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I understand bandit attacks are themselves cliche, but ignoring that for now:

Situation: A guy is transporting a shipment of ice from atop a mountain, needs to get to the foothills asap. Cue cliche bandit ambush. He tries reasoning, fails, decides to rush an escape.

My Goal: He makes it past the roadblock, seems in the clear, but in doing so runs off the road and ends up having a terrible accident that concludes with the destruction of the carriage/cart.

My problem: The roadblock needs to be something he could conceivably make it around/past but without a guarantee of success.

What I'm working with right now:

  • Felled tree
  • Heavy Barrels rolled/released onto the road perpendicular to incoming traffic
  • Him just going "F**k it!" and riding through a slope thick with foliage towards a smaller path he can just make out through the trees.

FYI this is for a comic.

I'm keen to hear if anybody has ideas for barricades/road blocks that are viable for medieval bandits to pull off that are interesting.

That said, I'm leaning towards simple felled tree, because I think here the cliche actually works in my favor as making it instantly recognizable as what it is -- but I'd like to hear if anybody thinks otherwise. Or has a genius idea for something really out of the box!

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A tree is fine. It has the advantage that trees do fall without human intervention (from storms, lightning, becoming rotten) and the merchant might not notice that bandits felled it before it's too late.

But generally, transports in the middle ages were so slow that you didn't have to put anything in anyone's way to stop them. You have to consider that a stage coach in 1700 was travelling at an average of 2 km/h (as Wikipedia tells me). I walk 5 km/h without having to hurry. And ox carts on a medieval dirt road are much slower than that. All you had to do was walk up to the person leading the cart and tell them to stop – or shoot them with an arrow, if you were clever and playing it safe. So I guess that bandits didn't fell trees or build any kind of road block at all.

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Why not simply a number of stout bandits standing across the breadth of the road holding pikes (or perhaps large pointed sticks) pointing towards the cart? Pikes/sticks are dug into the ground at the blunt end. Easy for a bandit group to make such a roadblock, conceivable that a determined rush could break through.

One might object to the use of a felled tree if one thinks bandits are shiftless idlers and that felling a tree would be too much work for them. But that train of thought might lead them to fell a sapling which in turn encourages the cart driver to try to rush the barrier. So that might work too.

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