Thursday, July 23, 2020

Bandits & Brigands

Figure folks would find the following useful. It is an excerpt from the Majestic Fantasy rules I been working. One thing I am doing different is including an NPC "Monster Manual" as my campaigns often features conflicts and complications with NPCs as well as monsters.

This particular section is about Bandits and Brigands. Why they are different along with some notes on the criminal society that exist in rural society.

It is compatible with Swords And Wizadry RPG and my Majestic Fantasy Rules.

Majestic Fantasy Bandits & Brigands

Bandits are outlaw bands roaming the roads and countryside robbing merchants and peasants. They are usually poorly organized, poorly led, and poorly fed making them desperate people capable of anything

Brigands are the rural equivalent of urban thieves’ guilds. They are better organized than ordinary bandits and more capable of hiding from the authorities. Usually brigand gangs form from a mercenary band that ran into bad luck or was outlawed for a crime. Because of this, they have slightly better equipment and have fighters as members as well as thugs. The biggest difference from urban thieves’ guilds is the lack of burglars. Due to their focus on assault and robbery, thugs and fighters are much more common. In addition due to their rural location, there exists an underground trade network of fences and smugglers so the brigands can sell the goods they rob.


Narmer said...

So would Robin Hood be more brigand than bandit in a way? Or does his band fall outside of the paradigm?

Robert Conley said...

Depends on which version of the legend you are talking about.

If Robin of Loxley
Nominally starts as a group bandits however due to the unexpected competence of Robin of Loxley, the group survives and prospers. Also manages to recruit some skilled people to join like Friar Tuck and Alan'a Dale.

If Robert Earl of Huntingdon
Then it is nominally starts as a group of brigands with the ex-Earl using his training to train recruits.

In either case continued success and good leadership turns Robin Hood and his Merry Men into a group of brigands. Although one that robs from the rich and gives to the poor.

Dick McGee said...

Another possible approach to the "brigand" style of group is for them to be in the employ of a hostile foreign power. Somewhat like the way ship captains were issued "letters of marque" to play privateer, a brigand group might be quietly offered forgiveness for crimes or even unofficial payment to go raise hell in someone else's territory while leaving friendly merchants alone. They'd most likely be a deniable asset and maybe only the leader(s) would be aware of the arrangement and might well wind up being betrayed and massacred in the end. Alternately, they might have one or more handlers sent with them to ensure they don't run wild. Less deniable if the handlers get caught and interrogated, but better controlled and maybe even a setup to co-operate with real troops in the event of an open war. This sort of band would be particular useful to employers who can't operate openly in the target area, eg an orc warlord or necromancer hiring human mercs to perform some brigandage in a human-dominated kingdom.