Merry Christmas. I was asked by PC Gamer to pen a festive-themed Grand Theft Auto 5 roleplay diary, and, given the fact I'm laid up in the acute assessment unit of the Bolingbroke Penitentiary Medical Centre for the foreseeable future, I thought I'd write to you and tell you how it went.
The festive season is often time for reflection, and if I think back over all the dumb shit I've done while roleplaying in GTA over these last few years, one of my all-time favourite exploits was robbing banks unarmed while posing as a journalist (opens in new tab). By preying on assumption and sincerity, I managed to blag tens of thousands of dollars from diligent roleplaying police officers, using nothing but wits, a silver tongue and the fact I'm apparently really, really good at being a total lying bastard.
"I'm unarmed. I'm a journalist, and I'm here to report on the robbery. Look, see my van? I was tipped off. The guy you want is in the back. Don't shoot." That was my spiel, and with it I was able to distract the authorities, buy myself time and exit a string of bars, convenience stores and banks up and down San Andreas with my pockets full and the owners' safes empty. My work echoed Willie T. Soke, the protagonist of the 2003 movie Bad Santa, minus the booze, regret and piss-stained Saint Nicholas costume. But what if I added all of that in? Everybody knows Bad Santa is the best Christmas movie that ever was, so what if both worlds merged: my favourite festive film and my favourite Grand Theft Auto roleplay (mis)adventure?
In the words of the hackneyed CJ meme: Ah shit, here we go again.
Before cracking a single vault, I got my house in order. I decided this stunt required five key things from the outset: an outfit, a weapon (which I would use only to activate each robbery), a new spiel, a getaway car, and lots and lots of booze. If I was going to perform the Bad Santa routine at all, then I had to do it right, by getting steaming, stinking drunk.
Given the fact occupied cars can't be stolen in the majority of GTA RP servers, my rust bucket red and orange Bravado Youga Classic van, bought with trash collection earnings accrued during a previous roleplay session, did the trick here. I trundled round to the Binco Clothing store near Legion Square and decked myself out in a crumpled costume (courtesy of legendario's pedestrian mod (opens in new tab)). I then jumped into the 24/7 convenience store at the gas station in Downtown Los Santos and stocked up on Pisswasser, the city's finest German import lager.
From there, it was over to Amnu-Nation to pick up a baseball bat, which, again, would serve to facilitate each micro heist, but would not be used in combat in any way. And then it was about nailing down the spiel.
"I'm unarmed. I'm Santa Claus, and I'm here for a Christmas party. Look, see my costume? The guy you want is in the back. Don't shoot."
Hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Except, it became apparent very quickly that my shtick did in fact need fixing. As per my previous outing, I started out small by targeting the Yellow Jack Inn in Blaine County. I parked my Bravado out front, headed for the safe in the back, produced my baseball bat and started the robbery timer. Five minutes feels like an eternity when you're counting down every single second, let me tell you. Should you make it to zero, however, you're free to saunter off with whatever fits in your wallet—and that's exactly what I planned to do.
I sunk a few beers while waiting and, before long, a single squad car showed up in the dirt road carpark. A police roleplayer hopped out, and I made for the front door.
"I'm unarmed," I said. "I'm Santa Claus—"
"Ah, so you're a criminal Santa," the copper interjected, bluntly. "We've had a few of your type this year already."
The roleplayer's directness threw me off. I lost my place and drew a blank. I fluffed my lines and nervously started spewing random quotes from Bad Santa. I was all over the shop. The lager had taken effect.
"God dammit, kid! What is it with you and fucking sandwiches?"
I necked another lager.
"Every year, you're worse. Every year, you're less reliable. More booze, more bullshit, more butt-fucking."
"Sure, the three Bs."
A long pause. The tension was palpable, and I momentarily thought about taking my chances with the thick end of the bat tucked inside my baggy trousers but decided against it in the name of my mission.
"It's a great fucking film," the office said after what felt like a very long time. Before proceeding to taser me on the spot, cart me to his car and lock me up for six months in the slammer. God dammit kid, indeed.
Luckily, six months equates to six minutes in RP prison sentencing terms, which gave me ample time to up my confidence and refine my swagger. After getting back out on the street and reclaiming my trusty ride from the LSPD impound, I moved onto the diamond store in Rockford Hills. I produced my bat, started the job, put it away and waited. Six minutes of waiting.
And waiting and waiting, and with just 57 seconds remaning on the clock, just as I thought I might get off with the goods with no police intervention at all, a different police officer roleplayer pulled up out front.
"I'm unarmed," I said. "I'm Santa Claus, and I'm here for a Christmas party. Look, see my costume? The guy you want is in the back. Don't shoot."
"Okay, Mr. Claus, I'm going to do a search of the property," said the roleplayer. "If you could just stand here, I'll collect a statement from you in a moment."
Holy shit, the plan was working. I forgot how much of a buzz this whole dance was the first time around, and the mere thought of it working again flipped my stomach. I watched the clock slouch towards zero while sipping a Pisswasser, and just as the officer started towards me, the timer expired. Several thousand dollars appeared in my account.
"Okay, Mr. Claus, it doesn't appear that anyone else is here—"
My cue to leave. I boosted out the door, howling with laughter, darted across the complex and hauled myself over a steel fence. I jumped into my van and floored it. My tires screeched on the road below, and I could hear your man radioing for back up, furious that "Santa fucking Claus" of all people had done him dirty.
Without direction, I hammered it past Legion Square, heading south first and then west with no clear destination. Needless to say, driving after several Pisswassers made the getaway ten times harder, demonstrated by the way I ricocheted up and down the boulevards of Los Santos like a bloody pinball.
I then heard the wailing of two LSPD roleplayers, hot on my tail and desperate to stop me at whatever cost. I dodged NPC vehicles with the precision of a wide receiver, before one of the cops fishtailed me and flipped my poor Bravado Youga. A server wobble saw a wave of glitches and funny colours take over momentarily, before I emerged from my upturned van naked.
Naturally, this only added to the hilarity unfolding around me, which culminated in me ducking into the same 24/7 store I'd shopped in at the start of all this carry on.
I purchased a few more beers, made my way to the storeroom in the back and waited for the inevitable.
After that, I woke up in the infirmary here in Bollingbroke, with my earnings confiscated along with my Santa outfit and my dignity. But what a laugh it was getting here.
I've waxed lyrical about the GTA RP scene umpteen times over the last few years, but I really can't recommend it enough, and please do feel free to replicate my poorly prepared strategy above. I'd love to hear how you get on.
In the meantime, they're supposed to let me out of this hospital room soon, so I'll see you when I come over. In the wise words of Willie T. Soke, don't take no shit from nobody, least of all yourself. And it turns out you were right, kid: shit does happen when you party naked.
Anyway, see you soon.