The Scales of War

The War Council

The Temple Between - Skill Challenge

Elder Stonefist’s face blanches at the report given by Samhain. “The threat to Overlook is far greater than we had feared. It would appear that this is much more than a simply attack on our city by the foul denizens that inhabit the depths of the mountains to the west. This appears to be a well-orchestrated attack who’s planning must have taken many months. I have never heard of this general, you speak of but one can only assume he is a major part of this attack, no?”
“We have no time to waste. Please, come with Durkik and Kalad and I for me must adjourn to the War Room with the rest of the Council to plan for the defense of Overlook.” the Elder says.
The Elder turns and whisks all of you away through the twisted corridors of Stonehammer. As you proceed to the War Room, Durkik approaches the group and speaks in a hushed, reverent tone: “Did you… per chance, recover the Incunabulum?”

Khort steps forward, gesturing to Samhain to bring forward the book. “We did, with much difficulty, and now can use it to aid our defense. How goes the preparations here?"

Durkik takes the book into his hands and you can see his eyes well up with tears as he looks upon the sacred tome. “Thank you…” he utters before his voice cracks. He hands over a bag of coins and gems containing the promised sum of $3600 gp.
Before he can respond to your question you find yourselves, along with the present members of the council, High Priest Durkik, and several officers, standing in a perfectly square room of stone walls. A table in the center of the room boasts an intricate model of Overlook, while each of the walls showcases maps of the surrounding area.
Great Elder Morgoff asks Durkik to offer a prayer to Moradin to open the meeting. Holding the Incunabulum Primeval his hands, Durkik says a prayer of guidance as you prepare to plan for the defense of Overlook. Warmth fills the room as he completes the prayer.
Once done, the Elder says, “Overlook is a martial city. We have mighty walls, strong soldiers. But we are accustomed to fighting foes such as orcs, not monstrous enemies such as trolls, who rise again each time they fall. My friends," he says looking to the Heroes, "you have more experience with such things. Will you help us plan? And would you make yourselves available to us throughout the siege, to deal with such dangers as our guards— skilled though they are—are unprepared to face? I offer you what reward I can for your help, though I cannot cite you numbers or amounts until I see what resources remain when— if—Overlook survives the coming days.”

Khort smiles, looking over the large city. He sees the ins and outs of the alleyways, and where all of the entrances are, and he begins to imagine, in his head, those streets and alleyways as a maze, much like the one he was trapped in for his younger life. He starts to sketch on a small piece of parchment, and he hands it to the Elder. “How about we blockade certain alleys, like so, to make it harder for the enemies who do get through to surpass our secondary defenses? Or perhaps create a situation where, if we must evacuate, we can lay our own siege for a secondary attack, trapping them inside their own objective?”
(I’m assuming this is a dungeoneering check. The invisible castle site was down as I wrote this, so I rolled the one on my desk. If that’s not okay/you want more than honor system, that’s cool, I’ll go back and roll again. I imagine you will, because I straight up rolled an eighteen. Sigh. I was hoping it’d be like an eighteen so I wouldn’t sound like “AHA! Check that out! No verification, but 20 20 20 20 20!” Anyway… if you take the 18, it’d be plus 6 for dungeoneering (24) or plus 12 if it’s history (30).

“Khort, your plan is sound. Limiting the avenues of the enemy will greatly aid our ability to combat them,” says Dunedin. "If their forces are composed similarly to those we saw in the temple, "he continues turning to Elder Morgoff, “we will need to have the ability to slow their Quickling runners. Traps, pitfalls, pitch fields, anything to slow these buzzing kniflings. If we can steer them into courts without exit, it would greatly advantage us.”
Dunedin rubs his thumb and forefinger together in thought, "And fire. If there are trolls we will need to be sure to burn them so that the foul beasts cannot regenerate. Perhaps the fields of pitch that I suggested to slow the Quickling can serve two purposes.
“Ah, an eye in the sky in this battle would be better than serving cucumber pie!” Dunedin shifts excitedly from foot to foot. He slows his dance when his companions exhibit no enthusiasm to his reference to cucumber pie. “Ah, well, yes. To be able to see the enemy from above and relay their movements would be of tremendous use to us. And, well, there is a trick up my sleeve that will allow this.” Again, Dunedin begins a Fey jig. “If we have just a few minutes’ notice of the enemy’s assault, I can perform a ritual allowing Brandon to grow large enough for me to mount him. We can then soar above the city and monitor the movement of our foe.” Dunedin grins and winks at Sink.

[OOC: Dungeoneering is not one of the skills associated with the skill challenge, however, that was a great use of the skill and I will give you credit for it.
To figure out how to best trap the enemy and use the geography of the city, use an Insight check or even Thievery to plan traps.
Skills to be used (note: as with Khort’s last roll, I will not penalize the group for using other skills in an effective way.
History, Insight, Intimidate, Religion, Thievery
Skill challenge:
8 successes before 3 failure.
Check Count: Success: 1 Failure: 0]
“While we have an aviary of griffons and riders, an experienced eye in the sky would certainly be of great use. If there was a way you could communicate to group forces while air born we could better direct our forces and prepare for attacks.” says Kalad, the Master of Arms for Overlook
[OOC: Keep the ideas flowing. I am keeping track of it all.]

Khort considers Dunedin’s plan and nods with approval. “If we limit them on the air and limit them on the gound in their movement, then that still leaves them with their intellect. They may think their way around our obstacles, particularly if they survive our attempts to char them. Hmm.”
Khort considers what he knows of the trolls and their history in an attempt to know what, traditionally, their plan of attack is, so he can think of a counter.
History roll: 14

Dunedin rubs his hairless chin. He says softly, “When I was flying above the Vale with the Raven Queen I saw fissures, portals from other planes. These may be used by Sharshan and General Zithirrun to attempt to overrun Overlook. Perhaps if I concentrate I can recall specifically where the cracks within Overlook are located.”
Tightening his fingers into a fist, Dunedin closes his eyes and looks inwardly searching his memory. He bends at the knee lowering his torso. With his Eladrin bottom hovering inches from the ground, Dunedin pulls draws his elbows into his core. He clenches his fist tightly. Concentration is expressed throughout his body as Dunedin exerts fully to extract memories from his inner being. He grits his teeth. He grunts. Finally he sighs.
“Crap,” the party thinks they hear dribble from Dunedin.
[OOC – he’s trying to locate a probably portal of entry for the enemy]

[OOC: I want to do this round robin style so no more rolls from Pat or Neal until Kevin, Ken and Shawn take a turn.
Kort does his best to recall previous sieges and tactics used to repel them throughout history, however, his knowledge is limited due to his time spent in the maze and his recollection of past events is hazy at best.
[OOC: Neal’s history check fails.]
Dunedin searches the deep recesses of his mind and conjures up an image of the portals he saw through out the Vale. In doing so, he thinks he can accurately guess where the troops have amassed and where they may be attacking from.
[OOC: Pat’s Insight check passes. While this does not count as a a success, it does grant a +2 to all rolls until someone fails at a roll. Insight can only be used once.]
[Current status of Skill Challenge: 1/8 Success, 1/3 failure]

OK, least thematic post ever, but I just can’t keep up here.
Ryan, what I would like to do is see if I can sneak off, quickly, and buy some kind of sight augmentation thing….like dwarven binoculars, or whatever; and climb to a high spot, in Overlook, and see if I can see anything that might help us. If we got any clue to direction; from other, previous skill checks, I will climb and look that way. Anything I can see? Do I need to roll to look, or can I just climb?
Rolling Athletics to climb and re-rolling, with my racial trait: Little Better

[OOC: I think they may be a better or more effective way to use Athletics that climbing the buildings. Try to remember that the Skill Challenge is about helping Overlook prepare for the coming war, not to facilitate the battle itself. That will be done at a later time. Feel free to use the map of Overlook in the maps section of the site.]

Sink interrupts Boreas’ blathering and adds his own, “Yesssss. We must vanquish these foes’ spirits as well. We must crush our enemies, see them driven before us, and hear the lamentation of their women. Like my Mom did. When she got raped by that demon.”
(Intimidation check)

[OOC: Yeah. I thought intimidate was an odd skill to have here but they describe it as being able to look at the map and determining the most intimidating places to set up defenses and such to make Overlook appear better defended that it really is, etc.]
“Great gods, Sink. That is just….” the Elder blanches, “…. devilish.. I mean… wicked…. or, you know… Great idea, I mean.”
[ 2/8 successes. 1/3 failures.]

[OOC: OK, must have missed that point. My mom wasn’t raped by demons, but she did have below average intelligence, I guess.]
Staring piercingly at each of his comrades, each in his own turn; Boreas, almost trance like starts to tell the tale of one of his few childhood memories,
“My village growing up was smaller than overlook, but faced the same otherworldly threat, from a cowardly villain, not unlike Sharshan. The invading hordes came over my village like a tidal wave and we fought them. We fought them for days. The blood stained everything: the streets, the buildings, the people. My father’s great axe was so saturated with the dripping blood of our enemies, even his great arms had difficulty swinging it. Those too young to fight pulled the dead out of the way so that the fighting could continue the next day. Some of them died of exhaustion, but we fought on. We fought to protect our homes. We fought to protect our lives. We fought because we had to. Look into my eyes and know now that I will fight with you until we have won and I will never let us lose. Let my lasting endurance be an inspiration. Let it steel you all for the task at hand. We will win, because we MUST win!!

[OOC: While endurance is measure of your physical ability to endure extremes, not a measure of your ability to inspire people, I like the effort here so I will go with this.]
Boreas relays to the elders some techniques the Goliath people have used for centuries to endure harsh environments and to stay sharp after countless days awake. With these techniques, the defenders of Overlook can stay on post longer without suffering the effects of being tired.
[ 3/8 successes. 1/3 failure]
[OOC: Keep it up. Help plan and prepare the city for battle. Devise defenses using the skills listed above. The elders have been inspired to fight, that is not in question. How to fend off the attack, is.]

Sam stares at the map of the city, then speaks up; “Fire isn’t the only thing that works on trolls. Acid is also very effective. Perhaps the local alchemists have stocks of naptha and acid we can use to boobytrap the streets and alleys as well? And remember, trolls won’t be the only monsters in the invading army. I’m quite certain there will be orcs and gnolls, maybe ogres. They may be the least of or challenges, however. The Shadar-kai who work for Sarshan will have shadow magics of their own. We should consult with the city’s clerics and paladins to coordinate some special surprises for those attacks, as well. I would bet Dunedin has some knowledge of such things, eh brother?”
[Insight check: ]
[Thievery to place traps per Ryan: ]

Samhain points out several areas where fire and acid traps can be set to most effectively heard the enemy and then dispatch them.
[OOC: Success. 4/8 successes. 1/3 failures. Remember, you all have a +2 to skill check roll until the next failure due to Dunedin’s Insight check.
Thievery can be used generate only 2 more successes. (Trap placement, etc.)
Intimidate can be used to generate only 2 more successes. (Places for intimidating blockades, etc.)
History and Religion can be used freely.
Everyone can go ahead and roll another skill each.]

Khort examines the plans that have been made so far, and realizes that the defenses are beginning to shore up and become sound. He also notes that much of the defense of the city relies on its remote location and its spires. He considers how soldiers trained to work in such capacities would react to an invasion, and is struck with an idea.
“One thing your soldiers have is a good defense. But one thing they may lack is good, close quarters offense. Observe. GUARD!” Khort calls over one of the soldiers and hands him a shield. He has the soldier stand in on place. “Do not move. You will not be hurt.”
As the guard shakes, he charges the man and gives him the lightest of shoves, not enough to hurt him, but certainly enough to use Khort’s skill at charging to an impressive display of force.
After the Guard lands, Khort plows a fist into his hands. “They will never expect a strong offense in the midst of a charge down a narrow lane. If we can train a few of the best troops in our army to act like a Minotaur, any offense will soon become a quick retreat, and fear will inspire their every action. I will train some of the best men in how to charge well as quickly as possible, that we might have a spear to use in a mass of bodies.”
Intimidation check: 10
OOC: Looks like there may not be time, heh.

Kort relay’s to the Generals of the army his tactic of training the Dwarves to charge the enemy as a Minotaur would, however, the impact of a charge from the stout Dwarves may not have the same effect as that of a Minotaur.
[OOC: The roll fails and will not be an effective tactic against the enemy.
4/8 successes. 2/3 failure. You do not get the +2 any more due to the failure. Most DC’s are set at 20 for this challenge. Once more failure and the challenge is over.]

“More like kids than bulls,” Dunedin chuckles as he considers dwarves attempting to behave as minotaur’s in battle.
“The odds of the pending battle are against us and Overlook. We have a city whose authority have been corrupted or replaced by doppelgangers. We have an invading horde comprised of gnolls, orcs, trolls, Fey Quickling and worse. Black magic will likely be used in their attack.” Dunedin sighs. "I fear for the city.
“Considering the historical record, few victories have been won under such odds. Perhaps we need to try a different tactic, a plan that I call Operation Blazing Saddles,” Dunedin adjusts in his seat smiling. “Elders, it may be wise to begin as quietly as possible an evacuation of Stonehammer. This is likely to be the goal of our enemy’s siege. Their attempt to gain the ancient tome, their focusing of attention and resources on Stone Anvil. Stonehammer is their target. It must be evacuated. And as quickly and quietly as possible.” Dunedin tilts his head up. His attention seems drawn to something. A distant memory? "Ah, yes. The sheriff, is he a near? Forgive me. With Stonehammer secretly emptied of citizenry, we can fortify it with dummies and mannequins to make the district seem populated. A small force can try to draw the enemies force into a trap laid with pitch and pits where we can rain down a fury of acid and fire. We may have a chance if we can determine the field of battle. Otherwise . . . " Dunedin pauses," otherwise all is lost and we have no choice but to set Stonehammer ablaze trapping the enemy and whatever heroes are brave enough to pen the foe in and keep them from escaping.
“We surely cannot confront this enemy directly. The histories tell of too many valiant adventurers foolishly making this attempt only to end up as crows’ food.
“I rode a Blazing Saddle . . . " Dunedin again focuses off into an unseen distance. His speech turning into a hum.
History check

[OOC: Great post and great roll, Pat. I’ve give you an additional success for the narrative.
Success: 6/8. Fail: 2/3
You guys are almost there]

Sink digs into his satchel and produces a dog-eared volume of historical insights. He reads aloud, “The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand.”
(History check)

With a clear recollection of some of histories more storied siege victories, Sink devises a communication plan similar to the one used in the Siege of Mith Dranor, which will allow commanders to efficiently relay orders to the troops in Overlook.
[OOC: 7/8 successes. 2/3 failures. One more of either and you guys are all done.]

Gothe leaps to his feet from a forgotten corner.
“Whoa, the behemoth stirs,” laughs Dunedin.
Smoke rising from his nostrils, Gothe turns to the Dunedin and says, “I should be able to.”
“That,” Dunedin says with after a puzzled moment," doesn’t even make sense."
“It should be able to make sense,” says Gothe.
Dunedin turns to the party assembled and shrugs his shoulders.
Gothe leaps to his feet again.
Dunedin questions, “Did you even get off of your feet, my reptilian friend?”
“Does it matter?” Gothe answers.
“Is that a question?” replies Dunedin.
“It should be,” says Gothe.
Dunedin turns to the party assembled and shrugs his shoulders.
Again smoke billows from Gothe’s nostrils. "I have an idea. Together you have set the stage. I can set it better. The plan is this, we goad the enemy into a trap, we limit their avenues, we steer them to a battlefield of our choosing, and we set it with traps and caltrops. And . . . "more smoke comes from the Dragonborne’s giant nose, “we obscure their sight. It is an old rogue’s trick. Only this time instead of picking their pockets, we will be picking their lives. Through smoke we can rain down a storm of arrows and fire bombs. Then those of us unafraid of a little heap can leap on the living and kill and plunder.”
Thievery Check

After laying out several areas where traps can be utilized to neutralize the enemy, the plan to defend Overlook is as complete as possible in the short amount of time you have.
Great Elder Morgoff’s shoulders slump. “I fear we’ve done all we can for now,” he says. “We must go and spread word to our soldiers of what is to come, and what they must do. My friends,” he says to you all, “if you are willing, I would have you stay here at Caer Overlook tonight, so that you are ready on a moment’s notice. I can have people show you to guest quarters. I suggest we all get a good night’s sleep; I fear the next days will be tiring indeed.”



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