My wife's character (Aeli) is waiting for the leather worker to finish her "slingshot", so she decided to pick back up on the bandit story and see if she could find them. She wasn't sure how to proceed, so I led her on a bit of brainstorming how she might find bandits. She finally came up with "ask around town" and "go out in the woods and look around" - so I asked her which one might have better results. After thinking about it, she decided to ask around some of the locals - which led her to the Vicious Pixie (thank you, LotFP, for the Inn Generator in Fight On! #2).
After learning how to bribe toothless, bald, greasy tavern keepers for information (HINT: Lots of gold!), Aeli sent her two henchmen to grab a sallow youth and proceeded to interrogate him at the point of a blade. This is where all the improvisation came in. I had to connect this guy with an encounter area outside of town. So the youth, Nib, confessed to having lured hapless caravans to a campground 5 hours walk from town, and signalling bandits that there was easy prey. Dragging Nibs with her, Aeli and posse proceeded to gear up and set a trap.
sleep on them. This is where I still had that uneasy feeling I was doing too much of the decision making - but at the same time, I didn't want @theprincesswife to get frustrated at trying to set up her trap. So after some back and forth, and a quick wandering monster battle with a vampire bat, the group lit a large fire, Nibs reluctantly laid out the signal rocks and they waited.
sleep and put out most of the bandits. Two got away, but the leader was surrounded and forced to surrender at sword-point. I think if @theprincesswife could have high-fived her party, she would have! Now they're going to proceed back to the farm community - she quickly is becoming the Heroine of Valetown!
Lessons I learned from this game:
- Crayons make the coolest terrain generators.
- It's awesome to watch players advance the story, forcing you to DM by the seat of your pants and watch the situation come together.
- I love it when a plan comes together, even if it's not my own. Those 10 bandits could have really caused some hurt had the mage not gotten lucky on his Number of Creatures Affected roll.
- Spur of the moment adjudications of grappling/tackling are much easier than any grappling/tackling rules that I've read/seen.