How Should Your Adventuring Party Infiltrate a Castle?
Castles have a variety of defenses which make them difficult to infiltrate. By understanding the potential hazards and carefully developing your plan, you can successfully infiltrate a castle with minimal losses.
Typical defenses range from physical barriers, traps, trap doors, and animal or construct protectors that need to be taken into consideration. Before infiltrating a castle, you should perform reconnaissance to gather as much information as possible. Send in several spies to thoroughly map out the area and determine any weak points in the structure and defenses, and also learn where traps and potential hazards are. This helps to create a full mapping of defenses, so you can quickly and easily infiltrate the area with larger forces with minimal losses.
If possible, the spy should also gain information on the structure of the guard, as well as what their protocols are for responding to invasions. If you can analyze the guards’ typical reactions, you may be able to find vulnerable spots where troops can slip inside. Alternatively, you can determine whether a distraction would be helpful, or whether sufficient guards are left distributed throughout the area to make an otherwise possible distraction unsuccessful.
After determining what the defenses are, you should decide on which defensive measures you will need to bypass for your plans and figure out a way to do so. Walls may be brought down with sufficient magic or siege weapons. They can also be circumvented by digging beneath them. Burrowing can also bypass moats, or you may need to bring swimming gear or outfit your forces in other ways to avoid the moat's defenses. If there are alligators or piranhas in the trench, they may be distracted with chum or controlled with carefully placed nets.
Traps may also need to be bypassed. Schematics may give you the layout of trap doors. You can use this information to avoid dangerous areas and to effectively trap nobles in certain rooms. By forcing them to use trap doors, you can channel the nobles into areas where your troops are at a more significant advantage. Forcing nobles into escape tunnels, where your allies are waiting to capture them, makes castle infiltration a quick and easy success.
Many castles have specially trained animals which can come to their defense. Guards may ride griffons or burrowing animals, such as giant badgers, may be able to dig beneath opposing forces. Learning in advance what these animals are can help you develop a defense strategy. For instance, if you expect an attack from the air, you can bring carts with reinforced roofs to resist damage from above. Or even bring animal reinforcements of your own, which can battle enemy forces in the air or underground, potentially increasing your chances of success.
If the city is defended by a dragon or other great beast, this information will be central to developing a strategy for infiltration.
Bypassing Natural Hazards
Natural areas, such as deserts, mountains, and forests can offer additional protection to a large castle. Many castles are constructed with this in mind, forcing troops to choose between traveling up a steep cliff-side or through a thick forest. If you decide to cross these areas, you may suffer a substantial loss of forces and have difficulty remaining in the area, due to extreme weather, lack of food, water and shelter, and inhospitable creatures. Accurately preparing for these conditions can make or break your infiltration. Bring the equipment necessary to survive in these areas if you are not able to bypass them altogether.
For instance, if you need to travel through a desert, equip your forces with excess water, loose light clothing, and lightweight shelter to protect them from the sun. Be sure the troops are well trained in survival in this environment. Ensure that medics are available to prevent disease from breaking out.
Choosing Your Targets
Make a clear decision on why you are infiltrating the castle and what your goals are. Develop plans and back up plans for infiltration, as well as how you will communicate changes of plan amongst your troops. Once you have achieved your goal, be sure to withdraw quickly to prevent loss of life.
If your goal is to fully take over the castle, make sure you have sufficient troops in place to take the castle as well as maintain control of it. Ensure you capture all relevant nobles so they cannot communicate with outside forces. The more power you have over the location and the people within, the more likely you will be to both infiltrate and even potentially seize the castle.
Alternatively, you can try to take control of the top nobles or rulers of the castle, threatening the nobles’ lives if those inside the castle do not give in to your demands. If you plan for stealth, it may be possible to travel through the castle unseen and capture the relevant nobles. Otherwise, you may need a distraction to help your troops slip inside unnoticed.
The most critical parts of castle infiltration are to have an understanding of the area and defenses, have a clear objective, and to create plenty of backup plans to ensure you achieve your goals.