December 24, 2008

The Skill Challenges of War - Part 7: Break the Siege!

Mad Brew escapes to The Core Mechanic for one last post since the Labs were
besieged by angry villagers last night. For some odd reason, they do not
appreciate his work or the fact that he provides an important service: cutting
the costs of funerals by emptying old graves!

Here are the previous posts in this series:
Part 1 - The Concept
Part 2 - Complexities of War
Part 3 - Skill Challenge: Diplomatic MissionReconnaissance
Part 4 - Skill Challenge: Rally the Troops!
Part 5 - Skill Challenge: ...The Body will Die
Part 6 - Skill Challenge: Flush Out a Spy

Break the Siege!

The enemy sits beyond the walls of the city, slowly choking it to death by denying supplies. Soon disease will take root, rotting the city from within. The task falls upon your shoulders to break the siege and obtain fresh supplies before hunger and plague weakens your forces, leaving the city defenseless against the inevitable assault [1].

The PCs must secure a supply line into the besieged city before hunger, plague, and fear wreaks havocs upon it. If the PCs fail in their task, the enemy may not even need to fight to take the city and the PCs may not be in any condition to prevent it.

Setup: You must use all your resources to break the siege and obtain supplies before famine and pestilence take their toll.

Level: The PCs’ level +2.

Complexity: 5 (requires 12 successes before 4 failures).

Primary Skills: Arcana, Dungeoneering, Heal, Nature, Stealth, Streetwise.

Arcana (Hard DCs): You meet with the clerics, sorcerers, and wizards of the city to discuss methods of procuring supplies via arcane device. Possibilities conjuration, teleportation, polymorphing, and perhaps even summon extra-planar entities. Each attempt at this approach needs to look at a different arcane method and accrues a cumulative -1 penalty as ideas get harder to come by.

Dungeoneering (Hard DCs): You look to subterranean pathways to re-establish the supply trains. A failure means you cannot attempt this approach again because you have encountered something worse than the conventional enemy outside your walls and must secure any entrances leading to the sewers or the underdark.

Heal (Moderate DCs): You keep an eye out for citizens infected with disease to quarantine and treat them. This approach is mandatory and must be attempted three times. The PCs could attempt to persuade (using Diplomacy or Intimidate) local religious orders to perform these checks as well.

Nature (Moderate DCs): You look into growing and gathering fruits, vegetables, and nuts in or from the city parks, palace courtyards, and private gardens. The PCs may only attempt this approach once.

Stealth (Hard DCs): You attempt to sneak supplies into the city under the cover of darkness, inclement weather, or by posing as the enemy. A failure with this approach means the PCs were discovered and lose 1 healing surge worth of hit points in the resulting combat.

Streetwise (Moderate DCs): You canvas the city looking for surplus from citizens, businesses, and organizations (criminal or otherwise). Each attempt at this approach results in a cumulative -3 penalty as it surplus becomes scarcer and even more difficult to ferret out.

Success: The PCs managed to fend off disease, hunger, and the enemy until reinforcement arrived and together routed the enemy. This skill challenge could very well be used as an “end game” for the war or as a pre-curser to the final, epic confrontation. If the latter is true, success on this skill challenge represents a major advantage for the next battle.

Failure: The PCs failed to obtain enough resources to survive the siege. Starvation has set in and the victims of disease can be found burning in great piles about the city. Fires, either deliberately set or spread from funeral pyres, continue to burn in several districts. The PCs lose half their maximum number of healing surges in damage as they starve or suffer from disease (leaving them with at least 1 hit point and 0 healing surges). They also have a major disadvantage in the next skill challenge of the war.

[1] "Siege Of Acre 1191" Credit: D.Papety (1815-1849)

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