Thursday, August 17, 2023

10 Low-Fantasy Bandit Gangs

Art @Ben Bauchau

[1] The Dog-Faced Bandits
Group of bandits who wear cloth masks, stitched to resemble dog faces. Most of them aren't actually that ugly. Mostly deal in capturing people and ransoming them back to their families- they target nobles and the children of wealthy merchants; low born captives are simply killed instead. Most of them carry a mancatcher as their main "weapon", otherwise, they are armed with cudgels or short bits of chain used to flog disobedient captures- they are in the business of kidnapping, not killing.

Their leader is an insanely tall, skinny middle aged man. He's like 7 feet tall- +1 to Attack, Damage, AC, and HP. Paranoid- keeps his own tent and private treasure hoard boobytrapped. The big scar on his face from one of his own boobytraps. He's proud of this- because he claims that nobody else could have given it to him.

[2] The Savages
These bandits dress up tribal garb, feathers, and untanned animal skins over their armor and other gear. Often wearing face-paint, they go into battle hollering and screaming. Good tracking and survival skills- but mostly subsist on attacking travelers and caravans moving through the patch of forest they call home. Don't use bows- but are quite skilled at throwing javelins. Very superstitious around magic or signs- only attack groups that they deem auspicious.

Their leader is a androgynous child which they claim to be their God. They bring all their tribute before them and consider any they touch to be special and put aside. This is all a farce. The true leader of the gang is a nearby wealthy merchant who pays this gang to pretend to be a bunch of jungle savages and worship a kid, an ex-pickpocket from the city, all as performance to throw off his involvement- these "savages" very conveniently always let their captives go and never seem to find any "omens" telling them to attack the merchant leader's trade goods on route- it wouldn't take much to put two and two together, but the local authority is definitely fooled.

[3] The Dreadful Skeans
Terrible reputation. Group of murderers and cutthroats that wear all black, use knives, and are known to torture now and then when it suits them. They will kill literally anyone for money- children, women, holy men, doesn't matter- if you pay, they'll end them. Their calling card is leaving a bunch of body parts out in a public place or on the doorstep of the closest family member of their next victim. Most of the recruits from this gang were extremely desperate; but stay after being able to live out their most evil of desires on their hapless victims.

Their leader is an absolute psychopath. While once being at least mildly respected assassin-for-hire has lowered their standards (and prices) just to kill more people that he's becoming a nuisance to the local criminal underworld. After betraying a recent contract-owner and killing him for criticizing his methods- nobody wants to work with the leader any more and high bounties are being put on their capture or destruction of this terrible gang.

[4] The Sunshiners
Mostly known as a bunch of drunks. They rarely actually do the whole "bandit" thing. So named because of their special brew- a local honey mead recipe with a bright golden color- is what they spend all day making and drinking. Most of them are overweight and fight with big wooden quarterstaves and mallets- prefering nonlethal options. Most people who get robbed by them report it as being a pretty pleasant experience- they'll take your stuff but leave you with a great story.

The leader of this gang is a golden-haired fat man with a musical laugh. He really regrets the life he's begun here and wants the gang to go straight- just a little land with enough space for an apiary and brewery is all he would need. Most surprisingly- they actually would go straight if offered the chance.

[5] The Longhairs
Group of rebels and ne'er-do-wells who just so happened to all have long hair when they got together. Originally they were going to call themselves "the destroyers" but this name stuck, now it's kinda become their identity. They use standard weapons and light armor to mostly not get in their way of their quick smash-and-grab style of robbery. At least one nobleman's daughter is hiding out among them pretending to be a man so she can have a taste of freedom- though now finding herself trapped among a bunch of killers in way over her head. Only reason they've survived this long as a group is because a bunch of bounty hunters kept chopping off women's hair and presenting the locks to the local authority to try and collect the bounty money- now they're requiring heads with the hair still on them.

The leader of this gang is an ugly little man who keeps his hair in a top knot. Has a spear taller then he is that's painted yellow and has killed five boars, or so he claims. He wants to learn how to breathe underwater or at least through his ears- will keep any wizards or sorcerers he captures alive and will let them go if they teach him the trick.

[6] The Hand
Bandits without a face or calling-card; they act more as a secret society that terrorizes the local populace. Essentially, they trade favors for favors. If you do something for them, they'll make something happen for you. Many men have delivered packages or stolen objects, left them hidden in hollow logs, and just a day or two later the husband of the women they fancy is suddenly found dead. Actually finding out who is organizing this group is extremely difficult- everything is kept as secret as possible and many locals are involved in some way, getting blackmailed into secrecy else their own participation will be revealed.

This gang has no actual leader; it's only a group of people who trade favors for favors. If you send in a letter requesting something be stolen; you'll get a letter back from someone who would be willing to steal it, but only if you do this for them, and so on. All it would take is one request not getting fulfilled to make the whole organization come crashing down.

[7] The Great Riders
Group of raiders who go after small towns and wealthy farmers. Probably the most dangerous and effective out of all of these bandits, simply because they ride horses. Not too good at shooting on horseback- mostly prefer to throw burning torches on your roof and run away if you don't give them everything you own. They're lucky enough to have found a hidden mountain valley with good pastureland and drinking water for their beasts not too far from here.

Their leader is a knight. Like, with armor and a title and everything. His lands were beset by banditry and then hit with a bad famine- decimating his serfs and putting him deep into debt without any taxes to collect. The only person well-off was the current bandit leader- so he decided to just become the bandit leader instead.

[8] The Iron-Knuckles
This gang of "bandits" mostly just stick to the city and the back-streets. They punch each other in the head all day and have become unreasonably strong- granting them all a bonus of +1 AC, but are quite poorly trained with actual weapons since they usually just go unarmed- meaning they have -1 to Attack rolls if they're using weapons. Otherwise, stat them as a group of lvl 1 Monks. Despite how troublesome they are and how many people they robbed, the fact they haven't killed anyone has really slowed any progress in bringing them to justice.

Their leader is a woman- who wants to prove she is as strong as any man. She also cheats like an absolute bitch. She has iron rings under her hand bandges, iron splits under her clothes for protection, will throw dirt in your eye, etc. If you manage to beat her in a fair fight she'll step down as the leader and let you become the new one if you want- or disband the group under your order. Despite their rough nature; this group is still held by some standard of honor.

[9] The Nine Black Hooks
Known for their symbol- which is any piece of fabric with nine black hooks drawn on it. The leaders never came up with an exact order or pattern for these; so all the bandits just kind of have random hooks drawn all over their banners. They have a fortress in the hills with high walls- and all around the base of the fortress are sentries who are captured men from their raids. These men have a collar around their neck that's tied to the posts along the wall of the fortress, meaning they can't leave, and each is armed with a spear and is ordered to stab anyone who comes close; else they'll pull the rope and choke them to death. Because of their human shields- nobody has taken a serious attempt to siege or destroy them yet.

The leader of this gang is a self proclaimed sorcerer, though his powers are questionable. He takes a drop of blood of everyone he captures and dips it in his tea to alter the taste; this lets him know what to do with the captives he takes. Some are killed, some are added to the defense, and some are ransomed. Every once in a while he'll take a sip of the tea, start choking and screaming, and demanding the prisoner be let go at once.

[10] The Drakes & Cockles
Group of sailors and pirate scum joined by a loose federation and secret code phrases. The most common way to identify one is if they have a tattoo of a duck somewhere on their body. Strangely, this band robs pirates and mercenary vessels more then honest folks; they have a system of slowly joining and infiltrating pirate crews and eventually starting a mutiny to take the ships for their group. They've caused every dishonest soul along the coast to become extremely paranoid about recruitment.

The leader of this gang is the unassuming first-mate of the most notorious pirate captain of the ocean- the captain has no idea who this guy really is. This is the gang's biggest scheme and it's over ten years running- he's just waiting for the captain to show any sign of weakness to take over and become the next terror of the seas.

1 comment:

  1. Feel like it might be a fun game to roll seperately for bandit-gang and leader here.