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  • ... Help? (3e scenario - advice for a Cathak war effort).

    Hi folks, I come back to you because I feel like I need people who are really really really into Exalted to come up with the best answers to my questions.

    I'm the ST for my group. Next weekend we continue our story after a pretty big hiatus. They're heroic mortals, very combat-optimized. This scenario's set in a small city I placed at the midway point between Chiaroscuro and Paragon after a request for some Classical Greece flavor from one of my players.

    What I've prepped is as follows - the city started growing after the Contagion, as a trading center, and as a pilgrimage site to a local dryad who developed oracular powers thanks to a sidereal-aspected demesne. She reluctantly became the city goddess. Also, First Age ruins were found underground, and some Brass Legionnaires were excavated and slowly reactivated by the local savants.

    About 2 centuries ago the Realm conquered the city, forced the cult of the city goddess into obscurity, appropriated the Legionnaires and built a Manse over the Demesne.

    About 50 years ago a local savant managed to secretly reprogram the Legionnaires to obey him. The Realm's garrison was also quite small at the time - and even though the people still payed homage to the local goddess in private, they mostly obeyed and weren't big on the whole "dying to chase away the foreign invaders" front.

    The goddess began to fuel the fires of revolution, sensing the time was right, and as a matter of fact soon Lunars and their beastmen were smuggling weapons to the populace. The Guild, sensing an opening, started secretly sending bands of mercenaries with orders to help the revolt and if needed to make it happen. Everyone wanted the Realm gone.

    It worked. The locals rose up, helped by the Legionnaires, the Lunars, the beastmen, the mercenaries and their own goddess' prophetic insights, and routed the garrison. The goddess had the local savants and Brass Legionnaires demolish the manse to have her demesne back.

    The Empress decided it wasn't worth getting her panties in a knot - she didn't want to embroil the Realm in a largely symbolic conflict with the Guild, and the Lunars were a tough enemy too. There were other problems she needed to take care of, so this one would have to wait.

    Then of course she disappeared.

    Now a Cathak matriarch has decided the House could gain even more power from retaking this lost satrapy. Cainan has decided it might work. And they're sending troops to retake the small city and the nearby settlements.

    First question: I know Cathak has Harborhead under its rule. Do they have actual legions there? Could they spare one to march from Kirighast, then around Chiaroscuro, and attack the city from the East?

    Or would it make more sense for them to send ships from Arjuf (or some other port on the southern coast of the Blessed Isle), while leaving the troops garrisoned at Harborhead there, without spreading themselves too thin on the ground?

    Second question: the size of the conquering force. Would they send a full legion? Less? More? Commanded by a general or some less prestigious officer? I know very little about the Realm's war machine...

    I was thinking to have them send a field force of about 1,000 women and men divided in 2 dragons, with skirmishers, light cavalry, and a sorcerer. The commander I've statted out is an Essence 2 House of Bell alumnus with mostly melee and war charms, Pyre of Legions and Sozen the Cataphract of Keys. The sorcerer is her brother, another Essence 2 Cathak, with spells like River of Blood and Violent Opening of Closed Portals, among others, and perhaps Water Dragon style if it comes to that. They have some interesting stratagems in store if the city doesn't surrender (and if the players have their say, it certainly won't).

    Would it be more sensible for Cathak to send more troops, under perhaps an expert general? I really like those 2 npcs, but if it doesn't make sense to send a couple Essence 2 DBs to retake a city I could leave the commander in charge of a smaller amount of troops and put someone more experienced to lead the whole effort.

    Thank you for reading all of this. Now, if you have any suggestions, please do give me your input. I'm very unsure of all this plot I've devised. I'd like it to make as much sense, and to follow as much canon (preferably 3e, although if other editions have some helpful details, why not?), as it possibly can.

    Thanks again.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Roswynn View Post
    I know Cathak has Harborhead under its rule. Do they have actual legions there? Could they spare one to march from Kirighast, then around Chiaroscuro, and attack the city from the East?
    I believe it's been stated by a developer that the garrison commander and the Satrap are always supplied by different Great Houses. However, in the older canon there was a Cathak garrison commander in An-Teng so reinforcements might be much closer than the Blessed Isle.


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    • #3
      The only detail in all of this that I see as inconsistent is the Realm's relative laxity given the known involvement of Lunars. The Realm at the height of its power (before the Empress disappeared) wouldn't abandon a satrapy because of a couple of Lunars, they'd redouble their efforts. The Bull of the North is an example of the kind of might it takes to have the Realm put defeating you on the backburner while it licks its wounds. House Cathak in particular is quite devout, and would see rooting out the Lunar anathema as a holy duty. In the Time of Tumult, it's a lot easier to see House Cathak not prioritising this problem, because they don't want to overextend themselves in case another house strikes, but that doesn't explain their earlier reluctance.

      If it was just a matter of a rebellious city-state with no known exalted, the force you're talking about makes sense. However, knowing that there are Lunars involved, Cathak is sending those two scions to their deaths.

      It would make a lot more sense all around if House Cathak didn't know about the Lunar involvement. Alternatively, the two scions with their two dragons and auxiliaries could be in charge of retaking the city while another force with a few Immaculates attached to it conducts a Wyld Hunt against the Lunars.

      Unless Cathak or its allies controls the satrapies between Harbourhead and your city, marching troops through there during this time of tension would be politically inadvisable. Whether they come from Khirighast or Arjuf, they'd probably come by boat.

      Hope this helps.


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      • #4
        Originally posted by Lioness View Post
        I believe it's been stated by a developer that the garrison commander and the Satrap are always supplied by different Great Houses. However, in the older canon there was a Cathak garrison commander in An-Teng so reinforcements might be much closer than the Blessed Isle.
        Ah, I didn't know that! Although, re-reading Chapter 2 of WFHW it seems you're right on the money:

        When it suited the Empress, she deployed the Imperial legions alongside the Cathak forces in unstoppable conquest. While the house couldn’t keep the lands it conquered, such conquest was still lucrative. Cathak usually got the dragon’s share of the new satrapy’s resources — establishing businesses to exploit them, then selling those businesses to the incoming satrap’s house at a premium.
        Okay, so Cathak shouldn't have troops in Harborhead, because it's one of their satrapial holdings, meaning the garrison and troops are someone else's. An-Teng does seem slightly nearer to the area in question on the world map: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-tS1Q41iP3m...B1%2B85dpi.jpg

        There is something else that caught my eye while checking House Cathak again for details - after talking about Miyon, it says:

        The house maintains other fortresses throughout and beyond the Blessed Isle
        So they should have fortresses in the South too, mainly, I figure, as headquarters from which to hire their legions as mercenaries, guards details for caravans and possibly for wealthy individuals, and to send out surveyors. It would be possible, then, that some fortresses are near enough, and have enough troops, to march against the city without needing to pull people from the Isle or An-Teng. I think.

        Okay... this makes things clearer. It also makes me second-guess my choice of using House Cathak, because:

        The house has committed much of its formidable military to securing its most valuable satrapies, letting less profitable ones slide from its grasp while still maintaining much of its satrapial income. While this strategy earns less than the desperately thrashing Peleps behemoth, it’s more controlled and sustainable, for a certain value of “sustainable” — the house’s grip on its satrapies is more like a grape press than a vise, but it still squeezes the lifeblood from the unfortunate tributaries. It simply isn’t as fast.
        They don't seem at all interested in a new conquest. I should perhaps find a House more in line with this plot - the passage mentions Peleps, I'll have a look. There's also the matter of exactly why going to the trouble of conquering a lost satrapy if in any case someone from another House will become its satrap. Sure, you can exploit their resources as Cathak does, but then you move out and the asset goes to one of your rivals. Without an Empress it's starting to sound like a rather hare-brained scheme to me. Have I conceived a plot that just wouldn't work in current Creation?...

        Lioness, do you know anything about the size of the force a House would send out in case this could work, and under what commanding officer? Or if anyone else felt like pitching in, too, I'd be very grateful for any suggestions...

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        • #5
          Measure of Hope - it helps a lot, thank you!

          I'm thinking I could do away with the Lunars. They complicate things a lot and aren't really necessary. Perhaps they did have a hand in the rebellion 50 years ago, but undirectly, without being noticed or recognized as Lunars, exactly to avoid the kind of doggedness the Realm was able to summon up while dealing with Anathema, and avoiding dragging the whole region into a prolonged war of attrition harming a lot of innocent people (if they even care, but I suppose the Lunars do have some ethical people in their numbers?).

          Or they just never intervened. It was all the locals, the Guild, and related factors.

          So you think the size of the force they're sending and the power level of the officers could work? Good. I'm eager for more opinions in case someone doesn't agree, but it's a good omen.

          You're also right about marching soldiers through sovereign territories in a time of tension - Cathak would never make a mistake like that, and other Houses should have someone wise enough to notice too. So, if it's Cathak, I would send troops from their Southern fortresses crossing sparsely populated areas and convening not far outside the city in question. If I can find a house more interested in grabbing territories right now, I'll make sure they don't step on anyone's toes too carelessly.

          Thank you again, definitely good advice!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Lioness View Post
            I believe it's been stated by a developer that the garrison commander and the Satrap are always supplied by different Great Houses.
            While this is correct as far as it goes, it is worth clarifying that it's only the garrison commander who comes from another house. The garrison itself comes from the satrap's house.


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            • #7
              Originally posted by Eric Minton View Post
              While this is correct as far as it goes, it is worth clarifying that it's only the garrison commander who comes from another house. The garrison itself comes from the satrap's house.
              So, what's the fine when the Garrison Commander has a "fatal accident" because they "sleepwalk" and went "walking off the mountain?"


              ....

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              • #8
                Something else to consider is that the Houses aren't monolithic blocs. If a Satrap or Garrison Commander sees what they think is an opportunity for conquest, they might take it regardless of what house they're from. Alternately, if they think Lunars are involved, they might feel that it's their holy duty to form a Wyld Hunt ...or, if they know the local Immaculate Monks are good fighters, tricking them into riding along with your forces by promising them "No,no, there are Lunars fomenting this rebellion, Honest!" might work too.


                ....

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by BrilliantRain View Post

                  So, what's the fine when the Garrison Commander has a "fatal accident" because they "sleepwalk" and went "walking off the mountain?"
                  The Empress took that sort of thing very seriously. In her absence, problems in the vein of your examples have cropped up; we discuss this in The Realm.


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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Eric Minton View Post
                    While this is correct as far as it goes, it is worth clarifying that it's only the garrison commander who comes from another house. The garrison itself comes from the satrap's house.
                    Thank you Eric, I thought the whole garrison had to come from another House! So, only the commander? Very interesting... typical Scarlet Empress divide et impera strategy. Thank you!

                    Hey, since you're around, I'm trying to gather how many Dragon-Blooded would be present in, let's say a full Legion. In 2e, iirc, a full-strength Legion was 5k infantry soldiers under 1 Exalted general, 10 Exalted Dragonlords, 20 Exalted Winglords, and about 1,240 lesser officers who were exponentially less likely to be Dragon Blooded the farther down the military hierarchy you went. Does this still hold true in 3e or are there big changes in what we'll be seeing regarding the Realm's military?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by BrilliantRain View Post
                      Something else to consider is that the Houses aren't monolithic blocs. If a Satrap or Garrison Commander sees what they think is an opportunity for conquest, they might take it regardless of what house they're from. Alternately, if they think Lunars are involved, they might feel that it's their holy duty to form a Wyld Hunt ...or, if they know the local Immaculate Monks are good fighters, tricking them into riding along with your forces by promising them "No,no, there are Lunars fomenting this rebellion, Honest!" might work too.
                      You're right, Brilliant Rain - I'm plotting this development as if Cathak was a hive-mind and Cainan the queen, controlling everything his relatives do or don't, but some independent-minded officer could well decide to take the risk and lead their forces against an already weakened city, perhaps in order to prove their piety to the Immaculates by taming the local goddess so as to strengthen the House's relationship with the Mouth of Peace, and to grab a half dozen functioning Brass Legionnaires, which can always come in handy in times like these...

                      Thank you for the reminder, I was actually worrying this would be out of character for House Cathak!

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Roswynn View Post
                        Hey, since you're around, I'm trying to gather how many Dragon-Blooded would be present in, let's say a full Legion. In 2e, iirc, a full-strength Legion was 5k infantry soldiers under 1 Exalted general, 10 Exalted Dragonlords, 20 Exalted Winglords, and about 1,240 lesser officers who were exponentially less likely to be Dragon Blooded the farther down the military hierarchy you went. Does this still hold true in 3e or are there big changes in what we'll be seeing regarding the Realm's military?
                        Yup, the basic structure remains the same. (Generals are always Dragon-Blooded, but all other ranks can be mortal, though a mortal dragonlord is exceptionally rare.) Note that legionary forces also include units of skirmishers, local auxiliaries, etc. These have been part of the legion structure in earlier editions but were often downplayed or forgotten; we're giving them a bit more focus.


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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Eric Minton View Post
                          Yup, the basic structure remains the same. (Generals are always Dragon-Blooded, but all other ranks can be mortal, though a mortal dragonlord is exceptionally rare.) Note that legionary forces also include units of skirmishers, local auxiliaries, etc. These have been part of the legion structure in earlier editions but were often downplayed or forgotten; we're giving them a bit more focus.
                          This helps a lot, Eric, thank you so much!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Roswynn View Post
                            They don't seem at all interested in a new conquest.
                            Maybe something new has been discovered that would be a boon for whomever reclaimed the Satrapy? Maybe in the excavation to restore the demense they found a covetable artifact. Maybe even a warstrider?


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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Eric Minton View Post
                              The Empress took that sort of thing very seriously.
                              I always love this answer when it crops up. The places where the Empress was willing to let her subjects run wild and murder each other and the places where she's like "no games, do your fuckin' job" always contrast so deliciously with each other.

                              ... I just really like the thousand mazy paths is all. Say what you will about Big Red, she knew how to build a ruling apparatus.


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