Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dark Sun: Gladiators Galore

Two New Heros

BARLOS THE BATTLEMIND: Human Battlemind (Ben)
Barlos was born in the arena and bred to be a Battlemind. His psionic powers were trained in Raam's arena by the psionic slave tutors whose job is to make entertaining fighters for the arena. Cocky and brash, Barlos lives for the thrill of the crowd cheering to his clever use of his powers to gain the upper hand on his opponents. Barlos is not easily riled but fights carefully, trying to provide a show for the teeming masses who cheer him on. Off the battlefield, he is also relatively unflustered, having nothing to prove but letting his accomplishments speak for themselves. While he loves to bask in the attention of adoring fans, Barlos nevertheless wistfully thinks of the day when he might gain his freedom and go his own way.

VISHRAKTH: Half-Orc Barbarian (Riley)
What better occupation for a half-orc barbarian than to be a thug in a gang on the streets of Raam, bringing some semblance of belonging and order to the murderous streets of this caste-separated cauldron of violence. Vishrakth has no fear of losing his life and would easily fight to the death. But in an attack by some of Raam's Mansabdars, Vishrakth's faithless fellow gang members ran and abandoned him to his fate. He was overwhelmed by these agents of some corrupt noble house and his vicious nature suggested he'd make them some money by being sold into the arena's slave barracks. Only a fool would provoke Vishrakth's temper and his eyes smoulder with the burning hatred of his slave captors, waiting for his moment to bring them down in the roar of his barbarian rage.

Facing the Gladiators and a Surprise

"All right you worm spawn, "roared Garthak the ogre, "off to the arena with you today. Time to fight some real gladiators. With a surprise twist! Hahaha! We'll arm ya with short swords cuz that's what gladiators fight with!" Out they were thrust into the arena: Barlos, Sarunin Tay, Zylyss, Dar'ag Tan, Fillin and Vishrakth. The slaves stood there, the heat from the shimmering ground washing in waves over them, the baking blood red sun in the sky. In the middle of the arena was a thirty foot pillar with a lumpy bundle on top. At that moment, out marched five gladiators, twirling short swords in each hand.

"Fighters fight!" came the serpentine voice of Abalach-Re from her gilded private box. With that, the heroes rushed forward and the battle was begun. Blasts of psionic power and the clash of swords slowly raised the volume of the murmuring crowds. On one end of the line, Barlos was battling one gladiator, another backed up to assess the heroes and another two were fighting with Fillin and Dar'ag Tan. On the far end of the line, Vishrakth was trading blows with another of the fierce fighters.

After a few seconds of battle, with the heroes quipping about who would be able to climb the pillar and get the "presents," the lumpy bundle suddenly jumped up, the covering thrown off. There was a vicious female elf, her longbow knocked, who began firing on the heroes as they fought! Zylyss unwound the sling from his wrist, picked up a stone and sent it flying to the top of the pillar.

Sarunin Tay sent waves of energy at the gladiator in his line of sight when suddenly the fighter charged him, slashing him with both his blades, bloodying him in an instant. Barlos then focused his mind, marking that same fighter to draw him over to him, taking on two at once. Zylyss teleported his short sword to Sarunin who then moved it telekinetically over one of the gladiator's heads, dropping it close by into the ground but missing the fighter.

"Hey," one of the slavers standing in the wings nudged Garthak, "don't that Seeker need a bow?" "Right you are lad," the ogre agreed and chucked a bow and quiver out to Fillin. He grabbed the short bow and began firing arrows, unleashing his ranged primal spirits to harass the gladiator that he was flanking with Dar'ag Tan.

"Bloody fool! You deserve death!" shouted the elf from the pillar and then sent an arrow into one of the bloodied gladiators. The heroes weren't sure whether she had suddenly turned friendly or not. Zylyss knew better. With a trick shot, he sent a stone smashing into her forehead, knocking her back a step where she teetered and dropped from the pillar in a crunching heap. Zylyss dashed forward to grab the elf's bow but the end of the fight was at hand.

With one gladiator and the elf dead, and most of the heroes also bloodied, a mighty gong rang again. The gladiators, followed shortly by the slaves, dropped to their knees to look with meekness at their sorceress-queen. "Brave fighters" echoed the voice of Abalach-Re, "you have fought well. But I grow weary of this combat. Let us see something other entertainments." With that, the slave masters appeared, urging their charges back out of the spotlight. The battle, inconclusive, was done.

Game Notes

Unfortunately, I was late to the session and we lost about a half hour. That's why I had to wrap up the session abruptly. The kids still had fun. Ben and Riley were new players and Risdon was absent. The purpose of these various arena fights are twofold: (1) To offer encounters which can easily be played with whoever is present and (2) relatively simple fights in which the players can learn their characters' powers and how to use them.

One thing I noticed is that our slave heroes tend to work more individually. As they learn their powers, I suspect they'll learn to use them together effectively. When they don't fight together, they get hurt pretty quickly. I figured that level-wise this was a tough encounter and it turned out to be a bit overwhelming for them. I suspect they would have pulled it off but it would have been really tough. They are hampered by the lack of a healer as Nick has been (and will be) unable to play. We may have to get Yvaak in there some other way.

The kids enjoyed the encounter though their rolls were all over. More bad than good but Jacob had a couple of crits of which he was proud. They really did get a lot of bad rolls and I suppose the combat would have gone quicker had they rolled better. I think if we had had that extra half hour that I lost, we would have been able to carry the encounter to its conclusion. As always, the game was a lot of fun. I am enjoying getting into the role of Garthak the ogre and walking around the table at the beginning of the session, growling and lecturing them on the way they get to entertain the crowds that day.

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