Nibenay moves after Dregoth ascending

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So, the Dragon is dead, Tyrstorms are a thing, Rajaat is caught and Dregoth hasn’t ascended. What does Nibenay do?

He’s made peace with the Oba of Gulg (the conflict just seemed more of a convenience for the both of them) and he’s re-entered politics after a long absence. His economy should be booming with less conflict, no Dragon tithe and increased ecological awareness of his people (itself a nice excuse for the rapprochement with Gulg), so he has options.

It’s worth remembering that Galard has plenty of military experience, raising, training and leading armies from his time ending the gnomish menace. A particularly invidious foe.

Refugees/immigrants (slaves or free) from Raam (including Drik) provide resources. Tarandran expats are particularly well placed.

He’s concerned about Dregoth, who’s nearby, powerful and aggressive. Possibly vengeful too.

He’s expanding the army but how exactly?

A first move is to increase the Templarate, including but not limited to the noble classes.

The new citizen militia, including nobles and their own forces helps.

Expansion of the regular army, with citizenship as a recruiting offer. Of note are the cavalry units (inix, mekillot, crodlu, erdlu) sponsored by the nobility which could be increased. Possibly commanded by the prince.

The other main unit to expand are the heavy infantry of half-giants. Currently 1,000 strong this could be usefully expanded

These could be joined by light and heavy charioteers. Perhaps a squadron of sail carts given the proximity of the ivory plain. Even freemen could train in the arena, raising some funds.

An obvious move is to induct a bunch of gladiators (offering freedom or citizenship as inducements) as skirmishers.

A couple of slave units (royal and donated by wealthy citizens) are a renewable expendable resource. A unit of formal slave soldiers, with emancipation (and induction until the regular forces) as a reward for outstanding service and length of service makes sense.

The instigation of a Brute Squad (barbarians) is another obvious move. Not traditionally a Nibeneese unit (being popular in Draaj and Gulg), they’re easy to add using whatever numbers are available.

Encouraging the growth of the two monk orders within the city provides a unique advantage to the military.

Royal psionicists (and citizen phrenics) and defilers are another simple growth area, with many applications beyond the military. Which leads to construction of a golem legion…

Encouraging growth amongst the various priesthood also makes sense.

Whilst it makes sense to increase the number of Royal Necromancers, the undead artillery and war machines is probably an area not to expand right now given the nature of the probable foe (Dead Dreagoth) and its minions. That said, the induction of some high level undead such as kaisharga may be worth the risk.

There are also readily available mercenaries, such as adventurers and elves for hazardous operations or filling in gaps.

Of course, this massive military expansion needs bedding in and seasoning. Harder now with peace with Gulg (though those forces are available for repositioning). But those used to fighting them provide a valuable bedrock to build upon.

The first move is to crack down on banditry and raiding slaves. This can open up trade and more client villages (whether founded, conquered or induced to join).

No real need to take on Salt View at this time though, go after softer more violent targets first and see if they’ll come to the table in peace, trade or vassalage.

Which brings move two, scouring the mountains both Mekillots and Black Spine. Root out bandits and the Gith. This opens up resources for exploitation too.

Thirdly there’s the Salt Meres of Bodach to push back with valuable experience against the unliving.

This provides a juice mix of terrains and opponents to season the troops with and which adds further resources to the city.

Of course, that’s the (relatively) easy stuff…

There’s the harder insurrection by the Veiled Alliance and Order (if known of) to neutralise.

Then House Shom needs shaking up and getting its act together. A simple start would be inducting the Shom princess into the Templarate (or as a straight Royal Defiler)… but it leaves much to do. Perhaps some judicious assassinations and investigations (using undeniable assets such as adventurers) might help start ot to get its act together discretely.

A silt fleet based out of Cromlin (with Shoms willing aid) seems sensible as does improving the defences and presence at Cromlin (as a client village of a kind). Facilities (perhaps peripatetic) at North Ledopolus, Break Shore and Altaruk look to be in order too. These fleets would be mixes of Mercantile, Military and privateersmen. All of this is expensive and slow to instigate though, though it looks to be worth it in the medium term.

Another complicated endeavour would be the introduction of cliff gliders based out the mountains, particularly the Black Spines for reconnaissance and defense (particularly of vulnerable valuable Cromlin). This could necessitate new client villages amongst other things though.

Just a few thoughts, extrapolations and suppositions for consideration.

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Nibenay doesn’t strike me as an interventionist outside of his own sphere of influence. Economic expansion is impossible especially with a new respect for the environment.

Dregoth Ascending, published by Athas dot org gives details of Gallard’s activities at this time.

Dregoth can field an army in the low thousands. Any city-state under the rule of a Sorcerer Monarch can field tens of thousands (Gulg possibly an exception). Any of these militaries could crush the Guistenal army. Easily.

The problem is Dregoth himself. There is no single Sorcerer Monarch that can stand up to him. In this timeline there has already been a number of Sorcerer Monarch casualties, and the remainder are likey very risk averse. If their actions in Dregoth Ascending fail, they will probably come to the negotiating table with Dregoth.

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I ran a Dregoth campaign prior to Dregoth Ascending being available.

After the events of the CbtSS adventure, Nibenay charged the PCs to covertly enlist allies to the north for the upcoming war with the Dread Lord. The reason for secrecy was to not arouse Dregoth’s suspicion and provoking him to unleash his forces upon the Shadow King’s city.

While the PCs were drafting alliances, Nibenay himself was preparing for the next stage of his metamorphosis to better his chances for the inevitable face-off with Dregoth.

Thats the abridged synopsis. There was a a lot more with how it all unfolded and concluded.

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I could see Nibenay making a few changes:

  1. Expand his templarate - the easy solution is to start recruiting males. I don’t mean as ‘husbands’ in high places, but more like the male clerics of Lolth - low level military officers, sewage collection etc. All of which would report to Nibenay’s wives but expands his reach.
  2. Shake up House Shom. Shom is an unreliable force for the city’s economic uplift. I suspect Nibenay would put pressure on the patriarch to step aside in favour of a younger, more dynamic, member of the Shom family.
  3. Stabilise trade routes north - eliminate the gith of the Black Spine Mountains and any other bandit forces. Cleansing the Black Spine Mts might also lead Nibenay to uncover the iron deposits beneath them, creating an economic boom for the city.
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I don’t see Nibenay very concerned about Dregoth, at least from a military perspective. The troops Dregoth can bring to the table would be snuffed out by any city state’s army, even Gulg. Even without some of the demographic “improvements” I made which used the population numbers for the city states and free persons living within the city walls only, Gulg still had nearly three times the number of people as Dregoth.

The danger is Dregoth himself, all of the remaining sorcerer monarchs would need to fight him and in doing so they would certainly lay waste to a large area, likely wipe out any city they fought near, and still have a decent chance of losing to him.

As it happens I ran through a number of invasion scenarios in the later years after Dregoth’s Ascension, and Nibenay as well as the other city states all had to build up armies quickly to fight off a Genasi invasion and a Githyanki invasion a couple years later. Several of the same things you identified are similar to what I ran with. I don’t think Nibenay would try to build a silt fleet though, it’s to close to Dregoth are to far from his own supply lines.

One thing all the sorcerer monarchs are keenly aware of, even before Dregoth’s attempt at godhood, the tablelands are in a very delicate balance. Dragons of any stage are a bit paranoid of anyone near their level of power and the others will gang up on anyone who tries to grab more. Nibenay may have grand plans, but he would have to hide any kind of buildup from the entirely of the tablelands. The other sorcerer monarchs have spies everywhere and will not tolerate a threat.

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Yes. If Gallard is a stage IV dragon and Dregoth is stage IX (and undead), that’s very true. Especially as Nibenay is likely the next most individually powerful SK. I see Nibenay as having the knowledge and sacrifices available for the next several stages of the transformation only held back by his hatred of the loss of personal control the process risks. With Dregoth approaching I think he’d risk one stage with the aid of Siemhoek (he was planning to wait longer to leverage her psionic power more originally, after all what’s a decade here or there to him) as circumstance pushes him. I see him succeeding without ravaging his subjects but not risking further stages for at least a century or two whilst he assimilates.

That said, Dregoth troops are worth a bit more generally than the run of the mill of the other SKs and he has access to quite alot of undead to supplement them should he choose to. I see him seizing the dead of Bodach to add to his armies. For the most part these are recyclable and expendable and roughly equal the numbers of living troops he commands. Though weaker than most opponents Dregoth and his commanders are uniquely placed to leverage their advantages and resist turning attempts. Control isn’t really sizable from him like it is when most other SKs use substantial hordes of revenants against each other, less limited by numbers of loyal necromancers available. With numbers roughly equal or even in Nibenays favour the advantage should be Dregoths. This doesn’t account for any allies or aid from the Deadlands he may receive (which may be a follow up development to contend with).

Both sides have advantages. Nibenay has more variety and flexibility with some elites. Probably more numbers too. Dregoth has a higher general quality with the dray and more uniformity, making them easier to manage and supply. The undead are generally lower quality but recyclable, disposable and unbreakable.

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I think #2 is highly likely but will take time to bear fruit.

I think #3 would kind of happen by accident but be inevitable. Without the Gulgans to train the army against, pushing back the bandits and Gith is an obvious thing to do. Bonuses to trade are a sweetener. With so much military expansion it’s likely sooner rather than later. Unexpected success finding the iron deposits! Shake up the Tyr trade (but surprisingly little. There’s such a trade deficit for it, that a glut of supply will still be vastly outstripped by demand and it takes time to develop and industrialise)! Massive impact for Nibeneese trade and military (which could nicely suck up much of the initial supply).

#1 I think would kind of happen but not with males (as such). There’s no real need. Gallard can suck up some more women to his templarate (especially without Borys’ levy) and add more men to his officer corps within the army, leaving them subject to the Temple without muddling the lines.

Like the ideas. :sparkles:

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I think Gulgs population may dwarf that of Guistenal but don’t think its military does, which is relatively even I’d guess. Most Dray are militarized, giving very little civilian population so the military numbers may be about the same (ignoring undead legions).

I agree that Nibenays military dwarfs that of the Guistenal … regulars. Which is why I’d mote or less double them with undead. Dregoth is in much more of a position to take advantage of this labour than most and adding then to his forces would he simple. They weren’t really relevant during the ascension, but would he during any military action.

Yes it’s Dregoth that’s the major danger, but that’s not somewhere Gallard can directly compete right now. Even if he advances a stage he’s woefully outmatched.

I agree that a silt fleet is the least likely thing. But it’s cool. :rowing_man:‍♂ It’s definitely longer term and only really works if control can be maintained over the Black Spjne mountains (a fairly natural foam anyway). It becomes much more likely if the iron deposits are discovered and exploited. Cliff gliders for recon would also help but aren’t required. It’s still far and away the furthest stretch though.

Not sure Nibenay really does have to hide his build up much though. He’s the most powerful individual SK (sans Dregoth). There’s rapprochement with Gulg (who are too weak to object anyway). Raam is gone. Tyr is gone. Balic is indisposed. Draaj is gone. Urik is distant and still maintains a much stronger military anyway. Others have to take care of Nibenay, he takes care of himself.

What people overlook, or forget, is that Dregoth has a devil battalion at his disposal. That easily helps balance the scales with the Nibenay vs Dregoth arms race.

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I raised that issue here.

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Cool, missed that. That’s ideal really. Makes him much more of a threat (beyond his person). Which book is it in DR or CbtSS? How many in the battalion? What kind of devils? What happens to them if they’re slain whilst on Athas?

Certainly, the residents of Athas aren’t set up to or experienced in dealing with fiends (except Daskinor perhaps) though they may find the natives tougher than expected…

CbtSS doesn’t really go into the number of devils, other than he made an alliance with a devil warlord. The first to enter Guistenal were abishais.

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Vast numbers by implication.

In the 3.5 version of the Planar Gate by Athas dot org the Planar Gate will not allow itself to be used for harmful purposes. I’m not sure where that comes from because I don’t remember that being the by in CbtSS.

Edit: It’s from Psionic Artifacts of Athas. It even calls out Dregoth’s devil army plan as something that the Planar Gate would reject.

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But he could simply summon them separately and have merely used the gate to reach the said demon or devil lord to come to an agreement.

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Depending on how you handle planar travel through the Gray that might be possible. I do a 100 DC Spellcraft check to plane shift to the Great Wheel + 10 DC per accompanying individual.

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If you go 2E books as canon (and I run 2E currently) it isn’t that hard to summon.

And Orcus made it to Athas once in canon as well, so perhaps those paths could be retraced (no matter the edition).

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I believe that was the result of game designer error. There was also confusion about the status of the elemental planes. Some designers thought that Athas was cut off from the outer planes, but you could access the outer planes from the inner planes. If that is the case, then traffic to and from the outer planes is nothing but a trivial inconvenience.

I choose the general principle of the setting. Athas is isolated. The elemental planes of Athas are isolated for the same reason Athas is isolated. That is, the Gray separates Athas and the elemental planes of Athas from the rest of the multiverse. That makes Athas in 2E parlance an alternative prime material plane.

You can say it’s easy to get from Athas to the other side of the multiverse, but that makes the Planar Gate rather pointless.

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How its phrased in PAoA, seems that if other character’s using it for sinister purposes would meet with failure and that Dregoth has found a way around that.

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As of that stage, Dregoth had not attempted to bring through that devil army.

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I would assume that even if he moves them separately, one by one, if the intent is still to move an army through, the gate would detect the intent.

On another note, it always bugged me that the players were supposed to destroy the planar gate in CbtSS. Dregoth being as powerful as he is, it doesn’t feel right that he would allow the object most important to him in the multiverse to simply be destroyed by mere mortals. When I reach that point in my campaign, I intend to deal with it differently. Not sure how, but definitely not by allowing my PCs to just outright destroy it.

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