Friday, April 17, 2015

The Battle of Smithfield-- A D&D Campaign report

     The War begins!  As our intrepid adventurers (Drusus, Flinten, Morgan, Eldora, Doreen, Jhuban, Elesar, Ronson, and Shayla) sailed swiftly along the western coast of Aramanthis, the All Mother's forces were not idle.  While the King's nobles desperately attempted to gather forces to stem the tide of the growing invasion of allied humanoids, the lightly guarded capital was sacked and burned.  Refugees fleeing down the river brought word of the disaster to our heroes.  A disaster they foresaw, but were powerless to stop.  Too many decades of complacency having taken their toll on the kingdom.

   Lord Terren, the noble on whose ship the heroes were embarked, chose (wisely) to set his force ashore at the nearest river trade station rather than attempt to sail to the relief of the capital, whose burning edifice left a dark smear on the horizon. The party disembarked along with the portion of Lord Terren's army that was immediately available to sail.  The rest would be following in a day on the slower barges.

   As they arrived at the town of Smithfield, the town's mayor greeted them with relief.  The citizens had already turned out the militia as well as gathered the funds to hire a troop of dwarven mercenaries for the defense.  As afternoon wore on to evening the party set to organizing the defenses of the town.  Lord Terren, knowing his own limitations as more an administrator than a warrior, took to organizing the citizens in case evacuation became necessary and turned the military aspect of the defense over to the experienced party members led by Sir Ronson.

The momentarily peaceful town of Smithfield.  Who knows what horrors await it?

The citizens gather in concern around the town square.

Lord Terren gathers the citizens of Smithield ready to make their escape if necessary.

The Party arrives at the South end of town, prepared to organize the defenses.

They begin by clear cutting a small grove of trees with the help of the men and the town militia.  The wood is piled as an obstacle.

Parts of the town are fortified with makeshift palisades constructed from lumber from the nearby mill.  The fields outside of town are prepped with bales of hay saturated with oil.  They plan to funnel the enemy forces into kill zones using flames as a weapon.  Flinten approves. 

With the defenses prepared, the defenders assemble as night falls.  They know from experience that the creatures come at night...mostly.  Eldora discovers to the party's pleasant surprise that the tower is occupied by a female elf named Syrina.  She reveals that she is a mage, a secret that she has kept hidden until now.  To the rest of the townsfolk she is a simple herb woman who tends the grove and garden behind her tower.

Reserves are pulled up deeper in the town to defend against any forces that may try to move around the town and attack from the East.

The Central reserve under Flinten's command.

The battle is joined unexpectedly as Felinoid archers creep through the darkened wood and unleash a hail of arrows on the dwarven crossbowmen stationed on the roof of the tavern.  Half of the unit falls in the hail of arrows.  They are quickly follwed by their accompanying spear-cats.  Elesar fires flaming arrows into the prepositioned bales to light the woods ablaze to cut off retreat and reinforcements.

A bloody exchange begins between the dwarf axemen and the Felinoid spearmen.  Casualties mount on both sides.  In the exchange of archery, the cats kill more dwarves causing Elesar's unit to break and run.  The elf braves it out for another few minutes, but after taking several arrow hits to his armor he decides it's time to leave the roof.

In the field opposite, two units of armored humans emerge from behind the lumber mill.  Drusus, hidden safely in Syrina's tower, unleashes a fireball.  The two units are reduced from a dozen each to only six.  They are quickly reinforced though by a unit of Knights and enemy missile troops in the form of Elven crossbowmen and Goblin bowmen.

The enemy force advances between the lumber mill and burning fields.  The results of Drusus' fireball are evident in the reduced strength of the Dark Knights in the vanguard.

Goblin archers begin to decimate the Dwarven ranks.  The axmen have moved to slaughter the Felinoid archers, but the spearmen are falling quickly to goblin arrows.  Elesar tries to step the mounting tide of casualties and lobs his own fireball into the goblin ranks.  The densely packed formed troops are a perfect target.  There are no survivors.

Elesar's fireball also lights the final field aflame.  the night flickers with the spectral light of the flames.

Lord Terren's heavy cavalry charges in to finish off the foot knights.  Drusus launches another fireball, wiping out the Elven crossbowmen, but not before they fell several of Lord Terren's footmen.

The heavy foot knights prove to be tougher than expected as they fight to the last with the same fanatical devotion they face in Lord Terrren's knights.

The forces of darkness have their own heavy cavalry as well.  They wait as their dismounted brethren wear down Lord Terren's forces.

Under the banner of Heironeous the footmen advance to fill the looming gap caused by losses from the archers.  

As the footmen advance, the last of the dwarves are charged by the Dark Overlord mounted on his nightmare and his pack of hell hounds.

The Dwarves waiver under assault from so vile an opponent.  The next reserve line of Lord Terrn's footmen moves up to give support.  In the end the remaining mercenaries decide that gold that you don't live to spend is no good, and they flee.

The Dark Knights, worn down from sustained archery from behind the palisade, charge into combat.

Sir Ronson orders the Knights to fall back and regroup, allowing the archers to take more of a toll on the evil knights.

The defenders regroup as the evil overlord cuts down the squad of footmen that try in vain to slow him down.  Elesar contemplates just how heroic he wants to be.

After several magic missiles, Elesar charges down from the roof to engage the enemy leader.  They exchange blows, and the general flies off on his nightmare to rest a moment, leaving behind four dead hell hounds, and a gutted unit of men at arms.

More evil reinforcements stream onto the field through the only available gap next to the lumber mill.  A tribe of bugbears and a gnoll clan begin the attack, spread out a bit to make the devastating spell casting less effective.

The Dark Lord twirls his flaming sword in the air and from the dark night sky a Wyvern descends to attack the far too effective archers at the palisade.  It scythes into them killing several and causing them to flee in terror.

The Dark Lord urges the bugbears forward while he drinks down several potions to staunch the wounds that Elesar inflicted.

Sir Ronson, likewise retreats to heal some of the wounds that he took in the clash of knights where he was in the center of the swirling melee.  Jhuban and Doreen do their best to rally some of the wavering men at arms. 

After a rest and a reorganization Lord Terren's knights regroup behind a company of men at arms.

Lord Terren's foot knights charge into the bugbear line aided by Doreen and Jhuban.  Ronson, freshly healed, attempts to rescue the archers from the marauding wyvern.

The wyvern takes to the sky as the Evil Lord challenges Ronson.  Being the paladin that he is Ronson accepts the challenge, and with a prayer to Heironeous on his lips, and Flinten ready to back him up, he engages the enemy commander and his Fell steed.

The two exchange blows, gravely wounding one another.

The wyvern pursues the fleeing archers only to be surrounded and cut down by the reserve line of men at arms.

Just as the heroes are beginning to have hope that they might hold, the enemy plan becomes apparent.  They've been softened up with the lesser troops.  An enemy wizard leads on a wave of Ogres, Trolls, and Minotaurs, supported by a pyro hydra.

The battle devolves into a chaotic swirl as the archers (Morgan and Eldora) and the Mages ( Drusus and Syrina) give the large humanoids all that they have.  Frieballs, magic missiles, and Arrows arc out into the enemy formation.  Despite all they could do, the trolls (though wounded badly) make it to the palisade and crush the makeshift barrier.

The trolls drive into the heart of the defenses, slaughtering the archers and the momentarily victorious men at arms.

The town militia tries to intervene.

All reserves Forward NOW! Ronson calls.  Doreen and Jhuban motion the column forward.

In tight, disciplined ranks, Lord Terren's men at arms move to brace the weakening line...

Completely forgetting about the enemy wizard.  The devastating fireball comes out of nowhere and the column sustains 90% casualties.  In a panic the defenders companies begin to break one by one.  Only the heroes and Lord Teren's knights remain to stem the growing tsunami.

The hydra continues its rampage as an Orc Warlord leads his tribe to exploit the hole cut through the defender's formation.  A snake clan follows int their wake supported by another group of trolls.

Ronson and Flinten stand bravely, but if they don't flee the outcome is inevitable.  The Gnoll shaman once again heals the Overlord.  The rest of the heroes drag Ronson from the field as the citizens are all clear directed by Lord Terren back to his ship, the Vanguard.  Smithfield has fallen.
As day breaks, the evil army settles into its new conquest.  They have taken enormous casualties themselves, and the Overlord opts to rest his troops before advancing further.  They break up into small insular factions, the orcs avoiding the gnolls, the gnolls avoiding the remaining ogres, and everyone avoiding the trolls.  

The hydra is left to be a guard dosing in the town square, basking in the warmth of the sun.  As the forces of darkness sleep, the party returns to evaluate the situation.  They see an opportunity.  Elesar, Syrina, and Drusus between them have enough spells to hide the party and keep them silent as they move about town.  They sneak into Syrina's tower and murder the mage as he pores over her texts.

In a closing act the party invades the quarters of the Overlord and corner him alone.  In a few brief moments of combat, he nearly slays Sir Ronson, but Shayla drags him to safety while the others finish off the evil general.  
With the Dark Lord fallen, they search his quarters.  They find a chest full of coins for the army's payroll and they strip him of several magi items.  As they leave town once more, they throw one last fireball into the house containing the Gnoll chieftain and shaman.

   The town is lost in the end, but this prong of the evil army has suffered 75% casualties, as well as the loss of its general and its wizard.  The highest ranking member of the evil camp is the orc overlord, and it is very possible a squabble for control will breakout without the overaweing presence of the Dark Lord.  Without the wizard the Hydra will likely become feral and rampage across the countryside.  The battle was a tactical defeat, but a strategic victory.  For their efforts the party collected some nice magic items, and 10,000 GP.  Each character was awarded 7500 XP.

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