D&D Encounters Dark Sun (Week 14)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on September 9, 2010

With only two weeks left the excitement really started building. The PCs left the lush mountain foliage where the feywild crept into Athas and returned to the harsh desert environment more familiar to the PCs. With the sun setting on the horizon and long shadows reaching out towards the PC, they move hastily towards Tyr. As the party weaved in and out of the rocky outcroppings they heard a blood-curdling shriek followed by several others as if in response. The Wastewalkers most powerful allies were upon the PCs.

Our numbers continue dwindling. We were down to five this week. Again, I stepped up as the DM and ran the four adventurers through the penultimate encounter. The only pre-generated character in the party this week was Barcan. He was joined by three familiar faces, the Half-Orc archer Ranger, the Human Warlord (archer build) and the Minotaur Seeker. No defender and no strong melee characters. This was going to make for an interesting encounter.

Since we only had four PCs I had to scale the encounter. It originally had two Twisted Ssurrans atop a 15-foot rock, two Sandwarped Ssurrans on either side of the rock and a Dust Devil flanking the party (and secretly standing on trapped squares able to create a Chokedust Cloud). I removed one of the Twisted Ssurrans, not only to balance the encounter but because it seemed dumb to me to put two opponents atop a 15-foot rock and not give them ranged attacks.

Barcan was first to act. He blasted the Ssurran atop the rock and then hid from retribution. Next was the Dust Devil who managed to get the Seeker and the Warlord in his burst attack. Fortunately for the PCs he missed them both (expending this encounter power to absolutely no effect). The Ranger climbed up the large rock, but rather than shoot at the Twisted Ssurrans, he fired upon the Sandwarped Ssurran below, bloodying him in one shot.The Twisted Ssurran moved next to the Ranger and attacked in kind and hitting.

The Warlord took cover behind some of the smaller rocks and fired his bow at the bloodied Sandwarped Ssurran and missed. The Seeker decided that a Perception check was in order and rolled in the low 20s. More than enough to notice the Chokedust Cloud trap and know to avoid it. He moved toward the Warlord and attacked the Twisted Ssurran on top of the rocks, missing badly. Finally the Sandstorm Ssurrans moved in, both attacking with the leaping charge and connecting with the Warlord and the Seeker. They took their damage and were marked.

Barcan tried to drop the bloodied Twisted Ssurran but missed. The Dust Devil kept focusing on the Seeker, bloodying him with another hit. The Ranger and the Twisted Ssurran spent the next couple of rounds trading blows. The fact that the Ranger needed to use a minor action to reload his superior crossbow meant that he had to expend his move action for a minor action to quarry his foe. This also meant the he had to fire while adjacent to the enemy, drawing an opportunity attack. The opportunity attack hit, but so did the Ranger’s attack. Both combatants were bloodied.

Meanwhile the Warlord kept the Seeker between himself and the Dust Devil. He used his standard action to let the Seeker (armed with a Fey Bastardsword) make attacks on the Dust Devil. He used his minor actions to heal the Ranger – until the Ranger moved out of range and his line of sight. The Warlord decided to climb on top of one of the smaller, 10-foot rocks to get a better vantage point and avoid the wrath of the Sandwarped Ssurrans.

The Seeker used his daily power to create a zone of bats. Enemies in the zone grant combat advantage which the heroes desperately needed (since they weren’t hitting). The Warlord managed to drop the first Sandwarped Ssurran on his next turn. This was when the party discovered that they creatures turn to stone when killed. Not a problem if you shoot them with an arrow, but possibly bad news if you kill them with a melee weapon.

With the Sandwarped Ssurrans attacking the Warlord and Seeker, the Dust Devil switched his focus to Barcan. Fortunately for Barcan the DMs dice turned ice cold and I couldn’t hit anything.

Back on the top of the larger rock, the Ranger and the Twisted Ssurran kept trading blows. The Ranger decided to jump off of the back of the rock to hide and regroup. He took this opportunity to use his second wind and consume a healing fruit. The Twisted Ssurran saw the Warlord on the next rock firing down on the other monsters so he flew over and attacked him. The Warlord responded in kind killing him the next round. However, the Twisted Ssurran exploded when killed. The good news was that the Warlord wasn’t hit. The bad news was that the Seeker, Barcan, the Dust Devil and the last Sandwarped Ssurran were (not all bad news, I suppose).

The Seeker attacked and killed the final Sandwarped Ssurran with his sword. Unfortunately the sword was trapped in the now petrified Sandwarped Ssurran statue. Weaponless, he was left to attack the Dust Devil with his horns (remember, he’s a Minotaur). One more round was all it took and before Barcan finally killed the Dust Devil.

Considering there were only four monsters and four PCs, this was a really exciting combat encounter. The players made the usual mistake of splitting up and fighting the monsters one at a time, rather than focusing fire and minimizing the number of opponents left to attack them back. But it was all good fun. The rocky terrain added another level of excitement that was lacking the past couple of weeks. Having a party full of ranged attackers also made things interesting. I suspect that had this party been more melee-heavy the monsters would have used their flight to get the high ground more often.

With only one week left in the Dark Sun adventure, I for one am really looking forward to the end. In a way I just want it to be done with so we can move on, but I’m also looking forward to some kind of resolution. I’ve found this adventure a good introduction to Dark Sun, and because of it I went out and purchase the books. So in that regard I suppose D&D Encounters did exactly what it was intended to do in that I bought books I wasn’t likely to get otherwise.

With only one week left before the end of the Fury of the Wastewalker, what are you thoughts. Are you looking forward to the end? Are you sick of Dark Sun or will you be saddened when it goes?

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lahrs September 9, 2010 at 2:29 pm

My group is only showing up to finish what they started, but we have had so much interest in D&D Game Day I am very excited about Season 3. I live in a college town, and we put up fliers for GD and have already had 33 people sign up, and who knows how many more will just show up. I have no idea how we are going to run that many people with only four kits, but I will find a way.

Anyway, back to Encounter 14. We have been using the errata 3rd level pre-gens, with each person playing two characters. This has worked well, except for slowing the game way down. Still, with lots of joking and banter, it isn’t too bad.

The turned deadly within two rounds with some unseasonable high amounts of criticals I was rolling. I have trick 6 sided die that everyone knows about, and I had to let the players use my D20 after I rolled my 4th, which occurred later in the battle.

Phye went down first, and a blast in the area took her down close to death. I do not target PC’s who were down, but a blast is a blast. She stabilized on the first role, was administered a healing potion later that round, and was dishing out healing right after that. Our group is working very well as a team now, and I am pleased with the progress they have made in that regard.

Phye was also scaled 10 ft up the large rock, before switching spots with Barcan, that took a bit of time looking up rules, and I finally decided Barcan had to role an athletics check, DC20 since I thought it would be difficult to grab onto a rock while teleporting in, but he managed just fine. The ssuran had already taken damage, and the next round Barcan was able to pull it off the ledge. They both fell, taking the 1d10 of damage, and incidently both rolled a 10. Barcan survived, but the ssuran was crushed to death.

The Dust Devil was particularly nasty, as he was able to shift across the entire group, hitting 5 of the six, and then the next round was able to do his burst (this is where the last two of the crits occurred, each dealing 23 damage).

In the end, the party survived, but are dangerously low on healing surges for the final battle, but, they managed to save onto their dailies and their action points.

We are all looking forward to the end and starting a new adventure, and I may hang up my D&D spurs for a few weeks and enjoying being a PC again.

2 Sunyaku September 10, 2010 at 10:14 pm

This week’s encounter was fairly easy for our table– a little blood and one character knocked unconscious, but no real problems. We are all a little low on powers/AP/surges, but I’m not surprised. Looking forward to next week’s TPK lol.

Dark Sun was my first experience with DnD encounters, and I’ve enjoyed playing (started halfway through). I think my biggest complaint is that the weekly bouts feel more like gladiator matches than an “adventure”. I haven’t seen the adventure booklet, so I don’t know if it’s just the DMs at my shop, or if the adventure is poorly written, but I just not feeling the plot connectivity from week to week. I mean, “the party runs from a storm and kills everything they encounter in their path” really it?

3 zzaxle September 14, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Our adventure went extremely easily, due to some acid and poisen that we had acquired earlier, alongside, failed athletic checks on the DMs part which really killed them. Our only real problem was dealing with attacks from the Dust Devil, which was the last to be killed because we were focused on the ssurans. I’m really excited for the end of this. (BTW, my DM is saying something about leveling to level 4 before the final encounter? I can’t seem to find any pregen characters, and none of us made our own. So if someone could point me in the right direction, or tell me what level we /should/ be, that would be nice, thanks)

@Sunyaku I’m not particularly fond of the encounters, mainly because the adventure booklets didnt really give much detail as to what exactly is happening, and there really isn’t much role-playing involved either, it pretty much goes, “Read this line of text to the adventurers, then have them fight this and this and this” and they’re supposed to get a plot from it. It’s kind of confusing, and makes for a hectic storyline, if even one thing is missed. From what I’ve gathered, here is what has gone so far. While in the desert, obsidian starts raining from the sky, and you go to investigate it, you find a fellow veiled alliance member and have to protect him, he later tells you of a wastewalker who wants to kill you becuase of your use of magic. But the Veiled Alliance is devoted to using magic to heal the lands, instead of destroy it, but most mage-hunters, don’t see it that way, and want to abolish all magic from the world. They way I see it, is that your goal is to go and kill the Wastewalker before he kills you. Hope it helps ^^

4 Ameron September 27, 2010 at 3:42 pm

@Lahrs
I think if I were to play the Dark Sun D&D Encounters adventures again (using the pre-genes) I’d like to play two characters. Now that I know how they all work, I can see plenty of great opportunities to synergies powers.

@Sunyaku
Chapter 3 seemed to have the least cohesive story of this adventure, in my options. Fortunately our DMs (me included) have take some liberties and tried to make the story seem like more of a connected adventure and not just a bunch of hack and slash encounters.

@zzaxle
I think your DM was being generous if he let you level before encounter 15. The adventure clearly says that the PCs should be level 3 throughout the final chapter. But in the end it’s up to each DM to do what he feels is best for his table.

As it turned out we didn’t get to play the final encounter at my FLGS because we didn’t have enough people show up. Reading the encounter itself, it seemed to me like fighting the Wastewalker was going to be a let-down. However, I’ve read some of the other write-ups and people seemed satisfied with the conclusion.

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