Retaking a static point: how many ways are there to do it?


Advice


I'm working on designing a mini-campaign centered around a small town which is the recurring victim of incursions by a combined horde of goblinoids and orcs. The goal of the mini-campaign is to get the party from 1st-level to 4th-level, and for them to gain notoriety, by solving this town's problems.

One of the problems is that the horde presently occupies the bridge to the east of town, which effectively cuts off commerce and any hope of getting word out to the nation's army. I plan for at least one session to be spent with approaching the bridge and dealing with the occupation, which will in turn free up the possibility of calling in reinforcements to help deal with the horde incursion.

The obvious route that I see is for the party to hike through the woods and kill patrols as they encounter them, then fight the bugbears that are physically guarding the bridge. That's good and all, but I would also like to present other options besides hack-and-slash if possible. My problem is that I can't think of any other options for this particular adventure.

Any thoughts?


Lure the bugbears away from the bridge with tricks, magic, and whatnot long enough to get reinforcements/supplies.
Convince the group that your team is part of an even larger, darker force that plans to take the town as well thereby scaring the bugbears away.
Poison their food/drinks.
Sneak around and learn about the bugbears' habits and behaviors until enough information is gained to sow chaos and infighting within the ranks until the horde destroys itself.
And so on...


Building a party sized catapult or trebuchet in town, memorizing sufficient feather falls, arming ranged weapons, and bypassing the ground in between while delivering death from above to the bugbears and sending up a signal flare of sorts (silent image?) to request reinforcements?

Dark Archive

It depends a lot on the situation. Are there reinforcement nearby? Are they easily contacted? If we retake the bridege can it be fortified, manned, and held against an attempt to retake it?

If it were me I'd stage a diversionary attack to allow a fast rider/runner to cross the bridge or ford the river. Alternatively, if it is fordable away from the bridge, just escort the messenger there and a ways on the other side to ensure his safety. This would allow someone to contact the army for aid and let them secure the bridge afterwards. They probably will since that is their line of retreat and supply.

Sovereign Court

Don't try to think of a solution to the problem you present. Think from the Bugbear's side and write down all the defenses they have in place (# of guards, how many hours per shift, # of reinforcements, # of patrols, how many per patrol, etc.) Detail the situation, present the problem to the players, let them come up with a solution.


Nebelwerfer41 wrote:
Don't try to think of a solution to the problem you present. Think from the Bugbear's side and write down all the defenses they have in place (# of guards, how many hours per shift, # of reinforcements, # of patrols, how many per patrol, etc.) Detail the situation, present the problem to the players, let them come up with a solution.

That much I have done. I am just trying to be prepared for things that seem more obvious to other people and less so to me, so that I can try to have reactions already ready to go.

Silver Crusade

Might place a 3rd party neutral in the woods (a hermit hill giant, young green dragon, etc) that could be influenced or even tricked into engaging against the bugbears.

Could be some lore in town about a lost legendary item that a hero once carried that provides something useful to the situation (a feather token that can send a message, a horn that summons the lost hero back, like a reduced power horn of valhalla, to inspire the locals; or even a one use item that might animate the river itself to defend the town).

Could be a bugbear "prison camp" kept away from the main occupying force. A raid by the party might raise morale. Could tie into the first idea about 3rd party helpfuls (maybe the gnolls aren't keen on assisting, but free the chieftan's son...)

Might be a druid or woodsman in the forest who could be a real thorn in the bugbear's side...if you can convince them to help out the humanity the NPC has forsaken.

You'll want side-quests to "weaken" the enemy. If you've ever run "Red Hand of Doom" from 3.5, which also deals with an invading force, these side quests significantly affected the final encounters.


Be ready for ambush tactics and geurilla warfare. Even a 1st-level commoner can set fire to something important, letting the PCs move in to attack other vital resources while the horde is occupied.

A horde is going to be disorganized, fractious, slow to react, and immobile. Smart PCs are going to nail you with hit and runs so often your bad guys won't know where to look.

Also watch for the ranger/druid to get clever with survival and/or wild empathy. This horde is likely eating the village and surrounding area out, leaving most predators hungry. Hungry predators can be led into conflict with patrols, leading to messy (and untraceable) ends.

The last campaign I was in that dealt with a small siege was broken in about 3 days. Wilderness guy organized sniper teams in treetops to pick off patrols, forcing the siege force to turtle inside the town walls (and thus quickly eat into their stock of food and water). Shortly after he used a butchered deer to lead some very nasty predators to the walls, provoking panic and combat at the main gates while the party moved in and assassinated half othe command structure.

Largely leaderless, starving, and terrified of an unknown opponent in the woods, the siege force surrendered inside a week.


Build a new bridge? Are there any time limits or resource limits that would prevent this?

Build a boat an ferry goods across at a different point.

To me much depends on the map of the immediate area. Is there an overlook or vantage point to snipe from, how deep is the river, is the bridge crossing a deep valley cut, and other such considerations. Can they ambush patrols to cut down numbers, or draw the enemy outside their fortifications and prepared positions.


M P 433 wrote:

Might place a 3rd party neutral in the woods (a hermit hill giant, young green dragon, etc) that could be influenced or even tricked into engaging against the bugbears.

Could be some lore in town about a lost legendary item that a hero once carried that provides something useful to the situation (a feather token that can send a message, a horn that summons the lost hero back, like a reduced power horn of valhalla, to inspire the locals; or even a one use item that might animate the river itself to defend the town).

Could be a bugbear "prison camp" kept away from the main occupying force. A raid by the party might raise morale. Could tie into the first idea about 3rd party helpfuls (maybe the gnolls aren't keen on assisting, but free the chieftan's son...)

Might be a druid or woodsman in the forest who could be a real thorn in the bugbear's side...if you can convince them to help out the humanity the NPC has forsaken.

You'll want side-quests to "weaken" the enemy. If you've ever run "Red Hand of Doom" from 3.5, which also deals with an invading force, these side quests significantly affected the final encounters.

This sounds like what I'm going for right here. My idea is that the horde is laying siege to the town by slowly cutting it off of resources that it needs, and making nightly hunting raids to pick off stragglers and take slaves. The player characters are basically either residents of this town, or travelers who got caught in town when the siege began, who've answered the local militia's rallying call for aid.

The bridge is just one of five "key points" that the players are trying to recover from the occupying horde in an effort to free the town and make it safe. Other such areas include a lookout in the foothills to the south, a lumber mill up-river to the north (same river that the bridge crosses), an iron mine to the west, and an overrun monastery to the west of the lookout. I figure that the party will want to fortify the town's defenses and reclaim the captured sites of interest, with the mission to reclaim each site being its own adventure with side-quests to help.

These side-quest ideas are awesome. I'll definitely consider some of them for the various capture points.

Sovereign Court

Flashblade wrote:


This sounds like what I'm going for right here. My idea is that the horde is laying siege to the town by slowly cutting it off of resources that it needs, and making nightly hunting raids to pick off stragglers and take slaves. The player characters are basically either residents of this town, or travelers who got caught in town when the siege began, who've answered the local militia's rallying call for aid.

Since the objective is to take and hold the bridge (rather than denying the enemies use), here's what I would do:

The PCs would covertly cross the river at another point at night (or during the day since bugbears can be just as deadly in the dark). Then, have a group of townsfolk make a diversionary raid on the bridge to draw out the defenders. With the Bugbear forces split, the PCs then attack the bridge from the far side, attacking any reserves first to prevent the defending force from calling on their aid.

If I were the bugbears, I would make regular patrols on the far side of the bridge to prevent PCs from crossing on the other side. Some low-level casters on the defenders side with alarm spels would help as well. There should be a bugbear in charge with some relatively high INT to control the defenders and make sure that the defending force does not get drawn out by any diversions. I would also set some barrels of oil on the brdige (assuming it is wooden) with some lamps nearby. If s&&* hits the fan, the barrels are split and the bridge is set aflame as the bugbears make a fighting withdrawl.


A1 Bridge—east of Belleville; occupied by bugbears, goblins and orcs. XP 4,800; Wealth TBD
Approach—XP 1,200
E1R, one 1st-level hobgoblin fighter and three 1st-level goblin warriors. CR 2; XP 600
E2M, one 1st-level hobgoblin fighter and three 1st-level orc warriors. CR 2; XP 600
Bridge Guard—XP 1,200
E3X, one bugbear and three 2nd-level goblin warriors. CR 4; XP 1,200
Encampment—XP 1,200
E4M, one bugbear. CR 2; XP 600
E5M, three 2nd-level orc warriors. CR 2; XP 600
Reserves—XP 1,200
E6R, one 1st-level hobgoblin fighter and three 1st-level goblin warriors. CR 2; XP 600
E7M, one 1st-level hobgoblin fighter and three 1st-level orc warriors. CR 2; XP 600

Notes for Self
M=melee tactics
R=ranged tactics
X=mixed tactics

Belleville Woods Random Encounter Table
d6=1, one bugbear. CR 2; XP 600
d6=2, two 1st-level hobgoblin fighters. CR 1; XP 400.
d6=3, one 1st-level hobgoblin fighter and one goblin dog. CR 2; XP 600
d6=4, one 1st-level hobgoblin fighter and one goblin dog. CR 2; XP 600
d6=5, one 1st-level hobgoblin fighter and three 1st-level orc warriors. CR 2; XP 600
d6=6, two 1st-level hobgoblin fighters and three 1st-level goblin warriors. CR 3; XP 800

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