Thief: The Dark Project

A few ideas I’ve had kicking around as I’ve tried several times to get the feel of the computer game into boardgames I’ve made, and there’s been some Indie games recently (such as Girl Underground) that have concepts that make me wonder how this could be done as a FitD RPG. Ostensibly it has one protagonist, which is problematic for party based gaming which are most RPGs

What if the flashback mechanic is separated out into the helper roles for the protagonist, and players rotate who they control - possibly turning FitD into a more storytelling game than roleplaying (as I envision it GM-less and players doing multiple roles).

I think it could work as a 2-4 player game although it’s almost exclusively mission-centric, due to only having one protagonist there’s not a lot that can be done between missions for all the players (unless I create another set of playbooks for that)

Playbooks would be-

  • Thief (the protagonist)
  • Target (the scene framer or GM)
  • Patron (who the Thief works for)
  • Fixer (where the Thief gets their equipment)

In a 2 player game, the Target, Patron and Fixer are all done by one player. In 3 Player the Patron and Fixer are played by one player.

The Thief playbook is a mix of Lurk and Hound
The Target playbook has a resource management system based on what the other playbooks have done. Mostly concerned with the creation of clocks, the rest being fiction. The Target is a playbook specifically for the mission and isn’t used outside the mission
The Patron playbook handles any non-equipment related flashbacks (e.g. social etc), gets to outline the goal of the mission and handles entanglements.
The Fixer playbook handles equipment flashbacks, loadout and downtime.

Flashbacks are now mini-scenes between the Thief and either the Patron or Fixer. The Patron/Fixer do not have to play “themselves” but act as the scene framer or GM and handle all NPCs for the flashback.

Loadout is now completely different and represents either what was able to be stashed for clandestine missions, or what was able to be provided before the mission from multiple sources. It’s still something that occurs in mission, and the level is determined by the Patron when they outline the mission goals. But it’s down to rolls by the Fixer as to what they were able to obtain in response to what the Thief needs.

Entanglements and Downtime are GMed by the Patron and Fixer respectively. During these the Target player does book keeping - adjusts Faction relationships, maintains lists of NPCs and plot threads not closed etc.

Hammerites (worshippers of The Builder), rivals with Mechanists, allies City Watch. Enemies with Pagans, Kurshok and Wardens
Mechanists (ex-Hammerites that follow Karras), rivals with Hammerites, allies City Watch. Enemies with Pagans, Kurshok and Wardens
Keepers (mystic glyph using cult), independant
Pagans (worshippers of the old gods)
Mages, independant
City Watch, allies with Hammerites, Mechanists
Kurshok, non-human, enemies with everyone else
Wardens (organised crime leaders)


This sounds fun. Have you played Tim Fowers’ Burgle Bros. and/or are you looking at the upcoming Sabotage for ideas?

Garrett as Narrator is such a strong and interesting presence in the Thief games, I wonder if the other players might play Flashback narrators of a kind who are also the Thief? The Flashback Fixer thing sounds great too.

I had a Batman-inspired game I’d been working on for years which might as easily been Thief inspired. I sort of lost the impulse to continue working on it when Blades in the Dark came out.

A pretty fixed and/or systematic Clock system for Light/Shadow and/or Discovery/Hidden weighed against water arrow resources and/or a Time clock the Thief is racing against might be cool elements.

I’ll be watching with interest. It has its flaws, but Thief had remains among my favorite games and I am so thankful to it for inspiring an entire sneaker genre.

I haven’t played those games yet (although that said I do have a boardgame inspired by Thief here - it’s my second attempt at a boardgame for Thief), I’ve been looking into games that have a single protagonist shared by players, and possible rotating GM games.

I did have an idea of writing up the missions from the game as possible scenarios/fronts.

Because the Target role is rotating, there needs to be a way to give defaults to the difficulties involved that isn’t reliant on GM experience like it is in Blades.

Clocks could be fixed for some things, but there probably should be room for some creative clocks as well for the Target to use to cover unforeseen events that occur in play. Possibly the non-Thief players may have some agency to create clocks as well as helping resolve existing ones.

Also on resources and loadout - had a thought that the difficulty in the games may directly translate to the loudout for a mission and the resources the Target gets.