Giant Sand Worm Chase
I built this skill challenge for my Dark Sun game as a way to introduce a new adventure. The players generally succeeded so I will not get to run the adventure, but they had a great time with the challenge. You might find a use for it.
Read the following paragraph slowly and ask the players what they want to do after each sentence.
A cloud of dust forms behind a set of large sand dunes in the northern distance as you travel the hot desert. The sounds of yelling and shouting can be heard on the wind. Six riders mounted on Crodlu’s come over the peak of a sand dune at a galloping pace, straight toward you. Blazing down the dunes slope about four hundred feet away they get closer. Then all along the dune ridges to the north about twenty more riders in desert clothes come howling and whooping as they thrash their Crodlu’s into a foaming frenzy. The cloud of dust arrives at the head of the sand dunes with over a hundred desert fork scattered around the horizon line, all screaming some battle cry as they run their mounts at break neck speeds in your direction.....
The sand dunes explode into a cloud of dust and sand as a monstrous round mouth with huge fangs shoots out of the sand and swallows a large number of the desert folk. You can hear their screams as they disappear into the throat of a colossal worm like creature.
This skill challenge involves the PCs encountering a horde of desert folk running from a colossal sand worm. The whole skill challenge covers about half an hour of game time. No one has ever escaped the sand worm, so unfortunately it’s not a known threat of the sand wastes of Athas. Knowledge skill checks cannot tell the PC’s anything.
Note: About a dozen or more desert folk are swallowed by the giant sand worm each round. The desert folk are from the house of Tsalaxa, as word has reached them from either Tyron Tsalaxa or a retainer that the heroes are carrying the fortune of Darom Madar. There are about 126 desert folk all mounted on Crodlu’s that have been running from the giant worm for about half an hour when they disturbed it waiting for a large meal. If the players don’t run they will be swallowed, fighting the creature is pointless as it’s much too large. This skill challenge assumes that the characters are on mounts if they are not they are unlikely to escape.
Setup: For the characters to escape the colossal sand worm’s mouth, they need to either out run it, jump onto it’s head or get out of it’s way. There are three phases to the skill challenge: Desert folk stampede, cacti’s field and caravan encampment. In the first phase the PC’s have to avoid getting run down by the desert folk and eaten by the worm (4 skill checks). In the second phase they must navigate a field of cacti’s and boulders (4 skill checks). The third phase has them run into a caravan encampment of elves (4 skill checks).
Level: 3 (XP 750)
Complexity: 5 (requires 12 successes before 3 failures)
Primary Skills: Acrobatics, Athletics, Endurance, Nature, Stealth. All primary skill checks are group checks that can be made with any of the five skills listed. If at least half the PC’s succeed on the check, this counts as one success in the challenge. Each round the players can mix their skills used provided they all make a skill check.
Acrobatics (DC 25) You dodge out of the way, as the Crodlu’s stampede around you and manage to avoid the worms mouth (on foot). You roll, leap or somersault out of the worm’s mouth as it’s just about to swallow you. You leap, dodge past or somersault over cacti plants, boulders, tents, people or animal mounts tired to stacks.
Athletics (DC 25) You run faster than you have in your whole life and get ahead of the worms jaw. The PC leaps onto of the worms head and runs down its back (on foot). You run past and jump over cacti plants, boulders, tents, people or animal mounts tired to stacks.
Endurance (DC 25) You maintain a sprinting speed for a few minutes but do not tire (on foot).
Nature (DC 15) The character is ridding a mount and spur’s it further away from the sand worm. You keep your mount out of the way of desert folk, cacti fields, boulders, tents, people or animal mounts tired to stacks.
Stealth (DC 15) You find some boulders, cacti plants or tents to hide behind as the worm scoops up sand rather than you for a while.
Perception (DC 15) You notice that the worm heads for the denser cluster of rides and break away from the group. You notice that the worm is not trying to avoid the cacti field or caravan encampment but is being slowed down. Gain a +2 bonus to the next skill check.
Insight (DC 15) To figure out that the worm attacks in a pattern of waves and know what to expect next. Gain a +2 bonus to the next skill check.
Bluff (DC 15) You fake your direction of travel and the worm starts going in the wrong direction to you, gain a +2 bonus to the next skill check. You create a diversion that leads the worm away from: one of your party member’s, the cacti field or the caravan encampment, this gives a +2 bonus to someone else’s skill check.
Success: If the characters earn 12 successes, before 3 failures, they evade the giant sand worm. The characters can make their way to whatever destination they choose with no further trouble.
Failure: If the characters accrue 3 failures, they fail the skill challenge. The characters are swallowed by the Colossal Sand worm, which leads to another adventure. This can include escaping from the worm’s mouth, killing it from the inside or exploring the worm.