Penultimate, one of my favorite words. Something about second best, or second worst, it really means a lot that it gets such a long and imposing word, like the word is saying, buck up champ, you did great too! Anyhow…
Wednesday was rainy and cool, another nail in the coffin of summer, another day unlike the heated desert sands of Athas. There is something melancholy about summer ending, and it bled over into the encounter. Towards the end of the evening, one player lamented “But Kindrock isn’t done yet, he has so much left to do!” and I can understand the feeling well. Endings are difficult, and we were really starting to feel it for week 14. The future for us, who have played together for so long now, is coming to an end.
Many of us met that first night in March and have been playing ever since. Along the way, over the course of two seasons of encounters, we have grown into a pretty stable group of 9 players with me as as DM, though on average our table is 7 strong on a Wednesday night. Of these 9 core players, 4 of them were present for week 1 of season 1. The rest of the crew came trickling in over the next 27 weeks of gaming, and our table grew to be friends as the party grew to become grizzled veterans of paper and dice combat. So for all of the players out there who show up week after week to send the monsters back whence they came, this post is dedicated to your dedication. It is the players who make the game fun.
So next week is the last week, but this week, we still have an encounter to get through. It began with the party, six strong since Midget was lagging behind (definitely not joining her cannibal cousins for a feast of flesh) so the party was made up of Yuka, kindrock, Phye, Deathmetal Kissinger, Navarra, and Moo Stone. Together they braved the jungles, the mountains, and finally the long rocky descent down onto the alluvial plain of Tyr. They had an endurance check, pass! a skill challenge, pass! a run in with sun sickness, pass! Perched on the edge of the Ringwall cliffs, they took a moment to survey their surroundings. They could see that far to the north at the base of the mountains sat an unmoving blot on the horizon. It was the obsidian storm that had chased them across the desert and into the mountains. Now it waited for them where they entered.
They hit the sand and started trekking across it without pause. Of course the storm was moving their way, and of course almost within sight of the gates of the city, they were attacked by sun-crazed reptilians. These suss-suss-surans were mutated by long exposure to the elemental elements, and they had sprouted wings and could clumsily fly. They also exploded when killed.
Behind them a dust devil, those iconic creatures of dust in the world of Dark Sun, hovered mysteriously above the sand without attacking. Yuka the mad wrestler charged forward and climbed the 20 foot tall cliff just to get to one of the closest reptilians. He battered it, pushed it, then knocked it prone. And then he attacked it again and threw the wretched thing off the cliff. Its wings helped it land without injuring itself.
Meanwhile, Kindrock was cleaving through the enemy like butter. He slew one, then a second with his action point. Then he laughed at Yuka who had done everything BUT kill his, and he signaled to his wife Navarra, who launched a single miagic missile to put Yukas pet out of its misery. Deathmetal rocked out and Moo Pie did his minotaur charge. Phye did not even swing a single blow the entire battle, but healed and then as the final act, intimidated the last pathetic suss-suss-suran into fleeing, and being mercilessly chopped down by Kindrock as he fled.
And so the battle ended merely moments after it had begun. The sandstorm whipped up by the dust devil didn’t manage to have any effect on the battle, but the dust devil, as usual, did a great job of blinding, knocking prone, and sliding people around. And I would be remiss without mentioning my major mistake of the night – I totally forgot about the petrification when the draconian were killed. I did remember the rust explosion, but I think Kindrock would have gotten his axe stuck after killing one and then would maybe have been held in check for at least one action. Oh well. The battle was a cinch for this group, and it would have taken more than losing his axe (albeit a VERY big axe) to hold these killers back.
Next week though. Oh yes, next week will be a challenge. Until then…