Stealing The Bomb
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"Si, I think you'd better come look at this!"
"Can't it wait Aimee? We're just about to dish lunch up …"
"Dunno … look, I've just been checking the cryo on those horse embryo cylinders we grabbed"
"I don't think they're horse embryos"
"Why not?"
"The cryo's already failed on one…"
"So we lost one. Big deal. We can space it after lunch, come up and…"
"Whatever was inside has cut its way out of the cylinder"

Excerpt from the internal comms log of Free Trader Scarramouche - as recovered by the boarding party from HMS Aquitaine.
Lord Protector's Office Confidential Files: Classification WATERFALL

Basic Information

This is Mugging the Monster adjusted for moveable goods. The theif - or theives - steal something that they really wouldn't want if they knew what it was (or who it belonged to). If they steal it from someone - usually a hapless courier - their victim may try to warn them (and will usually be ignored), but if it is stolen by stealth or the original holders killed then the trouble may have to announce itself.

In the most mundane settings, the MaGuffin will be normally dangerous because of who it belongs to (normally The Mob or The Agency) - although sometimes it may be dangerous in and of itself (such as samples of a deadly virus or radioactive material). In sci-fi or magical settings the macguffin may be a lot more active.

Once the thieves have realised that they've got something dangerous, the next issue is what to do with it - sometimes the whole fun will consist of getting it back to the original owner without being killed, other times the theives may wish to keep it and profit from it themselves or turn it over to a third party, either for profit or simply for safe disposal. A clingy macguffin may turn this into something of a FedEx Quest.

Whilst they amuse themselves with one or more angry pursuers, the protagonists must also cope with whatever the macguffin does that is dangerous - indeed, this may be the entire plot if they've stolen something dangerous enough.

"Some days, you just can't get rid of a bomb!"

— Batman


Visit the SCP Foundation for some ideas for things to make bombs out of.

1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Cross Firefly and Alien - a Sci-fi heist lands a small crew of ner-do-wells with an unexpected passenger stolen on the assumption that it was something else. (As per the flavour text).
  • A good story hook if the PCs are obliged to offer the offended party compensation as well as return of goods.
  • Can be a good warning for the PCs if they are trying to steal the MacGuffin, find that it's already gone and then later find what it did to the last people that stole it.
  • This can just be the backstory behind how the sealed evil in a can got unsealed or the zombie virus escaped … or whatever.
  • PCs will reflexively attempt to steal anything the BBEG and his minions are trying to move - much like a cat will tend to pounce on anything that moves quickly within its reach. This can make it very easy to get them to steal a bomb. When the PCs discover that the BBEG didn't have any plans for the device in question and was as wigged about it as they were … hilarity ensues.
    • This can work in virtually any era:
      • the lich-lord's minions hauling a mysterious sarcophagus through the caves of deepearth? Sure.
      • Renegade templars hauling a mysterious obelisk back from the outremer? Yep.
      • A French frigate standing back for Brest with a mysterious idol from the South Seas? Not a problem.
      • Nazi U-boats shipping Sonderkommando Thule's latest find back from the Antarctic? Why not?
      • CIA agents flying a crashed UFO back from Darkest Africa? Could work.
      • EvilSpaceCorp PLC bringing mysterious precursor artifacts back from the Formhault dig? Well, we were okay with the rest, weren't we?
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