Monday, April 17, 2017

On the Matter of Strategic Incompetence - The Journal of Aisha Yethtai

I am aware that Waterdeep has a number of respected military thinkers. There is even a center of worship for the Red Knight within her walls. But I must again take issue with the utter lack of practical understanding evidenced by whatever Waterdhavian aristocratic layabout is responsible for the emergency procedures of Nightstone.

I can understand and accept the concept of having an emergency refuge nearby in case of unlooked for disaster. Earthquakes, volcanoes, storms, floods, and the like can strike without warning. I can even accept the idea of having a hidden place for the civilians to hide in during a protracted siege. However, the execution of such ideas by Nightstone's residents leaves much to be desired.

The Nightstone refuge is a cave system that is reasonably well-hidden from observation. However, it is most of a day's journey across open country to reach it. There is also no passage out of the keep aside from the main drawbridge and gatehouse. I can understand the idea that building an escape tunnel is a costly endeavor that opens up certain vulnerabilities of its own, but the villagers should not then be encouraged to flee the keep for the refuge while in battle. Had this been a conventional assault, the attempt would have opened the gates for the enemy and the refugees would have to push their way through a war camp. Granted, an assault by giants tossing boulders down from a floating castle is an unusual mode of assault which seems to have more resemblance to a natural disaster than a raid, but the troubles with this refuge do not end there.

I have stated that the refuge is a cave system, might I reiterate that it is a cave system which the residents of the keep did not keep an eye on. This makes some degree of sense given that it is an inconvenient distance from the town itself and regularly investigating it might ruin the secret. However, such places need to be maintained at least a little bit. As far as I can tell, their chosen refuge had no supplies, no furniture and especially no security. The Nightstone villagers fled the assault by giants simply to fall into the clutches of a band of goblins serving a pair of mated ogres.

The ogres proved a worthy challenge but I managed to hold them at bay while my traveling campaigns applied their various talents to the problem. Once we had taken care of the ogres and goblins at the entrance, it was a simple matter of clearing the caves and finding the refuges. There were some goblin non-combatants and these we allowed to leave for the most part. Though we continued to encounter pockets of goblin oppostition.

This brings us to another bit of evidence as to why one should thoroughly investigate caves that one plans to use as an emergency refuge. There was a black pudding lurking within a corner of the caves. There was nothing I could do about this beast as my weapons would only serve to cause the vile thing to split off a sort of clone. It's initial attack and my attempts to disengage from it were quitely nearly the death of me. The casters ended up having to end the creature with a combination of ice, fire, and radiant light.

Most importantly, the bulk of the refugees were found alive and, for the most part, well. There had been some deaths which I wonder whether we could have stopped had we instantly moved on toward the refuge instead of waiting to recover ourselves after each battle. Again, however, it would have been easy to keep the refuges out of an ogres stomach by simply keeping a close watch on those caves to make sure that nothing unwanted took up residence.

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