Lord Voldash and his orcish army arrive at the edge of the forest and camp exactly where the Men of Mjarn predicted. They wait until the orcs remove their armor and go to sleep, leaving only the unlucky few to strain against the daylight to perform their watch duties. Once enough time has passed such that those orcs that are sleeping will surely be groggy, the assault begins!
The orcs react slowly to the rain of arrows pouring down on them as they shake the sleep from their minds. Lord Voldash's tent is easily visible as the most prominent, but he makes no appearance yet. With no time to put on their armor, the orcs, under the command of the three oruks, grab their vardatches and charge!
The hobgoblins, bolstered by the Men of Mjarn, continue to fire their arrows on the orcs, making the most of their ranged advantage. The orcs numbers are constantly being whittled down and they have yet to even reach the forest's edge!
The orcs press forward, advancing towards the forest, but Ygvard has a trick up his sleeve. In addition to the defenses already in place, Ygvard casts Entangle multiple times on the plants just beyond the forest's edge, creating a living, grasping barrier through which the orcs must pass. The plants twist and constrict, stopping many orcs and slowing any others who manage to maintain their momentum. The arrows, meanwhile, are oppressive and unending, continuing to drop orc after orc.
Lord Voldash finally emerges from his tent, fully armored and armed, while his astirax, a grass cat, darts off to the West. The men lose track of the astirax, but assume it's headed off to flank them and try to find Ygvard. However, it's plain to see that the rate of attrition his orcish force is facing is scaring Voldash. He mounts his horse, taking care to stay out of range of hobgoblin arrows and watches his orcs in their berserk state continue to charge a fortified enemy. He sees a potential for total loss, and rides away to the South, never even engaging in battle.
The plan and follow through of the attack is so effective, that by the time the orcs actually reach the edge of the forest, they've lost more than half their number and must still surpass the abatis before they can do any damage whatsoever. Driven by their madness and bloodlust, the orcs press on.
The hobgoblins continue firing at the behest of the Men of Mjarn, and that, combined with the multiple obstacales, do their job and only 1/5th of the orcish force staggers into melee with the hobgoblins. At this point, Deirik, Eirik, Ygvard, and Boldulf break off from their army and face off against the oruks who come crashing through. Eirik and Boldulf both take some daunting hits, the oruk greataxes are NOT to be underestimated. However, they do take them down as the hobgoblins finish off the remaining orcs, only losing seven of their own number!
The battle results in an immense success for the Men of Mjarn. They loot Voldash's tent and recover a very well made chain shirt amongst a few other valuable trade goods.
Behind The Scenes - The Mechanics of the Massive Battle:
For this battle, I created a homebrewed system since the systems I found online didn't really match what I was looking for. The first thing I did was take the stats for the Hobgoblins out of the 3.5 Monster Manual, and the stats for the Orcish Recruit (the best Voldash could get since he was begging for troops at Highwall) from the Midnight 2E Core Rulebook, and calculate the percentage chance that each would hit the other, and the percentage chance that a hit would kill. Those percentages would be the base of the mechanics.
I also wanted to have a morale statistic. Each side had 150 troops, so each side divided into 5 companies of 30. Each time a company lost 1/4 of their number, they had to make a morale check. This check was based on the Will Save of the troops, and affected by whether their sergeant was still alive and whether their army commander was still alive. If the hobgoblins failed a morale check, they would route and run. To recover from that, one of the Men of Mjarn would have to go and rally them. If the orcs failed a morale check, they would stand still for a battle round while they tried to get re-organized and restart their attack (no routing since they're driven to fight to their last breath by Izrador).
Once I had those numbers in place, I then had to figure out how to get the PCs plugged in. I wanted to give them the option to either be part of the army, or out wreaking the havoc only PCs can cause. IF they joined a specific company of hobgoblins and provided their leadership instead of separating and doing their own thing, each PC would provide two different effects to that hobgoblin company or against the specific company of orcs that company was targeting. No PC provided the exact same set of effects so they could all join a single company and stack their effects if they so desired. The first effect was providing either a bonus hit or kill chance to the hobgoblins, or a hit or kill chance penalty to the opposing orcs. The second effect was either a bonus to hobgoblin company morale or a penalty to orcish company morale. I tried to personalize each set of effects (ex: Deirik, the Rogue, added to the hobgoblin's kill chance and reduced enemy morale) so each player felt like it was their character's leadership making that difference. If they chose not to join a company, then how they affected the battle would be determined by their choices and die rolls, of course.
The last piece was rolling dice, because that's part of the fun of a tabletop game. So each time a hobgoblin company attacked, the PCs would roll two dice. One would increase or decrease the hit chance percentage based on the result, and the other would do the same for the kill chance. There were critical successes and failures that could occur if a 20 or 1 were rolled which usually entailed the death of an opposing sergeant or friendly fire incident respectively.
All four PCs decided to integrate themselves into separate companies of hobgoblins to try to keep as many of them alive as possible so they can be handed over to Lord Krogan later, which ended up being the best strategy as they killed the orcs and oruks to a man while only losing 7 of their own.
Player Commentary: This was another really fun session, and a wonderful change of pace from the previous games. The battle system the GM came up with was fast and cool, and very, very tense. I don't have a lot to add for this one; it was a big fight, well coordinated will cool systems, and changed things up very nicely. The GM did a good job of summarizing the system and events here, but it was really the aftermath of this battle that most deeply affected the players.
I just wish we had remembered to take pictures of the battle.
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