Teen Programming–Honey Heist RPG

Dungeons & Dragons and other RPG games have become increasingly popular recently in libraries. It’s a great way to engage with kids, but can cause some logistical problems. First, getting a good group together can be hard, as everyone may have different levels of experience. There’s also different personality types to contend with, some people want to take the game seriously while others want to just have fun. And also, RPGs can take forever to get anywhere with, so getting the same group together again and again can be challenging. Not to mention, the staff time needed to develop a campaign. That’s where Honey Heist solves ALL those problems.

“Honey Heist,” created by Grant Howitt, is a one shot role-playing game, meaning it can be played in one session (usually an hour or two) so don’t need to worry about getting everyone back together. AND it doesn’t matter how familiar you are with RPGs, there’s only a couple basic mechanics you need to know. AND the focus is strictly on fun, it’s so simple and silly that you can’t really take it seriously. AND, there’s very little prep, and I already did some of it for you!!

“Honey Heist” is part role-playing game with dice rolls, and part improv comedy where you just make up a story and “yes, and!” as much as possible. In this game, you play as a bear trying to steal honey at a honey convention. But of course, bears aren’t allowed, and it’s up to the team to infiltrate and take the treasure for themselves. Everything you need for character creation is on one-page. Behavior, heist role, bear type, and hat type (yes, you wear a hat) is all assigned randomly. From there, you and the rest of your team explore the map, and try to find as much honey as possible and other treasure. How you get honey is up to your imagination. Put on a disguise, use the air ducts, hack a computer–basically anything from a heist/action movie is fair game to do in the game.

The instructions or YouTube might explain this part better, but whenever a player does something in the game, they roll to see if it’s successful. Each bear/player has two modifiers: BEAR and CRIMINAL. (I’ve also seen smaller games where there’s just one Bear Modifier and one Criminal Modifier that the WHOLE TEAM uses to make decisions.) The Bear Modifier is used for things a real bear could actually do: climb, maul, run, etc. The Criminal Modifier is used for everything else: talking, using grappling hooks, hacking a computer, etc. Each modifier starts at 3, if the dice rolls matches or is lower than the modifier number, the action is successful. If the action is higher than the modifier, the action fails and the modifier goes up, if a modifier ever reaches 6, that bear loses. So low numbers are good, but too many low numbers makes the bears greedy and take bigger risks. If anyone rolls a 6, it creates a plot twist, so something zany, unexpected has to happen.

If you’re at all confused, look up podcasts or YouTube videos of people playing, you’ll catch on really fast. Your job as the Game Manager, is create roadblocks but also reward successes. Maybe if a bear got into an air duct successfully, maybe they overhear the location of where the honey is hidden, but now that bear is stuck in the air duct! Or if a bear puts on a disguise successfully and fools a guard, maybe they are granted access to a secure location, but now they have to try to walk in their disguise without falling over. Again, the focus is “Yes, and!” If you’re ever stuck, try asking the group what should happen next–they will all be trying to one up each other in trying to make the situation ridiculous, so their suggestions will be helpful.

To help you on your heist, I created a digital map for you to play along with. It’s written from a bear’s perspective, so spelling mistakes are intentional to make it more fun and kinda get everyone into character. You DO NOT need a map to play “Honey Heist,” but it will be helpful for everyone to visualize the space. It’s also important to remind everyone that the map is just a guideline–just because it’s not on the map, DOESN’T mean it’s not there. For example, halfway through the game a bear might want to jump in a big swimming pool to create a distraction. There’s no pool on the map, but go with it!! Maybe it’s on the 2nd floor!! I purposefully put question marks and funny room names over some of the rooms so that you can decide IN-GAME what some of the rooms will be through discovery and player choices.

You can easily download this map and upload it to something like Roll20 and play with people that way! That’s also where my bears come in–you can make them into little tokens and have players move them around the digital map to create some extra fun!! All the bears and the honey badger should have a clear background around them, so they can interact with the map and move from room to room. Have fun y’all!!

UPDATE: I added more bears! I made costumes and disguises for some of the bear tokens that you can switch out for more fun! Your bear can be a security guard, fancy gentleman, ninja, zombie, cyborg, or even just a bear in a bee costume! Enjoy!

You can download the files here to make game tokens:

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2 thoughts on “Teen Programming–Honey Heist RPG

Add yours

  1. Thanks for sharing your work! It may also be worthwhile to mention that the author of the game is Grant Howitt, who does LOTS of great one-page one-shot games that can be used just like Honey Heist. I ran a game of “Adventure Skeletons” and I’ve looked at doing “Goat Crashers,” too. He offers them as a “pay what you want” format, and it’s always nice to give a least a little to the creators. His website is at https://gshowitt.itch.io/


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