If your players are as opportunistic as their characters should be, (or if they have experience with a certain other TTRPG), you’ve probably already been asked a variation on that age-old question: “Is there anything valuable I can grab?” Whether they’re rifling through the pockets of a victim, or snatching silverware during a second-story job, mine are always looking for opportunities to make a little extra on the side. And why shouldn’t they? It’s in character, and there’s no guarantee of a payoff if the score goes pear-shaped.
So how do you handle this?
When the situation first arose in my game, my inclination was to keep the action moving rather than price out individual items. So I started keeping a tally based on the probable value of items grabbed: Cheap stuff gets 1 mark, more precious items get 2 or, in rare cases, 3 marks. Then, during the Payoff, I make a fortune roll based on the total tally. The highest number represents the amount of extra Coin they make fencing these purloined goods.
Are there other approaches anyone would recommend?
I like the idea of a fortune roll as you describe, but I’d probably limit the total to between 1 extra coin (on a 1-3) and 3 (on a 6).
My position is that most incidental swag won’t add up to even a Coin. (If it could, it wouldn’t be “incidental”–it’d be a target of the Score!) Stuff your pockets with silverware all you want, but that’s just going to be spending money we handwave during Downtime.
That said, I’ve run Scores where the scoundrels find some obviously valuable item that isn’t the main objective of the job, and I run those as a sort of “sub-Score.” The incidental loot probably has a few layers of security separate from those surrounding the main Score, and it may represent a logistical challenge as well (“We’re here to steal a single ruby, not a piece of artillery”). It’s a distraction, basically–the crew could ignore it, or try to snag it at a later date. Put another way: it’s that classic heist scene where a member of the crew nearly bungles the whole job by getting greedy. Markus the Leech is supposed to be on lookout, but when the Bluecoats respond to the alarm he’s fiddling with a small lockbox that fell out of a drawer.
In the group I played with we never had any of the random loot be worth coin, even if you totaled up everything. Keep in mind that one coin is nearly five (seven?) days of wages.
Anything found via Gather Information/searching were mundane items that could be used for roleplay, emergency items, crafted together or used to decorate the lair. Examples included a bottle of wine you could get intoxicated on, a few spare bullets if you Devil’s Bargained your own, a busted Spirit Warden mask that could be refurbished, a signed copy of Lady Bowmore’s autobiography.
Now, items being worth one or more coin would be specifically called out or otherwise be rather noticeable. Someone carrying around a diamond, a chest of silver, or old Imperial gold would tend to stick out. But nabbing those tended to require an action roll with potential consequences.
In the past I’ve had them do action rolls and give them Coin equal to the result level when it’s made sense, for good opportunities or when they want to press an employer for more payment. I’m notoriously stingy with payment though
Negotiating with an employer is ofc always slightly risky, and even sticking around to loot can result in Bluecoats showing up or whatever. Since they’re pushing their luck for payment it’s usually Risky at least.
If players decide to enrich themselves during a mission to otherwise enrich themselves, I do two things:
- I raise the level of difficulty because now the crew is attempting to do more than originally planned.
- I increase the level of reward at the end of the mission. A small job becomes a standard score, etc. This keeps the numbers simple and abstract so I don’t have to worry about how much each golden candlestick or Corovian watch costs.