Looking for Advice on how to mount a defense


Advice


So our party is going to be facing a problem very soon.
Long story short we are very deep into the hobgoblin controlled lands mining for magic crystals, and we just received word that a hobgoblin war chief is going to be passing through the valley we're in, in about a week. And he has about a full legion of troops, (hobgoblins in this setting are very Greco-Roman) so he has about five thousand or so guys.

We've yet to figure out what to do. Fleeing is an option except for our large entourage of NPCs that'd not be able to move quickly. But a battle is likely suicide.
I'll list what resources we have, I'm fishing for any ideas, any tactics, anything we could do to not get steamrolled into paste by an army.
The party is all 7th level.
Characters are a Warlord/Ranger/Paladin, a Brawler, a Monk, a Witch, a Rogue, and a Swashbuckler. The more powerful NPCs we've got are a Jotunblood Barbarian, a Cleric, a Bard and an Artificer.
The bard just got a Lyre of Building, we've got some magical weapons between us. The dwarf is chief of a tribe of one hundred goblins and I just took leadership and got a hundred hobgoblin mercenaries under my command. The other twenty or so NPCs are all just laborers and miners.
We have a week to a week and a half.


If you want to break shield-walls, use area effects. Unfortunately, you don't seem to have a good blaster class.


The Sideromancer wrote:
If you want to break shield-walls, use area effects. Unfortunately, you don't seem to have a good blaster class.

Nope. For whatever reason our group has a strong dislike of magic casters. I think they're great but I enjoy playing silly tank builds. (I'm the warlord/ranger/paladin).

So our version of a shield-wall breaker would be me charging or throwing a bunch of fuse grenades at them.


As an odd idea, is the hobgoblin chief just passing through or is he actively looking for you?

I was thinking that you might be able to hide everyone inside the mines, but I'm not quite sure how much people the mine could hide and if they are willing to put up with some very uncomfortable living conditions while the opposing group passes by.

Not sure if this sort of thing even fits with your groups play style, but I thought it might be worth piping in.


Wraithguard wrote:

As an odd idea, is the hobgoblin chief just passing through or is he actively looking for you?

I was thinking that you might be able to hide everyone inside the mines, but I'm not quite sure how much people the mine could hide and if they are willing to put up with some very uncomfortable living conditions while the opposing group passes by.

Not sure if this sort of thing even fits with your groups play style, but I thought it might be worth piping in.

It is one of our main options. And we ran into some friends underground who would be glad to help us out by hiding us. We would not be found.

Issue is that In-Character, we're all a bit combat crazed. Like we've gone into impossible fight after impossible fight without a care. They've ignored me repeatedly whenever I try to suggest using cover and the like. So there's good odds the Brawler, Swashbuckler and those following them would literally try to fight the guy on an open field. Stupid, I know, that's how they roll.
So I'm mostly fishing for ideas to give them that give them their big battle without us being guaranteed to die.


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Sort of what I thought. My friends roll that way as well usually. My advice then. use the lyre to construct trenches, walls, and other choke points that will disrupt formations and give you guys a much more even fight.

The other power of the lyre could be used to ensure that your fortifications last for at least 30 minutes should the enemy have some sort of siege firepower.

If you could, maybe lure them into the mine and really use the power to make tunnels and ditches. Fill ditches with pointy objects and sharp pieces of metal. Basically, kill them like kobolds would kill you.

I bet you had already figured this stuff out, but given the group, I think using that Lyre to set up the playing field is the best bet.


Although you guys hate spellcasters, you have a Witch. Witches, even at 7th level (who can cast 4th level spells) do have access to some powerful crowd-control effects, which can more than certainly guarantee that your fellow martials don't get screwed.

Ice Storm would be great in rupturing their line and slowing their approach.

Stinking Cloud would be great in negating their ability to fight back and force them to separate; if they fail the saving throw, they're also quite likely to be effectively nullified for the encounter.

Using area crowd control effects (and then your typical Evil Eye hexes and stuff on the boss) will guarantee your victory.


Open battle outnumbered 25:1 with PCs who will charge out of the fortifications sounds bad.

Could you create a landslide to block off entry to the valley with the Lyre? If the others insist on a big battle then maybe use it to cut off the vanguard from the main force of the legion.


Is there any canyon or corridor he would pass through ? Mount an ambush, maybe bring big rocks and make them roll from above on them, disrupting their formations (think teutoburg battle, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Teutoburg_Forest , but rocks instead of flaming balls of wheat, though you could use that too). Even if you can't, try to to setup an ambush in some way, take the advantage, and find a way to make them believe they're outnumbered, and maybe some will flee, lr at least they will be shocked and less efficient. You could also use guerilla tactics along the way to kill a few as they advance. If you can, destroying their supplies might help too, they won't come if they're starving to death along the way.


Do you have capabilities to try a commando raid/ assassination on the warlord and his inner circle?


@java Guerrilla style combat is certainly an option. Assassination is less so as I am a Paladin and so must act honorably, facing him in a fight is okay by the law of PCs though :P

@Darksol That would require our witch to be really good at her class and know the spells. So far her combat techniques have been "run at them with short sword".

@avr & Yorkblack there is a canyon he would have to pass through, the issue is the GM has declared that it is 3/4 of a mile wide. That would allow for quite a lot of troops to be marching. Quick and dirty division gives me about 800 men if they're marching shoulder to shoulder per rank. so maybe half his force. That's if they're marching shoulder to shoulder though which is highly unlikely.


RavenStarver wrote:
@Darksol That would require our witch to be really good at her class and know the spells. So far her combat techniques have been "run at them with short sword".

Sounds like that Witch should've played a Magus and not a Witch if she wanted to cast spells and stab baddies at the same time. Better equipped, with the more favorable spell list, features, and D8 HP + 3/4 BAB, I'd sincerely suggest a class retraining.

I mean seriously, you're 1/2 BAB and D6 hit dice, with virtually no armor or feasible defenses...and the best tactic she has is "use melee weapon against vastly superior enemies"?


If you want to stretch them out into a line, a landslide before they arrive damming a stream might do the trick even in a wide canyon. 25:1 odds are easier to beat when you don't have to fight them all at once and funnelling them into a narrow-ish space along the edge of a new lake would do that.


avr wrote:
If you want to stretch them out into a line, a landslide before they arrive damming a stream might do the trick even in a wide canyon. 25:1 odds are easier to beat when you don't have to fight them all at once and funnelling them into a narrow-ish space along the edge of a new lake would do that.

What he said. Landslide to narrow the canyon, combine that with people in ambush at this point, maybe your strongest fighters in the front line if you can narrow the terrain enough, rain death (by arrows, magic, boulders, whatever, from the side, leaving them nothing to eo but retreat. Really, teutoburg style, if a bunch of german barbarians could destroy three legions, you can do the same.


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So if 1.000 hobgoblins are archers, we are looking at 50 natural 20s per round. A small band against an organized army of 5.000 is ridiculous. I heard roman-greek mentioned - that were the guys with the best tactics and organization around and not a howling mob of dumb barbarians (who got their asses handed to them by the legions).

Sun Tsu said it in his book: there are battles that should not be joined :)


Vatras wrote:

So if 1.000 hobgoblins are archers, we are looking at 50 natural 20s per round. A small band against an organized army of 5.000 is ridiculous. I heard roman-greek mentioned - that were the guys with the best tactics and organization around and not a howling mob of dumb barbarians (who got their asses handed to them by the legions).

Sun Tsu said it in his book: there are battles that should not be joined :)

Interestingly the Romans actually rarely used archers. They relied almost entirely on heavy shock infantry.


Vatras wrote:

So if 1.000 hobgoblins are archers, we are looking at 50 natural 20s per round. A small band against an organized army of 5.000 is ridiculous. I heard roman-greek mentioned - that were the guys with the best tactics and organization around and not a howling mob of dumb barbarians (who got their asses handed to them by the legions).

Sun Tsu said it in his book: there are battles that should not be joined :)

If you refer to what I was saying, the teutoburg battle was an ambush where an alliance of german tribes completely destroyed 3 legions (and the auxiliaries that go with them). So yes, they were a bunch of barbarians, though they were not that dumb if they managed to kick their asses.


RavenStarver wrote:
Vatras wrote:

So if 1.000 hobgoblins are archers, we are looking at 50 natural 20s per round. A small band against an organized army of 5.000 is ridiculous. I heard roman-greek mentioned - that were the guys with the best tactics and organization around and not a howling mob of dumb barbarians (who got their asses handed to them by the legions).

Sun Tsu said it in his book: there are battles that should not be joined :)

Interestingly the Romans actually rarely used archers. They relied almost entirely on heavy shock infantry.

Yup, a few pilae to soften them up was their main ranged option.


The Lyre is your #1 strategy. You have one, maybe two uses before the invasion. The Spell Tears to Wine can help with the skill check needed to continue for the full 8 hours.

Since it seems your party is unable to let them pass without noticing you, then you need to change the battlefield. If you can narrow the pass, then fewer can come at once. Make it difficult terrain and they cannot move fast. Make cover for yourself and easy paths from one high point to the next. Make traps with boulders that roll into them and take several out at the same time. Remember, at 25:1, you really need to conserve resources.

For spells, things that make them fight themselves are great. Confusion works quite well for whittling down minions. Ventriloquism to incite the troops to fight each other also helps. Entangle + fire means large scale damage. Thorny entanglement is even better. Wall of Blindness/Deafness is also a great debuff. Twilight Haze is great for giving you some cover, without impairing your ability to strike. For yourself, Bless, Haste, Cat's Grace, Bull's Strength are all quite nice.

If you can capture some mean tempered animals, then you can set them loose upon the army. Summons also are great for this. Swarms can be devastating if they cannot handle them. Every swing they take at a creature is one they don't take at you. Every bit of damage the creature does is damage that distracts them. Even the summon minor monster w/skunks can be potent.

When you are down to physical attacks, the witch can still evil eye (AC) from hiding to help the other attackers. While arrows are good for range, they do run out. If you can isolate a portion of them, it will be easier to attack them. Even better if you can contrive a way to stall them for a minute mid fight to allow you time to patch up with healing before rejoining the fight.

/cevah


Is hiding an option? Use the lyre of building to carve out a defensive structure into the ground. Make the halls only 5ft wide so they have to fight through everyone and can't bring multiple attackers against an individual. Also, if you conceal the entrance well you might just be able to completely avoid them.

Sometimes the best way to win a battle is by not fighting.

Sun Tzu wrote:
He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot will be victorious.

Dark Archive

An option is to create a series of forts and traps. Fight, collapse, run until the enemy

A. Gives up due to a waste of resources
B. The fights give your npcs time to get out.

Terrain should be your friend, but it depends on the DM..

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