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Wolf Pack Tactics


Advice

Silver Crusade

Recently I've been inspired by some DMs I've seen use low CR monsters very effectively due to numbers and good tactics. The prime example being militarized hobgoblins using readied action to move and attack in formation, granting flanking bonuses and really hemming the party in.

I am about to have my the level party enter the Shudderwood, and want to use wolf packs in a way that reflects how wolfs actually hunt, and see if I can make a bunch of cr 1/2 critters really dangerous.

My thoughts are:

1. Tail the party: Wolves should be able to track them and attack when they are separated/unprepared. There will be a whole pack of wolves, 12-15, with an "alpha pair" that are advanced and have a single combat maneuver feat.

2. Separate the weak: If the wolves can pull off an ambush, they will charge and attempt bite/trips in the first round, targeting the smallest/ weakest looking characters. Should any be successful, in successive rounds wolves that are adjacent to a downed character will attempt to aid a Drag combat maneuver to pull the character away from the "herd".

If noone is tripped in the first round, they will surround a "weak" member of the party and use flanking and aid another to try and get trips or drags going.

One a character is separated, additional wolves that have delayed or readied will then step in to block the path and either fight defensively or take total defense to try and cover the retreat, as the remaining wolves try and drag off and kill the prey.

3. Morale: Being animals, they are out to hunt and will flee if getting the worst of it.

Questions:

Would trying to grapple, then grapple/move in later turns be better than drag as far as gaining distance?

Even with good hunting tactics, are basic wolves likely to put much fear into a level 7 party? (ACs are 18-22 ish, CMD on the weakest member is around 15/16.)

Any other thoughts for cool hunting tactics?

Thanks.

Taldor

Taking a step back, look at the wolves' strategy. First, use the terrain to your advantage. The wolves will know the water sources are and keep the party away from those areas. The wolves will also only attack when the terrain is to their favor, i.e. ambushes at choke points where it will be easier to split the party. Always attack at night or in dim light to capitalize on their low-light vision. Have the wolves track the party into the middle of the woods before making any attack. Once the party is the deep of the woods, the wolves will take out the horses/mounts to use as a food source and slow down the party.

Once they are stuck in the woods and out of supply, the wolves can wait them out a bit. The pack should make small probing attacks of 2-3 wolves every hour or so to keep the party on edge and most importantly, keep the spellcasters from regaining daily spells. These harassing attacks allow the main pack to rest while forcing the party to be constantly on the defense. The moment they let their guard down ("Oh, another pair of wolves, just launch a few arrows and they'll run off, no need to wake everyone else."), call in the rest of the pack.

This may take a few days, but the loss of consumable items and hopefully the loss of some daily spell slots will tip the scales in favor of the wolves. The standard attack/trip combo works well, focus on one character at a time and run away if the wolves are at a disadvantage.


Nathonicus wrote:

Recently I've been inspired by some DMs I've seen use low CR monsters very effectively due to numbers and good tactics. The prime example being militarized hobgoblins using readied action to move and attack in formation, granting flanking bonuses and really hemming the party in.

I am about to have my the level party enter the Shudderwood, and want to use wolf packs in a way that reflects how wolfs actually hunt, and see if I can make a bunch of cr 1/2 critters really dangerous.

My thoughts are:

1. Tail the party: Wolves should be able to track them and attack when they are separated/unprepared. There will be a whole pack of wolves, 12-15, with an "alpha pair" that are advanced and have a single combat maneuver feat.

2. Separate the weak: If the wolves can pull off an ambush, they will charge and attempt bite/trips in the first round, targeting the smallest/ weakest looking characters. Should any be successful, in successive rounds wolves that are adjacent to a downed character will attempt to aid a Drag combat maneuver to pull the character away from the "herd".

If noone is tripped in the first round, they will surround a "weak" member of the party and use flanking and aid another to try and get trips or drags going.

One a character is separated, additional wolves that have delayed or readied will then step in to block the path and either fight defensively or take total defense to try and cover the retreat, as the remaining wolves try and drag off and kill the prey.

3. Morale: Being animals, they are out to hunt and will flee if getting the worst of it.

Questions:

Would trying to grapple, then grapple/move in later turns be better than drag as far as gaining distance?

Even with good hunting tactics, are basic wolves likely to put much fear into a level 7 party? (ACs are 18-22 ish, CMD on the weakest member is around 15/16.)

Any other thoughts for cool hunting tactics?

Thanks.

Another major factor that would help pack tactics. Is the wolves could hunt at night, some of your players might have poor sight while the wolves senses are perfect at night.

Depending how intelligent the wolves are they're hunting as a pack and im sure are quite good at it. Distracting opponents can open up weaknesses in the group. Using some wolves in the front that get the fighter to charge up leaving the weak healer or what have you in the back to be sprung upon by the rest of the pack. Many options here. The closer you get to giving the players the ambiance that they are in thick woods and possibly even tell them they're being hunted, or they hear howls during course of time. Creates tension that all builds to a well thought out encounter.

If you use mini's recommend variant in color and size. will help track the wolf pack but even more so could create a better option on the distraction or effect of the pack. One thing I would recommend, if it is a pack, they should get some kind of bonus when adjacent to a pack member.

good luck, nice idea.


I've been on the receiving end of pack tactics, and it sucks! Show your party what its like. Maybe they'll learn some teamwork from it. :)


Against 7th level PCs aid another on the attacks will be important or the wolves just won't hit.

Swarm the party from all sides, so the casters have to give up AoOs if they cast.

I think you're going to need more than 12-15 normal wolves total. If this turns into three running encounters the pack

Buff the alphas. Fiendish or demonic traits. Dire wolves or warg stats.

If you set this in winter snow could slow the party's overland movement down, maybe consume some low level spell slots on survival tasks.

Nebelwarfer has some good ideas. Probing attacks need to target the horses if any. But they need to be hit and run. Even one 7th level PC left on guard can take out 1, maybe 2 wolves in a round.

The wolves might let the PCs reach water and attack as they cross a stream. A line of difficult terrain down the middle of the party might give the wolves an edge.

Silver Crusade

These are GREAT ideas, everyone. Thanks!

This encounter will be taking place within the Shudderwood in the middle of winter, so conditions will heavily favor the wolves (snow, brush, poor LOS, etc.) I had forgotten about targeting horses, but that is a great idea. Waking up to a screaming animal in the middle of the night should be good atmosphere.

One question about harassment tactics - I know wizards need 8 hours rest, but what about clerics/witches? What about ki pools and the like? Can they be prevented from regeneration by not getting a night's sleep?

I like the idea about splitting the party with a stream. I will have to design a nice choke point.

You're probably right, therealthom, about the Wolves not hitting and needing more numbers. The way I've got it set up, Wolves are the most common encounter for the travel. Once the wolves start following, every time I roll wolves again the pack will be joined by more wolves, or even dire wolves, winter wolves, or werewolves appropriate to the area.

I don't want to soup up the normal wolves too much, as I still want them to seem like animals. I might make them a little tougher than a regular wolf - call them a "Shudderwood Wolf" and give them full hit points and maybe a +1 morale bonus to hit/dmg due to being all riled up by the events in Broken Moon.

Logan, the Howling/hunted feeling is right on - that's the effect I'm going for.

I really, really like Nebelwerfer's suggestion of harassment attacks - make the PCs groan and say "time to scare the wolves off again" then hit them with the full pack.


Two words for you: Tucker's Kobolds!!!


If you feel like keeping track and(slightly) bending the rules, give the wolves some teamwork feats. =)

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