posted by Joe on 4/12/16 in Tech Tuesday
The Town of Gotian. Map by Robert Brookes.

The Town of Gotian. Map by Robert Brookes.

Continuing the series on tips, tricks, and my personal experiences running Captured by Adventure, this week we go over Part 5: Welcome to Gotian. Exiting the mine, the party finds themselves overlooking the small town of Gotian. Finally back in the civilized world, the next part of the adventure allows for a little rest and relaxation.

Spoiler Warning: The remainder of this post contains spoilers and links to module content. If you want to keep the adventure a surprise for yourself, steer clear!

As the party approaches the town, the fieldhands and ranchers look at them curiously, but few bother to stop what they’re doing to talk with them. When they reach the gate it’s around dusk and they are met by the mayor, a cheery halfling by the name of Gabriel Fields. The mayor is very curious to hear their story, but seeing how filthy and weary they likely appear, he offers to lead them to either of the two inns in town after a short talk.

You are free to roleplay the next day and a half however you like. The major NPCs and locations in town are provided in the “Town of Gotian” node on the module map, and include the mayor, sheriff, innkeepers, priests, and notable craftspeople and merchants. Have the players interact with the hardy Ironist frontier folk, sell off whatever loot they escaped the jungles with, and generally allow them to “settle in” to the town.

You are encouraged to customize the town and its inhabitants to make them more interesting or meaningful to your players! The orcs attack the town in the next section, and the more “connected” to the town your players feel, the more heightened the tension will be when they fight alongside them. If you choose to create your own NPCs, share them on the site and tag them “Gotian” so others can use them in their own games if they like!

On the morning of the second day the party is summoned by the mayor and told that hunters to the north have reported large numbers of orcs moving towards the town. He beseeches the battle-hardened, orc-killing adventurers to help defend the town, and assuming they don’t hightail it out of there, they have six hours to help prepare the town for the raid before the orcs get to the walls of Gotian.

Before the orcs arrive, the PCs can use their skills and abilities to do all sorts of things around town. The Defense Points node in the module map describes the three areas that can suffer losses during the raid (civilian, watch, and structural), and provides a few examples of skills the PCs can use to better prepare those areas for the impending raid. They can help barricading the main gate, reinforcing the walls, strategizing with the sheriff, raising the morale of the militia, or scouting out the enemy as they approach. You should also encourage your players to be creative with their abilities, and figure out a way for their efforts to benefit the town.

There are six hours before the orcs arrive, and each “task” the PCs can do should take about two hours to complete, allowing each PC three chances to help with one or more things around town. I like to present the options provided, and then roll initiative and go through the PCs one by one. If any of the PCs have formed a bond with an NPC in town, I’ll have that NPC reach out to the character and ask for help with something specific, such as helping Father Andonthan set up beds for triaging the injured.

All around them, the entire town is on alert, hectically preparing. The end goal of this section is to have the party flex their muscles and wave their magic fingers around town to make them feel “heroic” compared to the rabble they find themselves in.

Once the preparations have been completed, the raid begins. The mayor suggests the party hang out in the center of town, allowing the watch and militia to hold the walls while the PCs serve as a “strike force” to deal with anything that breaks through. If your players want to be somewhere specific at the start of the battle that’s fine, you can always throw some run of the mill orcs at them wherever they are, but their attentions will quickly be drawn to the multitude of orcs that make it through or over the walls.

The first event is a breach of the wall on the northwest side of town, near the blacksmith and magic shop. Eight normal orcs make it through initially and attempt to get around the buildings, climb ladders, and slaughter rooftop archers shooting over the walls. Have the party arrange themselves however they like around the area in front of the shops and roll initiative for them and all the orcs.

The primary objective for the orcs is to get on the roofs and slaughter the archers, and until the party kills/corners some of them, they focus on killing the ranged attackers. It’s a move action to get up a ladder, and the orcs will slaughter an archer each round unless the PCs stop them. In my experience, the party is quick to move in front of the ladders and deny the orcs the easy pickings.

After the initial wave dies out (or if they’re wildly successful in killing the archers), four orc berserkers move through the hole in the wall. These are 1st level orc barbarians, and they take more abuse and deal more damage than the orcs the party has been fighting all adventure, but they’re not very intelligent and fight with reckless abandon and a lack of overall strategy. Add them to initiative and continue the combat. If you’re feeling generous, you can give them a round or two to heal up before the berserkers close the distance.

CR 4

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When the barbarians charge in, I like to reveal Lieutenant Broken Tusk and have him stand a good distance away from the ongoing fight, describing him as barking orders and clearly denoting him as a leader. He joins the fray after 2 barbarians have died or all the archers have been slain, giving clever parties a chance to injure/disable him before he gets too close.

That is advisable, because Broken Tusk is a fifth level barbarian, and although he’s not the chieftain of the tribe or final enemy, he’s hands-down the hardest-hitting enemy in the entire adventure. Hitting for 2d6+14, he can drop most 3rd level PCs with a single cut of his greatsword. I try to play up exactly how huge he looks when the party first notices him and give them every sort of hint that I can think of to prepare them for the devastation, but he still managed to knock out at least one PC in all but one of our playthroughs.

The invading orcs killed and repulsed, Malak arrives with some volunteers and begins barricading the breached wall, allowing the party to lick their wounds for a few moments. I usually let the party heal a bit here, but if they’re doing exceptionally well feel free to keep the events coming! Hopefully the party has some charges left from Old Garumba’s cure light wounds wand!

The next event is the orc cleric Rudoa and a bunch of other orcs making their way over the southern wall, protected by a darkness spell. As the party moves through town to investigate, they notice that enemies have split into three groups: Rudoa herself heads to the temple, three worgs begin terrorizing civilians, and a bunch of orc grenadiers begin starting fires.

The party is free to handle these in whatever order they like, and how long they take affects their Defense Points in the end. Killing the worgs quickly reduces civilian casualties, focusing on the temple helps with injured watch members, and dealing with the orc firestarters will reduce the damage to structures in town.

The worgs are a fairly straightforward fight: They’re going around the western side of town harassing civilians, calling to them in common in attempts to get them to open the doors to their homes. They’re not especially smart, and will rush any PC who draws near to them, biting at their ankles and trying to knock them down. I like to have one or two of the worgs start inside the buildings, allowing them to surprise the party after they engage the first visible one, and have them all swarm any PC that gets knocked prone from their trip attempts.

CR 3

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In the southwestern side of town, Chef Spicebreath and several grenadiers are setting fire to the town. Well aware they will not be able to hold Gotian, they're looking to raze as much of it as possible, tossing alchemist’s fire on the simple wooden buildings. When the PCs approach the orcs are in the middle of starting another fire, and I like to give the PCs a surprise round to close the distance and start fighting.

The grenadiers are more tactical than the orc warriors and barbarians, and actively attempt to protect each other and flank enemies. Chef Spicebreath is a 5th level sorcerer and will support the grenadiers, but he begins the fight distracted by all the meaty pieces of slain humans laying about. Depending on how things are going for the PCs, I’ll have him spend a few rounds performing grisly acts such as hacking off a child’s arm and throwing it into his sack before he join the combat and unleashing his first scorching ray.

Spicebreath and his grenadiers can be a rough fight, but it tends to end quickly when the party gets within melee range of the orc sorcerer. He doesn’t have a whole lot of tricks, preferring to blast enemies with fire until they strike him down.

CR 3

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Rudoa herself heads to the temple of Teddag, with the goal of slaughtering the town’s primary healers and desecrating the holy site. When the PCs reach the temple, Father Andonthan and the other priests are bleeding to death on the ground, left for dead. If the party took too long dealing with the other encounters before arriving at the temple, it’s possible they bled out, but in all my runs through the adventure going to the temple has been a top priority for the party. Assuming they arrive in time and have the ability to heal him, Father Andonthan grabs his shortbow to join in the fight to retake the temple.

The orc cleric is accompanied by six warriors who mostly act as speed bumps for the PCs, giving her a few rounds to cast spells before being beat on. She opens with darkness, giving her orc allies the benefit of concealment, and does her best to stay away from the party. Her blindness spell can be a debilitating debuff in the middle of the raid, so use it mindfully. When forced into melee she swings with her mace, and when she’s close to death it’s fun to consider channeling negative energy, even if some of her allies still live.

With all of those events dealt with, it’s time for the big show.

A long drawn out creaking sound followed by a loud crash resounds throughout the town. Screams and shouts from that direction tell you that the horde’s center has broken through the gate. The area in front of the entrance is a scene of panic and violence as orcs embroil the defenders of Gotian in the final conflict.

CR 4

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Rushing to the gate, the party sees all hell breaking loose. Orcs spill into the town and are met with guards and militiamen, and arrows continue flying from nearby rooftops. In the midst of this chaos, the leader of the orc tribe walks calmly into the fray, scanning for the party that escaped from his village. When his eyes lock on them he growls loudly, and charges them single-mindedly, eager to slay the adventurers who have cost his tribe so much.

Chief Strong Tusk is a sixth level fighter, and is accompanied by three lower-level bodyguards. He doesn’t hit as hard as Broken Tusk, but he’s better armored and works with his allies more actively. Strong Tusk is a brute but ultimately a coward, retreating if brought to 10 HP or less. I like to roleplay that a bit during combat, describing him as getting more and more worried as the damage begins to stack up. If he gets that low without the party finishing him off, he quaffs a potion of invisibility and retreats. I like to have the party make perception checks to notice drops of blood as he escapes, and give them a final chance to take down the chieftain.

When Strong Tusk is killed or driven away, the morale of the orc raiders is broken. The militia begins beating them back on all fronts, and they begin a full retreat. As described in Concluding the Adventure, that evening is somber as the townsfolk gather their dead, but the next day the two inns host a celebratory feast for the entire town. Gotian is saved, and the PCs are cheered as its saviors.

“Tips” Series for Captured by Adventure

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