Seeking Geograpy help

Greenfield

Adventurer
Well, I settled the battle a bit differently. I had the scene at Thermopylea depend on how well the party did in Anopaea.

I had 500 Persians plus a Sand Dragon and rider, a Dunewinder worm and tenders, a small cadre of arcane casters and some healers.

Initially, the Persians were going to drive their Dunewinder worm up the narrow pass ahead of them. The pass is described as a goat path, so the huge burrowing creature could and would widen the way as it went.

A Dunewinder (Sandstorm supplement) is similar to a Purple Worm, but has a breath weapon instead of Swallow Whole.

They had their dragon and rider flying high cover, more for observation than anything else. He'd hit them the night before, and had discovered that the party Druid had access to the Downdraft spell, which makes life miserable for flying monsters. As a result, they held him in reserve this day.

One PC, the party combat machine, stood in the narrow pass. He looked up, raised his sword, and pointed to the dragon rider, issuing a personal challenge.

Settling a day's conflict with a meeting of champions is an ancient tradition, and the dragon rider accepted the challenge. The worm was held back as terms were discussed.

If the PC lost, the party would retreat from the pass by half a mile, yielding the choke point they'd blocked and making it much easier for the larger force to advance.

If the dragon rider lost, the Persians would fall back a similar distance. In either case, the battle would be done for the day.

The rider offered to let the PC call for a horse, so he'd have a more mobile combat base. Still sucks compared to the dragon, but the PC said no.

The battle began with the dragon rider trying to thread the needle with his mount, flying down a very narrow, winding trail at the PC. The rider had his long lance ready, and the Spirited Charge feat, but the fighter's AC was pretty good, and the dragon was in "cramped quarters" as far as mobility was concerned, so he missed.

Then the PC pulled his dirty trick. A Magic Item Compendium item he had that I'd forgotten about. It's called a Transposer's Cloak, or something like that. It lets you switch places with someone else, though they do get a save if they're unwilling.

Dragon rider rolled badly, and suddenly he's on the ground and the PC is in his saddle.

The dragon tried to throw him, but his dice were hot when he needed them to be, and he managed to get the riding straps secured. He drew his greatsword (he'd dropped his other blades when the dragon went bucking-bronco on him) and ordered the dragon, in Draconic, to land safely of he'd kill him.

Th dragon eased up and began to descend. People on the ground realized what was happening and shouted a warning, that the dragon was coming in very fast. PC struck, critted, folloed up with a second blow, and the pair were headed for a serious crash landing on some very sharp rocks. The dragon had simply gambled that he could take the landing better than the guy on his back could. And he was right.

Now, while all of this was going on the now earthbound dragon rider was screaming about treachery, and trying to figure out what to do about it. He had a wand of Fireballs, but didn't want to hurt his own dragon. And since everyone else had agreed to stay out of it it would have been a violation of the singular challenge for him to attack anyone else. Would have been suicidal too, since he was in the middle of the enemy camp.

Now come in a dragon, bleeding, on a crash course for the rocky hillside.

By chance, they came in range once more, and the PC activated his Cloak again. (3 uses per day, by the book). Dragon-pedestrian fails his save, again, and the PC is safe on the ground and the rider is back in the saddle of a dragon right before impact.

He wasn't strapped in, and after the crash he got flung down that hillside for more damage.

The dragon was conscious, but in great pain, and far too badly injured to even consider continuing that fight. The PC didn't have a scratch on him.

The dragon considered a suicidal assault, but heard his rider moan, and went to help him instead.

Dragons with spell casting ability cast like sorcerers, but can include some divine spells in their mix. He used a Cure Light to save the rider, healed himself a bit, and retreated to the Persian camp.

Pcs win the day, and the Persians retreat.

The Persian retreat didn't mean much though, since they'd just come back the next day. The PCs already held exactly the ground they wanted, and advancing would have lead them to more open ground, where the enemy's superior numbers could be employed.

During the time off, though, the player running the so-called Son of Jupiter decided to do the chivalrous thing. He picked up the rider's lance, which kind of got left on the field, and during the agreed upon day of cease-fire he walked it down to the enemy camp. He made it clear that he was just returning the weapons of an honorable opponent, and was given and armed/honor guard escort to the camp commander.

He introduced himself by name, though he didn't mention his family history. The Persian leader had heard of him however (the party did some adventuring in that part of the world), and was a bit set back. He offered Marcus (the PC) the opportunity to leave the field with honor, a sort of "Don't make me kill you" kind of thing. Marcus declined, and was given safe passage back out of camp.

The word that they were fighting the son of a god went through the camp, however, and didn't help morale at all.

Next day the Persians begin with the worm again, flanked by tenders riding a smaller type of sand worm.

The Barb/Wiz dropped a Wall of Fire the length of the narrow trail, though it was pointed out that the trail wasn't straight, so he couldn't simply fill the whole thing. In any case, one of the enemy casters used Dispel Magic and took the thing down, and the worm advance.

A second party caster dropped a fireball on the thing and did a little damage.

The party combat machine stood in the path again. The Dunewinder charged and missed by one point.

The PC opened his can of wupass on the thing and to the surprise of everyone (including me) dropped it in one round. The thing went through death throes, which in its case means a 12 D4 explosion affecting everything within 60 feet.

Killed one of the tenders outright, injured the rest, slaughtered some archers the party had hidden in the rocks, and hurt some people pretty seriously.

The the Barb/Wizard used his wand again, and another Wall of Fire ran down the trail, killing another of the worm tenders and making it rough for the pair that were left.

One fell back only to be cut down by his own people for cowardice in the face of the enemy. The other charged forward, threw a feeble spell, more a gesture than an attack, and surrendered when given the chance. He had 4 hit points left, and his mount was almost dead.

The enemy tried to Dispel the wall again but couldn't. Archery duel ensued, using mass fire rules. Ugly to be a low level type, but little effect on the higher level PCs.

The Druid/Ranger used bird form to take a high position, then cast Wind Tunnel. The spell doubles archery range, as well as granting a decent bonus to hit. Then he began firing at what would normally be extreme range, and plunking shots into the Persian commander.

The PC combat machine charged down the path, using Dimensional Stride boots to bypass the majority of the Wall of Fire, to emerge near the front of the Persian formations. Marcus rode his warhorse down the path, right through the fire, and came out beside the combat machine.

The enemy commander took it as an article of faith that adventuring groups are hell on wheels, for about two minutes. He'd held back once the wall went up, knowing that it would come down in a minute ot two. He had five hundred men, and he had all day.

The PCs advancing forced his hand. He ordered the men to charge.

A Phalanx formation, prepared to head up a narrow path, is a terrible thing to send against a Half Dragon who hasn't used his breath weapon yet today. He laid a Line effect right down their column, wiping out two dozen men in a single shot.

Then it just became a game of statistics. He could Great Cleave through as many men as he could reach. (He's in the "Don't roll a 1" category vs the ACs of the lower level troops, and his minimum damage drops them.)

But each round, a few would manage to get through his defense, inflicting a D8 here and a D8 there. So the commander was looking at this and calculated that the guy would go through a hundred of his men before he dropped. And to him, that was an acceptable arrangement. He could call for re-enforcements, if he needed to, but that crazy fighter couldn;t be replaced nearly as easily.

The Marcus joined in, and though he wasn't auto-killing eight at a time, he was laying out a lot of soldiers.

Still a likely victory for the Persians, in the commanders view, though an expensive one.

Then the Barb/Wiz and the Cleric/Wiz/Mystic Thurge flew up above the intervening landscape and began to blast away at the archers and the command corps. The arcane casters started to counterspell what they could while others returned fire. The PCs were higher level casters, but their arcane group of the Persians outnumbered them, and so the actual spell count was comparable.

The Persians might still have carried the day on sheer numbers, but the Druid/Ranger started getting hot dice. One crit and one very good hit did nearly half the Persian commander's hit points in a single round, and he dropped the next.

The second in command saw lightning bolts ripping through his staff and his morale broke. He called for the men to fall back.

They tried sending forays up the pass several times over the next few days. The PCs were nice enough to let some of them leave alive.

The Persians had lost too many men on that morning's battle, and as far as they could tell the PCs hadn't lost anyone. That meant the party would begin fresh the next time they met, so the math just didn't work any more. They didn't have enough men left to try to force their way through on just numbers.

Watching their dragon rider get owned that badly by a single fighter was unnerving, and herding that Dunewinder all the way here from the deserts of the middle east, just to watch it explode almost before it arrived was a true shock.

So the tales will be told of how the son of Jupiter rode through flaming death to hold the pass, while Sylus, an Olympic champion archerm stood on a mountain far beyond any hope of return fire, and struck down the commander with arrow fire like thunderbolts. They'll talk of Drell, who held the way singlehanded against dragon and worm, and carved a path through his enemies while screaming in frustration that he couldn't reach them fast enough.

The story will grow in the telling, as such things do, and the battle will be the stuff of legends.

And I think that that's the way stuff like this should be, don't you?
 

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nijineko

Explorer
The largest battles I've participated in a D&D campaign involved about 50,000 versus about 30,000 defenders inside a walled city (with about 80,000 civilians caught in the middle). We for some reason decided to resolve it in units of 10 men. The battle took about 40 hours to resolve and spread over a two car garage, but everyone involved still talks about that weekend. We also had a naval battle involving about 100 ships, mounting a total of about 5000 mangonels, ballista, and catapolts, and involving about 45,000 sailors and marines.

I'm older now and I wouldn't necessarily resolve those battles in the same way now, but if you haven't really done an epic battle as part of a RPG campaign I think you are really missing out.

now that's awesome! i think i would have enjoyed participating in that.
 

Greenfield

Adventurer
At some point though, you handle it statistically.

Somebody drops a huge area of effect on 100+ warriors? You don't roll 1--+ Saves. You look at the average Save bonus for the troops and just assign the numbers. "Okay, the Save DC was 15, the troop has an average bonus of +3 so they need a 12 or better. That means that 60% were affected."

Takes 10 seconds, instead of 10 minutes.

What's harder is the impact of position. I was just reading a NY Times article on a Civil War battle, and it reminded me of conventional military wisdom: An attacking army needs a 3 to 1 advantage against an entrenched defending force.

I'd call it a 5 to 1 against a defending force in actual fortifications, but that's just me.

Either way, how would you represent that in terms of relative AC, hit points, Save bonuses, attack and damage modifiers?

What impact having a skilled commander? Specifically, how would you represent it in the numbers?

My failure in this battle was that I got into the round-by-round mindset. The Persian commander had his spell casters burn spells trying to take down a Wall of Fire, instead of just waiting a few minutes for it to fall.

Those spells would have been better spent doing direct damage, or better yet as battlefield modifiers. Spells like Wind Wall can effectively shut down all archery, and the Persian commander should have had one ready to go up before his command unit. Preferably from a Wand or something similar.

Time was on his side. Haste, Bless and Prayer spells all fall in a few minutes, and small PC bands can't renew them indefinitely.

What broke them was morale. The levels of power demonstrated by the PCs were just so far beyond what any of the soldiers had ever seen, they appeared to be matchless, untouchable.
 

green slime

First Post
I think a quick study of the real battle would have stood you in good stead.

The Persians could ill afford standing around. Xerxes didn't attack immediately, but instead wasted several days. Imagine the food and water consumption of 200,000 men in the field, the cavalry horses, and the beasts of burden in the baggage train.
 

Greenfield

Adventurer
Oh, agreed, an army travels on it's stomach, particularly in our game world where food shortages are prompting many of the conflicts.

But if you can bypass your enemy's best efforts by simply waiting 2 minutes? You wait 2 minutes.

It's the difference in time scale between a typical encounter for adventurers and a divisional scale conflict. Firefights in a dungeon last a minute? Maybe two? Divisional actions last hours or days.

Most buffing spells last two or three minutes. The long ones might last ten minutes.

So the wary commander mounts a light assault, or even a feint, to prompt the higher leveled party to spend their spells on buffs and defenses, then pulls back and waits for them to go down.

Do that two or three times, until the adventurers are either out of ready buffs, or they stop falling for it, then you hit them with an actual attack. Not a full assault, just enough to hurt a bit and make them cast their remaining buffs.

The PCs will win that fight. But the main assault that comes, say, five minutes later? Their arsenal of spells will be running a bit thin by then. After that you hit them with the offensive spells you've been holding in reserve, and troops that know how to swarm.

The army will win with relatively light losses, and be ready to advance.

Adventuring groups are hell on wheels, for a few minutes. Then, when their consumables and finger spells begin to run low, they get abruptly mortal.

So how long does it take to break through this way? Maybe half an hour? Then you and your men press through and get a few miles in towards your next target before lunch. And the great adventurers are a foot note in a military journal, little more than a speedbump for the army.

Individual soldiers don't win real battles, units do.
 

green slime

First Post
Agreed, IF the party resort to short duration buffs.

Don't know the level of your PCs, but there are a lot of buffs that actually last 10 mins / level (Air Walk, Barkskin, Fireseeds, Flame Arrow, Freedom of Movement, Hide from Animals/Undead, Keen Edge, Protection from Energy, Resist Energy, See Invisibility, Spider Climb, Stoneskin ), or 1 hour / level (Charm Person, False Life, Longstrider, Mage Armor, Greater Magic Fang/Weapon, Nondetection, Overland Flight, Protection from Arrows, Shield Other, Mass Suggestion, Tree Stride ). Charm Monster lasts 1 day/ level. Halucinatory Terrain lasts 2 hrs / level. Heroes Feast is another good boost. Hallow could've been useful, if given the time to prepare. Wall of Iron would narrow the straight even more. Water Breathing would allow a character to emerge and strike from the water, causing more chaos in the enemy ranks, and forcing them to guard that flank.

Add in an Extend Spell and suddenly that 12th level spellcaster has potentially a lot of buffs remaining after 2 minutes, or even 2 hours. Add in scrolls and wands, and they too, can contribute to the fight for a very long time, if they prepare themselves properly, and pace themselves (instead of going for broke in the first two minutes).

Nevertheless, these scenarios favour the fighter types: a well-equiped and supported high level fighter can keep going a long time. If the fighter has his weapon extended Keen, is stoneskinned, Other shielded, and protected from Energy types, those grunts will well learn the word respect.

Each pause in the enemy attack, also causes further delays: if you have 1000 people or more moving/charging up an embankment (move earth) to attack in a confined space, you can't suddenly halt them all to wait 2 minutes, without affecting coherence further back. Some are likely to ignore the halt order and continue, people in the back are going to push, other unit commanders are going to wonder what is going on, and react. In short, once committed to the attack, it is going to be very difficult to reign in that unit, until they are either broken or victorious.
 

green slime

First Post
What's harder is the impact of position. I was just reading a NY Times article on a Civil War battle, and it reminded me of conventional military wisdom: An attacking army needs a 3 to 1 advantage against an entrenched defending force.

I'd call it a 5 to 1 against a defending force in actual fortifications, but that's just me.

Either way, how would you represent that in terms of relative AC, hit points, Save bonuses, attack and damage modifiers?

What impact having a skilled commander? Specifically, how would you represent it in the numbers?

Some of that is already covered by the rules:

Higher ground / mounted vs unmounted: +1 to hit
Behind Cover (includes low walls): +4 to AC, don't give away AoO, +2 Reflex saves.

The book, Heroes of Battle, has a Morale Check, and feats allowing you to improve Morale with a Rally Check bonus +4.

The book also includes "Commander auras" based on rank, which provide a minor bonus to troops within 30 feet. It would have been nice to have seen this idea fleshed out more, with higher ranks earning a larger radius, and greater effect, and multpile auras, but sadly, no such luck. Of course it could be worked out.
 

Greenfield

Adventurer
Greenslime, I notice that a a lot of the "buffs" you list aren't buffs at all. Fireseeds? Come on. Charm Person? Who exactly are these spells buffing?

Yes, there are spells that can last a long time. There are magic items that last all day, items that duplicate a great many of the actual buff spells: Amulet of Natural Armor, for example requires the Barkskin spell, so they won't stack.

Protection from Evil/Chaos/Law/Good all create a Deflection bonus, the same as any Ring of Protection. They won't stack.

Any stat bump spell, such as Bull's Strength has an item based on the spell.

So with fairly common items you can buff your party forever more.

But their magical offense, and much of their ability to dish over-the-top damage is short term.

Wall of... spells (except for Stone or Iron) provide temporary obstruction/defense that lasts a few minutes at most.

Fire Shield or Body of the Sun are good "hurt-em-back" type defensive spells. For a few minutes.

And Potions. Potions that let a non-spell caster fly, spot invisible opponents or become invisible, turn into a giant or attack with blinding speed, these are wonderful things. But like the spells that go into them, they last for a few minutes.

These things are great in a pitched battle in some old ruins, when you're fighting for your life. But facing a wary commander in a larger scale conflict, one with time (and soldiers) to spare? He can wait you out.

A small group may be able to strike then flee the field, but if the goal was to hold the ground against an encroaching adversary, that's a losing strategy. The massive enemy absorbs the losses you inflict, then advances as you retreat.

As someone else pointed out a low level Bard (3rd, minimum) with the right feats and/or spells, using a Masterworked drum as his instrument, can give your entire army +4 to hit and +5 to damage, and if you allow the right items/spells from places like the Book of Exalted Deeds, you can double that to +8 to hit and +10 to damage. And Bard songs don't have any stated time limit.

That's a really nice bump for a leveled party. It's an insane bump for a unit of 1st through 3rd level Warriors in a field formation as part of a divisional scale assault.

And make no mistake about it, what I've just described is the typical military unit of the game world. (Standard world builder rules give the distribution of leveled individuals in any given city, and then say to populate said city with enough 1st and 2nd level Commoner types to reduce the leveled ones to 10% of the population or less.)

Inspire Courage (Bard song) affects all in hearing range, and war drums can be heard for miles. Add in the Amplify spell (1st level Bard spell) and for a few minutes you can make that range even longer. So one good Bard can completely rewrite the outcome of a battle. Their power has the range and duration to cover a divisional level, lasts-all-day confrontation.

But if both armies have Bards with similar abilities? The battle turns into a blood bath, since the impact of the Bard's performance enhances accuracy and damage, but not the AC or Hit Points of those line troops, which is what's needed to counter the effect. Both armies suddenly become glass cannon, with men dying on just about any hit, and men being hit far more often than not.

For leveled PCs, this is their worst nightmare. PC fighter types of level 8+ were already hitting the enemy troops on anything but a 1, and killing pretty much one per blow. The impact of the Bardic Music turns their already resent overkill combat abilities into more serious overkill, but you can't kill an enemy more dead.

Our own combat machine PC was very frustrated fighting the Persians. He'd hit on anything but a 1, Great Cleave through every enemy soldier within reach, and kill them all. He wouldn't get to use his 2nd or 3rd attacks because there wasn't anyone within weapon reach. He had to take his 5 ft step to advance close to the next rank of enemy soldiers, and then he was done. You can't take a step between attacks in 3.5.

We described it as him having to climb over or wade through the gathering heap of corpses around him, lest he be buried in fallen enemies.

Grand image, frustrating reality in play, at least for him.

Now take your 10th level Half Dragon fighter with his 30 Strength and magic weapons and all of his combat feats, and give him another +8 to hit and +10 to damage. It changes nothing in that fight. He's already a bad case of overkill, and all you've done is make sure his enemies are chopped into a smooth red salsa instead of a chunky red salsa.

Give his 3rd level opponents a similar bump. Suddenly they don't need a natural 20 to hit his AC 28. They need a 13 or better, perhaps less when you count field advantages like flank and/or Aid Another on attacks.

Commander Auras are wonderful. If you happen to be in his command group, within 30 feet of him.

If you're some poor clod schlepping along in formation, it means noting. And large scale battles are one hell of a lot bigger than a 65 foot diameter circle.

It's another neat power that's really well scaled to the adventuring party and has almost no impact in a true war.
 

green slime

First Post
Greenslime, I notice that a a lot of the "buffs" you list aren't buffs at all. Fireseeds? Come on. Charm Person? Who exactly are these spells buffing?

Yes, there are spells that can last a long time. There are magic items that last all day, items that duplicate a great many of the actual buff spells: Amulet of Natural Armor, for example requires the Barkskin spell, so they won't stack.

Protection from Evil/Chaos/Law/Good all create a Deflection bonus, the same as any Ring of Protection. They won't stack.

Any stat bump spell, such as Bull's Strength has an item based on the spell.

So with fairly common items you can buff your party forever more.

But their magical offense, and much of their ability to dish over-the-top damage is short term.

Wall of... spells (except for Stone or Iron) provide temporary obstruction/defense that lasts a few minutes at most.

Fire Shield or Body of the Sun are good "hurt-em-back" type defensive spells. For a few minutes.

And Potions. Potions that let a non-spell caster fly, spot invisible opponents or become invisible, turn into a giant or attack with blinding speed, these are wonderful things. But like the spells that go into them, they last for a few minutes.

These things are great in a pitched battle in some old ruins, when you're fighting for your life. But facing a wary commander in a larger scale conflict, one with time (and soldiers) to spare? He can wait you out.

A small group may be able to strike then flee the field, but if the goal was to hold the ground against an encroaching adversary, that's a losing strategy. The massive enemy absorbs the losses you inflict, then advances as you retreat.

As someone else pointed out a low level Bard (3rd, minimum) with the right feats and/or spells, using a Masterworked drum as his instrument, can give your entire army +4 to hit and +5 to damage, and if you allow the right items/spells from places like the Book of Exalted Deeds, you can double that to +8 to hit and +10 to damage. And Bard songs don't have any stated time limit.

That's a really nice bump for a leveled party. It's an insane bump for a unit of 1st through 3rd level Warriors in a field formation as part of a divisional scale assault.

And make no mistake about it, what I've just described is the typical military unit of the game world. (Standard world builder rules give the distribution of leveled individuals in any given city, and then say to populate said city with enough 1st and 2nd level Commoner types to reduce the leveled ones to 10% of the population or less.)

Inspire Courage (Bard song) affects all in hearing range, and war drums can be heard for miles. Add in the Amplify spell (1st level Bard spell) and for a few minutes you can make that range even longer. So one good Bard can completely rewrite the outcome of a battle. Their power has the range and duration to cover a divisional level, lasts-all-day confrontation.

But if both armies have Bards with similar abilities? The battle turns into a blood bath, since the impact of the Bard's performance enhances accuracy and damage, but not the AC or Hit Points of those line troops, which is what's needed to counter the effect. Both armies suddenly become glass cannon, with men dying on just about any hit, and men being hit far more often than not.

For leveled PCs, this is their worst nightmare. PC fighter types of level 8+ were already hitting the enemy troops on anything but a 1, and killing pretty much one per blow. The impact of the Bardic Music turns their already resent overkill combat abilities into more serious overkill, but you can't kill an enemy more dead.

Our own combat machine PC was very frustrated fighting the Persians. He'd hit on anything but a 1, Great Cleave through every enemy soldier within reach, and kill them all. He wouldn't get to use his 2nd or 3rd attacks because there wasn't anyone within weapon reach. He had to take his 5 ft step to advance close to the next rank of enemy soldiers, and then he was done. You can't take a step between attacks in 3.5.

We described it as him having to climb over or wade through the gathering heap of corpses around him, lest he be buried in fallen enemies.

Grand image, frustrating reality in play, at least for him.

Now take your 10th level Half Dragon fighter with his 30 Strength and magic weapons and all of his combat feats, and give him another +8 to hit and +10 to damage. It changes nothing in that fight. He's already a bad case of overkill, and all you've done is make sure his enemies are chopped into a smooth red salsa instead of a chunky red salsa.

Give his 3rd level opponents a similar bump. Suddenly they don't need a natural 20 to hit his AC 28. They need a 13 or better, perhaps less when you count field advantages like flank and/or Aid Another on attacks.

You also ignore some suggestions that affect your calculations:

1) It is a given that the players cannot do battle as they typically do. In the situation at hand, in a battle of Themopylae type scenario: They will have to rely on more non-magical, or longer lasting effects, will need to prepare properly. Which includes prepping the battleground (various traps, funnels, etc), stocking up on items usables, and on friends (Such can be acquired via Charm Monster). Given the scenario, I don't think it would have been too much to give the party 3-4 days to prepare: Adequate time to build traps, shape the battlefield.

2) stoneskin and shield other. Low protective wall.

Smart choice of weapons/location: Funneling opposition into overlapping reach weapons. (I'm assuming it wasn't just "the party" vs the persians. ) The grunts die before they even get to the High Level party fighter.

As a side note I'd not allow Book of Exalted/Vile Cheese for mundane 3rd level NPC bards. Sorry. Exalted happens to be a bit more special in my campaign, but if you really do wish to massacre your PC's,... ;) Neither am I too familiar with the MW War drum. I'm sure it is in one of the later non-Core 3 books

I did notice that Bardic music states "Concentration + 5 rounds" and at 3rd level the default is +1 to hit and damage, (so I'm curious about those extra feats, not being at home and able to check up anything beyond the SRD at the moment). And if he has that affect at 3rd level, he is going to be the first person killed by the party.

Or an NPC 3rd level bard countersinging, every 55 feet along the frontline... (goose-gander kind of thing). Or shock-horror, 1 with his own set of MW War Drums.

Commander Auras are wonderful. If you happen to be in his command group, within 30 feet of him.

If you're some poor clod schlepping along in formation, it means noting. And large scale battles are one hell of a lot bigger than a 65 foot diameter circle.

It's another neat power that's really well scaled to the adventuring party and has almost no impact in a true war.

Which is why I stated: "It would have been nice to have seen this idea fleshed out more, with higher ranks earning a larger radius, and greater effect, and multpile auras, but sadly, no such luck. Of course it could be worked out."

Meaning, the DM needs to work on what is basically an interesting idea seed to make it work!
 

Greenfield

Adventurer
The party had a month and a half to prepare. They spent the time harassing the approaching army, and training with their own forces. One PC wrote some scrolls.

They never even looked for potions or other consumables. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they presumed that all available supplies in the city were going to the main military force.

They tried to recruit some help from local Elven communities almost as an afterthought, a plan that met a chilly response. The two who went were an Asimar (Planetouched from the MM) and a Half Elf. The Elven elder who met with them asked how long they had known that an invasion was imminent. They admitted that it had been over a month. He accused the Half Elf of forgetting his Elven heritage, and siding completely with the humans. He said that he'd ask for volunteers to gather at Thermopylea, but made it clear that he would order no one.

They also tried to recruit from the local Druidic community. Similar reception for similar reasons.

They timed their own arrival at Anopaea kind of close, relying purely on the scouting from the city's military to judge when to go. As it was they had a day and a half.

They did work to create some traps, but the people involved had no trap building skill or training. While it takes more sweat than skill to prepare a rockslide type trap, skill is required to hide it, and they didn't.

When they spotted the enemy advancing to a wider area below them, they waited and watched while the Persians made camp. They took stock of what forces the enemy had at this camp, saw a Dunewinder worm (think Purple Worm, desert variety), a juvenile or young adult Dragon that appeared to be slate blue/gray in color (with rider) and a lot of human-ish troops. Then they began to look at their resources and see what kind of trouble they could cause with a midnight raid.

They took their time and argued quite a bit, and in the mean time the enemy had their Dragon and rider pull a midnight raid on their camp. Using the Dragon's fear aura they scattered the horses and most of the troops, and then used a breath weapon to take out the command tent where the PCs were plotting their mischief.

In short, they let the enemy take the initiative, and the enemy obliged.

Now, regarding Bard Songs to counter-song each other: I don't think you can actually do that. Counter-song counters mind affecting effects that are sonic in nature, substituting the Bard's perform check for the victim's Save. Countering another Bard's song this way presumes that the enemy wants your help, and that the enemy Bard's song gives its "victims" as Save. As far as I know, it doesn't.

So "Battle of the Bands" doesn't work too well.

Now, could they have used Charm Monster to recruit some help? Obviously the enemy did. But the party never tried. They never even questioned how the Persians managed to wrangle a Huge burrowing monster all the way from Persia to Greece, nor how they thought they could direct it in battle.

The big danger in this tactic is obvious: You Charm the big nasties to come and fight for your army, and then the enemy casts Dispel Magic or Break Enchantment, and suddenly the big nasty is turning on you and your troops, angry that you compelled it to risk its life for you.

Historic note: In real world battles of the period, elephants were often used as walking tanks, with archers riding in baskets or platforms on their backs. At least that was the theory. In practice, history shows us that which ever army had the most elephants in it was the one that lost. Controlling them once battle was joined was almost impossible, and they'd panic and stampede. They'd do more damage to your own troops than they did to the enemy.

So if history is any teacher, Charm Monster as a recruitment strategy is questionable at best.

Regarding buffing spells in general: Remember that Dispel Magic is a common and fairly sound opening move for spellcasting opponents.
 

green slime

First Post
I agree that all too often in such situations, many players tend to think they can tough it out, and waste days, if not weeks on relatively unimportant, non-urgent tasks. 6 weeks to prepare; just wow!

Re:countersinging, you are probably right as per the actual "countersong" ability, but part of any bardic ability is the ability for the recipient ally to hear. Is it not possible that the pro-party bards could simply reduce the enemies' troops capacity to hear, and therefore be affected by the song/war drums?

Shouldn't they have had a clear idea after the first week already, and decided upon where and how they wanted to fight? (Why do players resort to last minute arguing? I've seen players have a clear cut plan, everything agreed upon, and at the last minute, someone will always pipe up and say "Why don't we do Y instead?" and then the descent into madness begins)

Part of the charm with charm monster, is that you wouldn't have to use them necessarily in the battle, exposing them to danger, but use them as scouts, or preparing the battlefield (burrowing), manufacturing items, repairing walls, opening negotiations with others.

I suppose that it is the low level mages that are going to approach within 60 feet, to detect magic to discover where the dispel needs to be placed? Not all Charmed Monsters will be obviously monstrous. ... ;)

I agree, charming is a strategy that could backfire, and should probably only be resorted in desperate straights, after normal diplomacy has been tried and failed.

Anyway, sounds like a great time (except perhaps for the frustrated fighter). Thanks for sharing!
 

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