Week 6, the half-way mark. This week was the dividing line, the the dark crease between beginning and end. Week 6 was also a a time for us to each reflect personally, about what’s behind, and what’s in front, perhaps. And what better way to separate that gulf, that lonely expanse of personal space than with these nightmares come to life? Prone, bloodied, probed and penetrated deeply by the weapons of heroes. It shatters the mind to consider what psychic damage these stains in reality could cause. But let us begin at the beginning of the encounter…
Roy returned with his character Gayron, and it was good to have the twin-strikin’ ranger back. Even if he is a dragon-born, heh. (Actually the dragonborn, are new to 4th edition, and I despised them initially, due at least in part because they were a race that could never exist in a Middle Earth type world. My experience with different types of fantasy has grown over the years to include all manner of the fantastical, but in some dark corner of my brain lurks my subconscious, actually a Tolkein rules-lawyer, who catalogues and loathes any instance in the game that goes against the spirit of the Lord of the Rings. I have convinced it to grudgingly include the high magic of the First Age and the Silmarillion)
The party, 7 in all, set out in marching order towards the next encounter and the door magically opened upon approach. They moved into the room and looked around. I described the madness inducing aberrations who materialized, and so began a battle the likes of which could never be fully described without threatening to tear the last shreds of sanity from those who read the account, so mind-bendingly jarring were they. But I shall try…
Like a mass of tentacles, warped, slithering, spiking about in some macabre twisting frenzy. The tendrils would strike out, slap about, and slash at the struggling champions of virtue, sending them into psychic shock from the curling edges of reality that struck them with each tentacled tendril. They wept tears of blood, and heard through ears filled with blood as their brains quaked from the attacks from the Outer Realm. Oh, and oops, they are also insubstantial, like an octopus from another dimension.
These horrors, these stains of insanity, materialized and started slinging tendrils of madness. They came in 3 varieties, there were 2 melee lashers, 3 tentacled thought-eaters, and the tentacle captain a Pulsar, who stayed back and launched long-ranged tentacle mind-spikes. The encounter began, as usual, with Torak using his special ability to dash forward before initiative count. He did so to good effect, as he was to spend much of the combat immobilized, starting with he pulsar’s first attack.The dragonborn and rogue took the madness to the right. After the ranger softened him up with twin strike the rogue finished him on his with a massive sneak attack. the assassin, sword mage and ardent went up the middle, while Midge stayed just inside the door, launching lightning bolts, frost-hammers, and intimidation. Then the thought-eaters went, and they slowed or immobilized a great portion of the party, then dealt damage, focusing on the sword-mage.
My second mistake of the night happened next. (forgetting they were insubstantial for the first half of the first round was my first mistake. Luckily the rogue’s damage – over 30 points – would still have slain the freakazoid when added to the damage the ranger did, but I did have to take back the bloodied status that Midge thought she inflicted upon the pulsar.) I believe it was Richard who (thankfully) brought up the fact that the monstrosities were vulnerable to psychic attacks, which I had completely missed! I really need to work on my comprehension abilities when it comes to the monster stat blocks, especially for the oddities found in this adventure. So, I went back through and added the correct damage for Torak’s attack, which in fact bloodied the lasher who was lashing him; indeed, the lasher became the lashed.
Torak had a lasher to contend with, and the swordmage had a lasher and a thought-eater on him. He quaffed a potion on his turn, and also accepted healing from the ardent Kantash. The tendrils whipped him fiercely but her persevered. The dragonborn concenrated on the pulsar, and the rogue came forward to engage the lasher. Soon both lashers were down, and another tentacle-slinger soon followed, leaving a single thought-eater and the pulsar. They too were soon sent back to whatever hellish dimension that spat hem out, and the party engaged in some good old fashioned searching for awhile.
During the battle, the dark spectre had appeared on the balcony, silently watching the battle unfold. When one of the characters picked up the staff, the blue ghostess appeared on the balcony, and for a few second she seemed to relive some attack upon creatures in the room. The room was looted, and Torak was even gobbled up by the iron maiden when searching it, but the swordmage was able to break him out before taking further damage. Torak came out holding a healing potion as his reward.
It was interesting to encounter such strange creatures. While they do no pass the Tolkien Test, it was fun to imagine a horror-goth inter-dimensional psycho-beast from Realm X, or 6. Thinking back, I probably should have upped it by one more pulsar, which would have made this a really challenging encounter, but it was still challenging. Week 6 was a nice, casual battle with mind-warping monstrosities. No dailies or action points were spent, and no one was knocked unconscious, which was good and bad. Good for the players, as they didn’t get to see the special ability of the fell taints to feed on the unconscious and dying, which would have been very very bad.
And now we have crossed that great divide, and I look forward to next week, number 7, as we continue our journey to find out about Halaster’s Lost Apprentice. It has been pretty great so far.