View Full Version : Tactics for Urban Warfare (Pathfinder/3.5)

2009-09-05, 03:26 AM
The short version: My city is under attack, not by one army, but by five. Soldiers, wizards, and myriad monsters roam the streets, fighting one another, in an attempt to claim the city, or its smoldering ruins. I play a 4th level rogue, with a few magic tricks up my sleeve, with a good charisma and plenty of social skills. Along with me, I have a first level rogue, mystic, and two experts, along with a decent amount of money for non-magical supplies.

What sorts of tricks can I pull? Cheap traps, plots to play one side off another, etc.; anything would be useful, and would be easy to work into my schemes, since, in general, direct confrontation is out. A typical guard patrol squad might be 8 1st level warriors and a 4th level fighter, with other groups mixing in magic users or devils, depending on which side they are.

Long version: Absalom, The City at the Center of the World. Built on the Isle of Kortos, for over 4000 years has it been the center of civilization, and the city has never fallen to invasion in all that time. Founded by the Last Azlanti, the god Aroden, the city has also been the site of ascension of four deities that attempted the legendary Test of the Starstone. But a century ago, on the year that it was prophesied that Aroden would come down from the heavens and take the throne of the Empire of Cheliax, Aroden died without apparent cause or explanation, and the power of prophecy seemed to have been rent asunder.

The wars that followed in the aftermath of Aroden's death were brutal, as Cheliax became dominated by House Thrune, who made pacts with the dark god Asmodeus himself. This tradition continues to this day, and has been renewed in recent years. But Cheliax was weakened by several provinces breaking off in order to avoid their dark rule. To the east, the ancient realm of Taldor eyes Absalom hungrily, wishing to reclaim its glory with the power that Absalom could give them, for their empire once encompassed the entire periphery of the Inner Sea, including Old Cheliax before they were attacked on two fronts. The decadent and declining empire is still powerful, with legions and ships enough to defend themselves, but it is rotting from within. The only daughter of the Grand Prince of Taldor has plans to return them to glory, however.

South of Taldor, and the cause of Taldor's fall from glory, is the Satrapy of Qadira, a sub-state of the far off Padishah Empire of Kelesh. Chafing for war with Taldor, the Satrap Xerbystes II wishes for the glory and wealth that it will bring him, and he waits only for the permission of the Emperor himself to do so. Osirion to the south of the Isle of Kortos was once the leader of the lands south of the Inner Sea, but the Empire of Kelesh ended the rule of the Pharaohs of Old Osirion over 800 years past. The Satrapy of Osirion did not stay loyal, however, and the Empire ended up sowing the seeds of its own destruction, when they introduced the faith of Sarenrae to Osirion. The Cult of the Dawnflower bore fruit when it ended the rule of Kelesh over them just over 100 years past. A supposed descendant of the Pharaohs ruled, and his grandson, the Ruby Prince Khemet III has been building up his armies, though the purpose for this is unknown.

Two months ago, things went from unstable to disastrous in Absalom, when an infiltrator assassinated ten of the twelve members of the Grand Council, including Lord Gyr, the Primarch of the council, and stole eleven of the twelve cornucopias that give the members their positions, and are capable of pouring out nearly endless amounts of supplies during any siege on Absalom. This disaster merely preceded the worst of what was to occur. Next Princess Eutropia assassinated her father, the Grand Prince of Taldor, and took control, promptly sending her fleet toward Absalom with three full legions of soldiers. The Grand Prince had the title of Primarch in Waiting, and she hoped to take advantage of this to take Absalom for her own. In response Qadira sent a fleet of its own, but it was slightly behind the forces of Taldor. Both forces landed about the time that Osirion sent their own forces, backed up by elementals to aid them. And that was when the impossible happened.

Clerics of Aroden had been hoping that he would return for ages, but hope had been dying over the past century. And then, on the day that Absalom fell by districts to Taldor, Qadira, and Osirion, the roses of the gardens of Egorian, the capital of Cheliax, turned from black to white. The roses had turned black with his death, as one of the miracles he had performed was to turn them white to begin with, but this was an omen that Cheliax could not afford to ignore, particularly House Thrune and Asmodeus himself, as the ancient clerics of Aroden began to regain spells once more. Within days their own expedition was at sea, heading for Absalom to conquer it for Asmodeus and House Thrune, for if they could prevent the return of Aroden, it could only be done in Absalom.

Now Absalom is embattled, with at least five factions battling over the ancient city, and none know whom will win. But the Starstone shines brightly from the temple where it rests, and the people of Absalom know that no matter what occurs, Absalom will never be the same.

Temet Nosce
2009-09-05, 05:10 AM
Mills, distilleries, anything else you can think of that you can convince your DM will blow up: Free, already produced traps. I don't suppose it uses gas lines? That'd be far to convenient I bet.

Thievery. You own the city? Great, anything big enough to qualify as center of the world should have some shops with magic items, oil, alchemist's fire, poison and other goodies for you to take. You don't own the city? Take it anyways.

Touching on one of the things I mentioned stealing, poison is great with armies since you can hit large numbers of people with it. I know, it's normally expensive but either steal it or try to get some "cooking" spices that correspond to real world poisons (nutmeg jumps to mind).

Also, as for playing them off each other before they attack you - this is a good idea. Another option is pretending to ally with one side, and then trying to force them to take enough casualties wiping out the other groups so that you can deal with them afterward.

If you can, try to capture a magic item crafter or bargain with one for items of charm person. Give them as gifts to people in the armies.

This really sounds like a game I'd enjoy, but to be honest I'd want a lot more information before I began planning in earnest. You should look into the water source of the city, lakes, rivers, and reservoirs all offer useful tools.

2009-09-05, 07:13 AM
Ooooh... War is a dream scenario. There's so much going on so that most information being passed back and fourth is taken on face value.
Get a hat of disguise and go intercepting messages, scouts and start relaying false information.
A real fun thing to do would to get a small squad in an ambush, burn the corpses, then come back as the squads leader. If you look shocked enough, noone will take note if you act a bit stranger or out of character.

Mark Hall
2009-09-05, 09:05 AM
Pull down houses and use the rubble to block gates and create killing zones; if you can manage a second row of walls past the main one, that would be great.

Send emissaries (or, better yet, zombies bearing notes and a white flag) to various commanders, bearing offers. Start sharing information with your enemies on their enemies.

Big thing: Clean food and water. Ration it. Control it. Protect it. Police up corpses, even of rats and the like, as quickly as possible to avoid allowing disease to set in. If you have to, lower a priest on a rope every day to cast Purify Food and Water on your wells.

Figure out who is your least-bad option. Help them extensively... it may suck to lose control of your city, but if your least-bad option isn't that bad, it's better than being enslaved.

Control fires. While the occasional explosion is tactically necessary, fire is your enemy. It either destroys your homes, or it, at least, makes your people miserable.

Tax incentives. Offer tax incentives to businesses in return for things like confiscating inventories and guards.

Final option: Post a "guard" loyal to you on the mystic widget. If you give the signal, destroy it.

2009-09-05, 09:18 AM
g:take the plot coupon and run.

2009-09-05, 04:30 PM
Well, I don't OWN the city; it's a port city, on a large island, and the city's already successfully invaded. I'm caught in the middle of five different factions, fighting for control of the city.

Though, those are definitely excellent ideas; robbing alchemical shops and magic item stores. While they've probably already been looted, I'm sure it's a good place to start.

No character of mine who has more than 4 skill points per level goes without some way to acquire Disguise Self; the hat was my third item. Good tips on intercepting couriers, and changing messages, will definitely use.

I actually have Charm Person as an SLA, thanks to Pathfinder rules, so I plan to abuse that, when possible; combining disguises and charms, along with poisoning food supply, nice touch.

Thanks, guys; this'll make things go easier.