Saturday, June 12, 2010
Never Split the Party!
Jumping into the story in the middle, we had just retrieved an artifact for Lady Elaydren d'Cannith from the bowels of the valves below Sharn. In doing so we managed to curry her favor; she informed us that we could check a message drop occasionally to see if she required our services in the future. After researching a map at Morgrave University, we made our weekly check at the message drop only to find that the scribe had been assaulted and a missive intended for us had been intercepted by some as-yet-unknown third party. We made haste to attempt to contact the Lady, only to be dive bombed by a courier owl. The scroll the owl dropped gave us directions to a hurried meeting at our usual inn. Upon arrival she provided us with an adventuring pack containing all the pertinent intel and equipment we would need for our new expedition and begged us to leave directly. Intending to do exactly as we had been instructed, our plans were nevertheless immediately interrupted by yet another Warforged-lead brute squad. Having been harried by Warforged at every turn and given the impression that these were agents of the fabled Lord of Blades, we worked quickly to dispatch them and make good our escape on the Lightning Rail. Our arrival in Sterngate was quick; we set out with a caravan as bodyguards, but the driver who hired us left out few details - namely, what exactly we would be expected to deal with. We took the job because it ostensibly afforded us some safety in numbers and a quick 25GP per member. We figured it would be a standard job, maybe some dangerous wildlife or band of brigands, but we were in for quite a surprise.
Upon entering a rocky mountain pass, we were stunned to see two large carrion crawlers and three masses of crawling hands....dismembered, animated crawling masses of corpse hands. This was unsettling to say the least. From the high banks, a squeaky voice called down "Kill them, kill them all my pets!" We had wandered into a trap set by a crafty necromancer; one that our ranger, Rithik, named j'Den Var (as he sang a version of "Rocky Mountain High"). Our bad luck started very early when we lost much of our initiative to the monstrous horde before us. Swarms are nasty to start with, these especially; if one starts next to you, it gets an attack. On it's turn it attacks everyone adjacent to it. If it hits, it afflicts you with immobilization, no save, until the end of its next turn. basically, if it gets next you and hits you...it will attack you twice a round and keep you locked down next to it. Nasty, to be sure, but you still can beat it down, right? Well...swarms only take half damage from non-area of effect attacks (although they take extra damage if you do hit them with AoE effects). Unfortunately, we had some serious issues with this, as our druid is the only one of us with AoE abilities (apart from my Thunderwave Wand), and she needed to be on top of them to hit them. Couple this with the fact that her powers are not "at will"s but encounter and daily use abilities, and we were in some serious trouble, with the druid as our only hope to handle the three swarms (which had bloodied our ranger on the first round). Hindsight being what it always is, the mistakes made by all of us are obvious - perhaps the biggest being positioning ourselves in two groups, with more then 5 squares between the Artificer, Ranger and Druid combating the swarms and the Fighter and Avenger dealing with the crawlers and the necromancer. The crawlers' poison and the necromancer's debuffs kept 2 of them locked down away from us, and my Artificer was having to use every bit of healing he could scrape up, including running up to the fallen and administering Potions of Healing to keep them in the fight.
We might even have seen the ultimate end of this coming; prior to leaving Sharn, we found ourselves flush with funds and were debating what magic items we might want to procure while in the City of Towers, not knowing when the next time we would have access to so many vendors would be. Someone made a comment that perhaps we should keep some of the funds to the side, in case we need to get someone a resurrection. I commented instantly that you never question the streak and you don't jinx us with bad mojo. It was foretold. It was Prophesy. As soon as we let our tactics slip, step one foot out of line...break one of the cardinal rules for even a second...someone was destined to break our streak.
Might as well be the newbie, right?
The fight was eventually won, but not before most of the party had been up and down like Weeble Wobbles and thankfully j'Den Var was well equipped. When we pulled into Darguun, we bee lined to the nearest temple to get our Druid back among the breathing. I made sure to stay clear of the caravan driver, knowing that if he walked up to me to hand me 25GP after failing to inform us of the situation that caused our Druid friend to meet the bad end of a raw deal, I would punch him square in his nose, John Wayne style...Pilgrim.
For a first character death, it was not overly traumatic, given that she was only level 3 and only was dead for about 15 minutes of play time. It does, however, teach the lesson and remind those of us that should know better:
You Never Split the Party.