View Full Version : Tunnel Wars and Size Differences

Mr. Mask
2015-08-04, 05:56 AM
So, dwarves are short, and they have tunnels, right? So, if bigger creatures like humans invade their tunnels, it's clear which side has the advantage.

How do you think humans, elves, orcs, and other creatures would get around this size problem? Having to fight while you're crouching or crawling, and your enemies can stand up, that's a lot to ask. It gets worse with small sized creatures like kobolds and goblins, whose tunnels could be so small that fighting in them might be near impossible for the aforementioned humans, orcs and elves.

The simplest solution is to hire smaller creatures as mercenaries to fight for you. The second most direct solution would be to dig the tunnels larger (which is easier than digging a tunnel from scratch), or avoid direct tunnel fighting and rely on flooding and other tactics.

What are your thoughts?

2015-08-04, 06:28 AM
It depends a bit on how large the tunnels actually are. While dwarves are shorter than humans they are not a lot shorter, so given a bit of head room for the dwarves, shorter humans may be able to fit without much issue. If they don't want to carry all their goods/mined ore themselves, they need to get draft animals into their settlements - depending on what they use these are probably a bit taller than dwarves, so require more head room. If the dwarves trade with taller races, they will probably have at least some of their tunnels build to a scale to accomadate their trade partners. Finally, dwarves often seem to build things unnecessarily big because they can :smallsmile:.

You can probably get away with recruiting shorter members of your race as specific anti-dwarf squads to deal with lower tunnels, and have the majority of the forces handle the initial assault on the areas with better headroom.

Smaller/less tradey races like kobolds are more difficult. At this point, you best bet is probably to offer a few hundred gold and/or a sob stroy to the next few groups of adventurers coming through and hope they deal with the issue :smallsmile:. Then you can send people in safely to loot anything that is not portable enough for the group to cart off themselves...

2015-08-04, 08:50 AM
In short, they don't.

Never ever fight dwarves on (in?) their home turf. They know a labyrinth of mineshafts like the back of their hand, they are stubborn little bastards who would rather die to the last dwarf than give up their homes, and even if they do die to the last dwarf, you just know they'll try to pull off something crazy like cave-in the whole deal just to take you down with them.

It is also the rule to never fight elves in the woods.

2015-08-04, 08:50 AM
Redirect a river or two into the dwarves tunnels, you could also try poison gas or something like that.

2015-08-05, 01:03 AM
In D&D, shrink your troops to fit in the tunnels. Or send in gelatinous cubes of the right dimensions.

Outside of magic, you'd want to equip your soldiers with a short thrusting weapon like the iklwa or the gladius since there is no room for longer thrusting weapons or slashing/bludgeoning weapons. Make sure your troops are well armored, especially on the head and shoulders (since that's the first part that will be exposed by hunched over troops). Crossbows and guns would probably do ok underground as well, since bows or throwing weapons need space to use.

Gear up your troops, send them in with overwhelming numbers, and expect to never see any of them again. Even if you hopelessly outclass your tunnel-dwelling opponents in equipment and skill, they'll still butcher you with traps, murderholes, ambushes, and more. As V-squid said, never fight them on their home turf. It's the equivalent of fighting an urban battle without any outside support like artillery or the ability to flank while crawling. Even tunneling into their tunnel networks (to avoid traps) is tantamount to suicide because they can easily pinpoint where you're coming in from and collapse the tunnel on you. Look up the Ottoman siege of Vienna for more info about this style of combat. Honestly, if the defenders know you're coming and you are unable to use any other method of digging them out besides charging, no amount of troops will be able to storm it. The tunnels would clog with corpses long before the defenders would run out of men.

Mr. Mask
2015-08-05, 01:15 AM
If you make your own tunnels, it is possible to surprise the defenders. But you would have to outsmart the dwarven listening tunnels, and be careful you didn't tunnel into a false tunnel.

Milo v3
2015-08-05, 08:10 PM
Send in bound earth elementals, they can just phase through the walls.

2015-08-06, 09:32 AM
So these are rude dwarves, they do not trade with larger, if any, other races.

Your adventuring group has little to no magic.

Your adventuring group has no access to water or other natural environmental tools to 'Flush' them out.

There are no great minds or thinkers in your adventuring party. So no plan B.

None of your group members are great speakers or con artists. So there is no getting others to do the job for you.

What to do? All your group is good for is hacking and slashing.

Make sure that all your weapons are capable of being used in tight locations. No bows, no swinging weapons and no throwing tools.

Stay quiet and don't let them know you're coming.

If you can, use poisons or other expensive enchantments to bolster your weapons that your character may not be familiar with using.

2015-08-06, 03:13 PM
Dwarves as medium creatures are probably a bad example (they're not that much shorter then the human norm)... but you know who is a terror in this circumstance?

The Kobold.

2 feet tall tunnels, traps, and a penchant for explosives designed for digging (kobold bombs... I don't remember the name but you rolled two die and multiplied the result).

The solution is the same be it gophers, kobolds, or dwarves... assuming you have water available, flood the tunnels. If not, seal them in and wait. Going in is just asking for a blood bath.

2015-08-06, 04:12 PM
In the real world, you can see an example of this sort of defense in some of the cliff dwellings in the southwestern United States. A short tunnel that requires anyone coming in to bend 90 degrees or to crawl is pretty darn effective, particularly if you're waiting at the other end with an axe.

2015-08-06, 04:36 PM
There's a line in LotR somewhere that talks of larger orcs able to run full-tilt, even when bent double in a low tunnel. It's one of their talents. I should assume they can fight in the same position.

warty goblin
2015-08-06, 06:07 PM
There's a line in LotR somewhere that talks of larger orcs able to run full-tilt, even when bent double in a low tunnel. It's one of their talents. I should assume they can fight in the same position.

It's in the Hobbit technically, but more importantly a large orc in The Lord of the Rings is nearly man-size, which puts most of them rather closer to dwarves in terms of height I'd imagine.