“If you ever need help with another bank heist…”

callmeHaving successfully masterminded a bank robbery in ‘Time Heist’ the Doctor does seem keen to team up with Psi on a future caper. This pursuit would appeal to his anti-authoritarian, anarchist streak not to mention he would relish the opportunity to match his wits against various security experts.

You could explore this in your own campaigns, either with the Doctor or your own PCs. There are plenty of sources of inspiration, from the ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ series of films and tv series such as ‘Hustle’ and ‘Leverage’.

The main characters in Doctor who aren’t usually motivated by financial gain but there are other reasons that they might rob a bank. ‘Time Heist’ illustrates how banks can also contain valuable items that the PCs or their allies might need.

The PCs could take the Robin Hood approach, stealing the money to give to the poor. This makes their actions less selfish. It is up to the PCs to decide how they reallocate the funds they have stolen.

The removal of funds from a bank could bankrupt government and criminal organisations or inconvenience villains. This is is similar to the James Bond movie ‘Casino Royale’ in which the secret agent attempts to beat a financier of a criminal organisation at poker so that he will have no choice but seek sanctuary with the intelligence service. This illustrates that if PCs want to depose fascist governments or stall alien invasions they could always try hitting them where it hurts, in their bank account.

Once they’ve decided to be bank robbers they have to select a target. The GM can design an adventure around a specific bank, or if they have time, present several possible targets. The bank’s security measures and where it is located should all present a challenge for the PCs.

Doctor Who characters shouldn’t be encouraged to use violence so simply raiding the bank shouldn’t be possible. This could be because the security guards are too well-armed or that the treasure is protected by security systems they can’t just destroy.

The bank of Karabraxos only allowed people access to the system if their movements were monitored, authenticated DNA and used breath to identify clients. Failure to pass these checks led to incineration. Further more the vaults were only accessible via drop boxes which were atomically sealed. The final safe guard was the Teller, able to psychically detect guilt.

Other banks may have similarly tight security using advanced technology. For example vaults might be kept out of phase with reality, protected by constantly patrolling robots or swarms of nanoprobes ready to disassemble intruders. Sensors could sweep all restricted areas for the slightest change in temperature or air displacement. Vaults could be kept constantly moving through a deadly labyrinth only accessible for limited periods.

Whatever security the bank has the PCs shouldn’t be able to defeat it simply by materialising their TARDIS in the vault. Either their piloting skills make this impossible or the security systems include something that make it TARDIS proof.

Their time machine could still be useful for the bank heist. As in ‘Time Heist’ it could allow them to be at the bank when it is most vulnerable. A natural disaster could know certain security systems off line, there could be a glitch in a newly installed system that was swiftly discovered but give the time travellers a window of opportunity to exploit or they could arrive during another bank robbery, using the distraction to cover their own heist.

If the PCs don’t have the necessary skills they could recruit others to help them. This could be a good way for a Time Lord PC to gain new companions. The Doctor at least seems to have a database he can access of people who might be useful.

One or more of the recruits could work inside the bank. The advantages of time travel allows the PCs to gain the loyalty of someone in the past, so that during the heist they will aide them. They could even plant someone, having them work at the bank for years just for this one job.

They could travel into the future, after the bank they’ve targeted has been closed. People might be more willing to reveal details of how the bank operated if they think no one can rob it now. Design schematics and other details of the bank could be matters of public record, giving the PCs everything they need to get in.

During the heist there should be complications. Something the PCs thought they knew could turn out to be wrong, there could be an unexpected event at the bank that requires the PCs to rethink their plan on the fly or a new time limit imposed (maybe an unexpected bank inspection right where the PCs are hiding).

This prevents things from becoming too predictable and illustrates that no matter how much plan and preparation the PCs they still have to be on their toes during the actual heist.

Banks aren’t the only targets the PCs might set their sights on. Casinos, art galleries and science labs all have high security and valuable items that sticky fingers characters might want to get their hands on.

To put a face to the opposition there could be one or more investigators or security experts who might discover the presence of the PCs and attempt to thwart their plans. This can raise the stakes, especially if the PCs know that they are being watched but their ego demands they go through with the heist anyway.

A classic cliché of the bank heists is when things appear to go wrong only for it to be retroactively revealed that the PCs planned for this eventuality. ‘Time Heist’ does something similar with the resurrection of Psi and Saibra.

This can be neatly simulated using Story Points. With a suitable explanation PCs can get out of a difficult situation to explain how they’ve prepared for this event. For example just as guards grab them it is revealed the PCs earlier programmed the power to shut down earlier, allowing them to escape as the lights turn off or it turns out that the PCs arranged for shapeshifters to pose as them and that is who the guards have grabbed.

If the PCs do get away with their target there could still be some loose ends. Someone they recruited could get greedy and attempt to steal the valuables or they could be compromised and reveal the PCs location to the authorities. The PCs might have to find a way to fence the stolen items or need to rescue anyone who got captured.

You can always play these scenarios from the other side, with the PCs having to stop a robbery. This can be challenging enough but what if they have to deal with a renegade Time Lord who makes theft his specialty?

This entry was posted in 12th Doctor, Time Heist. Bookmark the permalink.

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