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Adventure ideas for outlaws


coffeemancer

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I have been working on an idea for a west-marches style game about a small group of outlaws in the woods (set 1 year before the Lunars invade Sartar) and I wanted to pick the hivemind for ideas.

What adventures do you think these outlaws could have?

 

(addendum: they will be living in the unnamed woods just south of the feyghost forest.)

Edited by coffeemancer
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I guess a lot will depend on the tone chosen. Is this a harsh and nasty struggle for survival in the face of a hostile world, or a more heroic campaign with bandits with at least their own brand of honour and stylishness? You get very different campaigns from the Dalton gang, Robin Hood, and the Brotherhood Without Banners (GoT).

"Social Banditry" is also interesting in how it connects even outlaws to a community: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_banditry

Hobsbawm: "The point about social bandits is that they are peasant outlaws whom the lord and state regard as criminals, but who remain within peasant society, and are considered by their people as heroes, as champions, avengers, fighters for justice, perhaps even leaders of liberation, and in any case as men to be admired, helped and supported. This relation between the ordinary peasant and the rebel, outlaw and robber is what makes social banditry interesting and significant ... Social banditry of this kind is one of the most universal social phenomena known to history."

Edited by Akhôrahil
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3 minutes ago, Akhôrahil said:

I guess a lot will depend on the tone chosen. Is this a harsh and nasty struggle for survival in the face of a hostile world, or a more heroic campaign with bandits with at least their own brand of honour and stylishness?

I would like to leave that ip to the players, but so far all takers have made characters that are no wprse than a 4 on the 1-10 scale of assholeness. 

So I think they will be leaning more towards being merry men, specially after the lunars invade, but before that I would like to focus on them having to survive.

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One crucial part is that they're outlaws for a reason, and whatever that reason is, someone is likely to try to come to collect now that they're outlaws and can be killed freely.

I think it could be a great structure to start off with this kind of thing and mere survival, and then they get a chance to transform themselves into bandit-rebels after the Lunars arrive. Also seeing if they try to maintain some moral threshold - introducing Gagarthi (probably more successful and powerful than the PCs!) and presenting them beyond the moral event horizon could be good here - "are you truly no better than those guys?" It's always good to have an opposition who is worse than the PCs - when watching Sons of Anarchy I reflected on how outsider law-enforcement is universally morally appalling there, because the unpleasant people in the club still have to be maintained as preferable to the people who oppose them. 

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 a couple of ideas for "little scenarios"

the hunter party: they need to eat, will they hunt by themselves (jump, climb, track, listen, ...) will they steal some farms ? ...

the prey party: other may need to eat (dragonewt, sabretooth, ..) and there is nothing except your pcs. the key point is not to kill but to survive and escape

the other prey party: some young or les young warriors want to prove how powerful they are... wonderful, there are weak outlaws near the tula

the nature needs help: they meet a nymph who ask them to find something

the civilization needs help: on the road some travelers have an issue (slaves running away from their master, merchant who need guards, poor people who are unable to survive, artists ..) and maybe they are not what they seems to be (ogre, bandit, Donandar, ...)

the treasure : they found something, a ring, a tomb,  etc.. maybe there is  a spirit (friendly or not) maybe the owner will be happy to get it back, maybe the owner would like to kill them to be sure nobody knows about this thing

suicide squad: outlaws are good mercenaries for someone who want cheap cannon fodder

and of course the campaign: how could they "regain" their honor, etc... but then you need to know why / from where they are what they are

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13 hours ago, coffeemancer said:

I would like to leave that ip to the players, but so far all takers have made characters that are no wprse than a 4 on the 1-10 scale of assholeness. 

So I think they will be leaning more towards being merry men, specially after the lunars invade, but before that I would like to focus on them having to survive.

I'd want to check in with all the players and explicitly get a bit of consensus going about the campaign arc.  2-3 points of drift from a starting "4" goes a *long* way from "middle of the road" assholeness, in either direction...

Are some of them envisioning redemption-arcs, and being re-accepted?  Are some of them figuring they're at the beginning of a long dark slide into villain-hood?  Are some of them looking forward to a long exploration of this margins-of-society existence, neither fully-redeeming nor becoming genuine blackguards?

Mis-matched expectations has IME ruined a more campaigns than anything except changing life-circumstances (as when a group of gaming school-chums graduate & move apart).

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Thoughts:

As others have indicated, what got them outlawed and by whom makes a lot of difference. 

Your bandits have a choice; Stay near home, or leave and try to get a new start where they are not outlawed.  For instance go to Prax - or north to Peloria - or south to Esrolia - hell, catch a ship to Pamaltela and work their way as rowers!.  What do the players want to do? 

How far do they have to go before they outrun their Reputation?

So your bandits capture someone who is On the Other Side  and yet is Ransomable.  How do they go about collecting the ransom?  Will the folks paying the ransom try to double cross them, or to hunt them down afterward?

 

 

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10 hours ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

As others have indicated, what got them outlawed and by whom makes a lot of difference.

+1. This will probably inspire you.

other ideas :

Compete with another gang (or trolls or Durulz).

Smuggle Hazzia.

Raid cattle to resell it.

Ransom travellers (who knows who they captured or tried to ?)

Raise taxes.

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Wind on the Steppes, role playing among the steppe Nomads. The  running campaign and the blog

 

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Find a hideout, then find a better hideout

Struggle with your ability to worship (do you have the people and places? does your god still tolerate you?)

Someone falls in love with a member of your rival bandit gang

Find women (in a hopefully less than awful way)

Recruit cannon fodder additional gang members

Get yourself a wyter

Edited by Akhôrahil
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Lots of good suggestions here!

Since it has come up a lot. I will give some more info about the PC's and the game.

- the reason for being an outlaw is a part of character generation, so far we have a colymar kinslayer, a sun dome woman who practiced shamanism, a guy who was born into outlawry and a stormbull who killed his family.

-They are camped out in the forest between Rich Post and the Feyghost woods.

-There is a larger group of hardcore bandits in the near-ish Alric's fort. They either would not accept anyone from the PC group or the PC's would not want to be part of them.

-There are 9 "non-combatant" NPC outlaws in the gang, two of which are kids, and one elderly professional outlaw who the rest of the group more or less coalesced around.

-Magic is DEFINETIVELY a big problem. They cannot replenish their rune points and cannot participate in sacred time rituals. Unless they find a friendly community, or make friends with some.

 

At one point, I want to have them score a nice haul like a caravan or something, only for a band of bigger, meaner and rested Gagarthi bandits to come and calmly state that they will be taking it.
If the Gagarthi are impressed by the PC's they may offer some of them to come and try initiating into the cult...

Edited by coffeemancer
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2 hours ago, coffeemancer said:

At one point, I want to have them score a nice haul like a caravan or something, only for a band of bigger, meaner and rested Gagarthi bandits to come and calmly state that they will be taking it.
If the Gagarthi are impressed by the PC's they may offer some of them to come and try initiating into the cult...

I think that's the way to do it, give them multiple options but leave the decisions to them. I think it's important for them to know they have multiple options though, and that the first choice they face isn't necessarily the only option they're going to get.

Check out the Runequest Glorantha Wiki for RQ links and resources. Any updates or contributions welcome!

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On 10/14/2021 at 11:35 AM, coffeemancer said:

What adventures do you think these outlaws could have?

While beyond the quick idea, two books by Eric Hobsbawm (I saw him talk many years ago) have provided me with useful info for playing oulaws:

Primitive Rebels is an excellent intro to social outlaws, the Social Bandit chapter provides excellent ideas for those who are outlawed, but don't want to be "Bad people":

https://archive.org/details/primitiverebelss00hobs/page/12/mode/2up (it's worth making an account to check the book out for an hour if you don't have a copy).

Bandits was a later book of his, a much more developed version of the former and focussing on individuals and their exploits, plenty of ideas here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bandits-Eric-Hobsbawm/dp/0349113025

(I picked up the Kindle version a few years ago for 99p)

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Man versus nature is a huge opportunity adventure here.  Periods of low food, or discovering that water in a certain area is impure in some way (naturally or magically), dealing with harsh weather -- storms and especially dark season should be major challenges that stretch the players to overcome them.  Will they turn to robbing farmers of their sheep to survive if they cannot pass survival rolls and hunting attempts?   Will they venture into unknown territory, possibly ghost or troll haunted, in search of game they badly need to survive?  What will they find there?  Can they repair their armor (leather working), make new arrows (woodworking, fletching), and what will they do for metal if their tools break or are lost trying to flee some creature?

There are incredible opportunities here to stretch the game system and use what Runequest does best.  What if they fail a plant lore roll and ingest some mild poison?  Is one of them dedicated enough to try to create a shrine to their deity, and will the others supply that person with food and shelter (do all the work) while they are on their religious quest? 

Is there a friendly NPC who is nonetheless forced by duty to hunt them down?  What happens if they encounter another outlaw band unexpectedly?  There are so many plot opportunities here that it makes me want to run a campaign built around the concept! 

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7 hours ago, coffeemancer said:

- the reason for being an outlaw is a part of character generation, so far we have a colymar kinslayer, a sun dome woman who practiced shamanism, a guy who was born into outlawry and a stormbull who killed his family.

All of these people may well have family, friends or allies who might be sympathetic. Maybe the first character's kin had it coming, the sun domer must have had people who taught her shamanism or family that are at least conflicted about her exile, the born outlaw might have some people he helped as well as those he robbed. Even for the Uroxi, if it was done in a blind rage there might be some in the cult who view it as a result of divine inspiration. So there are question I'd ask all the players.

Who most condemns you?

Who supports you or is most sympathetic?

The latter gives the characters something to lose if they double down on outlawry, because those are the people that might finally turn their back on them.

Edited by simonh

Check out the Runequest Glorantha Wiki for RQ links and resources. Any updates or contributions welcome!

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2 hours ago, coffeemancer said:

speaking of, anyone know the imports/exports of duckton?

That's a little off topic, but-

 Always thought it was an avenue of trade rather than a manufacturing center.  Ducks taking cargo all up and down that river system in Sartar, anywhere from Nochet to past Jonstown.  They get paid for that.  There must also be agriculture and aquaculture. but you'd have to imagine some exportable products there.

Sort of like Real World Springdale, ARK, which is home to at least three big trucking companies, and there are also an awful lot of chicken farmers there.  

 

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17 hours ago, coffeemancer said:

- the reason for being an outlaw is a part of character generation, so far we have a colymar kinslayer, a sun dome woman who practiced shamanism, a guy who was born into outlawry and a stormbull who killed his family.

 

At one point, I want to have them score a nice haul like a caravan or something, only for a band of bigger, meaner and rested Gagarthi bandits to come and calmly state ....

combine that with the Sacred Time rolls pushing bandits into poverty with a significant chance that their children die - see p.  RQiG - pp422-423 -

It seems to me that they should really consider the choices of being hardcore bandits vs. going into exile far enough away that the kinslaying is not known.  Yes, take that advice about asking the players what their characters want to do. 

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If you want to be a bit lazy, you can have them hide on the side of a road somewhere, and then roll random encounters.  You can prepare them in advance so that nothing too game-breaking occurs.  A good deal of fun involves giving the different characters in a bandit ambushed party names, histories and specific personal motives that will affect their reactions to being robbed.  The players may become quite circumspect about who they try to rob after a while.  For example:

-A troupe of baboons in ill-fitting and likely looted pieces of lunar army surplus, come down the road screeching at each other.  The screeching is growing more intense and they start pelting each other with their own turds.  Beastspeech speakers will discover that they ae abusing each other for getting lost, and they have no idea where they are.

-7 Mostali wander down the road, (perhaps from Delecti's Ruins?) carting the body of a human girl in a glass coffin.  The party is not overly armed or armored and their destination is unclear.

- A party of 2 dark trolls and 10 trollkin wander the road at night.  They have a number of pack beetles and bear Argan Argar runes, and seem to be in a hurry.  The party is decently well equipped with weapons and armor. 

-A party of 4 young grazelander boys, lightly armed and armored.  Each has a horse and a remount.  They are travelling very fast.

-Here comes a frikkin' walktapus.  It is wearing a wooden barrel to hide its nakedness apparently.

-A herd of fallow deer cross the road.

-A group of uncomfortable looking men with darkish skin and obsidian tipped spears, come along,  they are all shivering under blankets they are wearing, and curse the weather in heavily accented Esrolian.

-A fat faced merchant girl on a mule cart with 10 fyrd level guards and a fellow with some iron in his armor mix.  They are leading a huge black bull behind them.

-An extremely sour looking bearded fellow in good bronze armor comes down the road.  He is pushing what seems to be a baby cart.

-A mixed rune party of 4 including a Chalana Arroy, an Uroxi, a Yelmalion, and an Orlanthi.  They are wary and leading their horses.  They are also well armed.

-A group of very emaciated looking crested dragonewts armed with pointed sticks.  One of them seems to be wearing a live rat as a codpiece.

-A Lunar regiment is coming down the road.  They are peltasts, and there are about 300 of them.

-A surreptitious Aldryami scoots across the road with a stolen sack on his shoulder (it contains manure). 

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1 hour ago, Darius West said:

-7 Mostali wander down the road, (perhaps from Delecti's Ruins?) carting the body of a human girl in a glass coffin.  The party is not overly armed or armored and their destination is unclear.

No comment

1 hour ago, Darius West said:

-An extremely sour looking bearded fellow in good bronze armor comes down the road.  He is pushing what seems to be a baby cart.

Reduce the armor, give him a corncob pipe, some very unusual arm musculature, and put a few jars of enchanted spinach in with the swaddled toddler.

{Okay, I think I recognize the manga reference just as I finished this}

1 hour ago, Darius West said:

-A group of very emaciated looking crested dragonewts armed with pointed sticks.  One of them seems to be wearing a live rat as a codpiece.

I can only hope one of the two is enjoying its position...

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On 10/14/2021 at 5:54 PM, Squaredeal Sten said:

As others have indicated, what got them outlawed and by whom makes a lot of difference. 

Let me tell you about my character...

Set a while later than the planned campaign mentioned in the OP, I drew up a Sartarite horseman and played him very much like an Old West frontier cowboy/rustler, with a lance and lasso.  The backstory was that, as a head-strong teen, he took his community's ethos a little too far and regularly antagonised both the Grazelanders to the west and the Lunar Tarshites to the north, to the point where his own clan had to outlaw him just to appease the neighbors.  Given the time period (c.1615-21), it was only natural that he drift into "lawless" Prax and took his cowboy-style adventuring to a pitch, playing the good-hearted but cynical drifter.  He eventually did a stint with Duke Raus in the Borderlands campaign (he saved Jezra!...then broke her heart), then moved south to form a band of raiders, rustlers, and thieves in the Zola Fel valley.

Later, when playing in a new RQG campaign, I updated him to the new rules and added experience, and played his homecoming to Sartar where he'd mellowed a bit and became an up-and-coming thane of the clan.  When last sighted, he was riding the clan range like an itinerant sheriff and putting the experience of his mis-spent youth to good use.

Point being, he was always an outlaw, but never a really bad guy.  Some of his fellow outlaws were worse, but never depraved.  And he always had an eye on an eventual homecoming.

!i!

Edited by Ian Absentia

carbon copy logo smallest.jpg  ...developer of White Rabbit Green

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15 hours ago, Baron Wulfraed said:

I can only hope one of the two is enjoying its position...

Regarding the crested dragonewts, they are completely asexual, and have no idea that the rat is awkwardly positioned, as they could barely figure out how to tie it in place in the first place after they caught it.  They also haven't figured out what food is.  They will throw their sticks haphazardly in the direction of a threat and flee.

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On 10/22/2021 at 4:52 PM, Darius West said:

-7 Mostali wander down the road, (perhaps from Delecti's Ruins?) carting the body of a human girl in a glass coffin.  The party is not overly armed or armored and their destination is unclear.

The magnificent Sven?

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15 hours ago, Baron Wulfraed said:

Snow White

Yes, I know, but when I see something about 7 dwarves in a scenario, I can't think to someting other : 'The magnificent Sven' is the scenario in Wharammer (1st ed, IIRC), where a group of 7 characters led by a dwarf named Sven try to protect a small hamlet from attacks from a group of Orcs/Brigands. Any similarity with 'The magnificent seven' is of course completely unvoluntary.

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