The Taxman's Clearing
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The Taxman's Clearing
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TO RECREATE THIS MAP
· Random Seed: 1339751266
· Layout: Cavernous
· Size: Tiny
· Egress: Multiple
· One square is 5'x5'
· Tileset used to help make this map look more like a forest clearing and less like a cave came from tekepon.net.
Twenty years ago the clearing was just a forest. A young adventurer named Irwin Sanders, with few scruples and a recently fattened coin purse, decided to become a bandit and start his own gang. Knowing he would need some help, Irwin enlisted a local bandit named Hollis Craig to help get things set up. Hollis jumped at the chance and within a month a crew was cutting down trees to form, what was then called, The Raven's Roost. From this clearing "The Ravens" would sweep the nearby road, relieving any travelers of their valuables. An unfortunate accident left Irwin dead on the road when attempting to rob two men. Hollis Craig took over the gang, changed its name to The Taxmen, and increased profits immediately.
As the Taxman, Hollis hires only young thieves with little experience so he can train them to steal his way. He spends as much time with his gang as possible, and makes it a point to constantly lecture them on the finer points of thievery. He will never raise their wages and openly encourages them to leave one day for greener pastures. This level of transparency is appreciated by most, and Hollis will often guide those leaving to contacts he had made over his years of taxing the public. Anyone who doesn't appreciate the transparency, or the system, is swiftly dispatched by one of Hollis' most trusted men, Jacob Crew.
1 - Western Entrance
Thick forest stands on either side of the path hiding watchmen ready with bird calls to signal who is arriving in camp. A thick layer of leaves atop overgrown grass show that this path isn't traveled much, and a swinging log trap helps keep it that way. The woods on either side of the path are also thick with shallow, covered pits containing spears.
2 - MAIN GREEN
The scent of a farmers market hangs above a chaotically tended garden scattered around numerous trees. The trees are all bear fruit of some sort and while they're not the healthiest morsels they are a far sight better than bread. Any vegetables that can be grown in this region of the world can be found in a bed under these trees. This area is tended by three brothers (Byron, Clayton and Horton) who see to the grounds and food more than often than they engage in roadwork anymore.
3 - CAMPS
Up to three dozen bedrolls and smokeless "Dakota" fire pits can be scattered throughout this area. Some of the bandits leave their personal effects out but most have little more than a pack and some weapons. A barrel of arrows and a rack containing half a dozen bows stands near the southern tip of the area.
4 - HOLLIS' CAMP
Hollis' five senior bandits pitch their tents here in a loose circle. The Taxman does not have a tent but resides at the northern most point of the circle, making it easy to mistake his spot as a storage area. All of Hollis' chests are old and dingy and one is more likely to find a old sack or worn satchel instead of a crate. The lion's share of the Taxman's loot can be found in the sacks and buried in the ground here. A weapon rack holding ten well made, valuable, long swords stands on one side of the clearing.
5 - THEATER
Many of the trees that stood in this area have been cut down into stumps, and a small stage stands against the eastern tree line. Speeches, planning sessions, bards, and whores, are just some of the fun that the gang gets up to here. Two to three people can be found milling about in this area whenever no festivities are going on. This is also the location that guests are permitted to sleep, though bedding is rarely provided.
6 - WELL
A beautiful stone well stands amid a small grove of birch trees. No one knows when the well was first dug, and water is found about two dozen feet deep into the well. Should someone enter the well they will discover a number of small cave entrances that will lead, after a good while, to an underground river.
No traps are set up in the woods around the well making it a preferred shitting spot. Rules on burying ones "deposit" are ruthlessly enforced.
7 - EASTERN ENTRANCE
The forest thins as it moves east but multiple watchmen (1d4) and a smattering of shallow, covered, spear pits are scattered through the trees.
8 - TRADESMAN'S CAMP
Most Taxmen possessing a trade skill live here. A leatherworker (Rufus), blacksmith (Smythwick Stickyfingers), alchemist (Vigo Ferris), and fence (Branded George), are almost always on hand. In addition to fencing goods, Branded George can forge minor documents and order just about anything a berk needs, assuming he doesn't already have it for sale.
9 - GUARDED STASH
This small, flat, clearing is always clearly guarded by a few men (1d4). Members of the Taxmen are certain that the majority of their loot is hidden here under a false floor, though they've never seen anything dug up or added to the pile. The pile of loot is just a ruse, but the rumor has stuck and Hollis like to keep it going. The high turnover rate of Taxmen and the love thieves have for stories helps keep the rumor spinning and the secret safe.
10 - STABLE
Sturdy, but ugly, fencing holds the few horses at the gangs disposal. Most, but not all, belong to Hollis and they're watched day and night by Clemens and Carl, a pair of red haired twins found running dirty and barefoot down the road a few years ago.
When not tending the horses, the boys are often found in the company of Byron, Clayton and Horton (in 2) with whom they share a tent. The twins keep a few chickens penned up near the horses, and when the opportunity allows, they've been known to keep a cow or a couple of goats here too.
11 - ARCHERY RANGE
Numerous archery targets stand along the northern tree line and wooden stands with metal arms holding shields stand up against the southern tree line of this area. When not in use the training equipment is stored in an old covered wagon that's seen its fair share of being used as an archery target too.
Hollis will occasionally bring a warrior from a local fighters guild or a traveling mercenary here to give lessons to his gang. He also frequently holds competitions among the men in this area to keep their morale and fighting spirits up.
If a guest isn't using the Archery Range, Jacob Crew maintains the area and acts as default trainer. He has the most actual military training and his teaching style makes it easy to pick up. Jacob has also buried a number of recruits that have proven too weak to stay with the Taxmen, yet too dumb to let leave, in shallow graves beneath the targets.
12 - NORTHERN ENTRANCE
This is the most heavily used and heavily guarded entrance to the Taxman's Clearing. The forest on either side of this entrance is so full of hidden pits containing spears that the bandits will rarely tread far from the path.
A number of tall trees right at the entrance to the camp proper have been rigged so that they can be quickly knocked over to help block the path.
Hollis Craig was born to a soldiers young bride. His father never returned from the battlefield and his mother, a woman of no discernible skills, was quick to find his replacement. Not many men will take a woman with a young child, least of all those with the means she was seeking, so when she married into a thieves guild her family was not surprised. By the time Hollis turned 15 his mother had worn out her welcome in the guild so Hollis decided to head out on his own.
He found it was easiest to make money on the move, and for nearly a decade he wandered the lands stealing as he liked. His favorite method was the roadside stickup, but with little crew and no hideout, he could never do it as often as he'd like. Working them solo did little more than raise the price on his head . Acquiring a sizeable bounty had the unforeseen side effect of giving him better pull with the "right people" and he soon fell in with a rather ambitious young naerdowell named Irwin Sanders. Irwin had come into a sizeable profit from some seafaring adventures and was seeking to start his own band of highwaymen. Hollis was happy to be 2nd command to Irwin where he could both put a knife in people's faces and skim off the top.
Good times don't last long and fools die foolish deaths, so Hollis wasn't surprised when he saw Irwin's head caved in as he came up on the wrong side of a donkey to rob two men. Hollis and five of the gang slew the two men and four other members of the gang that had been loyal to Irwin. They then went straight to town to do more recruiting. Upon reaching town Hollis learned that the local authorities had given him a bandit name! Seemed his penchant for threatening victims with "Death or Taxes" had done him some good, and a crudely drawn picture of his stoic face bore the label "The Taxman". .
Jacob is fond of killing with a hand crossbow or hatchet, this man has over a dozen bounties for roadwork and half that for murder. Long ago he was on the wrong side of a revolution, making some hunt him for honor over money, a much more dangerous motive.
Ulrich was an assassin before he turned to roadwork, and he's the best archer in the gang. Although he has the fewest bounties on his head, they fetch the highest price. He now prefers the life of a highway man as it carries far less risk and about the same pay (once the cost of gear, travel and whoring is subtracted out) as a paid killer.
Barlow is a giant of a man and nearly three feet across at the shoulder. He rarely runs, and often stands in the middle of the road to demand that travelers give up their coin. His bounties are further on the nefarious side, violation and murder of women and livestock, treason and arson taking the highlights. Though he prefers to melee with his twin maces, Barlow can take a sparrow in flight with his heavy crossbow.
Only Hollis' core group know that Vigo is a sorcerer. His spells are used in secret to help keep the area hidden, find incoming merchants, win negotiations with other criminals and occasionally dispose of bodies. He can often be found in the Tradesman camp selling alchemical items and poison when not out raiding with the guys. He has no bounties on his head.
They say that Brother Hudson was once a cleric but abandoned by his god. He fights with a mace, wears leather armor, and says mocking prayers over the fallen when feeling frogy. His humor is vile, his temper is short, and his mouth runs with nothing but cutting obscenities, making him the least liked man in camp. Luckily he does not often find the need to speak up.