So I released this deck for Blades in the Dark.
The idea here is that you could need a heist in short order, and generate one with the cards. You draw two important people, figuring one will hire you to hit the other one. Then you draw a treasure card; the heist has something to do with that. Finally, draw three special obstacles to add to the sort of obstacles you’d already expect.
Synthesize it all together, and you’ve got some inspiration for the heist location, and some ideas for how it all fits together. You can either do it fast, on the spot, or some time ahead and give your back-brain time to simmer over it and refine the ideas.
Anyway, here is a smash-’em-out quick heist I did with the deck.
The print deck has 50 obstacles with questions to help customize them, and on the back, suggestions for scaling them to be more or less difficult. It also has 40 cards with an important person on one side, and a treasure on the other.
The .pdf deck has 30 obstacles with questions to help customize them, 20 important people, and 20 treasures. It is a 10 page document you print out and cut up yourself.
Both have an instruction page to help make heists.
The Golden Mask
A mysterious old man wants to hire the crew for a heist. (If they push, or if they have a whisper or other skilled attune capacity they see that it is a ghost possessing an old man. If they push, they can find out it is Sir Mournseller, an anarchist ghost who possesses old men from the Draymach Asylum and breaks them out so he can hire scoundrels for missions only he understands. If he can, he’ll keep the job mysterious and anonymous.) He promises to pay them by telling them where a stash of old paintings are.
As it turns out, Holtz Clermont is the City Clerk for the whole district. He has recently acquired through a shady deal an artifact that is more powerful than he realizes. He thinks it is just a pretty mask, but he has the Dyvik’s Chaser mask. The mysterious old man needs that, and they can keep anything else they find.
The old man knows that Clermont has a stash of ill-gotten goods out of the city tax man’s eye, tucked away under an abandoned outdoor stage at the back of a foreclosed aristocratic estate at the edge of the nearby wealthy district. The old man is willing to share the combination of stones to push to get the secret passage at the base of the stage to open, and from there they can go down to the treasure chamber.
The property is patrolled by some of the worst of the worst city guards, overpaid and loyal to Clermont alone. They keep their pack of vicious dogs on the estate, using its grounds as a kennel when the dogs aren’t dragged along with them on patrol. They’ve turned the stables near the stage into their own private tavern, away from prying eyes.
What the old man does NOT tell them that they can find out by asking around is that these guards, the Fangers, are notorious sadists. They are drunk with power and only their pull through Clermont keeps them out of jail. He uses them to intimidate victims, and the dogs are used for bloody executions out of the public eye.
What the old man does not even know is that Clermont arranged for a “vine curtain” to be grown over the outdoor stage. It snatches anyone or anything that comes close enough, coiling them over to a trapdoor in the stage; below is a big semi-aware root with spikes protecting it. Those captured in the vine are rescued by the guards, who then torture them in whatever way pleases them. The guards and dogs know enough to stay clear of the vines unless retrieving a victim.
The old man also does not tell them about the mask’s unique quality. If someone speaks its command word (which is etched along its inner edge) then the spirit of the one holding it is pulled into the mask. The spirit in the mask is released into the body. Who might be trapped in there, waiting for a host, and what business does Sir Mournseller have with the personality trapped in the mask?
Now the players start thinking about ways around those defenses, and the GM can start rounding out the heist with further twists and turns! But that’s enough to kick things off and let the glorious improvisation ramp up.