I was commenting in Rob Donahue’s blog, Some Space to Think, but decided that it was too long, and a good excuse for a post.
The only time I have ever been involved in a “caper” in an RPG was in a game of D&D. The party had been adventuring together for a while so we were familiar with each other’s abilities.
The target was a very influential council member of an Arcane Empire. We did some research and found out he was throwing a big party. During the party we had to locate, and breach the secret vault door. All of us had to get inside. Then we had to find the object, I can’t remember what we were stealing, some sort of Mcguffin. After all that we had to get out.
Figuring out how to get us all into the party was a blast. Some of us had invites, some were disguised and waiters. It was a lot like the scene in Mission Impossible. I remember I was posing as one of the invitee’s footmen.
The really fun part was seeing our plan work in MOST areas and in the places it didn’t watching each of us use our specialties to fix the problems.
So I guess to answer Rob's train of thought, I think that you have to let your players defeat the bad guy with their plan, and sometimes that means that they dont ever have to actually fight or even see the bad guy.