View Full Version : I need some counter guerrilla tactics for an adventure I'm running

Da Beast
2016-03-24, 01:20 AM
I'm running an adventure right now where the players are rescuing civilians from a hobgoblin slave caravan. We're playing 3.P but I'm looking more for tactics than mechanical advice so I'm posting here instead of the 3E forum. The caravan is too well manned to take on directly forcing them to use guerrilla tactics to wear the enemies down before a final encounter. I really want some counter tactics for the Hobgoblins to use as a bunch or goblins waiting around like goons sounds pretty boring. The caravan consists of:

58 hobgoblin mercenaries: lvl 7 sword and board fighters, 20 of whom are mounted on dire wolves. Their feats are dedicated to using their bastard swords and getting spirited charge while mounted.

16 Hobgoblin mystics: lvl 7 warlocks with fell flight, eldritch spear, frightening blast and sickening blast. These guys are mostly clustered around the middle of the caravan where they can use eldritch spear to bombard and debuff the players, targeting weak saves. Taking out the cluster of these guys is the biggest challenge the PCs are aware of.

28 Goblin commandos: lvl 3 fighter/3rogues. 12 of these guys are serving as the actual wagon drivers while the remaining 16 hide in two separate wagons (the PCs only know about the drivers). A decent stealth modifier and 2d6 sneak attack allow these guys to pop out and deliver an initial burst of damage but after that they won't contribute much.

And lastly, the caravan leaders are a lvl 9 hobgoblin cleric with the law and war domains and a lvl 10 hobgoblin warblade with iron heart surge and white raven tactics plus some hard hitting strikes and a few counters. The PCs haven't seen these two yet and only know that this band of hobgoblins are lead by a powerful and ambitious leader.

The caravan consists of 10 identical wagons (7 in front and 3 in back), one larger wagon carrying most of the mystics on top and a smaller carriage with the leaders in the middle. Aside from the inevitable reveal of the caravan bosses the only ideas I have to mix things up are 1) setting up an ambush by the goblin commandos 2) a counter offensive by the caravan's more mobile units (seems like a poor strategy though so I'm having trouble justifying it to myself) and 3) the hobgoblins bring the caravan to a halt and light one of the prisoner wagons on fire, forcing the PCs to stand and fight or let some of the civilians die. Obviously the last one is best saved for the end of the adventure to create climactic finale. I think one or two more plays for the goblins to run will make for a much more memorable adventure and would appreciate any suggestions.

2016-03-24, 02:54 AM
Are the warlocks proficient enough in illusion magic? If so, they could preemptively (or reactively) create illusions of wagons or escorts to make the party uncertain of the enemy position, or trick them into believing there are more.

Also, if the commandos are armed with ranged weapons and are decently accurate, have them shoot for the legs if the guerrilla unit tries hit-and-run tactics. This will force the PCs to either leave a man behind or waste some of their precious fighting time helping them retreat.

Last but not least, if one of the PCs is on their last legs and they aren't in a position to be rescued soon, have the goblins focus on dealing nonlethal damage. They want the party to stay and fight so they can overwhelm them, and a party member in danger is a much bigger motivation to do so than a dead one.

2016-03-24, 04:14 AM
As soon as they catch wind of trouble, send out goblins in pairs to scout, each with a designated area to cover. If any report signs of the enemy or dont report back at all, initiate flying warlock strafing run over the location.

If they have a reasonable idea of where the enemy is, split half the guard off to engage (split again into two parties), accompanied by token warlocks as support and hidden goblins trailing to surprise whoever tries to attack the 'weakened' detachment.

If there is enough space, reallocate prisoners within wagons to use some as decoys.

2016-03-24, 10:43 AM
Have scouts (invisble mystics or commandos) in the front, back and at both sides of the caravan. Use multiple, small groups (so that they can't all be taken out within a single round) and equip them with horns to sound the alarm if they spot the PCs. Any disturbance should be answered with the full complement of flying warlocks and wolf riders.
Have them use extra caution at any obvious ambush spots.
Consider giving as many goblins as possible ranged weapons. Using clever tactics, the PCs could be able to stop any earthbound foe from reaching them (entangle, wall of X, various fogs, illusions ...).

If they know that the PCs are after the prisoners, tell them that for each dead goblin, a prisoner will die. Since the goblins probably have the goal of keeping them alive, this should be used only as a last measure, if they are already quite desperate.

The Grue
2016-03-24, 11:02 AM
Have the cleric use Summon Monster to conjure up some dire apes. Go bananas with gorilla guerillas . Duck as your players throw rulebooks at you for terrible puns.

2016-03-24, 11:11 AM
Have goblins spread out to poison water sources and damage good camping sites. Maybe lay traps about the area to make life a bit harder for the party.

2016-03-24, 11:18 AM
Using the civillians as hostages is a good move, but remember that these are Slavers. The slaves are their cargo, so they'll need to get a little desperate before they start using those tactics.

What Terrain is the Caravan moving through?

Could the PC's encounter an "Escaped Slave", either a Goblin under illusion magic, or an actual slave promised freedom for himself and his family if he betrays the heroes (this one works better, IMO). Either way, the Slave leads the Heroes into an Ambush, claiming that a group of Mystics were going to visit some Ruins up ahead.

Hobgoblin Riders go ahead, bribing/threatening locals into betraying/refusing aid to the PCs.

The Caravan is planning to pass by a nest of Wyverns. The Hobgoblins plan to bribe the Wyverns into serving them (or the Cleric/Mystics plan to magically control the Wyverns), allowing them to keep watch for the PC's from the Air. If the PC's heard about this, they can try to keep the Wyverns from joining the Caravan, or recruit the Wyverns themselves.

2016-03-24, 11:58 AM
Since they can't hurt their slave cargo, take hostages from other places. Start forest fires. Find ways to threaten the PCs/blow their cover other than fighting. Never underestimate the usefulness of bribes either -- offer the PCs something they can't refuse (money, some slaves, information. Maybe tell them about other goblinoids who run a bigger slave trade that they want knocked out. Power Vacuum, but certainly a win win on some levels)

Alternatively, it had been shown that the best way to defeat guerillas was to pursue them relentlessly in their own element. Though you can't abandon your cargo, you certainly cannot keep on the defensive. Active pursuit, especially magically enhanced so they cannot rest for a few days would do wonders. Use magic or rotating hunting squads to constantly harass them. Even noises/movement can keep a party from resting, thus gaining fatigue and other negative traits. Take the range penalty on bow shows and just lob arrows into their campsite from 300 feet away. You'll never hit them, but you'll scare the crap out of them and make them paranoid/take penalties for not sleeping.

The goblins must be familiar with the route they're taking too, use that to make specific geographic points that are great for ambush/defense. If the party isn't scouting ahead, perfectly reasonable to surprise them with a crevice near by, whatever it may be.

Good luck!!

2016-03-24, 01:24 PM
Is this a caravan going out and looking for more slaves, or is this a caravan already full of cargo and trying to reach a destination? The reason I ask is that these are two very different scenarios in terms of what the caravan is trying to accomplish, and thus what tactics can be employed. Additionally, how expendable are the hobgoblin and goblin troops from the hobgoblin commander's point of view?

If the caravan is trying to collect more slaves, counter guerilla tactics are quite appropriate. Setting fire to the vegetation to smoke the PCs and their allies out into the open (where the hobgoblin cavalry can ride them down) is a good idea. If the PCs have been successful with their raids, have the caravan stop in an open, defensible location (top of a hill, etc.) and demand that the PCs reveal themselves or one of the slaves will be gruesomely killed per time interval until they do.
Sneaky assassin goblins are best in an ambush, but since the caravan is on the offensive they'll probably work decently as spies and pathfinders. If they can, the caravan would like to drive the PCs into natural hazards, (like the wyverns mentioned above, but swamps or ravines can be just as deadly), but the PCs probably know more about the land than the caravan does. Setting up an ambush would be ideal, but is unlikely to happen since the PCs can just withdraw if they get suspicious while the caravan is forced to stay near its cargo.

If the caravan is trying to reach its destination, all of the tactics change. After all, the caravan isn't here to thwart the PCs, its just trying to avoid them. The sneaky assassin types should be deployed around the caravan as a screen if passing through dense vegetation; if not, use the cavalry. The cavalry should be used to fight holding actions while the caravan tries to break away, harassing and harrying the PCs should they pursue. Additionally, the fastest cavalry should run ahead to summon reinforcements. If the caravan can't flee, they'll try to form up into a circle, using the wagons as fortifications til the PCs back down. In the worst case scenario, the hobgoblins might voluntarily leave a wagon of slaves behind in dangerous conditions (careening down a cliff, on fire, etc.) to force the PCs to respond while they make their escape.

Hope this helps!

Mark Hall
2016-03-24, 01:56 PM
Rotate your hiding commandos into the brush nearby, for strike and fade manuevers... they are not to stand and fight, just to get in a sneak attack and flee. Have them work in pairs, and use Bluff to provide opportunities to Hide. Consider that, as 6th level characters, they might have some magic items of their own... a ring of invisibility is likely out of their reach, but invisibility potions or 1/day invisibility items would be right up their alley.

If you can, change the goblins Fighter to Ranger, and take advantage of Favored Enemy or Favored Terrain bonuses. Consider that some might be 2/4 Rogue/Rangers or 4/2 Rogue/Rangers, and thus give a few animal companions to help warn of danger/herd slaves.

However, those are mechanical. For counter-guerrilla tactics, your best options are going to be intelligence. Those on dire wolves? They're outriders... some in the front, most off to the sides or in the rear. If the slavers aren't trying to be stealthy, they keep in contact via the dire wolves... howls at semi-regular intervals to announce location. Someone might be carrying an item that lets him understand Dire Wolf speech, or an item that allows use of Message.

Your goblins are also going to be out, especially once trouble has started. They're ranging about, looking for resistance, and staying a secondary screen. Again, an item that allows the use of Message is great here.

So, let's put the wolves out. They're about a quarter mile from the main body, in pairs at the 8 main compass points, with an extra pair in front and behind. The goblins are solo, maybe about 12 of them, in a loose circle around the wagons. (That gives you 10 driving, 12 ranging, 6 resting, and lets you cycle them every so often).

You now have 38 Hobgoblin soldiers to watch 10 wagons. I'd say 4 per wagon, with the one wagon that you can't have 4 hobgoblins on be the rest wagon for the goblins. When attacked, your outer screens begin to contract, meaning the 4 Hobgoblins (and one goblin) only need to hold for a couple rounds before a horde of mystics fly up and start trashing any targets, and then the outer screens move in a few rounds later.

2016-03-30, 01:47 PM
20 mounted fighters, break them into 5 groups of 4. 2 groups scout ahead, sweeping to the left and right of the wagons. 2 groups ride point. These will switch out at regular intervals. The scouts ride point and rest their mounts, while the fore guard takes over scouting. Fail to check in as scheduled, and the wagons stop and prepare for battle. The last group of riders will be on rear guard. Split the infantry in half with a loose column on either side of the wagons. Commandos should be hidden in the second and second to last wagon, allowing them to respons quickly to an assault on the front or rear of the column. Split your casters up a little. Have some riding shotgun on every other wagon and some walking with each column of infantry. Keep your commanders in the center.

Don't present a single, high value target. Risky or not, the party will eventually go for it. Better to have a balanced defense with no apparent weak points to exploit.

Alternatively, you could leave an obvious gap, like a lack of rear guard, to lure the party into an attack.

2016-04-02, 05:06 PM
If the wolf riders are shock cavalry then keep them as one unit of 20. Break the footgoblins into four teams of 9 swordsmen and two mystics and set them walking a bowshot away from the wagons in front, either side, and behind. If one of the infantry makes contact then the two adjacent teams come up to assist, meaning you have 27 swords and 6 mystics converging on the foe. The fourth team blends into the wagons and the wagons make a 90 degree turn away from the battle. The 20 mounted goblins ride hard to charge the enemy in the rear. So a skirmish should involve 27 swords, 6 mystics and then 20 mounted goblins. This assumes fairly open terrain.

In closed terrain where the cavalry can't charge through, I'd have them dismount and walk among the wagons, and use the dire wolves for scouting beyond the swordsmen screens.

2016-04-04, 08:06 PM
Decoys come to mind. Make sure they attack the decoys, make the heavy infantry engage, with the cavalry in position so that once the players break, the cavalry can run the guerrillas into the ground to prevent them from going off the grid again.