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Utgardloki
11-15-2010, 08:23 PM
I was working on the maps for my fantasy game last night, and penciled in an island as being where a notorious bandit lord lives.

Then I thought of an observation I had made a long time ago: A guy who decides to become a bandit in a Dungeons and Dragons world has to be about the stupidest creature in the universe.

A normal DM won't have PCs encountering bandit gangs that they are not able to overcome, even though the bandits won't be giving the PCs a fair fight. So if the bandits can't even take on a party of PCs, what hope do they have of taking on the Lord's men, or a tough monster, or an army of orcs?

It seems to me that it won't be very long before a bandit gang meets up with a tough monster that they can't handle, unless they stick to the well guarded and patrolled paths which, by definition, are well guarded and patrolled.

I guess it is really hard to see "bandit" as a viable profession in a D&D world, although there are some ways a bandit might hope to survive long enough to benefit from his stolen cash. Hiding in the bushes and ambushing the first person who walks by is probably not one of them.

Malruhn
11-15-2010, 09:55 PM
You have thought through exactly HALF of the entire equation...

A tiny band of bandits CAN'T take on a party of PC's... neither can a tiny hamlet's guards. But what can the group of adventurers do against 1000 soldiers? No, an adventurer wouldn't even try - and any DM would never send a party against such odds.

An entire community - a NATION - of bandits would me "safe" from such things as you describe. A tough monster would have as much of an easy/hard time with them as with any similarly sized town/nation.

I say "safe" in quotes, because a city of bandits would have to ALWAYS be on guard to prevent the "civilized" towns/nations from an all out raid/attack. Bandits have a way of attracting the attention of legal authorities and merchant guilds and kings who love both justice AND money - with money being paramount.

Your bandits are safe... relatively.

Utgardloki
11-15-2010, 11:09 PM
Not if I run a world where PCs don't have to worry about running into 500 bandits at once.

But I think bandits could work out as more like the train robbers of the old west. They didn't just wait around the railroad tracks for a train to come, nice and convenient for the U.S. Army to round them up. They studied the train schedules and planned their attacks carefully so they could overpower the guards they expected to be on the train, and get back to their hideout before the U.S Marshals could catch up with them.

Bandits in a D&D world would probably operate in a similar fashion. A party of PCs going from one town to another would probably not get attacked, unless somebody knew what they were carrying and wanted it enough to take the risk. But higher level PCs travelling with a caravan could find themselves being an unwelcome surprise for bandits who had not quite planned their raid carefully enough.

DMMike
11-16-2010, 10:20 AM
Ut: I love to see DMs thinking like this. Huzzah.

1) Your first bandit problem is a metagame problem. The decision to become a bandit isn't affected by the existence of PCs, because bandits don't, nor does anyone in the game world, know that a PC exists. They might know that heroes exist, but, psshhh, what are the odds of jumping a hero?

2) Bandits have the same odds of surviving as everyone else, as Malruhn describes. If they're in danger of being destroyed by monsters, so is everyone else on the bandit-prone road. Which means your countryside has bigger problems than scofflaws. Solve those problems, and the bandits will happily return to their ambush points.

tesral
11-16-2010, 06:10 PM
Strike "bandit" insert "Adventurer" What are adventurers but bandits and graver robbers with better press. The whole "Bandit Lord" idea is a bit broken on the face of it. If a bandit, known as a bandit had a locatable stronghold he would have an army down his neck for not paying taxes.

Bandits by in large serve two purposes. They are poor hard-scrabble folks that steal to live. Those are trouble and very little treasure. The last thing they want to do is stick up and be noticed. Second they are political tools. The privateer is a water bandit with permission from one guy to attack his enemies. They are businessmen with a line in sacking and looting. Party A will given them shelter (for a cut). Parties B, C, and D will cut his head off. I can see a land based version under the right circumstances. Again however having a place your foes can find you and send the cops is not a good idea.

However, such a person could likely operate in the open as long as he/she was an "adventurer". Well known for sendong out parties to cure virgins and rescue dragons. Pays their squeeze to the right crown and if some of the "boys" go a bit overboard, well boys will be boys, and there ain't no one here but honest good adventurers. Got any monsters you need slain? After all what do fighters do with the stronghold they are suppose to build?

Utgardloki
11-16-2010, 10:17 PM
I guess the difference between "bandits" and "adventurers" is that the former are apparently designed to get their butts kicked by the latter.

As for the bandit lord with a "home address", usually people don't know where my bandit lords live. In the case of this map, however, there seems to be a place that is so defensible that it is the obvious place for him to have his stronghold. Problem is, who has the ability to root him out?

Perhaps the island is even under a heavy glamer, so that people who land on it think it is deserted, and only if they search just the right place can they find the entrance to his subterranean hideout, which is just the beginning to the problems of those seeking to bring him to justice.