R is for Rogues and Ruffians

Approximate time to read: 3 minutes.   

The Gordon Riots, by Charles GreenThe imperative of Queen Korinthia and her government to assign every colonist to specific areas and even specific roles has fostered a rebellious streak in some Ambrians. Those disinclined to do exactly what authority figures ask have chosen to become free colonists, slum-dwellers, roamers or worse.

The elements who come under the category of ‘worse’ pose a problem for everyone. Some never even made it all the way across the Titans. Bandits eke out an existence in the peaks, dashing from the foothills to attack small settlements and camps, or catching caravans unawares along the paths and tracks through and alongside the range.

Not all of the bandits are Ambrian. Despite best efforts, some of clan Kadiz and clan Jezora have not followed their companions into slavery or annihilation.

A handful of bandit chiefs are holed up in the mountains, the most infamous ones being Baron Manvar Grendel’s obstinate daughter, called the Ice Witch, and the ogre Mound and his gang of goblins and tamed rage trolls.

Anyone not considering the life-shortening potential of treasure-seeking in Davokar might consider the life of a bountyhunter. As adventures go, a GM can probably knock out a simple trace-and-subdue mission in a short space of tame with enough entertainment to fill a session. If the travelers have the right contacts or reputation (that Contact trait doesn’t all go one way), someone might catch them up with an offer of work, a small purse reward and an artist’s impression (perhaps with a map noting recent sightings).

If you do end up taking the job, the GM will need to consider whether the targets only have robbery or violence in mind, or if the leader has some other motive. Roll 1D10:

01Rogue intends to blackmail business leaders in local settlement; offers of 'insurance'; random violence
02Dweller wronged by a local authority figure; intent on vengeance; specifically targets bureaucracy or those acting on behalf of authority figure
03Ranger possessed by some lesser entity of Davokar; determined to steal a specific recently discovered artefact
04Ex-Ordo Magica initiate who believes current attitude toward non-humans not harsh enough; targets minority areas and settlements
05Ex-Black Cloak determined to root out non-believers in the clergy attacking chapels; monasteries; and other outposts of Prios; mentally unhinged
06Egotistical noble intent on establishing personal nation-state within Ambria; raising small well-equipped 'army' of sellswords
07Angry barbarian witch spurred on by insight from divination; heavy drug use; driven by hatred committing acts of ritualistic violence
08Treasure-seeker using an artefact to control random members of the public turning them into puppet-lackeys stealing and upsetting authority
09Frustrated undead theurg torn by belief and current state seeking to strike key targets to command greater respect for undead-kind
10Charming Templar driven by fanaticism for Young Gods seeks to convert heretics through fire and blood; stalks the alleys offering absolution

Criminal Acts

Those who made their way to the cities and then resisted reassignment may have found themselves forced into slavery under the label of ‘corrective labour activities’ or escaped into the tunnels and back alleys. The Slum District and Refugee Camp in Yndaros, the tracks and alleys of Black Moor, the Ruck of Sevona – every settlement seems to have a place that harbors the feckless and undesirable.

If you have a group of characters – or at least one – with high morale principles, you can see how they react to a criminal act commited infront of them. Roll 1D20:

01Ruffian releases associate from stocks
02Goblins run riot across rooftops
03Watchmen give chase to escaped felon
04Dweller offers personal services
05Ruffians drag child into an alleyway
06Dweller hammers upon door demanding access
07Sickly looking trader sells warm rocks
08Travelers see a crippled beggar dash home
09Ruffians mercilessly beat a watchman
10Dweller asks traveler for sexual services
11Ruffian raises alarm so associates can steal
12Dweller pours something into a well
13Ruffian passes a small pouch to watchman
14Traders passes trimmed coins in change
15Ruffian gathers money from street walkers
16Preacher spreads traitorous slurs
17Non-guild artisan offers services
18Naked dweller runs amok through market
19Noble endangers life with poor horse control
20Traders sells counterfeit seeker licences

Mobbed and Manhandled

Sometimes the characters will find themselves faced by a massed group of ne’er-do-wells and ruffians who don’t really care for their well-being. The mob approach relies on weight of numbers rather than finesse or skill. As a GM, you probably don’t want to worry too much about the specifics of such a mob, but do want to simulate their threat.

Where the thoughts run out, the fists take over.

I’m throwing this out as an idea, rather than something I have tested. Other systems – like 13th Age and Lone Wolf – have a way to generate a group of one-hit minions, so I thought I’d see if I could do the same without needing to worry too much about the minutiae.

For the purposes of any Mob, assume the benefits of Swarm (I) and a constant state of Advantage, giving an attack modifier of -2 to defend against, but a 0 (zero) modifier to strike. Mobs do 5 – they strike for 5 damage (3 + 2 from Advantage) with a hit and members of the Mob die if struck for multiples of 5 (i.e. if you inflict 12 damage on a Mob, two members die). Each 5 points of damage caused by players takes out a part of the Mob, but the GM can ignore fractions (i.e. in the example of 12 damage, the strike drops two but the remainder of 2 damage is not recorded or carried over).

A Mob always has enough members to attack and flank the characters – they’re an overwhelming force of people determined to do harm while they have the appetite for it.

A Mob, like a swarm, will keep attacking until the tide turns against it. Assume a Mob starts with a Resolute of 18. At the end of each round, roll against Resolute to continue fighting and for every 5 damage suffered sets a modifier of -1 on this. If the Mob fails the ‘morale’ test, it runs away. The GM can modify the Resolute of a Mob depending on circumstance – so feverish cultists or frenzied barbarians might have a higher value while pitch-forking waving peasants might start lower.

If you really need to check any other attributes, assume a Mob has a value of 12 for group actions – spotting intruders, breaking down fences, or intimidating people – and 6 for individual actions, where one person can spoil everything – sneaking around, diving into cover, or polite social interaction. The individual members probably have actual numbers in the 8 – 10 range, but the weight of individuals within a Mob makes them better at group activities and worse at actions that require individual talent.


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