the long-fingered men of the road

Setting: Some men raise their grain from the furrows of the earth; others earn theirs in the evenhanded barter of commerce. Still others take theirs from the travelers of the road, trading guile and force for bloodied wealth. Roll d10.

1: A band of teenaged tribesmen on war-ponies is out raiding for brides. They will stalk any group of travelers containing women, following implacably until the travelers camp or stop in exhaustion. In the night they will tether horses and attempt to drive off the men and carry away the women.

2: A flight of goblins–astride giant wasps–attacks travelers moving in the open, diving to throw barbed bolas. Once several victims are entangled, they land so as to sting the immobilized while the dismounts chase down those still free.

3: Mendicants of a piously poor order seek wealth to distribute as alms. Upon finding travelers not obviously destitute, they will evangelize them as to the soul-enriching benefits of donating wealth whilst holding out their wooden bowls. If travelers do not give generously–as generously as their appearance befits–the mendicants will stir into a chant extolling poverty; the chant convokes a brace of soot-smelling kirkgrims. The dogs attack and wooden bludgeons are produced; goods will be redistributed.

4: The outlawed remnants of a failed peasant revolt. They wait until the footsore dusk, then rush in with hoes and scythes to take anything of value. They flee if seriously opposed, but will return again upon the soonest opportunity.

5: A squad of gnomish wardens is on an extended reconnaissance, living off the land. These grim soldiers attrit by repeated ambush, conjuring illusions of progress-blocking obstacles before sniping with envenomed arrows. Once the travelers are weakened they will rush in to finish the job, interrogating the wounded and disabled.

6: A family preys on travelers of the oxtrack passing near their cabin. A daughter lies disheveled and mumbling in the track; upon being assisted, she’ll try to entangle her “rescuer” while the father and brothers leap from concealment with woodsmens’ axes.

7: A pack of gnoll slavers haunts a narrow defile through which a subsidiary trade-road passes. They have dug and concealed a pit trap in the road; when travelers approach one dogman will wander out on the other side of it. As he does so, his packmates will knock out a block holding up a felled tree behind the travelers. With both routes blocked, the packmates will attack with poisoned darts, lassos, and clubs. Any travelers who awaken will find themselves roughly bound and roped together by the neck, rudely marched off to market.

8: A pack of scrubby urchins follows travelers, begging for castoffs and handouts. They are infuriatingly persistent; anything short of lethal violence will only serve to drive them off for the moment, only to reform and return soon after. If they find travelers sleeping, wounded, or otherwise incapacitated, they will scavenge ruthlessly and melt away.

9: A plainspun priest has raised a dozen dead, the hunger of which he shepherds toward travelers. He will watch from hiding while they do their grisly work, intervening if necessary or deserting his progeny if overmatched.

10: A troupe of elven wordworkers, troubadours, and augurs sets up at the side of the byway, gaily colored wagons, flags, and streamers luring travelers to their fire and revelry. Visitors are plied with liquor, songs, disportment, and flirtations. Travelers will be relieved of their consciousness, then their possessions. If wine, women, and song are insufficient, ensorcelment is applied, along with liquor poured on and about victims. The troupe will have decamped by first light.