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Muz
2011-10-14, 11:14 AM
I find myself in need of some minor DMing advice:

The party has recently gotten hold of a magic map that shows a traveler, among other things, the locations of any nearby bandit ambushes. Using this map, the party ambushed the ambush, handily capturing nearly a dozen men without a scratch on either group. (If you're curious, lots of magic used to incapacitate--and the bandits were no match for the party, which was rather my intent in this particular case.)

They've managed to get the captured bandits to the nearest town, half a day's march away, which is reasonably sized with a local ruler inside its keep. We ended the session as they were arriving at the town gates to turn in the bandits, whereupon the bandits protested that they were just minding their own business when the party attacked THEM, tied them all up and brought them here. Essentially, for the moment, it's the party's word against the bandits. I'm trying to figure out how the authorities would handle this situation, but at the same time neither I nor the players (or so is my sense) want to stretch what was essentially a test of their new magical map into a huge courtroom proceeding.

None of the party holds any official status within the kingdom they're in. They're mostly a upright looking bunch--except for a chaotic good minotaur who obviously inspires the reaction one might expect in a mostly human kingdom that doesn't tend to see minotaurs at all, friendly or otherwise. (He likes to carry a bag of fruit to hand out to people in order to make friends. Nice guy.)

Any thoughts? :smallsmile:

Dr.Epic
2011-10-14, 11:18 AM
If any of the bandits have an existing criminal history and can be recognized, I say the guard should side with the PCs. Otherwise, they don't really have any solid evidence and they should be let free. Though and suspicious gear on the bandits might swede the authorities. And let's not forget the effects of a good bluff check on the bandits part.

NMBLNG
2011-10-14, 11:18 AM
If this is the closest town, then it is likely that the citizens and local authority are aware that there are indeed bandits. Were the bandits armed? The fact that they are armed and were found in the middle of the wilderness may be evidence enough. Also, some of the locals may recognize the bandits if they've been attacked by them before.

So I think it is quite likely that the local authorities will side with the players.

supermonkeyjoe
2011-10-14, 11:22 AM
Are bandits a known problem in this area?

At the end of it it may just be a case of rolling bluff vs diplomacy vs sense motive to see who the guards believe if there isn't any evidence. Also depending on the size of the town and the setting there may not even be a court, the guard confiscate the bandits' weapons, give them a slap on the head and run them out of town. It's pretty hard for a bandit to extort money with no weapons and it's hard to buy weapons without any money...

comicshorse
2011-10-14, 11:23 AM
Does the town have any Wizards on their payroll ? A Zone of Truth spell might help clear things up

mrzomby
2011-10-14, 11:24 AM
how much proof does either group have? If the players were looking for bandits as part of a bounty, then the person who posted it probably gave some physical description of one of the leaders, or some sort of mark they all have (like a red sash or suit of some type)

did the party find a lot of weapons when they captured the bandits? that may be circumstancial evidence, IE, why would a bunch of random innocent non-guardsmen people be sitting around a highly travelled road with a large amount of weapons, and not a lot of provisions for travel? nothing concrete there, but kind of suspicious depending on the kingdom.

Morquard
2011-10-14, 11:28 AM
how much proof does either group have? If the players were looking for bandits as part of a bounty, then the person who posted it probably gave some physical description of one of the leaders, or some sort of mark they all have (like a red sash or suit of some type)

did the party find a lot of weapons when they captured the bandits? that may be circumstancial evidence, IE, why would a bunch of random innocent non-guardsmen people be sitting around a highly travelled road with a large amount of weapons, and not a lot of provisions for travel? nothing concrete there, but kind of suspicious depending on the kingdom.
"We never saw those weapons before, I swear! They burned our waggons and now dragged us here! Arrest them!"

Muz
2011-10-14, 11:31 AM
I was kind of shooting from the hip when I put the bandits in, so I'm not entirely sure if they're already wanted as bandits yet. I suppose that would make it easier on me, but I was leaning toward having them be relatively new to the area. A fair number of weapons WERE found (nearly all had bows, and all had some manner of decent melee weapon). There was also a chest at their camp that had a little bit of coin in it, but no traceable stolen loot.

Essentially, I feel it's a situation where the party has no actual proof, and I'm trying to decide how much the town authorities are likely to agree that they are bandits. I'm liking the "let them go but take their weapons and coin, just in case" option, however much of a miscarriage of the judicial that feels like to my modern eyes.

Of course, some of the bandits have poison to dip their arrows in, but the party hasn't yet searched them well enough to discover this. If the town found it, they might consider that another count against them--unless the bandits successfully claimed the party planted it. (Edit: Ninjaed by Morquard! :smallwink:) Then again, if the party asks for no reward...

Lysander
2011-10-14, 11:34 AM
Also it depends how advanced and fair the justice system is. Remember, at certain times and places in history people could just grab an innocent old lady and shout "a witch! a witch!" and people would burn her. So if a group of heroic looking adventures lugs in a bunch of scruffy battle-scarred men and say that they're bandits the town might believe them even if they weren't bandits.

What I would do is have the head town guard or village elder or whatever make a knowledge local check to recognize the bandits/infer what they are based on their behavior and appearance. Why not roll a d20, if it's 10 or higher the villagers know enough to recognize them as bandits and haul them away. If it's 10 or lower then the players and the bandits make opposed diplomacy checks, with a slight advantage going to the players for not being the ones in chains.

Ravens_cry
2011-10-14, 11:37 AM
These bandits have likely struck before. Can other travellers come forth as witnesses of being assaulted by these "gentlemen"?

Templarkommando
2011-10-14, 12:29 PM
"We never saw those weapons before, I swear! They burned our waggons and now dragged us here! Arrest them!"

Really? Look, Officer, if we were bandits why would we capture our mark and drag them into the next city rather than just kill them and take their stuff?

Shpadoinkle
2011-10-14, 12:41 PM
Seconding Zone of Truth. Any city large enough to able able to afford it would probably have a ZoT "trap" (or several, depending on the size) that they'd have people being interrogated stand in/on.

hayabusa
2011-10-14, 12:48 PM
Yeah, I think that the authorities would side with the PCs, especially if any of the captives are recognized from past robberies or minor crimes. Hang 'em and then ask to buy the spell from the party, that's what they'd do.

Dr.Epic
2011-10-14, 01:03 PM
Does the town have any Wizards on their payroll ? A Zone of Truth spell might help clear things up

Or even a paladin. There's a good chance the bandits could be evil which would be helpful as well. But yeah, Zone of Truth works pretty well too.

Calmar
2011-10-14, 05:29 PM
They've managed to get the captured bandits to the nearest town, half a day's march away, which is reasonably sized with a local ruler inside its keep. We ended the session as they were arriving at the town gates to turn in the bandits, whereupon the bandits protested that they were just minding their own business when the party attacked THEM, tied them all up and brought them here. Essentially, for the moment, it's the party's word against the bandits. I'm trying to figure out how the authorities would handle this situation, but at the same time neither I nor the players (or so is my sense) want to stretch what was essentially a test of their new magical map into a huge courtroom proceeding.
If you want to handle it the medieval way, the bandits' reputation becomes vastly important - if the community recognises them as decent people and they haven't commited any crime, they can't be punished for anything. Otherwise, they're armed strangers who are most likely dangerous.

dps
2011-10-14, 06:23 PM
Though and suspicious gear on the bandits might swede the authorities.

Or maybe even norwegian them. :smallbiggrin:

Coidzor
2011-10-14, 06:39 PM
The party's being wasteful. Aside from the most reprehensible bandits, they're worth more as minions and lackeys when you offer them a better deal and a ticket away from their past than as fellows for the hangman's jig.

Muz
2011-10-14, 06:47 PM
Would YOU want to trust a dozen strangers you're forcing to follow you around without wages to keep watch over your camp while you and your unprotected jugular try to sleep? :smallwink:

Tengu_temp
2011-10-14, 07:01 PM
Most bandits are known outlaws. The authorities should probably know who these people are.

Coidzor
2011-10-14, 07:01 PM
Would YOU want to trust a dozen strangers you're forcing to follow you around without wages to keep watch over your camp while you and your unprotected jugular try to sleep? :smallwink:

Well, yeah, but then you'd be doing it wrong.

And really, sounds like your players need an education in olde school minion farming.

Medic!
2011-10-15, 01:03 AM
Not every arguement is two-sided. The city could be slightly xenophobic and put both parties involved on a skills-related hard-labor for a week or so. Bandits can be put to work assisting farmers, PCs can be put to work clearing out a local goblinoid infestation, etc, all as penance for riling up the townsfolk and causing a comotion in conflict with the king's peace, or for dragging the town into the middle of their obviously personal, proofless squabble. (Hey plot-hook)

Another_Poet
2011-10-15, 02:39 AM
Remember, at certain times and places in history people could just grab an innocent old lady and shout "a witch! a witch!" and people would burn her.

Inaccurate, but whatever.


These bandits have likely struck before. Can other travellers come forth as witnesses of being assaulted by these "gentlemen"?

This.

Coidzor
2011-10-15, 12:06 PM
Not every arguement is two-sided. The city could be slightly xenophobic and put both parties involved on a skills-related hard-labor for a week or so. Bandits can be put to work assisting farmers, PCs can be put to work clearing out a local goblinoid infestation, etc, all as penance for riling up the townsfolk and causing a comotion in conflict with the king's peace, or for dragging the town into the middle of their obviously personal, proofless squabble. (Hey plot-hook)

That kinda thing just leads to the players learning they should massacre everyone who gives them lip, though.

hydroplatypus
2011-10-15, 01:05 PM
Does the party have a reputation as heros in the kingdom? if so they probably will be believed. The town might also convict the bandits based on the fact that they don't want a fight with people as powerful as the average PC.

Nyarai
2011-10-17, 02:24 AM
Seconding Zone of Truth. Any city large enough to able able to afford it would probably have a ZoT "trap" (or several, depending on the size) that they'd have people being interrogated stand in/on.

A continuous version of this actually exists. It's called an Eye of Aureon (Sharn: City of Towers 170) and its list price is 102K gp (:smallyuk:). An Eternal Wand of Zone of Truth should do the trick. If Pathfinder/homebrew is your bag, there's an even better version (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/all-spells/a/abadar-s-truthtelling) which is single-target, but has definite proof the person is affected.

Other mundane ideas:

- S:CoT also has a sidebar on page 132 called "Taking Sides," which covers a system for how guards decide who to believe in scenarios such as this. If you can't lay hands on the book, it's an opposed Diplomacy/Bluff check with modifiers for trustworthiness (bonuses for being nobility or member of a good religion, penalties for being a peasant or of a marginalized race [Warforged, Shifter, or Changeling in Eberron]).

- If this were my DM, he'd probably make it a high/low call with ~70% chance of a townsperson stepping forward and fingering one of the men as a bandit. Which is great for us because my friend rules at high/low. :smallamused:

- Alternatively, the players could just show the map to the town wizard. Make the bandits stand like they're gonna ambush something and ta-da!