Monstrous Lair: Bandit’s Camp (system neutral)
This installment of the Monstrous Lairs-pdfs clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, leaving us with 2 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
Sometimes, you just need a bit of dressing for a wayside encounter – or something specific to a monster type. Finding appropriate entries can be rough, and so, this series attempts to remedy this shortcoming on 2 pages, with a total of 7 d10-tables.
The approaches to a bandit camp may sport sharpened stakes nigh half-dug pits, small wooden palisades, crosses of sticks marking areas for unknown purposes (treasure? traps? guard post?), and blood mixing with water under a fallen log speaks violence, and the remains of bark shows that there may have been a battle… Once the PCs find the camp, they may interrupt archery practice, bandits struggling with a deer’s carcass, repairs being undertaken for a damaged shelter, instructions in spear repair, and the like – it’s odd, but in spite of the generic nature of bandits, this one managed to still evoke a pretty focused image.
As far as notable features of the camp, we may find haphazardly-fortified perimeters, a mockery of a skeleton called “king” atop a rough log throne (or is it an undead bandit king?), shredded flags speaking of disgruntled feelings towards the authority…and the minor features include offal being gathered for application to spikes; pulped berries may be used for bandit cloaks, and blunted swords rest on tables, awaiting repairs. Bandit appearances may include being covered in blood and muck, smelling of stale beer; ruined uniforms of once proud mercenary units, attempting to hide grievous wounds and some indicators for success (or lack thereof) complement this section. As far as the treasures are concerned, we can find rune-emblazoned braziers, fletcher’s tools, or the beautiful and obviously cherished banner of a forgotten lord – some cool ones here! Finally, the trinket-table features once fine and now threadbare footstools, felt hats decorated with feathers (obviously green!) and other tools of the trade.
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard, and we get a nice piece of b/w-artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, in spite of its brevity (kudos!) and is included in two versions – one optimized for screen-use, and one for the printer.
Steve Hood’s bandit dressing could have been utterly generic and lame, but in contrast to my expectations, the pdf took the time and think about why folks choose to become bandits, and how that may be reflected in the dressing of their camps, in what they hold dear. Considering that this actually manages to instill them with a sense of identity, in spite of the wide-open banditry angle, my final verdict will round up from 4.5 stars.
You can get these surprisingly neat dressing tables here on OBS!
You can directly support Raging Swan Press here on patreon!