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How to make dragons more impressive solo encounters?


Advice

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Mergy wrote:
What was the terrain like? Woodland stride and waterbreathing are both advantages that PCs will not typically have. When not flying in the air, being underwater or in dense foliage would be a good defensive measure. The foliage also helps with the dragon's at will entangle, a move which costs the dragon literally nothing to have up all the time. If the PCs were on the ground, they should be dealing at least with difficult terrain.

The terrain was a forest. The party was keeping to big enough trails for the cavalier to stay on his mount. I definitely made mistakes, that was one reason for this thread, to figure out what I did wrong. I see now that I botched the perception rules completely and so the surprise was thwarted. Then the dragon got staggered by a spell before he ever got to act and wasted his one action casting entangle from much closer then he should have (if not staggered he would have flown away.) Then he got entangled in a web and I had him fall down which I'm not sure was correct ruling but I figured since tanglefoot bags bring down fliers the web should. Once he was grounded he got hit by everyone else who had beat him on initiative and delayed.

Thanks for your help with this. It's one of those things I can't go back and do over but I just want to learn from it.

Cheliax

Well the dragon probably has a brother. Give them a few levels and then throw an adult or mature adult at them. Don't forget to tailor the spell list as well.

Also, a high CR opponent, especially one bent on revenge, takes his time. Scry on them (gives saves as appropriate), and have people spy on them using more conventional methods. Adult green dragons and higher have access to suggestion at will, so he should have no small amount of minions.


Give the dragon a mate or a sibling. Solo encounters are just about always a bad idea. Its just the way the game works. No matter what you do, you are working AGAINST the system to do it. Work with the system have 2 dragons. If 2 dragons makes the CR unreasonably high apply the young template to both of them, or something similar. There are lots of ways to make a dragon encounter awesome. There are very few ways to make a solo dragon encounter awesome.

Qadira

Sooo many ways to make this challenging.

1. So they raid his lair - and the party moves through the underbrush.
The dragon shadows them. It gets to be nightfall.

Do you sleep?

2. Or... Dragon appears. Party buffs. Dragon *waits out the buffs*. Faints an attack. If they buff again.. *wait out the buffs*. Rinse. Repeat.

3. Whats the formation of the party? If the party is grouped up - breath weapons. If they are spread out - (and the juvenile has flyby) do things like flyby grapple.

200 feet of movement doubles on a dive. Start 300 feet from the party. Dive to snatch level. Eat the AoO from the wizard. Flyaway remainder of movement: End 100 feet from the party: 10 feet up in the air - or whatever reach is. Devour the wizard leisurely - out of range of the party, but not out of range of the wizards screams.

You're smart and you've years of experience... use em.

If you want a little role playing fun - tell them to drop all their gear - or the wizard dies....

4. The party gets away! Hours later, as they fjord a stream, the dragon (water breathing) attacks from underwater. (Surprise!).

Since it has water breathing, it can use breath weapons and spells FREELY underwater. Imagine your party entangled.. in the water...

Whereas... your party will have a *lot* harder time of it. Penalties to damage on weapons under water. No ranged weapons. Difficulties with line of effect between above water and underwater. Reduced spell effictiveness underwater...

5. Mountains around? So are big rocks. Sooo thats what all those boulders around the cave entrance were......


A few things I always follow with dragons.

1. They are smart. They have lairs with defenses and traps. If faced with an overwhelming force they will use terrain to their advantage.

2. Young Dragons are weak. I believe this is intended. I play them as very cautous and prone to flee. Not untill they reach the Adult stage do they defend their territory fiercly.

3. Almost all the time my dragons have minions of some sort. Rarely will I throw a party a solo dragon (or anything else for that matter). He will undoutebly have a few cohorts a few CR lower and a bunch of low CR mooks spread around his lair.

4. Its extreamly hard to sneak up on a Dragon and for good reason. Because of this I almost always have a buffed dragon. They can cast spells for a reason.

Cheliax

An adult green dragon has 15 hit dice. Switch out Alertness for Leadership, and give him some cultists and a cult-leader cohort. These minions do not increase the CR of the encounter (although you can be a nice GM and say they do). He should have a great leadership score.

Actually, I notice adult green dragons also possess Improved Sunder. Feel free to get rid of that archer's bow at some point, using a combination of Flyby Attack and sunder.


I don't even use them until they are CR 11 or higher. By that time they normally have some ability to cast spells. Play them to their strengths also. As an example making sure they have room to fly is always a good idea.


Change out spells and feats that are not that useful also.


rule 1: dragons dont fight fair (it's how they live so long)
rule 2: dragons NEVER engage pc's on the pc's terms (like, say, ever touching the ground).

Cheliax

The exception is the very young dragons, who I might play as overconfident PCs might. This only sets up the PCs to be overconfident against bigger dragons, and also gives the bigger dragons something to rage at when they see what the fighter's shield is made of.


Never fight indoors.

Fly by attack.

Scoop the lead fighter, carry him into the sky, and drop him for a couple dozen d6s.


You chose to run a Juvenile Green that didn't start in the water, grapple the wizard, and drown him?

For shame.


NOTE: a lot of people say things like use flight... the problem with that is bow focused players can absolutly slaughter dragons in the air. (I had a bow paladin deal 127 damage to a CR10 dragon in 1 round)

with that in mind also consider OTHER things

The above dragon turned out to be a 3 encounter enemy.

1st encounter the dragon saw them and basically swooped in for the attack. due to the fact that he was flying in the clear sky and thought they were easy prey they noticed him with their high perception and the paladin smited and full round attacked even at 1.5 incriments (160 feet or so) he nearly killed it outright.

2nd encounter the players made it to the dragons lair and the dragon (white) realizing the party was powerful at range) allowed the party to enter a room in its lair. the dragon then spent several rounds casting Obscuring Mist from out of sight filling the room with total concealment. at that point it could BW to its hearts content and use the recharge rounds to burrow through the ice for later attacks, refresh the obscuring mists or simply taunt the party.

NOTE: many players dont like this kind of encounter. they want to just kill the bad guy. They feel great when they out fox the monster but take it personally when the monster outfoxes them. my group took it personally that they could not just engage the enemy and only one though to ready attacks that did significant damage (forcing the dragon to flee again.

so make sure that you balance the monster to the party personality.

3rd encounter the dragon knowing where the party was staying (in the village that requested their aid) went to a greater power and got a little help (a custom amulet that gave the dragon a few spells like false life, protection from good, etc.) the dragon then went to a nearby pack of winter wolves that the party had previously interacted with and brow beat them into joining the dragon in whiping out the village. the result was an encounter where the winter wolves attacked the village to draw out the players and the dragon (believing itself sufficiently protected) joined the battle for a final showdown. The end result was a knock down drag out battle in which the party won but felt on the edge of disaster at times and spend another hour after the session talking about the victory.

In other words. exactly what a dragon encounter is supposed to be.


Ok forgive me if I'm wrong on this one but don't all dragons have 1d4 rounds before using their breath weapon again? Someone said spamming breath weapon and I don't think that is possible. If I am wrong I did my last encounter with a dragon very wrong, I am the GM so I was playing as the dragon and it was a tough fight for my players but it would have been much harder had I not had the 1d4 every time he used his breath weapon.

Qadira

Yes, there is a recharge period ruuak.
But if the players can't fly, and have no william tells... the dragon just flies at far range and strafes them every 1d4 rounds.....


I just found another mistake that took place. The Frost Fall spell that the druid used on him was only supposed to stagger for 1 round. The player told me 3 rounds because he was looking at the duration line instead of reading the whole spell description. *strangles player till his eyes pop out*


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
Serisan wrote:
You chose to run a Juvenile Green that didn't start in the water, grapple the wizard, and drown him? For shame.
cp wrote:
200 feet of movement doubles on a dive. Start 300 feet from the party. Dive to snatch level. Eat the AoO from the wizard. Flyaway remainder of movement: End 100 feet from the party: 10 feet up in the air - or whatever reach is. Devour the wizard leisurely - out of range of the party, but not out of range of the wizards screams.

*wide eyed* So much hate for wizards on these boards... how come they ever survive first level with such GMs?


I think another important thing is to have a couple rounds of environmental hazard prior to actually seeing the dragon. This goes along with the home turf advantage.

Have the green wait to engage until they're on a water hazard. If they're on a boat, start attacking the hull with obvious affect upstairs (DC 16 Acrobatics check or prone each round the dragon hits the hull, if they're already prone, DC 13 Reflex or be thrown off the boat).

If they're on a bridge (say, one with support posts periodically), you can instead break portions of the bridge to trap the party on it and use the water as both an escape route and an attack avenue. As the combat continues, slowly break more portions of the bridge from underwater, coming up occasionally for a breath weapon.


blue_the_wolf wrote:
NOTE: a lot of people say things like use flight... the problem with that is bow focused players can absolutly slaughter dragons in the air. (I had a bow paladin deal 127 damage to a CR10 dragon in 1 round)

aren't there spells that "fix" the archer problem (wind wall, fickle winds, etc)? don't dragons take particularly useful items from their horde with them while traveling (rings, amulets, etc.) or have means of accessing them on the go--personally i always keep my orb of storms with instant summons in case trouble arises (though i'm sure there are better ideas/uses)?

they're not exactly flying around in the buff without a care in the world.


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IMHO the real problem is "death by action economy". The PCs will always overwhelm single opponents. If you want to give the monster more actions, give it more actions or give it more time to act (=increase its HP).

(The third way is to negate PCs actions with immunities and counters but that usually feels cheap.)

I think many of the 3.5 D&D's problems were somewhat fixed by introducing the elite and the solo monster categories in 4e. You could look at e.g. Monster Vault or MM3 to see the design philosophy even if they're mechanically different.

In my own 3.5/PF campaign I had a couple of dirty tricks I used on the fly:
* Double the HP (the simplest)
* The monster has a mystical connection to something that gives it more time to act: a wizard's life force is tied to a stone statue that crumbles piece by piece, the shapeshifting glabrezu twins have an unbreakable familial connection that makes them combine their HP to one pool
* a huge monster is composed of several large pieces that each have their own HP pool (the kraken is an obvious one but it's also cool to force a dragon to land by taking out its wings)

I didn't usually add actions to creatures unless they had parts/limbs that could be reasonably thought to act independently. Having the monsters make a full attack and move seems ok, though.


While I agree that dragon should play smart and dirty, I disagree that the key to make a good dragon encounter is "be a masterful GM". Dragons should make tough encounters; they are the epitome of fantasy creatures and shouldn't easily turn out as duds.

Edhel wrote:
IMHO the real problem is "death by action economy". The PCs will always overwhelm single opponents. If you want to give the monster more actions, give it more actions or give it more time to act (=increase its HP).

This is the crux of the issue IMO.

Dragons have a multitude of attacks, appendages and combat options; more than your average critter at any case. While they shouldn't be able to focus all of them on a single character for a 1-round-kill, I think dragons should be able to split their focus and attack several enemies as if they were a multitude of creatures. So as one PC gets the claw/claw/bite routine, flankers get slapped with the tail or wing buffets etc. If there are no flankers in reach, these attacks simply have no targets and the dragon fights as RaW.

IMO the problem isn't so much that the monster has too few hps, it's that all but one character can attack it in impunity.

'findel


Do you have to focus all natural attacks on one enemy? A normal fighter doesn't have to make all their attacks against the same enemy if there are multiple, or am I mistaken? I always figured it worked that way, since it makes more sense. My multiattacking enemys often split up their attacks...


Kalridian wrote:
Do you have to focus all natural attacks on one enemy? A normal fighter doesn't have to make all their attacks against the same enemy if there are multiple, or am I mistaken? I always figured it worked that way, since it makes more sense. My multiattacking enemys often split up their attacks...

Of course you don't, the same way that a giant (or a PC) doesn't have to focus all of its attacks on a single target (afaik). But a dragon splitting its claw/claw/bite attacks is quickly going to be out-damaged by the PC. At least that has been my experience so far using the d20 system.

IMO, the dragon is enough of a special case in 1) it's advertised as a "boss" encountered, but suffers from economy of action to face a party by itself and 2) has more attack options than most PCs and other creatures in the bestiary, to motivate special treatment.

Whether this advertisement of dragons = solo monster in Pathfinder is right or false is another question, but it remains a staple of fantasy fiction. My proposed change only addresses the intention of using dragons as a lone creature and make it more challenging.


I'm considering giving "boss" creatures more than one turn per round. Bosses would roll initiative twice (or 3 times, depending on party size and intended encounter difficulty) ans act on both rolls. The only limiting factor is that the Boss must have at least one PC act inbetween each of its turns.

This and increasing its total HP should be enough to make "solo" encounters (it effectively turns the Boss into multiple creatures) a real threat.


Action Economy is the issue. But giving a boss extra actions just seems unfair and lazy imo. Thats why I add mooks and cohorts to the fight. Evens the playing field.


Dragonamedrake wrote:
Action Economy is the issue. But giving a boss extra actions just seems unfair and lazy imo. Thats why I add mooks and cohorts to the fight. Evens the playing field.

Mooks is one option, but sometimes I don't want to clutter my fight with mooks. At any case I don't want to have to rely on mooks to make it a memorable/challenging fight.

As for mooks, make them too weak and they don't make a difference. Make them too strong and you're stealing focus from your main adversary. Again it comes down to system mastery. Particularly apt GM can alsways make an encounter tougher/fun-er/more memorable, but you should have to be a master GM to make a decent dragon fight...

...and I disagree that giving more actions = laziness :)

'fidnel


blue_the_wolf wrote:

NOTE: a lot of people say things like use flight... the problem with that is bow focused players can absolutly slaughter dragons in the air. (I had a bow paladin deal 127 damage to a CR10 dragon in 1 round)

He can also shoot the dragon if he is on the ground. Flight gives him options, and I would have sundered/disarmed that bow, assuming the dragon won initiative.


I would've replaced Summon Monster 1 with Silent Image. The dragon roars from a distance and sends in the image to draw fire while circling the party. Repeat as often as possible. Eventually they'll be dealing with the real thing...

Andoran

Grimmy wrote:

My mostly 6th level party just murdered a juvenile green dragon in 3 rounds. They have been complaining that dragons are anticlimactic in Pathfinder and I wish I could have proved them wrong but I didn't.

How could I have run the encounter better? Also are there any good legal ways to rebuild dragons with class levels or templates that make them better solo's? Im not talking about house-rules here, I mean within the rules.

If this is down thread, I apologize.

What was the party composition, was it point buy or rolled, what was the setting, etc...

Dragons in particular are creatures of setting.

Andoran

I found some of the info upthread.

Woodland stride and cover for the trees makes a huge difference. The dragon is going to be be able to fly through the trees without hinderance and get cover the whole time (not to mention hide out of sight and come back).

Even with the low save of entangle, it causes terrain problems. Particularly since the dragon can cast it at will from over 400 feet away.

Hit and run tactics, retreat and return if he gets in any trouble. Focus on taking out anyone with range first.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Dragonamedrake wrote:
Action Economy is the issue. But giving a boss extra actions just seems unfair and lazy imo. Thats why I add mooks and cohorts to the fight. Evens the playing field.

Overlooking the implied assumption that I'm a lazy GM, I'll share my 2 cents.

1st, sometimes players like to face an enemyso powerful and/or arrogant that it doesn't need minions. Dragons are very often despicted as incredibly powerful AND arrogant.

2nd, how is a dragon with twice as much HP and actions any more unfair than using two dragons? If anything, it's an easier (but more epic) encounter! It's much more satisfying to defeat one grand enemy than two mediocre ones.

Even if the theoretical challenge is the same.

Andoran

1 person marked this as a favorite.

In his defense Lemmy, Grimmy did specifically say no house rules.

I think in this case the Green Dragon wasn't played in a way that emphasised what it could do, and some things were probably missed. If there was a cavalier in the party, entangle (and flying...) would take charging out of the playbook. The forest would give the dragon cover and bonuses to stealth. Etc...

I think this is a hindsight is 20/20 situation, and modifying the rules isn't as needed as learning from this encounter for next time.


Yeah a lot of people are suggesting house rules. Oh well. Messageboards.

I definitely got what I needed though.

Andoran

Grimmy wrote:

Yeah a lot of people are suggesting house rules. Oh well. Messageboards.

I definitely got what I needed though.

And don't sweat it, we've all under played monsters.


ciretose wrote:

In his defense Lemmy, Grimmy did specifically say no house rules.

I think in this case the Green Dragon wasn't played in a way that emphasised what it could do, and some things were probably missed. If there was a cavalier in the party, entangle (and flying...) would take charging out of the playbook. The forest would give the dragon cover and bonuses to stealth. Etc...

I think this is a hindsight is 20/20 situation, and modifying the rules isn't as needed as learning from this encounter for next time.

Fair enough. Well, I think a dragon could use lots of ambush tactics to weakin the party before facing them head-front.

Of course, a dragon's ambush is very different from a human ambush. Instead of setting bear-traps or hiding in the bushes, he could use his magic and amazing senses to stay undetected, and when the adventures cross a bridge, for example, the dragon strikes out of invisibility and destroys it, so the poor humanoinds either burn or fall down the pit/wild river. Possibly both.

Lead them to an open field with little cover and difficult terrain, such as a rocky mountain, or a swamp with burnt trees.

Flyby Attack is simply awesome. Grab the wizard and fly away.

And don't forget about the big lizard's SR and immunities.

Ah, fun times...


Lemmy wrote:
Dragonamedrake wrote:
Action Economy is the issue. But giving a boss extra actions just seems unfair and lazy imo. Thats why I add mooks and cohorts to the fight. Evens the playing field.

Overlooking the implied assumption that I'm a lazy GM, I'll share my 2 cents.

1st, sometimes players like to face an enemyso powerful and/or arrogant that it doesn't need minions. Dragons are very often despicted as incredibly powerful AND arrogant.

2nd, how is a dragon with twice as much HP and actions any more unfair than using two dragons? If anything, it's an easier (but more epic) encounter! It's much more satisfying to defeat one grand enemy than two mediocre ones.

Even if the theoretical challenge is the same.

Possibly my choice of words was a little harsh. Let me rephrase. Im in no way calling you a "Lazy DM". Im saying just giving it extra actions is a "Lazy action". There is a big distinction there. I dont know you. The fact you are on these forums alone is a positive point in your favor. But every DM gets lazy every now and then... Me included.

Giving a Boss extra actions is exactly that. Your breaking the core rules of the game to make your job (building a competitive fight) easier as a DM. There are other (harder) methods of making boss fights hard without breaking the rules.

It would discourage me as a player that there where creatures/NPCs out there with some unknown way of acting multiple times a round that I myself couldn't mimic. If it is explained how they do it... as a player that's my first thing I want to gain myself.

But again. Not calling you Lazy. Just that action. Maybe I should have used corny instead.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Grimmy wrote:
Even the cavaliers damn horse was biting it. A horse biting a dragon. WTF?

I don't want to appear insensitive but when I read the quote above I was laughing about it for the rest of the day!

I'm glad you got the advice you needed though and thanks for the break in an otherwise boring work day!


Dragonamedrake wrote:
Lemmy wrote:
Dragonamedrake wrote:
Action Economy is the issue. But giving a boss extra actions just seems unfair and lazy imo. Thats why I add mooks and cohorts to the fight. Evens the playing field.

Overlooking the implied assumption that I'm a lazy GM, I'll share my 2 cents.

1st, sometimes players like to face an enemyso powerful and/or arrogant that it doesn't need minions. Dragons are very often despicted as incredibly powerful AND arrogant.

2nd, how is a dragon with twice as much HP and actions any more unfair than using two dragons? If anything, it's an easier (but more epic) encounter! It's much more satisfying to defeat one grand enemy than two mediocre ones.

Even if the theoretical challenge is the same.

Possibly my choice of words was a little harsh. Let me rephrase. Im in no way calling you a "Lazy DM". Im saying just giving it extra actions is a "Lazy action". There is a big distinction there. I dont know you. The fact you are on these forums alone is a positive point in your favor. But every DM gets lazy every now and then... Me included.

Giving a Boss extra actions is exactly that. Your breaking the core rules of the game to make your job (building a competitive fight) easier as a DM. There are other (harder) methods of making boss fights hard without breaking the rules.

It would discourage me as a player that there where creatures/NPCs out there with some unknown way of acting multiple times a round that I myself couldn't mimic. If it is explained how they do it... as a player that's my first thing I want to gain myself.

But again. Not calling you Lazy. Just that action. Maybe I should have used corny instead.

Do not worry, fellow role-player, for I was not offended.

I didn't think that you were calling me lazy, I just meant to point out how that particular choice of words may sound. Hell, even if you did call me lazy, I learned long ago not to let the internet bother me.

But I digress. My "Extra actions & HP" idea, I assure you, was not born out of laziness. I just consider it a possible way to make solo encounters actually viable. The fact that it's easily applied is just a bonus.

Usually one of 2 things happen in solo encounters:
either the monster is action-economy'ed to death in 2 or 3 turns, or the monster is so powerful that it obliterates the party.

Making a dragon (or demon, or lich, or whatever) act as 2 different creatures makes it capable of holding its own against the PCs without changing the system or crushing the classic trope of a band of adventurers figthing a single, extremelly powerful and rightuflly arrogant creature.

And making sure it doesn't have two consecutive turns is enough to ensure it won't simply full-attack the same guy twice in a row. I think it's a viable house-rule and intend to test it with my players, if they agree.

Sure, it's CR should probably be raised. By 2 if it were two actual creatures, but since it's only one, I'd only increase it by 1.


AndIMustMask wrote:
blue_the_wolf wrote:
NOTE: a lot of people say things like use flight... the problem with that is bow focused players can absolutly slaughter dragons in the air. (I had a bow paladin deal 127 damage to a CR10 dragon in 1 round)
aren't there spells that "fix" the archer problem (wind wall, fickle winds, etc)?

the dragon in the OP story was juvinile. meaning it doesnt have any chosen spells and probably does not have THAT much in treasure. While I am willing to modify a mob to trade various abilities to make it better at what ever it is... like swapping feats to make it a better areal combatant or something. I would personally not give the dragon items specifically designed to counter a specific player unless the dragon already knew something about the player. Its just a personal thing for me. A monster has to have a valid reason for knowing how to specifically foil the players. (if those abilities are not explicitly stated in the creatures stats or story)

wraithstrike wrote:
He can also shoot the dragon if he is on the ground. Flight gives him options, and I would have sundered/disarmed that bow, assuming the dragon won initiative.

players walking across the clear open glacial tundra and the dragon was actually heading in a different direction. They see each other and the dragon, used to preying on the occasional tribal hunting party, begins a dive. the distance was rather far however and the players got a round of action with the dragon about 160 or 200 feet away (just enough for the dragon to make a flyby attack next turn.) The paladin however did a full round attack with multishot smiting the dragon and rolling well on hits and damage.

even on the ground the archer would have been painful but the dragon could have used tunneling, obscuring mist, sunder/dissarm etc etc. outside of a forest or other cover a dragon actually has FEWER options when flying against an archer. which is why the dragon made use of its lair to overcome the party.

Andoran RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

Flyby Attack + Snatch, then fly to 200' and fling PC. That's always a fun one.

Other posters have pretty much hit the big ones. Buff, use terrain and battlefield control effects to the dragon's advantage, maintain standoff and soften up the PCs with breath weapons before closing for the kill.


Despite having a lot of options, most dragons prefer simple tactics, because they know that their strength is usually greater than any encounter.

- Have the dragon fly and blast the party with its breath weapon. That limits how many PCs might be able to attack it efficiently, or even attack it at all if they lack a ranged weapon.

- If the dragon gets targeted by a spell, have it use its own spells, whether to damage the spellcaster(s) or even the ground to trap its opponent.

- A dragon often use Fly-by Attack and Power Attack with its bite. If it has some ability or feat let it snatch a character, let it do it and hae it drop the character next round.

- If a dragon sees a major sign of weakness, it'll likely to dive in and use a full attack to finish it off. Once that's done, use the tail sweep or breath weapon to cover your escape back to the sky.

- A dragon can use magic items, so don't be afraid to have use a wand or a staff (they had claw and wing attachments in the Draconomicon) to use a surprising spell, like fireball for a white dragon or heal. They have enough Charisma to use the Use Magic Device skill anyway.

- Minions are often present with a dragon, whether be a estrangled tribe, domesticated animals, summoned outsiders or even a gray render that took a liking for the dragon. You can use them to pester the players and split their efforts.

- The lair itself can be an enemy, as it can be littered with traps that don't get triggered by the dragon, or can be triggered by the dragon. A red dragon activating a flame jet trap that shoots out every 2 rounds is gonna be a nightmare, as the dragon doesn't care about the fire at all.

- Finally, a dragon's death can be deadly. Have it fall onto a PC, have it explode with Death Throes, even have it curse a character... or have it return as a ghost >:D.


I had my players fight a dragon on a trade road; she took a couple of hits after a few bomb runs with her breath and fled. They tracked her to her lair, but she wasn't there. She came in while they snooped about at an iron-bar gate in the back of the cave. They did well on their stealth, and then they made a small error that got her attention a round early, so she initiated combat inside the cave (being a young and reckless red dragon). When they started gaining the upper hand, she fled to the back of her cave and went inside the gate, locking herself in; she would have used it as a barrier to fire her breath weapon from while they tried to get in. Not the smartest thing a dragon can do, but again, she was a young dragon.

I knew it would be a speed bump to the players since they could kill her from outside and the wizard could teleport in with his school power, but the dragon couldn't know that, so I let them have it. It didn't immediately occur to them though that they could get in. They killed her with ranged attacks and were immediately baffled as to how they would get in. XD The wizard got it after a minute with a "duh" moment, but it was good fun.

They mopped the floor with her, but it was enjoyable for all of us, and I almost dropped the inquisitor. :D


I think one of the biggest problems is their Dr/magic I mean who's going to take on a dragon before having the means to overcome that? I think from the get go dragons should be able to take huge punishment! Something like half their natural armor bonus/- or the ability to make a fortitude save to reduce HP damage by half as an extraordinary free action...


ronin wrote:
Grimmy wrote:
Even the cavaliers damn horse was biting it. A horse biting a dragon. WTF?

I don't want to appear insensitive but when I read the quote above I was laughing about it for the rest of the day!

I'm glad you got the advice you needed though and thanks for the break in an otherwise boring work day!

I remember saying to the cavalier "Your horse does what?! It's a dragon not a g*&%@mn carrot!"


cp wrote:

Sooo many ways to make this challenging.

1. So they raid his lair - and the party moves through the underbrush.
The dragon shadows them. It gets to be nightfall.

Do you sleep?

2. Or... Dragon appears. Party buffs. Dragon *waits out the buffs*. Faints an attack. If they buff again.. *wait out the buffs*. Rinse. Repeat.

3. Whats the formation of the party? If the party is grouped up - breath weapons. If they are spread out - (and the juvenile has flyby) do things like flyby grapple.

200 feet of movement doubles on a dive. Start 300 feet from the party. Dive to snatch level. Eat the AoO from the wizard. Flyaway remainder of movement: End 100 feet from the party: 10 feet up in the air - or whatever reach is. Devour the wizard leisurely - out of range of the party, but not out of range of the wizards screams.

You're smart and you've years of experience... use em.

If you want a little role playing fun - tell them to drop all their gear - or the wizard dies....

4. The party gets away! Hours later, as they fjord a stream, the dragon (water breathing) attacks from underwater. (Surprise!).

Since it has water breathing, it can use breath weapons and spells FREELY underwater. Imagine your party entangled.. in the water...

Whereas... your party will have a *lot* harder time of it. Penalties to damage on weapons under water. No ranged weapons. Difficulties with line of effect between above water and underwater. Reduced spell effictiveness underwater...

5. Mountains around? So are big rocks. Sooo thats what all those boulders around the cave entrance were......

cp, I got your PM. Thanks for the suggestions!


Ishpumalibu wrote:
I think one of the biggest problems is their Dr/magic I mean who's going to take on a dragon before having the means to overcome that? I think from the get go dragons should be able to take huge punishment! Something like half their natural armor bonus/- or the ability to make a fortitude save to reduce HP damage by half as an extraordinary free action...

I know what you mean about DR/magic at that level it's kind of a joke but I was thinking about it. A lot of melee types might have a backup bow or something but still invest the best enchants on the favorite melee weapon. So DR/magic on a flier can make for an interesting situation scrambling to see who has Magic Weapon or similar as a spell or oil. Keeps a couple of spells and items useful later in the game then they would be otherwise.


Something I would note:

1: if your players are optimizers APL+3 should be an average battle at best with maybe just a hint of threat of someone dying. Pathfinder labels it as limitations, but truthfully a well equipped, built, and organized team can take APL+5

2: Truthfully even among the same CR of encounters you won't get the same level of difficulty. A single opponent will never be as difficult as two opponents when the battle is the same CR simply because its so much easier to lock down and kite a single opponent than multiple. Its mostly about finding a balance between numbers and power.

3: I've looked into the green dragon and it isn't just flying. Use its natural abilities. Have it fly from over a lake or something. It has indefinite water breathing so even if they bring it down into the lake, they're gonna take severe penalties to go out and fight it, flee from its moderate range breath attacks, or find some way to battle it from afar. Aim the charm person at low will saves like fighters, at its cl it should get solid range on it. lock the wizard down with an entangle and let the fighter and wizard duke it out.


How can your players have a cohort at 6th level? It is a 7th level feat.


Grimmy wrote:
My mostly 6th level party

One guy was 7th. Cohort wasn't worth mentioning though, he didn't do anything but top off hp after it was over.

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