I’m not normally a killer DM, nor do I pull a lot of punches on my players. But in this week’s session of D&D Encounters: Council of Spiders, I essentially wiped out my party. The reason: The dice wanted them dead.
This week’s session was pretty straightforward. The party (all drow, and pretty much evil across the board) found themselves stuck in an ambush by svirfneblin defending their caves. A rockslide behind them made retreat tricky.
There were two armored svirfneblin who were marking PCs, five minions with picks, one sneaky one with a garrote, and then two with slings. Oh, those slings.
The sneaky garrote-wielder had the potential to make life miserable for a PC, and she did get her wire around the neck of the hexblade in the party, but the hexblade promptly turned and critically hit her. She didn’t last long after that.
The defender svirfneblins (svirfnebli?) did a good job of marking PCs, but weren’t too scary. The minions weren’t much of a threat, either, having a hard time getting combat advantage to deal extra damage.
But those slingers… sheesh. The rest of the dark gnomes kept the party off the slingers, and those slingers just couldn’t miss. They each had a recharge power that basically let them make two sling attacks if the first one hit (bouncing the rock off the head of the first target and onto the second).
- Round one: Both slingers hit with both of their ricochet shots, dealing an average of 11 damage per attack for a total of 44 damage.
- Round two: Same as round one. The ricochet shots recharged for both slingers (ouch), and two PCs dropped. I believe the second shot for one slinger missed, but we’re still talking about something like 33 damage dealt by these two.
- Round three: One ricochet shot recharged and hit once; the other didn’t, but the regular sling shot still hit.
- Beyond that: I stopped checking for recharge rolls and just had the slingers make single attacks.
Our slayer was the first to die, falling unconscious in round two and then failing three death saves. The one warpriestess in the party did what she could to bring people back, spending most rounds doing nothing but heal checks and Healing Word (which she reflavored to Word of Ichor since she’s an evil drow), but it wasn’t enough. The ranged thief in the party was dishing out tons of damage, killing one of the svirfneblin defenders in the third round, at which point the other defender decided to risk the opportunity attacks to come after the thief in the back of the group and the slingers started targeting him as well. With the damage machine out of action, the party had little hope.
The PCs kept missing with their attacks while the dark gnomes kept hitting. Once our slayer was dead, I let his player roll the attacks for the svirfneblin, but his dice suddenly turned hot and the gnomes KEPT HITTING!
Eventually, the warpriestess used her Speak with Stone power, which I ruled let her find a small gap in the rock slide that could be wriggled through. Two of the drow made it through that hole before dying, but it was too late for the other four.
Four PCs died. Two escaped. The svirfneblin slingers took zero damage the entire fight. Wow.
So, let this be a lesson to you: Don’t mess with dark gnomes wielding rocks!
Hey, at least the good guys won.
-Michael the OnlineDM