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What gaming system would work the best for running a 'con-man' scenario?

I'm thinking of a team of people who run a con on greedy rich landholders or merchants. Most likely in an urban setting. I like the pseudo-medieval feel of Dungeons and Dragons, so something with that kind of environment/worldview would be nice.

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Tweaked the title since 'con' game is ambiguous (confidence / convention). –  Adam Dray Nov 12 '10 at 16:45
Please indicate what style of con-man game yo want. A few book, movie, tv referecnes would help. Also clarify if Heist should be allowed. –  anon186 Nov 12 '10 at 18:42
@Jeremiah: The question is clear enough. Just make a suggestion. If it doesn't suit Stewbob, it might suit someone with the same question but different tastes. –  SevenSidedDie Nov 12 '10 at 19:28
Have you in mind a Hustle-like kind of adventures? –  DaG Apr 13 '11 at 20:05

4 Answers 4

up vote 12 down vote accepted

The two books that come packaged together as The Burning Wheel: The Burning Wheel Fantasy Roleplaying System and the Character Burner

Burning Wheel

  • Its Duel of Wits system is social combat, which is great for con games.
  • It is set in a generic, pseudo-Medieval, Tolkienesque fantasy world.
  • It will really give some "teeth" to the con game (consequences!) through its Beliefs and Artha systems.
  • Its lifepaths will easily accommodate a medieval urban setting.
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This is a really good suggestion: the Duel of Wits mechanic is great. Be warned that Burning Wheel is incredibly crunchy. Choose it if you like lots of rules, avoid it if you don't. –  Graham Nov 12 '10 at 17:19
You beat me to it. I don't know why the Magic Burner is up there, though. –  okeefe Nov 12 '10 at 18:05
It even has a Confidence Man lifepath (read as "mini-character-class"). A game of con jobs is directly supported by its core rules and "classes". –  SevenSidedDie Nov 12 '10 at 19:25
(Fixed the image, with thanks to RPGGeek's Burning Wheel entry.) –  SevenSidedDie Nov 12 '10 at 19:26

Try The Dying Earth RPG. That's set in a fantasy world, so it hits that button.

It's based around arguing. That is, it's a game of conning and fast-talking and persuading. The main mechanic is a back-and-forth dice mechanic, in which people fire arguments back and forth, until one of them loses.

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Leverage The Roleplaying Game is specifically designed to do a con or heist, and the system is pretty awesome too. It's easy to get into, has several methods of quick and collaborative character generation, and once you get into play the mechanics are well thought out, streamlined and flexible. The only tweak you'd need to do is to the Hacker, who would end up being a Locks & Traps type of Thief in AD&D terms. Everything else fits as is for a fantasy setting, and the mechanics don't need any alteration.

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Any game with a social combat mechanism should work.

At the light mechanics end, Traveller and WFRP 2nd Ed both have reaction rolls and the ability to change people's reactions via game mechanics use of interpersonal skills. (Traveller, while Sci-Fi, has two adaptations to Fantasy...)

At the heavy end, any of the Fate games can use Diaspora's social combat mechanics.

In between are the Burning Wheel and Mouseguard systems, which have a social combat system.

Several D20 games have social combat systems as well, but I can't recall which ones.

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+1 for Diaspora, the social conflict minigame in that has worked real well for us and the setting is pretty easy to adapt. –  CodexArcanum Jan 13 '11 at 20:56

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