## Rolling Towers

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Giorin
Joined Aug 2007
150 Posts
I am currently preparing for our next session. It is the start of a war campaign based on the Heroes of Battle rules supplement.

The setting: An encamped human chivalric army is preparing to set siege on a nearby city. Siege towers are under construction. As the army has unboarded from a large fleet the camp is close to the sea. This also applies to the construction site. The logs come from a nearby coastal forest.

Unknown to the human army the city is allied to sahuagin. The war starts with a massive surprise assault of sahuagin troops in the dark of night. Chaos everywhere. The PC's are assigned the task to prevent the sahuagin from destroying the siege engines.

The construction site has a cliff. So the sahuagin intend to roll the siege towers over the cliff.

Now the rules question: How many sahuagin does it take to roll a siege tower? This is crucial as the sahuagin will withdraw once they have taken enough casualties to prevent the rest from rolling the siege towers.

Heroes of Battle gives the weight of a siege tower with 5 tons. The rules also say: "A siege tower can be pushed by nine creatures on the lower level at a speed of 10 feet (siege towers cannot run)." (Heroes of Battle, p. 67)

While this seems to be pretty clear it is not satisfying. Certainly nine hedgehogs would not suffice to roll a siege tower.  On the other hand you might need less than nine storm giants. You might rule nine medium creatures - but medium creatures' strength varies between 3 and 20+. In the end rolling e siege tower is a function of strength. So: How much force do you need?

"To figure out how fast a siege engine moves, look up ghweight in the siege engine description, figure out the strength of whatver's pulling it, then consult Tabele 9-1: Carrying Capacity, page 162 of the Player's Handbook. Divide the siege engine's weight by four if the siege engine has wheels (most do)." (Heroes of Battle, p. 64f)

The siege towers in question do have wheels. So we are talking about an effective weight of 1,25 tons (5 tons divided by 4).

Sahuagin have Str 14. weight limit for Str 14 is 175 lb. The PHB says: "A character can push or drag  as much as fifve times his or her maximum load. Favorable conditions (such as being on smooth ground or dragging a slick object) can double these numbers, and bad cirdumstances (such es being on broken ground or pudhing an object that snags) can reduce them to one-half or less." (p. 162)

The construction site is a clearing of hard ground that has been prepared for rolling the towers so no modifier applies.

So one Sahuagin can push or drag 175lbx5=875lb. The effective weight of the towers (1,25 tons) sums up to 2500 lb. Thus THREE SAHUAGIN COULD ROLL ONE SIEGE TOWER!

While I think I have all the rules right, I just do not like this idea. It seems ridiculously easy. Sahuagin are strong but they are not trolls.

Do you see a logical solution that would allow the encounter to "feel right" and provides enough rules to handle the situation? I think that rules are important because PC's can very well come up with ideas like "We push from the opposite side - can we roll the tower back?" I would like to have an answer to this question.

Open to all suggestions!

Tempest_Stormwind
Joined Jun 2004
7939 Posts
I'm not sure how the HoB numbers were generated - they're not using the same method you used. Average Strength (10) works out to just five standard humans pushing the tower if they were the same. Meanwhile, the divide-by-four thing appears to only apply when figuring out how fast the tower moves, not whether or not it can be moved (although if it's over their maximum heavy load, they can't push it; if it's under their max heavy load, you use the speed table to figure out how fast). It's just badly written.

However, here's something else to consider: A sahaguin is as strong as your average goliath. Similarly, an average human would need someone to Aid Another on a Strength-related task to have the same effective modifier as a sahaguin. Thus, assuming the HoB rules assumed average humans when writing the rules, having each sahaguin count as two humans would be a legit starting point, in which case four or five could push the tower.
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vortsukoto
Joined Jan 2013
154 Posts
Use advanced HD Sahuagin, they reach size large at 6 HD giving them big buffs to Str and carrying capacity. At only a CR 4 challenge they can be mixed in to a group of CR 2 normal Sahuagin without too much issue. Those will give you Str 22 "trolls" that can push around 3,900 lbs. each, and give the PC's a roughly CR 6 encounter (at two of them) per tower.

Simple explanation behind the pushing is that siege towers are only meant to go forward and thus will not easily turn to roll themselves off of the cliff. In addition, while the ground in the camp is prepared to roll the towers (likely by stamping it down and ensuring it's dry) there are a number of other considerations that are likely to slow it's progress.  Intervening parts of the camp like buildings or latrines, that the path to the cliff likely wasn't prepared for rolling, changes in altitude, and headwinds that could be blowing inland over the cliff top. There are a lot of things that can potentially slow a siege tower that you can take into account.
StevenO
Joined Apr 2004
15438 Posts
I'd definetly agree that you should be able to block a siege tower from going where it wasn't intended to go.  Pushing one over rough terrain should be harder as well as slower.  Now "how hard will it be to roll a siege tower off a cliff" really just depends on how hard you want it to be.

Slagger_the_Chuul
Joined May 2001
7513 Posts
The wheels really do make a lot of difference (consider a couple of ordinary humans trying to push a car, compared to pushing the same weight without wheels), and while 5 tons seems like a lot, it's quite a bit easier than you might think on decent ground with a few strong people doing the pushing.  I'm not actually all that great with estimates, but I'm thinking that's in the weight range of a small truck with a load; it's very difficult, but not impossible to move.

But there are a lot of potential problems that can make the moving of it much more difficult.  When it's used in battle, it typically has extra weight in the form of armed warriors (a full complement of 27 average humans adds another couple of tons even with only light gear), and has to handle whatever vaguely difficult terrain the defenders have put in the way.  It's also not really designed for steering, so you either move it in very wide circles to turn, or you have to push it sideways (which would presumably negate the benefit of having wheels for that movement purpose).  The sahuagin don't necessarily have to worry about those problems.

Three sahuagin might theoretically be capable of moving the tower slowly along the ground, but not if they encounter any sort of difficulty and it's unlikely the attacking army bothered to clear the ground in the direction of the cliffs.  Given how easy it is to interfere, I'd only expect them to manage movement if they keep anyone trying to stop them right out of the way, so they'd give up as soon as they didn't have the numbers to hold off any opposition.

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Lashius
Joined Feb 2012
464 Posts
Takeing a look at it I did a little ball park math and rattled some ideas around in my head and this is what I came up with.

At the begining of the chapter it says the following about siege engines-

Setting up and Moving Siege Engines: It takes a minute to set up or take down a ballista and 10 minutes to set up or take down anything else. To figure out how fast a siege engine moves, look up the weight in the siege engine description, figure out the strength of whatever’s pulling
it, then consult Table 9-1:Carrying Capacity,page 162 of the players handbook. Divide the siege engine's weight by four if the siege engine has wheels (most do).

Historically the people pushing the sige towers were generally conscripts, usually just farmers or any other common man who was able bodied, since the job was almost assured death at the hands of archers firing from castle walls, so the job was left to fodder. That being said, the people in the tower where infantry men who were probably lightly armored and equipped so that they could rush the fortifications interior to take out said archers, and weaken the resistance inside well the outside forces crash the doors down to get inside.

Assuming that the person pushing a siege tower is a level 1 commoner conscript with a strength score of 10, that would mean he could push/drag up too 500 lbs by himself. Now if you apply the bit about moving siege engines and assuming that the average weight of each solder in the tower was 300 lbs with gear (and adding that to the weight of the tower itself), that would mean that you would need to be able to push 3,850 lbs (15,400 lbs/4=3,850) since the tower was on wheels. That wold mean that you would need 8 men in order to exert enough force to move up to 4000 lbs. I would assume that the reason they list 9 people was probably because that is the base amount of troops that a level can hold, and also figuring an extra body to help in case someone drops.

Over all you may want to institute a rule that an additional number of people on each side can get the tower moving based on the capacity of all the pushers, I.E the speed of the tower would be dependent strictly on the carrying capacity of the crew instead of dead locked at 10 ft a round. Something like 15 ft if you can get the total weight into the category of all the pushers heavy load, and 20 ft if you can get it into everyone's light load. This would mean that the tower could benefit from more than the base amount of operators and pushing the tower still falls under the rules for carrying capacity.

That way you have not only a thematic reason for having a lot of men to push the tower, but you have a mechanical reason for it as well. Also, this would mean you could have the cinematic appeal of having strong men "take up the slack" as it where, and compensate for fewer men, or lead to the Tolken-esq cave troll pulling a tower all by himself due to his amazing strength.
EruditeApe
Joined Dec 2011
1887 Posts
There's an important question that's been missed: Why don't the frog-dudes just burn the towers? Only one guy needs to reach the tower to do it, it can be done much more safely, and it generally seems a lot easier.
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Lashius
Joined Feb 2012
464 Posts
There's an important question that's been missed: Why don't the frog-dudes just burn the towers? Only one guy needs to reach the tower to do it, it can be done much more safely, and it generally seems a lot easier.

Siege towers actually have a lot of hp, 1,800 if I recall, and unlike vessels that "crash" if you damage enough sections a siege tower needs to be brought down to half of it's hp before it becomes nonfunctional. To boot many have specially cured hide covering them which gives them a mesure of protection from fire if I recall (a special modification that costs more gold than standard, but a decent investment considering that fire is probably the most predominate energy type in the game, and can be readily accessed by both the magical and mundane). As a side note, fire might also not be he first thought of aquatic dwelling creatures when it comes to an offensive.
EruditeApe
Joined Dec 2011
1887 Posts
Siege towers actually have a lot of hp, 1,800 if I recall, and unlike vessels that "crash" if you damage enough sections a siege tower needs to be brought down to half of it's hp before it becomes nonfunctional.

If I recall correctly, immersion in elemental damage, such as acid or fire, does 20d6. Given that, in just over a minute the siege towers will be dead. That's not bad, and significantly less troublesome than physically moving these multiple large structures over a cliff.
To boot many have specially cured hide covering them which gives them a mesure of protection from fire if I recall (a special modification that costs more gold than standard, but a decent investment considering that fire is probably the most predominate energy type in the game, and can be readily accessed by both the magical and mundane).

Given that they're actually bothering with siege engines, I was under the impression that they had relatively little funds and no mages to speak of. It'd be much more efficient to have a single highly skilled archer shoot an Arrow of Total Anihlation at the wall than to use siege engines, not to mention the mages simply invalidating the entire army or just flying over the walls and murdering, or just removing the walls with Shape Stone or the like.

Armies and sieges don't exist with decent-leveled mages. This is especially true, as the PCs must be on a timeframe. Otherwise, they'd do a proper siege and just starve the enemy out. Really, once Flight is on the table, they really should just fly the highest-level warriors over the wall and open the gates at night, and just swarm the city from that.
As a side note, fire might also not be he first thought of aquatic dwelling creatures when it comes to an offensive.

Why not? They have experience with the surface and current contact with the city, given their abilty to come to aid the city. It seems relatively simple and obvious.
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vortsukoto
Joined Jan 2013
154 Posts
Given that they're actually bothering with siege engines, I was under the impression that they had relatively little funds and no mages to speak of. It'd be much more efficient to have a single highly skilled archer shoot an Arrow of Total Anihlation at the wall than to use siege engines, not to mention the mages simply invalidating the entire army or just flying over the walls and murdering, or just removing the walls with Shape Stone or the like.

I myself just go for the simple explination that around 100 people of any level can counter and overwhelm any spell. ANY SPELL. Simple, clean, solves the "Why aren't mages awesome?" problem as any large riot can kill a wizard or other spellcaster as their spells sputter and their divinations fail to uncover it's existence. Most large castles, towers, and walled cities gain total immunity to mortal spellcasters due to their manpower heavy construction times (antimagic rune on ever brick and stone) making traditional warfare still the most effective battle plan when magical and mundane assassination fail.

Considering he's the DM and it's his setting, he can use whatever explanation he wants to establish that Sahuagin want some siege towers pushed off the cliff.
Lashius
Joined Feb 2012
464 Posts
If I recall correctly, immersion in elemental damage, such as acid or fire, does 20d6. Given that, in just over a minute the siege towers will be dead. That's not bad, and significantly less troublesome than physically moving these multiple large structures over a cliff.

I've never heard of this before, is there a source that you can point me to for that? That being said, your talking about completely covering a gargantuan sized object for a whole minute. If the resources to do that where at hand, it would probably be more effective to target the troops in lue of the siege towers.

Given that they're actually bothering with siege engines, I was under the impression that they had relatively little funds and no mages to speak of. It'd be much more efficient to have a single highly skilled archer shoot an Arrow of Total Anihlation at the wall than to use siege engines, not to mention the mages simply invalidating the entire army or just flying over the walls and murdering, or just removing the walls with Shape Stone or the like.

Armies and sieges don't exist with decent-leveled mages. This is especially true, as the PCs must be on a timeframe. Otherwise, they'd do a proper siege and just starve the enemy out. Really, once Flight is on the table, they really should just fly the highest-level warriors over the wall and open the gates at night, and just swarm the city from that.

I'm not sure what your point is here, or how any of that is relevant in regards to protective options for siege towers save for the mention of magic. In that regard, a decent leveled mage is pretty much a valid answer to anything and if one was on hand I hardly see why anyone would bother trying to do hit point damage to the towers (burning them) like you suggest, and as such something of a moot point.

Why not? They have experience with the surface and current contact with the city, given their abilty to come to aid the city. It seems relatively simple and obvious.

relatively simple and obvious not only to a land dwelling person but one who has spent a life time reaping the benefits of fire. If you think about it, fire probably isn't the first thought of an ocean dwelling creature in terms of causing harm. It's pretty much non existent in their natural environment so unless it was brought up by the people calling on the sahaguin it probably wouldn't be a primary tactic for them to burn things simply due to how rarely the opportunity would come up for them to do it. however thats mostly just a personal opinion on outlook and not a citation on sahaguin ecology written in stone, so anything is possible, it's just of my opinion that fire in particular is probably an oddity in the regimen of an aquatic races combat tactics.
Slagger_the_Chuul
Joined May 2001
7513 Posts
As I recall, it isn't really a rule for elemental damage in general, just for a few kinds of hazards, like lava (which does deal 20d6 for total immersion).  Acid is described in more general terms, but is only 10d6 damage (which is still a fair amount).  I don't recall anything in core regarding massive fires, as opposed to simply catching on fire, but I do remember seeing something with varying degrees of fire damage in one of the other official books.

As far as initial flammability goes, it takes a bit of work to get whole wood burning even up close, and siege towers could often be given less flammable coverings to stop them being easily set alight from a distance.

If the sahuagin sneak in on a suitably dark night, they could already have the tower solidly rolling towards the cliffs before anyone notices, and unlike setting it on fire, it will be thoroughly smashed by going over the edge of even a modest cliff, instead of leaving the possibility for it to be saved.

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Co-Author of the Dreamfane, Euralden Eye, Fulminating Crab, Gajuisan Crawler, Gruesome LurkerIronglass Rose, Sheengrass Swarm, Spryjack, Usunag, and Warp Drifter, and author of the Magmal Horror from Force of Nature.

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EruditeApe
Joined Dec 2011
1887 Posts
I myself just go for the simple explination that around 100 people of any level can counter and overwhelm any spell. ANY SPELL. Simple, clean, solves the "Why aren't mages awesome?" problem as any large riot can kill a wizard or other spellcaster as their spells sputter and their divinations fail to uncover it's existence. Most large castles, towers, and walled cities gain total immunity to mortal spellcasters due to their manpower heavy construction times (antimagic rune on ever brick and stone) making traditional warfare still the most effective battle plan when magical and mundane assassination fail.

Hm. Seems an interesting houserule, if irrelevent. Still, seems quite interesting, and does solve the problem decently, if a bit heavy-handedly.
Considering he's the DM and it's his setting, he can use whatever explanation he wants to establish that Sahuagin want some siege towers pushed off the cliff.

Yes, it is his call, but I would imagine both the DM and the player would want the most logical course of action.
I've never heard of this before, is there a source that you can point me to for that? That being said, your talking about completely covering a gargantuan sized object for a whole minute. If the resources to do that where at hand, it would probably be more effective to target the troops in lue of the siege towers.

I honestly don't remember where it is. One of the downsides of memorizing large chunks of crunch is that in-depth fluff and location tends to get crowded out.

And not really. It's much more efficient to try to kill a few targets that are relatively easy to kill than a large number of targets who fight back. Once the towers are properly ablaze, they aren't getting put out with what an army is going to carry with them.
I'm not sure what your point is here, or how any of that is relevant in regards to protective options for siege towers save for the mention of magic. In that regard, a decent leveled mage is pretty much a valid answer to anything and if one was on hand I hardly see why anyone would bother trying to do hit point damage to the towers (burning them) like you suggest, and as such something of a moot point.

Which was my point. But if the have access to magic protections for their siege engines, then the entire idea of siege engines is completely pointless. Given that, it was my assumption that they didn't have any real protection.
relatively simple and obvious not only to a land dwelling person but one who has spent a life time reaping the benefits of fire. If you think about it, fire probably isn't the first thought of an ocean dwelling creature in terms of causing harm. It's pretty much non existent in their natural environment so unless it was brought up by the people calling on the sahaguin it probably wouldn't be a primary tactic for them to burn things simply due to how rarely the opportunity would come up for them to do it. however thats mostly just a personal opinion on outlook and not a citation on sahaguin ecology written in stone, so anything is possible, it's just of my opinion that fire in particular is probably an oddity in the regimen of an aquatic races combat tactics.

This would be correct, except these sahuagin are in frequent contact with surface people. Given that, they ought to have encountered fire before, and, especially if their memory functions like humans, it wouldn't be at all odd for them to burn the towers.
As far as initial flammability goes, it takes a bit of work to get whole wood burning even up close, and siege towers could often be given less flammable coverings to stop them being easily set alight from a distance.

Preparation. Cut chunks of it off and/or bring flamable liquid like oil. It'd be much faster and quiter to have them burning out of control than to move a few giant structures.
If the sahuagin sneak in on a suitably dark night, they could already have the tower solidly rolling towards the cliffs before anyone notices, and unlike setting it on fire, it will be thoroughly smashed by going over the edge of even a modest cliff, instead of leaving the possibility for it to be saved.

Not really. If you think about it, moving each tower requires nine frogdudes. These towers are also not awesomely crafted, and are very large. They will move very, very loudly. Also, no self-respecting commander would leave his siege equipment near a decently-sized cliff, so the french guys will have to move them far too far to be safe or quiet. In fact, it'd probably be more efficient to simply swarm the camp at night and kill all the soldiers.

Now, compare that to the easy of cutting open some hide and/or applying decent amounts of some flammable liquid to the hide and letting it burn. You are also assuming the siege engines are totally complete.

When you think about it, rolling them off a cliff will only be really effective if the army has no watch, nobody awake at all, and everyone highly drugged.  And if that's the case, a massacre would be much more effective.
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Lashius
Joined Feb 2012
464 Posts
As far as initial flammability goes, it takes a bit of work to get whole wood burning even up close, and siege towers could often be given less flammable coverings to stop them being easily set alight from a distance.

Preparation. Cut chunks of it off and/or bring flamable liquid like oil. It'd be much faster and quiter to have them burning out of control than to move a few giant structures.
If the sahuagin sneak in on a suitably dark night, they could already have the tower solidly rolling towards the cliffs before anyone notices, and unlike setting it on fire, it will be thoroughly smashed by going over the edge of even a modest cliff, instead of leaving the possibility for it to be saved.

Not really. If you think about it, moving each tower requires nine frogdudes. These towers are also not awesomely crafted, and are very large. They will move very, very loudly. Also, no self-respecting commander would leave his siege equipment near a decently-sized cliff, so the french guys will have to move them far too far to be safe or quiet. In fact, it'd probably be more efficient to simply swarm the camp at night and kill all the soldiers.

Now, compare that to the easy of cutting open some hide and/or applying decent amounts of some flammable liquid to the hide and letting it burn. You are also assuming the siege engines are totally complete.

When you think about it, rolling them off a cliff will only be really effective if the army has no watch, nobody awake at all, and everyone highly drugged.  And if that's the case, a massacre would be much more effective.

To be honest, both pushing the towers off of a cliff and successfully preparing them for a proper burning seem like they would take nearly as much effort. Seeing as how the relative distance to the cliff is an unknown factor at this point, I'll drop that part of it for now, but keep in mind they (the solders) are close to the sea which is why the sauhagen are being utilized in the first place, so water to put a fire out isn't much of an issue. Combine that with the fact that covering it with oil takes time, just as pushing it over a cliff would take time, so if a watch is involved either idea would have to be executed in an initially stealthy matter, and both would probably assume the attempt of assassination of any guard that they come across.

The key difference is that well pushing the towers off of the cliff would probably result in their total destruction, it would undoubtedly be loud and draw the attention of even the sleeping solders as you say. Meanwhile, the fire would be easily put out, and still take time to set up in an effective manner as to adequately cripple the towers movement (I.E burn out half of it's hp), though it would probably risk less man power because the enemy could simply torch and run.

If this much manpower and resources are being put into the destruction of the towers it's probably a stall tactic for a bigger offensive in the future that would drive the army into retreat, since the army is situated near a coastal forest and the reconstruction of new towers would just be a matter of time. That being said, it would probably be wise to have a multifaceted plan that allowed for less of a margin of error and that would also occupy the troops in a fashion that would cause them to waist manpower and time.

Perhaps (if the sauhagen decide to us fire) the oil could be applied by a group inside to key points (since I doubt they would be able to get their hands on/carry enough oil to douse the whole of the tower) well an outer group attempts to push the siege engine over the cliff (the rate at which the tower moves should give hem enough time to be thorough and get out before hey go over the cliff as well). Should the alarm be sounded we'll they are going about shoving the tower, the sauhagen inside can act as a support team to deflect attacks or pick up the slack of any fallen "pushers". If they get the thing over the cliff they garnish with a fire tipped arrow/ thrown torch to light the remains ablazze to ensure that nothing is salvageable. If they get overwhelmed they simply toss a torch in and hope for the best as the retreat, probably to the beach to harass anyone trying to get water. If the plan follows through to completion they insure that the army needs to dedicate more time and men to rebuilding the towers effectively buying time, and in the worst case scenario they ensure that the towers are at least partially damaged prior to the engagement, and maybe loos a few men in the process.
EruditeApe
Joined Dec 2011
1887 Posts
To be honest, both pushing the towers off of a cliff and successfully preparing them for a proper burning seem like they would take nearly as much effort. Seeing as how the relative distance to the cliff is an unknown factor at this point, I'll drop that part of it for now, but keep in mind they (the solders) are close to the sea which is why the sauhagen are being utilized in the first place, so water to put a fire out isn't much of an issue. Combine that with the fact that covering it with oil takes time, just as pushing it over a cliff would take time, so if a watch is involved either idea would have to be executed in an initially stealthy matter, and both would probably assume the attempt of assassination of any guard that they come across.

Two points: One, they don't need to coat the entire thing, just start a nice blaze.  It'll take care of itself from there. The second point is that, once youhave even a decent-sized flame, it's actually relatively hard to put out, even with modern methods. I doubt these guys will have access to fire hoses.
The key difference is that well pushing the towers off of the cliff would probably result in their total destruction, it would undoubtedly be loud and draw the attention of even the sleeping solders as you say. Meanwhile, the fire would be easily put out, and still take time to set up in an effective manner as to adequately cripple the towers movement (I.E burn out half of it's hp), though it would probably risk less man power because the enemy could simply torch and run.

Except that large fires are not easy to put out. This is especially true, since something like an unprotected siege tower should catch very quickly and easily.

So, how are you suggesting these unprepared soldiers in the middle of the night put out the siege towers? Physically push the burning structure into the ocean?
If this much manpower and resources are being put into the destruction of the towers it's probably a stall tactic for a bigger offensive in the future that would drive the army into retreat, since the army is situated near a coastal forest and the reconstruction of new towers would just be a matter of time. That being said, it would probably be wise to have a multifaceted plan that allowed for less of a margin of error and that would also occupy the troops in a fashion that would cause them to waist manpower and time.

Then burn down the forest, too. Fire is awesome like that.

But, seriously, when you look at it, it takes less than nine people to burn a structure. At most, have two or three people applying the oil before the torching. Much easier and faster, with less investment for the same reward.
Perhaps (if the sauhagen decide to us fire) the oil could be applied by a group inside to key points (since I doubt they would be able to get their hands on/carry enough oil to douse the whole of the tower) well an outer group attempts to push the siege engine over the cliff (the rate at which the tower moves should give hem enough time to be thorough and get out before hey go over the cliff as well). Should the alarm be sounded we'll they are going about shoving the tower, the sauhagen inside can act as a support team to deflect attacks or pick up the slack of any fallen "pushers". If they get the thing over the cliff they garnish with a fire tipped arrow/ thrown torch to light the remains ablazze to ensure that nothing is salvageable. If they get overwhelmed they simply toss a torch in and hope for the best as the retreat, probably to the beach to harass anyone trying to get water. If the plan follows through to completion they insure that the army needs to dedicate more time and men to rebuilding the towers effectively buying time, and in the worst case scenario they ensure that the towers are at least partially damaged prior to the engagement, and maybe loos a few men in the process.

That seems highly risky for no reward. The army has no effective means to put out a large fire. For a multifacetted plan, just have a couple of mid-level sahuagin rogues go and kill the leadership in their sleep while the rest torch the towers. Or poison the water supply or food. Or steal equipment. Or really, any number of things, all of which are less dangerous and more efficient than pushing a huge structure a long way to throw it off a cliff.
Customer Disservice of the House of Trolls Resident Secretly Ron Paul God of Spite and Sloth
neueregal
Joined Mar 2008
897 Posts
Or...

You could run a real game without sitting around with calipers measuring the spaces between the keys on your keyboard, and keep the players involved and interested.

A player (who cares which?) is woken by a noise in the night, and the adventure begins, and if the players fight well, the siege engines are safe on the cliff, or if they roll bad dice, the engines go off the cliff.

Screw all this silly conjecture.

Sheeesh.
Giorin
Joined Aug 2007
150 Posts
Thanks for all the contributions. The reasoning of Lashius was especially helpful. I will also have a closer look on terrain features on the way to the cliff. It is true: Why should the ground be cleared in the wrong direction?

One rules question remains, though: How fast is dragging/pushing? 5 feet per full round action?

PHB: "Lifting and Dragging. A Charakcter can lift as much as his or her maximum load over his or her head. A character can lift as much as double his or her maximum load off the ground, but he or she can only stagger around with it. While overloeded in this way, the character loses any Dexterity bonus to AC and can move only 5 feet per round (as a full round action).
A character can generally push or drag along the ground as much as fice times his or her maximum load." (PHB v.3.5, p. 162)

The PHB gives no further information on speed while dragging or pushing.

The sage says: "If you use the dragging rule (see page 162 in the Player's
Handbook) to move something that exceeds your maximum load, you move at half speed." (All about movement (part two) - Skip Williams)

That leaves me with three different speeds that might apply:

- 10 feet for one move action (HoB rule on siege towers)
- 5 feet for one full round action (PHB rule on lifting loads up to twice max load)
- 15 feet for one move action (1/2 speed for sahuagin = sage advice on pushing/dragging quoted above)

plus the cryptic hint in HoB that the rules on carrying capacity in the PHB do regulate the speed of moving siege engines - which they do not as far as pushing or dragging is concerned. A case for editing. There have never been errata on "Heroes of Battle".

I think I will stick to the HoB rule on siege towers. Provided there is enough manpower a siege tower has speed 10. Period. That is fast enough to have recognizable movement and slow enough to build up suspense. The way to the cliff will be about 100 feet with some obstacles. Thus the PC's will have six to eight rounds to prevent the destruction of the towers.

As to the other issues raised:

- Destroying the siege towers other than by pushing them over the cliff. Not an option. They are created by druid specialists able to work a very hard and incombustible kind of wood. It would take other siege engines to destroy the towers. That is why they would be so valuable for the siege. As most of the special wood available (without logging) has been used for the towers they cannot be replaced.

- The element of surprise. The sahuagin have two objectives: destroy the towers and kill as many humans as they can before withdrawing. They are strong enough to cause a lot of casualties but not strong enough to fight the humans down. The construction site is 1 mile away from the camp as the druids do not like to share their secrets of working the special wood. Given their dual objective the sahuagin attack simultaneously at camp and construction site to take advantage of surprise at both battle grounds. They use the fires of the camp site to burn tents and panic horses.
As no one expected attack the druids only had a small guard of trusted rangers. One of these reached the PC's at the end of the last session with a call for help. When the PC's reach the construction site three druids will still be defending one of the two towers while the rest is dead or has fled.

- Classic siege vs. magic use. For political and cultural reasons the conflicting nations have limited acess to magic.
In the human chivalric nation they are tolerated individuals but not seen as honorable. There is no magic-using noble. No wizard or sorcerer is (openly) part of the army. There are some clerics and knights templar though. But as honor and feudal status is an important issue in this nation the clerics will limit their role to supporting the knights and not form divine magic elite units of their own.
The opposing nation is a hobgoblin warrior state led by four ogre mages who pose as hobgoblins and never use magic in public. Many conservative hobgoblin shamans oppose the rulers (as the Ogres do not worship Maglubiyet) and there is no tradition of wizards or sorcerers amogst them. Thus their army consist almost exclusively of fighter types supported by a few hobgoblin clerics. The same applies to their subordinated goblin and kobold units.
Sahuagin hate wizardry. They do have cleric but the ruthless, powerful fighter is the role model of sahuagin culture.
Lashius
Joined Feb 2012
464 Posts
Thanks for all the contributions. The reasoning of Lashius was especially helpful. I will also have a closer look on terrain features on the way to the cliff. It is true: Why should the ground be cleared in the wrong direction?

One rules question remains, though: How fast is dragging/pushing? 5 feet per full round action?

PHB: "Lifting and Dragging. A Charakcter can lift as much as his or her maximum load over his or her head. A character can lift as much as double his or her maximum load off the ground, but he or she can only stagger around with it. While overloeded in this way, the character loses any Dexterity bonus to AC and can move only 5 feet per round (as a full round action).
A character can generally push or drag along the ground as much as fice times his or her maximum load." (PHB v.3.5, p. 162)

The PHB gives no further information on speed while dragging or pushing.

The sage says: "If you use the dragging rule (see page 162 in the Player's
Handbook) to move something that exceeds your maximum load, you move at half speed." (All about movement (part two) - Skip Williams)

That leaves me with three different speeds that might apply:

- 10 feet for one move action (HoB rule on siege towers)
- 5 feet for one full round action (PHB rule on lifting loads up to twice max load)
- 15 feet for one move action (1/2 speed for sahuagin = sage advice on pushing/dragging quoted above)

plus the cryptic hint in HoB that the rules on carrying capacity in the PHB do regulate the speed of moving siege engines - which they do not as far as pushing or dragging is concerned. A case for editing. There have never been errata on "Heroes of Battle".

I think I will stick to the HoB rule on siege towers. Provided there is enough manpower a siege tower has speed 10. Period. That is fast enough to have recognizable movement and slow enough to build up suspense. The way to the cliff will be about 100 feet with some obstacles. Thus the PC's will have six to eight rounds to prevent the destruction of the towers.

As to the other issues raised:

- Destroying the siege towers other than by pushing them over the cliff. Not an option. They are created by druid specialists able to work a very hard and incombustible kind of wood. It would take other siege engines to destroy the towers. That is why they would be so valuable for the siege. As most of the special wood available (without logging) has been used for the towers they cannot be replaced.

- The element of surprise. The sahuagin have two objectives: destroy the towers and kill as many humans as they can before withdrawing. They are strong enough to cause a lot of casualties but not strong enough to fight the humans down. The construction site is 1 mile away from the camp as the druids do not like to share their secrets of working the special wood. Given their dual objective the sahuagin attack simultaneously at camp and construction site to take advantage of surprise at both battle grounds. They use the fires of the camp site to burn tents and panic horses.
As no one expected attack the druids only had a small guard of trusted rangers. One of these reached the PC's at the end of the last session with a call for help. When the PC's reach the construction site three druids will still be defending one of the two towers while the rest is dead or has fled.

- Classic siege vs. magic use. For political and cultural reasons the conflicting nations have limited acess to magic.
In the human chivalric nation they are tolerated individuals but not seen as honorable. There is no magic-using noble. No wizard or sorcerer is (openly) part of the army. There are some clerics and knights templar though. But as honor and feudal status is an important issue in this nation the clerics will limit their role to supporting the knights and not form divine magic elite units of their own.
The opposing nation is a hobgoblin warrior state led by four ogre mages who pose as hobgoblins and never use magic in public. Many conservative hobgoblin shamans oppose the rulers (as the Ogres do not worship Maglubiyet) and there is no tradition of wizards or sorcerers amogst them. Thus their army consist almost exclusively of fighter types supported by a few hobgoblin clerics. The same applies to their subordinated goblin and kobold units.
Sahuagin hate wizardry. They do have cleric but the ruthless, powerful fighter is the role model of sahuagin culture.

Glad to be of help. In my opinion you should probably go with the listed speed of the siege tower, maybe add a bit more to it if the sauhagen can muster enough people to break past the push/drag mark with their combined weight limits. The over all rules seem to dictate that carrying capacity is the key to moving the towers, but I would assume that since they are on wheels that they move twice as fast as normal pushing would allow.

@EA: In regards to fires in D&D, creativity can be key in dealing with them. Even if the towers where not fire resistant create water is a 0 level spell so if they had any number of clerics in their unit they could have at least kept the fire at bay. Not to mention since they came on a boat there could have been the possibility that the ship had a decanter of endless water to provide for the troops drinking needs (that and a few field provision boxes can almost be considered staples of any large military force). In addition to that if anyone in the service of the army had been a mage with accesses to the spell pyrotechnics, they could simply have simply extinguished the fire by using it as a materiel component. All of this is also beside the fact that the fire would have to bring the structure down to half of it's HP, which would take a wile with mundane means.