In my campaign, which is really dungeon-based, but I've thrown in a lot of Kingmaker locations outside the dungeon, my pcs have suddenly (after getting beaten up badly in the dungeon) decided to go bandit-hunting for a while.
The situation is this:
A second NPC adventuring party (whom my PCs mostly dislike) announced 10 days ago that they had discovered the location of a large "bandit keep". They hired 8 1st level warriors (we're playing 3.5) and claimed they were going to "lay siege" to the Keep.
Now, the PCs ignored this for 10 days; at that point they decided to go after the other group. Not being great trackers, and not knowing where the Keep was, they hired a local ranger to lead them to the Keep. It is a few days travel away, in a hilly, lightly wooded region, near a large lake.
My PCs are 5th level, so I've added a bunch more lower-level bandits (doubled them, and upped them to 3rd lvl warriors), and have beefed up the lieutenants a little bit.
But, my quandary is; why haven't the other party managed to wipe out the keep? What's going on? They are also about 5th level; a grippli wizard, a fighter/cleric multiclass, a fighter, and a catfolk rogue. They have their 8 1st level warrior henchmen as well.
What are some fun things that could have waylaid them, or problems they could have encountered? The NPC party is really borderline evil. I could even see one or two of them joining the bandits!
They could have traded sides, as you said.
They could have gotten their numbers trimmed by various things - encounters along the way (Shamblers and Wisps are especially nasty), the Zombies, or the bandits themselves sniping them from the walls.
The bandits have supplies and are pretty well off, I think they could outlast the siege and pick off stragglers every now and then until the NPC party's numbers are dwindled.
I noticed the other group has no higher-level cleric. Maybe they all came down with a debilitating disease? Lots of bad water sources, no doubt. Or perhaps a wild-shaped druid dumped samples from Kressle's chamberpot into their evening kettle?
Or they ran into a wight. If it struck at night and started converting first level warriors, it could be very bad.
The Stag Lord and his sneaky lieutenant Dovran attacked at night, killed 2-3 of the main guys, and intimidated the low-level remainder into joining them.
The Reverse Happs Effect. The NPCs arrived, saw an open gate, and charged in. Akiros was waiting for them and had some nifty siege tactics available. Beware the open gate leading to a pit filled with owlbears. The PCs arrive at the fort and see the heads ofthe NPCs mounted above the gate. Which is open...
If you feel nice, maybe one of the level 1 warriors had the Run feat and got away somehow. "And I alone am escaped to tell thee."
Or Perhaps they were overconfident and tried to sneak up on the keep from the side and lost a member or two when suprised by undead and then joined in by archers from the keep. I could easily see the wizard going down in such a manner.
This could have caused them to pull back and regroup and shaken their confidence, wondering what other surprises were in store for them. Without the wizard for inviso, perhaps the catfolk rogue is having a hard time infiltrating since being non-human, so they might be stymied at the moment. Perhaps the party comes upon them arguing about what to do next, and split in this decision...
Thanks, y'all. Some good, meaty ideas here.
I think I'm going to do two things; hint that the NPC group was waylaid on the way (the PCs find a scene-of-battle) and lost some members. This will be an excellent ambush site for whatever monster I choose...
And then, the open gate/heads on pikes and a single survivor (I think it will actually be the catfolk rogue, as the PCs like him the most of all the NPCs). They'll be nicely aggravated that they didn't get to kill off the "dratted grippli" themselves!
And then, they'll discover that the most evil NPC member HAS joined the bandits and will fight against them with all the brutality they know he's capable of, but has not yet displayed. They'll enjoy taking him down probably more than the Staglord, who has not made much impression on them up to now.
|Lictor Fedryn Mannorac|
I got a really good suggestion over at ENWorld - I'm going to have a 3rd group intervene at the Keep - an arrogant Paladin who won't work with any non-good or non-human (she's a human racist with feminist overtones) folk is demanding that Burr-buggle (the grippli wizard) and his band stand down and let HER take over the siege. Of course, he refused, and then a brawl began between the two.
The bandits made a counter-attack, and at least one got away. Now the Paladin is sieging, Burr-buggle and his group are hiding in the woods, and the bandits are hoping for reinforcements soon.
And then the PCs arrive. Naturally, being half non-human, not lawful good, and mostly not female, the Paladin will dislike them almost as much as she dislikes Burr-buggle's group.
We'll see who they decide to align with. Bad NPCs they already dislike, "good" NPCs they'll dislike on introduction, or evil bandits. LOL!