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Orcsmasher

The Jewel of Yavin advice

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I am running this adventure but my players seem to have trouble grasping that they need to actually plan the heist instead of just running in and taking action.

I don't want to spoon-feed them the plan.

Any ideas how I can encourage them to think a different way than normal?

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First, you may want to consider getting a mod to move this to the Game Master's section.

To your question, you can only hand hold them so far. This adventure is not one that can be hack and slashed without some serious consequences. Let them know one final time it would greatly, greatly behoove them to come up with some sort of plan, but if they don't, they don't. Let them pay for planing poorly. They end up with nothing but a heaping helping of criminal obligation, assuming they even make it off Cloud City.  

 

edited for grammar

Edited by sonovabith

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My group is a 'fly by the seat of our pants' type of group usually, so I am considering this a problem as well.  This wont be run for a little bit in our campaign, which gives me time to make the best use of the intervening time.  Already, I have started offering planning tips for the group to slow their "Leroy Jenkins" attitude toward these games, I am hoping that slowly I can get them to realize that planning toward a heist or a goal can be of great assistance.  We have been doing ambushes for a little bit, so I think that is helping them get in the right mindset.

 

For you, I would think about adding another encounter prior to the main portions that is a mini example of the planning for the heist, maybe the group needs to break into a less secure area to get a hold of a security program or device that will aid their adventures in the main portion of the module.  Add traps and security, mini heist.

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Use Aris as your voice of reason. She has a stake in seeing it succeed. Have her insist on hearing the plan, and use her to tell them it's not going to work and why. 

When players are being stubborn or dumb, an easy (yet effective) tool of reigning them in is finding an NPC that you can use to convey your GM messages in a way that fits into the story. If you do it well, they won't even realize that you're doing it, they'll just think that NPC is a jerk, lol. ;)

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First, you may want to consider getting a mod to move this to the Game Master's section.

To your question, you can only hand hold them so far. This adventure is not one that can be hack and slashed without some serious consequences. Let them know one final time it would greatly, greatly behoove them to come up with some sort of plan, but if they don't, they don't. Let them pay for planing poorly. They end up with nothing but a heaping helping of criminal obligation, assuming they even make it off Cloud City.  

 

edited for grammar

Ordinarily I am a harsh GM and players are there to be punished! ;) However, I have to reluctantly disagree with the above because (a) it will waste a good adventure that the GM has spent money on and (b) players will probably just get baffled as to why the adventure isn't "fair" and be upset by it. I think it's okay to smoosh PCs into the ground if they make mistakes, but you need to clue the players into the sort of game they're expected to play. It may be simplest just to be frank with them and say that this is not an adventure where charging in blindly will succeed, and that they need to be clever. If they come from a D&D style background, this will be new to them.

Other's suggestions of doing it in character with Aris are also good. She can ask them what their plan is and threaten to back out if they don't convince her they have a good one.

You might ask your players if they're really interested in a heist. You might be jazzed about JoY, but maybe they ain't. Not making a plan is a sure sign they ain't.

Or that they are simply new to this approach and haven't realized it's not a dungeon crawl. Don't know till you try. Also, the GM has invested in this. It's not unreasonable to ask the players to go along with it.

Edited by knasserII

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This is actually my problem with ALL pre-designed adventures: my group NEVER acts as expected. I'm a pretty experienced GM and I thought I was pretty good at laying a trail of breadcrumbs that wasn't too scripted, but my groups INVARIABLY go off course.

 

Amusingly enough, my group's the opposite in *how* they go off-course: instead of blasting their way through plans, they tend to over-plan, over-design, and over-converse. They're roleplayers at heart, so this is fun for them.

 

I have no objection to this tendency in principle. It's why I tend to design my campaigns as loose frameworks rather than ladders with "required" rungs on the way up. I've been burned using out of the box adventures before, so I'm pretty gun shy with them now.

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I wasn't suggesting just crushing the players because the GM is upset that they won't go along with the game narrative. It's just a fact that if they're not careful and do a ridiculous amount of planning, this entire adventure can go terribly wrong for them. Remind the PCs of this and if they do something foolish, they have to be held accountable. This doesn't mean killing them, mind you. Maybe they barely escape Cloud City, but now have ISB, bounty hunters hired by Lando, and the Shens gunning for them. Or they get caught and arrested and have to do some sort of dangerous planet scouting missions for Lando since he's always on the lookout for the next big thing. 

 

I wouldn't want the group to simply nope out of the mission, and you're right, the GM has spent money on the adventure, but maybe that's not the kind of game the players want to play. Our group went through some upheaval earlier this year when the players all put together a bunch of stories about their PCs to put a finer edge on their motivations and ambitions. Our GM pretty much completely ignored all of this and put our group through an adventure he wrote that, while it had a really awesome end reward, none of us were interested in. We had some harsh words about this as a group, took a break from EOTE for several months and are looking at returning to the game after the new year. The nice thing about all this is it cleared the air and we're now all on the same page as to what game we all want to play. It has to be rewarding for everyone, PC and GM alike. This doesn't mean there won't be some missteps along the way, but if you can talk as a group about how you want the game to be and where you want the group to go, it'll prevent this kind of thing in the future.

 

This is an incredibly long winded way of saying, talk to your group OOC, explain why stealth and planning is important and ask them if that's an adventure they want to play. They may not want to play a heist, or they may just not realize how important stealth is. Failing all of that, tweak the adventure itself to be more appealing to your group. Just because it's a prewritten adventure doesn't mean you can't change sections wholesale if it will make it more fun for your group. Both sides win.

Edited by sonovabith

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Others have mentioned the best ways to handle things depending on how off course they are (talking if very, using in game if they only need a nudge). I would emphasize using Aris to make sure they stay on track/point out glaring weaknesses (for instance, my group was basically ignoring how they were going to get in to the gala until Aris asked them how they were going to do that).

My outside the box suggestion is if the PCs really, really seem like they're going to fail the Shens, then I would fire the PCs and bring in an NPC team to do the job. Hopefully, this re-engages the players as they now have direct competition they can deal with. Have the NPCs do everything the PCs are supposed to and let the PCs see it. Hopefully, this gives them ideas/shows them how its supposed to go; the PCs can either make their own competing plan or hijack the competition's plan.

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Also consider breaking things down a bit. A heist is not one big adventure. Rather it is a few separate acts. And, if they really are poor planners, you can default them to Simple Skullduggery checks to determine the types of obstacles they face during each act. One PC might be the lookout, and his Simple Skullduggery check determines that obstacle, and so on. And as to the GM's investment: You win some, you lose some.

Edited by Alekzanter

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I've been thinking i should bring in a whiteboard.  When you see heist movies, they always have the planning phase.  Play yourself as Arend Shen, and have him help visually lay out the various obstacles and have some ideas for how to bypass them.  They have a number of tasks, and Shen will have some ideas to offer if the players don't come up with anything.  This will also help you as a GM, because honestly, there are a lot of pieces to this adventure.

To pull it off 100% they need to:

Gather intel on the bidders

Win the Cloud Car Race
Schmooze the bigwigs at the party

Hack the banking systems

Steal the Jewel

Escape the planet

 

That's a lot to do, but the book has a good rundown on each aspect.  Let the players come up with plans, let them use good ones, and if they don't come up with anything, the Shens suggest the basic ideas in the book.  You might actually want to introduce the heist outline at the end of a session, then send the players home with a visual aid.  Let them think a bit, play the email game for plan outlines.  That depends of your players think about these things away from the table.  Certainly give them the visual leave it up while they work on little aspects of the problem.

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My group actually turned things around and snitched on Aris and her father and then jetted away from Bespin. They just didn't care to pull a heist at all, and I was OK with this since I found this adventure really weak overall.

 

Conversely I think it's great roleplaying adventure and my party are loving the opportunities for in-character play that this adventure offers. Six 4-hour sessions in and we are just getting to the Grand Prix at the end of Act I. Lots of obligation and motivation-based stuff to sidetrack them with on Cloud City while they are planning the various elements. Helps that we have a real mix of characters too, with a slicer, a pilot, a mechanic, a big game hunter, an archaeologist and a marauder droid!

 

In terms of "encouraging" the party to get stuck in, I use the old standby of their patron (a Tatooine Hutt who they owe obligation to) tells them to do the job and do it well or else! How they do it is up to them, but do it they must as they are petrified of him! And they get to remove some of their obligation in the process.

 

I would say that these are a very experienced bunch of players though, and happy to plan and not be spoon-fed. And I ran BTR with them last year so they know the system. Also it's quite a tough adventure for a new GM, as you'll likely have to stay abreast of so much going on at once. My party went off in 5 different directions, each PC doing their own thing, which was **** hard work for me, keeping everyone's little bit of the story going, managing 5 parallel timelines of activity on the fly, and screenwiping frequently enough that nobody got bored. And as a result, lots and lots of ad-libbing to stay ahead of their machinations - which, let's be honest, is the best bit of being a GM anyway.

Edited by jonamok

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I'm glad you and your group enjoyed it. My group tends to react badly to the idea of "do it or else" so it's not so easy to get them into adventures that don't interest them.

 

As for calling it "weak" I think that several portions feel forced, especially the race and the auction. My group didn't go that far, and I didn't regret it one bit.

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My group actually turned things around and snitched on Aris and her father and then jetted away from Bespin. They just didn't care to pull a heist at all, and I was OK with this since I found this adventure really weak overall.

 

Ouch.  Not that I think you have to like the adventure (matters of taste and all), but I think I'd be pretty annoyed after dropping $30 on an adventure, figuring out the ins and outs, and then having my players go, "Yeah, we ain't gonna play ball.  Let's just narc this guy out and bounce."

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I'm actually running this right now, and my group is already way off script (which is good; it's a very flexible adventure that can go lots of different ways).  So far, they confronted Elaiza before the auction and won her over to their side by giving her a lightsaber that they got off of an Inquisitor's apprentice.  Now, she's working for them, and will be their mentor after the adventure is finished.  

 

They were planning on screwing over Aris, but now, they really aren't too concerned about the jewel.  What they're doing now is pawning all of their stuff and are going to place major bets on the Grand Prix.  Their own entry is going to be a decoy designed to harass other contestants, while they are now sponsoring Rayzer's entry by giving him Arend's ship complete with attachments and upgrades.  Since Rayzer was probably at 50:1 or 75:1 odds, it'll be quite a risk.  We'll play out the Grand Prix to see if they just lost all of their money :)  And even if they win, they're going to find that some underworld types will be coming after them for "insider betting" :) such as Aris' husband, who owns most of the casinos on Cloud city, and who will be taking their bets.

 

After the race, they still want to steal the jewel, plus they have a rival who's trying to thwart their activities (the twin sister of the party's "face" who everyone now hates).  Elaiza will give them her place at the auction, while she helps with the actual heist.  The tech is going to route the funds into a number of separate accounts of her own.  I don't think they've planned an exit strategy yet, and they're not sure how they're going to get away from Lobot's electronic gaze, but that'll be for after Thanksgiving :)

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My group actually turned things around and snitched on Aris and her father and then jetted away from Bespin. They just didn't care to pull a heist at all, and I was OK with this since I found this adventure really weak overall.

 

Ouch.  Not that I think you have to like the adventure (matters of taste and all), but I think I'd be pretty annoyed after dropping $30 on an adventure, figuring out the ins and outs, and then having my players go, "Yeah, we ain't gonna play ball.  Let's just narc this guy out and bounce."

 

To be fair, $30 is not that much money to me, and I buy and read plenty of RPG products that I don't end up running. Bits and pieces from Jewel showed up later in another adventure I put together, so even with this group it wasn't a total loss.

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Don't forget the power of flashbacks during some of the more caper-like heist scenes. Let the players dive in to the scene without a plan, then let them do flashback scenes during the caper. Each flashback allows them to set up some piece of kit, or situation, that allows them to proceed. Yes, the PC has the code for this alarm. Yes, that other PC has the documents for blackmailing the bigwig. For each flashback, do a skill check to see if that piece of setup succeeded or failed. 

 

It's an approach that should keep the action going without a long and boring planning phase.

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Don't forget the power of flashbacks during some of the more caper-like heist scenes. Let the players dive in to the scene without a plan, then let them do flashback scenes during the caper. Each flashback allows them to set up some piece of kit, or situation, that allows them to proceed. Yes, the PC has the code for this alarm. Yes, that other PC has the documents for blackmailing the bigwig. For each flashback, do a skill check to see if that piece of setup succeeded or failed. 

 

It's an approach that should keep the action going without a long and boring planning phase.

Now where have I seen that before? Would have to be on TV in a series about heists, maybe? ;)

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Think they discussed the idea of using flashbacks on a recent Order 66. It's a great plan. And one I will likely try for a future campaign.

Well, actually the idea is from the series "Leverage", which is about a team of thieves turned good guys conning bad guys. It makes a lot of sense adapting it for roleplaying games (and there is actually a Leverage RPG, too).

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My group actually turned things around and snitched on Aris and her father and then jetted away from Bespin. They just didn't care to pull a heist at all, and I was OK with this since I found this adventure really weak overall.

 

Can I ask what you found weak? I haven't read through the whole thing yet... just the descriptive parts at the beginning. I was working up to getting my PC's interested. So I'm not prepping to debate you or anything. I'm honestly curious.

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My group actually turned things around and snitched on Aris and her father and then jetted away from Bespin. They just didn't care to pull a heist at all, and I was OK with this since I found this adventure really weak overall.

 

Can I ask what you found weak? I haven't read through the whole thing yet... just the descriptive parts at the beginning. I was working up to getting my PC's interested. So I'm not prepping to debate you or anything. I'm honestly curious.

 

The race feels really forced, especially as it's just a way to get into the auction. Why do the race at all, when you could instead forge invitations to the gala or do anything that would draw less attention. In fact that's what really bugged me - the guys doing the heist shouldn't be the same ones trying to jack up the bid. This adventure would work so much better by splitting the party for most of it, but this tends to be a real pain in the ass to GM. Oh, and the race...I just want to be clear that it seemed totally forced into the storyline.

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