War is coming

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So, my players have been kidnapped and out of the scene (as far as knowing what's going on in the kingdom) for about a month, in-game time. About two days before getting kidnapped, they got word of an army marching north to the kingdom. It's going to be about another week or two before they get back to a village where they even hear any news of the war coming.

How would one handle war in 4e? In DnD in general? Would a month/month and a half be enough time for an invading army have started up a war and really progressed into a major part of it?

The players are about level 7, and wanting to end the war into about level 12 or so, where they get into paragon.

I'm just wondering, how would war really be handled in DnD?

The outlying villages would be in low population after sending as many as they could to help the war efforts, the capital itself would be well guarded while the main army is with the opposing army, correct?

Maybe just some tips, tricks, strategies, ideas, or any sort of help would be great
Handle war via the narrative. Don't get bogged down in the details, because they're likely to work against you. Sometimes restrictions are fun, but other times it's easy to see why television shows and stories gloss certain things over.

What matters is what makes sense at your table. One way to make sure that the events of the world make sense to the players is to collaborate with them. Declare the direction in which you would like to take the game and ask them to work with you to make it sensical to them. Accept and add on to the ideas everyone comes up with. Then, regardless of whether any of us would find it plausible, everyone whose opinion matters is already on-board.

It's possible that the players might themselves block or impede the idea you have in mind. That's a strong indication that they're not interested in it, and would have questioned it or worse if you'd just imposed it on them. Talk to them to understand their position and explain yours, or try a different idea.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

I know you're playing 4e, however a 3.5e source could benefit you here.  I'm specifically talking about the Heroes of Battle book.  Now I totally agree with Centauri on handling things mostly narratively.  However, you could use some of the information from the HoB book to help you out a little bit.

I don't recommend using the whole system of ranks and rewards and battle field movements, etc as it will most likely just bog down your game, also since it's 3.5e you would probably have a bunch of conversions to do to make it work for 4e.  There are however some wonderful ideas in HoB for encounter ideas.  If your party is interested in helping one side of the army you could use some of the ideas from the book for encounters that could have an overall effect on the war.

For example your groups party could end up in a scouting mission to locate the enemy supply lines, possibly running into some perimeter guards on the way.  If they do find the supply line, once reporting back maybe they are then asked to attempt to capture the supplies.  There's a whole bunch of ideas like this in the HoB book that you could incorporate into your game, and the outcomes of each "episode" can effect which side gets the upperhand and eventually which side wins.

Of course this is only if your players are interested in this sort of thing, and even if they are expect them to do the unexpected and just roll with it.
Taking an idea from one of the Battlefield game, let the group be the scaplel of the army. They can be a powerful group hitting supply trains like in the Patriot or doing covert missions. Going behind enemy lines. Bodyguarding imfportant people for their kingdom. Their level of success could affect how the war goes.

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I too have events that are going to lead to a massive war between the Orc and Elven Nations.

I plan to probably have my PC see the battles going on in the distance. Maybe from a mountain top overlooking one of the main battles. They might come across skirmishes here and there. But they are going to be going after the people in charge of the war, or at least who they think is in charge anyway.
I recently did a large scale battle myself so I will tell you what I did. First of all, the PC's were defendng a small frontier town in Northern Vassa, they had at one point caused some trouble with some Shadovar and they sent a small army against them in retaliation.

So what I did was take a normal "battle" and then added a ton of additional NPC's and baddies. The PC's knew they had to defeat the Leader of the enemy army and so they fought their way to him meanwhile friendly NPC's fought enemy soldiers.

For NPC battle what I do is roll d20, if its 10 or higher it's a hit and then I roll damage. It just seems to speed it up a but and not bog the story and fight down. Sometimes I roll a few in a row just to get results handy, I tried to keep it quick as possible yet still descriptive. To be honest it was slightly difficult to pull off but the players had a blast, and so did I.

hope this helps!!
I'm currently running a 4E Eberron campaign.  The campaign started in Sharn with the Seekers of the Ashen Crown module.  The party is currently level 9 and working towards 10. 

Around level 6-7, the campaign jumped 2 years into the future.  During those 2 years, several events transpired (some caused directly by the party), which led to another war on the continent.  For those familiar with the lore of Eberron, the campaign is set roughly 100 years after the end of the Last War.  Currently Aundair, Thrane, Zilargo and the Bloodsail Principalities are openly allied against Breland, the Aundair Rebel Forces, Karrnath and Valenar.  Again for those familiar with the relationships between nations, events that transpired during those jumped 2 years caused some weird alliances but also some breaks.  Also the party caused ripples and even started the war between Thrane and Karrnath.

Anyway details aside, the way I've approached war on a massive scale is the identify hot spots of activity.  So I have an NPC, who is a General for the rebellion, give the party multiple options for missions.  Remember that in war the large armies do battle.  The party can be more of a small strike team that can go places that large standing armies can't.  That's what the party is currently considered.  They have an airship they can upgrade and modify with their gold, they can take stuff from other vessels and add it onto their own, etc..  So currently the hotspots are:

1.  South of Breland, the Bloodsail Principalities are attacking the coastline, effectively cutting off fishing as a major food source for the nation, cutting off a supply route between Valenar and Breland and pillaging the villages all along the coast.  Brelands military is under immense pressure right now defending on multiple fronts (North (Aundair), South (Bloodsail Principalities), East (Zilargo) and so can't stop the pirate attacks.  The Bloodsail armada is using Zilargo's massive docks as a landing point to re-stock and moor between attacks.

2.  Drooam is currently seeking to be recognized as a full nation.  It has remained neutral so far but diplomats from Aundair are currently trying to sway them to their side.  If that happens it could be disastrous and spell the doom of Breland and then the rest of us.  However the Hag Sisters, the leaders of Drooam have killed every diplomat sent by both sides.  We need someone to go meet with them and figure out why our people are getting killed and then try and sway the Hags to our side.  If all they want is to be recognized as a full nation on the continent then I say let them have it !

3.  The nation of Zilargo was once the ally of Breland.  In fact it was once part of Breland !  A splinter group successfully seperated from Breland and formed the nation now known as Zilargo.  We still don't understand why Zilargo allied itself with our enemies in this war, but it's been very damaging to Breland.  The Howling peaks, a massive mountain range between Zilargo and Breland has been the site of some of the more bloody battles.  For reasons unknown, Zilargo has been zealously seeking total control of the mountains.  Recently, because of the victory of your party against Aundair and one of their infernal Mana Towers (large towers capable of channeling and focusing arcane power to devastating effect), our forces gained a moral boost and managed to retake the Howling Peaks from Zilargo.  This is our chance to investigate the mountains and discover why it is so important that they stay in control of that area.  A small strike force could use the Breland army as cover and investigate.

4.  Other nations and more importantly the Dragonmarked Houses of Khorvaire have stated they are neutral in this conflict.  However our intel says otherwise.  We need to sway the houses and remaining nations to our side before they turn against us.

5.  Your party is free to do as it pleases, including embarking on missions without prior need to inform rebel command.  However if you do inform us of your actions, we could provide intel or resources to aid you in your efforts. 


Anyway so that's basically what it looks like.  Karrnath is using massive amounts of undead and resources to fight off the zealous holy war that Thrane declared against them.  The former allies are now locked in combat, seemingly to the bitter end.

I have plans for large scale battles but the party hasn't gone towards that so far.  It feels like it would be hard to create something of that scale that would be fun for the players and also interesting enough that it wouldn't be a drag to do.  I'm curious about the 3.5E book mentioned earlier Heroes of Battle.  I might use that myself but I haven't looked at it enough to make a decision.
"Non nobis Domine Sed nomini tuo da gloriam" "I wish for death not because I want to die, but because I seek the war eternal"

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If you're looking to give your team some action in the war; consider giving them leadership roles. Use a system similar to the Conquest of Nerath board game but of course on a smaller scale. I know my players love it.