So, I'm running an online game of D&D 3.5, and the party is going to be up against an invading army in the foreseeable future, with their own army backing them up. I've established that someone in the opposing army (a Bard 6/Stormsinger 10) is capable of casting Storm of Vengeance, when they used it to pretty well wipe out the unsuspecting garrison of the outpost the PCs started out.

Now that the PCs and the generals of their allied forces know to expect Storm of Vengeance, what tactics could be employed to prevent it from wiping out a 360ft radius circle's worth of their army?

Assume an army of approximately 10,000 with a general assortment of arcane and divine spellcasters in the allied force, which will likely be entrenched in a fortress city of the general style of Minas Tirith (with a large outer wall that would provide cover from the side, but not the top)

  • \$\begingroup\$ This storm of vengeance? The one that deals a total of 6d6 points of damage? Does the spell have some house ruled special effects, like the acid rain seeping through cracks in the castle ceiling or something? Also, of what kind and level is the defender's highest level caster? How long do the defenders have to prepare? And is there a place nearby to purchase supplies? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 30 '16 at 18:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan 6d6 may not be much to a mid level PC, but it's pretty nasty for the low level soldiers that would make up the army. They could probably turtle most of the army inside, but that would basically mean yielding the outer walls \$\endgroup\$ – StephenTG Sep 30 '16 at 18:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ They've got probably about a week to prepare, though they'll not be in the castle until about a day or less before the battle starts. The highest level caster in the allied army is probably no higher than 10th (PCs are currently 9th level, will be a bit higher by the time this is relevant) \$\endgroup\$ – StephenTG Sep 30 '16 at 18:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ That allows time enough to teleport to the nearest city for supplies and back and allows some decent cash to be brought to bear on the problem. Cool. Thank you. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 30 '16 at 19:07

An alternative Strategy

This is a bit of a frame challenge. The alternative to "skill on skill" is to set up an asymmetrical fight. The problem to solve is the power of that spell caster to do serious damage to your army/allies.

Plan: the PC's apply their ample magic and talents to stage a commando-style raid to kill or capture the enemy spell caster before the battle starts. (Sun Tzu: The acme of skill is to win the battle without fighting).

High risk, high reward? Yeah. That's the bread and butter of adventure games and action movies. (Luke's raid in the original Star Wars movie (Episode IV) is beyond cliché, but it's not the only example).

It's based on a tried and true template: commando style raids, deep raids, at a critical enemy capability

For a historical example: the US Army Air Corps staged a deep raid, a Long Range Strike, using P-38s to shoot down the plane with Admiral Yamamoto in it. Granted, he was not a spell caster, but depriving the enemy of their outstanding leader (he was really, really good) did not harm the Allied cause. Likewise for you and your allies: taking out that impressive spell caster gives your side an advantage, or takes away the enemy's advantage.

For a Hollywood example: The Guns of Navarone. Commando raid takes out big guns that will do serious damage to allied forces. Spell casters are like artillery in D&D battles.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 I fully intend to send the PCs to deal with this caster at some point in the battle, so this answer definitely makes sense. I'm mostly trying to gauge whether the army can hold out with a storm or two coming down, or if they need to send the PC commando squad in before the mage (a Stormsinger Bard, to be specific) gets in range \$\endgroup\$ – StephenTG Sep 30 '16 at 20:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ tips cap Best wishes for a fun session. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Sep 30 '16 at 20:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Commando raids don't happen during the battle, they happen before it. Sometimes, a sugical strike can win or even end a battle before it's begun. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Oct 1 '16 at 7:26

Protect the structure with a lyre of building

The lyre of building (DMG 261) (13,000 gp; 5 lbs.)—in addition to being awesome for building stuff—once per day "negates any attacks made against all inanimate construction (walls, roof, floor, and so on) within 300 feet [of the lyre]… with the protection lasting for 30 minutes." I'm pretty sure most jurisdictions would rule the spell storm of vengeance an attack, and the relatively low price tag puts the lyre well within appropriate wealth by level (DMG 135), especially if the opposing force is only casting one storm per day therefore requiring of the defenders but one lyre.

Also keep in mind that even if the defenders don't have, can't find, or can't afford multiple lyres to defend their really big fortification, once per week the lyre can be played to rebuild whatever the storm's destroyed (if the storm's destroyed anything—not unreasonable 2"-thick stone walls have hardness 8 and 30 hp, easily weathering a couple of storms).

…And have sentries protect themselves with tower shields

After the opening thunder of the storm of vengeance, the now-deaf sentries outside the walls have 1 round until the acid rain. During that round, they take a standard action to gain total cover using their tower shields. This breaks line of effect (PH 175-6) between storm and the sentries, saving your conscripted commoner 1s from death by acid as well as the later deaths by lightning then by hailstones. Just be sure they've enough battle discipline to keep their tower shields up until after the hailstones have fallen.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Seems a little iffy on whether it would protect people standing on said constructions, but at very least they could put up tents or the like, and keep the acid rain or hailstones from breaking through. They'd probably need a couple lyres, since each only protects a portion of the army smaller than the storm would actually hit \$\endgroup\$ – StephenTG Sep 30 '16 at 19:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @StephenTG I didn't realize, with the threat of a storm of vengeance, that there'd still be folks outside the fort! Anyway, keeping them safe is pretty easy, too. Arguably, the whole fort could be saved by enough dudes with tower shields also occupying the exterior of every square the castle occupies, but that's not very cool unless they're all dwarves or vikings or something. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 30 '16 at 19:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Wasn't initially clear, but I've since edited the question to include that the outer walls of the fort are uncovered, and it would be best not to have to abandon those. \$\endgroup\$ – StephenTG Sep 30 '16 at 19:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ The fortification in question is a dwarven fortress city modelled loosely off of Minas Tirith, so about 3/4 of a mile across, with an army of several thousand garrisoning it. So a very large scale. \$\endgroup\$ – StephenTG Sep 30 '16 at 20:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @StephenTG Wow. My bad. Several thousand people plus the facility that houses them might be beyond the capacity of a typical party of 9th-level PCs to protect. Can the PCs cash out the NPCs, taking their money to use in their defense? Table 5–1 (DMG 135) says that's a net 450,000 gp per 1,000 creatures. Can I interest you in two cubic gates (in case a mass exodus is needed), 9 lyres of building, and enough cash left over to hire a band of indefatigable warforged bards to play them? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 30 '16 at 21:28

If the party has a character that can cast Dispel Magic/Greater and/or Storm of Vengeance, Counterspell is the most effective way to shut down such and attempt.

A GM could also rule that creatures could take cover to avoid the later bludgeoning damage (if hail and debris can't reach you, why would you take damage?)

  • \$\begingroup\$ The one issue here is that Dispel magic has a range about 1/4 that of Storm of Vengeance, to the point where the dispeller would likely need to be a ways outside the walls to be able to try it (I'm assuming that you need to be within Dispel Magic's range of the opposing caster to counterspell with it) \$\endgroup\$ – StephenTG Sep 30 '16 at 18:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd rule that anyone with a roof or the like over them would be safe from the hail, and probably acid rain. The main issue is that the outer walls aren't covered \$\endgroup\$ – StephenTG Sep 30 '16 at 18:52

That comment actually changes the answer entirely.

If it's a Bard 6 / Stormsinger 10, he doesn't have access to higher level arcane spells, which means you can just use something like Major image to create an illusion of an army, get him to blow his uses of Storm of Vengeance due to him not receiving a save to recognize whether or not the illusion is real or not until interacted with.

After he uses his Storm just divert the real army around to his flank and take him out.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The person bringing down the Storm of Vengeance is actually a Bard 6/Stormsinger 10. Stormsinger's capstone lets you use 4 uses of bardic music to call a Storm of Vengeance. So the caster in question is closer to a 16th level Bard, that just happens to be able to do Storm of Vengeance and a few more weather related things. \$\endgroup\$ – StephenTG Sep 30 '16 at 20:47

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