“The Bandit Lands have proven to be as dangerous as their reputation suggests. Your appreciation for the time that Gilbert and his crew spends in this area grows with each hour you spend. It becomes clear that the patrols are doing a good job at keeping the road safe, but that straying from the road is as rife with danger as it appears.”
Meta: Gilbert’s group was well known by the inhabitants of the area, and neither his party nor yours were trying to move quickly or quietly. Even with this in mind, you traveled all day on the road uneventfully, only to be attacked at night. . . for the road, you averaged 1 encounter per day. More careful travelers might reduce that to only one encounter every 2-3 days. On the other hand, a half day’s travel off the road has proven to be much more difficult (3 encounters), and you would expect more like 5-6 encounters per day unless you were very sneaky (which you’re not). . . plus you would need to make a very well hidden camp if you expected to rest at all.
Talking to the exiled tribesman as you travel to the Gnoll encampment indicates that the various factions in the area fight each other as much (or more) than they really raid the road. The main factions are the Goblinoids (who have larger villiages to the east), various groups of Bandits (with small camps scattered around), the Followers of Tiamant (who have temples in the north), and the Grimlocks who live underground somewhere (the tribesmen avoid the Grimlocks at all costs). The Gnolls are less organized, but powerful and small bands do gain some notoriety. Since both the Gnolls and Grimlocks are nocturnal, they tend to clash a lot. You should basically expect to be attacked all day by Goblins, Bandits, and Cultists. . . then all night by Gnolls, Goblins, and Grimlocks. . . unless you are pretty sneaky (which again; you’re not). The road (for all of its bad reputation) is actually much safer.
Your party (Fugara, Tramiel, etc.) also notes that (unlike the Gnolls, and Goblins/Ogres that you dispatched), there is no sign in their inventories that the tribesman you just defeated have been raiding the road or stealing from travelers.
New Party Members:
Jang (Black Leather): Jang is the “heavy” in this group. In the tribe he was among the small group that would take any predators stalking the tribe’s lands and would defend the hunting parties. He is gruff, and talks very little. He has yet to yield anything really useful beyond advice for navigating the scrub-land. Although not official, the others seem to differ to him as a leader.
Tilna (Colorful): Tilna fancies herself a sorceress, but has no arcanic talent. Her abilities with a spear and throwing axes match those of her team, but she claims superior abilities by virtue of her magic. Her insistence that she is doing magic when she is clearly not borders on a delusion, and you suspect that she may in fact be hallucinating and seeing things that do not match reality. Little useful information comes from her.
Elmareen (Elf): Elmareen is the quintessential arrogant elf. She joined the tribe recently coming from the north. She is reasonably talkative, but extremely pragmatic. She has been the lead in assisting Tramiel’s efforts to track the the gnolls and she seems competent enough. The others don’t seem to know why she joined the tribe, and although none of them will talk about why they were exiled, Elmareen seems to respond more ‘stiffly’ when the topic arises.
Harrik (Cat woman): Harrik fits a typical tribal archetype. She was a huntress in the tribe and she is young, naive, and talkative. Most of what you have learned (above) came from her. The others seem to treat her like a younger sibling, but also very obviously respect her abilities.
In all, it is clear (after the hour of travel with them) that this crew is opening up to you a little, and that they genuinely thought that you were a patrol of Tiamant’s followers. You don’t know why they were exiled, but they seem legit enough, and (as mentioned above) don’t seem to be raiding the roads. They all seem pretty short sighted, and as near as you can tell, they’ve only been in this area for a few months (which although “short” is really an eternity considering the hostile nature of the area). Stealth and caution have been their allies. Their mistake with you was based on the fact that “human-ish” groups in the area are usually cultists (Tiamant) and typically weaker. The real threats are the goblinoids, and nocturnal gnolls and grimlocks.