Sunday 21 April 2019

Kickstarter Scenario: Assault

As I mentioned, I'm Kickstarting a compendium of my adventures on May 1. I thought we'd have a little fun while it's running: an all-out assault on a dradkin fortress. We'll resolve it during the campaign, a crowd-sourced dungeon battle!

The Scenario

In a Patron-only adventure, "A Clutch of Shadows," I laid out the scenario of a garrison of Grinvolt axewives and men-at-arms, occupying an underground Dradkin 'sun temple'.

The temple is a gateway to the underworld, and has been the source of raids on Grinvolt lands for decades. In a rare display of cohesion, the Grinvolt clans came together to assault it. They surprised the Dradkin, and although they lost many brave warriors, they managed to seize the upper level of the complex.

For the six years since the original attack, Quarter-Lord Counobel has kept a precarious grip on the complex. The morale of the occupiers has faded, and now with the Sun Temple's treasures carted away, so has foreign interest and the money that it brought. Grinvolt songs don't sound so cheery underground, and the echoes of glory won't bring food to the tables. Many have drifted away, returning to their fishing boats and goat pens.

Unfortunately, the Dradkin threat is not gone. Leading down from the Sun Temple is a long, narrow stair, leading to a Dradkin fortress—still occupied by the Dradkin. They have spent the years preparing for a counter-attack. Dradkin spies move among the camp fires of dust town, learning the weaknesses of the occupiers.

Meanwhile other, more horrible preparations are being made below.

Gathana, garrison's flametender seems lost in her research into Dradkin runes and offers no counsel, but Counobel knows in his bones that the garrison's days are numbered. If it falls, all the lives that were spent securing the Sun Temple will have been for nothing, and Dradkin will once more raid the surface with impunity.

He makes a fateful plan: he will spend the last of his influence on a summons, calling back every warrior willing to return to the darkness. When they have assembled, they attack the fortress below.

The Fortress Revealed

When the Kickstarter launches on May 1, I will describe the opening moments of the attack, and reveal a new isometric map, showing the first chambers of the Dradkin fortress!

Every time a campaign stretch goal milestone goal is hit, I will reveal another section of the Dradkin fortress, and describe the progress of the battle.

How the Grinvolt warriors carry out their attack is up to you. During the Kickstarter campaign, I'll be running polls and taking feedback in the comments. What orders does Counobel give? Surface warriors need to use their brains to defeat prepared soldiers of the underworld on their home turf. Six years ago, Grinvolt defeated an unprepared enemy. It won't be as easy this time.

Adventure Location: Aftermath

Counobel's attack may succeed, but it could also fail tragically. Either way, if the right stretch goal is hit, I will take the revealed map and write it up as a new adventure location to be included in the compendium.

The adventure will describe the dradkin fortress in the aftermath of the attack. The battle itself will belong only to those of you involved during the Kickstarter campaign, but whatever happens will leave a legacy for others to explore in play.

The Forces of Grinvolt

Right now, it's ten days before the Kickstarter—ten days before Counobel orders the attack. Here is the disposition of the surface forces:

  • Counobel, Quarter-Lord of Grinvolt and commander of the garrison
  • Gathana, flametender and priestess of Panur
  • 18 axewives (one disgraced) and their families
  • 11 men-at-arms, half with families
As well, about a hundred camp followers live within the complex (most of them in 'Dust Town'). The garrison has been faming the lands surrounding the sun temple. The soil is rocky and ill-suited to the clans' traditional crops, but another hundred non-combatants live outside in a slowly growing.

Counobel sent out three messengers a month ago:
  • His cousin sailed to Halet Girm with the last of the silver, and is returning with two longboats and 15 men-at-arms.
  • Akum went north into Haverlow, but drank from an ill-fated pond and has lost his senses.
  • Counobel's daughter Rolan went northeast to Grinvolt. She secured oaths from 13 axewives that they would join the attack. She then decided press further. She found none in Slumbering Tealwood, but two days ago she reached the pass at Splitpeak. As I write this, she can smell the smoke from High Kellan.

(The Sun Temple is in hex 0716, on the south edge of the map.)

Final Preparations

With ten days left, what preparations should Counobel command? Will the axes of the Grinvolt warriors be enough, or should they concoct some other scheme for fighting in the cramped tunnels? Should he send a scout down below, or will that risk a counter-attack before he's ready?

Put your thoughts in the comments!


  1. This looks most excellent indeed! Has Counobel learnt anything about dradkin tactics from the first assault? Perhaps that might influence the final push to the last fortress.

    1. Spwack, this is a great question! I wrote up everything I could think of in a follow-up post:

  2. I can't WAIT to watch this unfold! My question is about that long stairway down to the Dradkin Fortess. What does Counobel know about it?

    Trying to fight your way down a spiral staircase sounds pretty awful (flashback to that fight in the Night Temple entrance). If only Counobel could send something down the stairs ahead of his troops to disrupt the defenders lying in wait. Say... a big boulder dug up from the nearby mine? Seems like that could pack a pretty big punch, especially if it built up some speed on the way down.

  3. Why are they attacking the Dradkin fortress?
    What do they gain?
    Has anyone tried actual diplomacy with the Dradkin?
    Compassion and empathy? Or are the Drakin "eeevillle"?
    Has there ever been any indication of Dradkin willing to actually talk historically in the world?
    Maybe both can reach some sort of conclusion that won't result in stupid bloodshed?

    Just some thoughts,

    1. Excellent comments! Yes, it's a tragic situation. Dradkin aren't any more inherently evil than Grinvolt, but they're both in neck deep in a conflict that's hard to pull out from.

      Thinking they were rooting out a threat comparable to some plucky bandits from Lurrock, Grinvolt has blundered into occupying one of the holiest sites in the Dradkin sphere of influence.

      For their part, the Dradkin were committing increasingly egregious atrocities on the surface—they thought they were taking their due from a promised land of plenty (plants grow slowly underground), and they had nothing to fear from the low-density and (as they saw them) primitive surface dwellers.

      For their part, the Grinvolt garrison has sold and carted of everything not nailed down in the Sun Temple. (The original assault was partially funded by meddlers from other parts, hoping to get their hands on Dradkin rarities.)

      It's hard for the Dradkin to imagine compromise that doesn't involve the return of their relics and full control of the temple exit (that's the point of the temple), but they have realistic expectations this isn't likely. They have tried to pay guards with rarities from the fortress stores, but like Grinvolt, have run out of money. (The temple is funded by pilgrims from below, who are no longer coming no that the main attraction is inaccessible.)

      The Grinvolt garrison isn't especially disciplined. Most have their main loyalties elsewhere (their homes and clans, all too distant), and they've inadvertently thwarted attempts at diplomacy by squirrelling away Dradkin bribes, rather than bringing them up the chain as the gifts they're intended to be.

      Counobel and the axewives are in awe of Dradkin construction and armor, and are terrified of giving up their leverage given the probable strength of the enemy. Prior to the attack, the Dradkin raiders have been opportunist pilgrims, but now they're aware of heavy infantry and underground unit tactics.

      They reasonably imagine that if they cede the temple, the Dradkin counter-attacks will be substantially worse than the raids.

      Grinvolt's mental model of warfare is all about short-lived alliances—forming them and shattering them. They're holding out hope that a decisive attack on the Dradkin will break whatever alliance is holding together this presumed temporary gathering of strength, and send all the Dradkin back to low-density farming, or whatever they do underground, after swearing oaths of non-aggression.

      Some are also (unwisely) believing it will be as easy and as lucrative as last time.