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Recently, my campaign has taken a sudden turn and consequently the circle will end up confronting squads of Dragon-Blooded and probably the WyldHunt. As I don't have much experience running terrestrials, to date my attempts to create challenging opponents have not met with much success. The key to terrestrial strategy is in their numbers and the fact that they have charms that work together, but I'm not quite clear on how these gel into a decent combat strategy.
So, the challenge to the rest of this Wiki:
Create the smallest group of legal, starting Dragon-Blooded characters that can, with the correct tactics, bring down a circle of three, reasonably-balanced, legal, starting solar characters. You may use Immaculate characters if you wish.
Please spend most of your time describing the tactics used, particularly how charms would interact. The idea here is to get a feel for what kinds of terrestrial strategy actually work.
See also Challenge/WyldHuntTactics
1st Strategic Move: Soften up with expendable mortals.
Being that the circle is composed of relatively weak, I use the term "weak" loosely, Solars, the Wyld Hunt would want to wear down their essence pools as much as possible. To do this, they would send in about 30 mortals to soften up the mote reserves of the Solars. Typically, young Solars are eager to throw down with their new powers and do not plan ahead, burning through motes rapidly, leaving them vulnerable and weakened. To activate a scene long defense consumes the dice action. If the Solars are attacked with multiple times, they may not be able to activate their scene long persistant defenses. Depeneding on how you run your game, the turn in which a scene long reflexive defense is activated, may or may not gain the charms benefits. For example if Solar "A" activates FLB in turn 1, it may or may not affect turn 1; depends on interpretation.
2nd Strategic Move: Send in the big guns.
Now that the circle has been softened up, maybe a wound or two, but primary goal was to force essence expenditure, it is time for the Immaculates to join the fight. I suggest at least an Air Immaculate and a Water Immaculate. Also 1 or 2 ordinary terrestrials. Besides their immaculate charms, they should have normal terrestrial charms. Too often people make the mistake of creating Immaculates with no diversity of charms besides their martial arts. One key charm I suggest, especially for the Water Immaculate and any other hand to hand fighter would be Safety Among Enemies. With this charm, the db usues the Solar's superior power against another Solar. Usually a db can't straight up beat a Solar's power, so why attempt to beat it when one can simply fight dirty. The Air immaculate should stand back and throw dozens of chakrams using the artifact Infinite Chakram. The Water Immaculate can be right up in there with heavy jade armor, tiger claws, a nifty hearthstone and his two friends. For the 2 regular db's, I suggest melee and at least one of them having the melee charm "Deadly Wildfire Legion". I almost forgot about Five Dragon style. A charm I suggest from there for the Immacualtes is Five Dragon Fortitude and Five Dragon Blocking. The FDF and FDB for the water immac is a must because you won't have access to the form as these are starting characters. Good thing for those solars that the water immac doesn't have his form, it gets scary then for them.
This is 1 way to fight Solars. An equally as effective way is to simply jump them and not let them power up at all. Take 3 or 4 terrestrials, have them ambush the Solars at dinner, while they are sleeping, in the bath tub, I almost wrote shower. Get them at their weakest. If the Solars leave each others side, and wander in a city on their own, feel free to jump them. Just don't alert the other Solars. I love the whole get them in the bath tub. Chances are their armor is off, their weapons aren't on them and they are not ready for a fight. Even an experienced Solar gets scared when he is washing his jibblies and 3 terrestrials in armor, carrying daiklaives and donning tiger claws hand him the lufa.
Go Filthy Terrestrials!!! Remember, what the db's lack in power, they make up with strategy and planning. Madoka
That Water Immaculate is not a legal starting character, unless he has no Immaculate Charms beyond Spirit Sight and Spirit Walk. --MF
First the Solars must be considered. Though there isn't that much difference in their capabilities, it is noticable. For this exercise I'm assuming that a 'balanced' Solar has 6-7 charms in their core area, and 4-5 in other areas. They generally won't start with Essence 3 unless the concept requires it (for example a Sorcerress). Working from these assumptions, and considering the advice given in the core book (And Kasumi too), even the non-combat characters should manage to have a full pool defence (such as Shadow Over Water), even if they are unarmed, and I'm assuming that such characters also have at least some skill in a weapon, even if they can only really take on mooks. Anyway, I'm assuming that for this Challenge, there is one Solar with her primary focus in combat, one sorceror, and one stealthy type.
The combat focused solar doesnt have a persitant defence yet, but does have access to a basic combo (Hungry Tiger Technique and Dipping Swallow Defence) and some charms in Presence/Perfomance. She leads a small band of troops, deserters from the Realm, 25 medium troops. Her name is Alysia. Alysia herself in this example fights with a Reaver Daikliave and a Thunderbolt Shield, and wears some medium armour like her troops.
The stealthly solar is of course a Night aspect. Her primary charms give her some stealth and awareness, as well as some atheltics for more tactical mobility. Her non-speciality charms get her some defence in the form of Shadow Over Water, and a charm to boost her daggers both when thrown (with Precision of the Striking Raptor) and to start her in close fighting, with Secrets of Future Strife (from the Violet Bier of Sorrows).
Finally, the Sorceror. Most of his primary charms are actually tied up in his spells, which include the Death of Obsidian Butterflies, Demon of the First Circle, Invulnerable Skin of Bronze and Hound of the Five Winds. His other charms include Dipping Swallow Defence, which he uses with his golden direlance, the brilliant spear. While he can't use that while casting spells, it is none the less useful to have and lets him do things in combat when he isnt casting spells. He's also a Twilight, which helps his defence a little more.
While these solars can put up a fairly good fight for themselves, the WyldHunt is in luck in that there are no real attacks they will employ that will cost the solars a negligable amount to defend against, so any attack helps them. Note that this is not nessesarily the case. All three of those characters could, with minor charm changes or a particular Artifact or Hearthstone, render themselves fairly immune to even the elite Extras of the Imperial Legion. They could do this without massive overspecialisation. This would make the Dragonblooded job a lot harder. Also in a factor that probably mostly helps the Wyld Hunt, the soldiers that follow Alysia, while they aid in defence, also slow the whole group down and make it easier to track. I'm also assuming they only met recently, so Alysia's troops are not equiped with the Perfect equipment the Sorceror could make with about a weeks work and access to a forge (And Flawless Handiwork).
Now on to the 'Blooded and the tactics.
For the beginning Wyld Hunt, I'm not going to consider Immaculate Monks. With the chargen restrictions, they can only have three charms beyond the Initiation, which have to be from their Styles, and they don't have the BP to buy much of anything after the Essence 3 that they need for the Initiations. This makes them not that much fun as combatants at such low (i.e none) xp. For the normal dragonblooded of the hunt, I'm assuming that they do want to be here, and so have a reasonable combat focus, with maybe 4 - 6 charms devoted to combat, and the rest in supporting roles. Also, they will try to take charms that allow them to support each other in combat. Again I'm assuming Essence 3 only if it's needed for the concept, though DB sorcerors are fairly hard to do just because of this fact, those 10bp for Essence hurt. Any Elite Troops used in the Hunt will come from their Command Backgrounds, though they may well conscript local miltia into helping too. Finally on the design considerations front, Dragonblooded, with their elemental natures and the accompanying surcharge, tend to work best when they fight with their in Aspect ability, so I'm assuming this here, though a certain amount of cross-aspect skills are unavoidable, and desirable in cases.
Air Aspects in the starting DB circle perform two functions, sorcerors and thrown weapon platforms. Their third combat function, that of co-ordinators, is what makes them truely scary, but requires the Air Aspect in question to sink almost all his starting charms into the Linguistics Tree, which is probably a little too specialised. Not that with both 'specialisations' Dodge can help in avoiding pain, as does their anima which allowing long range jumps to keep them out of Melee. As sorcerors, they cannot cast that many spells with their limited pools, though Keys of Mastery can help in this regard, making the quite lethal Flying Guillotine, an excellent slayer of lone anathema, cost merely 5 motes, and the wp for Sorcery. The three charms that will help any Thrown specialist DB at this level are: Whirlwind Shield Form which you use to help defend yourself and your companions from ranged attacks, Loyal Weapon which you can use to thrown high damage weapons like your Direlance or Grand Goremaul to injure people in the heaviest armours and Persistant Hornet Attack, which lets you keep your weapons attacking for another 2-3 turns. You should use this to support your comrades in their close in attacks, forcing the enemy to spend more for defences or to harry sorcerors as they cast spells.
Earth aspects in a starting circle perform two functions, they watch for ambushes and they provide a nice, solid rock that will not fall. Presence, with it's charms that provide extra-health levels can help, as does the more usual ox-body. Five Dragon style is a solid style, that allows armour and has a good selection of weaponry in style (Swords and spears). Five Dragon Blocking provides a useful few dice of defence and the amount of damage that can be done with Five-Dragon Force Blow and a Direlance or Grand Daikliave is scary. In general, an Earth aspect like this will emerge from a fight vs starting anathema bloodied but alive. Too increase survivability against ranged attacks, a Wind Hands gem could be most useful. To contribue to the team they can help with small boosts to strength and stamina. One other tactic that can be considered is if an Earth and a Fire are attacking a lone anathema, the Fire can use Safety Amongst Enemies to redirect the anathema's blows to the likely much tougher Earth aspect, to prevent his or her own death or severe injury.
Fire aspects are probably some of the most popular Wyld Hunters out there. They favour Melee, Dodge and Athletics. This nets them attack boosters, reflexive dodges, damage boosters and increased ground speed. It also gets them Safety Amonst Enemies, which is an excellent charm to discourage dogpiling from the anathema or their deleuded followers. Five-Dragon Blocking can be of great help to Fire Aspects too. A typical hunt has one or more Fire aspects who use their cheap and scenelength charms too boost their allies Melee and Dodge, allowing pools of 15-20 dice with relative ease, sustained for the duration of the battle, overwhealming the anathema's defence with a series of accurate blows. Becuase this, even those who dont intend to use Melee charms in combat should consider a reasonable Melee score, so that their allies can boost them. On the defensive side, a DB who has had his Dodge boosted by bracers and by Smoke Obscuring Effect can use Virtuous Negation Defence to dodge for his comrades, sacrificing his own attacks for their full-out offensive. Another option for the Fire aspects is to use Martial Arts or Brawl and take the aspect surcharge, holding the anathema in Hesiesh's burning embrace.
Aspects of Water do not offer much directly to the hunt, though with their natural affinities for Investigation and Larceny, can be invaluable in rooting out those demons that go to ground, hiding amongst the populace. And for western hunts, their utility should be obvious. In combat Water Aspects can do two things. First the Brawl charmset is excellent at taking and holding anathema, so that their brothers in arms can attack them with impunity, with charms that let them hold multiple people at once, and charms that reduce the soak of those they hold. Secondly, they can take advantage of their anima power and use their freedom of water to launch attacks from unlikely places, such as the beds of lakes and rivers, to suprise anathema with flank attacks. If the anathema have no means of attacking at range then this can be devestating.
Wood Aspects perform three fucntions for the hunt. They are its healers, its trackers in the wilderness and its archers. A Wood Aspect for the hunt will typically use a powerbow, to attack the anathema at long range with a series of cheap multiple attacks launched via Swallow Defends The Nest (For this reason, essence 3 can be of benefit for Wood Archers) or can provide cover for a charge (to close with ranged attackers or sorcerors) with Seven Year Swarm Volley.
Now onto the tactics of the hunt as a whole.
One of the basic tactics for dealing with young anathema is human wave attacks to soften them up. This should preferably be done with local milita troops rather than your own loyal soldiers. The aim of this tactic is to soften up the anathema, making them expend precious motes and wp on defences, and maybe hurting them somewhat. This strategy has several weak points however, not least that local govenors can object, at least quietly to the slaughter of thier men. Beyond that however, the two major things to consider are first that one man in ten is likely to flee in abject terror at the sight of a forsaken Anima, and even your valourous imperial troops may be shaken. This can break up formations, and its effect on animals is sufficient to make cavalry actions against the Forsaken all but impossible. The second thing that must be considered is that one of the anathema could be a combat sorceror, and the Death of Obsidean Butterflies will break up all but the most heavily armoured formations and most likely make any that still live run for the lives they still possess. While this does cost the anathema something, it is not generally an exchange that particularly favours you.
Whether the wave attack works or not, it is probably time for you to now actually attack the anathema yourself. One of the most important parts of this battle is ensuring that the anathema want to fight it, or that they truely cannot flee, for one should never overestimate the bravery of demons. This can be accomplished in a number of ways. First the relations and associates of the shell the anathema now possesses can be used as bait, since many anathema profess to still care for people such as these despite the demon in their souls. Beyond this, the terrain can be used, both to protect yourself and to trap the anathema or their followers can be crippled but not killed by long range archery, forcing them to slow down and allowing you to catch them.
The force to deal with the the anathema up close should probably consist of say 2 fire aspects, an earth aspect and an air aspect, with maybe a combined command of 50 footsoliders and 25 archers. The archers should hang back, with instructions to target anyone who starts to cast sorcery or any anathema that become seperated from the melee. The footsoldiers should move with the DB in a unified whole, aiming to close with the anathema as soon as possible. The footsoldiers should mostly engage any soldiers the anathema have, to keep them from overwelming the DB. The Air has as her target the sorceror, and should aim to keep at least a Persistant Hornet Javelin attacking him at all times, to prevent the use of combat sorcery though the risk of that is reduced once the battle is joined. The Fires should between them boost the dodge and melee of their compatriots, and then while one fire aspect aborts to dodge and uses Virtous Negation defense for DB, The Earth and Fire should take advantage of this defence to layer assaults on one anathema at a time, the Earth Aspect using Melee with the Fire aspect, taking advantage of the high pools until one of the anathema leaves themselves open and defenceless, when he should provide a decisive finishing blow with Five Dragon Force Blow.
Absent from this hunt are both Water and Wood aspects. Mostly because they are not needed for the tactics called for by the hunt, though a Wood Archer would make an acceptable substitute for the Air Aspect, even if the Wood charmset is not as suited to the harrassment called for by the tactics. A water brawler who could hold one of the anathema would also create an excellent opening for the Earth aspect to use Five Dragon Force Blow, but probably isn't needed for victory.
So there, with teamwork and tactics a 4 man DB team can probably prevail over 3 anathema demons.
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Could you expand upon what you regard as "legal" for me? I employ merits and flaws, for both story and mechanical purposes. Would that be alright? - Paladinltd
Also, would planning ahead be alright? Like setting up traps, preparing a militia, etc. - Paladinltd
By "legal", I mean "any canon rules". This includes merits and flaws, but not, say, homebrewed charms. Planning ahead is also acceptible, but include a word or two about a contingency plan if the ambush (or whatever) is detected by the quarry.