Should Your D&D Adventuring Party Fight the Guard?
As an adventurer in Dungeons & Dragons, you will—at some point—almost certainly run afoul of the local law enforcement.
Your murder investigation might lead you deep into a web of lies and deception spun by someone of authority, and your pursuit of the truth could then bring you into conflict with the local guards standing between you and your next clue.
You might be framed by doppelgangers and hunted by the constabulary.
Your adventures might take you into enemy territories where the laws, the leaders, and the guard are all against you.
Or you might just reach a point where you feel you’re too powerful, too smart, and too important to be bound to the laws put in place by lesser mortals.
No matter why you find yourself on the wrong side of the local authorities, you’ll want to think twice before you engage in hostilities… Fighting the local guard can result in some serious consequences.
Of course, some of these consequences might just offer you even more incentive to draw your blade, pinch a little something from your spell component pouch, and rumble!
Whether you fight the guards because they’re corrupt or because you finally give in to the temptations presented by illicit power and riches, you will quickly find yourself a wanted man or woman.
This could even be the case if you don’t actually fight the guard. Perhaps you confront the foreign spy and cast Mass Suggestion, telling the guards that they should arrest the false dignitary. Well, if even one of them succeeds, that guard (lacking adequate Arcana to identify the spell) might sound an alarm, accusing you of “attacking the guard.”
No matter how you become an outlaw, your wanted status is bound to impose some new restrictions on your lifestyle.
For starters, unless you have the power and desire to annihilate an entire kingdom, you’ll need to keep a low profile. You might not be able to contact some of your usual informants. You might not be able to work for some of your regular employers. And you will almost certainly need to whip up a disguise of some sort.
Depending what sort of nation you’re in—and what sort of campaign—you might even find yourself hunted by assassins—or even other adventurers.
This is actually one reason why you might just go ahead and fight the guards in the first place. In the right hands, the idea of sticking to the shadows and fighting for your survival without an extended support network—all while simultaneously eluding waves of assassins and junior adventurers—lends itself to a whole range of interesting possible campaigns.
There is also the chance that your character is imprisoned. Fight the guards, and you might very well lose and be arrested.
In most cases, this would be a real bummer of a result. In some situations, getting arrested might even prove sufficient reason to retire your character.
But it’s just for that reason—the removal of your character—that imprisonment could actually be a positive outcome.
One of the dirty secrets about Dungeons & Dragons players is that they have real lives that can sometimes impose upon their gaming. If you find yourself headed into a period of unavailability, you might choose to get your character imprisoned—as a reason for the other characters to continue adventuring without you.
After all, imprisonment is a temporary problem. After you can once again rejoin the group in real life, your Dungeon Master (we call them Quest Masters) might be able to arrange for an exciting jailbreak adventure.
At some point, you may tire of the outlaw lifestyle. Perhaps you want to clear your name right away. Or maybe you’re content for a year or so to use your Contingency to Teleport away from anyone trying to arrest you. But the truth is that at some point in time, you’ll likely want to adventure without your wanted status always getting in the way.
This leads you to look for some path to redemption. And this can be an interesting story arc on its own.
Your quest to find the murderer may now branch so that you have a side-quest to clear your names.
You may need to find some way to track down the doppelgangers that had impersonated you.
You may want to find your way out of enemy territory, perhaps while trying to smuggle out the most valuable secrets and items you’ve obtained.
Or you might need to establish a new peace—if you’re no longer going to be bound by the laws of some kingdom that’s beneath your station, you might need to forge your own neighboring kingdom and broker a truce on the back of some key military victories.
But at some point, however you go about doing it, you’re likely to want to shift your focus away from being hunted and back toward being the hunter—the one looking to find and disable traps and alarms, rather than being the one who always has to set them.
This means that—even before you land that first blow against the local guards—you’ll probably want to reach some kind of understanding about what it means to be wanted in the world of your adventures. How will your Quest Master use your wanted status against you? And what options might you have to prove your innocence later on, or to Dominate the officials you’ll need to help you forge your new identity?
You might be stronger than the handful of guards in front of you, but a fight with the town guard is never so simple as landing a few blows and walking away.
That doesn’t mean you need to avoid picking the fight, though. There are times it may be the right thing to do. It may even be necessary. Just be ready to face the consequences… and if you’re lucky, they’ll lead to a series of memorable adventures all their own!
Has your adventuring party had any memorable encounters with the local guards? Tell us about it in the comments below!