Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Goblin Fort, End of the 29th Round & Beyond

There have been two rounds gone by for this image:

A.  The north gate, cleared - except for the Queen drow.  B. The west breech, cleared - the battle is fully in the courtyard now.  C. The southeast breech. stuck - but not for long.

This, I'm afraid, is my last image for the combat.  I hope that the gentle reader does not hold me in too great disdain for not having saved every last round down to the death of the last goblin - this lack of final maps is part of the reason why I had left eventually publishing the whole combat until now.  I hope that my description of the very end will satisfy the reader.

In the end, the party does win.

The Verger eventually takes a position with his back to the NW wall, where he dies.  The dire wolf goes down to elvish arrows and while Ty is stunned at the end of the 29th round, he does live to come help Falun finish off those last three hobgoblins.  Karl kills the giant toad and tears through the goblins that are approaching, while the glaivers kill those that are confused.

The purple figures on the map are the hobgoblins coming from the NE tower; Frederick the mage/thief uses his last spell, sleep, to knock them out.  Ivan kills the giant toad on him and tracks down the Prince, killing him.  He and the Old Man drow go at it for several rounds until well, see below.

At the North, the Queen (out of charges on her wand of fire, sorry party) teleports to the ground, where she fights Pikel (round 28), then Penn, the Pikel again.  Falcon, Lyrial, Pikel and Penn all gang up on her until she goes down.

But the real end of the fight actually happens when Garalzapan moves to the doorway of the tower at the top of the stairs.  For the first time, the mage has safe vantage to throw spells into the courtyard.  His fireball evaporates all those orange goblins in front of Widda and Hig.  He rushes out and fires a 10 hp sheet of death with burning hands gets rid of many more.  Thus, Hig, Widda and Shalar are freed up to attack the courtyard defenders.

It is Shalar, moving at monk speed, that crosses the yard to take out the Old Man with Ivan.  The goblins in the center are decimated - and from there, we called the combat over, simply counting up hit points for the remaining defenders.  We were all quite done.

It's funny that the real key of the combat was to get Garalzapan into a killing position.  No one really thought of that; after the battle, it was discussed that fighting to get into one of the towers and using it as an emplacement for the mage would have been great.  However, the party did not know through this combat that the Queen drow had an arrow of mage slaying in her quiver.  Which she never got to use, because at no time was she opposed by a serious mage.  Falcon was only 1st level, Frederick fought on the SW and west sides and Garalzapan was jammed behind the SE mess.  The party gained possession of that arrow - which I believe remains unused.

In a combat this size, things are going to go right and things are going to go wrong.  The party, though we played this combat for about 10 runnings, often with only 2 and a half rounds a night, never got bored - or they said they didn't.  I urge the reader to read my daughter's essay, that encouraged me to finally take up this task (which has taken me three days).  One thing I did not want to do is bury that essay behind a massive wall of posts - so please, seriously, do read it.

IF you have enjoyed this series, I ask you to please do one of three things.  ANY of them will make me happy.

1)  Please say "Good Job" if you liked it.  My traffic stats are full of bots, so I don't know who has been reading any of this.

2)  Please support me by buying one of my books - the Dungeon Book, the Essay Book or the How to Run Book.

3)  Please donate.  I'm unemployed two months, and I'm beginning to feel the pinch.  If you feel I've offered something that you can respect, pass along a few bucks.


  1. It's a fascinating and ambitious project to attempt a battle of that scale!

  2. Great stuff. Is this the largest combat you've ever run?

  3. Yes, absolutely the largest combat I've run. So far. Not saying I wouldn't make something larger - but I would figure out an improvement on the time it took. Strangely, if I could, one that didn't actually remove the one individual one roll standard. I'm formulating a post on that.

  4. Are your Mass Combat rules posted anywhere? I looked in your tags and through the comments and didn't see any.
    Or are your Mass Combat Rules something you could make a book out of?

  5. Preston,

    There are no mass combat rules. Every swing, every point of damage, every spell and every action in the combat shown here was done in the same, everyday, ordinary way as any other combat.

    There were just more rolls, is all.

  6. I read the whole series, as I do most of your posts. It was an interesting endeavor.

    If you're feeling like dwelling on this subject more than you already have, I'd like to know how you presented a round to the players. Was the big map all on display, and each action rolled in order? Or was each front presented individually, giving an experience more like the assault on the cardinal's castle in the online campaign?

  7. Fantastic series of posts.

    I would like to hear more about your record-keeping and map-making methods. Do you use Microsoft Publisher for your battle maps (as you do for your campaign maps)?

  8. Maximillian,

    The whole map is one single image on Publisher; so as the round was performed, I simply panned up, down, left or right, zooming in or out to give the whole picture or focus on a detail. All the data for the NPC participants was written in 4pt font, so had to get up to 200% to read it.

    The only reason why the Cardinal's Castle (he was an archbishop, actually) was presented that way was because the campaign was online and because the parts were specifically separated by walls and doors; with dungeons, it is easier to show in bits. Outdoor battles have to be bigger setpieces (up to the limits the RAM will allow).

  9. Jon,

    This battle greatly changed the way I keep records on the map during the campaign. I have a number of faster methods which I hope to demonstrate soon (after the next running, which promises to be all combat as 10 party members are fighting more than 100 orcs in tight quarters - combat was suspended in the middle last session).

  10. Good job ! Very, very good job.

    I can sense the tension, the feeling of uncertainty and dread, the attrition, I'd have loved to be there, going through it !

    Definitely going to buy those books - but real life has been very busy for me since a year, and money is tight. Still, I will get those !

    Oh, and my girlfriend love "The Garage", by the way :D

  11. Not only good job, but The Dungeon's Front Door has been ordered and will be in my mailbox shortly.

  12. Awesome, thank you!
    When the wizard first blinked I thought he was going to go on top of the tower and start blasting away. I loved the arrow of slaying bit, that is the kind of thing that happens all the time in real life (the Japanese scout plane that spots the American fleet at Midway, but has a broken radio etc. etc.), but if it were in a fictional movie would seem too contrived. I think this is one of the great strengths of the hobby, in this sense it is not fictional, sure there are no goblins or magical spells, but those decisions actually happened, the mage somehow managed to accidentally stay out of sight of the arrow of slaying until the Drow queen was killed, if it was a movie people would not believe it.

  13. Yes, Thiles, I agree with you about the strength of the game. If the mage had chosen to attach himself to another part of the battle, if the SE had gone worse for the defenders so that the Queen put more of her resources there, then things could have been different. But then, the arrow might have missed.

    It's also an argument for why mass combat should NOT be processed in 'groupings' as opposed to individuals. Look at the things that would have been lost from the experience: the ranger being just missed by the ballista; the breaking of the lord's arm right off; the profound good luck that Wilhelm had, distinguishing himself in the battle; the endless dragging fight on the tower between the monk and the goblin or the troops trying to get through the SE breech. If you mass things together to make things easier, the randomness is lost and the profound experience is diminished.

    As I put these images together, it convinced me that if I ran two armies of 10,000 against each other, there ought to be some way to fight most of the battles without the players present, but still keeping the verisimilitude of the individual experience.

    But then, I'm a true believer, a purist. I think these things are important.

  14. Fantastic. I really enjoy reading about the incredible depth and breadth you have in your world. You have inspired me to attempt to build my own world of similar scope. And not just with this series, but with the entirety of your writings since I first stumbled upon them (has it really only been 6 months?). Anyway, I know I have a lot of work to do, but I know I want to be where you are. Thank you for doing what you're doing.

  15. Great job with this Alexis. I hope to one day have something this involved and epic in one of my campaigns.

  16. Epic battle. Proves the value of helpful NPC's

  17. Good job, Alexis.

    I always wondered how the details of that mass combat unfolded, from back in the days when you were reporting about it without so much detail.

    I already have all of your books, both the D&D ones and Pete's Garage. Hey people! They're good! Buy one or two, they can also make fine gifts.

  18. So Fricking Cool. I hope that the party i am currently running will get to the point where they can have battles like this. I really want to see how D&D combat works on a larger scale.

  19. Good evening, currently combing through the old posts.

    This one appreciates your work, and is convinced of the usefulness of following the same combat rules for the larger fights.

    Best regards,


If you wish to leave a comment on this blog, contact with a direct message. Comments, agreed upon by reader and author, are published every Saturday.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.