DM Dream job! Help me build the ultimate BBEG.
I am looking for suggestions on creating a truly terrifying BBEG for a high-level campaign.
I'll provide some background and open it up for ideas.
My players should stop reading....now!
Campaign: I've taken the awesome Red Hand of Doom adventure and scaled it up significantly. The PCs are all currently level 16. The heroes are extremely powerful. Plenty of arcane casting, divine casting, and melee represented in the group. They have plenty of magic and items to support them. The PC group includes a barbarian, a cleric, an oracle of life, a mixed melee/casting dragon disciple, a bard, and a wizard.
Warning: spoilers ahead...
The PCs are about to fight the High Wyrmlord Azarr Kul. He is a half-dragon hobgoblin and a high-level cleric. He knows the PCs are in his lair but they have yet to reach him in the final room. He is currently too busy with a complicated magical ritual to bother dealing with them and has left his minions to handle the PC invasion. Well now it's just Azarr and the PCs.
We have already had plenty of fights with dozens and dozens of bad guys. I do not want to crowd this last fight with too many adversaries. Azarr can have what's already in the room and maybe a little bit more (I am open to ideas here).
So, I have already done a lot of work on Azarr and possible tactics. I am asking for suggestions from the community.
Potential Adjustments to make this a truly memorable fight that lasts more than 3 rounds:
Add additional class levels to Azarr? if so, what and why?
Add additional minions/monsters in the room (not too many!)?
Add/adjust the layout and composition of the final room?
Add/adjust environmental hazards for this final fight?
Add/adjust Azarr's spell selection?
Add/adjust Azarr's magical item available for use against the PCs.
Am I missing anything else that would make this fight awesome?
Money is no object! Let's get crazy awesome.
*NOTE* If you're going to post, please do NOT hint at what happens after this fight.
Thank you for responding.
to answer a few questions...
The BBEG knows A LOT about the PCs. He knows who they are. What class they are. What their normal attacks are, what spells they like to use.
There are (6) PCs, all level 16. That makes the Average Party Level (APL) of the party 17. However, they all have LOTS of gear and they are experienced plays. I would assume their APL is actually 18.
An EPIC encounter is APL +3 so that would be CR 21. Yet I already know these players can CRUSH a CR 21 encounter without more than a couple of scratches.
The PC wizard has 8th level spells. I think both the PC cleric and oracle has 8th level spells and the PC bard has 6th (max) level spells.
Armor class for the PCs is in the 40-to-50 range.
@Petty Alchemy, I know it would help but I am not going to provide the BBEG stats or sheet because that would be too much temptation for the players to look at it.
Just assume the High Wyrmlord Azarr Kul has really high stats wherever he needs them. He has access to almost any item/gear/spell.
The PCs have already fought plenty of summoned/gated help from hell. Azarr is a cleric of Tiamat. In this game Tiamat resides over the first layer of hell. Summoned/gated creature themes should be draconic or devilish.
yes, he DOES know they are coming. He will be prepared. Do you have suggestions on how he should be prepared aside from the normal buffs and resistances?
The dimensions of the fight area are up for grabs. I am open to suggestions. It has to be within a large, enclosed cavern.
See my original post on possibilities (add/adjust) list.
oh, one more thing that will help,
the PCs typically prep for a big fight by casting:
(communal) energy resistance 30 (probably all of them),
I completely forgot, there are 7 PCs, the 7th one is a summoner with a tricked out, nigh indestructible gargantuan eidolon with six attacks. I can't believe I forgot him.
An epic fight is CR21? That's a joke! These PCs will crush anything that low.
That Eidolon can be taken out. :)
With 7 of them they can handle a CR 21 fight I will just make the fight up as if I am preparing for a 4 man party, and a 3 man party. I am guessing I will end up with a CR 22 encounter if I get time to stat it out.
As for the size of the fighting area, most buildings don't have really big rooms so that kills the idea of the supersized eidolon. He will have to use reduce it in size. I am not doing it to spite the summoner, but most rooms normally just aren't that big.
I just remembered a caster I recently made. I think I can take them out with a CR 22 encounter.
I'm a huge fan of the Symbol series of spells. I would describe the BBEG as wearing full plate carved with all sorts of intricate designs and etchings.
In reality all the etchings on his armor are multiple copies of your favorite symbol spells with the trigger of touch. The rules for Symbol of death specifically prevents the BBEG from forcing them to trigger by touching the rune to a party member, but if the party member voluntarily strikes the BBEG the runes trigger. The BBEG is kept safe from the runes by attuning with them upon creation.
Following from Patty Alchemy's suggestion, if you have the BBEG in a personal demiplane and have the party forced to stay out of it, then he can get double initiative. This is difficult because a smart party would just dispel the gate to the demiplane and ignore the BBEG inside of it.
You might consider giving him some kind of arcane cloning chamber that spits out two weaker versions of him when he's killed, followed by two weaker versions of those when each of his clones is killed.
If nothing else, it should make the encounter last more than three rounds by virtue of that alone.
There's no amount of buffing that a properly built disjunction trap won't cure instantaneously. NOTE: this means incorporating mind blank into the trap and stupefyingly high Craft (traps) skill to set the proper DCs.
Let's see how the Magnificent Seven fare after the trap strips all of their buffs and contingency spells just before the BBEG makes its appearance. Not to mention shunting the Eidolon off to nowheresville for a bit. A few choice quickening rods and a nasty true name pet should suffice to pose a true threat. Bonus points for dimensional locks that activate after the BBEG steps into his prepared defenive position seals the deal nicely.
@Quath -- now that's an interesting idea. Can you really do that in the rules for those spells?
@Poldaran -- that's a clever idea, but would it really work with a caster spitting out weaker versions of another caster? My initial thought is that a weaker version would have less spell casting.
@Turin -- how does one go about building a
a disjunction trap? I think the glyph ward spell only allows up to sixth level spells unless you're going with DM fiat
@wraithstrike, I would not add more than 10 in addition to Azarr.
@theDavid, that's an interesting idea, but do need to keep him a cleric.
BUT I am open to ideas on adding additional class levels. So let me know what you think.
IMO - and according to the group I ran through this module - what happens after Azar Kul is FAR more interesting.
Have him focus on stripping them of all their benefits. The "what happens next" is frightening.
Greater Dispel Magic, QUICKENED ROD.
Ring of Counterspells (Disjunction)
Rod of Absorption
Anti-life Shell (does this still exist?)
Protection from Good
Put the pu- er, the BBEG on a pedastal. Make him hard to reach. IIRC there are dragon head statues in the room, have 1/turn activate and nuke the party with a breath weapon and/or frightening presence.
I would either: keep him cleric and give him a swift channel every round, OR go battle oracle all over their faces (fits more like the azar kul in 3.5 imo). One crit from his pickaxe, I remember rolling a d6 and doing 80-odd damage... with his normal cr11? (cant remember offhand).
Have the Lich show up, if your party didnt deal with him. Have undead wyrmlords appear to harass the party. Have undead DRAGONS appear (they fought a whole slough of them after all).
Have your party JUST BARELY beat him. And then...... :)
10 is more than I need. I will give hima 20th level wizard to help if you don't mind. If that does not work I will go with another plan. Let me know if that is a good idea.
High Wyrmlord A:Remove 1/2 dragon template as it is useless in PF.
Remember in 3.5 it gave you a breath weapon: it does not do that unless you have RHD.
If you make him a Bugbear instead of a Hobgoblin though: it regains breath weapon.
Since it is stuck in there doing the ritual: you can give it Divine Guardian template as reward.
I'm doing E8 version of Red Hand of Doom so this is Wyrmlord Hravek Kharn: CR 8
I haven't converted Wyrmlord A, but wouldn't Sorcerer Dragon Deciple work best to represent his bloodline had dragons?
He's a high-level cleric in a prepared room, correct? Put him in an unhallow that has a silence tied into it. That way he can cast all the spells he wants, but non-worshippers of Tiamat are in a silence.
It won't cut down on pre-buffing, but it can definitely cut down on in-combat spellcasting
I agree with Symbol, and I like Glyphs too, especially in zones they may be flying through.
Have you had anyone banish or dismiss the eidolon in the pass.
Giving your EHP an item that banishes things could be fun too.
How 'bout Gremlin Magic? Anytime characters are in a specific zone, weird things can and will happen to them :D
1st (Cr 17):
Unnamed Hero CR 17
Halfling Oracle 15
CE Small Fey ((humanoid), halfling)
Init +4; Senses Darkvision, Low-Light Vision; Perception +20
AC 14, touch 14, flat-footed 11 (+3 Dex, +1 size)
hp 78 (15d8)
Fort +6, Ref +10, Will +10; +2 vs. fear
Defensive Abilities Coat of Many Stars +10, DR 5/S (15 hours/day), Evasion; DR 10/cold iron, 10/good; Resist +4 to Will saves vs Mind Affecting effects, acid 10, cold 15, electricity 10, fire 15; SR 28
Speed 15 ft., Flight (30 feet, Good)
Special Attacks Smite Good (1/day)
Spell-Like Abilities Confusion (1/day), Dancing Lights (3/day), Deep Slumber (1/day), Entangle (1/day), Faerie Fire (1/day), Feeblemind (1/day), Glitterdust (1/day), Major Image (1/day), Mislead (1/day), Project Image (1/day), Star Chart (1/day)
Oracle Spells Known (CL 15, +10 melee touch, +16 ranged touch):
7 (6/day) Cure Serious Wounds, Mass (DC 30), Delayed Blast Fireball (DC 30), Summon Monster VII, Prismatic Spray (DC 30), Vision of Lamashtu (DC 32)
6 (8/day) Cure Moderate Wounds, Mass (DC 29), Word of Recall, Chain Lightning (DC 29), Dispel Magic, Greater, Lash of the Astradaemon
5 (9/day) Cure Light Wounds, Mass (DC 28), Overland Flight, Dispel Good (DC 28), Insect Plague, Dispel Law (DC 28), Serenity (DC 28)
4 (9/day) Spell Immunity (DC 27), Cure Critical Wounds (DC 27), Rainbow Pattern (DC 29), Protection from Energy, Communal, Control Summoned Creature (DC 27), Terrible Remorse (DC 27)
3 (9/day) Magic Vestment (DC 26), Prayer, Cure Serious Wounds (DC 26), Invisibility Purge, Wall of Fire, Daylight, Vision of Hell (DC 28)
2 (9/day) Oracle's Burden (DC 25), Hypnotic Pattern (DC 27), Cure Moderate Wounds (DC 25), Shield Other (DC 25), Flaming Sphere (DC 25), Scorching Ray, Protection from Good, Communal, Protection from Law, Communal, Grace
1 (10/day) Shield of Faith (DC 24), Protection from Good (DC 24), Protection from Law (DC 24), Color Spray (DC 26), Burning Hands (DC 24), Obscuring Mist, Sanctuary (DC 24), Cure Light Wounds (DC 24)
0 (at will) Virtue, Bleed (DC 23), Read Magic, Purify Food and Drink (DC 23), Create Water, Detect Magic, Mending, Guidance, Light
Str 7, Dex 18, Con 10, Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 30/36
Base Atk +11; CMB +8; CMD 21
Feats Bloatmage Initiate (Illusion), Eschew Materials, Greater Spell Focus (Illusion), Heighten Spell, Persistent Spell, Spell Focus (Illusion), Spontaneous Metafocus (Color Spray)
Skills Acrobatics +21 (+13 jump), Bluff +16, Climb -3, Diplomacy +16, Disguise +16, Escape Artist +1, Fly +21, Intimidate +16, Perception +20, Ride +1, Sense Motive +18, Spellcraft +19, Stealth +23, Swim -5
Languages Common, Grippli, Halfling, Sylvan
SQ Awesome Display -13, Circlet of persuasion, Fearless, Guiding Star +13 (1/day), Hero Points (1), Moonlight Bridge (150') (13/day) (DC 30), Vanish (15 rounds/day)
Other Gear Circlet of persuasion, Headband of alluring charisma +6
Coat of Many Stars +10, DR 5/S (15 hours/day) (Ex) - 0/15
Confusion (1/day) (Sp) - 0/1
Dancing Lights (3/day) (Sp) - 0/3
Deep Slumber (1/day) (Sp) - 0/1
Entangle (1/day) (Sp) - 0/1
Faerie Fire (1/day) (Sp) - 0/1
Feeblemind (1/day) (Sp) - 0/1
Glitterdust (1/day) (Sp) - 0/1
Guiding Star +13 (1/day) (Su) - 0/1
Major Image (1/day) (Sp) - 0/1
Mislead (1/day) (Sp) - 0/1
Moonlight Bridge (150') (13/day) (DC 30) (Su) - 0/13
Project Image (1/day) (Sp) - 0/1
Smite Good (1/day) (Su) - 0/1
Star Chart (1/day) (Ex) - 0/1
Vanish (15 rounds/day) (Su) - 0/15
+4 to Will saves vs Mind Affecting effects (Ex) You get +4 to Will saves against Mind Affecting effects.
Awesome Display -13 (Su) Your Illusion (pattern) spells treat observers as 13 HD lower than their actual HD.
Blackened Your hands and forearms are shriveled and blackened. You take a –4 penalty on weapon attack rolls
Bloatmage Initiate (Illusion) +1 caster level with a specific school of spells. Always considered to have a medium load.
Circlet of persuasion +3 competence bonus to CHA-based checks (skills already included).
Coat of Many Stars +10, DR 5/S (15 hours/day) (Ex) +10 AC. DR 5/Slashing.
Damage Reduction (10/cold iron) You have Damage Reduction against all except Cold Iron attacks.
Damage Reduction (10/good) You have Damage Reduction against all except Good attacks.
Damage Resistance, Acid (10) You have the specified Damage Resistance against Acid attacks.
Damage Resistance, Cold (15) You have the specified Damage Resistance against Cold attacks.
Damage Resistance, Electricity (10) You have the specified Damage Resistance against Electricity attacks.
Damage Resistance, Fire (15) You have the specified Damage Resistance against Fire attacks.
Darkvision (60 feet) You can see in the dark (black and white vision only).
Eschew Materials Cast spells without materials, if component cost is 1 gp or less.
Evasion (Ex) If you succeed at a Reflex save for half damage, you take none instead.
Fearless +2 racial bonus vs Fear saves.
Flight (30 feet, Good) You can fly!
Greater Spell Focus (Illusion) +1 to the Save DC of spells from one school.
Guiding Star +13 (1/day) (Su) +13 to all WIS checks. Empower, Extend, Silence, or Still a spell without increasing casting time or level, 1/night.
Heighten Spell Increases spell level to effective level desired.
Low-Light Vision See twice as far as a human in low light, distinguishing color and detail.
Moonlight Bridge (150') (13/day) (DC 30) (Su) Create a 150' bridge of moonlight from your position. It lasts 24h or until you cross it.
Persistent Spell You can cast a spell that requires targets to succeed at 2 saves or suffer the effects of the spell.
Smite Good (1/day) (Su) +13 to hit, +15 to damage when used.
Spell Focus (Illusion) Spells from one school of magic have +1 to their save DC.
Spell Resistance (28) You have Spell Resistance.
Spontaneous Metafocus (Color Spray) Apply metamagic to one spell and keep the standard casting time
Star Chart (1/day) (Ex) Commune 1/day.
Vanish (15 rounds/day) (Su) As a swift action gain invisibility for 1 rd.
Number 2 (CR 15):
Unnamed Hero CR 15
Tiefling Witch 16
CE Medium Outsider (native)
Init +8; Senses Darkvision; Perception +16
AC 14, touch 14, flat-footed 10 (+4 Dex)
hp 83 (16d6+32)
Fort +8, Ref +9, Will +10
Resist cold 5, electricity 5, fire 5
Speed 30 ft.
Special Attacks Evil Eye (DC 27), Misfortune (DC 27), Slumber (DC 27), Waxen Image (9 uses) (DC 27)
Spell-Like Abilities Darkness (1/day), Feather Fall (At will), Fly (16 minutes/day), Levitate (1/day)
Witch Spells Prepared (CL 16, 8 melee touch, 12 ranged touch):
Str 10, Dex 18, Con 13, Int 29, Wis 10, Cha 8
Base Atk +8; CMB +8; CMD 22
Feats Augment Summoning, Great Fortitude, Greater Spell Specialization, Improved Initiative, Spell Focus (Conjuration), Spell Specialization (Summon Monster VIII), Superior Summoning, Toughness +16
Skills Acrobatics +9, Bluff +1, Climb +5, Fly +23, Intimidate +18, Knowledge (engineering) +12, Knowledge (geography) +12, Knowledge (history) +20, Knowledge (nature) +20, Knowledge (nobility) +12, Knowledge (planes) +20, Knowledge (religion) +12, Linguistics +25, Perception +16, Ride +20, Sense Motive +8, Sleight of Hand +9, Spellcraft +28, Stealth +22, Swim +9, Use Magic Device +18
SQ +4 bonus on initiative checks, Cackle, Deliver Touch Spells Through Familiar, Empathic Link with Familiar, Hero Points (1), Retribution (9 round(s)) (DC 27), Scry on Familiar (1/day), Share Spells with Familiar, Speak with Animals, Speak With Familiar, Ward +4
Spells, all SM I-VIII, All Demon Summoning spells, Mage Armor, Black Tentacles, Invisibility, Vanish. . . Suffocation, Suffocation Mass.
They know the players are coming, casts spell immunity against the the PCs favorites. Casters hide behind BBEG and keep him up, while simultaneously debuffing party before launching SoS. Black Tentacles on casters, always in stealth if possible. Launch Color Spray as often as possible, heightened as necessary to defeat DCs.
@Poldaran -- that's a clever idea, but would it really work with a caster spitting out weaker versions of another caster? My initial thought is that a weaker version would have less spell casting.
Same spells, but lower caster level and DCs? Perhaps split the spells between the lesser clones? Maybe give each clone a focus, perhaps one of each pair goes blast focused while the other goes control focused? The blast then splits into blast and save or suck while the control splits into control and save or die?
Since I haven't looked at his spell list, I can't say what would be appropriate exactly. Just something like that might work.
Yes, symbols will do exactly as I described.
My recommendation is as such:
Environmental- have a huge whirlwind in the room as caused by the magical ritual that makes it really hard to fly, like a DC 30 fly check to do anything. Also make the ground tore up and littered from the ceiling with rocks from the storm. Have the rocks flying around the room and doing swarm type damage on the outskirts of the room to keep people from hiding, make sure the damage is enough to make concentration DC's really tough. Make the cavern big enough so where the BBEG covers most of it with reach, and the rest hits the damage.
BBEG- Form of the Dragon III, can there really be any other choice? Form of the Dragon IV (made up 9th level spell)- Gargantuan dragon, +16 to Str or whatever seems best to you. Having a Strength modifier of +20 to +22 should be sufficient. Cleric of Tiamat should definitely do that. If possible, hit him up with a second head with a second breath weapon that he could attack with or fire off both breath weapons at the same time. Nauseating bite from the Monstrous Feats is pretty sick as well, pun intended.
As for other spells, Magical linage trait causes one spell to be considered one level less for metamagic, so quickened Harm spells and 6-7 natural attacks from a gargantuan dragon is pretty epic. Spell Perfection allows you to do it with 6th level slots. I don't think that Eidolon can compete, nor anyone else.
Minions- Have 15 or so Greater Shadows shaped like dragon heads come up through the floor attacking each of them every round. You could also make a few elder earth elementals bound to the room do some earth gliding and reach attacks from underground.
A bunch of low level Kobold clerics and Sorcerers (all he has left and not much use on the front lines) with scrolls and wands in alcoves behind some invisible walls, protected from the wind casting buffs and battlefield control would be simply annoying and hard to hit with area effect spells
Also, thematically it might be cool to have a princess with Stockholm Syndrome(17th level bard) for some major buffs and extra spells thrown out there.
A trap does not have to made with an existing spell such as a glyph or symbol, it can be "built" as a trap that happens to use spells in its construction. It remains a magical trap but is not trumped by certain 0-level spells and their higher level versions when mind blank is part of the trap.
This is also a very expensive trap, with a correspondingly high CR. Count it is part of the encounnter CR accordingly.
Stack AC on him. Bracers of armor ac 8, full natural armor enchant, Shield spell, super dex, blink, damage reduction, stone skin, form of dragon 3 as mentioned, etc etc. Make sure melees have to roll natural 20 to hit him.
Ring of Deflection +5
Add vampire template for stats.
Add blood rage buf.
Add 4 levels of Dragon Disciple fo the strength, and robes of arcane heritage, crossblooded orc/draconiac bloodline sorcerer level 1, this should add str and nat armor as well. Choose acid dragon.
Noxious Bite feat
False life, greater, empowered
Green pale ioun stone
Intelligent item special purpose power: luck. Also, it casts 5th lvl spell at will: Heal. Your dragon now heals 150 hp pr round.
Amulet of natural attacks +5.
You should easily break 60 str when damaged, which combined with your many attacks in dragon form at max bab, should enable you to take out a couple of players before going down. Remember that the Noxious Bite is the attack you want to have extra due to haste.
Quickening rods. You will be casting lvl 9 quickened spells each round, as well as making full round attacks.
And the same for your pet wizard...
Combine this with some disjunction, the desecrate/silence idea, and ridiculousnhigh saves and spell resistance, and you will have trouble keeping your party alive.
If he's a high level cleric, and has time to watch the party and know what they usually do, having him buff himself with something like Spell Immunity or Greater Spell Immunity to neutralize whatever the "go-to" weapon of the party wizard is can be a great option gold. Remember that even a maximized fireball is still only a level 3 spell.
The biggest problem he's going to have at even being a threat to the party is pure action efficiency; if he's acting once per round, and the party is acting 8 times a round, he is going to have problems. Giving him a greater metamagic rod of quicken spell lets him cast two spells a round which helps a lot.
As he buffs himself up before the fight, don't just use his spells, use potions to get other effects. What high level character doesn't have some good consumables, after all? A potion of haste or whatever right before the fight is a good idea.
When the fight actually starts, his number one goal is going to be to at least temporally disable some of the party to even the odds a little. Look for big spells that make everyone save or be at least temporally helpless. Overwhelming presence is a cool choice to lead with, both thematically and mechanically (and even people who make their save are still staggered for a round). (Remember, he's also casting a quickened lower level spell this round with the quickened rod). Summoning or gating or whatever is a good idea too.
He knows he's outnumbered here and that he's in deep trouble. He's smart. He's going to do something to try and even the odds, and the party won't like it. He'll try to knock out some of the party, or separate the party, or bring in more allies.
The character I plan on presenting is a 20th level diviner wizard. He will go on an initiative that is above 40.
He will start off with timestop.
If he does not have a round left he uses a greater metamagic rod of quicken to case Gate. It will have been assumed that he has already bargained with the creature in the past for this calling and the money will be deducted from his WBL. I also have a few of those candles that can cast gate. Round 2 he cast time stop again, and gates in a few more CR 23+ monsters.
If he chooses to attack he brings energy drain and maze into play, assuming he does not use the summon monster spells. He will also be buffing his new friends. Once he has enough allies he will cast the spell that prevents planar travel so they can't be banished back to where they came from. IIRC it is dimensional lock. I figure with 2 or 3 CR 23+ creatures that are buffed, a level 20 wizard, and your cleric the party should be in trouble. I can go into more details, but I want to know if this is acceptable first.
As far as environment is concerned...
As the characters approach the entrance, they see stone columns offset providing cover and blocking line of sight. Sounds of chanting come from within. As they step into the room, a glyph of warding triggers on the floor. In fact, evey five foot floor space has a glyph, with various spells (heightened bestow curse, targeted greater dispel magic, summon monster VI, harm) or are blasting glyphs, triggered if someone passing over them is not a woshipper of Tiamat.
They hear from the center of the room a voice bidding them to enter, and prepare to die. The figure moves from the center, and melds into one of the columns. As they move through the room, the figure emerges, casts a reached slay living spell, says a command word, triggering the glyphs located on columns of rock that characters are in front of, and then ducks into a different column.
Eventually, they kill the cleric, at which point another figure rises from the floor in the center of the room. "Did you really think that was Azarr? Heightened Blasphemy!" He also gives a different command word, and all the floor squares rotate 90 degrees, revealing an entire new set of glyphs. Four more 12th level acolytes emerge from the floor to join the fight.
Use the greater rod of quickening to cast two time stops round 1...?
@dunebugg, I had not looked at the DivineScion, that is interesting. I definitely like the extra weapon feats a Dscion would get.
@starbuck_II, what is a God blooded template? What books are you using for these?
@Arizhel, wow! that's a lot of work building those characters. Thank you! I'm worried the party would chew through them pretty quick. One critical hit from the barbarian's sword and that halfing is dead.
@Oterisk, Now you're getting into the spirit! Cool ideas. I'm going to have to consider some of these. I'm glad someone suggested an environmental hazard.
The idea of an NPC with Stockholm syndrome is very clever!
@Tandriniel, I like the idea of a dragon disciple. it's very thematic with the story. I've been wondering is someone would suggest alternative classes or a prestige class.
@Yosarian, you are so RIGHT about the real challenge being his one round of actions versus the party's round of actions. part of the challenge is trying to play a BBEG that's smart than I am. ;-)
@wraithstrike, I had not even considered a diviner. I do like the idea of him calling in friends. I just don't want there to be too many bad guys. the last several fights have been the party vs. small armies.
@Dilvias, love the details. and definitely the glyphs on the floor. Here's a rule question for you: if a PC is flying, how close would they have to be for the glyph to activate with a proximity trigger?
So you need a single character that stand up to 7 PCs... Hilariously, the Monk would be best at this, but is unsuited for your plot. You need a caster.
That said, it's a BBEG and it's a 7-person party. That's CR 19 RAW. Counting Half-Dragon (meh) that's a level 18+ Caster, meaning 9th-level spells. Lets make this -interesting-.
Start with Greater Create Demiplane. This casterhas been planning this for a while, so he has multiple castings of it, turning his chamber into a an Enhanced Magic (Magic he uses), Minor Negatively Align, Water-Aligned, Magic Impedded (Magic the party uses) plane with heavy gravity.
So your final fight will be inside a giant blitzball sphere where the weight of the party's items is doubled. Hello swimming and encumbrance. He'll have spells up to make him adapt. I recall there being a feat to swap whether you are healed or harmed by negative energy, so he'll be regenerating 1d6 every turn while the entire party will be taking 1d6 negative energy damage every turn. Also, no light sources.
Now, walking/swimming to the center of this sphere is probably dangerous enough, it's a huge area with constant damage and more mundane problems like "needing to breath" taking precident. Now, there are a lot of spells that can help here. The party will actually want to spend some time scouting out the area (divination or scouts) and then using exportation to jump right on him.
However! He's a cleric, he has a great perception check and he ultimately just needs to stall and the party will die anyways. His two go-to spells are going to be Winds of Vengeance and Storm of Vengeance. If you really want to be a jerk, use a feat to give him a familiar that actually uses a scroll of Storm of Vengeance instead. This makes the combat about finding and killing his familiar so the spellcasters can handle the Cleric.
Offensively, he'll want to target casters with one or two Orb of the Void to drain their spells before they can murder him. All sixth level spells should be Cold Ice Strikes, since they can be used as a swift action. If you can't think of anything better for 8th level spells, have Empowered Cold Ice Strikes for an ice blast that deals 22d6 damage.
If he is aware that the party is about to reach him somehow, he should have a bunch of 10min/level buffs up. (Spell Immunity, etc)
His primary offence is actually (Greater) Dispel Magic. The party can't actually survive on his plane without magic, he made sure of it. Once stripped of buffs he can just use Divine Power and go to town.
Keep an Anti-Magic Field in the wings in case the melee-ers come down.
Note that if you actually do all this, you will probably get a TPK. You'll want to tone at least some of it down depending on how optimized your party is.
In order to keep things interesting, you may actually want to tone him down to a level 17 Cleric and two other CR 18 enemies.
In short, the trick to making a high-level spellcaster BBEG interesting / potent is looking at his spells.
You could always have your Evil High Priest of Tiamat whip out ye old
Never a dull moment :!)
I ran a high level single BBEG against some high level PC's once where I used the room to my advantage with traps (simple and a few complex) and specific items that opened up gates in the room.
The room was huge and I just made it square, but any shape would probably do.
Item #1 was a Lantern w/ glowing skulls upon it - It opened a gate that allowed in a mist (that grew in size each round) that the BBEG was immune to, but for every round that the PC's were in the mist they took damage. The BBEG could also enter the gate to come out one of the other gates on any side of the room he wanted. The PC's had to figure out how to destroy the lantern (which had immunities, weaknesses, and hit points). Once destroyed the gate was shut down and the mist evaporated.
Item #2 was a Black Orb of impenetrable darkness - It created an aura around the BBEG which cut down ALL damage to him by 50%. This also created a gate that he could enter and exit out of at will. This also had immunities, weaknesses, and hit points. Once destroyed the gate was shut down and he'd take normal damage.
Item #3 was a Shining Silver Pillar seemingly out of place, it looked to hold up the room, but it was actually a gate that would allow 1d4 monsters (think 4E minions/mooks) to appear every round that it was up and active. You could bring in whatever you want with this that is full of your own flavor. Again, it controlled a gate and would have immunities, weaknesses, and hit points, destroying it would destroy the gate ability to summon minions and use to teleport.
Item #4 was a Crimson Disc on a pedestal - This gave the BBEG mind control powers. He could attempt to enter the mind of one of the PC's and (as a free action) dominate him/her. This had the same rules with immunities, weaknesses, and hit points. Shutting it down closed the teleport ability and didn't allow the BBEG the chance to dominate the PC's any more.
This was for a very high level campaign (4E EPIC) and was probably the only encounter that challenged the PC's the whole tier. It weakened most of them and one was killed outright because of a dominated PC being the one to kill him.
Step one - stock the room with innocent victims: little children so cute that butter wouldn't melt work well, but anything flies as long as a) they obviously can't protect themselves, and b) it's obvious to the PCs that callously letting them die just so that our 'heroes' can swoop in and finish the BBEG quickly would be a very nasty thing to do. Assuming the PCs are good guys here, of course?
Step two - proceed to menace innocent victims. Constantly. Tie up the PCs' actions by forcing them into choosing between protecting the innocents, or going for the BBEG. That may well involve the PCs focusing on the BBEG's minions (the ones doing the menacing), but that's fine - minions are disposable assets, right? Constant environmental menace is also good (push the little ones off high places, that sort of thing...) - the PCs may be buffed up the whazoo to protect against falling or heat or acid or whatever, but poor little Suzi hanging on by her toenails to the edge of the plinth raised 100ft in the air with only a pool of acid (containing hungry acid-mutated piranha... with frickin' lasers on their heads...) to catch her? Not so much...
Make sure there's a goodly amount of innocents clustered around the BBEG too - tha whole 'human shield' thing may be evil but... he is a bad guy, right? Fireballing the BBEG may be fine... barbequing a dozen orphans at the same time? Try explaining that sort of 'friendly fire' to the heroic adventurers' union...
Heck, use your innocent victims as improvised missiles to hurl at the PCs: remember, their morality is the good guys' weakness, not your bad guy's!
... In short, be evil... and have fun doing it! :)
Oh, very good!!!
When I read wyrmlord I automatically thought dragon orb...
How much damage does the average pre-adolescent deal? 1d8? I'd recommend hitting them with a Greater Magic Weapon (or would that be Greater Magic Fang...are kids natural weapons?) so they're +4 Throwing Children...maybe +3 Throwing Returning Children. Yes, I realize you can't add special abilities with Greater Magic Weapon...but it'd be fun, right?
EDIT: 1d8+3+Strength and you can throw them each round!
A high level lawful evil cleric of Tiamat is certainly going to have some devil servitors. Unlike demons (which are best employed as direct damage dealers), devils usually have some great ways to interfere with parties: ice and bone devils can create at-will walls of ice (the bone devils can do so invisibly, and remain so), weave major images, and so on. Depending on the CR, a couple of, say, advanced bone devils could be a very nice tactical addition to the room.
In general, the "omg he's going to wipe the party!" solo BBEG almost never works - it's just too easy to pile damage and status effects on it; they NEED a couple of key strategic components (a controller, like the invisible bone devil, maybe a creature or two (barbed devils?) to run interference, preventing charges and soaking CMB attacks. Kul could even esconce himself in a resilient sphere to buff up while minions attack the party and create a complicated battleground, allowing Kul to emerge totally buffed and dangerous (make sure he has a Ring of Counterspells loaded with Greater Dispel Magic!).
The party itself sounds like they're about CR 18? (all level 16 but "extremely powerful"), so maybe we're looking at a CR 21 encounter?
The PCs had their first encounter with High Wyrmlord Azarr Kul last night.
He definitely has a few minions and "protectors". I just want to avoid a PCs versus an army again. We've done that too many times.
(unfortunately, there was a shortage of throw-able children around. I'll have to save that for another bad guy)
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