This is kind of an aside from the actual crimes in progress, but I wanted to take a second to talk about ideal team size for criminal action. Now, everyone will have their own tastes for what is going on, what needs to be done, and how much they want to split the pay, but a number of people seem to think the number five is ideal (including several of my Sociology professors...which is just creepy). So, let's take a second to look at that today, and see why it may be.
One Is The Loneliest Number
Now, when you think about it, one seems to be the ideal size if you can get away with it. You have containment, only one person knows what is going on and they're the ones doing it. No need to worry about someone ratting you out to the cops, because, well, why would you rat yourself out? The problem is though, when you work alone you have no safety net. If things get thick, you're out on your own. Now, in RPGs and stories, this can work out as a great way to show just how badass the character is. But for serious matters, serious work, and a more gritty/realistic world...when things get rough, the lone wolf is generally dead, or at least caught.
Two To Tango
Alright, so we need someone to watch our back. Lets grab a friend and go for it. Alright, problem solved? Well no, not really. Take a look at what you've just done. Yes, a duet can work well, but you now need to take twice as much in order for both to get the same payday. You also really need to trust your partner a whole hell of a lot, because they're the ones who have your back, meaning they backstab you and they get the whole lot. Not only that, but you haven't added a whole ton of protection to the group. Now you have two, which can make a huge difference. But you're still fairly limited in what you can do.
Three Can Keep A Secret
At three people you start getting a lot of the fun social dynamics. Social capital comes into play with three people, as any two members of the three can team up to enforce their will on the third person. With three people you're starting to be able to do a lot with your group. Three different things can be handled at the same time, but it is still only three things. For bigger jobs, the real pay days -something you're going to be looking for now that you have a crew - you still don't have enough just yet.
You've got a pretty big group now, and can do quite a lot with it. I won't lie, a 4 person crew can do a lot of stuff, and why shouldn't it? It's got four people, and can thus do four things at once. Think of that in terms of a heist and that means one can watch the crowd, one can get the security tapes, one can grab the money, and one can watch for cops. At four people, you still have pretty good security on the job, since everyone can keep an eye on everyone and with 4 people you can still trust everyone - for the most part anyhow.
Five, the Magic Number
At five you more or less have it down cold. You have all the jobs mentioned above, plus a Driver to get away, and the ability for someone to double up. Meaning that the Driver can double up on watch, giving you two people to watch a big crowd or two people to grab all the money you're stealing. Five people also can fit into a single vehicle - with gear - for getting there easily. Meaning you can all get to the job, and away, with just one van or something. Your group is large enough to do a lot, but small enough that everyone can know everyone and things still go smoothly. You can keep an eye on each other, and it is unwieldly to try and betray the group.
Bigger Than Five
Bigger than five, the size of the group starts to bring up problems. For one, you have communication issues. At five people you have 10 social connections. At six you have 15, and at 7 you have 21. Not to mention that the group becomes hard to mobilize, needing multiple vehicles that also need to be accounted for. It starts becoming easier to lose people in the mix, and the takes have to be significantly bigger to be worth while to everyone.
Honestly, in my opinion, depending on the job you'd want 4-6. If you can know and trust everyone, bigger crews are possible, but the problems also need to be taken into consideration. The odds of an Ocean's 11 situation are incredibly rare, and even by watching the movie you can see some of the problems they all face.
Thursday, I'll talk about using the crew sizes in your game. Don't worry, one of the uses is fairly obvious ;)