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    Default How to avoid my players having to take on an entire bandit camp at the same time?

    If things go as a suspect my players are soon going to be encountering a bandit camp. I want to structure it as several encounters and a boss fight at the end with the bandit chief. I don't want to have the entire camp to rush them (they are low level) but I am having difficulty coming with an idea that makes sense with the bandits wouldn't. The other thing I would like to avoid is my players trying to claim leadership over what remains of the bandits, they are chaotic enough to try and them try to keep control.

    Any suggestions or advice would be welcome

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    Default Re: How to avoid my players having to take on an entire bandit camp at the same time?

    Split up the bandit camp / make it very spread out is one easy answer. You could add a lot of ambient noise (like the camp is on a cliff near a waterfall), so if they attack under cover of night then even if they are very noisy they can remain undetected. If you put it next to a waterfall then the final boss and his loot could be behind the waterfall, but make the region near the waterfall lit so if they approach then they know they'll be rushed due to being visible.

    Once the bandit boss is dead, and most bandits are dead, the remaining ones should just flee.
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    Default Re: How to avoid my players having to take on an entire bandit camp at the same time?

    And never underestimate the value of the Conga Line of Doom... if you can make it so the party is in a place where attackers are restricted from rushing them, it has a lot of value.
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    Default Re: How to avoid my players having to take on an entire bandit camp at the same time?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mastikator View Post
    Split up the bandit camp / make it very spread out is one easy answer. You could add a lot of ambient noise (like the camp is on a cliff near a waterfall), so if they attack under cover of night then even if they are very noisy they can remain undetected. If you put it next to a waterfall then the final boss and his loot could be behind the waterfall, but make the region near the waterfall lit so if they approach then they know they'll be rushed due to being visible.

    Once the bandit boss is dead, and most bandits are dead, the remaining ones should just flee.
    i don't know if a waterfall can be as loud as to cover people fighting and shouting.

    If the party approaches by day, it's fairly easy to justify the bandits being split. Some are at the camp maintaining equipment or enjoying free time, some are waiting in ambush somewhere on the road, some are waiting in ambush on a different part of road, some are hunting for food.

    by night, it's a lot harder to come up with good reasons for them to be split.
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    Default Re: How to avoid my players having to take on an entire bandit camp at the same time?

    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowhere View Post
    i don't know if a waterfall can be as loud as to cover people fighting and shouting.
    Very much so. But not perfectly. Let the waterfall impose a hefty penalty though.

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    Default Re: How to avoid my players having to take on an entire bandit camp at the same time?

    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowhere View Post
    i don't know if a waterfall can be as loud as to cover people fighting and shouting.

    If the party approaches by day, it's fairly easy to justify the bandits being split. Some are at the camp maintaining equipment or enjoying free time, some are waiting in ambush somewhere on the road, some are waiting in ambush on a different part of road, some are hunting for food.

    by night, it's a lot harder to come up with good reasons for them to be split.
    bandits can ambush people at night too, but here's a way to break up a night fight. Most fights in d&d are over in less than a minute, so even a slight delay can split up the fight
    So the first part of the fight is as many bandit as they can gank from ambush

    the second part are those few guards in the immediate vicinity.

    The third wave is the awake people from the other side of the camp, remember they will likely spend a rnd or two going hey did you hear that before they even start moving (remember a rnd or 2 is 6-12 seconds) if they weren't expecting a fight and were just boardly watching that is still a very fast reaction time to hear the noise decide its important and start moving.

    remember the enemy does not have perfect knowledge of the pcs and are likely not to want to blunder after the pcs in the dark so if they run they should consolidate and regroup, then split them back up into level appropriate search parties trying to hunt the pcs down.
    Now the thing people forget is that a sleeping person does not just pop awake alerted by their hive mind that a threat is occurring fully armed and armored lying down without a blanket. It takes them a bit to wake up get out of their sleeping bag, figure out whats going on grab their weapon and pull on their boots much less any kind of armor.
    so wave 4 is a bunch of guys with no armor or shoes
    wave 5 is the guys who decided to finish getting ready aka boss and retinue.
    Last edited by awa; 2023-07-01 at 09:11 PM.

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    Default Re: How to avoid my players having to take on an entire bandit camp at the same time?

    Have a wild bulette (or anything else really) break the ground and attack the bandits, so most of the camp is occupied by that. This gives the PCs the opening they need to fight fewer encounters in their way to the leader. As the PCs defeat the boss, the bandits return after having dealt with the bulette, only to find their leader dead. Might seem random, but luck favors the bold, as they say.

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    Default Re: How to avoid my players having to take on an entire bandit camp at the same time?

    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowhere View Post
    i don't know if a waterfall can be as loud as to cover people fighting and shouting.

    If the party approaches by day, it's fairly easy to justify the bandits being split. Some are at the camp maintaining equipment or enjoying free time, some are waiting in ambush somewhere on the road, some are waiting in ambush on a different part of road, some are hunting for food.

    by night, it's a lot harder to come up with good reasons for them to be split.
    If the camp is spread over both sides of the waterfall then it will easy cover fighting, shouting, fireballs, the lot. Just make the waterfall big and loud.
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    Default Re: How to avoid my players having to take on an entire bandit camp at the same time?

    1) Night attack. As long as the PCs arenít throwing around highly visible fireballs the bandits will be confused as to where the attack is.
    2) Diversions. Something else attacks the camp, a traveling brothel sets up close to the camp, a fat juicy unprotected merchant caravan is passing by.
    3) Hit and run tactics. The bandits will spread out as they look for the party

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    Default Re: How to avoid my players having to take on an entire bandit camp at the same time?

    I think this is a prime case where you should let the players do the creative heavy lifting. Have an NPC comment (or just make an offhand remark about it when describing the camp) about how there's no way the party can take on the whole camp at once, and let the players come up with how they are going to divide and conquer.

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    Default Re: How to avoid my players having to take on an entire bandit camp at the same time?

    Have some of the bandits turn on each other at the first sign of battle. Have some of them call out offers to help the party in return for gold or items. Most criminals are opportunists. If you see a posse of heavily armed asskickers roll up on your spot, if you're smart, you'll either run or join them. Who would attack a bunch of killers / thieves if they weren't sure they could win?

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    Default Re: How to avoid my players having to take on an entire bandit camp at the same time?

    Quote Originally Posted by Slipjig View Post
    I think this is a prime case where you should let the players do the creative heavy lifting.
    This is right.

    "How do the PCs avoid fighting the entire bandit camp at once?" is a problem for the players to work out.

    "How do I keep the PCs from taking control of the leftover bandits?" is a nonsense question. The GM's job isn't to control what the PCs do. How is this any different from "I want my PCs to have an encounter with an evil knight with a cool magic sword. How do I stop them from using the cool magic sword and selling his armor after they beat him?"
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    Default Re: How to avoid my players having to take on an entire bandit camp at the same time?

    Quote Originally Posted by Xuc Xac View Post

    "How do I keep the PCs from taking control of the leftover bandits?" is a nonsense question. The GM's job isn't to control what the PCs do.
    I disagree their are many different way of running a game of d&d not all of them are a completely open sand box and not giving total freedom is not bad dming. If you don't want to run bandit management simulator that is a perfectly valid choice.

    in regards to stopping the pcs from taking control of the bandits here are two easy ways to go about it.

    First ask them not to, say your not interested in running that type of game.

    second having bandits should not really benefit them, first off the pcs presumably just killed off a bunch of them so that is going to make them disinclined to work for the pcs, and bandits are always disinclined to work its why their bandits. On top of that it would not be unreasonable for the bandits after getting beaten so badly to take a long hard look at the benefits of farming.

    So most of the bandits just wander off, fleeing in the night. The rest just aren't very useful they flee as soon as they see monster, don't like manual labor, need the pcs to provide them with food unless they are sitting on a road robbing people, and wont enter dungeons. If the party insists that they want to sit on the road and rob passerby's just say okay you do that, you rob poor farmers and craftsmen for a few weeks barely breaking even on the cost of maintaining your gear and keeping the bandits fed and entertained, you get no xp because why would you. Then a plot hook happens and kills off their bandits.
    Last edited by awa; 2023-07-02 at 11:45 PM.

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    Default Re: How to avoid my players having to take on an entire bandit camp at the same time?

    Quote Originally Posted by Slipjig View Post
    I think this is a prime case where you should let the players do the creative heavy lifting.
    Yes, it is.
    Quote Originally Posted by Xuc Xac View Post
    "How do the PCs avoid fighting the entire bandit camp at once?" is a problem for the players to work out.
    yes, it is.
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    Default Re: How to avoid my players having to take on an entire bandit camp at the same time?

    Quote Originally Posted by Xuc Xac View Post
    "How do I keep the PCs from taking control of the leftover bandits?" is a nonsense question. The GM's job isn't to control what the PCs do. How is this any different from "I want my PCs to have an encounter with an evil knight with a cool magic sword. How do I stop them from using the cool magic sword and selling his armor after they beat him?"
    Seconded. If they take control of the leftover bandits, then that's the story they want to tell. Swallow your misgivings and figure something out.

    Of course, you could decide that all the bandits are too cowardly and they flee once the boss goes down, and maybe that makes perfect sense for your world. But I'd definitely encourage you to at least entertain the idea that the PCs could get some minions. What would that change? What new opportunities would it present? What new threats or complications would it introduce? Until you actually allow those possibilities to exist in your head as true options (rather than obstacles you need to herd your players away from), you'll be limiting yourself as a DM.

    If you want a plot where only the things you planned happen, write a novel. The point of TTRPGs is that you're telling a story collaboratively. Being surprised by a player choice is my absolute favorite part of DMing. Embrace the chaos.
    Last edited by Ionathus; 2023-07-06 at 03:50 PM.

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    Default Re: How to avoid my players having to take on an entire bandit camp at the same time?

    I didn't notice the second part of your question; just have them fight to the death, flee, or commit suicide rather than be captured.

    Also I doubt your players have actually considered the difficulty involved in keeping a bunch of hostile people around and trying to get them to work for you. Never mind that you can't trust any of them to stand watch, now you have a bunch of *******s that require food and supplies, whose equipment has to be maintained, etc., all while you have to worry about them making a run for it and / or trying to kill you in your sleep / poison you at every possible opportunity, and fighting you every step of the way while you try to get them to help you in combat or trap finding or whatever else. Just imagine relying on these scumbags to watch your back in a fight. Are you kidding me? Never mind that summon monster exists and has none of these headaches. I'd much rather face challenges alone than with a likely traitor at my side. Even a That Guy Chaotic **** rogue PC would be preferable - at least a player can be socially shamed into cooperating with the party, or kicked out of the group.
    Last edited by gatorized; 2023-07-06 at 10:50 PM.

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    Default Re: How to avoid my players having to take on an entire bandit camp at the same time?

    Some unforseen time-sensitive high-reward robbery opportunity could have suddenly come up, leading some of the gang to leave the base when they otherwise maybe wouldn't leave it that undefended
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    Default Re: How to avoid my players having to take on an entire bandit camp at the same time?

    As for splitting up the bandit camp fights so it's not just one massive dogpile -- I'd have them run into an outpost first, ahead of the main camp, with about 1/3 the total bandit forces there. No matter how long the fight goes, they're still 5+ minutes away minimum from the main camp, so it's essentially a self-contained battle.

    You can choose to introduce a "stop the messenger" bonus condition if you like, where after 1-2 rounds the outpost leader yells at a lackey to "go alert the main camp" and the lackey tries to flee with the message. They can either expend additional effort to stop that messenger, hopefully earning a reprieve and the element of surprise in the process. Or the PCs can fail to kill the messenger, and by the time they arrive at the main camp the bandits will be ready for them (but still severely weakened by 1/3).

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    Default Re: How to avoid my players having to take on an entire bandit camp at the same time?

    Also remember bandits are not a united fighting force. They have experience fighting together, but they are not an army. If a few die, you could probably start rolling some will or wisdom or morale rolls to determine if people start fleeing.

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    Default Re: How to avoid my players having to take on an entire bandit camp at the same time?

    Quote Originally Posted by Xuc Xac View Post
    "How do I keep the PCs from taking control of the leftover bandits?" is a nonsense question. The GM's job isn't to control what the PCs do. How is this any different from "I want my PCs to have an encounter with an evil knight with a cool magic sword. How do I stop them from using the cool magic sword and selling his armor after they beat him?"
    Because the players having a magic sword or a few hundred gold doesn't change the entire nature of the campaign the way having a few dozen bandit henchmen does. The DM gets a vote in what happens with the story, too, and if he isn't interested in running Bandit Management Simulator it's okay for him to find reasons that doesn't happen.

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    Default Re: How to avoid my players having to take on an entire bandit camp at the same time?

    Quote Originally Posted by somethingrandom View Post
    If things go as a suspect my players are soon going to be encountering a bandit camp. I want to structure it as several encounters and a boss fight at the end with the bandit chief. I don't want to have the entire camp to rush them (they are low level) but I am having difficulty coming with an idea that makes sense with the bandits wouldn't. The other thing I would like to avoid is my players trying to claim leadership over what remains of the bandits, they are chaotic enough to try and them try to keep control.
    The answer to both is for most of the bandits to be really treacherous *******s
    Last edited by Bohandas; 2023-07-14 at 11:47 AM.
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    Default Re: How to avoid my players having to take on an entire bandit camp at the same time?

    Quote Originally Posted by Slipjig View Post
    Because the players having a magic sword or a few hundred gold doesn't change the entire nature of the campaign the way having a few dozen bandit henchmen does. The DM gets a vote in what happens with the story, too, and if he isn't interested in running Bandit Management Simulator it's okay for him to find reasons that doesn't happen.
    Depends on how powerful the magic sword/armor is though. IMO, introducing powerful magic items to PC groups is vastly more likely to unbalance a campaign than having henchmen. Well, if played straight that is. There's this odd kinda D&Dish concept of "henchmen are free" thinking that I just never got. Um... How exactly does that happen? So these guys just decide to be your henchmen and follow you around? Um... Without being paid? Or equipped? Ot trained? I would think that most adventuring parties would not want a dozen or two low power folks following them around. More mouths to feed. More people to be noticed (seriously, you're walking around with a horde of people now).

    I'm not sure how this is any different than the PCs hiring people to work with/for them. Which is always presuambly a thing that could happen. Except that usually the whole point of being an adventurer is that "We're the folks with the right skills/knowlege/magic/whatever to handle this problem", and also "Um... We have to pay these people, or cut them in for a share of the loot, and anyone wimpy enough to hire on with us isn't worth having anyway". I mean, why not just run an adventuring party with 30 PCs in it instead? Ask yourself why you don't allow each player to run like 5 characters each, and you have the same reason why having a couple dozen henchmen joining them doesn't make sense. And why would the henchmen follow you anyway? You defeated their boss, so now they're slavishly loyal to you? Why? What's in it for them? Assuming that these people are typically significantly lower level than the folks they're following (otherwise why not just cut out you guys and form their own adventuring party?), they're basically signing up to be cannon fodder for anything that might be an actual challenge to the party. And if there are no such challenges, why woild you need them in the first place?

    Dunno. It's just silly. Meanwhile, an uber powerful sword can significantly increase the power of the person weilding it. Sure, if it's just your standard +x weapon, no biggie. But if we're assuming it's like some nasty artifact sword that drinks the souls of its enemies, grants the wielder immense power, and all the other stuff that made said Black Knight powerful enough to take on the entire party in a end-boss level challenge, handing that to a PC is going to present power balance problems.

    So yeah. Not agreeing with that premise at all. It's easy to scale adventures to the size of the party (or the size of the party to the adventure). GMs do this all the time. And henchmen are either just wimpy cannon fodder that shouln't really be there in the first place or they're pools to draw new characters from and you treat them that way (with the rest heading off to live their own lives). No biggie. Balancing for a super powerful item that makes one member of the party the equivalent to the boss they fought in the last adventure is problematic in a whole different way.


    Um... But as to the initial main question. What are the bandits doing? They presumably don't just sit in their camp all day, every day, waiting for an adventuring group to attack them. Some of them are going to be roaming around looking for people to rob/raid. Some will be patroling or on guard duty. Some will be lounging around (not wearing armor, and maybe need to go find/grab their weapons). How many bandits are actually standing around, in the camp, armed and armored and waiting for a fight? A clever party of PCs should be able to scout the area, find outlier bandits and take them out in smaller chunks, then wait until the right time to strike the main camp. Yeah. If they just stumble into the middle of it in the middle of the day, they're probably going to have some problems. But there's often a huge advantage to being on the offensive and picking the right time to attack.

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    Default Re: How to avoid my players having to take on an entire bandit camp at the same time?

    This is largely a problem for the party to solve, because there are dozens of different reasons why they wouldn't be hanging out with the leaders.

    However, I do understand that you also don't want your campaign to turn into XCOM: Bandits of the Forest.

    Signals - The bandits have some sort of "safe" indicator they can put up. It'll be one of the things that is so specific it won't be grouped into thieves' cant, a procedure for that camp. It may be how they send messages, how they hang their flags, who specifically is manning the gates, a password, the type of swallow that's outside pecking at a coconut - anything that is relatively minor. Any bandit they capture and interrogate will be unwilling to give up the sign, and so each time a bandit group returns and sees that the safe indicator isn't active, then they just turn around. You could even have the party experience this - they kill the leader and their guard, take over the camp, and then hang out for the rest of the bandits to return from their posts... only to find that the bandits walk up to the walls, pause, converse amongst each other quietly, then turn tail and run.

    Slavery - make it so that the bulk of the bandits are actually oppressed into this by their captors. Eliminating the leaders will essentially free these enslaved bandit army, and hopefully the PCs are righteous enough to let them go. This type has multiple benefits - the presence of enslaved people gives the PCs a group that will help them infiltrate and pass information along from, it gives a reason for there to be a decent number of upper-level bandits in the base area at all times, can exaggerate the amount of potential loot (as some slaves could be mining or doing other hard labor, or the party could gain additional rewards by allowing them to return to their homes), and, most importantly, a large group of NPCs that the DM can use to quite justifiably overpower and eliminate the party when they think they're safe if the PCs decide to turn evil and try to inherit the slaves. That's no bueno, and the TPK will be deserved.

    Illusions - There really aren't that many bandits. There are, however, a ton of Glyphs of various Illusion spells all over the place that makes it look like there are a ton of bandits. This can create some really interesting scenes
    • the party makes a massive distraction but are confused when there's no reaction from the guards on the walls
    • they sneak in and simultaneously take out a bunch of guards Mission Impossible style only to find their knives meet air, and now they're standing inside the projection of guard 3, still searching the treeline.
    • The party may try to sneak in using a tiny distraction, which will then work in a way they don't understand. Maybe the programmed illusion is now slightly out of sync with other ones - they break the axle of the physical magically-animated cart, but still see the drivers seated on nothing, float up the hill, talk to the guards, and float inside. Maybe they attack a group of poorly-hidden bandits to steal uniforms and they find that the reason the bandits are poorly hidden is because they are themselves a distraction set for the real bandits.
    Now they have a different task - find out who is an illusion, and who isn't. This is another way for the party to react creatively to the curveball you've thrown them.

    Bandit Hierarchy - If you're fleshing out the area in here, make it so that the area is in contention and the bandits know that if their leader is taken out, they now belong to the other bandit lord. Make the Organized crime go so deep that mob bosses blush. Alternatively, you could have this group be just a feudal sect of a larger bandit organization that sends their money up the chain. You can take out the leadership here, but the remaining bandits are much more worried about what would happen if the Bandit Emperor finds out if they talked.
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    Default Re: How to avoid my players having to take on an entire bandit camp at the same time?

    Combat encounters in D&D generally take up something like 30-60 seconds of narrative time. If the players attack at night (bandit gangs don't necessarily have the most discipline, many might be drunk or AWOL), the first encounter could already be over by the time most of the bandits can wake up and put their boots on. It could take a whole 'nother encounter's worth of time for the bandits to figure out what's going on and organize a counter-attack. If the players move quickly and don't dither, they can decapitate the gang before they can mass in force, especially if compounded with what other posters have said about spreading out the hideout.

    Watch the raid on the bandit camp from Kurosawa's Seven Samurai to get an idea of how a small handful of attackers can exploit surprise, confusion, and chokepoints to take on a large number of opponents. It doesn't end up going great for the attackers, but that's due to dramatic plot stuff. (Just watch Seven Samurai more generally. It's awesome.)

    If you don't want to deal with arguing with the players about why they can't take over the bandit gang, just have the remaining gang members scatter to the wind after their leader falls. Simplicity itself.
    Last edited by Catullus64; 2023-07-17 at 06:56 PM.
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    Quarrels don't last long if the fault is only on one side.

    Nothing is given so generously as advice.

    We hardly ever find anyone of good sense, except those who agree with us.

    -Francois, Duc de La Rochefoucauld

  25. - Top - End - #25
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Flumph

    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    Male

    Default Re: How to avoid my players having to take on an entire bandit camp at the same time?

    You avoid this by allowing the players' reasonable plan to avoid it to work, even if it's not the one you thought of.

  26. - Top - End - #26
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    UNKNOWN

    Default Re: How to avoid my players having to take on an entire bandit camp at the same time?

    Run the bandits as a cowardly ill disciplined lot, dangerous against unarmed merchants, but not the hardened veteran PC's.

    They don't have patrols, sentries or defences. They haven't cleared the ground to ensure good sight lines, they aren't ready for trouble. They're probably drunk if off duty.

    They also make a LOT of noise. They do everything from getting in fights with one another, to doing doughnuts on their bikes / racing their horses, do the occasional bit of weapon training or gear maintenance. Plus plenty of loud arguments and raucous celebration.

    If they even hear a fight, which is unlikely, they don't know what to do about it. They all do something, the important thing is they don't all do the same thing.

    Some might run to raise the alarm (only to be laughed off by the other bandits who probably think it's a joke, or a mistake). Or even if their friends do listen what they do next isn't necessarily helpful.

    Some might run, there's no money in a fight after all, and they don't know just how many people are attacking. Getting involved is risky. Better to retreat and live to steal another day.

    Some might search for specific friends or companions. They may not be loyal to the group as a whole, but they like their friends and want to make sure they're safe.
    This doesn't result in much large scale organisation or even resistance, except in small groups. Exactly the sort of size that make fora good encounter.

    Some might be happy to fight. So happy in fact they don't raise the alarm or even grab their weapons but instead come up and just attack the PC's (think the burly henchman from Raiders of the lost ark).

    Some might have the opposite approach taking the requisite time to find their gear, put on their armour and get ready before coming to join the fight. It doesn't take them that long, only 4 to strap on a breastplate and another minute to grab their weapons and get to the action. So 5 minutes or 50 combat rounds.

    Add to that confusion as to what's actually happening, where it's happening, people getting in each others way and responses taking time and the most realistic result of the PC's raid is the PC's fighting a few small fights with various kinds of bandit, then running into the bandit captain (who is competent enough to gather some allies and gear and mount a serious defence).
    Then they kill the captain and the bandits rout.

    TLDR: The entire camp rising as one, instantly securing their armour and weapons, and rushing the PC's in a massive human wave each intent on grimly fighting to the last is actually the least realistic thing in a game of wizards and elves.
    I am rel.

  27. - Top - End - #27
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    DrowGuy

    Join Date
    May 2018

    Default Re: How to avoid my players having to take on an entire bandit camp at the same time?

    I'm a huge proponent of player agency and I read a lot of great replies.

    But I would consider this: Its not your problem to make sure the encounter is set up in phases each designed for the players level/ability.

    It can just as easily be the players 'job' to figure out this challenge.

    If they just stumble into a powerful bandit camp and some sentry yells "intruders, everyone get them"... yea thats unwinnable if they fight... but players have the option to run, regroup, and let them figure out how to tackle the scenario.

    The DM just has to be open to letting the players arrive at a solution that can work for them, even if they are super clever and come up with something that allows them to easily 'win' the encounter or if they choose to act stupidly... they should suffer the consequences.

    For me what makes role playing is not setting up an encounter where the players are expected to do x,y,z or the DM babies them soo much they don't learn.. its the joy of seeing what the players come up with to achieve their goals.

  28. - Top - End - #28
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Tawmis's Avatar

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    Mar 2004
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    Default Re: How to avoid my players having to take on an entire bandit camp at the same time?

    Quote Originally Posted by somethingrandom View Post
    If things go as a suspect my players are soon going to be encountering a bandit camp. I want to structure it as several encounters and a boss fight at the end with the bandit chief. I don't want to have the entire camp to rush them (they are low level) but I am having difficulty coming with an idea that makes sense with the bandits wouldn't. The other thing I would like to avoid is my players trying to claim leadership over what remains of the bandits, they are chaotic enough to try and them try to keep control.

    Any suggestions or advice would be welcome
    Lots of great answers - which I agree with - but bandits being bandits - they're often out on different roads looking to ambush people. So a bandit camp need not always be full. The other bandits could be located at six other nearby roads looking to rob folks - making the camp fairly unprotected.

    Could even make for a fun complication - that when these other bandits come back - find that their base has been raided, their leader killed, a new leader takes on the role - and swears to get revenge on anyone daring to strike at the bandits - and begins sending people after the players.
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