In our most recent playtest—split up over two sessions—we followed the Night Caste bounty hunter named, um, Hunter, and his Eclipse Caste younger brother Scep on their caravan trip into the jungles southeast of the Scavenger Lands. There, instead of encountering the tyrant lizards they’d been hired to hunt down, the caravan was ambushed by a pack of claw striders. And as Scep’s player had to leave early, we swapped in Shane’s Eclipse Caste, Icas, from the previous Arms playtests.
The encounter was quick and brutal, as a single battle group of claw striders was no match for a combat-heavy Solar (plus limited backup from a combat-light Solar). Within moments, half the striders were torn to ribbons and Hunter was chasing them down through the jungle while whooping cheerily, drenched from head to toe in dinosaur blood.
At this point, the Storyteller, having been somewhat confused by the language in the relatively early claw strider draft, concluded that claw striders were meant to appear as individual opponents rather than in a battle group. So we decided that the first pack of striders were young and unpracticed, and that later in the day a foursome of full-grown striders would come after us. This proved to be a much fiercer battle.
Bursting from the undergrowth, the claw striders caught Icas by surprise and pinned him to the ground, ripping and tearing at him with their needle-sharp teeth before the Solars could react. Hunter counterattacked, freeing Icas from the grapple and giving him a bit of breathing room, but the Eclipse was too badly shredded at this point to contribute effectively to the rest of the fight.
At this point, Hunter counterattacked, aided by the brief appearance—and then disappearance—of a Batman-like Zenith Caste named Cloaked Lantern. (We had another playtester show up for the session, but unfortunately he arrived late and had to leave early, so he didn’t get much of an opportunity to contribute to the battle.) After a bit of back-and-forth as he struggled for combat advantage, the Night Caste poisoned and shredded two of the striders with a barrage of Charm- and Evocation-backed attacks, and the other two fled back into the jungle.
Overall, it was a dynamic fight that seamlessly incorporated surprise and grappling. Numbers continue to tell, and a Solar with minimal combat competence is genuinely vulnerable to mundane threats without having to worry about being instantly turned into a red paste.