Tuesday, 28 July 2015
Cruel RPG Idea: The Thief's Moral Dilemma
As soon as a thief-like character is not entirely good, you can bet the player of said character will sooner or later declare he's picking some pockets in a public place. It's often done in a very nonchalant way. The PC won't really think much of it, just something to make some quick gold, or even to pass the time, or look for trouble. It's what Thieves and Rogues do, right?
But what of the consequences? And I don't mean by that what about City Guards who might catch the PC, or the victim noticing and maybe putting up a fight. What if the coin purse is successfully stolen? That NPC will have less gold than expected, that has repercussions in his/her life!
Every time a PC steals a coin purse from a commoner NPC, roll a check of the percentage of your choice. If the check succeeds, it turns out the victim was on his way to find a doctor to save his dying child. The doctor (magical or otherwise) is Lawful Neutral and will not be swayed by the fact that a child is dying, he will only get involved if he's paid for his troubles. There is no way for the victim to make enough coin again before it's too late for the child. (The child could have 1d4 days left, up to you.)
Do the PCs even hear of this? And if they do, do they hear about it in time to do something about it should they wish to? Hey, it's your game, not mine. But the death of a child might certainly make even the most chaotic of Chaotic Neutrals reconsider their life choices, and all that without shoving a mandatory fight scene as the only possible outcome to pick-pocketing.
As a side-note, I'll soon post a random table for 'What the Coins Were For'. I just wanted to showcase this specific outcome first, because it feels like GMs will often try to punish Thieves with violence instead of making them face the consequence of their actions. (Which also gives the Thief some great opportunities for role-playing and/or character development instead of a random fight with an under-geared and under-leveled NPC. Even if the PCs decide not to do anything about it afterwards, that's a very serious life decision right there if they just let a child die.)