Week 4 of DnD encounters began with the trek through the desert at night. The sun went down fast, and travel continued in relative comfort for awhile until the coolness turned to cold. They rested for a meal and subtracted their daily survival ration, and each character rolled for the sessions group endurance check. They passed the challenge, and were ready to continue on their way. The party was made up of 4 tonight: Castri, Phye, and a pair of Thri Kreen, Shikirr and PakCha (from Free Rpg Day – Bloodasnd Arena.) Each of whom led the party for one hour through whatever terrain lay ahead. Jarvik and Barcan (the two Veiled Alliance characters) straggled behind.
Phye took the lead first and had to pass through a region of sharp rocks using acrobatics to navigate safely. Next up was Castri, who had to cross a plain riddled with pits and holes hidden by the wind-blown sifting sand. His high perception allowed him to find the safe path. Next up Shikirr needed to navigate an area of steep dunes through soft sand. Only sheer endurance could forge the path through those desert waves, but Shikirr managed, leading to the next Thri Kreen, whose turn to lead was through an area where the desert was melted into glass and then shattered. His heal skill allowed him to locate the most dangerous areas, and to bind any cuts along the way.
When the shattered plain of glass was past, they heard the calling of a dwarf and met Rollo. Upon mention of an obsidian storm, he reveals that the Wastewalker is known to call upon storms and that he hates arcane magic. He makes a hand signal of recognition to the Veiled alliance characters, then sounds the alarm of approaching danger. Suddenly it seems like the desert itself rises up to attack them. The dwarf cringes and soon perishes.
The dust devils go first in the surprise round, followed by the elf and then the shaman. But even before that, the battlemind gets to rush forward to confront one of the dust devils before it has a chance to move. The dust devil retaliates by lashing out at Shikirr, wounding him and sending him into the edge of the quiksilt (quicksand) pool, where he is attacked (+4 vs Reflex.) Shikirr is restrained in quicksilt. The next dust devil flies into the crowd and knocks each of them prone. Next to go is the ranger who attacks while laying on the ground, but misses. The shaman sends his spirit companion adjacent to the battlemind.
On round one, the dust devil adjacent to the party took damage reducing it to bloodied, attacked by Castri, Phye, and PakCha, while Shikirr fought his way out of the quicksilt and attacked the dust devil nearest him. Then the dust devils went, and each of them blew up. The first scouring sandblast did 15 pts of damage to everyone, while the second blast hit almost no one, as I rolled my 2nd and 3rd natural 1 of the night. Nonetheless by the end of round 1, everyone was in the single digits of HPs. And blinded.
It was at this point, 1st to go on round 2, that the Reptilian Priest made his appearance. (It is here, dear reader, that we will discover the major maistake that I the humble and often mumble-headed dm has made for the evening.) I mis-read the encounter power as being a close burst, so instead he cast his standard attack, and damaged one of the thrikreen. I soon realized my mistake and next round he made up for it.
The dust devils came around again, and the bloodied devil hit Phye, knocking her unconcious into the other quicksilt pool. Phye was healed by Shikirr before Phyes turn came around, and managed to escape the clutches of the deadly restraining silt. It may have been Castri who dealt the killing blow to the first dust devil when rolled a 1 and used the weapon breakage rule to hit and kill it, but it was Castri or Phye both of whom bore the brunt of that whirling dervish of slicing bloody destruction. Another round of action and the Voodoo Lizard cast his poisonous burst. Both Castri and Phye were taking ongoing damage. Phye had to spend more healing and was out of healing surges, with 3-5 hp left and taking ongoing 5. Phye went down. Castri had 2 hps. Then the Lizardman shaman went down, slain by his rival PakCha the shaman.The second dust devil accepted an opportunity attack from Shikirr and charged the ranger. He hit, with a critical, and did 13 pts of damage. This blow instantly slew Castri, knocking him below his negative bloodied value. One more dead elf. It is becoming an addiction, I tell you.
That attack was the swan song of the last bloody remaining enemy, and he too was soon slain by the combined efforts of the two standing members, the mantis warriors. While Castri was outright flattened, Phye suffered a worse fate, unconcious and out of healing surges, the ardent must have an extended rest before coming round, which is impoossible while on the run from the tribes of lizardmen and a sentient storm of obsidian which has already wrought catastrophic destruction, and now chases the survivors of that ill-fated caravan through the dry dry desert. Another day begins as the Dark Sun rises…