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Kingmaker: Blood for Blood, Session 3, Part 1

May 19, 2017

On the 28th day of Arodus (August), 4718 AR, Caerelia’s Emperor, High Priest, and Keeper of the Grove suddenly appeared in the town square of Tatzylford, accompanied by the holy crusader who often adventured with the rulers. It was late in the afternoon, and the small logging town was a beehive of activity. Families carrying their belongings were trying to leave Tatzylford on foot or wagon or cart for the assumed safety of Salar’s Rest to the south, while the combined militias of Tatzylford and Salar’s Rest made ready to defend the town.

The Lord and Lady of Tatzylford, Loy and Latricia Lezbin (say that five times fast!) came to greet their Emperor as soon as they heard he was in town. They thanked him for coming, and queried as to whether he would be taking charge of the defense of Tatzylford himself. “Well…” replied Satampra the swashbuckler noncommittally. But then he looked at the numbers, and decided he would actually have more impact as the commander of the combined militias, what with his Charisma and his free Ruler Boon.

Army of One

I decided to go with the “1-man army” approach for integrating the PCs into the battle. As 10th level PCs, they converted to armies with ACR 2 and enough hit points to absorb some blows. Per the mass combat rules, Remesio the cleric and Iofur the druid got to add 5 to their attack (OM) and defense values (DV) – their highest spell level. Orseen the warpriest got to add 4. Satampra got to add… nada, zip, zero, zilch. I suppose this is one area of the Pathfinder rules that acknowledges upfront the caster supremacy baked into the system! But between Satampra’s Charisma and the Loyalty Boon, he could give the militia a massive Morale bonus that would come in handy if they had to save vs. rout.

So playing defense, we had:

  • The town of Tatzylford itself, with a Defense bonus of +5
  • The militia, a Gargantuan army of human warrior 1’s with ranged weapons; led by Emperor Satampra himself; ACR 5
  • High Priest Remesio; ACR 2
  • Keeper of the Grove Iofur; ACR 2
  • Orseen; ACR 2

This led to another question not covered by the rules, namely: does a 1-man army lead itself? That is, armies have a commander that influences Morale and can provide extra options in battle via Boons; who commands an army with 1 person in it? No one? The 1 person? Thankfully the question never came up during the battle, but it still bugged me.

The invading army consisted of:

  • The Pitaxan mercenaries, a Gargantuan army of human warrior 3’s with ranged weapons and 2 siege engines; led by Aemon Trask; ACR 7
  • The Tiger Lord barbarians, a Large army of human barbarian 4’s; ACR 5
  • A Small army of trolls; ACR 3
  • A Tiny army of hill giants; ACR 3
  • A Tiny army of lurkers in light; led by a faerie gnome with butterfly wings (see below); ACR 1

This Cassandra was Believed

With that settled, the Lord Mayor informed the Emperor that a young woman had arrived in Tatzylford a couple of days ago, warning of an attack. He was unsure of her motives – she could be using the warning as a cover to perform sabotage, for example – so he had her locked up until after the danger had passed. But he thought his liege should know, in case he wished to question her himself. And Satampra did.

In the jail sat the Lady Kisandra Numesti of Fort Drelev, wearing travel-stained clothes and looking miserable. She claimed that she fled from her home because Baron Drelev wanted to hand her over to the Tiger Lords as a hostage. After escaping, she witnessed the army on the road from Fort Drelev, heading towards the Wyvernstone Bridge, and assumed they must have been going to invade Caerelia. So she came here to warn of the attack, in the hopes that Caerelia might eventually overthrow Drelev… and free her father, Terrion, who (she thought) was rotting in Drelev’s dungeons.

Whoa, back up! said the PCs. Why was the Baron handing her over to the Tiger Lords as a hostage? Kisandra explained that a massive army showed up at Fort Drelev’s doortep, led by a new warlord who had united the Tiger Lord clans: Armag the Twice-Born. The Baron cowardly surrendered to Armag rather than risk a battle, and handed over the first-born children of his lieutenants to the barbarian to serve as proof of his subservience. But Lord Terrion Numesti refused the order, and ensured that Kisandra was able to escape before he was locked up. Then the army must have come here to find towns to sack, perhaps at the Baron’s suggestion. For it was well-known that he had long been jealous of Caerelia, and desired their lands for his own.

That filled in some important holes for the rulers, but they were still curious. Where did all of the soldiers come from, for example? The trolls? The giants? Here I didn’t want to tip the players off as to Pitax’s involvement too early, or make it too obvious, and in any case it was reasonable that Kisandra didn’t have all the details. She told them that they were most likely mercenaries from the River Kingdoms; Fort Drelev could barely feed its people, much less support such a large force. The players wondered how the mercenaries were being paid, but Kisandra didn’t know, and they had more pressing concerns anyway.

The rulers thanked the Lady for her aid, and promised that after they dealt with the invaders, they would march on Fort Drelev and free her father. Kisandra had one final request: that she be allowed to fight in the battle. Satampra shrugged. She had seemed sincere enough, and they could use all the help they could get, so why not? They got her out of the jail and ordered that she be equipped for the fight.

No Rain

That evening, the invaders reached the edge of the treeline and stayed put. There was some talk among the players of executing a midnight raid to either take out the leadership of the army (still thought to possibly be Baron Hannis Drelev) and/or the siege weapons, which I was ready for. First, I had rebuilt Aemon Trask from the crappy fighter 6/rogue 3 TWFer that’s in the adventure to a magus 9 with the Eldritch Scion archetype that could actually put up a fight against 10th level PCs. Then, I had created a gnome sorcerer 9 with the Fey Creature template to lead the lurkers; she and her evil faeries could similarly deal with an aerial assault.

But the players eventually decided against the raid, which made my life a little easier. And so after a tense night, the enemy army spent the morning hours getting their battle lines organized for the assault from the safety of the forest while the defenders of Tatzylford sweated. It was a clear, hot, humid, windless summer day in the Greenbelt. “This is terrible siege weather!” cried Bill, Orseen’s player. “Where’s the rain! The howling winds! Lightning and thunder! Can we hold off on this whole battle until there’s a storm? Hey, can Iofur create a storm?” But the druid could not; controlling the weather was still a ways off for him. They would have to fight and die under the sun, with nary a dire portent to be found.

Next: war!

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14 Comments
  1. I like the idea of re-writing Aemon Trask as a magus, but do you really think level 9 makes him an actual threat to a whole level 10 party?

    • Not a dangerous one, no. But it’s a character that can actually do something against flying foes attacking from range, which the book Aemon cannot.

      And I was trying to keep him at the same CR he’s in the book. He’s not a major adversary, just a relatively minor lieutenant of the Baron’s.

      Also, he would have assistance from the lurkers and their fey gnome sorcerer 9 leader. And potential ground-to-air attacks from the hill giants or soldiers.

      • Valid points all.

      • Believe me, I thought a lot about it. Because if the PCs took out the siege engines, then the invasion would probably have been a bust. If they attacked, I didn’t want to murderize them, but I did want them to have to work for the victory, as that would have mostly replaced the mass combat as the big climactic battle.

        I haven’t seen a lot of accounts of Blood for Blood out there; I wonder how many people ran Tatzylford straight out of the book, and what their experiences were. Me, I looked at what was written and looked at my PCs and didn’t understand why they would bother with defending the town at all, versus just going out and destroying the pitiful collection of invaders by themselves. Other than, “the DM told them to.”

      • Pinkius permalink

        The DM told us we would have to play with the mass combat rules if we tried to just stomp the army ourselves, and as we did NOT have a lot of spell-casters, we would have gotten rolled if we tried it. Even though our characters were over-wealth, had ridiculous ac and to hit bonuses, and basically mulched CR appropriate combats.

      • So not by the book, then.

        What did your group do, or what did it look like on your end? By the book, you’re supposed to come up with up to 3 ideas to defend the town, each of which has an associated Offense and Defense modifier. The PCs total up the modifiers for their actions to get their side’s values. Then the two sides roll their Offense against the other’s Defense 3 times, getting a “Battle Point” for each “hit”. Then the players fight 6 regular trolls in normal scale, where each troll defeated gives the PCs 2 BP and each round the fight takes gives the invaders 1 BP. Then you see who has more BP and decide what happens based on that.

      • That’s in the far future for me, but yeah, I don’t know.

      • Pinkius permalink

        we did fight trolls in normal scale, i forget what happened in the town battle, if we had gotten better armies by that point or got rolled again.

  2. Surprised they passed up the opportunity to night raid. I totally expect my group to have done just that to take out the seige weapons at the very least. Love the battle setup so far!

  3. Wait a second. Pitaxian Mercenaries?
    If they interrogate one of those, doesn’t that blow the secretof who’se behind this wide open a bit early?

    • Maybe, but they already knew they were mostly mercenaries from the River Kingdoms. I guess one of the soldiers could have told them who was footing the bill.

      In the adventure, there’s a grand total of 25 non-barbarian troops attacking Tatzylford, who appear to make up Drelev’s entire army. I didn’t think Fort Drelev could support the kind of large force I would need to attack Caerelia, so I assumed Pitax’s mercenaries that marched on Fort Drelev kept going instead of heading back home after Drelev surrendered, as it appears they do in the adventure.

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  1. Kingmaker: Blood for Blood, Session 2, Part 2 | Daddy DM

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