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Author Topic: Help designing an orc encampment...now with more  (Read 4654 times)
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johndaw16
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« on: December 11, 2006, 09:09:05 PM »

I have a game coming up soon and the party is going to have the daunting task of trying to infiltrate an orc encampment to do some recon. 

A bit of background might be in order...

It's a pretty big 5th level party, with one exceptional PC in the form of a Dire Hawk.  The PC's breakdown as follows:

NPC - Wildlander4/Channeler1 (sorta heading towards the druid with him)
PC - Dire Hawk (weak in combat, but she adds a lot on recon missions)
PC - Rogue 5 (has the shadow walker path and is extremely stealthy)
PC - Rogue 3/Wildlander 2 (ranged combatant, decent at being stealthy as well)
PC - Defender 5 (masochistic maniac that likes to punch orcs A LOT)
PC - Channeler 5 (just learned Fireball...what more can I say)

The party is fighting along the Gamaril front, trying to crush Belark's legion before the Shadow's renewed offensive.  Time is of the essence and the party has managed to cut supplies coming down the Gauntlet drastically.  In response to this Belark has ordered a renewed offensive directed Northward, with the eventual goal of taking and fortifying the ruins of Althorin to use as a harbor/waypoint for his supplies.  The Shadow is unaware of the resistance and elven presence in Althorin for now, but their advancing warbands will eventually figure out that something is amiss in the ruins of the city.  And that brings us to the plight of the party currently, the elven forces commanded by Alashal don't know what Belark's plans.  But they're smart enough to worry about Althorin when Belark moves north in force, so the party has been commanded to discover what the legions orders are and determine if Althorin is in danger. 

So here's what I have so far, the first encounter will involve an ambush on a supplie train.  In that encounter the party will have the oppurtunity to meet one of the branded halfing couriers the Shadow uses.  I'll give them a chance to turn the halfing to their cause and plant him as an inside man in the camp as an ace up their sleeves.  Which puts me at trying to plan out what would be in an orc encampment. 

How chaotic should it be ?
How many Legates ?
What sorts of defenses should be present ?
Size and frequency of patrols and guards ?

So how would you plan out the encampment for a warband of say 500 orcs ? Have at it, include anything you think would be appropriate or relevant.  Just please keep in mind the level of the party and the general objective of the warband.  Thanks for any and all help with this.

« Last Edit: December 19, 2006, 08:20:05 PM by johndaw16 » Logged
Nifelhein
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« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2006, 05:39:07 AM »

First of all johndaw16, be welcome to AtS, that your games be dark and your players ecited. Wink

An interesting group you have there, I would say, the addition of a dire animal is an interesting thing as well, i wonder if the player is enjoying it. It seems it is a temporary encampment you are after, and a rather large one as well, I would say it is not a mess myself, the orcs learned that fighting the war in Erethor can be deadly and The Gauntlet, while those are troops, is considered a deaadly road, but far safer than going through water.

I would say no legate would be moving as ordered by Belark, Menethas has no relation to him whatsoever and unless he is taking part on this offensive as well i would not placee a single legate there, if he was told of it I think he would consider it interesting and probably send a couple of initiates to keep an eye on the strike force, with their astirax companions this would make them a danger for anyone, even infiltrated spies.

Since Menethas controls and summons demons I would also give the orc task forcee a single odd creature for them to use, but that requires a good lot of orcs to keep at bay and under control until they arrive at their destination, considering that Belark's subordinates do not enjoy him I guess an offensive over Althorin would not please them as well, meaning a lot of talking would be happening on the camp, this gives you the opportunity to present unrest in the Gamaril front and show that the Shadow does not act as one.

How much Belark cares for this assault would tell whether he sent any of his own trroops or not, never in large groups but at least 50 or so would be there if it is key to his own devices. Overall I think the internal area would be messy but the edges would probably have some organized patrols, scouts would be walking ahead and around the encampment, I would say three scout groups of 15 orcs, one will run as soon as trouble is sighted, the edges would have a fist of orcs (50+) waiting to be called upon should trouble show up, with horns to rally the whole troops should they be called upon.

Between the scouts there is a little space, and they would also be at least 50 to 100 yards away from the encampment itself, I would say the legates, Belark's orcs and the commanding officers have tents, the "demon" would have a cage, the goblins would be the blunt of the scout group, with sniffers and wolves that covers speed and trackign well enough, add a couple of oruks (some commanders others not) and you have a good assaulting force there, the demon could be a troll (give it a more demonic appearence and wild behaviour and you are set), since that is somethign the PCs themselves could face or something like that, or a manticore qith advanced HD, to make it fly and so be a threat to the Dire Hawk PC as well, give it at least 8HD, in my xperience I treat parties with Heroic paths as if they were one level more than they are (and I have an NPC without one alognside the group, ever 1 level above them and it proved me right until now, lvl7).

Frequency of patrols i would say each of the scout groups is substituted after 2 hours, and then they are sent to rest, a new one is taken to waiting and the waiting one is sent to patrol. If you sre set on a 500 large force I would make it be 300 orcs 50 oruks, 100 goblins, 50 sniffers with wolves plus the legates and the "demon". If you wnt 500 orcs add in 100 oruks, 150 goblins and 50 sniffers with wolves plus the legates and the demon.

Alongside that I would add at least 50 halfling slaves, perhaps 20 halfling slaves and 20 more dorn and erenlander slaves, the dorns are more suited to carrying weight after all, those would probably be in chains, possibly tied to the demon's cage, nevermind if they can't sleep, if the thing makes too much noise it would also be a little farther from the encampment, though a legate could cast silence to keep it from preventing his own rest.

I am not skille with a mouse so i can't help design a map myself, but I guess I covered a lot of your concerns, and added a few mnore thoughts into the lot. The obvious way for them to get in would be make the demon unrest, get the legates to cast a spelll (but they would have to know that it can happen or just give them the opportunity if they think of no good plans of their own) and then take a single halfling and talk to that one, after the demon is silent I guess the ones near it will enjoy a well deserved break and surely yhte waiting groups would rather not be near it, as none would approach a demon willingly anyway, this give them a place, a time and a chance. Wink

I hope it helps somehow. mrgreen
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« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2006, 03:15:33 PM »

I think Nif is way to liberal with the use of Oruks. Even if every 20orc fist is led by an oruk, that force has 20 to spare. Personally I'd go with a different mix all together. A much more orc-focused force if you will, but with more camp followers.

On the Legate and the demon I agree however.

So, 24 fists of 20 orcs each, with 24 orc fistleaders, 4 oruk officers and an oruk to lead them all.
Perhaps 40 goblins, archers, scouts and sniffers.
12 goblin worg riders.
A few trolls, since they are supposed to be used on the erethor front, and work much better away form the burning line.

If this force is supposed to permanently fortify the ruins of althorin, they would need quite a lot of supplies, and many camp followers. Perhaps a dozen supply wagons and/or pack horses and pack boros, and 100 slaves, halfling or human.

The few goblins in this warband would probably be bullied into doing much of the scouting, with some orcs (perhaps three groups of 15 like nif said) walking patrols when the band is camped. And they'd probably have most all of the camp to call on in case of attack, since they're essentially travelling through enemy lands.
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« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2006, 04:11:40 PM »

In restrospect I must agree, 100 oruks is far too many.
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johndaw16
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« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2006, 09:53:04 PM »

Ok so the responses have been extremely helpful and have helped fuel my dastardly imagination.  There's quite a bit thats been said that I think I'll use, in particular I really like the idea of one of Menethas's demonic lackeys.  So here's a more fleshed out look at the camp:

1st - Belark is vested pretty heavily into this offensive, he knows that if he can't anchor his supply lines better he'll have a widespread revolt on his hands and he fears that even his loyal legion might falter.  To ensure the success of the offensive and that his orders are obeyed he's attached a 4 of his legion's fists to the warband.  This contingent will form the backbone of the warband, and is composed of the 80 orc legionarres, 4 oruk officers , and a 5th oruk commander who is in overall command.  The oruk commander will of course have some combination of appropriate levels. 

2nd - The rest of the warband will be split into 2 general groups.  There will be 10 fists of orcs (a total of 200 + officers) nominally loyal to Belark that have been drawn from the Dark Mothers vassal tribes.  Belark and his legionarres consider these orcs only slightly better than the rest of the levies on the Gamaril front.  Then there will be 14 fists of orcs (a total of 280 + officers) that have been drawn from smaller unaffiliated tribes from the far North.  The majority of the orcs in both these groups are unblooded, ill-trained, ill-equipped and of questionable reliability.  Accompanying these orc fists will be a contingent of another 6 oruks to be used as commanders and anchors for these sub-par troops. 

3rd - A hefty attachment of goblin and mercenary scouts and outriders.  A dozen goblin warg riders form the heart of the warbands recon and scouting.  Additionally each fist of has 2 sniffers and a dozen goblin scouts attached to it.  In reality the goblin attachments are little more than slaves for the orcs, they oversea the construction of the camp and its general functions.  The human mercs are another matter and will be addressed below. 

4th - While Belark and the Legates have a mutual distate and distrust for one another this mission is too important to just leave to the orcs.  Menethas has no interest in Belarks plans, however Dorgan Menethas's lt. and secret nemesis does.  Dorgan has seized on this oppurtunity to try and forge stronger links to Belark in hopes of gaining some support for his eventual assassination attempt on Menethas and Dorgan's subsequent rise to power.  With that in mind Dorgan has secretly arranged for 3 Cabal legates to join the warband under the guise of mercs.  The legates are part of a small band of mercs, that joined the warband north of the Fangs as they prepared to march into the forest.  The merc band is mostly made up of Sarcosans and Erenlanders, the excel at tracking, huntin, and assassination.  The legates will be mid-level soldier legates, while the mercs will all be mid-level humans with NPC class levels. 

5th - Lastly, Menethas cannot entirely ignore this mission, since he has received direct orders from his superiors to do all that he can to ensure it succeeds.  So for his part Menethas has provided the warband with a powerful demonic juggernaut of destruction.  I plan on this being either a troll, ettin, or giant with the Fiendish template applied to it.  It will be extremely powerful and deadly in melee but dumb as brick. 

There will be a handful of halfling slaves used as couriers and cooks and the occassional meal.  A handful of Dornish slaves used a labor and porters as well as a few with useful skills such as simple craft skills to repair weapons and armor.  This warbands primary mission is to reach Althorin and feel out a secure path to the ruined city.  Belark has a larger warband ready to move in this bands wake with far more resources and supplies suitable for garrisoning the city.

Wow.... thats been a lot.  I'll detail the inter-camp politics and conflicts that I hope to reveal to the PCs as weaknesses in the Shadows army and as general plot drivers in another post.  I'll also give my ideas concerning the physical layout of the camp as well.  So what do you think? Good, bad, too much, or too little.  All critiques and suggestions welcome.

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« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2006, 12:58:31 AM »

I'm in a war-nerdy corner right now, so I'll bite on this one. I'm not really a war-nerd, but whatever, I'll pretend. Tongue

This ain't a personal attack, just summing up my own opinions based on your current decisions, JD.

Logistics: The boring part. One orc needs about 1/2 pound (1 trail ration) of food per day, just like all other medium-sized creatures. Oruks and worgs will require four times that (worgs will not have time or security to hunt), but goblins and such less, so lets keep it at 1/2 pound per head per day. Assuming a campaign of 1 arc to set up Althorin, that's going to be 15 pounds per head. All this will have to be taken with the expedition. Resupply through an unsecured forest is not a good option. Add to this spare weapons, armor parts, and all other stuff necessary to keep a soldier up and about, and let's call it 25 pounds. Add to the orc his own equipment of vardatch, javelins, armor, shield, and he can still easily lug all that himself. So far, no need for a supply train.

Numbers: According to some, the necessary ratio to effectively combat irregular forces with conventional troops is 20 to one. According to Midnight canon, 100 orcs die per elf. This of course, counts in friendly casualties, accidents, diseases, infighting and what not that occurs in the larger battle grounds like the Burning Line. Still, assuming a 20 to one ratio, and assuming some 200 elves are available to oppose Belark's troops, that would demand 4,000 troops to effectively take and hold Althorin. It's the holding part that's tricky, especially in a cut-off ruined city which the elves have intimate knowledge of.

The Advance: Getting to Althoring will probably demand no more than the 700 or so troops you have allocated to your advance, especially since the elves are incapable of facing the orcs in head-on engagements. They would instead harry from the flanks as they always do, identifying and taking out hot targets like scouts, woodland-capable cavalry (wolves) and legates with snipers or magic. For the average grunt, the advance should seem easy. Any specialized shock troops like a fiendish troll probably won't see any use, and won't even be targeted as it is far too tough to take down.

Holding the Price: This is where things get tough. The elves know Althorin and the area around it, and can be supplied both from the Gamaril delta and the Pirate Princes. Those same seaward raiders are probably part of the reason there is a land-line to River's Fangs in the first place (the other part being the Shadow's lack of seaborne resources in the first place). The orcs will soon find themselves cut off, without an enemy, and stumbling through the forest trying to secure the road. In Althorin, they will be raided and sabotaged by elves moving through the ruins. Any seaside activity will be hampered by the Norfalls.

If I Was the Elf:
Elves don't do straight fighting. Like any good outnumbered people being invaded, they are sneaky.
1 – Temporarily evacuate Althorin. Get as many supplies out as possible, scattering them throughout the forest. Booby trap the ruins thoroughly with both mundane and magical surprises. Make certain that contact is maintained with the Pirate Princes through other landing spots.
2 – Immediately initiate skirmishing with the orcs. Using a mixture of unexperienced troops and true veterans, attempt to lure out the expedition's mobile and intelligence-gathering forces. Allow the expedition to advance blindly, but also with a false sense of purpose and victory.
3 – Surround Althorin. Use about half the elven force to cause the orcs to feel “boxed in”. The other half should be kept in reserve or spent sustaining efforts against the road. Use snipers and kill-teams to take down any leading or special figures, and keep attempting to lure them out with fake raids.
4 – Slowly withdraw from Althorin. As long as they attempt to hold the ruins, the ors are on the defensive. While the orcs keep staying paranoid, sallying now and then, keep moving forces back to harassing the road, occasionally rotating troops back to Althorin so there is always change there, and the shadow forces don't pick up a pattern. Keep harassing them until they give up, or just hold them there indefinitely.

If I Was the Orc:
As long as the orcs are advancing, their doing their job. When they stop and hunker down, they lose.
1 – Acquire secondary objectives. Orcs are best when they are assaulting something, or simply doing something. Anything is better than sitting still, even if doing so means less casualties. Therefore, establish projects such as carving a road to the ruins, making checkpoints and so forth.
2 – Force the elves to spread out. With their significant numerical advantage, and the availability of reserves, the orcs can divide into several forces, stage probing attacks and feints, and generally force the elves to keep moving in multiple directions. Casualty rates are not that important.
3 – Assault enemy strongpoints. Attempting skirmish warfare with untrained troops against elves is futile. Instead, strong points found during previous probes should be pursued. Keep orc presence in Althorin at an absolute minimum. The town can always be retaken, and supplies are available from River's Fangs and Fallport anyway.
4 – Keep requesting more troops. Fighting a guerrilla force means constantly pushing them, despite the casualties suffered, something Grial Fey-Killer is proving on the Burning Line. As long as the road stays open, don't try to limit casualties. The elves will be drained faster than the orcs. Keep the enemy divided and moving.

Now, I did this in the middle of the night, so someone please find the holes in my leaking ships and plug them. Smiley

Ultimately though, I'm siding with the elves, unless someone sends a lot more troops.
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« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2006, 07:20:14 AM »

Well, Belark can never guess what opposition they may find when tryign to secure Althorin, what they know is that there are elves in the forests and that Althorin is a dead city, there are 200 fey living i the city, beneath it, and whenever there is a patrol they choose to leave the area instead of fighting, mainly because they want to keep the area overlooked by the shadow.

If they recognize an interest in occupying the city I would say they would use what Bleak said plus call on troops from Talistin to make the attempt even harder, with strike forces along the way and a kind of siege on Althoring, and the Norfal will surely help the elves adn try to hold the advance in securing yet another place for them. Overall I would consider making the first strike force be taken away, most of them defeated the reamaining troops would be killed along the woods, the second one would be as large as Bleak suggests and the elves would already have left Althorin to fight along the way, including an increase of attacks along the Gamaril front, to make Belark divide his attention and trroops.

I believe the orcs can secure the city if they want but the price will be high, this will only feed the unsatisfied troops and increase unrest among their leaders, ultimately they will end up executing him and his loyal troops as depicted in Fury, mroe than this, the troops believe he is weak and coward, moving somewhere that not the Gamaril will only make that even clearer.

You could have much the same effect you want with a much stonger opposition if you make this a major offensive along the Gamaril to make another checkpoint up river, this would give Belark a good number of trolls and giant-man and a few demons to count with as well, all your ideas would apply, except that as much as supplies are never enough the sooner he cuts the elves in half the better he can secure the eastern shores of the Gamaril. If Belark makes a lot of raids south of the River's Fangs and tryign to secure the Gauntlet he would also divert some forces from the Gamaril and in that make his job there possible.

I believe that is the wisest route myself. As to requesting more troops, i would not count on it, the Gamaril front is not Grial's priority and while it is important he is more interested to gather troops for himself and strike after Kulos looses in Three Oaks, so for now Belark is not going to see anything more than he already has.
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« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2006, 10:28:24 AM »

Troops marching down the road from Fallport will always end up in the River's Fangs. And I expect at least some troops to trickle that way. Actually, if I was Belark, I'd initiate this Althorin raiding stuff, and then make a push for the northern Green March. Cut the elves out at the Northern Gamaril, and take the villages along the coast to the east, denying Norfall a lot of recruitment and supply ground.
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Nifelhein
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« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2006, 12:07:39 PM »

I always took that the Gauntlet is a supply line coming from fallport myself, but then , who says they are sent that way? Jahzir sends them to Grial not to Belark, he is under Grial in all aspects, including the fact that it was Grial who placed him in the Gamaril delta in the first place.

I would leave Althorin be, hunting and fighting the elves there is not wise enough, making an offensive to the northern Green March is what i would do myself, but that is not what he was sent there to do, his orders are to take the Gamaril river shores and find a way to get into northern Caraheen, the Green Marches already have someone taking care of, and while the most intelligent thing is what i would do doing it would mean Belark's head on a plate sooner than what he is already doing.
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« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2006, 03:18:37 PM »

Quote
I think Nif is way to liberal with the use of Oruks. Even if every 20orc fist is led by an oruk, that force has 20 to spare.

That doesn't seem outside the realms of possibility, to me. There are units composed entirely of Oruk shock troopers - though whether you'd find one sitting in the middle of the forest is a different matter.

I don't have much to add to the in-depth discussion that's already taken place here. I've always imagined orc camps as being sprawkling and disorganised, with every fist basically sitting at its own campfire, bickering with the others - and troops from different tribes kept apart. The leaders and elite mosnters would be in the middle, where they could yell at everyone indiscriminately.
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Nifelhein
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« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2006, 03:28:44 PM »

Well, Owain, yo hav already added, that was something we all have overlooked, until you pointed it to us. Wink
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« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2006, 05:16:19 PM »

To add what Dirigible said, orc encampments are fairly chaotic unless you're talking about orc legions where the discipline and training are far better.  Chaotic does not mean stupid.  You can't be stupid and survive in Erethor and even orcs new to Erethor have been told and respect the dangers of the wood.  Camps may sprawl out, but there will be pickets, possible traps emplaced, and the leaders will have the best position/most defensible spot in the camp.  If you go with Nif's idea of something different travelling with the orcs, a minor demon or some fform of shadowspawn, make it unique, something the travels in the branches and slithers silently, almost invisibly on the ground.  Use it as a wildcard and see how the party reacts.  Even with a large and reasonably strong party, 5-10 fists of orcs )or more) is a sizeable challenge.

Kane
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Nifelhein
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« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2006, 05:21:18 PM »

I am always in favor of unique demons and entities, of course, but that does not require unique stats as well, using the troll for a shadowy creature with vestigial wings, large claws and a huge mouth with protuding fangs would work perfectly well, for example. i do that a lot, the better part is that stats are already taken care of by someone else, in this case WotC in the MM. Wink

Also, in case you haven't met him before, Eric is one of the authors of Fury and quite a few other Midnight books as well. Shameless praise. Wink
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