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TheBoulder

Castle Assault

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My samurai have reached the province they are set to govern, only to discover the castle occupied by ronin and peasant bandits!  

I have some ideas for an assault, but I was wondering if anyone knew of a castle assault or infiltration in previous written adventures?  Any example would be helpful.

Much appreciated!

Edited by TheBoulder

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It's a 4 story keep with the associated out-buildings (dojo, stables, barracks, shrines, gardens).  It has an outer wall (it's in the heart of a city) and a moat.  There are three gates, one main and two smaller side gates.  The north wall side is dominated by a largish river.  

My plan right now is to provide several options for the players. 

1. The first (and hardest) being a straight out assault, they'd have to procure some kind of siege weapons and possible support from inside the city.

2. The second is a secret tunnel leading from an estate in the city to the biggest shrine in the castle gardens.

3. The wall on the river side is poorly maintained and crumbled in some places, so they could ford the river and gain access that way.

4. See what they can come up with!

There are approximately 40 combatants in the castle, a mix of peasant and ronin bandits.  The players and their daimyo have half a dozen samurai and 20 ashigaru.  The imperial governor in the city (who they are taking over from) is hiding out in a private estate (he never stayed in the castle) and can offer no real support besides a couple of guards.  There are possible sources of help from rival clans in the city (Lion and Dragon) but engaging either one will have political and physical consequences.  

 

 

Edited by TheBoulder

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a possible opinion is that they just place themselves around the castle, preventing anybody from leaving or entering and just wait out the bandits until they have no food/water left and just give up or can't man the defences.

 

They could also offer them to walk out of the castle in exchange for not being prosecuted for the crime of occupying  the castle and tell them that if they say no non of them will be speared.

 

If they have actually been effective in keeping the castle and/or are liked by the people in the city so could the PC:s offer them a steady job.

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The last time I had a character participating in a castle assault we reduced the place into a handful of gravel with a day-long sustained bombardment. I dunno if that's an option here. But burning the keep to the ground would certainly send a message to the local powers. 

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I think the keywords here are: “they are set to govern”. 

Without knowing what Clan are they playing I will say go with the options that will cause less damages to the structure, because then I have to go back to the Daimyo to ask for more koku to repair or rebuilt something that not only I could prevent, money that could be used for something else: improving the quality of life of the province, improving defenses, a celebration to improve the morale of the local residents and improve the image of your Daimyo, etc...

So my first option will be how the peasants feel about the Ronin leadership.

If they govern with justice and fairness, I’ll try to negotiate their surrender with an opportunity to become low level retainers and then assign them an appropriate appointment (obviously under the scrutiny of the players).

If they were ruthless and abusive I will lead a siege around the keep, wait until surrender and take them down. 

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Sounds like a good campaign.

I think I’ll go with try to with negotiate with the Ronin first and give them the opportunity to join you if they’re honorable and righteous  if not I’ll try to block all exits and lay down the siege. 

As a newly formed Minor Clan you don’t have  too many resources available I’ll try to minimize my damages so I don’t have to spend too much of my limited koku rebuilding. 

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8 minutes ago, Nheko said:

Sounds like a good campaign.

I think I’ll go with try to with negotiate with the Ronin first and give them the opportunity to join you if they’re honorable and righteous  if not I’ll try to block all exits and lay down the siege. 

As a newly formed Minor Clan you don’t have  too many resources available I’ll try to minimize my damages so I don’t have to spend too much of my limited koku rebuilding. 

Thanks!  Basically, the guys in the castle got fed up with the inept governance of the province.  Before the Imperial governor, the province changed hands several times between the Dragon and Lion with numerous conflicts occurring all over the province.  Numerous ronin were often part of these conflicts (helps with deniability) and then those same ronin were recruited by the Imperial Governor (who is also an inept boob who was hoping to make a buck with this quick assignment... they are carrying orders for him to commit seppuku) in the hope they would be impartial.  Instead they seized the castle, killed a score of his retainers/guards and then dumped them in the street.  They've been partying for the last day and a half and their leader is actually off travelling as I plan this to be indicative of unrest throughout the province.  

A diplomatic solution was honestly not one I had considered!  Perhaps even winning over part of the occupiers and creating dissent could work as well... 

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1 hour ago, AtoMaki said:

The last time I had a character participating in a castle assault we reduced the place into a handful of gravel with a day-long sustained bombardment. I dunno if that's an option here. But burning the keep to the ground would certainly send a message to the local powers. 

It certainly would!  I will have to see if the players go for something like that...  Could present an interesting development in the story.  

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9 minutes ago, TheBoulder said:

Thanks!  Basically, the guys in the castle got fed up with the inept governance of the province.  Before the Imperial governor, the province changed hands several times between the Dragon and Lion with numerous conflicts occurring all over the province.  Numerous ronin were often part of these conflicts (helps with deniability) and then those same ronin were recruited by the Imperial Governor (who is also an inept boob who was hoping to make a buck with this quick assignment... they are carrying orders for him to commit seppuku) in the hope they would be impartial.  Instead they seized the castle, killed a score of his retainers/guards and then dumped them in the street.  They've been partying for the last day and a half and their leader is actually off travelling as I plan this to be indicative of unrest throughout the province.  

A diplomatic solution was honestly not one I had considered!  Perhaps even winning over part of the occupiers and creating dissent could work as well... 

Now this changes everything. They can seize the moment due the occupants being drunk lay a siege.  Can the players possible capture the Ronin leader and have some leverage on their negotiations?

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8 minutes ago, Nheko said:

Now this changes everything. They can seize the moment due the occupants being drunk lay a siege.  Can the players possible capture the Ronin leader and have some leverage on their negotiations?

It's a good idea but I was planning on him being a "villain" to deal with later. Once they secure the castle, the first snow will fall and start to impede travel. During the winter they will be dealing with criminal elements in the city (and an escaped governor turned to maho).

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On ‎2‎/‎5‎/‎2019 at 11:17 PM, AtoMaki said:

The last time I had a character participating in a castle assault we reduced the place into a handful of gravel with a day-long sustained bombardment.

I have to ask: what were they using to be able to do that in such a short time?

 

On ‎2‎/‎5‎/‎2019 at 11:17 PM, AtoMaki said:

But burning the keep to the ground would certainly send a message to the local powers. 

"We don't have a keep", or was you thinking of some other message?

 

On ‎2‎/‎6‎/‎2019 at 1:02 AM, TheBoulder said:

Instead they seized the castle, killed a score of his retainers/guards and then dumped them in the street.  They've been partying for the last day and a half and their leader is actually off travelling as I plan this to be indicative of unrest throughout the province.  

if the bandits are partying and have not really noticed the PC:s' forces coming maybe the later could do a quick frontal attack and just rush through the main gate

Edited by Gamiel

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8 hours ago, TheBoulder said:

Thanks!  Basically, the guys in the castle got fed up with the inept governance of the province.  Before the Imperial governor, the province changed hands several times between the Dragon and Lion with numerous conflicts occurring all over the province.  Numerous ronin were often part of these conflicts (helps with deniability) and then those same ronin were recruited by the Imperial Governor (who is also an inept boob who was hoping to make a buck with this quick assignment... they are carrying orders for him to commit seppuku) in the hope they would be impartial.  Instead they seized the castle, killed a score of his retainers/guards and then dumped them in the street.  They've been partying for the last day and a half and their leader is actually off travelling as I plan this to be indicative of unrest throughout the province.   

A diplomatic solution was honestly not one I had considered!  Perhaps even winning over part of the occupiers and creating dissent could work as well... 

Well, if their complaint is "there has been no stability in this province and the governor was inept" the response "we're a new, imperially sanctioned clan who are taking sole and specific responsibility for the wellbeing of this region and have imperial protection so can tell the major clans to bugger off, and we have orders for the inept governor to kill himself" should play pretty darn well with the citizens and more honourably minded of the Ronin, "we have money, we want an army to enforce law and order" should appeal to the more disciplined mercenaries....and, as @Nheko says, the drunkards who aren't in a shape to defend themselves effectively don't really matter....

8 hours ago, Gamiel said:

I have to ask: what were they using to be able to do that in such a short time?

Presumably either many, many artilleries or a deeply annoyed shujenga.

 

Ultimately, you want to avoid storming the castle, or if you must, hit them whilst they're incapable of fighting effectively. Even low quality troops can hold a fortified position against similar numbers of soldiers, and you're looking at superior numbers in that fort by almost 2-1.  Yes, you have armoured samurai too, but if you get your ashigaru butchered, that's your main instrument for quelling the disturbance in the province lost.

If they know the tunnel is there, that should even the score - if the ashigaru can get inside where the fortifications don't count, then 2-1 against a rabble of peasants isn't too bad. Depends what they need to do to find it.

The river wall is a good option, but even a badly damaged wall is still a defensive position and moving two dozen troops is hard to do quietly. The PCs could theoretically break in by themselves and sneak or fight their way to the gates, though.

Siege is also a good idea if you know what the stores are like inside. 40 men will eat through available resources in the castle faster than 20 men will eat the stores of the town. The other problem is that there are 3 gates, so securing all of them means in theory no more than 6-7 ashigaru and 2 samurai protecting each - if the defenders get desperate holding off 40 men with less than 10 is a big ask.

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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The imperial ex-governor knows about the tunnel.  It and the river wall are basically the options for infiltration (they could just try and go over a wall at night, but it's a lot harder).  Once inside, the PCs would open the gate and hold it until their Daimyo's forces can arrive.  

 

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Their Daimyo is also kind of a hardass, so they may take their mark off that...  The introduction to the city is as follows...

The city stands in the midst of rice fields, the Itochu River running through it.  There is a wall running the circumference of the city, but even at this distance you can see gaps where it has been broken and left unrepaired.  

As you approach the southeastern gate, you spy two guards slouched to one side of the gate, rolling dice in the dirt.  Lady Kuma spurs her horse ahead of the rest of you, towards the two guards.  As she nears, they look up from their game and one of them stands and spits to the side, “Who th-”  His words are cut off by your daimyo’s spear being embedded in his throat.  The other guard stumbles backwards, a look of terror on his face.  He turns to run but only gets a dozen paces before Lady Kuma’s thrown spear takes him in the back, pinning him to the ground.  His ear splitting screams of agony indicate that while down, he is not dead.  Your Daimyo wheels her horse to you and says, “Find out why these peasants aren’t acting properly.”
 

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12 hours ago, Gamiel said:

I have to ask: what were they using to be able to do that in such a short time?

Cannons, mortars, those cart-mounted rocket launchers, and the funky one-shot missiles from Disney's Mulan. I believe these are not available in this situation, that's why I said "burn it" instead of "flatten it" ;).

13 hours ago, Gamiel said:

"We don't have a keep", or was you thinking of some other message?

"We don't mess around" is more likely. Extra points if the PCs don't even try to negotiate, just line up some archers (at dusk, for a more dramatic display) then start raining incendiary arrows at the place and turn it into a funeral pyre for the bandits. Since the castle has a moat, the town should be safe from the fire. The keep is not a huge deal anyway, destroying then rebuilding it can be a kind of symbolic gesture. 

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1 hour ago, TheBoulder said:

one of them stands and spits to the side, “Who th-”  His words are cut off by your daimyo’s spear being embedded in his throat.  The other guard stumbles backwards, a look of terror on his face.  He turns to run but only gets a dozen paces before Lady Kuma’s thrown spear takes him in the back, pinning him to the ground.  His ear splitting screams of agony indicate that while down, he is not dead.  Your Daimyo wheels her horse to you and says, “Find out why these peasants aren’t acting properly.”

Right. I fear the diplomatic approach may have gone out through the shoji door without opening it first, then.

 

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5 minutes ago, Magnus Grendel said:

Right. I fear the diplomatic approach may have gone out through the shoji door without opening it first, then.

 

Haha, perhaps.  She is reasonable though (she was a Daidoji yojimbo, while her husband was a Doji courtier, so perhaps it's more accurate to say he's reasonable and can talk her down) and will hear other opinions.  I plan to have her ask the players for options and allow them to guide the decision making.  Perhaps I will even have her resolved to a certain course of action (burn it to the ground, that's a great visual @AtoMaki!!) to see if they will speak up and try and dissuade her.

Edited by TheBoulder

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IF the players decide to pull a siege I think this vide would be of interest. It's about European medieval sieges but many of the points still apply

 

 

On ‎2‎/‎6‎/‎2019 at 2:34 PM, AtoMaki said:

Cannons, mortars, those cart-mounted rocket launchers, and the funky one-shot missiles from Disney's Mulan. I believe these are not available in this situation, that's why I said "burn it" instead of "flatten it" ;).

Okey, with cannons and mortars I can see that happen. I originally thought they only had the classic Rokuga siege engines available.

 

On ‎2‎/‎6‎/‎2019 at 2:34 PM, AtoMaki said:

Extra points if the PCs don't even try to negotiate, just line up some archers (at dusk, for a more dramatic display) then start raining incendiary arrows at the place and turn it into a funeral pyre for the bandits.

But is that really honourable? And don't that go against some od the ideas of Compassion

Edited by Gamiel

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7 minutes ago, Gamiel said:

But is that really honourable? And don't that go against some od the ideas of Compassion

It goes against Courtesy, but yeah, it is one of those "questionably honorable" situations. Killing the bandits is cool, but killing them without a parley of some sorts is not. It essentially depends on whether the characters think that the bandits deserve some words wasted on them or not. 

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I don't think it goes against bushido if they are viewed as enemy combatants.  From the (rightful) Lord's perspective, they have seized her property and killed samurai in service to the Emperor.  I don't see a conflict of interest from that viewpoint.

 

If they get to know them and figure out their actions were reasonable in some way... Well, they'd still probably have to forfeit their lives.  I refer to the Steel Chrysanthemum as an example.  They did what was right but their actions were still wrong.  As Obi-wan would say... from a certain point of view....

Edited by TheBoulder

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Rokugan's views on class get a little wiggly. A Ronin is born of the samurai caste, he is allowed to bear arms, but other samurai view them as trash for not having a proper lord and for their reliance on money. You may not like them, but you should still treat them according to bushido because you're better than them. Peasants on the other hand, are only allowed to carry weapons of war in very specific circumstances (when they're levied by a Lord or are standing forces) and to bear weapons against the rightful lord of the land bearing the word of the Son of Heaven is very directly going against the Celestial Order, and would be considered blasphemous in many circles. Some clans would ask why you aren't setting fire to them faster

That said, I've thought about this since before, castles are very expensive but also very vital to how governance is handled in Rokugan, actually razing "your" castle to the ground is gonna hurt the local coffers and your logistics a lot you probably want to do that only as a last resort. 

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1 hour ago, UnitOmega said:

That said, I've thought about this since before, castles are very expensive but also very vital to how governance is handled in Rokugan, actually razing "your" castle to the ground is gonna hurt the local coffers and your logistics a lot you probably want to do that only as a last resort. 

The place doesn't look like an actual castle, just a keep tower with some auxiliary buildings. That shouldn't be a big deal to rebuild. Until then, the daimyo can move the seat of governance to the estate where it already is in a technical sense. If there is a PC with good oratory skills then this can be spun in a way that the daimyo is "reigning in" the disorderly elements and her new castle will be a mark of new age or something like that. This can inspire the locals, set the rules for potential enemies, flings the door wide open for sponsors and allies, etc. 

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On ‎2‎/‎6‎/‎2019 at 10:03 PM, AtoMaki said:

That shouldn't be a big deal to rebuild.

That depend much on the PC:s' group's economics and even then it will takes at least a month (I think) to get all the building material and then there is the question about the people needed. Depending on the specific times of the year so could the people in the town possibly have their hands full with the works needed to make this harvest (planting, harvesting, taking it or similar) or similar and they will not take kindly to being ordered to instead go out in the forest, find the right kind of trees, take them down, prepare them and then built up the keep the characters burned down. They could call upon people from other areas who are free but that will cost extra.

 

Much cheaper to starve them out and then they could also give the ronin the chance to do the honourable thing and commit seppuku once they have realised they can't win. Which will possibly lead to the PC:s' group getting some honour points.

Edited by Gamiel

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