Thieves of Camorr - 'The Lies of Locke Lamora' Hack

Before anything else; go and read ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’. Go on. Do it. I’ll wait for you to finish; I’m in no rush.


Done? All right; you have just finished reading the first part of the Gentleman Bastard sequence of novels by Scott Lynch - no doubt you have been riveted to the pages, alternately giggling yourself silly or reading voraciously with wide eyes to see what will happen next.
To those of you who are faking it and reading this anyway; ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’ is a fantasy series that is something like a cross between The Italian Job with Pirates of the Caribbean flavoured with a bit of James Bond, all taking place in a human-inhabited, alien version of Venice where the politics are right up Machiavelli’s alley, on a borderline Steampunk-world where the most advanced technology is Alchemy.

It’s bloody brilliant.

Anyways, I’ve been toying with various systems to try and build a game to place players in the parts of Thieves on the streets and canals of Camorr, and after tossing out all of the d20 systems, I arrived at BW… Sadly, I found the original game a bit too loosely focused in fantasy, so I turned to the Mouse Guard version; nicely streamlined and much narrowed in focus; just the thing for an all-thief game.

I am working on plenty of different things right now to tweak the system and adjust it to a grittier version to fit in with Camorr, as well as making the system a bit more PbP-friendly, since that is where the majority of my gaming experiences lay, and it is going well, except for one main piece of the puzzle that is causing me a small headache: Nature.

Now, Mice and Thieves have a lot in common, but not that much in common, and I am bouncing around between two different tweaks to make it fit. First thing; I am writing the game with Character Archetypes in mind: A basic descriptor of six or seven different types of character that players choose or distribute amongst eachother; archetypes like ‘The Bruiser’, ‘The Face’, ‘The Infiltrator’, ‘The Artificer’, ‘The Wildcard’, ‘The Kid’, and ‘The Mastermind’. This is to allow the players to set up a tiny gang of specialists in order to pretty much force them to have to plot and plan and wheedle and scheme to actually pull off a heist, instead of everyone just taking the Stealthy Rogue layout and being dull as all hell.

Now, the problem lays with the new version of Nature, and the Archetypes. I’ve thought up two options, but they both have their issues:

The players sort out the Archetypes between themselves, and this archetype becomes their Nature, each one with it’s own little bundle of skills; for instance:

The Bruiser: Protecting Some, Hurting Others, Intimidating
The Face: Charming, False-Facing, Attention-getting
The Infiltrator: Sneaking, Climbing, Evading

And so on. It is quite a neat method of arraying an archetype’s skills, but I’ve given some thought to the gameplay with this mechanic, and the problem occurs that these characters, when in their element, will pretty much only end up using their Nature, leaving quite a bit of other stuff unused. It might not be as bad as I can imagine it, given how capricious and devious a GM should be, but even so it left me thinking that it would be too focused.

Thus OPTION 2:
The Archetypes are just simple descriptors for what the players should be aiming to build, but every character’s Nature is instead replaced with Thief’s Path, which is (Sneaking, Sleight of Hand and Evading). This is a more homogenized method and a bit more balanced, and forces the players to work out a better skill selection to meet what they are supposed to be. It gives a lot more customization ability.

Option 2 is more appealing to me than Option 1, but doesn’t have as nice and aesthetic feel for some reason… I’d like to hear what others would think, or even new options entirely.

For the other Attributes, things will be staying the same: Health, Will, Resources and Circles will be doing pretty much what they do in Mouse Guard, though instead of answering the nifty questions, (which I really do like about MG,) it’ll be a point-buy system for the sake of simplicity for Play-by-Post and internet forum character building. I’d likely add a caveat that any character with particularly low or highs cores should come up with a good paragraph as to just why they are that way though, just so the stats don’t devolve completely into the near-meaningless mush that DnD makes them. It’s just 16 points to distribute amongst the 5 stats, with max being 6 and lowest being 1, of course.
I’ve also worked out a simplified but not as colourful way of getting one’s skill points and Wises - basically, a character gets a number of Skill points equal to their Will rating, multiplied by three, plus 5. Wise-points are equal to Will.

Like I said, not as colourful or flavourful as MG or BW, but easier to perform on an internet forum.

This is a bit of chaos here, but then I’m only a week in to plotting and planning and all I’ve really got is a vague concept going and some early tweaks to work on. Other ideas, notions and criticisms would be appreciated…

And seriously, go and read the books.

The Rat King

I’ve read both books, and I feel BW is a much better fit than (an awkward hack of) MG. I’ve played and GM’d both games extensively. Just leave out any LP settings that aren’t appropriate.