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Getting in, getting out. The disguises. The smooth-talking and careful bluffs. The stealth, the hacking, and—when the moment requires it—the quick action. And above all, the beautiful plan, so carefully researched and crafted.
Oh, you’re good at it. You and your friends, you do the impossible. It’s never as easy as it seems (not like it ever seems easy), but you pull it off—every time. And you look good doing it. Bond? Ocean? Neo? Yeah, they’re OK. You’re the real deal.
Because you’re not just master thieves. You’re master thieves from the future. And better yet: you’re Liars—a special kind of liar, a kind whose lies come true. When you lie to reality, you change it. A lock someone forgot to check. A guard who looks away at just the right moment, or a getaway car that somehow goes just a little bit faster than it can. If the mission isn’t going right, you change the rules. You take control of reality itself.
And that’s good. Because you aren’t the only liars out there.
Someone else is telling lies, and they’re big ones. Like, end-of-the-world lies. Punching-holes-in-the-universe lies. It’s not clear who they are, what they want, or how they’re doing it. What’s clear is that if you don’t do something, it’s all over. As in, all over.
Who’d have guessed you’d be the ones saving the universe? But hey, you always find a way to come out ahead, and this is no different. Because it turns out that each time you fix a little bit of reality, you get to take a touch of its essence for your own uses—and it’s powerful stuff. Grabbing that essence and making it your own? We call that…
Deceptions. Fabrications. Misrepresentations, shall we say? Yeah, you probably tell plenty of those, but that’s not the cool stuff. No, we’re talking about your kind of lying—when you lie to reality. Because here’s the thing: It always works. The guard gets too caught up in her Sudoku game? You say it, it happens. There’s road work blocking the bad guy’s getaway route? Yep. A massive blackout plunges all of Paris into darkness? Sure. Reality is your plaything. If you can think it, it happens.
That's not to say that lies have no consequences. Lying is stressful, and the bigger the lie, the more stressful it gets. Small lies? You can usually pull them off without much cost. Bigger lies can actually hurt you. Lie big enough, and you could pay the ultimate price. So blacking out all of Paris is a pretty dangerous ploy—unless you happen to know some specific weakness of the grid. Some tiny little lie that sparks big consequences.
But, hey, you're great at that sort of thing. That's why you're the one saving reality!
Yep. A future that might not even exist, if you can't fix the now.
The 31st-century interdimensional exploration ship Celeste has returned to Earth—but something is definitely wrong. You'd had inexplicable problems aboard the ship, and seen increasing reality decay in the dimensions you'd visited. When the Celeste returned to Earth's orbit, things were downright catastrophic: You found yourself in ancient history—the 21st century to be exact. Even worse, this ancient Earth is increasingly riddled with anomalies. Improbable things are happening, and the Zones of Improbability are growing in both size and number. The stress is literally tearing reality itself apart.
These Improbability Zones are places where reality has taken a sharp right turn. Perhaps inanimate objects in downtown Cincinnati are randomly transforming into different objects. Or people in Manchester keep running into doppelgängers of themselves. There's always some objective that should return reality to normal—most often a seemingly innocuous object that must be removed from the Improbability Zone. Whatever’s causing the reality disruption is somehow keyed to that object.
Fortunately, getting your hands on other people's objects is your forté!
Heists are hard. The most beautiful jobs rely on meticulous planning and perfect execution. And even then, some wrench always seems to get thrown into the works. An unexpected twist (or three!) that throws the whole plan into disarray. But you’re pretty awesome at pulling it all back together and coming out on top—with panache!
How do you do it?
A heist in Stealing Stories unfolds in three Acts. In Act One, the GM and the players work together to create the heist—the scenario and the plan, together at the same time. The GM starts the mission briefing with the objective and location, like: “The key is a thumb drive kept in an office building in the middle of Dallas.”
Then the group starts building the plan, suggesting elements that fit their strengths. If a PC is good at climbing, crawling, and getting through tight spots, the player might say there’s access to the office suite via the air ducts. But then the GM steps in with a complication: “Yes, but there’s no vent access from the ground level. They connect to the roof.” The players suggest a stairwell, fire escape, or access from a nearby building, and the GM adds in the security cameras, patrols, or other complications. In this way, the players and GM work together until they’ve created a detailed scenario, and an equally detailed plan, all at the same time.
Once you move into Act Two, the action starts. You’re good at what you do, but the universe doesn’t always play ball. You’ll call on your excellent skills, your wits, and your lies as you overcome the challenges you foresaw in your plan. But there’s always more to it than that, right?
The GM will throw a few Twists in here and there—things that no plan, no matter how careful, can fully anticipate. And then there’s the Turn: The moment where the mission goes in a surprise direction. Maybe there’s another team after the same thing. Or an unrelated emergency nearby puts the authorities on high alert. A storm rolls in, or a fire breaks out, or the target isn’t where or what you thought it was. Suddenly, everything is different.
It's time to think on your feet!
In Act Three you close in on success (or at least a conclusion!). The stakes are higher. The results more definitive. Your actions are bigger, bolder, grander. It’s now or never.
But you've got even more at your disposal than wits, skill, and lies. Mission Cards give players an additional resource for playing heist-savvy characters. One might reveal that you brought a special tool perfect for the situation. Another might let a story from your past pertain to this one, making the current challenge easier. A third might provide a way in which your character is prepared or knowledgeable for the situation at hand (even when you, the player, are not). It's all part of a game that makes the perfect heist come together.
Prepping to run Stealing Stories for the Devil is easy—because there’s literally zero prep work. You start the session with a few key pieces of information, then build the scenario with the players in Act One. If you and the players are already conversant in the rules, you can all be playing within five minutes.
Stealing Stories for the Devil contains all the rules you need to play—and more importantly, the structure and resources that make a collaboratively created game session amazingly easy, fun, and successful with zero prep. Everything you need is included in the game.
That includes powerful GM tools. Loads of resources, ideas, and inspiration let you take the scenario you’ve created with the players and, in minutes, layer in the details that bring it to life. The game includes dozens of maps, images, NPC generation tools, Twist ideas, and more. Easy-to-use reference materials let you quickly answer the questions that come up for the scenario, like "How long will it take for the fire department to show up," or, "What happens when the shaft is jammed with debris?" It'll seem like you prepped for hours!
A one-shot can be a fun way to play Stealing Stories for the Devil—and its zero-prep nature makes it ideally suited for a spur-of-the-moment game. A one-shot game is going to feel like a typical heist tale (think of films like Ocean’s 11, Heist, The Italian Job, etc., or television shows like Lupin or Leverage) with just a little bit of sci-fi.
But as you might have already surmised, there's more going on here than meets the eye.
Stealing Stories gives you a fascinating meta-plot, filled with as many surprising twists and astonishing turns as any individual heist. It takes the PCs through a "season" of gameplay as they come to grasp the big picture and discover what's really going on. You can also run an open-ended campaign, taking the story in any direction your gaming group desires.
The core twelve-heist season begins like a standalone adventure, but quickly introduces mysterious forces at play, delivers surprising twists, gets stranger (with more science fiction/science fantasy elements), and ultimately reveals the cause of all the reality disruptions. And the characters grow and develop, as each time they successfully return reality to its natural state, they gain a little of its power for themselves.
But you aren't limited to the core season. As with most RPGs, an open-ended campaign can take on whatever style the group desires, focused more or less on the weird sci-fi elements as they wish. (You could, in fact, remove all the reality-changing aspects of the game and just run a standard, modern-day heist story.)
Stealing Stories for the Devil contains everything you need to play with zero prep: The rules, resources, and game components, all in a handsome box.