My lord, as per your request I have gathered information on the Fire Wasps squad of Owlbear Company who have been causing you so much annoyance of late. They apparently only came into the enemy’s service recently and so not a great deal is known about them, even by the enemy commanders they serve, but I have endeavored to garner what information I could from within the enemy encampment, to add to the reports we’ve gotten from the survivors of and witnesses to their recent assaults on your forces.
Apparently these Fire Wasps were adventurers, nominally in the service of one Baron Greenfields of Seowyn’s Crossing in Summerland, before they came south to join the enemy’s war against your forces. Why they have come is something of a mystery, as they were apparently not sent by the Baron. One suspects that they may have offended the Baron in some manner and found themselves suddenly needing to seek their fortunes in other lands, a story that is not uncommon to find among the many groups who have come to the south to join the enemy’s cause.
The make-up of this particular squad is rather unusual in two regards. Firstly, the squad consists of a human, a minotaur, a half-elf, a halfling, a shifter and, confirming the recent reports, a shardmind, hard as that may be to believe. And secondly, in spite of their diverse origins, they are all of an age and have apparently – with the exception of the shardmind – known each other since early childhood.
One other oddity of note is that the Fire Wasps appear to have taken some vow of chastity, though none of them speak of having done so. But none have ever been known to seek dalliances of any kind, not even with any of the camp followers so abundantly in attendance in the enemy encampment. What this means, I cannot say, but will continue to investigate as it is highly unusual.
Their leader is the human, one Kidalis Havengard, a member of the lesser unlanded nobility of Summerland and the only one with a prior connection to the enemy forces, having an older sister, Daria Havengard, who is serving as a lieutenant and currently commanding a keep you are besieging. Has apparently had the usual martial training but has no command experience other than leading this group of adventurers. He is however unusual in that he is apparently fey-touched and has displayed on multiple occasions powers one usually associates with a warden. Is believed to have aspirations to marry the Baron’s daughter, which may explain why he and his companions had to suddenly leave the area. The Baroness seems to have taken a particular disliking to him, but whether this is due to his being landless and fey-touched or to some unwelcome impropriety on his part is unknown.
Noted weaknesses: Vanity and a tendency to overreach.
Recommendation: Dangle a chance for glory in front of him and lure him – and the squad he leads – into a trap.
The next most significant member of this squad is the minotaur, one Eustace, who strangely enough appears to be a priest of the goddess Shandalene. Exact origin unknown, but was apparently orphaned as a child and raised in a monastary, which may explain his dark and brooding nature. Formidable on many levels, the minotaur is a fearless fighter and a truly gifted healer. Possesses some unusual armor, though its exact nature and history he does not discuss with others. Has a strange disregard for wealth, which has made him of particular interest to beggars, and to the camp followers though he has not been known to give them his custom. Perhaps as a result of this, he has become the subject of much speculation among the camp followers as to his endowment, on which considerable wagers have been placed.
Noted weaknesses: Moments of conscience and an obsessive abhorrence of the unnatural that could be used to distract him
Recommendation: Take this one down first, at all costs. He keeps the squad up and fighting even when their individual members are being felled, often turning the tide of a clash almost single-handedly. Take him down and the rest can be overcome.
The shifter is known only as Ghost, comes from an obscure mountain tribe associated with a minor totem, possibly a snow weasel. A vicious fighter, she is much stronger than she looks and quite deadly with a pair of kukris. Favors moving rapidly about on the battlefield and assaulting multiple targets. She is most dangerous when one of her comrades is attacked, charging to avenge them from across the battlefield with extreme ferocity. A strange attachment on her part, considering that her most commonly observed interaction with them is to punch them for perceived slights.
Noted weaknesses: Impulsiveness, extreme competitiveness, and a restless nature. Also quick to react to insults.
Recommendations: Provoke her with insults, separate her from the others so that she cannot charge to their rescue, and then surround her so that she cannot move about.
The halfling is one Tilly Thistleshanks, comes from a disreputable family of swamp smugglers and poachers that plague the river south of Seowyn’s Crossing. Is believed to be half-mad, which makes him highly unpredictable in battle. Usually fights with a type of pole-arm called a sharrash, but is known to be particularly deadly in close combat with a short sword when he gets behind an enemy. Is apparently thought highly of by other halflings in the enemy camp, due to some legend associated with his bloodline regarding a fearsome creature named Linda. Exact nature of legend is unknown though it is rumored to have something to do with singing. Could possibly involve a mating ritual of some kind.
Noted weaknesses: Strange attachment to a riding goat and a large ugly rat which he carries with him at all times. Also exhibits a tendency towards acts of insane recklessness.
Recommendations: Avoid close combat, but do not let him get out of sight. Suggest taking him out with ranged attacks as early as possible.
The half-elf is one Tristan Holdfast, son of a minor brothel-keeper’s daughter in Seowyn’s Crossing. Evidently the by-blow of some liason with an elven ranger who still visits from time to time. Was originally believed to be addled but now believed to be possessed by a host of spirits, some of whom are diabolic in nature. He seems harmless in his manner, but this is now believed to be merely an act on his part. A sorceror of some skill, he is potentially the squad’s best ranged fighter. No appreciable martial skill, but nonetheless has a dagger of diabolic origins that seems to compensate for that at least at close quarters. Usually hangs back on the fringes to support the others with ranged attacks.
Noted weaknesses: His diabolical connections make him suspect to the enemy’s commanders and to others as well, including his companions. He is also frequently distracted and sometimes fails to focus, though this too may be an act.
Recommendations: Suggest contacting demonic realm to see if they can be drawn in to aid us against this one. Need to find out if he’s playing a double game and might be enticed to betraying the others. Also, may be able to use his diabolical associations to throw suspiscion on entire squad in enemy commanders’ minds and have them expel the squad from their ranks. Otherwise, dispatch a designated three or four-man ranged attack team to take him out early on.
The shardmind is called Shaper, though apparently it may have earlier been known as Crys. Possessed of formidable psionic powers that allow it to warp reality even at a distance. Can also both teleport and alter its appearance. Apparently it was gone for a period and has only recently rejoined their ranks. Origins unknown, but suspect that it involved the sacrifice of a childhood companion, a son of some peasant farmers that no one was likely to miss. Believe that the half-elf was behind this, possibly the result of some early pact with his diabolical associates. Does not seem to be under the half-elf’s control, but this may be simply deception, part of the elaborate game Holdfast appears to be playing.
Noted weaknesses: None. Should be considered highly dangerous. Need to find out more about shardminds.
Recommendations: Concentrated ranged attack by multiple magic-casters early on. You may only get one shot so it must be as effective as possible. Failing that, take out the half-elf so that he cannot direct the shardmind. One its master is gone, it may turn on the others as a mindless engine of destruction, or might be subject to control by one of our own magic-casters.
While this Fire Wasp squad presents no real threat at the strategic level, they have proven to be a problem at the tactical level and are likely to become an even bigger problem in the future. The encounters between your forces and this squad have been costly and the outcomes, though sometimes close, invariably to the enemy’s advantage, boosting the enemy’s morale at the expense of your own. So neutralization or elimination of the Fire Wasps would seem to be highly advisable.
As encounters where they have sought your forces out seem to work in their favor, would suggest that a defensive or reactive approach is unlikely to yield results. Would further suggest that your best bet would be something along these lines:
(1) Lure them into a trap, using some bait that Havengard will be unable to resist
(2) Once they’ve taken the bait, split them up so that they cannot come to each others’ aid
(3) Take out the minotaur first so that he can’t heal the others, and keep him from being revived himself
(4) Take out the half-elf and the shardmind next, leaving them with no ranged fighters and eliminating the chance of diabolic intervention
(5) Take down the rest separately, but let none escape.
(6) Deal with them at your leisure
At the same time, I would suggest a second prong, aimed at casting suspicion on them within the enemy camp with incidents that make each of them seem unreliable, undisciplined and above all, untrustworthy, culminating with a major incident that reeks of both diabolic involvement and treachery, with evidence pointing at the half-elf and his shardmind, resulting in them being expelled from the enemy camp. I can arrange this myself upon receiving your order. And of course, my usual fee. With this two-pronged approach, if your forces fail to eliminate the Fire Wasps in the field, my machinations will cauterize them from within.
I continue my work in your service and await your response.