Thieves Guild Brainstorming

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Kevaar's picture
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Yet another neglected Imperial faction. (We should make that into an official abbreviation!) The planning document is sadly empty: http://tamriel-rebuilt.org/content/faction-thieves-guild

Summary of old documentation to be found here: http://tamriel-rebuilt.org/forum/thieves-guild-documentation

Discussion, go! 

 

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I find the Thieves Guild hard to grasp.
Morrowind had to play up a weird Robin Hood angle for its endgame and the conflict with the Fighters Guild, which makes the Thieves play second fiddle in their own questline.

Oblivion had a good guild questline, except where a Daedric Prince had the power to make an entire, massive guild disappear from common knowledge. That boggles my mind.

Skyrim was just plain nonsense and played up the Daedric connection even further.

 

What do you do with the people who want a bite of everything? I don’t know, keep them local and just don’t have a major questline at all? Steal Vivec’s fire hair? Parker’s questline was a good start, but they seem to have been cast at the wayside, because in the end they aren’t really cut out for high-profile missions unless they involve Daedra.

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I thought the Skyrim questline was actually pretty good, though would have been stronger without the Daedric connection in there.

I think one thing to decide is whether they should be good thieves or bad thieves. Skyrim’s thieves were more thug-y, but Morrowind’s more Robin Hood-y, as you said. I would think the latter would make more sense, one because there’s a precedent and two because it serves as the contrast to the dark Camonna Tong.

But if we’re going with a Camonna Tong vs. Thieves Guild storyline, we might have the chance to do some Godfather like sequences in there. Such a character might be an interesting addition to the Old Ebonheart underworld, and mesh well with the other end-of-the-era calamities going on in Morrowind, I think. And wouldn’t it be ironic if said criminal mastermind turned out to be the saving grace of the commonfolk in the process? Such as smuggling out refugees once the Camonna Tong (or even the Sixth House) begins to carry out their vision of driving the outlanders from Morrowind.

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Atrayonis

I find the Thieves Guild hard to grasp.
Morrowind had to play up a weird Robin Hood angle for its endgame and the conflict with the Fighters Guild, which makes the Thieves play second fiddle in their own questline.

Oblivion had a good guild questline, except where a Daedric Prince had the power to make an entire, massive guild disappear from common knowledge. That boggles my mind.

If Morrowind was Robin Hood, then what was Oblivion? Super Hiper Mega Robin Hood? Oblivion’s Thieves Guild is by far the worst guild in all of TES games.

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I liked Oblivion’s Thieves Guild. I think the Gray Fox is an interesting character, far more so than the generic TG Masterminds.  In terms of looking after the poor, Gentleman Jim Stacey is just as ‘hippy’.

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I think a TG main questline is a good opportunity for player choice. It would be great if the player had the opportunity to choose to go about things from either a noble robin-hood type style, or a more cut-throat angle. This could be highlighted by having competing philosiphies within the guild, and the player chooses which to gravitate towards.

A few miscellaneous quest ideas.

- Would be humorous if a some wealthy noble hires the guild to steal an artifact from another nobleman, and then later you are hired to steal it again and return to the original owner.
- A paranoid Baron hires you simply to test his own security
- A timed mission where you stalk a caravan and rob it at the right opportunity (perhaps they stop at an Inn between towns?)
 

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Main quest idea brainstorm

Instead of a grand-epic superhero Thief story, I’d be more in favor of the more cliched Thieves vs. The Overzealous Guard Captain. A gritty struggle that takes place mainly in one of the big cities. Within the Guild players would be faced with moral dilemma with some members of the guild preaching old-school honor among thieves, and new up-and-comers wanted to take the guild down a more sinister route. It would also be fun to include a neat hate-triangle between <TG-Camonna Tong-Guards> where the groups infiltrate each other, frame each other, and generally plot each others destruction.

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Also some form of heist missions would be neat, although I don’t know how feasible that would be, icluding getting information about a place, how many guards, their patrol routes, what people could be bribed( with money, alcohol etc.) making connections, friends, the right alliances, betraying or getting betrayed, discovering scandals within the government, setting traps for the Camonna Tong, anger them by stealing from their top bosses, some good old money redistribution etc.

Another Idea: stealing quest items you would normally get from other guilds. Of course you then wouldn’t be able to play that guild or get thrown out of it. Also there could be some collaberation missions for the blades for example.

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The thief vs. guard thing is already what was started in Helnim. Didn’t work very well IMO.
 

- A paranoid Baron hires you simply to test his own security

That’s this quest (same but by a telvanni)
 

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Waagenator

A few miscellaneous quest ideas.

- Would be humorous if a some wealthy noble hires the guild to steal an artifact from another nobleman, and then later you are hired to steal it again and return to the original owner.
- A paranoid Baron hires you simply to test his own security
- A timed mission where you stalk a caravan and rob it at the right opportunity (perhaps they stop at an Inn between towns?)
 

I like these a lot. Though the last one might be too difficult to code, unless you want to fudge it and have the NPCs appear at a certain inn, implying in the dialogue they just got there, like vanilla did with stealing from that one Mage’s Guild hall.

As far as the general direction of the Thieves Guild quest, I think we should have a robin-hood-esque questline centered around a mainland branch of the Bal Molagmer, since that’s established by vanilla as a thing.

That would free up the general questline to be more thug-y, though it’d be a strange flip to go from that to the Bal Molagmer. Would have to think of a reason why those two co-existed, or perhaps offer a thug-y approach as a branching option (player can choose thugs OR Bal Molagmer). Ehh.
 

Ateiggaer

Also some form of heist missions would be neat, although I don’t know how feasible that would be, icluding getting information about a place, how many guards, their patrol routes, what people could be bribed( with money, alcohol etc.) making connections, friends, the right alliances, betraying or getting betrayed, discovering scandals within the government, setting traps for the Camonna Tong, anger them by stealing from their top bosses, some good old money redistribution etc.

Another Idea: stealing quest items you would normally get from other guilds. Of course you then wouldn’t be able to play that guild or get thrown out of it. Also there could be some collaberation missions for the blades for example.

Casing a place for another thief to come by later could be really interesting.

Edit and note to self: The Thieves Guild in vanilla has some instances of NPCs being shipped off to the mainland for one reason or another. Might be able to turn these into something.

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How about a Camonna Tong-TG Turf war, while both guilds attempt to operate under the radar of the oppressive guards.

Opens up plenty of opportunity for guard bribery, good dialogue, infiltration missions, double-agents/traitors, murder-mystery atmosphere, and open-ended quest completion.

Also, still opens up the possibility of the internal TG struggle between “no we’re better than that”, and “let’s be villains”.

I personally would like a fairly dark and gritty TG storyline in the gutters and slums of one of the big cities. Preferably involving big name characters involved in the Skooma, Moon Sugar, and underground slavery business

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Yes I like the ideas of double-agents/traitors, which would make for a good place for a plottwist, were things could get more gritty after some innocent first missions.
How cool would it be, trying to steal something that has been rumored to be very valuable, only to discover it was a trap from the Camonna Tong. Followed by a struggle for survival by the Thieves Guild. The only hope: the player has to infiltrate the Camonna Tong as a double agent to sabotage and find ther weaknesses.

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I like that. Camonna Tong vs. ThievesGuild action was something I wanted more of in vanilla. And it’s a chance to give the Camonna Tong some more history and character as well, and not just “super racist dunmer thugs”.

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Why can't some of the thieves just be actual pieces of shit and not have any ulterior motives?

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Templar Tribe

Why can't some of the thieves just be actual pieces of shit and not have any ulterior motives?
 

That could still be the case, like in the beginning you have the Thieves Guild presenting itself more “robin hoody”, no killing-rule, and maybe trying its best to have their more shady members under control.

But when the war with the Camonna Tong escalates and they have to struggle for survival, some of the thieves are ready to fight back with the same violence they go through, while other members still try to find not as bloody solutions to keep casualty rates as low as possible. It’s the age-old question of, what do we do when someone’s out to hurt us, fighting and killing back though infringes on our core principles. Of course there will be people in the Thieves Guild who will show their brutal, piece of shit side, and others that are to idealistic to fight back with violence.
And in the middle of this the player who can decide if he goes the violent, or the not as violent way.

Of course both ways still include stealing or sabotaging things, just one way doesn’t care for collateral damage all that much.

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The whole notion of robin-hoody Bal Molagmer is only of any interest when contrasted with the native ruthlessness – you’re saying yes there’s that immediate aspect of the local culture, AND this bit that you didn’t expect is also an integral part of it,

Keep in mind the Bal Molagmer is supposed to be an old Vvardenfell group, and the Thieves Guild is an Imperial organisation, unofficial as it may be. There are conclusions to be derived as to why an Imperial network (or indeed as it’s the case in vanilla, only one person within it) would want to co-opt a dead Dunmer myth.

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But why can't you also have chapter heads that are just like drug addicts or something. Like for example, one of them has a bad skooma addiction and needs to pull jobs just to support the habit. While maybe another is infatuated with gems and has members pull heists to add new ones to his collection? Simple motives without any extra bs with them, they're just greedy individuals who use the people under them to further personal wants...

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I still like the TG vs. CT turf war idea.

Tensions heat up and reach a boiling point between the factions. All sorts of back-stabbery ensue. Possibly a few back alley skirmishes or guild hall raids. Opens up the possibility of good use of dialogue, and open ended questline completion. Long story short, the player could persue a few different means of solving the CT problem.

- Blackmail CT leader.
- Frame CT leader.
- Have leader assasinted (frowned upon by certain guild members) ((puts heat on TG from Guards as TG is prime suspect))
- Find a sympathetic CT member and help stage a coup from within (diplomatic “good guy” approach)
- Possibly others.

I like this idea because it keeps it simple, kind of “grounded” in a more realistic kind of sense, but still allows a lot of really fun gameplay which fits the thieves guild theme.

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Templar Tribe

Why can't some of the thieves just be actual pieces of shit and not have any ulterior motives?

Because one-dimensional characters is bad writing.

Not to say someone can’t be a simplistic piece of crap and be a more three-dimensional character at the same time. What I don’t want is caricature bad guys acting that way just because the story needs a villain. In vanilla, Camonna Tong served the countering role of “we don’t want to be as bad as them” for the Thieves Guild. Which is fine as far as it goes, but in TR, if we are going to be using them as the centerpiece, they need more depth to them.

Doesn’t mean we have to dress the thugs up as just misunderstood victims (IRL, much less often the case than civility would make you hope, anyway), just add flavor. What are their customs? What are they doing when not messing around with the Thieves Guild? Why do the Tribunal let them get away with crap? What’s the motivating force behind their racism (racism is never “just cuz”)? Many things in Morrowind are highly ritualized and traditional, even the more “criminal” elements like the Morag Tong have their honored place in its society—are the Camonna Tong the exception or the rule to this? If they are the rule, do they have their special rituals and rules that only a Dunmer would understand? Then make them understandable for the player, if not the characters.

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I want to add that we still could have members of the Thieves Guild with simple motives, hell I think alot of players join them just because they  like to break into houses and nick things for their personal gain, with the guild giving them tipps and information where the best goodies at.
This would be for some first introducing missions, fairly innocent, the player can sympathize with those people because he also likes to steal stuff that’s not his, simple as that.
But then we should introduce another level, a greater conflict, the turf war with the CT after brewing for so long escalates. They can be portrayed as the really bad guys at first, destroying the simple life you enjoyed within the TG. Do you fight back? Maybe you resort to killing at first, eye for an eye. Then you try a different approach, which stated before many times, allows to show the CT from a different side, maybe find out why they act how they act.

Follow Morrowinds tradition by first letting the player belive, TG are purely victims and CT are the offenders and then show him the other side of the coin and let him decide if he wants to find a more diplomatic solution, or give in to the violence.

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Templar Tribe

But why can't you also have chapter heads that are just

Sure you can, that’s 100% of the current chapter heads. The other one even has “Greedy” in his actual name, what more could you ask.
(no he’s not getting a skooma addiction)

Something else to consider on character-building: though you may give them an incredibly detailed personality in planning and still have none of it carry through to the player. Why? Guild dialogue needs to be above all short and functional. A flavourful single dimension, sometimes played around with, is better than a complex personality that in the end won’t exist.

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Regardless of the quest-line, I think this should be an opportunity to design some quests around actual good stealth mechanics, which vanilla morrowind lacked.

Possibly necessary to build an interior with this in mind. The way stealth works is still pretty limiting, but stealth missions can be made more fun than they were in vanilla.

Even things like:

Having multiple means to complete each mission. Entry points etc.
A reason to perform your mission at night (guard schedules change, a player might find a guard schedule which shows a window of opportunity.)
Having to complete a mission without being seen.

etc.

 

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A final quest could be to steal the armistice treaty from ebon tower (I don’t know why the TG would want to do that though) The quest shouldn’t be sneak in there grab it and intervention/recall out, it should be far more complex and fun.

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For that, as Waagenator said, it would definitely be necessary to have places and interiors built for that. Could be fun to build sneak “levels”, with guards patrolling.

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I, for one, am pretty fond of the old plans for the TG’s main quest. Basically it revolves around a gradually escalating war between the Thieves Guild and the Camonna Tong and also finding out what’s going on with the Guild’s leadership. The plotline is vague enough so it could include a plethora of different kinds of quests. Individual guild hideouts could still have their own local plotlines.

Summary
The previous Guild leader, legendary Arnie the Scrib, has retired from the Guild activity and left its HQ in Narsis forever as conditioned by a fragile truce made with the Camonna Tong. The Wood Elf Endoroth has been chosen as the new Master Thief after presenting his peers and contenders with what was considered the ultimate loot: Vaermina's Skull of Corruption. Under Endoroth’s new style of management the Guild is slowly turning more and more ruthless to counter the Camonna Tong. A gang war is about to start. The Guild also faces an internal threat. Endoroth has obviously been corrupted by the prized Skull and is steering the Guild towards a disaster. As the game progresses, he’ll be giving orders to mercilessly kill Camonna Tong members, their affiliates and maybe even local law enforcement and innocent bystanders. Under the Skull’s influence Endoroth is trying to harness its power to seemingly use it against the Camonna Tong – but unwittingly against the whole city of Narsis in the same process. The player's role in all this will be to defeat the Camonna Tong threat as well as confronting Endoroth and taking the Skull from him. Somewhere along the plotline the player is also tasked with finding the retired Arnie the Scrib (living incognito as 'Alomon Juspethe' in Teyn). With Arnie's assistance the Thieves Guild Mainland questline will end with a final 'anti-heist' where the player returns there Skull of Corruption to wherever it was stolen from (a Daedric pocket realm).

Also, see this thread from 2013 (back when Almalexia was being worked on!). It’s out-of-date obviously, but it has some ideas for individual quests which could be used elsewhere.

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That sounds very good and should be discussed further.

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I’m a fan of those old plans for the TG main quest.

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I like that!

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And double post. I would say that plotline might warrant an upgrade into the planning documents, but I suppose we could talk about it in the next meeting. Throwing that on the agenda!