Besieging a fortress when you don't know what you are doing


Advice


Looking for ideas on how to take on a stone fortress filled with bad guys who aren't coming out (yet). And we think this is a "boss level" fight.

Our party:

Summoner 8 and eidolon
Sorcerer 7
Wizard 7
Fighter 7
Cleric 7
cohort cleric 6
maybe another PC, depending on who shows up.

Anyway, between our characters I think we might be able to scrape together a +9/+10 on Knowledge: Engineering.

We've already considered the spell stone shape, but we don't have the manpower to properly build siege engines, or to dig mines, etc. We have trees we can chop down for fire and battering rams, but of course no rope and pulleys, etc.

The fortress is 1 level, with 4 towers. Each tower has a wooden trap door leading down into the 1st level. The front door is iron, currently blocked with a tree trunk on our side. One tower has been pounded around the arrow slit enough to allow the eidolon to squeeze inside, which is why the defenders have all retreated from the towers.

The DM assured us we can't inflict enough structural damage to cave the whole thing in, which is my favorite plan.

And inside are some human mercenaries, some probably innocent but almost certainly doomed to die in the crossfire humans, some cyclops, satyrs, and possibly a "master" who may be a rakshasa.

I'm perfectly happy spending weeks slowly doing whatever we need to do, but I don't think half the party will put up with that.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Big question: Do they know you're coming yet?

If not, the best method to take down a fort is from the inside. What do you have as far as stealth or flight go?


If they've retreated from the towers, send eidolon back in there with a rope ladder, Sorc/Wiz providing covering fire at the walls.

Eidolon deploys rope ladder from tower, fighter/cleric/cohort/summoner move inside to secure the walls to either side of the tower. This allows the wizard and sorcerer to safely follow up the ladder.

Assuming the enemies return to the towers before this plan can be effected, you'll need to find some quiet way in, as a group of dedicated defenders should have little problem sweeping aside an assault force of seven people + pets. Try sneaking up to a wall & using one of the many anti-wall spells (shatter, passwall, stone shape, etc).


Oh, they know we are there.


How much time do you believe you have?

What is the risk of the defenders making an attack?

How smart are they?

Which hints/ details have your DM given?

Which defences are there other than walls that you know of?

Breaking it down, you have the enemy composition (numbers, strength, type, range), the terrain (ground until castle, walls, whatever is inside, possibly the air), light and weather/visibility, and possibly understanding of how your enemy thinks and operate.

For each factor where you can turn the advantage to you, your victory comes closer.

Can you see at night? Can the enemy?

Can you bypass the disadvantageous terrain? Can you do it without being detected?

Can you lower visibility to your advantage?

Can you divide and conquer: splitting the enemy into smaller fractions where your overwhelming relative strength can give you victory with no or very limited losses over the small group?

Can you fool your enemy into behaving in a way that is to your advantage?

Can you mass the enemies together, and then fireball them?


I would recommend that you use Divination type spells to discern what or who you were fighting on the inside. Determine what their weaknesses and strengths are. Once you have appropriate info on your enemies, then start your planning to assault.

Dim Door with a few select going in while the others provide buffs to the ones going in and distraction on opposite sides they might Dim Door in to the fort.

Strike slowly and methodically into the fort making sure your attempts are successful without loss of life on your side. Use flying summoned creatures to assault/distract while the few Dim Dooring can take advantage of the distraction. Using stone shape, rock to mud, type spells could possible wreck a few towers or punch a hole near the gate to then allow the full team to assault without others providing cover fire.

Normally you would surround the fort with siege weapons and not allow them to come out and replenish supplies. Then disease would set in and food supplies would be scarce.


Do the defenders have access to magic like create water, create food, purify food and drink?
If not you can just wait for them to come out to get supplies.

Silver Crusade

fly + invisibility?

Sovereign Court

karkon wrote:
fly + invisibility?

1) Send an invisible caster close enough to Summon Monsters inside the fortress.

2) Watch as the monsters kill some defenders.

3) Sleep, prepare spells.

4 ) Goto 1.


Really depends on what spells are prepped, but you could possibly force the enemies out. Cast some "cloud" spells over the wall to spread noxious fumes. Summon hordes of monsters on the wall and send them in (along with the Eidolon). Keep your fighter types near the main entrance and when the enemies come out use Pit and Wall spells to funnel them right to your allies.

Also, are you able to set anything in the fort on fire? Burning everything to the ground works wonders.

Wait... ya'll aren't good aligned are you?


Search the ground nearby for secret passages. Divination spells might also help here. A clever tricky master will probably have a escape route. Taking him by surprise through it would give you a shot at saving the innocent mercenaries.

Clairvoyance and scrying. Seriously, look at what you can do with multiple clairvoyance spells to map the interior.

Pop noxious clouds on top three of the towers and fog cloud on top the fourth, then climb or d-door onto that tower. Have another d-door prepped to retreat.


SUMMONING. You've got 5 out of 6 characters who are at least capable of it. They should do so. Continuously.

I don't suppose the summoner is a Master Summoner capable of using all the summon monster SLA uses/day at the same time, eh? If he's a "normal" summoner limited to using 1 at a time, perhaps he should stick to his eidolon and let others do the summoning, although his minute/level durations could come in handy as well, so as long as he's got the summon eidolon spell, he might want to join in the fun as well, and get big E back if he needs him (or spend a minute re-summoning him...when you're in a seige scenario I think you can probably find a minute to spare).

Anyway, you could do some serious damage by chain-summoning small and medium earth elementals to earthglide under/through the walls to cause chaos within. You could either use it as a distraction for your characters' real assault, or as a means of entry (perhaps have the elemental(s) open the gate from within?). Perhaps you could supplement the earth elementals with aerial support summons. Throw some fire elementals into the fray to set anything flammable of fire (supplies, support beams, curtains, tables, barricades...defenders, etc.).

Having one or more of the casters also using wall breaching spells is also going to be handy to allow non-burrowing/flying monsters (and the eidolon) access to the fort's interior. The eidolon could even serve as an assault leader for all the other summons via the summoners Bond Senses ability (allowing him to see/hear/feel/smell/etc through the eidolon's senses, at least for several rounds...as long as the standard summons will last at any rate). Cast Tongues on it if the summoner/eidolon don't have the elemental languages. Depending on the distances involved, you may also want to cast Unfetter on the eidolon to avoid HP loss.

You could conceivably harry the defenders using these kinds of tactics for days at a time all without putting your characters in any real danger. And no part of their fort will truly be secure. Interrupt their rest. Sabotage their water/food supply. Whittle their numbers and fortifications away. All with completely disposable summoned monsters.

Just be prepared for a counterattack in the event that they decide to leave the fort to attack you directly. Always make sure your casters keep something in reserve to handle that eventuality, although if you make them leave their fort to attack you, you're in good shape, and they're getting desperate.

Happy Hunting!


Tandriniel wrote:

How much time do you believe you have?

What is the risk of the defenders making an attack?

How smart are they?

Which hints/ details have your DM given?

Which defenses are there other than walls that you know of?

Breaking it down, you have the enemy composition (numbers, strength, type, range), the terrain (ground until castle, walls, whatever is inside, possibly the air), light and weather/visibility, and possibly understanding of how your enemy thinks and operate.

For each factor where you can turn the advantage to you, your victory comes closer.

Can you see at night? Can the enemy?

Can you bypass the disadvantageous terrain? Can you do it without being detected?

Can you lower visibility to your advantage?

Can you divide and conquer: splitting the enemy into smaller fractions where your overwhelming relative strength can give you victory with no or very limited losses over the small group?

Can you fool your enemy into behaving in a way that is to your advantage?

Can you mass the enemies together, and then fireball them?

A bit of extra info now that I've seen some responses and realized my question maybe should have been different.

We can get in. The eidolon flies and climbs. It is Large, so that's why we had to break into the tower. The wooden trap doors lead down and we've used Door Sight to see a large area of the inside.

We, and by we I mean me, don't want to fight the whole complex at once. We know they had a rakshasa and we ended up killing a lesser type, but we don't know what kind the other one is, if it really is another, since he walks around looking like an bipedal elephant. As a caster heavy party in a sandbox game where I know the equipment of most of the characters, I know we don't have what it takes to fight anything with damage reduction and spell resistance effectively (except by 4 rounds of buffing on the eidolon - that's how we killed the lesser rakshasa).

How much time we have is debatable. Right now the defenders are "confident" in their walls and probably shear numbers and turtling.

The risk of defenders making an attack is a problem; that I know most of the players having played with them long enough and some of them, while good with the rules and tactics, don't take hints like "fireball didn't seem to work" - they'll try another spell, and then again a 3rd spell.

How smart are they depends on how smart the DM and his planing is. Nobody in our party knows anything about siege warfare and we didn't come expecting a siege. The eidolon started chopping down trees for a battering ram, but it was mostly for something to do.

The DM has given enough hints that we've questioned what we are really doing here. The DM has told us "Bring your A game". We then noticed the fortress only had 1 visible entrance so we searched the land around the area and discovered a cave entrance. Divination spells tell us "don't go in" since we know their is a Trap the Soul spell somewhere in the cave - though that could just mean there is a huge gem imprisoning someone or thing. This rakshasa was also contracted by a demi-power to assassinate us, which he failed at.

I've tried and failed to convince the party we can simply walk away.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I think the idea of repeatedly summoning creatures into enemy fortress en mass is a great way to go. Summons make GREAT fodder, heck the eidolon can act as tough guy in the summon army since if he goes down he can be brought back later. Assuming the defenders arent going to get reinforcements, wittling down the defenders with repeated attacks by summoned creatures will make it so when you finally decide to enter, only a fraction of the enemy will still be alive to challenge you.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

First you create some bloody + burning skeletons. You then get a catapult. You launch them into the fortress, when they land they explode and likely kill the skeletons.

But dont worry an hour later the fast healing kicks in and the skeletons get back up. When they get killed again they explode again. Unless they kill them with holy water or some such they keep getting back up.

Worst thing I ever saw was animating 10 cats/kittens that way and then sending them into the town. Everything within 5' of the flaming skeleton takes 1d6 fire damage, and yes 10 cats can fit into a 5x5 square. So everything next to it takes 10d6 fire damage per round. Have them run through the city and they will set fire to everything around them.


How do those on the inside have access to view what you are doing on the outside? Is this fortress a solid cube with tube towers coming out or are we just talking about a large wall where they can look over?

You mentioned stone shape. Can you shape stone into arrow slits or windows to seal them so they cannot see out to know what you are doing?


Shrink item and fly. Falling objects have no range limit and altitude effects kick in at 5000 feet. Unless the fort is already pretty close to the altitude ceiling your wizard can spend a few days shrinking every large nonmagical object he can get his hands on and then use overland flight to get in position to start dropping them. Accuracy will be nothing to write home about, but given those two spells, which every level 7 wizard should have, you can inflict nearly unlimited structural damage unless your GM fiats things.

The other trick is earth elementals. Have the summoner send earth elementals to destroy their water supply. This should be underground to protect from siege engines even if it's a cistern, but a well is more if the water table is high enough to support a forest. Destroy that well and the defenders should either surrender or sally.


Update:

After deciding to come back to the cave later, after boobing trapping it, we went with our plan to open a wall with Stone Shape and yank out someone and get information from them.

We did that and after, a contingent of men from our city arrived.

So suddenly the party looked like this:

Summoner 8 and eidolon
Sorcerer 7
Wizard 7
Fighter 7
Cleric 7
cohort cleric 6

And another wizard 7
2 apprentice wizards of unknown level with wands of magic missile
6 elven archers
1 Fighter of unknown level who happens to also be the king.

6 players plus various NPC's, one being the king played by a guest who's played just twice now.

After our initial entry and exit to grab someone, the rest of the people in the fortress changed positions. Several of them lined up along a wall, which we decided was a good place to fireball and lightening bolt.

So we opened up the wall parallel to their positions and pelted them with spells. One got through the rakshasa's spell resistance, though I'm thinking we need to look up the rules on Piercing Spell, I think we did it wrong.

Anyway, after a 2nd round of evocations spells coming at him, the rakshasa went through a door in the wall he was next to.

Then the fun started, as the player playing the king decided to charge inside and take on first a satyr and then a cyclops who happened to be a bit better at surviving spells than his brothers. The PC fighter followed but he failed a Will save and was fascinated for some time.

In round 4 or 5, the king took enough damage to drop him. Suddenly the summoner and eidolon were forced to get dirty. Nearly all the spellcasters were clustered around the PC wizard who had a minor globe of invulnerability up, plus Magic Circles vs Evil/Chaos.

The cohort cleric cast silence on the eidolon, who failed its save on purpose, while the eidolon moved inside to cover the king. The summoner moved off to the side.

After killing the bad guys standing over the king, the PC cleric did a burst of positive energy bringing the king back to the positive side of HP.

A round or two later the king was down again. This time the eidolon grabbed the king and warped to the summoner's side and out of line of sight.

The buff cyclops was taken down next round, by the archers I think.

By now the satyr's and forlarren had moved to engage or summon monsters, while the human mercenaries had barricaded themselves in a room on the other side of the fortress and weren't helping anybody.

More volleys of arrows, magic missiles, etc. secured our side of the fortress and the king, healed again, eidolon, and fighter approached the door with the rakshasa on the other side.

Except when we opened it the room was filled with smoke, which dissipated to reveal 3 carrion golems, which the DM handwaved us killing since I don't think fireballs are effective against them, being golems.

But we also discovered the rahshasa had looted the room and fled through a magic portal, which was now closed.

All that remained were terrified servants, the mercenaries who parleyed with the king and will now be privateers for him, and the looting, such as it was. A little loot is better than no loot though, so now we'll have to see if anything interesting lies in the cave - apparently the servant we nabbed thinks an ogre who trains animals is down there.


Having your own fortress isn't bad loot, either ;)

Dark Archive

If you keep the fortress as a base of operations be very, very, very careful about leaving anything or anyone of value there. The Rakshasa knows the fortress intimately and can likely teleport/portal into it at any point, in fact he may have fled purely so that you *do* take over and he now knows exactly where you are and has a good chance to catch you unawares or send a series of assassins after you (much harder for them to find you on the move).

If possible remap the insides somewhat, brick up old doors, open new doors, change the uses of rooms etc, earth elementals and stone shape will be invaluable here (as will a skilled Mason npc).


I know summons have been mentioned a lot, but maybe summon some earth elements to earth glide below the fort and see if they have tunnels for escape/supplies.


use a greater creation spell to make a REALLY big wooden horse.

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