning they get up and there is no horse(s) to be found. The stable hand and inn owner has no idea what the PCs are talking about.
7. Snatch and Grab double: The PCs witness an old gentleman, young women, small lad get rolled over and robbed by a couple people in an otherwise abandoned alley. Nobody else to help they jump in to try and help but the thieves escape leaving a frightened and robbed person behind. Story is (s)he was carrying something valuable for their master or their last few gold stolen and they still have a long trip ahead. This person is in on the hustle. Worst case they get nothing for their trouble, best case they get some donations from the generous PCs.
8. Horse Doctor: Somebody comes out and tells the PC that their horse is gimped or they might be making a small injury worse. The PC dismounts and they both go to the back leg of the horse where the hoof is brought up and the hustler beckons the PC to look close at whatever injury he is making up. In the meantime another has moved up and is helping himself to whatever is in the saddle bag and perhaps any easy retrievable weapons held around the saddle.
9. The Messy Coat: If the PCs are carrying bags or something else that is required to be physically carried in their hands an accomplice will spill, dump or with sleight of hand pour something nasty on the PCs coat or cloak. Another will come over and very politely and helpfully offer to clean it with some water they have and a cloth. While the PCs put down their belongings and try to refuse or accept help another hustler will arrive stealthily and retrieve whatever he can while their attention is diverted.
10. Toss the Baby: A lady is asking for some help with her baby in a crowded area and looks distraught and in need of help. When the gallant PCs offer to help she comes up with some excuse to ask the PCs to hold the baby for a second, to perhaps get some small food from her pockets. When the PC takes the baby she runs away. Moments later a different screaming lady comes from another direction followed by two large brutes. She screams and claims that the PCs are baby snatchers, her two accomplices back up her story and tell of the baby theft. A crowd gathers and the “new” mother would be willing to let it all go if they pay a bribe…looking at the two brutes it might be protection fee.
11. Helpful Warning: Turning a popular corner in a very busy area there is a very prominent sign being held up by a small street urchin saying “Beware of Pick Pockets.” The natural action would be to check for the money pouch to see if it is still there. If it was previously hidden, the pick pockets now know where it is if they choose them as a mark.
12. Street Urchin Crowd: A small crowd of street urchins move through the bustling city hollering and carrying on in a youthful energetic type of way. In their excitement they seem to find well dressed travelers and run up to them asking for stories of their travels and asking where they are going and other innocent type questions. As this flurry of activity surrounds their marks, loose hands and grabby kids are rummaging through every area grabbing what they can until the move on to the next. If caught, the scurry in as many different directions as there are kids making it almost impossible to snag them.
13. Counterfeit Check: In any area a person of authority approaches the PCs and demands to view their money in an attempt to find counterfeiters that seem to have matched their description. He will review the money in what looks like plain sight but instead is very effectively swapping the coin for his own counterfeit. Now the PCs truly do have counterfeit.
14. Street Fortune: A wise looking lady and a young mother with a baby in her arms catches the PCs attention and the old lady attests that she sees something great in his future. Because of the greatness of the moment she will only ask for half of what she usually charges but it is still a decent sum. She is very serious and in awe of the PC. She takes the hand and starts spinning the tale. At the same time the mother with the swaddled baby gets very near, smiling, at the PC seemingly engrossed in the fortune as well…except her hand under the baby is stealthfully purging the PC of all his valuables.
15. Glass of Wine: A bit like the Bar Wench, ladies will pick up on a PC in the streets either stressing a familiarity with and trying to figure out where they met or perhaps just idle flirtation. It is all quite innocent sounding at first as they are walking until the girls pass by an inn and suggest that they go in and grab a bite to eat and a drink. The conversation continues and small snacks are ordered as they continue to chat. The girls at some point order a house wine and another and another, all quite innocently. Then they excuse themselves and run out. When the bill comes it shows that the wine they ordered is insanely expensive…but it was ordered and was witnessed by everyone there. No way to get out of paying the bill as when showed a menu or price list the price is confirmed.
16. Flowers from the Urchins: Could be from a lady too. They try and put a flower in the PC’s coat button or in a belt loop and then ask for a copper to help out their destitute family. Some PCs may go ahead and try to give them something but the urchin will only accept the smallest, more rare amount and attempts to help the PC find the amount as soon as the money pouch is visible. Those skillful fingers are grabbing any coins they can and palming them while they search with the PC for a single copper.
17. Pig in a Poke: Butcher selling some choice meat entices the PCs to purchase it from his rolling butcher shop. He shows them a prime piece of beef or port and delicately places it into a bag and after some creative tying and manipulating hands it over fully secured inside. Only problem is that when he was tying it he swapped the bag for another in his cart. Could be creative with what they receive in its place.
18. Melon Drop: Could be a melon or a crystal or anything that can be dropped and damaged where the beginning state of the object cannot be confirmed. A bustling street and a collision with another person ends in shattered glass all over the road. The person that “dropped” it immediately starts a tirade that it is the PCs fault for whatever happened and demands compensation or he will call the authorities. If the PCs are in trouble already they will pay the bribe.
19. The False Good Samaritan: A snatch and run just robbed the PCs of a substantial sum and the race is on. In this case it is a third party that actually catches the thief, knocks him around but the thief “escapes” before the PCs arrive. The person professes to be a good Samaritan helping out his fellow man but wouldn’t be against accepting a reward considering the value of what was returned. This ruse may run into another as he gains the confidence of the PCs and runs another scam on them.
20. Prize Package Soap Sell Swindle: A moveable stand and a dynamic personality. Hailing his soap that will clean anything and he proves it on a couple stains and offers the crowd to smell it. For a special deal he would take a large denomination gold coin and push it into the soap and wrap it. He would then put many other denominations as well and then upped his price a bit to take part in the chance to win a sizeable amount of money. He would sell a couple and then an accomplice would cheer when he opened his soap to find a mid-range denomination. Near the end when the big value hasn’t been found yet he would take bids for the remaining making a sweet profit and depart before all the soap could be fully unwrapped and inspected. He obviously palmed or hid the soap with the large values.
21. Messenger Bait and Switch: If the PCs use a messenger to deliver any kind of message to anybody, the messenger will be very helpful and dutifully deliver the message. At some point he will see the PCs and proclaim that he received a response but it is in his office but he would be happy to bring them to it even though they are closed while hinting towards a small extra tip for his trouble. When he enters his establishment they find that there is a back room gambling game going on. One of them tells the messenger that there is an urgent matter that requires his attention and it should only take a moment. While the messenger is gone the PCs are enticed into some gambling…with odds drastically against them.
22. The Bedroom Door: If at any point any of the PCs take advantage of the lady and fall for her advances they are taken up to “her” room that is nearby. She makes a show of locking the door and the activities commence. While engaged a secret door is opened and an accomplice sneaks in and robs the person. Upon leaving if the PC sees things missing she can plead innocent and request to be “searched” again, obviously he was ripped off much earlier…and he still owes her some coin.
23. The Drop and Find: A person will “find” a gold ring on the ground directly next to the PC and ask if it is his. If it is then he humbly asks for a reward for the retrieval as he could have easily walked away with it. If the PC says it is not his then the person asks if they want to go halves on its worth, if the PC would give him X coin then the PC can keep the ring and they would both be on their way. The “gold” coin is gold plated steel barely worth anything.
24. Spanish Prisoner: A rich person has been captured and put into prison. The person has hidden his true identity so is being kept as a common rogue. Because he is hiding his identity there is an ability to bribe the jailors to get him released. The PCs overhear a few people discussing this and that they have been promised more than triple in compensation from their investment as well as the undying gratitude of the rich, imprisoned noble once released. Unfortunately, they are short a good amount of gold. The PCs may get in on the action and put in some gold in order to secure the release. Everyone disappears.
25: Fiddle Game: Eating a shady or dangerous bar a ratty dressed person at the table next to the PCs gets ready to leave and realizes they forgot their money pouch. Scared of the owner he asks the PCs to pay for his meal and leaves him his somewhat ornate sword as collateral as he runs home to get his coin. While he is gone another comes over and asks to look at the sword in excitement and declares it is a rare find and worth a ton of gold. He offers the PCs a large amount of gold and before they can answer leaves to get it and will be right back. The ratty person comes back with his coin and pays the PCs back and gets his swords. If the PCs are greedy they will offer the ratty person a good deal of coin for the sword knowing they will make some profit. The other never comes back and they are stuck with a piece of junk sword.
26. The One-Eyed Man: A distinguished looking gentleman enters the bar where the PCs are and seems drunk. Through the night the bar empties till only a few are left including the PCs when the One-Eyed Man declares that he lost his glass eye. In a fit he overturns some tables looking for it until a servant comes in and tells him they must leave. He offers a great sum of gold to any that find it and return it. The servant tells the PCs where to reach him. The PCs will probably start looking as the sum was significant. Later a young, richly looking gentleman comes in to get some bread and spots the marble and is happy. The rich person is fond of it and it takes a good deal to get it from him but it pales in comparison to the reward. Unfortunately, they will never be able to find the One-Eyed Man as the rich person was in on the con.
27. Salting the Mine: While traveling in a farming/grazing area the PCs will notice some glittering on a rock inside a large, poorly fenced area. When they look they confirm it is gold and as the look around the very overgrown area they see more. When they go to the hovel they see a destitute family with no animals and no crop. They speak of well off relatives somewhere far off and their hope to go to them. The PCs may offer to buy the farm knowing it has gold in them thar hills. “Peasants” planted the gold and the PCs won’t find much more than what is already showing in that area.
28. Art Theft: For the PC Rogue in the group that just checked in with the local theive’s guild. A thief with a broken arm contacts him in a private manner and tells him of an art heist that needs to be done tonight but he is unable to do it. The Thief still wants a cut if the PC agrees to do it. The entire heist is already worked out, guards bribed, just need to get the painting and do the drop. A deal is struck and the thief even gives him a good will advance. Theft goes as plan but nobody at the drop leaving the PC with the art. In the meantime dozens of forgeries of the art piece are sold throughout the outlying area, all thinking they have the original. If they find they are forgeries they will be after the PC. If the authorities find the original they will be after the PC. Con men walk away with all the sales money from the forgeries.
29. Currency Exchange: PCs from a distant land or they are trying to us found treasure but it is not accepted here and they are told it is worthless basically. Nearby somebody hears this and offers to exchange proper currency for it at a somewhat reasonable rate. They find that the “worthless” money is actually worth 10 times the current currency but no common folk in the city would recognize it.
30. The Cramped Shop: A well stocked PC is shopping for whatever in a random shop. Have them looking for something they don’t see right away and they will ask the shopkeeper for it. It will be in the back and they are told to follow. The path they take goes through a small maze of skinnier walkways through a rash of breakable pots, glass, decorations or anything else that you can think of that could break. The bulk of the PC will get dangerous in those confines and if they are wearing a sword the walkways are made so that when they turn a corner the sword can’t help but knock a bunch of stuff off the shelf. Any attempt to fix or pick up adds to more destruction. The PC will be obligated to pay for the damage done from this “trap.”
Pickpockets are just as apt to steal a ring or necklace as they are a pouch of gold. Why not have that magic necklace or valuable ring pillaged from the last cave knicked?
They see the same hustle being worked on somebody and/or they get hustled again by the almost exact same hustle and recognize one of the con men. Either way, they recognize what is happening and realize that their past good deed was really a charade and they were duped.
Any PCs that are trying to maintain a low profile or are themselves being hunted down by the law would have cause to pay the bribes to try and maintain a low profile.
If the catch one of them they will offer to teach the sleight of hand or share in the profits of a future scam. (Most of these are based off of real world common day scams. Some I took much creative liberty to make them more fantasy-ish but left the name. ))
The PCs are offered some land to build on/mine in for a high price, but in fact they lack the permit to do anything with it, as it's National Parkland/ royal land /owned by someone else/too close to where a fully grown dragon lives.
An expansion of #27 "Salting the Mine". See the the use of gemstones (link: The Great Diamond Hoax" of 1872.
An expansion of #20 "Prize Package Soap Sell Swindle". The well known swindler that made this con famous is known as link: Soapy Smith. Additionally, when brought up on charges (as related to me by my father) Mr. Smith offered to show the judge how his business worked and that it was legit. He produced a bar of his famous soap and when the judge, tearing open the wrapper, noticed it contained a $100 bill(a large sum at the time), he gaveled yelling, "case dismissed", while pocketing the bill and returning the soap.
An expansion of #6 "Horse Hustler". This could be done with any store owner that goes to his backroom, falls asleep, has to attend to a real or con emergency. Additionally, products for display outside of the store can be quickly 'sold' for dirt cheap by the con. A bit embarrassing when the proprietor demands to know why they are hauling off that piece of fine furniture.
An expansion of #18 "Melon Drop". Instead of an item it's a double jointed street urchin and your wagons wheels or horse just broke a child's leg or arm. The guardian is noticeably upset and demands money for medical, and to avoid calling the guards. Perhaps the boy or guardian is dressed in such a manner to indicate he is of nobility or of a fearsome religion, cult, clan or guild.
Some additional entries (with made up names)
32. Twice robbed
The PCs horse or vehicle is stolen during the night. The next morning it is returned with a note, or a street urchin relates the following but denies knowing the identity of who instructed him. The theft was unfortunately required due to the circumstances(GM can embellish with particulars such as wife fell suddenly ill as they were walking) as it was a life or death emergency. Profuse apologies as they have never had to do anything of this nature before and are too fearful, ashamed, or too high status to personally apologize. To offset the inconvenience, attached are valuable tickets(possibly forgeries?) for a grand ball, private showing of rare item, whorehouse event, or audience with nobility at a particular time. While the PCs are enjoying the free entertainment their place of stay is ransacked. Suspicious PCs may wonder how this individual knew how many tickets to proffer, assuming that was the case.
33. Shame on me (Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me)
A valuable item is stolen from the PCs. When word gets out that the PCS are looking to recover it a man appears offering information as to it’s whereabouts in exchange for monies. The man says he has handled the item and can detail features not described by the PCs to others. The fellow does not want to get involved and his identity must be kept secret. In addition for extra monies perhaps he reveals where the thief keeps his other bounty. He could further embellish his trustworthiness by adding how much he loathes or fears the thief, or how that thief is cutting into his territory, or not a guild member and if the PCs maim him or end his life he will reward them. Of course this fellow is the very same thief or an accomplice who slips away…again.
34. An antidote for your ills
A poison is introduced to one or all of the PCs perhaps the meals got switched and it was meant for another or it was intentional. None other near enough have the antidote except the one that offers it in exchange for your prize magical item. The poison could be real (causing death, strange ailments, simply an stomach upset or perhaps it's a placebo). Alternately, the PCs have a perceived limited time window in which to reclaim the antidote by other means leading to an adventure. An additional possibility is there are two providers of the antidote in town in collusion. The players are initially approached by a seedy individual who will sell then the antidote for a unreasonable sum or prized PC item. The players learn of the local friendly alchemist and pay a visit only to find his price is far more outrageous. He gives greater worry to the PCs verifying ‘independently’ that the poison is real and the PC indeed is affected and further refines the hideous effects it will have. Discouraged the PCs head back to the first contact only to discover he has apparently fled town. The clock is ticking…
35. The plant
An item be it playing cards, crooked dice, a money pouch, jewelry, scroll or whatnot is planted on the person or their effects and is soon discovered to the shock of all (some may be in on it and some are unaffiliated witnesses). A return of the ‘stolen’ item and a payoff to all so wronged is required or bodily harm/jail time shall ensue. Note that generally the con artists really won’t want guards or the authorities involved as they might be recognized or at least remembered limiting further opportunities in the town.
36. Sticky fingers
A con artist my father related to me (no reference found on the web): A fellow who would rub a bit of honey in his reddish hair in the morning before setting out to work…as a gold assayer. As he handled the gold to be weighed from the miners he would slick back his hair or sooth the occasional itch on his scalp. Each night he would rinse out his golden locks.
Thanks Strolen, that was my first submission to your excellent site, here is my second :) Yet more cons...
37. Bait and switch An item of quality is shown to the PCs, the price is quite reasonable or even dirt cheap (seller needs money badly for gambling debts, mafia, or whatever reason if even asked). The GM could pretend to roll to see what price the fellow is asking and then look disgustedly at the roll result, reflecting the merchants seeming lack of desire to sell at such a fire sale price. The PCs will naturally be suspicious (well, some will) and want to test the item. “But of course”, says the merchant, and it will indeed perform as advertised. However, once price is agreed upon the merchant will switch it for a fake item under the guise of packaging it, refilling the charges, tuning it, removing the curse that activates on theft etc.
38. Guaranteed return A product is sold that appears to have merit but once examined is found in fact to have none. Perhaps it’s a fake magical item. The one the PC’s examined was real enough but a switch is made (see #37) when packaged up. Ahhh, not to worry it's "guaranteed or your money back". And with the town seal of assurance, you know they will! Alas, there is only one slight problem, it appears return address differs from the sales address, it is in a frightful place in town where you hardly dare enter in broad daylight(maybe only those of a certain faction live there). They are conveniently open on particularly bad days of the week(riot or sewer overflow days) from 2 am to 5 am :) By now you would think my father was a con artist. Hmmm, do mathematicians count? Anyway, this and the next con are come from him as well. In the case of the actual con it was a mail order product targeted to the elderly or the devout. A check was always promptly sent out for all requested refunds of the worthless product. The registered name of the company was something on the order of “I worship Satan with a big …. in my mouth”. Folks were too embarrassed to go to their local town bank to cash the modest refund checks.
39. Works as advertised A full refund was presumably offered if this product sold during the great depression failed to perform as advertised. This was yet another mail order product, “guaranteed to kill roaches if used as advertised or your money back”. The expectant buyer would open his package to find two small scraps of wood marked ‘A’, and ‘B’, and some simple instructions: Place board ‘A’ on the floor, place roach on board ‘A’. Place board ‘B’ on roach over board ‘A’. Step on board ‘B’. In the PCs case perhaps it’s a magic wand that is guaranteed to kill monster XXX. Instructions read: “Strike monster XXX repeatedly in the head until death ensues, always works, never fails”. Well, someone’s going to die, true enough. Or it’s advertised as having a, “Powerful spell of XXX. Contains 50 charges!”. No falsehood there as it contains 3 charges of spell XXX(good for a test or two) and 47 of some 1st level spell. Perhaps the item does function as advertised, however the curse or side effects have slipped the purveyors mind (or he was unaware). The fancier the (paste?)gemstones and engravings the less the PCs will question the quality of the product. If the vendor seems wavering whether to even sell his prize the PCs will be in a greater rush to buy it.
40. 5 star seller How many pieces of the true cross were sold in the middle ages by ‘clerics’? Enough to make dozens. How many eBay venders pumped up their rating selling cheap wares and then bailed after getting paid for(but not shipping) an excess of expensive items all offered on the same day? If the seller has been around forever, is vouched for by someone trusted, or is convincing(but he had a guild badge) that does not mean that they will be there tomorrow when you find out that “orb of dragon disintegration” fails to perform. Obviously, this is only true if you are being sold something of notable value, making it worthwhile for the merchant to pack up and leave town. Similarly, if the PCs are flouting their connections to a noble that uses their services, a group of cons might take advantage of this. Dressing as guards they tell the PCs that that the noble requests their immediate audience for a ‘job’. They might as well leave their weapons behind as they are not to be brought within the nobles grounds. Guards will stay behind to make sure none enter their place of stay. The guards may even enter the lords grounds turning the PCs over to confused resident guards (are they on the take as well?) for the nobles audience. Admittedly, this is an elaborate scam, simpler ones are fake or real servants who case their property, someone disguised as someone they trust, or a ruse that splits up the PCs so they are easier to attack.
41. Dead end A thief steals something from one of the PCs (or fakes it, running off with something that cursorily appears like it may have come from the PCs pack). The thief seemingly has bungled the job alerting the PC. He runs off, hopefully with the PCs in hot pursuit. The thief ducks into a hole or through a door quickly locked behind. Now the PCs are trapped in a dead end alley!
42. Uncanny resemblance Thieves having spotted an item in the PCs possession commission a replica to be made. Using one of the con methods above a switch of items is effected. Servants can quickly make impressions in clay of PCs keys for casting. The servant when alone can repeatedly test and refine the key key until it works properly. The actual robbery happens later, usually by someone else entirely, the trusted servant seemingly having no connection to the crime.
Other notes: Once a con always a con. If a con is caught they are probably going to try to con again to get out of it. They will state that they were conned too!
He will put up half the money if the PCs will put up the other half to hire someone (an accomplice) to correct this wrong.
Oh his reputation, you must tell no one! Oh dear, that Orb of Dragon disintegration didn't work, that can't be!! Tell me what you said to trigger it. No, no that's "Rabbracadabra", not "Abracadabra". It will work for sure if said properly.
So sorry for your losses, but less loot to split next time you travel to "Dragons Maw" I suppose. (a diversion).
OK, say it again, lets make sure! Perfect! You know, I lined up a seller a month ago for that Palantier, he really wants it and was going to pay XXX!! (a diversion) He will be very angry at me for not producing it, but I'll manage somehow. (sympathy)
You know what he told me! That very same dragon might have the "Extenze loincloth", a gift that was being couriered to King Petite in 1247(details indicate authenticity).
Entire party never arrived, presumed lost. He showed me on some old scroll of his, couldn't read it myself, seemed kind of excited about it.(more diversion more details)
Kings would empty their treasure chambers and give their first borne for such a thing!(greed overcomes PCs anger, builds more trust)
Um, by the way, you know I have this cloak of dragon fire protection you may be interested in...(can't resist another con).
It’s easier to shoot, trap, or mind control the PC's horse to buck and run away with stored gear than the PC directly. Consider the PCs actions as seen from the locals point of view, and consider what opportunities are afforded the thieves guild, street urchins, whores, hirelings, friends, lovers, local merchants, nobility, kings, evil observers, enemies, minions and others.
Do you have coexisting planes with creatures that can sense a powerful item, passing along someday the information to those that seek it? Who might want to teach them a lesson? What items have they brandished about? What businesses have they damaged? Do I see gems sewn in those fine robes, on the hilt of that sword?
In Westerns, gunslingers are always being tested by some upstart trying to make a name for themselves, or take their loot. However, the enemies should only know what is witnessed (or scryed) and so may be unprepared for what the PCs can counter with. High end items are usually very ornate, even the scabbard, with embedded gems, etchings, leather work (all subcontracted out to experts) as they were made for someone in power, (for themselves or often as gifts to curry favor) who usually wants to project that power.
Perhaps the scabbard is required as it charges or maintains the item, no hiding in a plain scabbard. Do powerful items emit a strong aura that PCs have to spend a lot of money or manna or concentration to dampen? Are these items are easily identified as being of valuable on sight(maybe identifiable as an item of legend due to poem or song). Valuable information in the right ears indeed.
Often an ancient item will have parts that have rotted away, broken, cracked, gems pried out, rusted, drained of all charges or whatnot. All this needs repair, probably from more than one craftsman who will tell other craftsmen, etc. Perhaps the item was discarded due to damage, it's repairable at least in part, but at a high cost and only a particular fellow can do it, finding out who is an adventure in itself, getting to that craftsman is another. A master craftsman is proud of his work, and wants his wares to impress the buyer.
Of course items found and bought could be forgeries or flawed. Art forgery is quite common, anything of value is usually forged, magical items would be no exception. Failed magical items and potions should be common as well. The failure might be subtle and unrealized at the time. What is the failure rate of magical item creation? %
That will give you an idea of the ratio of failed items out in the world. A failed item need not be be an utter failure and so may still have worth and be sold in the marketplace for what it is or as a con, these items might be stripped of gems as would damaged or seemingly spent items that might still be salvageable.
Perhaps it appears salvageable but after much money spent and months of waiting for the repairs it still does not function (say a 15% chance of successful repair each attempt, although PCs should not be told the risk in percentages, the repairmans estimate would never be spot on anyway, perhaps he is overconfident and eager to get the work). The repair could be only partially successful (only takes 2 charges others are wasted, leaks charges over time, backfires 20%, heats up possibly shattering, applies effect to wielder sometimes, fails to work half the time, internal crack widens with each use), not that the craftsman or PCs may know of the new or preexisting flaw(s).
43. I'm Not Sure How It's Done
This con usually involves a laborer who deliberately is doing a shoddy job at a task, making an obvious display of frustration and struggling to get it "right." Upon noticing their plight a sympathetic mark will usually be eager to show them how to "get it right the first time" and start doing the job for them.
The con itself comes when the trainee pretends to continually struggle at the task still not grasping the instruction, hoping for the "skilled teacher" to either finish the task while trying to show them how to do it, or getting fed up and doing it themselves as an example of "how easy this is."
When confronted with someone who seems as if they are about to walk away from assisting the con will often beg for help and site the painful unjust punishments that will await them if they don't finish the task on time in the correct manner.
When done right this con can get an otherwise difficult (or boring) task done by another saving them the labor, while letting them keep the profit and gain the praise for doing the job. A skilled con will offer up a small portion of copper, (usually a fraction for the jobs actual pay) as "thanks" for saving from unemployment often claiming it to be the full payment for the job itself.
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? Responses (19)
This is a really useful 30, in as much as I see these lists a 'go to' source when you need to flesh out a setting or an event. Some of the less useful 30s (or other lists) limit them selves to a narrow scene or really cross genres. This is a damn fine list. I wish I had it years ago. Isn't 9 the messy jacket.
I have to second axlerowes. An absolute must-have go-to resource for the ol' GM's binder.
We've all been there. The PCs finally approach that giant super-city, and the GM can't wait to rob them blind. But which scam? That is the question. This here list offers 30 good ones!
These defiantly have a place in a few of my cities. Thanks!
What to watch out for when you have cash.
A nice collection of cons and crimes.
This is an incredibly useful 30s list. In fact, it will be my go-to resource as both a DM and as a player (when I want to earn a little extra dough as a rogue). The only suggestion I have for improvement would be to tack on a few more one-man cons, as most of these require several people to pull off. The added ideas by rwg are neat, and I hope to add to this list sometime in the future. Well done!
This is very useful, I plan to use this against Players ( PCs ) in the future. When the chance arises I will look at this list, and see what I can do.
A fun sub with some great cons to run next time the PC's ar ein the city and the GM is looking for a quick filler adventure or way to add some "local color" to the trip.
As others have said before me, this is an absolute must for any GM to add to their rescources.
Have a HoH too :)
Edit: and an add to my favourites list.
This is a great '30' with many uses, and deserves to come in the spotlight again.
Awesome! Must-have side-arm list as soon as the PCs spy the City Gates!