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Dragotha's hp... how'd they do that?


Age of Worms Adventure Path

Grand Lodge

Okay, I'll admit that I was at first pole-axed by the hp of the uber goober at the end of the new module, but Mr. Jacobs, You have GOT to tell me where the Unholy Toughness (Ex) ability comes from. I am obsessive about how these things come together and I initially thought you had erroneously kept the same hp for Dragotha from when he was still living and entitled to a Con bonus. I finally found the reasoning you used, but where did this ability crop up from - Kyuss himself or your diabolical mind???

either way, the beast will be heck to beat.

Great job! Keep it coming and did I read correctly that the new Arc has been approved????

That will make me extremely pleased!! Very pleased indeed!

Thank you,

FW

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8

The unholy toughness quality debuted in Monster Manual III (and oddly, totally failed to appear in Libris Mortis, released a few months afterwards [probably a case of different design teams]). It was effectively duplicated as a feat in the recent Tome of Horrors 3 from Necromancer Games.

Grand Lodge

Demiurge 1138 wrote:
The unholy toughness quality debuted in Monster Manual III (and oddly, totally failed to appear in Libris Mortis, released a few months afterwards [probably a case of different design teams]). It was effectively duplicated as a feat in the recent Tome of Horrors 3 from Necromancer Games.

I must have missed it, because I don't see that quality in my copy of MMIII at all. Is it listed somewhere other than in the index?

Thanks for the btw..
F

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8

A specific writeup is in the glossary. You'll find it attached to pretty much every undead in the book. Say, boneclaws.

Cheliax

I dunno about others, but my players have developed a burning hatred for the Boneclaws (and the Blood of Vol cult they serve)--tough to bring down, and they exploit all the things players like to gripe about regarding attacks of opportunity, heheh.

"What, he hit me back here? How can he do that?! I'm 15 feet away, and he's only Large! Plus, he already used an AOO!"

*grins*

It's a wicked feat. This'd be one of those cases where Charisma-draining attacks or abilities--yes, lowly ol' Charisma--might swing things dramatically for the heroes. Do y'all think clever use of Scrying and the like would reveal the mechanics of Unholy Toughness to 'em?

Grand Lodge

Demiurge 1138 wrote:
A specific writeup is in the glossary. You'll find it attached to pretty much every undead in the book. Say, boneclaws.

Yeah I found the write-up on the quality in a few monster descriptions, but the Glossary was woefully incomplete about the Ex ability, maybe my copy of the book is defective? I dunno.

Since this was not an original ability of the Dracolich, was its CR increased up ward by +1 or +2 due to the effect that the additional 300+ hp has on the creature?

Just wondering what the effect sould have if added to other undead, say ghouls and wights and the like...

<evil chuckle>

F


actually it is in libris mortis, it's just a feat.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

frank whited wrote:
Since this was not an original ability of the Dracolich, was its CR increased up ward by +1 or +2 due to the effect that the additional 300+ hp has on the creature?

Nope; it shouldn't change Dragotha's CR. At a certain point when adding templates or class levels or hit dice to monsters, you can't really trust the formulas given in the template to generate a CR. You have to compare the finished monster to creatuers of a similar CR. There's not much out there that's CR 27, alas, but I think it's about right for Dragotha.

Without unholy toughness, Dragotha's hit points would be tragically low; he'd have a glass jaw and the battle with him would be underwhelming and anticlimactic. The lack of a Consitution score does this for a lot of undead; sure, they're immune to sneak attacks and critical hits, but their low hit points means it's really tough to design high-level undead. Which is why you saw a lot of undead in Monster Manual II with dozens of hit dice. Of coruse, that makes them ridiculously tough to turn and causes all sorts of other problems with balance. Unholy toughness is the best solution I've seen yet for making high-level undead tough enough that they'll stick around.


Golbez57 wrote:
Do y'all think clever use of Scrying and the like would reveal the mechanics of Unholy Toughness to 'em?

Maybe not scrying, but you could drop some hints in response to a divination or commune. It might require cleverness to couch the responses in non-metagaming terms, though--maybe something about "deflating his swollen pride" or "destroying the power of his personality"?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Golbez57 wrote:
This'd be one of those cases where Charisma-draining attacks or abilities--yes, lowly ol' Charisma--might swing things dramatically for the heroes.

Well, not Charisma drain, since undead are immune to ability drain. But they are subject to mental ability damage, so that's still viable. And if you can hit them with, say, bestow curse or the like, that'd be cool too.

TK


Bestow Curse would work since it is Necromancy and doesn't require a Fort Save (Will). But I hardly think it is worth the risk to touch Dragotha and (a) risk getting mauled with a full attack and (b) rely on the doubly dubious chance that he will fail his Will save and the caster will breach his SR.


Still, though, Touch of Idiocy doesn't allow a save, and could potentially reduce his Charisma by 6.


Touch of Idiocy is Mind-Affecting and doesn't work on Undead.


I agree that without the extra hps that he is to easy, Quick question, it seems like having up Death Ward and Free Action pretty much negate that nasty breath weapon he has. Is this true???

Paizo Employee Creative Director

YuKyDave wrote:
I agree that without the extra hps that he is to easy, Quick question, it seems like having up Death Ward and Free Action pretty much negate that nasty breath weapon he has. Is this true???

Yup, just as immunity to fire negates his fire breath. Keep in mind, though, that Dragotha's intelligence is 26. That's pretty high. Also, Dragotha's probably been watching the PCs. Certainly if any of his minions make it to his cave before the PCs and witnessed them using freedom of movement and death ward, they'd warn him. In which case Dragotha wouuld probably open his attacks with a greater dispel magic.

Grand Lodge

James Jacobs wrote:

Nope; it shouldn't change Dragotha's CR. At a certain point when adding templates or class levels or hit dice to monsters, you can't really trust the formulas given in the template to generate a CR. You have to compare the finished monster to creatuers of a similar CR. There's not much out there that's CR 27, alas, but I think it's about right for Dragotha.

Without unholy toughness, Dragotha's hit points would be tragically low; he'd have a glass jaw and the battle with him would be underwhelming and anticlimactic. The lack of a Consitution score does this for a lot of undead; sure, they're immune to sneak attacks and critical hits, but their low hit points means it's really tough to design high-level undead. Which is why you saw a lot of undead in Monster Manual II with dozens of hit dice. Of coruse, that makes them ridiculously tough to turn and causes all sorts of other problems with balance. Unholy toughness is the best solution I've seen yet for making high-level undead tough enough that they'll stick around.

I agree that Dragotha less the hp would be near-laughable, but is the ability spelled out in any resource other than the monster stats for some undead in MMIII (I checked Libris Mortis and it is not in there, but they do use Improved Toughness to decent effect in that book)? I guess one can figure out the mechanics from the write-ups, but I was wondering if there was a book out there with the ability detailed out as one would expect to see in the back of MMIII (Please tell me if I have a defective copy of the MMIII too cuz it ain't in there other than as detailed above).

Thanks for the replies,

FW

Paizo Employee Creative Director

frank whited wrote:
I agree that Dragotha less the hp would be near-laughable, but is the ability spelled out in any resource other than the monster stats for some undead in MMIII (I checked Libris Mortis and it is not in there, but they do use Improved Toughness to decent effect in that book)? I guess one can figure out the mechanics from the write-ups, but I was wondering if there was a book out there with the ability detailed out as one would expect to see in the back of MMIII (Please tell me if I have a defective copy of the MMIII too cuz it ain't in there other than as detailed above).

Nope; you're fine (and your MMIII is fine too). It's a pretty simple quality, in any case; nothing more needs to be said about it than what appears in Dragotha's stat block really.


I guess my only worry is that his caster level isn't high enough to consistently overcome the PC spellcaster level checks.

I'm thinking that if I want to get really really nasty that I could have him cast AMF on himself, I don't have his stats in front of me, so I don't know if he has the enlarge spell area feat. His breath weapon is a Supernatural ability so it should still work in the AMF, then powee.

As less of a cheat, he could just use AMF and then combat brute through the PCs. With his damage and BAB they will be in big trouble quick and probably have to use a Wish to bring down the AMF.

Am I right that Supernatural powers aren't blocked by an AMF.


I think AMF blocks Sp and Su abilities.

Cheliax

That they do:

http://www.d20srd.org/srd/specialAbilities.htm

Note that the recent "Tome of Magic" has some tweaks to better differentiate spells, spell-like abilities, and supernatural abilities (see the early part of the Shadow Magic section). I can't recall all the tweaks off the top of my head, but I am certain that supernatural abilities are suppressed in AMF; I specifically checked on that.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

YuKyDave wrote:

I guess my only worry is that his caster level isn't high enough to consistently overcome the PC spellcaster level checks.

I'm thinking that if I want to get really really nasty that I could have him cast AMF on himself, I don't have his stats in front of me, so I don't know if he has the enlarge spell area feat. His breath weapon is a Supernatural ability so it should still work in the AMF, then powee.

As less of a cheat, he could just use AMF and then combat brute through the PCs. With his damage and BAB they will be in big trouble quick and probably have to use a Wish to bring down the AMF.

Am I right that Supernatural powers aren't blocked by an AMF.

Supernatural powers are indeed blocked by antimagic.

As for Dragotha's caster level, if you find that it's too low to get through player character SR, keep in mind that even without spells Dragotha can do a LOT of damage. And barring that, you can always give him the Practiced Spellcaster feat in place of something like Improved Initiative to bump his caster level up to 21st (althoguh if you do this, you'll need to rebuild his skills a little to get him the Spellcraft rank prerequisite).


James Jacobs wrote:


Supernatural powers are indeed blocked by antimagic.

As for Dragotha's caster level, if you find that it's too low to get through player character SR, keep in mind that even without spells Dragotha can do a LOT of damage. And barring that, you can always give him the Practiced Spellcaster feat in place of something like Improved Initiative to bump his caster level up to 21st (althoguh if you do this, you'll need to rebuild his skills a little to get him the Spellcraft rank prerequisite).

I think Yucky was referring to the CL check used to try and dispel existing magic effects on the PCs, but the Practiced Spellcaster feat works for that too, and would give Dragotha a roughly 50/50 chance of dispelling any given effect cast by a 20th level spellcaster. More than enough to make the PCs sweat, while still giving them even odds of maintaining some of their defenses.

Cheliax

If one of the PCs doesn't have a ring of counterspells with dispel magic packed in it at this point in the game... they're askin' for it.


Thanks for clearing up the supernatural thing, I guess its that they cannot be dispelled.

Yes I was mentioning the caster level checks, and yes, for 4k rings of counterspells are a godsend for PCs.

One of my PCs is a psion and uses the Dispel Psionics Buffer too.

I still think that with Dragotha's attacks and damage that an AMF is a good idea, he can pretty much just go from PC to PC taking them out one by one.

Probably they will have to retreat and then decide to use a Wish or somesuch to bring it down.


Plus the AMF will eliminate their Freedom of Movement buffs, and allow him to crush and snatch them. Crush is especially devastating because it pretty much removes one PC from the combat completely. Especially if its a fighter.

Now I am getting worried though that I'm going to end up killing them all.

In the end I probably won't do it that way, I think AMF causes just as many problems as Polymorph and should probably be a 9th level spell or have something like Implode AMF as a 7th level spell that automatically dispells it and deals dmg to the char in the field.


Dragotha's body is too big for an AMF. It has 10 ft radius centered on the caster. You could house-rule it I suppose like putting it near his claws so that those he grapple would be screwed. However, he's pretty darn powerful as written. I think the tactics in Dungeon are more than sufficient to challenge the party.

Grand Lodge

YuKyDave wrote:

Plus the AMF will eliminate their Freedom of Movement buffs, and allow him to crush and snatch them. Crush is especially devastating because it pretty much removes one PC from the combat completely. Especially if its a fighter.

Now I am getting worried though that I'm going to end up killing them all.

In the end I probably won't do it that way, I think AMF causes just as many problems as Polymorph and should probably be a 9th level spell or have something like Implode AMF as a 7th level spell that automatically dispells it and deals dmg to the char in the field.

YuKyDave, according to the Draconomicon (pg 148, Attacks heading) dracoliches lose their Crush ability. James, since you said this was generally a unique creature, would it be appropriate to put the crush attack back in there?


I think they lose the Crush ability because they have no flesh (although one would think they could use a foot or something). Dragotha is skeletal, so it wouldn't really make sense for him to have the crush ability if regular dracoliches don't have it.


James Jacobs wrote:
Nope; it shouldn't change Dragotha's CR. At a certain point when adding templates or class levels or hit dice to monsters, you can't really trust the formulas given in the template to generate a CR. You have to compare the finished monster to creatuers of a similar CR.

I agree. Massive, high-Constitution creatures are severely penalized by taking an undead or construct template, as I found when I tried to build a mecha-tarrasque.

CR27! I remember Ashardalon being as difficult; an undead dragon is as good as a half-fiend dragon because it's simultaneously a dragon and something else. I've worried that this might be too powerful for a campaign end boss, since "party's level +4 " is often said to be a total party kill. Is CR27 really reasonable for a 20th level party?


I'm actually quite happy with his CR, because my players are, apparently, really stupid. I gave them a little teaser about how tough it would be (aka, itold them he had 800+ hp and was CR 27) and the laughed at me and said it would be no problem. Yeah, they're getting a little bit cocky, even though one player has died i think four times and everyone else has only barely been saved by they're buffers timely usage of the "delay death" spell (which, by the way, is cheap; any thoughts on this?). Anyways, I'm hopeful that this fight will knock 'em down a peg, say, by killing several of them. And oh yeah, has there been any word on the next AP? If so, please tell me......now.......

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Jonathan Drain wrote:
CR27! I remember Ashardalon being as difficult; an undead dragon is as good as a half-fiend dragon because it's simultaneously a dragon and something else. I've worried that this might be too powerful for a campaign end boss, since "party's level +4 " is often said to be a total party kill. Is CR27 really reasonable for a 20th level party?

One of the main components of the adventure is actually about building up resources and allies so that your party can handle such a tough encounter. If the PCs handle it right, they reduce Dragotha's allies, make their own allies, and take several steps to give them advantages in the battle. If instead the PCs head straight into the big boss fight with Dragotha and ignore the side adventures, yes. They will be killed.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

frank whited wrote:

YuKyDave, according to the Draconomicon (pg 148, Attacks heading) dracoliches lose their Crush ability. James, since you said this was generally a unique creature, would it be appropriate to put the crush attack back in there?

They lose their crush ability because they lose a lot of their mass; they're basically just bones. There's not much meat to crush things with. I'd recomend not giving Dragotha a crush ability for this reason, and also because he's already got MORE than enough options in combat. Adding one more just makes him more complicated to run without significantly increasing his power.

Again; it's like strapping a flame thrower to a nuclear bomb. A lot of extra work for negligable gain.

Contributor

namfoodle wrote:
and everyone else has only barely been saved by they're buffers timely usage of the "delay death" spell (which, by the way, is cheap; any thoughts on this?).

Commence thread hijack:

This spell has come up in my campaign. After some deliberation, I decided to allow it. In general, I like spells that keep individual PCs alive (albeit out of combat). Much easier than the alternatives (either bringing in a bunch of new characters as the PCs die, or watching all their treasure go toward raise dead spell). And if a monster wants to kill a PC, he can still do so by delivering a coup de grace (if they fail that Fort save they're dead, regardless of the hit point loss).

I just don't allow it to stack with Diehard.

End thread hijack


I have to know is there any plans to add Unholy Toughness (Ex), to the SRD.


I also just noticed this Dragotha's Touch AC is only 12. That is wayyy to low IMHO. Any high level caster worth his salt should be able to hit every time with a ranged touch attack. Getting through his SR and various resistances and immunities will be the hardest part. Otherwise IMHO this is the real chink in Dragotha's hide and I believe this will be his downfall.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Smilinggm wrote:
I also just noticed this Dragotha's Touch AC is only 12. That is wayyy to low IMHO. Any high level caster worth his salt should be able to hit every time with a ranged touch attack. Getting through his SR and various resistances and immunities will be the hardest part. Otherwise IMHO this is the real chink in Dragotha's hide and I believe this will be his downfall.

Touch AC has always been the way to fight dragons. Dragotha should be no different. That said, you still have to get through his immunities and resistances even if you hit him with a touch attack.


At high levels Polar Ray combined with the Archmages ability to switch out the type of energy damage done on the fly is awesome. And the great thing about it is there is no save.

It makes sense that Dracoliches cannot crush, but I don't have the draconomicon, so I didn't know. I am just using converted PGtF web enhancement and the FRCS.

I didn't realize that AMF specifically caveats the size issue. He could still use it as a defense, but he would have to widen it. That puts it out of his reach to cast, and he doesn't have the feat. He could use a scroll though, with only a 5-10% chance of failure. I guess though if a trend starts of Dragons buffing from scrolls then all of the humans are in big big big trouble. :)


Isn't there a spell out there called antimagic ray, or something like that?

It surrounds a target with an antimagic field. Target can't use Su or Sp, but isn't affected by magic either.


Why would Dragotha bother with AMF? He knows the party is coming because his servants have alerted him and he's heard the battle with the night crawlers down the hall. He has such a high SR, plus has buffed to be highly resistant, if not immune, to just about any kind of energy, special attack, and normal damage. He'd just do his best to wipe out the party as quickly as he could, and in the unlikely event that they've found a chink in his armor, he still gets away and has forever to rebuild his hoard, plus a chance to gain his revenge at Kyuss' side in a few days when the Age of Worms arrives. His opponents aren't likely to bother with the relatively wimpy monsters that can be brought in with Summon Monster IX--they're going to Gate some heavy hitters in--and IIRC Gated monsters are there in the flesh and thus don't wink out in an AMF. He's already got nearly impenetrable defenses, so his best bet is to focus his attacks on anyone who does manage to hit him hard and try to take that individual out of combat, then move on to the next target.


The PCs can get around his SR with Lessen Spell Resistance. It gives the caster a +10 bonus to checks to overcome SR.


dungeonblaster wrote:
The PCs can get around his SR with Lessen Spell Resistance. It gives the caster a +10 bonus to checks to overcome SR.

Complete Arcane?


Smilinggm wrote:
I also just noticed this Dragotha's Touch AC is only 12. That is wayyy to low IMHO.

Take a look at other dragons' touch ACs as they age. That chink just keeps getting bigger; I think 12 is actually pretty darn decent for a dragon of his stature, compared to other draconic touch ACs I've seen.


Spell Compendium, but originally from another source that I can't recall. The spell was changed in the conversion.


Russell Jones wrote:
Smilinggm wrote:
I also just noticed this Dragotha's Touch AC is only 12. That is wayyy to low IMHO.
Take a look at other dragons' touch ACs as they age. That chink just keeps getting bigger; I think 12 is actually pretty darn decent for a dragon of his stature, compared to other draconic touch ACs I've seen.

Yes but There are several easy ways to buff touch AC. Mage Armor, Rings of Protection, Anything that gives a deflection bonus. Heck with just mage armor alone this would boost his touch ac up to 16. I know 16 is low compaired to 57, but it is an easy improvment to make. I also have a problem with giving every dragon a Dex of 10. Just because they are amoung the biggest creatrues around does not mean that they can not have a better Dex. In my home games I always give any dragon encounterd differet stats than the ones listed in the book, then I apply their racial and size mods. I will also mix up breath weapons just for fun.

Contributor

Smilinggm wrote:


Yes but There are several easy ways to buff touch AC. Mage Armor, Rings of Protection, Anything that gives a deflection bonus.

Deflection bonus yes, mage armor no. Mage armor grants an armor bonus (just like a chain shirt) and doesn't help your touch AC. For that, you would want spells like shield of faith.

Qadira RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6, Contributor

Smilinggm wrote:


Yes but There are several easy ways to buff touch AC. Mage Armor, Rings of Protection, Anything that gives a deflection bonus. Heck with just mage armor alone this would boost his touch ac up to 16. I know 16 is low compaired to 57, but it is an easy improvment to make. I also have a problem with giving every dragon a Dex of 10. Just because they are amoung the biggest creatrues around does not mean that they can not have a better Dex. In my home games I always give any dragon encounterd differet stats than the ones listed in the book, then I apply their racial and size mods. I will also mix up breath weapons just for fun.

The touch AC in is 12: 10 (base) - 4 (size) +2 (Dexterity) +4 (deflection, shield of faith at caster level 17). Mage armor doesn't help touch AC - perhaps you're thinking of the aid that it (and other force effects) give against incorporeal touch attacks. In any case, there is already a +8 armor bonus [force] from bracers of armor +8. The only "normal" bonuses that would help would be an enhancement bonus to Dexterity (for up to +3 more) or an insight bonus to AC, such from an ioun stone. It's not going to get much higher, the -4 penalty is a killer.

Russ


Of course the nastiest way to increase Dragotha's touch AC is to give him unholy grace (from Libris Mortis ). this would have granted him a deflection bonus and bonus to saving throws equal to his Charisma bonus. I'm sure that this might have passed through James's mind at least once, but making Dragotha's AC 50+ would have just been cruel.


dungeonblaster wrote:
Spell Compendium, but originally from another source that I can't recall. The spell was changed in the conversion.

There's a spell called assay resistance, found in the Complete Arcane. I don't have the Spell Conpendium yet, but that might be the spell you're talking about. It has the same effects.

Defintely a great spell for Dragotha.


Perhaps, among all the other buffs needed by the PCs--a wand of true strike.

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