If you watch Critical Role, a Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) actual play stream on Twitch, you’ve probably heard of Honey Heist. If you haven’t heard of it, but you run D&D at your library and want options for quick, easy sessions, Honey Heist is a great choice!
Honey Heist is a one-shot tabletop role-playing game (TTRPG) where all of the players are bears. Literally. And their goal? To heist a buttload of honey from some stronghold! The specifics are up to the Honey Master (HM), or you can roll for random parameters. The creator, Grant Howitt, made the rules and character sheet entirely free on his website, https://gshowitt.itch.io/honey-heist, and it features random tables for both players and HMs. From the type of bear to their role on the team, players can play any combination of goofy bear that they want!
You can read the rules on Grant’s page and in the above image, but it’s really quite simple. Players have two stats, Bear and Criminal, which both start at 3. If they want to be intimidating, destroy something, attack a human, that’s the bear stat – and for everything non-bear related, there’s the criminal stat. The player rolls a D6 every time they want to do something, and if the number on the die is equal to or less than the relevant stat, they succeed! Additionally, if the roll is successful and the plan goes off without a hitch, you move one point from Bear to Criminal. Likewise, if the plan fails, the player moves a point from Criminal to Bear because they get frustrated. If you ever get to 6 in either stat, you go full Bear or Criminal, and all hell breaks loose! It pays to be a balanced bear.
This one-shot is meant to be a goofy, uproarious time with lots of “Yes, and” moments. We ran this as a break from our regular campaigns during the Thanksgiving holiday break, and over twenty teens showed up in all! Due to the high attendance, I split the players up into 6 groups of 3 (other teens showed up later and jumped in with another group), and each team created and roleplayed a bear together. I wrote up a quick outline of what the situation facing our teens was rather than roll for it as listed on the HM’s page, and I really recommend laying the puns on thick and heavy. The more bear-related puns, the better, and there’s a lot of potential out there. Here’s a general overview of our campaign:
- The FBI (Ferocious Bear Investigators) department chief, Bear Grills, meets the six bears in his office at Bearquarters. He set his can of Coca Koala down and greeted them gruffly.
- A mole located inside Vinnie the Pooh’s mob family (codenamed Molar Bear) passed word to his handler, a decorated agent named Peter Panda, that Vinnie the Pooh is planning a major heist at the Polar Snow Bank & Trust. Details were scarce, but besides the massive amount of honey reserves located in the vault at Polar Snow Bank & Trust, Molar Bear had heard rumors that there was a synthetic honey formula the FBI needs to keep out of Vinnie’s hands or he could flood the streets with impure synthetic honey.
- TASK: Meet with Peter Panda at the Drizzly Bear Bar to get more details about the security measures of the Polar Snow Bank & Trust. Peter Panda will order a bluebeary pie at noon sharp – that’s how you’ll identify him.
- Peter Panda’s security information he can provide:
- CCTV – bank security guards monitoring it
- Laser tripwire grids just outside the vault
- Unfortunately – no details about the vault (easy combination – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 – all found on 3 guards, or dusting the keypad – ‘impenetrable otherwise’)
- TASK: Meet with Pierogi Bear and his assistant, Poo Poo, in Bear Ops to acquire gear that they might need to heist the honey and the formula before Vinnie’s crew heists it first!
- Here’s where they get their hats – the only way you even have a chance of fooling the human guards at the bank, and passing as human when you meet with Peter Panda.
- Bears ‘pass’ as human with hats if they succeed, but really it’s just super confused humans wondering why a bear is walking and seemingly trying to talk at them in grunts and grumbles. If the bear fails to pass as human, the humans (understandably) freak out and chaos ensues.
- Potential enemy besides human guards – Conan the Barbearian – a gigantic, ripped grizzly bear standing in the way of the vault. Employed by (or forced to work for?) the bank.
- POTENTIAL ENDING: Peter Panda shows up and offers to take the secret honey formula in exchange for the bear’s lives and they even get to keep the honey. He’s flanked by Vinnie’s mobster bears.
- POTENTIAL ENDING: Vinnie the Pooh drives up with his mobster bears in limos, especially if one of the bears has gone full criminal just recently, and the full criminal bear swipes the synthetic honey formula and tries to take off with Vinnie.
If this sounds ridiculous and insane, that’s because it is and it was a riot to run. The teens asked all kinds of questions about nearby buildings, wires leading into the building from outside, and got a bunch of awesome gear from Pierogi Bear in Bear Ops that got put to good use. A grappling hook was used to scale the bank, and a flamethrower destroyed the SWAT-style animal control vehicles that showed up to tranquilize the rampaging bears that a number of concerned citizens had called in about. Even the totally plain, bland rock that they got instead of walkie talkies (“Because you can just throw a rock at them to get their attention. What do you need walkie talkies for?!”) was used to check and see if the laser tripwires had been cut correctly!
If you can, having cheap honey sticks to give out as prizes at the end is something I meant to do and completely forgot about. I also recommend leaving potential at the end for a future chapter in Honey Heist, because I guarantee your teens will be clamoring for another bearventure. Ours certainly are!