Thursday, August 22, 2013

One Thousand Four Hundred and Fifty Orcs Slain

Recently at Gold Star Anime the party prevented a war between a duke of City-State and the Dwarves of Thunderhold. Battered but victorious they returned to City-State to rest, recuperate and raise a dead member of their party. One of the highlights of their stay was stopping at the Sorceror Supply House and browsing through the magic items. The barbarian in the group was determined to make sure his sword was properly guarded while being enchanted and stood outside of the magic shop all night.

While wandering the city they encountered a cleric of Thor organizing a party to hunt orcs in the Forest of Dearthwood just to the east of City-State. Intrigued the party decided to go along. Or rather one of the party liked the idea and it snowballed until the entire party decided to go.

For the next session I prepared some notes on Dearthwood and the party was gun-ho to enter the orc infested forest. Since the group's average level is around 7th level or so I knew they would deal a severe blow to one or more orc tribes. So for the first time in 25 years, I read up on 1st Edition ADnD's Battle System. Along with that I prepared a small orc outpost and a main tribal cave complex.

Playtesting Battlesystem I found that it works perfectly fine with Swords and Wizardry. All was needed was some changes in the formulas to handle Ascending AC and the To Hit Bonus system.

Adapting 1st Edition Battlesystem to Ascending AC
Quick Battlesystem with Swords & Wizardry Update

The party went northeast into the territory of the Vile Rune Orcs. Two days in they were ambushed by an Orc raiding party and easily wiped them out. The party found two sets of multiple tracks and elected to follow the one with a smaller number of orcs. That lead them to an outpost which they promptly wiped out. However there were some tense moments on an unexplored lower level when they ran into a level draining wraith. Also they found that the caves were once a hideout of a rouge Thothian mage before the orcs took it over.

Afterward they followed the larger set of tracks through the forest to the Vile Rune main underground warren. They carefully took out some sentry and got inside without rousing the the alarm. Prowling the network of caves they found the main hall of the Vile Rune King and slaughtered the monarch and his court.

Thus ended the first session.

Two weeks later we picked it up there and the party quickly found the main hall of the warren a massive cave 170 feet in length and nearly 120 feet wide.

Each miniature is an obvious better equipped high status orc and the counters represent 4 orcs each. There was nearly two hundred of orc warrior, women, and children in this cave. Well the party made short work of them with liberal use of fireball spells and scrolls. Disappointed in the treasure the party started milling around and talking among themselves. A few wise party kept an eye out and were able to snip off some scouts sent in from the rest of the complex. It quickly became obvious that the alarm was raised.

From the western entrance (left edge of the photo) a thundering noise was felt and heard. A herd of cattle and pigs swarmed into the cavern!

Behind them were a half dozen warg riders chargining into the party. But even this valiant effort by the orcs came to naught as the high level fighters and magic users quickly killed them. The Cleric of Silvanus used her knowledge of the natural world to calm the pigs and cattle. The only one that was seriously hurt was the human knight who rolled a 22 and severed the head of one of the cow as it passed by. Unfortunately this meant the cows following got tripped and slammed into the knight. He failed his saving throw and took some damage from the two cows plowing into him.

The Orcs then tried to smoke party out by building burning pyres at each of the entranceways. But an Ice Storm took care of one and the party charged outwards to continue the slaughter of orcs.

\By this time the survivors had enough and fled the warrens. The only casualties was the Cleric of Thor and his Viking henchmen who left to guard the entrance of the warren.

One thing the party noticed when they finally got back outside was the silence. Throughout their journey there was the constant sound of drums as one tribe challenged another.  As the party prepared to leave they started heard the challenges from the surrounding tribes go unanswered. Realizing that they may have company they quickly started returning to City-State. Several hours later the party spots an large number of orcs heading in their direction. They founded a defensible hill by a river and waited.

Each counter represents 10 orcs and 1" = 10 yards. The squares on the table are one inch each. Nearly 500 orcs from the Purple Claws headed to the ford. However due to foolishly advancing in close order the magic-users quickly blasted them with fireball runes and the orcs broke and ran. The party chased down a few stragglers and killed them.

The next day the party continued on to City-State but were slowed down by the mud and rain. (Randomly rolled from the Harn weather chart).  Around noon another large force of orcs was sighted this time from the Bloody Heads.

Party fled to another head but didn't have the time to choose as good of a defensive position.

650 orcs from the Bloody Heads advanced on the party. Having come across the blasted remenants of the Purple Claws they elected to advance in Skirmish formation. Also with the orcs was a party of 20 ogres and trolls.

While yet more fireball runes were let use this time it only barely slowed them. As the tide of orcs swept up the hill they revealed their trump card. Paltak one of the few orcs to have mastered magic. A full wizard (9th level) he let loose with a fireball of his own on the party. Three members of the party fell to the ground!

Recognizing the danger and heedless of his inexperience (4th level) the human knight charges through the open ranks of the orcs and engages the orc wizard in one on one combat. He was able to strike the first blow and nearly cleaved the orc wizard in two but a Cone of Cold felled the brave knight.

However his sacrifice was not in vain as it bought time and allowed the Dwarven Runecaster to activate one of his most precious of runes and summon a Fire Elemental!

With the Orc Wizard engaged and finally felled by the elemental, the tide of battle slowly turned in favor of the party. The fighters truly came into their own. Their multiple attacks on 1 HD creatures resulted in the slaughter of whole ranks of orcs. Even as the orcs flowed around the party's right flank the tide was starting to ebb as they lost heart. Only the 150 orcs of the wizard's guard managed to leave the field in good order.

With the rain continuing and more drums in the distance the party immediately picked up their fallen comrades and a few hours later managed to make it back to City-State before nightfall.

My next post will talk about how well the system worked and feedback I got.


Keith Sloan said...

I'm very interested to hear your thoughts on Battlesystem. I've been looking for a good ruleset for battles for a few weeks and have largely settled on either using Battlesystem or Chainmail, probably because I'm already familiar with both. It's been a long time since I played the former (maybe 1986?) and I don't really remember all that much about it.

Peter D said...

Cool. I played the hell out of Battlesystem (the boxed version) back in the day. It worked really well, actually.

Do fighters get multiple attacks against 1 HD creatures in S&W? In AD&D it was 1-1 or less, IIRC. That makes for a big difference if you can kill 7/orcs a turn at level 7. You can potentially stand firm against a close order attack of orcs in formation.

Robert Conley said...

@Peter No, but given the dearth of mechanical benefits for fighters I allow it anyway. Along with allowing fighter to add their to hit bonus to initiative.

The big omission in the fights are Warg riders which are not 1 HD. I just plum forgot to make any counters for them.

It was good learning experience

for the next time.

Chris C. said...

I still find the number of orcs just mind-boggling. Battlesystem really does look pretty cool.