Sunday, November 20, 2016

DF Felltower: Showdown with the Orcs, Part I?

It's game day today, and the rumbling seem to be centered on a theme - "the orcs have to go."

We'll see if that's the case. The orcs are individually fodder, largely, but never come "individually." They're brave, fierce, warlike, organized, and have numbers.* They have wizards, canine (or vulpine?) beasts, the occasional trolls and ogres, archers, and a nearly limitless supply of callous ruthlessness.

What they don't have is power to match the PCs. They do worry the PCs a lot, but they're also a challenge for the GM. I've had to go back and review my own posts on the subject, like this Melee Academy post. There isn't a lot an orc can do against a PC except hope for a 3-4, and hope that superior numbers and well-chosen tactics allows them to take advantage. They'll need to pull tricks out of the trick bag, and use their superior knowledge of the dungeon area to make life hard for the PCs.

Equally the PCs have a lot on their plate. They need to figure out the orc center of gravity. They have to maximize what they do have - striking power that more resembles a special ops team backed by airstrikes than an army - and avoid cases where numbers actually matter. They have to use enough power in every fight to win them without costs, but not spend so much power that victory is essentially Pyrrhic. "We killed all the orcs in this room! Now, let's rest for 42 minutes to get back our power and then return to town because we used up all of our potions, paut, and consumables." That's a Pyrrhic victory, especially if they come back next week and have to fight that same battle over again. They need to determine where to go and what to do, as they don't want to get surrounded but they can't win a decisive victory by wandering the fringes nicking off the orcs that even the orcs consider totally expendable.

On top of all of that, the XP system rewards loot. Loot, loot, loot - they absolutely need loot. They might make some cashing in empties, but it's a tough gig killing orcs, grabbing up some spears, axes, and cheap swords and then selling them for a maximum of 40% list value (usually less - orcs keep their weapons sharp and strong but that's all.) A chest full of silver and gold is the goal, not $40 spears and $200 cheap swords reduced to 90% value and then sold for 40% of that. So the PCs need to do more than just grab some now-used swords and spears and suits of mismatched armor that they've hacked through with swords and axes or charred with lightning and fire.

Their lack of money laying around and poor delves and maltreatment of hirelings by some of their numbers means no one is chomping at the bit to join them. Like all wars, the time you most need allies is when the situation is bleak enough that they aren't always keen to jump in.

It's a tough gig, even against fodder, and it's no wonder the PCs have avoided a fight with the orcs as more trouble than it's worth. Now it seems like the annoyance of tolls and reduced dungeon access has aggravated them to their limit. Turning that intention into a victory that comes with loot will be the challenge today.

I've packed up about 70-80 of my orc minis, my dungeon corridor and room sheets, and we'll see how it goes.

* Not like how the Porka-picts have numbers, though. My game isn't that silly . . . yet.


  1. The Orcs should have all the money the PCs already paid them.

    Also there's a question of how many they need to beat up before they can hammer out a compromise. It shouldn't be anywhere near 100%. It might be as low as 10% depending on how mad the Orcs are. If they take it personally then above 50%!

    1. The orcs did get a lot of money from the PCs. But even if they still have it, it's not clear where they would keep it. Most of the areas the orcs were discovered in originally are terra incognita to the PCs.


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