The party had been taken down by a variety of circumstances that were within their control. Attitude, disprespect, uncontollability, and lastly shortsightedness. They were broken, demoralized, and needed to take control of the situation.
Most partys after awhile tend to think linearly - they see a problem and head towards it, solving the issues along the way. What they need to do is shake up the thinking - not talking about chaos - but just look OUTSIDE the problem and decide if there is another way to address it.
One of my friends, the eponimus Michael Curtis of Stonehell and DCC notoriety, had an on and off again relation to playing over the last 2 years since his life took on a growing ramp of writing and design. Even before that he had lowered his mantle of playing and took up the reins of running his own game for a year or so. So it was with tremendous surprise to me that he asked to roll up a character for the game this night. With 7 around the table playing already, an 8th might seem folly but I was happy to include him. Hence "Chase" the ranger was born (think Aragorn without the weight of history and backstory over his head).
And it was exactly what the party needed because the 3 remaining players not captured or dead at the table were circling the same situation and not having a solution in mind. Chase (and the paladin friend that came with him) took the floundering reins and thought of the problem outside the box.
We approached the bandit camp differently, assaulted it from a position of strength, and had a much easier time redeeming ourselves from the prior encounter with the bandits. No one wants their players to feel lost or ineffective - so whatever it takes, even if some tracks need to be laid down, get them thinking outside the linear progression and everyone will have a better time at the table.
Write up follows:
Flimflam, Marcus, and Fist’al trudged their way to the Roaring Treant Inn. The asked the proprietor for a space in the common room and something quick to eat. With weary steps they sat at a table, ate their stew, and talked about what had befallen them. Their companion’s fate was unknown and the three of them were unsure of what to do next. Return to Shakun? Storm the bandit encampment? Ransom? Were any of their 4 companions even alive? We do know that Ironboar had reported Device was dead and that some sort of rudimentary stabilization had been done for Tempi, but that was many hours ago? Enthir? He appeared to be killed? Ironboar? He too was at the bottom of the chasm. We just did not know.
It was then that we were approached by two men who had been sitting nearby. They introduced themselves as Chase and Fergus and were swords for hire. Currently they were waiting for their hairfoot friend, Bill, to show up with some map he was to purchase but seeing as he was not here the two men were willing to talk to the party and discuss their woes.
It seems they were both a king’s man and a knight from Gul and had already a disliking for bandits and banditry. Through some conversation we agreed to pool our talents together and that we would strike out for the bandit camp on the morning of tomorrow.
We awoke and by 8 AM on the 17th were ready to head back to the bandit camp. We left the Roaring Treant, following the road for a few hours until after some discussion, left the road, heading east northeast. We traipsed through the densening forest for a while, watching carefully as we walked on. It was after some time walking that we did notice in the trees above us was a giant owl. Not a big owl, but a giant one! 9 ½ feet tall, 34’ wing span. And it was watching us.
Flimflam spoke to it in some strange tongue for a while and informed us it was “The Old One”. It was interested in where we were going and why we were here, but did not want us to harm any of the forest denizens. We agreed and it gave us a once over and then flew off. We let out a collective relieved sigh and moved on.
Eventually we did get to the chasm. In this area of the forest it was MUCH less deep as well as less wide. Chase informed us that it was an old water cut bed and if we kept going to the west, would come to an area where we could cross without issue. Taking the ranger’s advice we did so and eventually got to a place where we could cross without any problem. Once there, Chase and Fist’al ventured further on to check out the area while the party worked their way over. Finding nothing except a lack of fresh game trails as well as a lack of dead wood led them to believe that we were close to the bandit camp area.
All together once again we headed off to the east and kept a ready eye. After half a mile we came upon an area of the forest with punji stakes set in the ground. A black cord was run through them, a pair of brass bits strung along the cord to act as a chime should someone cross it. We cut a section of the cord and carefully wrapped it about the punji sticks as we crept through.
Getting closer we stopped some 200’ or less from the bandit camp and sent our sneakiest two up to spy. There were 5 or 6 that we could see. Two very large 4 man tents as well as a crudely build single story structure. There were 2 elevated platforms, one of which had an archer sitting in it. A central firepit was roasting some sort of meat and 3 of the bandits were hanging around it. A 5th bandit was near the wooden structure and a 6th bandit was walking south out of the camp in the direction of the ravine.
We set upon a plan and put ourselves in position to get the surprise on the bandits. The start was to be Marcus casting a sleep spell on the bandits but he was spotted before he could get into position. From where he was he snarled out the start of the spell while Fist’al and Chase shot the bandit in the elevated position out of the tree and then started peppering the ones around the fire. A moment later Marcus’ sleep spell went off and a few of the bandits dropped, one into the fire.
Whosea was sent forward and one of the bandits dodged into the building, slamming the door closed and barring it. A few arrows were shot back and forth while the group closed the gap. Fergus tried to assault the closed building but was having little luck in getting in. Meanwhile we suspected that other bandits from the south would be approaching so Marcus and Chase arranged themselves near the south part of the clearing, arrows drawn and ready.
Unknown to the group a side door opened and a bandit began shooting out of the building, trying to hit Chase and Marcus. This caused them to return fire while Fergus finished trying a grapple and rope the wall of the building and slapping the pony on the ass that had the other end of the rope tied to its saddlehorn. The wall ripped free and the melee followed right after wards.
Inside the building were a few bandits as well as a couple of camp girls…and Tempi! The half orc was freed, given a shield and a stolen sword and helped to free up the camp girls in the area. Meanwhile bandits were closing from the south and Marcus and Chase were forcing them to keep down with arrows. There was many volleys back and forth until one of them had closed enough to fire off a sleep spell of his own. Chase slept, Marcus didn’t.
Another one charged the party. There was an intense melee along the eastern end but Fergus and Whosea were able to put the cruel snarling bandit down. With the battle pretty much over we captured two of the bandits who gave up and dispensed healing to the others strewn about the battlefield, saving them from any further loss of blood and life. We then bound them up and asked questions of the two that had caved. We found Enthir in a tree above and brought him down and learned that the bandit leader and his 2nd(druid) were on their way to Shakun to discuss ransom for Tempi and Enthir.
We salvaged what goods we could from the camp and dragged our trussed up captured towards the log bridge that Chase was watching over. He had discovered a thin metal box with some coinage in it, and a metallic plaque that had a painted symbol of a rainbow on it. From here we decided to head back to the crossing a few miles to the west where we first came over and then head on towards Shakun with our charges in tow.