Smelting the Setting: An Encounter Template for Bandits

Last week was an alternative approach to random encounter tables. One laden with significantly more information. Amongst the discussion someone had the genius idea of templating certain common encounter types with a range of options. They actually suggested bandit attacks for this post.

The first two posts:

Unexpected Events in a Forest

Random Encounters vs Unexpected Events

The goal of this is to provide some variety to something as standard as a bandit encounter, but also to integrate the ideas from unexpected events of creating hooks into the broader story and setting of your world.

The idea has been floating around and gestating all week, so some draft posts have been pushed back, and here it is. This can be used as random roll tables, or pick and choose from it to create a bandit group that suits your setting. It will likely work better the latter way, as a prep tool for a GM.

D6 Group size – There are…
1 four bandits in this group.
2 four bandits, all on horses.
3 six bandits, the leaders rides a horse.
4 twelve bandits.
5  a huge bunch of twenty bandits.
6 one bandits who uses an illusion to create ten more.

A reason for why they are bandits may never become clear to the players, but could tie in with your broader world. This might be as a setup for this encounter, it might leave a hook for the party to follow after it and it might shape how you roleplay the bandits as GM.

D6 Reason for Banditry
1 Something to prove – this groups of bandits are all about proving their prowess to others by asserting dominance.
2 This desperate group of farmers have banded together because their crops failed. Their families are starving and they’ll do whatever they can to make ends meet.
3 A bunch of ruffians who were forced outside of town and cities by their previous crimes. Rather than pay their dues in prison, they’ve taken up a life of theft and murder.
4 A remarkably young group, born into a life of thievery now taking the reins from their elders. They’ve never known another lifestyle.
5 This group are motivated by revenge. A deal gone bad in the past left them destitute and now they make their way in the world through highway robbery while they search for the person that wronged them.
6 This group of mercenaries has been hired to block trade along this route and create a climate of fear in the area. They get to keep the proceeds as well their payment, their employer wants only the disruption.

This is another attribute that may not matter unless the players give chase to the bandits, or investigate them. It is included because a bandit group along a road is likely at least semi-persistent and may crop up again and act as a side quest for the group.

D6 Hideout – These bandits live….
1  in a cave in some nearby hills that barely holds all of them.
2 under a covered wagon just a hundred metres back from the path.
3  sleeping under the stars and carry all their worldly possession with them.
4 under a trapdoor on the forest floor that leads to a roughly dug and shored up underground room.
5 in an abandoned cottage in the woods near here, now with new occupants.
6 in a tree-house in the top of two ancient trees, joined by a small bridge. Only accessible by rope ladder.

This gives the group some depth, and allows for potentially interesting roleplay, a chase, or turning the bandits in to the authorities.

D6 Toughness – These bandits…
1  are complete wimps and take flight at the first sign of trouble or resistance.
2  talk the talk, but can’t walk the walk and will give up soon after taking any damage.
3 are reluctant to kill and will try to avoid combat, but are tough and hardy foes once engaged.
4  are experienced mercenaries who can fight, but know when they are beaten. They will surrender once it is clear the tide has turned against them.
5 are a bunch of hardened criminals and murderers who will not back down. They will fight to the death if they have to.
6  are complete psychopaths enter an almost rage-like state where the urge to kill continues even after the task is complete.

This is here to help set up the actual encounter on the road.

D6 Tactics – These bandits…
1  block the road with a tree, pieces of woods and stones. Once the party have reached the blockade, come out from hiding and issue an ultimatum.
2 hide in the bushes until the party are then fire a few arrows and hide. From hiding, they make their ultimatum.
3 place a single figure in the road who does the talking, while the others hide nearby and respond if summoned.
4 whole mob is sitting in the road, chatting, eating and acting casual. Once the party are close enough, they engage in conversation, friendly at first, but it becomes clear quickly the party aren’t going anywhere just now.
5 throw a gutted and headless corpse out of a tree and onto the road and allow the dust to settle somewhat before one of them emerges from the bushes to tell the party what’s what.
6 burst out of the bushes about 100 feet away, roaring at the top of their voices and sprint towards the party.

And finally, a leader. This is to give your group some character, and is especially useful if they will appear again in the future.

D6 Leader – The leader is…
1  Sorrel Weermschtein – a grizzled, bear-like man who wields a long spear and carries an enormous wooden shield painted with a leaf pattern. He can use the shield as camouflage for a bonus sneaking when amongst trees.
2  Kiara Dorn – an unassuming looking woman who has put paid to many men who didn’t assume she was dangerous. She openly carries several daggers on her belt and has as many again hidden about her person.
3  Wendell Briggs – a rather skinny young man who grew up hunting with his father. He carries a longbow almost as tall as he is that he can draw surprisingly well and fire with great accuracy.
4  Sligo Bates – a short man whose long black cloak with its deep hood betray little about his appearance, but his cracked, rasping voice is somewhat unsettling. If/when revealed, his face is covered in scars and a brutal purple line across his throat suggests he’s been through the wringer more than once.
5  Jane Allbrecht – the eldest daughter of a noble family who disowned her parents when was she was passed over for inheritance for her younger brother, a weak and wretched drunk. She wields a rapier and buckler with the finesse of someone trained in fencing since they could stand and speaks a colossal number of languages.
6  Titus Gillibree – a less-than-stellar bard who has great talent for magic and lore, but sadly lacks rhythm. Lack of success despite his other talents has made him bitter and paranoid.

And that is about it! We’d love to hear tales of how you use or adapt this to suit your gaming table. Please get commenting below, come tell us on Twitter or Facebook. Also, if you’ve enjoyed the ideas here, check out on products on DriveThruRPG, where you’ll find more idea-packed stuff.


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