In Cesia and the neighbouring kingdoms, avoiding a summons to face charges renders one an outlaw – someone who is no longer under the protection of the law. Such an individual can be killed at any time and their possessions seized. Obviously, staying at home is not an option for outlaws, forcing them to flee. This is easier said than done, however. Strangers are rarely welcomed into a village or town (in fact, a lone stranger arriving in a village is liable to be taken for an outlaw and either driven out or killed). Some outlaws join together in bands and become brigands. Others make their way to a city, where they try to make a living for themselves. Given the limited opportunities available to them, however, most end up having to turn to crime to survive and join a gang, preying on the weak.
Two gangs have come to dominate crime in Gorrundburg (Cesia’s capital) – the Crows and the Roosters. The Crows are a band of thugs and assassins, who run protection rackets and serve as hired blades. They take their name from their leader, Dargus Crow, a barbarian from the Alchariad hills. A brutish hulk of a man, Crow arrived in the city twelve years ago and proceeded to kill anyone who got in his way. The Roosters took their name to mock the Crows. While not afraid to cross blades with the Crows, the Roosters prefer to use stealth or guile rather than force or intimidation to make their money. They occasionally strike directly at a rich target, but only when no other option presents itself. Their leader is believed to be a young woman, though her identity is unknown. Rumour has it she is a witch, who uses illusions to change her appearance regularly.
The largest and most feared band of brigands in Cesia are the River Dogs, who strike at targets anywhere along the River Haern. Believed to number as many as two dozen men, little is known about the band’s leadership.
About 30 years ago the kingdom was threatened by the so-called ‘Bandit King,’ a notorious half-orc outlaw who robbed from the rich and butchered the poor. Most believed him to be Robar of Sterrick, the younger brother of the Lord Haerd of Sterrick. At the height of his power, he and his men threatened to bring about the fall of the entire kingdom. He is said to have used dark magics, to have consorted with demons and married a witch, but then he and his men simply disappeared. Some sought out his lair, rumoured to be somewhere in the forests north of Sterrick, but if any found it they did not return to tell of it.