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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