Monster Analysis: Bandits (Amber Road)

Thanks to @kimchidraws for this art piece!

  • First Appearance: 2-08 The Gates of Zadash
  • Suggested Armor Class 12
  • Suggested Average, Max HP: 11, 18
    • “Trevor”: 44 damage taken, 37 finishing fire damage by Caleb
    • Bandit 1: 12 damage by Fjord (unconscious)
    • Bandit 2: 5 damage by Beau (still conscious)

Highway robbers are an unfortunate fact of life on the road, a threat to travelers that guarantees employment for armed escorts. To quote the PHB directly (p344), “Bandits rove in gangs and are sometimes led by thugs, veterans, or spellcasters. Not all bandits are evil. Oppression, drought, disease, or famine can often drive otherwise honest folk to a life of banditry.” A conversation and a look beneath the masks seem to indicate a similar fate for the marauders of the Amber Road.

Bandits are slightly more used to combat than your average civilian, carrying a “hearty” 11 hit points each. Still, consider that the average highway robber still carries almost half the hit point total of the squishiest level three wizard. It’s little wonder that despite outnumbering the party even at the end of the surprise round, the surviving brigands were quick to throw down their arms. Considering that their leader was turned to ash and two more of their comrades were incapacitated almost as afterthoughts, they certainly learned they had more to lose than gain.

In terms of encounters, this leaned heavily on social rather than combat, with combat merely reframing the discussion. What started as deceptive (but humorous) pleading for their lives and possessions quickly turned as the party demanded to know what the brigands were doing with their lives (and got some horses in return). The bandits could only look on their fallen allies and pray the same fate did not visit them while the party returned their own fallen friend to consciousness. The infighting in the group stayed quelled under Trevor’s leadership; with him gone, the group’s confidence and organization were decidedly not present to deal with resistance.