Bandits are a fairly common, and in some cases, accepted sight all across Kahara. Rarely in groups of less than four, Bandits can present either a decent threat to a small group of travelers, or a much greater one to a well laden caravan ripe with goods for the taking. Several key points along The Enchanted Path have bandit operated toll booths which at this point in time are so well armed and well established that many simply opt to pay the fee for passing as part of operation costs. Bandits can be of any sentient race found in Kahara.
Sometimes groups or individual bandits will have some form of pet. Most often these will be wolves, large dogs, or even large cats, but can sometimes also range into things like birds. While more apt to listen to commands and adhere to training, a bandit's pet has no advantage in attacking over their wild counterparts.
Common bandits are just that - a somewhat above average man or woman on the wrong side of the law with a range of combat abilities. Some may have been born into, or absorbed into the lifestyle since youth, while others may be failed mercenaries or from other walks of life with a similar theme of failure who gave up on trying to remain on the straight and narrow to make a living through other means. They are usually garbed in leather armour, with weapons of an average craftsmanship. Common bandits can also use one or two common spells on average.
Bandit leaders are usually stronger and more skilled than their underlings, or at least more clever, with a charisma to keep the group together under their leadership. Oftentimes they have somewhat better gear than their compatriots, with a minor enchanted item or weapon and the ability to use, still fairly basic, but flashier spells such as fireball.
Bandits vary in level of organization and cohesion, but at their core they're people who prey on overland travelers. This is often done through ambush or through unofficial tollbooths.
Bandits who operate by ambush are often smaller, less well trained and armed groups. They will find travelers along the road in an area they know and use their superior knowledge of the area to trap groups and offer to let them continue in exchange for payment or forcibly relieving travelers of their valuable and portable goods before fading away.
Tollbooths are the general term for stationary bandit operations which instead of ambushing small groups along the road will set up a blockade of a road and only allow access to those who pay their toll. Some tolls may be determined by guesswork, while longer operating tollbooths may have moved on to rather sophisticated operations and fee schedules for travelers and merchants who wish to use their roads.
Most bandits use rather simple tactics, but with area knowledge this often puts them at an advantage over many travelers. Experienced bandit bands often have a range of available tactics to execute in a given situation. Some bandits may have rather advanced tactics enhanced by battlefield altering magic. Almost all bandits have the tactic of fading away rather than fighting to the death, however. They can always set up elsewhere, but they can't bring themselves back to life.
Where Bandits Come From
Bandits come from various walks of life. Some are simply unfortunates who fell into it and can't escape it and others find relieving others of valuables easier than earning those valuables through more conventional methods.
The most dangerous bandits are often the remains of mercenary companies which are no longer large enough to take to the field but are still large enough to conduct ambushes or control a key area of road for a tollbooth. These bandits not only have greater skill than the average bandit group, but fight with better tactics and cohesion, often backed up by those who know battlefield altering magic.
How Bandits Persist
It should be noted most travelers will pay the illicit tax or toll to pass through rather than fight so long as what is asked isn't excessively onerous. Many merchants consider bandit tolls an ordinary expense in their occupation, simply because the cost of fighting and losing would be greater.
In addition, bandits almost never fight to the death, instead preferring to fade away or flee the moment a fight looks lost. As well, bandits tend to possess the common sense to know when they're outclassed, and allow such parties to pass by without harassment.
A particularly dangerous reason for bandits persisting, is that some may be backed by a local noble using the bandits as a means to their own ends.
Using Bandits in Roleplay
If you're running a scene and want to use bandits, keep how banditry works in mind. Bandits rarely fight to the death, rarely pick fights they don't think they can win, and may have additional motivations than simply accumulating treasure.
It's important to consider a few factors when you're utilizing bandit groups in your plots and general rp: First of all, many, though not all groups may have some type of animal or animals that have been trained to assist in their work. While most often these can be as simple as dogs trained to attack or hunt, to birds trained for the purposes of rudimentary reconnaissance to help with finding marks, for example.
In addition to this, considering what your bandit leader is like can give more depth to your plot. Bandit leaders should not only be charismatic enough to keep the group together and confident in their command, but also tougher in a fight as with most groups like this might makes right, meaning the one keeping the group together needs to be an example of strength to inspire confidence in their underlings.
The magic a bandit group uses can also be indicative of the overall personality and focus of a bandit group as well. Most bandits can use commonly known, simple magics, but more experienced and well organized bands may have a wider range of spells to choose from. Most magic that helps adventurers and travelers will also help a bandit group.