d4 Bandits & Brigands
by Creighton Broadhurst
May 18, 2019
Bandits and brigands are classic foes for low-level PCs, but sadly they are often little more than throwaway enemies.
Use these tables (and a d4) to quickly and easily add verisimilitude and flavour into the bandits and brigands in your campaign.
Bandits prefer hidden, defensible lairs which—preferably—lie close to a ready source of victims such as a well-traveled road, bridge, ford or narrow, sunken lane.
- A crude, waist-high wall of tree branches, tree stumps and the like surrounds the camp. The barrier will not keep out determined intruders, but provides cover for the camp’s defenders—and keeps some wandering animals away.
- A hodgepodge of tents, lean-to shelters and so on stand haphazardly throughout the camp seemingly without any order or plan. Small campfires smoulder in front of many of the tents.
- The skinned and dressed carcasses of several woodland animals—a brace of rabbits, several squirrels and a deer hang from an A-frame near a central cooking fire.
- One part of the camp is given over to a meeting place of sorts with tree trunks arranged as crude benches around a central fire-pit. A stack of firewood lies nearby.
Bandits, if successful, accumulate much loot from their victims. Much of this loot is mundane, while other pieces comprise jewellery, coins and other portable treasures.
- Sacks, boxes and barrels hold food, wine and other staples. With the exception of the barrels and casks holding wine and other drinks (which are kept near to the leader’s tent) the rest are scattered throughout the camp.
- Several horses are tethered to hitching poles driven deep into the earth. The horses stand under a crude shelter of woven tree branches; bits, bridles and saddles lie nearby.
- Several sacks hold bolts of fresh linen and other cloths; a small bolt of white silk is hidden at the bottom of one of the sacks. The silk is worth 20 gp—easily more than the rest of the cloth combined.
- One of the bandits is lucky enough to have a canvas tent of particularly good design large enough to sleep three people. It is essentially rainproof and a great boon to those travelling in the wilderness.
Looting the Body
Bandits carry many odds and ends about their person. Victorious adventurers are sure to loot the fallens’ bodies. Use this list, to add colour and flavour to the proceedings:
- One silver teardrop earring worth 2 gp hangs from the bandit’s left ear. The bandit’s long, lank black hair hides the earring from a casual search.
- A battered tinderbox, 4 sp, a short length of twine and a whetstone fill the bandit’s pouch.
- In his boot, the bandit has hidden a dagger with a curious curved blade design. The weapon is obviously old, and is missing its tip.
- This bandit had a short length of red silk hidden behind his belt. (He took the scrap of silk from an ex-lover to remember her by).
Complications, Hooks & Opportunities
Adventures are rarely simple affairs; strange events, shifting alliances and fate’s capricious whim often conspire to make adventurers’ lives…interesting.
- One of the bandits is plotting against the group’s leader and uses the PCs’ interference in the gang’s affairs to set her plan in motion. Either through action or inaction, the bandit seeks the death of the gang leader and lordship over the band’s survivors.
- The PCs arrive at the camp as the bandits are preparing to move out. Thus, the bandits have broken down their tents, loaded up their pack animals and their leaders are mounted and ready to go. When the PCs attack, the leaders flee with the packhorses carrying all the group’s loot leaving the gang’s rank and file to face the intruders.
- The PCs are not the only ones hunting the bandits. A rival gang or patrol of soldiers arrive shortly after the PCs attack the camp. Soldiers likely attempt to claim the bandits’ loot as property of their lord while the new bandits may attack the party if the PCs seem weak. Finally, the soldiers may need convincing the PCs are not bandits themselves.
- A virulent disease ravages the bandit camp; when the PCs arrive many of the gang are suffering its effects. If the plague is airborne, the party could become infected during the inevitable fighting their arrival heralds. In particularly serious outbreaks, the bandits could be suffering from plague. Some PCs may not feel comfortable returning to the nearby town or village until they can ascertain whether they are infected.