Lots of questions about Fort Calisco:

My campaign has finally made it to Fort Calisco and I have some problems understanding fully the special rules that apply here. Mostly the Special Mission. My questions are:

  • No Horses. The mission requires horses, but they ran out (they pretty much ran out of everything). Does this mean that the campaign is over? I will certainly skip this requirement it that is the case, but, dunno, maybe somebody have a different take on this.
  • The mission proposed there is a full mission phase, right? so the reward of -1 Time is just a way to compensate the fact that an extra phase with no secondary mission has been inserted as if it was an extra location.
  • Fiction First: They have like 3 ticks left on the clock. Why would they break into Fort Calisco? Why not just find a route around it? That is what I think they would choose and forcing them to take a fictional decision feels anti-RPG.
    Also, once they are insie the fort, why continue to Skydagger’s keep? If it is a good fortress, why not make a stand there? But ok, maybe it is not a great place and skydagger is better but, if that is the case, why not join forces and make everybody leave to Skydagger, thus largely enlarging the legion?
    Any if they are going to leave and Fort Calisco is under siege… how come the Assets Rating is 2. I mean, they are under siege! who would trade goods for money in that situation?

I think I will give them the choice to break into the Fort or dodge it at a certain penalty, but I don’t know… what do you guys think?

I’ll leave the other answers to those more familiar with the mission in questions, but why continue past the fort? Because if the Legion doesn’t hold the pass, even if they can hold Calisco against the forces of the enemy, the undead armies can simply bypass the fort and then proceed into the eastern lands through the unprotected pass. The reason the Legion needs to take the pass is because Skydagger’s walls block the pass).

As to the fort’s supply rating? Calisco is clearly well-stocked, meaning the Legion can trade and barter for supplies. There’s nothing that says the Legion or QM only spends gold to acquire supplies, and does not barter for goods (a far more common practice than the use of coin!). Remember, this is already abstracted in the game as a part of campaign actions, as “Supply” is unnamed material and goods the Legion carries with it, not simply coin (and the QM sends Specialists to beg, borrow, and steal assets!).

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My players are coming up on this mission in the next phase and I found the Fort Calisco sequence a bit difficult to grok as well. Not just the horse requirement (which appears in a special mission in the fort as well) but the whole prescriptive nature of the requirement to get into the fort and the fact that you can’t advance until you find your way into the fort and find a way out of it, which is just a strange sequence of events. Why would you be sneaking into a fort under siege if you’re trying to move past the fort to Skydagger Keep?

My personal house rules here to add some logic to the location:

(1) The special mission to break into the fort is optional. The players don’t need to sneak into the fort if they don’t want to, and they can do missions and advance even if they don’t break into the camp. There are trade-offs to both scenarios, see below (and be open with your players about what the choice means).

(2) If they break into the fort using the special mission, it’s the only mission you play in that campaign turn, as written in the rulebook. You gain +3 morale for succeeding. Time and pressure are a wash (per the rulebook), but it does cost you a food because time advances so that’s a small trade-off.

(3) Not sure how to deal with the requirement for horses. I’m inclined to treat this like you’d treat a ‘required’ specialist on another mission (or, say, a Panyar leader in Talgon Forest) and make it -1d to engagement if they can’t use horses. You could also say you just can’t complete the mission if you don’t have access to horses, but I don’t like to say “no” to players and the former option is a good mechanical representation in the fiction because the squad is much more likely to end up in a desperate situation if they’re traveling on two legs rather than four to burn these siege weapons or disrupt the ritual or whatever.

(4) If the Legion decides not to sneak into the fort, they can do missions and advance per usual, but there’s a number of penalties:

  • All missions are at -1d to engagement rolls since their camp is under constant threat and/or they have to set up camp too far away or whatever.

  • They can’t Acquire Assets or Recruit in the campaign phase. This is a big penalty, since Fort Calisco is the last chance to replenish before the final push to Skydagger Keep. This then represents mechanically the fictional reason to sneak into the fort, which otherwise doesn’t make a ton of sense.

(5) If the Legion’s outside the walls, make the generated missions focus on getting around or through undead pickets and patrols. Inside the walls, make it about either pushing their way through, finding some kind of secret tunnels, etc. to get out of the fort. Here’s the trade-off for going into the fort, which is otherwise the obvious choice: if they don’t succeed at a primary or secondary mission that gives them a way out, they can’t advance this campaign turn. Every generated mission should result in some way out of the fort,

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Not having horses just means you lack the required equipment for a mission, which is -1D on Engagement.

Parameters: Are required Specialists or equipment not on the mission? Take -1d.

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Fort Calisco is at the base of the mountains. It is essentially a gateway, too dangerous for the undead to leave unattended behind them as they travel east. And the fort has done so much damage already that the undead must demolish it before continuing east.

By the time the Legion reach the fort, there are two Unbroken pounding it, along with all their Lieutenants, Infamous, and armies. In some ways this is the culmination of the undead’s race across Aldermark, where they muster all their forces together and obliterate the remnants of Ettenmark Fields.

So there is no way the fort will survive long. It lacks all the advantages of Skydagger in Winter. It won’t even survive to see Winter fall.

But before it is destroyed utterly, the fort remains the only safe passage through to the mountains. The region is swarming with undead. Going through the fort provides a shortcut and safe haven, cutting out a long North/South route, and gives them the opportunity to time their Eastern escape for maximum effectiveness.

If you really want to offer an option to go around the fort, I’d suggest it’ll take two or three missions. They need to either:

  • cover a lot more ground circumnavigating the siege (3 missions) and maybe only face Infamous, or
  • tackle very dangerous ground going through it (2 missions, in and out), but probably face Lieutenants or even the Broken.

Neither would allow them an opportunity to camp or pause to plan or resupply. But after those missions, they could advance to the Maw or the High Road.

But that’s crazy hard and probably impossible. But that’s why the rules say the Legion can’t advance to the Maw or the High Road except by getting into Fort Calisco.

Mission penalties: You may not advance until you finish this mission.

Sidebar—there are a lot of us with groups who are in Fort Calisco right now! My group is going to be doing the mission to enter the fort this week. :slight_smile:

If everything goes according to plan, my players will be arriving at Calisco next week. They belive it’s the land of milk & honey, full of peace and sturdy walls. They are in for a surprise…

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Indeed, forts are usually erected to protect vulnerable areas from threats, and are often located on major roadways. So this campaign phase should basically be the Legion approaching the fort, noticing the increasing undead presence, and then scouts reporting back their way forward is being blocked by two freaking armies.

Going around the fort would mean taking a significant detour into the wilds, well off any roadways, and at this point in the campaign not using the roads would be a bad idea: the Legion would be trying to travel through rough, hilly wilderness terrain at the foot of the mountains – land which is also going to be swarming with undead patrols who don’t need to haul supplies and siege engines with them.

So for anyone looking at this mission and wondering why the Legion doesn’t just go around? If something “doesn’t make sense”, find the fiction: there are good fictional reasons one can use to support the mission requirements. Find and engage with them.

Recall, the entire way so far, the Legion has stuck to the roads! They do so because they have food, supplies, horses, and equipment, like siege engines, wagons, portable forges, alchemical substances, surgical equipment, tents, crates, and barrels they’d have to somehow route through all that. They’re not just a really big D&D band with everything they need on carried in their backpacks, who can easily just up and off-road.

(If you’ve ever portaged a few canoes or boats through the wilderness, you’ll understand the logistics of the problems involved in just going around. And when you’re portaging, you’re even using established trails! So, going around the main road? Talk about Time penalties for the Legion!)

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Quoted For Truth!

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  • No Horses. The mission requires horses, but they ran out (they pretty much ran out of everything). Does this mean that the campaign is over? I will certainly skip this requirement it that is the case, but, dunno, maybe somebody have a different take on this.

-1d to engagement.

  • The mission proposed there is a full mission phase, right? so the reward of -1 Time is just a way to compensate the fact that an extra phase with no secondary mission has been inserted as if it was an extra location.

Yep.

  • Fiction First: They have like 3 ticks left on the clock. Why would they break into Fort Calisco? Why not just find a route around it? That is what I think they would choose and forcing them to take a fictional decision feels anti-RPG.

RAW they can’t continue without breaking through the siege with that mission. Whether you play RAW or not is for you and your group to decide.

(With only 3 ticks left it probably isn’t going to change the likely result anyway: time runs out before Skydagger.)

Also, once they are insie the fort, why continue to Skydagger’s keep? If it is a good fortress, why not make a stand there? But ok, maybe it is not a great place and skydagger is better but, if that is the case, why not join forces and make everybody leave to Skydagger, thus largely enlarging the legion?

The players don’t have to, they could stop playing.
For the characters, come up with a fictional reason.
For the NPCs in the fort: the fort may believe the undead army can’t afford to take enough time to starve them out if they want to cross the range before winter; the fort may expect to be relieved by forces from the east if they can last the winter; the fort may have vast reserves of supplies. Etc, etc

Any if they are going to leave and Fort Calisco is under siege… how come the Assets Rating is 2. I mean, they are under siege! who would trade goods for money in that situation?

They may not be using money. They may be bartering, stealing, scrounging, extorting, begging, conning, manufacturing, gambling…
Assets 2 just means there’s a lot of stuff here.

Well, people, thanks a ton for all your answers.

In the end, the situation was far easier than what I thought. My character went right away into Fort Calisco no-questions-asked-no-f**ks-given.

Regarding the accessibiliy to resources, they have very low morale and no supply, so they are crap out of luck. Actualy, morale is extremely hard to keep up. Loosing 2 or 3 rookies per Mission Phase is relatively easy, and only 1 reward of Assault mission gives more morale than 3.

They headed now to the High Road, where I offered them Archangel Bridge (I cheated, ok, it is just TOO EPIC to let it show up on a dice roll).

thanks for the replies!