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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.

  • Roswynn
    replied
    Hi! I've been prepping a lot and last night we played - it worked out real well, we had a blast, but next time the Cathak legion gets to the city and the real action begins.

    lycaniz - a dragon would already make more sense, sure! But you don't lay siege to a 1,600-soldiers strong city with 500 women and men, that's what I've been told (I'm not really good with sieges in general, although I could've easily come up with a decent ratio just by checking some historical sieges, and only now it comes to me of course ).

    Measure of Hope - you like her? Nice! I don't have the faintest idea what tree she's from - no actually wait, this region I've filled with poplars (and olives, and vineyards, and mediterranean maquis... b/c Classical Greece) - so yeah, most definitely a poplar dryad.

    She wasn't that different from all the dryads of her wood, a little weaker, a little more sensitive, that's all. Then a Sidereal was killed right on the roots of her tree. Slowly the whole wood became a Sidereal demesne - it looks like a piece of night sky, at all times. The poplars have become huge, with bark in indigo, blue and black colors, covered with tiny twinkling lights forming the constellations, and their leaves have taken the shape of stars, seemingly of starmetal. The main dryad's poplar looks mostly like a tree-shaped nebula and leads to a big starlit temple of a sanctuary. She developed those prophetic powers, and a combo of factors attracted and shaped the village, Alsie (Grove), which slowly became a small city. The Alsiai started trying to find out what was in the obviously magical wood and the dryad came to them, was kind, fair, and when asked a question for the first time blurted out a prophecy. The Alsiai were so impressed they started to worship her, small ways at first. Another dryad, far stronger but without an attunement to the demesne, challenged her for the worship of those mortals, and attacked her, but she always foresaw her attacks and dodged her harmlessly, so in the end she won. Alsie started growing, and since the people kept coming back to the dryad for prophecies and advice, and she didn't have the heart to send them packing, she slowly started to become the city goddess. She changed, in power, in capabilities, even in appearance - she doesn't look like a dryad anymore right now, more like a masked, armed and armored Greek woman (based on an image of Athena from a Persona game) but if she touches someone they can still feel the soft bark, and if she ever were to remove her helmet and mask she'd appear as the typical dryad - bark skin, leaves for her, only similar to the trees of the demesne more than ordinary ones, so night hues and starmetal leaflets. And they called her Aglaia (Shining) and they totally worship her now, the temenos (the holy grove, the demesne) is on top of the acropolis, guarded by 100 hetairoi (companions) led by an ifrit, and one of these guys is a player's character, Amyntas.

    As for how it's going... briefly (?) as to not wear out my welcome - the pcs are Amyntas and a sorceress-swordswoman trained by a Southern lorelei and a couple raksha from her freehold, her name is Wyldfire (she doesn't remember her real name because in the Wyld she lost a lot of her sense of self). First Amyntas led her to a hill outside of town where he likes to watch the dawn, pay homage to the UCS (even though he doesn't know anything about the actual god, there's just a pretty impressive statue of him left from the 1st Age and sometimes he brings it offerings). Wyldfire gets antsy and starts walking back to the acropolis, wanting to find a way to stop these Realm forces coming at them, and probably to fight them, because she can find calm for her troubled mind only in the certainty of combat, usually. As soon as she steps on the red glass road going East-West in the middle of the city, the goddess of the road, Two Horizons, appears in a small vortex of red crystal and rebukes her because she couldn't find her and "her friend" and she has news (they had agreed with her that she would have kept watch for the approaching army). So she tells her of the Cathak legion coming, gives her a lot of details... Wyldfire is confused, goes to grab Amyntas and the goddess repeats the news - they're coming, they have many many DBs, the Cathak mon... there's also a couple mercenary bands arriving from a nearby city and they don't seem hostile. Then she melds back with the road and gets back to checking the legion's progress.

    The pcs decide they need the help of the rebels, and to warn the most important oligarch. They go to the agorà, where the philosopher Agape (think Hypatia as portrayed by Rachel Weisz) is debating the right of slaves to be freed and the equality of women and men with the people of the city, and kindly interrupt her. She tells them where they can find the rebels, and promises to gather the aid of the local minor gods and goddesses, but fears even with the tauroboleum to Ahlat they won't stand a chance. So Amyntas has an idea... Agape is quite liking it, but she doesn't think the oligarch will be swayed. The pcs go to the library, where he is, to test it out. Achaikos is studying maps and books about past Cathak tactics (he's been warned by a more or less friendly Lunar and is the only decent general left in town), and Amyntas tells him they need to give weapons to all the slaves and let them fight for their freedom. They are... many thousands. Some can fight. With the tauroboleum even the least skilled would become somewhat decent soldiers. So, a lot of persuasion, instills and whatnot rolls and roleplaying later, Achaikos finally accepts. The pcs leave, Agape states again she'll start the tauroboleum if Achaikos has nothing against it, and the pcs go to the spot where the rebels should be able to find them, a little south of the city.

    The rebels surround them and their leader, Roxane, granddaughter of Akaikos, recognizes Wyldfire (she helped them against some real nasty mercs). They start talking. The idea of freeing the slaves willing to fight isn't a bad one in her opinion - and probably the only way to survive what's coming. So they easily agree to cooperate for now.

    Finally the pcs decide to go meet the Cathak legion. Just the two of them. Two Horizons speeds them on their way and they come across the huge number of soldiers heading towards Alsie, Delzahn cavalry with lamellars, firewands, composite bows and scimitars, then the imperials, both women and men, heavy infantry in transitional armor, light in reinforced buff jackets, all marching and chanting stuff like "They told me in the army the food is good, the rice is like plaster and the taste's about the same, but here we are so I guess I'll fight since Wàn lóng tǒngzhìzhe shìjiè (10k Dragons Rule the World)". And all the auxiliaries, and the baggage train uncoiling behind the legion, and in the middle these people in jade armor, with huge jade weapons.

    The army slows down and stops almost surrounding the newcomers and a woman who looks like Jessica Henley in a fucking alien armor (Sozen the Cataphract of Keys) and with a huge red jade sword (Pyre of Legions) walks to them. She's Cathak Soraya, the general. She's very straightforward and honorable. Little consolation. She's also not turning back the army. They honorably part ways and the pcs are left to go back to Alsie.

    When they arrive the farmers and villagers have been evacuated, all the food has been carried into the city, the fields and woods and buildings have been burned to the ground, and inside the city everyone is training or participating in the tauroboleum - a hundred cattle killed and butchered, burned on Ahlat's altar, and their blood sprinkled on the troops by Agape. There are also the mercs, there's a huge army of slaves, there are small gods from the whole countryside, of course their 5 brass legionnaires... so maybe it won't be a slaughter. We'll see.

    Now I have to prep for when the legion arrives. Fun times

    Leave a comment:


  • Measure of Hope
    replied
    Sounds like you're sorted. Let us know how it goes if you like.

    Your dryad prophetess sounds like an interesting character. What sort of tree is she derived from?

    Leave a comment:


  • lycaniz
    replied
    wups, my mistake, i meant Dragon

    Leave a comment:


  • Roswynn
    replied
    Originally posted by lycaniz View Post
    as for the amount of soldiers Cathak would send, i would expect atleast a talon, plus a contingent of monks to deal with the lunars and spirits. They may invest a lot more being overly cautious due to what happened to the Tepet Legions however.

    As for how they would get there, i could see House Peleps being very willing to offer their fleet for transport as they try (in 3rd edition atleast) to make overtures to House Cathak, plus they could use the money and they like the appearance of being righteous and holy and whatnot. Alternative House Ledaal may do the same, moving the cathak forces from Arjuf, through they might not have enough ships they would see it as their duty from a wyld hunt perspective.

    The big question would be if Cathak would accept such offers or ask for it in the first place... But one way or the other the legions have to be transported south.and thoose 2 options are likely to suceed if house Cathak are not too proud to ask
    A single talon? 125 women and men? If you want to lay siege to a city with around 1,500 troops you'll probably want a whole legion, just to be on the safe side...

    No, there's no seabourne transportation problem - according to WFHW they have quite a bit of satrapies and fortresses in the South, so it's all good.

    Thank you!

    Leave a comment:


  • lycaniz
    replied
    as for the amount of soldiers Cathak would send, i would expect atleast a talon, plus a contingent of monks to deal with the lunars and spirits. They may invest a lot more being overly cautious due to what happened to the Tepet Legions however.

    As for how they would get there, i could see House Peleps being very willing to offer their fleet for transport as they try (in 3rd edition atleast) to make overtures to House Cathak, plus they could use the money and they like the appearance of being righteous and holy and whatnot. Alternative House Ledaal may do the same, moving the cathak forces from Arjuf, through they might not have enough ships they would see it as their duty from a wyld hunt perspective.

    The big question would be if Cathak would accept such offers or ask for it in the first place... But one way or the other the legions have to be transported south.and thoose 2 options are likely to suceed if house Cathak are not too proud to ask

    Leave a comment:


  • Roswynn
    replied
    Originally posted by Eric Minton View Post

    I'd normally be a little surprised at a general being only Essence 2, but it's not at all unreasonable post-Empress for a young Cathak military prodigy who's been promoted to the highest ranks. Lightning ballistae aren't generally accessible to the legions; the Empress kept such things under lock and key, so very few are currently available to Realm forces as yet. If the infantry from the Southern satrapies aren't explicitly part of the legion (whether as legionnaires or skirmishers), then they're also auxiliaries. Overall, though, this sounds right.
    Thank you Eric! Okay, Essence 3 general, no lightning ballista, Cathak legion infantry - done!

    Leave a comment:


  • Eric Minton
    replied
    Originally posted by Roswynn View Post
    I also have a last question (I hope), for anyone who'd care to chime in, and if you're still around, Eric, I'd like to hear your opinion too if you're not too busy.

    I'm sending a full Legion against this city, to achieve a roughly 3 to 1 ratio that has been recommended to me in case of siege. It's led by a Cathak General who should be Essence 2 or 3 (the Roseblack is 3). Her brother will be the main sorcerer involved in the tactical casting of spells (I'm thinking Essence 2 should be sufficient). They could have a Lightning Ballista (and engineers able to build various siege engines once they're there). They'll most probably have infantry from both the Realm and their Southern satrapies (most of all from Harborhead) and auxiliaries like Delzahn light cavalry with firewands and composite bows, possibly Djala scouts, probably smaller numbers of various specialized troops from other cities on the coast, and some Desai troops from near Jiara.

    Sounds about right?
    I'd normally be a little surprised at a general being only Essence 2, but it's not at all unreasonable post-Empress for a young Cathak military prodigy who's been promoted to the highest ranks. Lightning ballistae aren't generally accessible to the legions; the Empress kept such things under lock and key, so very few are currently available to Realm forces as yet. If the infantry from the Southern satrapies aren't explicitly part of the legion (whether as legionnaires or skirmishers), then they're also auxiliaries. Overall, though, this sounds right.

    Leave a comment:


  • Roswynn
    replied
    Murcushio - the Empress is awesome, and in 3e she's even more awesome. Although I retain the right to change my mind if she ever sacrifices a girl to the Yozi...

    MoroseMorgan - I have been thinking about it... it appears they're quite comfy in their position as queenmakers, but they also like to roam around chasing for artifacts and even more wealth. So, considering the city has 5 functioning Brass Legionnaires, that might interest them.

    There are also a couple other details that might convince them to move their derrières.

    First, the city goddess is not powerful (Essence 3) but widely and fervently worshipped thanks to her oracular abilities and her sensitivity and advice. If Cathak managed to stamp out her cult I'm quite sure the Immaculates would take note and quietly be grateful - and that's a corner of the ring from where they're not getting as much prestige as they could. Sure, Cathak is very devout and always has monks accompany the troops - but it's mainly the other Great Houses which give them money and assets. The Immaculates don't have a horse in this race - the Mouth of Piece can't become the new Empress (?). So whatever Cathak does to ingratiate itself to them, it'll be a new avenue of possible profits and certainly a stronger tie with an important element of Realm society.

    Secondly, the city goddess has developed her oracular powers because she lives smack in the middle of a Sidereal-aspected Demesne. I think an uncapped Demesne is always a good motivator.

    Third... this city sits right at the midway point of the red glass road connecting Chiaroscuro to Paragon (and continuing towards the Lap and iirc Kirighast). A lot of trade passes through it, a lot of travellers sleep in its inns, eat and drink at its hostelries, leave their mounts in its stables. If Cathak ruled the city, all that wealth would be theirs.

    I don't know if any of these assets are enough to discommode the Cathak, but when you put them all together, I feel it's a passable set of motivations. What do you think?

    I also have a last question (I hope), for anyone who'd care to chime in, and if you're still around, Eric, I'd like to hear your opinion too if you're not too busy.

    I'm sending a full Legion against this city, to achieve a roughly 3 to 1 ratio that has been recommended to me in case of siege. It's led by a Cathak General who should be Essence 2 or 3 (the Roseblack is 3). Her brother will be the main sorcerer involved in the tactical casting of spells (I'm thinking Essence 2 should be sufficient). They could have a Lightning Ballista (and engineers able to build various siege engines once they're there). They'll most probably have infantry from both the Realm and their Southern satrapies (most of all from Harborhead) and auxiliaries like Delzahn light cavalry with firewands and composite bows, possibly Djala scouts, probably smaller numbers of various specialized troops from other cities on the coast, and some Desai troops from near Jiara.

    Sounds about right?

    Leave a comment:


  • Murcushio
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • MoroseMorgan
    replied
    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?

    Leave a comment:


  • Roswynn
    replied
    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!

    Leave a comment:


  • Eric Minton
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • Roswynn
    replied
    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!

    Leave a comment:


  • Roswynn
    replied
    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?

    Leave a comment:

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