D30 Bandit Table
This is particularly true for travellers: the various troops and militias are stationed in the yámen of the major cities of the Empire, in the garrisons at the barbarian frontiers, and wherever enemy raids are expected. This leaves out huge swaths of land, amongst which the mountains — which the Chinese strongly dislike anyway.
Mountains are where banditry is rife. Any right-minded traveller will stay on the roads of the Empire and give the mountains a wide berth. However, for various reasons, most notably when they are in a hurry and want to try out a shortcut, some travellers do cross the mountains. And, unavoidably, they also cross the path of the bandits living therein.
This is when this small table comes in handy.
D30 | Local bandits are...
01 | ...bloodthirsty maniacs. No discussion, no quarter. They will even pursue fleeing travellers.
02 | ...rapists. They will concentrate their efforts on kidnapping any young and/or good-looking female traveller to bring back to their mountain den to be used as a sex slave.
03 | ...from an ethnic minority that has been displaced by Hàn colonists. They hate the Hàn and will concentrate their attack on Hàn travellers.
04 | ...bored local ne'er-do-wells. If their opponents resist their attack, they will leave them alone.
05 | ...Rivers-and-Lakes (Jiānghú 江湖, see p9 of The Celestial Empire) types looking for a challenge. They will boast about their nickname/their preferred weapon/their fighting style, and expect their victims to fight, not necessarily to the death.
06 | ...army deserters. They are looking for clothes and food.
07 | ...a group of bandits posing as an extended family travelling together. Roll 1D6 for the leader (1: the so-called wife of the family head, 2-3: the faux family head, 4: one of the unassuming travellers, 5: the one who looks like the elder son, 6: the one who is looking after the cart).
08 | ...fellow travellers down on their luck. They have resorted to robbing because they are famished.
09 | ...travelling entertainers supplementing their meagre earnings with armed robbery. They have excellent Dexterity and acrobatics-related skills.
10 | ...assassin-retainers setting up a trap for another group of travellers. They don't want any witnesses and will hence kill the party to the last man.
11 | ...defrocked monks. They will act as #06 or #08 above, but will fall to their knees and start crying if there is a monk or a priest of the same Allegiance as theirs in the party.
12 | ...a party of knights-errant who mistakenly assume that the party are bandits!
13 | ...professional robbers. They will clearly state their name and profession, hoping to scare their victims into fleeing after having left their valuables behind, but will fiercely fight if necessary. They are of average strength (skills in the 35% range); the leader is in the 50% range.
14 | ...professional robbers. They will clearly state their name and profession, hoping to scare their victims into fleeing after having left their valuables behind, but will fiercely fight if necessary. They are of above-average strength (skills in the 50% range); the leader is in the 65% range.
15 | ...professional robbers. They will clearly state their name and profession, hoping to scare their victims into fleeing after having left their valuables behind, but will fiercely fight if necessary. They are quite strong (skills in the 65% range); the leader is in the 80% range.
16 | ...clever planners. They have been observing the party for hours through their spies in the mountain, and know most of their strengths and weaknesses. Allow bonuses as appropriate, depending on how the PCs react.
17 | ...very astute planners. They have been observing the party for days via their agents in the inns in the region, and know all of their strengths and weaknesses. Allow bonuses as appropriate, depending on how the PCs react.
18 | ...of a quasi-military kind of organisation (à la Water Margin). Unless composed of high-level PCs (skills in the 90% range), the party don't stand a chance. They will be captured by the bandits and will be held for ransom.
19 | ...the agents of an evil Daoist sorcerer, looking for special components for a heterodox ritual (e.g., "the liver of a virgin", or "the blood of a monster-hunter").
20 | ...a party of merchants down on their luck. They have been robbed themselves of their wares, and have resorted to robbing to recoup their losses. They are clumsy fighters.
21 | ...hardened outlaws, who will readily assess the situation, and understand where valuables are hidden (if any).
22 | ...scholars at odds with authority. They don't wear any armour, and don't look like fighting men, but they are actually well versed in the art of war, taking full advantage of the features of the terrain, and possessing above-average fighting skills.
23 | ...the bored offspring of the local dignitaries. They are weak fighters, and will drop their weapons and flee as soon as they realise that their opponents are way above their level. However, they will run to the local magistrate and pretend they have been attacked by the PCs; the latter will hence be in serious trouble with the local authorities.
24 | ...the bored offspring of the local dignitaries. They are capable fighters. Should any of them be killed by the PCs, the latter will be in serious trouble with the local authorities.
25 | ...vixen spirits (see p112 of TCE) with glamour-like magic. The bandit party is composed of the charmed former victims of the yāohú, ordered to act like vicious bandits. The vixen spirits, who look like damsels in distress, expect the PCs to 'save' them from the 'bandits'. Once they've been 'saved', they will take advantage of the journey to try and charm the party, and the story will repeat itself...
26 | ...bànyāo serving a mìngmó (p112 and p117 of TCE). The mìngmó lives above a yīn ley line (see p85 of TCE), and needs the PCs for some nefarious purpose. This particular encounter is more like a mini-adventure and needs extra preparation work from the GM.
27 | ...chīmèi (p113 of TCE). They look for magic items, spell books, etc. Riches do not interest them.
28 | ...wǎngliǎng (p115 of TCE). They are fanatically anti-Buddhist, and will first and foremost target Buddhist PCs.
29 | ...yaksha (p126 of TCE) posing as human travellers. They are looking for yet more riches to add to their treasure, hidden in a deep cave in the mountain. If the PCs look poor, they will ignore them. If the PCs look rich, the yaksha will wait for the best opportunity to steal their riches. Yaksha are not particularly hostile, and will prefer ruse to brute force. However, they are extremely greedy, and will stubbornly hang on to their plan if they PCs are indeed wealthy.
30 | ...a party of monster-hunters who mistakenly assume that the party are really monsters posing as human travellers.