Thursday, January 1, 2015

Plot VS Play 1: The Stone Bandit

For the start of the new year I figured I'd throw out a new article series I've been toying around with.  As anyone who's tried to run a pre-written adventure knows your players have no care or interest in what the adventure might say. If they can make things more interesting by ruining it or throwing in a few wrenches they will.  Sometimes things stay mostly on track others everything falls apart, but either way the game trucks on and the adventures continue.
In the spirit of knowing sometimes shit happens I bring you my version of posting adventures.  I know lots of blogs post one shots and setting for this game or that, but i wanna go a step further.  I'll do my best to have notes on how to run adventures for multiple systems (most likely Savage Words and D&D 5th as well as any other that will come to mind) and for no extra charge I'll throw in the personal gaming story of how my players took said adventure and ran it through the ringer.

The Stone Bandit

I decided to start things of with something simple. This is a single scene side adventure that can be put in and fantasy game (and potentially moist other settings with a bit of tweaking).  The basic idea is the a bandit leader has been turned into a living statute a passing wizard. Rather than wallow in his misfortune he and his men use his new appearance by planning himself in the middle of a trade road asking travelers to hear the story of his condition giving his men time to set up an ambush.

The scene starts with a statute of s man standing in the middle of the road. Hidden about 50ft back into the trees on either side of the road are two small camps of bandits with 6 bandits in each.  The bandits hang out and wait till they hear their leader begin his song as an alert to prepare the ambush.  By the end of the song the bandits spring the ambush and the party is asked to surrender their valuable.  Obviously most groups would then resort to violence and that is just fine for a small encounter like this. Below is the "song" as well as what happens after each verse.  Obviously if the group becomes wise during the middle of the song let things roll as they may, but this will help you know where everyone would be at any given time.

Song of Distraction

Now, this is a story all about how
My life got flipped-turned upside down
And I'd like to take a minute
Just sit right there
I'll tell you how I became the statue in the road right here.

This is the cue for both bandit camps to be alerted that a new "mark" is on the road.

In the west planes born and raised
On the farmland was where I spent most of my days
Work'n hard, Hoe'n, Feel'n all proud
When this one guy who was up to no good
Started making trouble in my neighborhood
We get in one little fight and things got scared
He said 'You're going to be a statue right here'

By now the bandits have geared up and begin heading out.

I begged and pleaded with him day after day
But he packed my stuff my stuff and hauled it away
He gave me a message then gave me the finger.
He took my Wife and said, 'I might as well take her'.

At this point the closer of the two groups (your choice as to which side that would be) is set up cross bows ready.

First year, man that was bad
Damn birds take'n a shit on my ass.
Is this what a statue of the road lives like?
Hmmmmm this might be Shite.

By now both groups are fulls set up and the ambush is ready to strike.

But wait I had been noble, proud, all that
Is this the type of man that birds just cover in their shat?
I don't think so
You'll see when I get free
I hope you're prepared for the man that is me

This is the point that the trap is revealed.  One bandit from each side steps out from hiding to stand on either side of the statue.  At this point if the players attack have each remaining verse of the song sung on the statues turn.

Well, your cart's stopped and now we come out
There are a dozen men armed like guards standing here with a bows out
I ain't trying to get violent yet
You just got here
but we'll spring with quickness like lightning and disappear

At least 3 bandits from each group can unload bolts at the group.  IF the players are in a cart with a horse the attacks target the horse to keep the party from fleeing.  IF the party is on foot make then incredibly accurate warning shots.  (in this case make sure that the shots do not actually target the players as since they were not targets the bandits can remain hidden.)

I whistled for more and when they come near
Your blood will pool fresh, I have men at your rear
If anything I could say that this here is rare
But I think 'Nah, forget it' - 'Your, hands in the air'

With one from each group on either side of the statue and three in hiding with their cross bows the remaining two from each group step out onto the road behind the group crossbows drawn to show that the party is surrounded.  Obviously if violence has already broken out they can make a surprise attack to show that they are behind them as well.  If things are still peaceful then they simply line up their shots in case things get messy.

At this point the party will have to either surrender, negotiate, or turn to violence.  If the party takes the violent route all bandits and the statue attack.  The statue will try to always save one attack each round for the horse if their is one until it is slain.

If the party slays the statue his dyeing words are below.  All other bandits try to flee if there doesn't appear to be hope of winning.  Death of their leader is a sure sign of a losing fight.

I pulled off this job about 7 or 8
And I yet to my chagrin 'You win, see ya later'
I looked to the kingdom
I am finally there
To sit on my throne as the Stone Prince of my lair

  • Stats
    • Savage Worlds: For this I would make the statue a wildcard with a D8 Fighting, Persuasion, & Vigor and the Two Fisted and Ambidextrous Edges.  All other stats would be D6.  Additionally because of his curse the statue only takes 1/2 damage until he has 3 Wounds.  The Bandits as just Extras with a D6 in all stats.  The Statue has a saber and dagger the bandits a crossbow and dagger.
    • D&D 5th: I would use the Bandit Captain with the addition of (Damage Resistance: acid, poison, psychic; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical weapons that aren't adamantine Condition Immunities: charmed, exhaustion, frightened,paralyzed, petrified, poisoned) the bandits are basic bandits.

So if it isn't obvious this encounter has a very large hole in it. The players have to be willing to listen to the song (especially if they want any chance of getting the joke the entire scene is).  I had anticipated not getting to finish the song and even thought they might be suspicious of a talking statue in the first place, but I had no idea how fast everything would crumble.  First of all everyone just thought it was a man covered in chalk pretending to be a statue (not a bad idea in a setting without magic).  This also meant that they were anticipating a trick right from the get go and rather than wanting to hear the man's plight just started insulting and berating him to get out of the road.  The second part I don't think anyone expected.  The group's barbarian was getting restless and decided he would bound off in this forest to catch some food.  What instead happened was he leaped from the card and somehow moved his character right onto the edge of one of the bandit camps in his first move.  Startling all the bandits as he raged and proceeded to crush everything in his wake.  The rest of the party might not have seen the camp, but between his yells of rage and the screams of the off guard bandits they knew something was up.  As this point the ambush was a bust and the bandits had to scramble the second camp to save their friends.  The song was never sange, but the fight was still a blast (extra bit of enjoyment as the players found out the statue wasn't just a man coated in chalk as he shrugged off some of their lesser blows).  I started with this example as I think it perfectly shows both how planning means nothing to adventures and how none of that really matters as long as you have fun with the derailment. 

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