Ready-To-Run Adventures

The Battle

Phillip Gladney ©1999

Unleashing the Dogs of War

As soon as the mass of howling Dunlending tribesmen, supported and followed by the heavy mercenaries, makes it to the walls of Harnalda, they will attempt to scale the ramparts using primitive ladders. Archers on the walls, in the bailey and in the tower will fire furiously into the oncoming warriors. This begins the massive melee segment of the campaign in which the PC's will be hopelessly embroiled.
The battle will consist of many deadly encounters, determined by a dice roll on the charts below. The fates of the PC's will be decided not by intelligent dialog or a quick plan, but by their ability to defend themselves, and to greater degree luck. The following battle will be a chaotic affair with little to no character-to-character interaction. As the Dunlending infantry strives to overcome the wooden barricades separating them from the defenders within, the PC's will get separated and each have his own dilemma to deal with. The severity of these random events will directly correlate to the group that the PC was directed into earlier in the adventure. Of course, the most difficult combats will primarily go to the warriors given the duty of defending the walls, though even the lowliest Bard may find himself face-to-face with a frothing Dunlending berserker intent on separating his head from the rest of his body.
The duration of this segment is entirely up to the GM. He may direct the PCs to roll until he feels ready to end the battle or he may have a pre-set time or number of rolls the PCs will have to finish before the battle is ended. Either way, the end will be signified by a certain event that will occur whether or not the PCs succeed or fail in their attempts to survive. This event will be the surprise entrance onto the field of battle by the remaining Red Lances as well as the River Guard, auxiliaries and a large percentage of the levy. These troops, led by the mounted elements, have force-marched from Thuin Boid to render aid to the defenders of Harnalda. With unwitting help from the Royal Rangers and groups of Elves from Rivendell who eliminated the Rhudaurim sentries placed outside the perimeter, the army of the Angle will be able to arrive close to the confines of the border fort without being detected by Ermegil and his generals. Their rapid arrival and subsequent attack on the rear will raise havoc within the poorly disciplined ranks of the multi-cultural army and a general rout will result. After a much smaller skirmish outside the fort's walls, between the mounted elements of both armies, Ermegil will escape with a good bit of his mounted troops. The Dunlendings and heavy infantry will have to fend for themselves as they flee on foot northwards and a goodly number of them will be killed or captured by the pursuing allied forces.
Until this occurs, however, the player characters will have to defend themselves from the overwhelming forces of Ermegil. To start the melee, all of the characters should be subject to a random number of missile attacks. These attacks signify the numerous arrows being fired by the Rhudaurim archers entrenched behind the pavises outside the wall. This number is entirely up to the GM (suggest 1-10 for characters on the wall and 1-6 for characters in the bailey). Next, the characters defending the walls with the remainder of the Angle troops should roll a few times on their respective chart while the remainder of the PC's in the bailey watch and wait. This represents the initial attack by the Dunlendings against the wall. After a few rounds, the PCs providing backup should begin to enter the fray as they are directed to parts of the wall to shore up the defense. There will be many occasions for the second group to see action as the ratio of attackers to defenders is well over 20-to-1 and the wall will be breached in some sections. The GM might decide to keep the physically weaker members of the group away from any of the action at all and therefore safe. If he decides to have them vulnerable or if they wish to be a part of the defense, there is a chance that one or two tribesmen or even a heavy infantry mercenary might make it through both lines of defense and see a chance at an easy kill. If any of the party members are primarily archers they may have been directed to the tower to fire on the enemy from there. That is by far the safest location within the entire fort and those party members should have more opportunities to fire their weapons than the party members in the bailey and on the wall should. The logic behind this is that the archers can fire arrow after arrow without distraction, while the PC's in the melee part of the battle will have fights that last a few rounds at the very least and must also move around a bit in between conflicts. Don't forget to add in the range modifiers when firing missiles from the tower. After all or as many of the PCs that will be fighting have had an encounter, then the PC's should roll in turns, deciding each combat one after another. This should keep the players interested and make for a very long and satisfying period of gaming. Also, if the GM allows it, you might have some of the weaker PCs "pair up" to better defend one another.
When describing the melee to the characters, the GM must remember that the roar of yelling, the clash of metal on metal and the cries of the dying will block out almost all communication between individuals except for those very close to one another. The enemy and allied troops will become irreversibly intermingled as each man fights to save his own life and end that of his foe. For this reason it will not be uncommon for someone to find himself surrounded, if only for a few turns. Each of the encounters described below includes an action incorporating the PC who rolled it, but some will not necessarily require combat. Some will be a random missile attack since the Rhudaurim are not averse to firing into their own troops. Some others might encompass some sort of mini-quest such as saving the life of a fellow defender. Some will be incredibly difficult, if not impossible and some will be very easy.
In addition, the GM may allow players to have a small say in their own fate. This could be symbolized as a "courage/cowardice factor". The player may add or subtract up to 20 to his roll. This would signify a character either looking for or shying away from the action. If characters survive the entire battle and have consistently sought more difficult encounters, the GM should award extra experience points as well as some sort of recognition from the remainder of the garrison. Such heroics are rarely overlooked. Likewise, if a character consistently shies away from battle, by subtracting 20 from each roll, then he might attract the notice his fellow defenders also. This might cause some awkwardness or resentment on the part of the other soldiers after the battle. However, in any event, it would be wise for a stunned or otherwise seriously wounded PC to use this option to their advantage.

Melee Interaction Charts
The following charts represent the various interactions possible for the PCs within this particular adventure's main battle. The first chart, The Parapet Encounters, is for those PCs who have been chosen to man the walls. Most of those encounters will involve enemies attempting to climb over the walls of the fort. Some will be with enemies who have already ascended to the parapet. Any characters that leave the wall for the bailey for any reason should immediately begin rolling on the Bailey Encounters chart. This chart is for combat encounters within the bailey and is less constrained. NOTE: Please make use of the statistics from adventures in this campaign published in previous issues of The Guild Companion.

The Parapet Encounters Chart
%Result
01-05The flow of battle has left you alone... for now.
06-09A random arrow flies in your general direction. Take one +20 shortbow attack.
10-17A green Dunlending has reached the top of the wall directly in front of you and is attempting to climb over.
18-23An enemy archer has set his sights on you. Take one +50 crossbow attack.
24-32An average Dunlending has climbed a scaling ladder and is trying to strike you with his spear.
33-36A volley of arrows has been shot your way. Take 1-3 +30 shortbow attacks.
37-38A wounded average Dunlending blunders your way. His leg is bleeding profusely (3 Hits/rd.), has taken 15 hits, and is slightly fazed (-30 to all actions), but his sword is still swinging and he intends to take you down with him.
39-50An experienced Dunlending has just made it to the lip of the palisade wall and notices that you are the closest enemy to him.
51-56You encounter an average Dunlending. During the third round of combat, a nearby allied soldier accidentally swings his sword in your direction. Take a +30 broadsword attack in addition to your foe's attack.
57-62You turn and see the back of an enemy currently fighting one of your allies. If you are not hindered by any moral to the contrary, feel free to take one free +55 attack against the foe, before you attract the attention of his nearby friends (re-roll).
63-65You slip on some blood. Make an Extremely Hard (-30) MM to avoid falling. At the same time a green Dunlending comes toward you with hate in his eyes.
66Incredulously you look up and see a very large boulder (fired from the trebuchet) coming directly towards you. Make a medium (+0) MM or face a +150 Fall/Crush attack.
67-77Your foe is a Dunlending bodyguard.
78-79You see an allied soldier go down to an arrow beside you. He seems alive, but unable to defend himself. What will you do?
80-85Your foe is a green Dunlending attempting to climb a scaling ladder. As you begin to engage this foe, another average Dunlending warrior, already over the wall and on the parapet comes at you from your sword-hand side.
86-90A skilled archer among the enemy has chosen you for his next victim. Suffer one +80 Composite bow attack.
91-94Your foe, an average Dunlending, is bumped by one of his fellows and momentarily loses his balance. Take one free +35 attack before he regains his footing.
95-97Two experienced Dunlendings attack you from either side as you stand on the parapet
98-00You look to your side and notice a howling, crazed Dunlending bodyguard on the parapet complete a spectacular move that leaves his auxiliary opponent headless. Frothing at the mouth, the Dunlending berserker looks up from his fresh kill and espies you. He sprints in your direction yelling at the top of his lungs. You must defend yourself from a bodyguard fighting at +20 OB, -10 DB, +40 Hits and immune to stun due to his berserk condition.


The Bailey Encounters Chart
%Result
01-20The surging tide of enemies leaves you to mind your own business, until next turn.
21-24An arrow falls in your vicinity. Take one +25 shortbow attack.
25-29A green Dunlending has made it past the outer defenses and comes directly at you.
30-34Your foe is an average Dunlending.
35-40Your foe is an experienced Dunlending.
41-44A volley of arrows lands in your immediate proximity. Take 1-4 +30 shortbow attacks.
45-50Your foe is a medium infantryman.
51-59Two average Dunlendings see you and decide to attack.
60-63A Dunlending bodyguard appears in front of you. In the second round of combat A salvo of enemy arrows hits both of you. Each combatant must take 1-2 +20 Shortbow attacks.
64-70A medium infantry sergeant has decided that you will make an excellent opponent.
71-75Fate has directed a single arrow in an uncanny trajectory that ends on your person. Take one +100 Shortbow attack.
76-80Two medium infantrymen close from opposite directions to converge on you.
81-85Turning around, you behold a huge man in plate armor and bearing a two-handed sword Moving towards you. Hold off this member of the Trererath mercenary unit for 4 rounds before allies come to your aid.
86-90A tribal chieftain and one bodyguard choose you as their next prey.
91-94Two green Dunlendings and an experienced Dunlending move to surround you.
95-97An experienced Dunlending and a Dunlending bodyguard are your next foes.
98-00A medium infantry sergeant and two infantrymen move up to engage you.

Editor's Note:

Post your comments on this article on the Middle-Earth Discussion Board.