Bandits were another staple of Gothic fiction, imperiling the heroine, and titillating the reader. Obviously, a Bandit class is useful for more than just Gothic campaigns. Although intended to emulate Bandits as they appear in the Gothic genre, the Bandit class would also work for swashbuckling and straight fantasy campaigns.
A lurking Footpad, flamboyant Highwaymen, or snarling Pirate.
The arm of the law may be long, but the reach of crime is even greater. Desperate Bandits haunt the lonely roads, twisting streets, dark forests, stark hills, and murky seas. Try as they might to eradicate them, the authorities always seem to be fighting a losing battle against Bandits. For every one apprehended, another lawless man takes up the mantle of banditry.
In many ways a Bandit is similar to any other thief, but there is one important difference; Bandits obtain their plunder by violence, or the threat of it. Most other thieves prefer to avoid all confrontation.
The most common type of Bandit is known as a Footpad, or less poetically, a Mugger. As suggested by the name itself, a Footpad is a Bandit who prowls on foot, whether he haunts a wild woods, or skulks along dirty alleys. Footpads are considered the lowest kind of Bandit, since any person with a dagger and desperation can become one.
Pirates are the Bandits of the seas, lawless men and women who survive by plundering ships and selling the cargoes to unscrupulous merchants. Sometimes, Pirates are pressed into their criminal careers. The squalor and social injustice that exists in most port cities means that Pirate ships generally have an easy time filling their crews, however. Pirates sometimes operate under legal documents called Letters of Marque, which empower them to raid the shipping of one nation on behalf of another. Such semi-legal Pirates are called Privateers, Buccaneers, or Corsairs. Privateers are seen by many nations as a cheap and effective means of waging war, one that pays for itself and exposes only the worst elements of society to actual danger. Privateers hope that their Letters of Marque will raise their status to that of actual prisoners of war, should they ever be captured by their enemies. That hope is often unfounded.
The most esteemed type of Bandit is the masked Highwayman, who rides the roads in search of his victims. Highwaymen often are actual aristocrats, since most common people cannot afford to own a horse in the first place. In some places, “Robber Barons” from the local nobility will pillage their subject populations quite openly. Highwaymen may even buy into their own legend, developing distinctive costumes and signature phrases. If “Stand and deliver” sounds too common, the Highwayman may continue “your money or your wife!”. Many romantic stories are told about particularly gallant Highwaymen, who will take dances from noble ladies in lieu of gold, or who whisk women away from cruel husbands and into a life of adventure. The fact that the intentions of most turn out to be quite unsavory doesn’t stop the stories of chivalrous Highwaymen, only driven to a life of banditry by injustice, or forbidden love.
Men and women turn to Banditry for a variety of reasons. Most are outlaws, people who have been punished for some crime by the loss of all legal status and protections. Since anyone can cheat, rob, or kill an outlaw with impunity, such people take up a life of crime by necessity. Heavily armed Bandits with some military training are often called Brigands. Many are deserters from invading forces, or the remains of units cut off from the main body of troops. They survive by pillaging the countryside. Sometimes Brigands are actually freedom fighters, committed to throwing off the yoke of foreign occupation. Certain Bandit gangs capture and sell slaves, whether as the opportunity arises, or as a regular source of income. Popular stories also tell of noble Bandits who have been dispossessed by usurpers, and commit themselves to righting injustices. There are even those who become Bandits for no other reason that a thirst for adventure, and an inability to follow the rules of society.
Bandits often gain reputations as heroes of the common man, even when they have done nothing to deserve it. Peasants will often delude themselves into believing a local Bandit “robs from the rich and gives to the poor”, even though he may only rob the rich because they have the money. During military occupations, oppressed people may rightly or wrongly see the local Bandits as a resistance against illegitimate authority. More than one noble family was founded by a Bandit who helped rid his country of invaders, or purchased his title with stolen gold. Bandits often find themselves the objects of romantic fantasies, which the more clever among exploit ruthlessly.
Although many Bandits are Chaotic and Evil in orientation, they can actually be of any Alignment. Freedom fighters are often Chaotic Good, while bands of Brigands who were former soldiers tend to be Lawful Evil. Good and Lawful Bandits are the subjects of many stories.
All common races have members who turn to Banditry. Naturally, Human Bandits are the most varied lot. The hateful hearts of Half-Orcs make them natural Bandits. Halflings are likewise adept Footpads, specializing in ambushes. Dwarven Bandits tend to be grim outcasts, greedier even than their kin. Elves love to play the dashing Highwayman, regarding a life of crime as just another game to pass the centuries. Gnomes can be surprisingly effective Bandits, aided by woodland creatures who bear no love for the authorities of civilization. Among the semi-humans who are so often outcasts from society, banditry is likewise common. There is a particular tradition of linking banditry with Werewolves, or Therianthropes of the wolf breed. Woodwoses, on the other hand, are seldom plundering Bandits, unless it is simply for adventures’ sake.
Bandits are the particular enemies of Knights and Paladins, unless the Bandits in question are themselves dispossessed noblemen. Bandits find natural allies amongst burglar Rogues, Grave Robbers, Assassins, and even Libertines. Many Rangers and Gypsies freely associate with Bandits. Bandits are sometimes useful to Magicians and Mad Scientists, particularly when some illegal substance or object needs to be obtained. Demon Hunters care only if a Bandit is going to help them slay some evil monster, or just get in the way. True Innocents try to avoid ruffians and Bandits, but nonetheless always seem to be running into them.
CANT: Bandits are part of the criminal underworld, and speak the argot of thieves.
- Bandits can communicate in the Cant used by Rogues.
INTIMIDATE (Charisma): Bandits quickly learn to use the threat of violence, expressed or implied, to get what they want.
- A Bandit can attempt to Intimidate anyone of his own Level or lower.
- The Bandit must make a comprehensible demand for a specific action from the person or creature to be Intimidated.
- The potential victim must save versus Charisma, or be so frightened that they will thereafter suffer a -1 to all their die rolls when in the Bandit’s presence. The penalty disappears once the victim capitulates to the Bandit’s demand.
- A person can only suffer one Intimidation penalty at a time.
- If a Bandit’s attempt to Intimidate fails, the would-be victim is actually emboldened, becoming immune to any further Intimidation attempts from the Bandit, and also gaining a +1 to hit bonus against him.
HIDE (Dexterity): Bandits frequently need to hide, either to ambush their victims, or elude the authorities.
- A Bandit can Hide as a Rogue of the same Level.
- A Bandit cannot Hide if wearing armor not on her class list of allowed types.
CLIMB (Dexterity): Whether to cross protective walls in the city, scale trees to see if potential victims are on the road, or ascend the masts on a pirate vessel, Bandits need to know how to climb effectively.
- A Bandit can Climb as a Rogue of the same Level.
- A Bandit cannot Climb if wearing armor not on his class list of allowed types.
MOVE SILENTLY (Dexterity): Bandits need to be able to creep up on targets, and quietly escape from imprisonment.
- A Bandit can Move Silently as a Rogue of the same Level.
- A Bandit cannot Move Silently if wearing armor not on her class list of allowed types.
RUNNING / HORSEMANSHIP / SAILING (Dexterity and Wisdom): Depending on whether a Bandit is a Footpad, Highwayman, or Pirate, he will be skilled at Running, Riding, or Sailing.
- Unmounted Footpads move at a base rate 10′ faster than normal for their race. Furthermore, they can run for twice as long before becoming fatigued, and effectively run and jump even when encumbered.
- A mounted Highwayman’s Horsemanship ability is the same as a Knight’s of the same Level.
- Pirates can sail or row any watercraft, and maintain it in good working condition, without the need for any ability check. With a Dexterity check, they can repair a craft, modify a ship, or even construct a boat. With a Wisdom check, they can effectively navigate a craft in open seas.
AMBUSH (Dexterity): Bandits prefer to strike with the element of surprise, and are skilled at taking advantage of an opponent’s momentary confusion.
- Bandits receive a +1 to hit and damage bonus on any attack made while an enemy is surprised, or whenever an enemy is unaware of the Bandit.
- At 4th Level, this bonus increases to +2.
- At 7th Level, the bonus increases to +3.
- At 10th Level, the bonus is +4.
- At 13th Level, the bonus is +5.
CAPTURE (Strength): Bandits frequently hold people for ransom, and become skilled at quickly subduing victims.
- Bandits receive a +1 bonus on all Grappling attempts.
- At 3rd Level, this bonus increases to +2.
- At 6th Level, the bonus increases to +3
- At 9th Level, the bonus is +4.
- At 12th Level, the bonus is +5.
- When appropriate, a Bandit may add also add his Ambush bonus to his Capture bonus.
CONCEAL OBJECT (Dexterity and Intelligence): Bandits learn to effectively hide objects, both on their person, and in the environment. Such skills come in handy for smuggling contraband, and surreptitiously bringing weapons into prison cells.
- A Bandit can hide any item up to the size and weight of a dagger on their body with a Dexterity check.
- A person examining the Bandit must then succeed at a Wisdom check in order to find the concealed item.
- The Challenge Level for finding a concealed object on a Bandit’s body is equal to the Bandit’s Level. Bandits are quite creative in concealing objects, often utilizing clothing and bodily orifices in unexpected ways.
- A Bandit can make also an Intelligence check to make a larger object, one not on their person, go unnoticed by casual observers.
- If the check succeeds, the Bandit has successfully camouflaged the object. Such obfuscation is accomplished by such means as covering the object, positioning it behind other objects, and even by putting it in such an obvious place that nobody would think to look for it there.
- The maximum size of object a Bandit can hide in the environment is equal to 1 cubic foot per Level.
- Finding an object a Bandit has hidden in the environment requires a successful Wisdom check, with a challenge Level equal to the Bandit’s character Level.
FAME (Charisma): Bandits often achieve a measure of fame, sometimes becoming folk heroes. In fact, upper-class ladies may even argue amongst themselves regarding who has the right to be abducted by a particularly handsome and dashing highwayman!
- The player of a Bandit can declare that any non-player character encountered has heard of the Bandit.
- The declaration can be made a number of times equal to the Bandit’s Level, per adventure or scenario.
- The Bandit makes a Charisma check, with a challenge Level equal to character Level, or Hit Dice, of the non-player character.
- If the Bandit succeeds, the other character has heard of her, regards her favorably, and is willing to help her. The Bandit may discover that her drinks are free, that she has a place to hide out from pursuing authorities, that a subject has already composed love poems about her, or many other possibly useful situations.
- If the Bandit fail the Charisma check, the other character is aware of the Bandit’s Infamy, and will try to run away, warn the authorities, or apprehend the Bandit himself. In the case of a chartered Privateer, a failed Charisma check means that the NPC disapproves of the Privateer on principle, or has heard horrible stories about his low character.
- The CK may modify the Challenge Level based on the social class of the other character, or such factors as whether or not the Bandit has previous stolen from him. Common folk, who have little to steal, often regard Bandits as heroes, and do wealthier women who had read too many romances. Upper class people of the same gender as a Bandit will almost always be ill-disposed to him, and it should be extremely unlikely that magistrates or sovereign nobility will ever regard a Bandit favorably.
INFAMY (Charisma): Although often loved by the common people, Bandits are constantly pursued by the law. Even those few Bandits who are legally chartered are often regarded as scum by the very people who employ them. In addition, Bandits must expect that they will become wanted men in the area where they operate.
- As previously noted, Bandits who fail their Fame check will be suffer the ill effects of their Infamy.
- For every week that a Bandit stays in a settled area, there is cumulative 1% per Level chance that the authorities will learn of the Bandit’s presence, and decide to single him out for prosecution. If that happens, wanted posters will be posted, bounty hunters may be hired, and the Bandit’s known associates will be questioned regarding his whereabouts.
- In the case of licensed Privateers, “prosecution” can mean they will face assassins working for enemy nations.
- For purposes of determining a Bandit’s chance of becoming a target for the authorities, an “area” is assumed to cover 1 day’s journey by horse in any direction on land, or one day’s journey by sail.
PRIME ATTRIBUTE: Dexterity
HIT DICE: d8
WEAPONS: Any. (Footpads typically use Short Bows, Daggers, Short Swords, Brass Knuckles, Pistols, and Garrottes. Highwaymen typically use Light Crossbows, Daggers, Main Gauches, Poniards, Pistols, Rapiers, and Sabers. Pirates typically use Hand Axes, Blunderbusses, Daggers, Cutlasses, Pistols, Mancatchers, Muskets, and Scimitars.)
ARMOR: Padded, Leather Coat, Leather Armor, Hide, Studded Leather, Leather Laminar, Mail Shirt, Cuir Bouille, Breastplate (any), Brigandine, Helmet (any), Shield (any except Large or Pavis)
ABILITIES: Cant, Intimidate, Hide, Climb, Move Silently, Running/Horsemanship/Sailing, Ambush, Capture, Conceal Object, Fame.
|Level||Hit Dice||Basic To-Hit Bonus||Experience Points|
|13+||+225,000 per Level|