Looking for some help in working up a special E6 dragon encounter


Advice


First, George, Rob, Andrew, Jon, Mike...get out of this thread!

Okay, so here's the background: the party has gone into a kobold lair (a city, even) in pursuit of retreating kobold troops that have recently raided the city in which the PCs were based. Their primary goal is to gather some intel--they've heard that there is a dragon governing the kobolds, spurring them to this uncharacteristic militarism. At least one member of the group wants to find and fight the dragon, while most of the rest are mortally terrified of that possibility. They DO have a ritual that they may perform that essentially hides them from being detected by dragons completely (invisibility, plus it masks their scent, etc...). They haven't used it, because it doesn't last long enough for them to make their way through the complex to the dragon, so they're holding that in reserve until they feel the time is right.

What I'm looking to do:

First, I want to give the players time to overhear a conversation among the kobold leadership and the black dragon, and to get into a storehouse of some of the dragon's hoard to investigate some items.

Somewhere in the middle of this, my plan is to have a dwarven attack squad break into the great assembly hall to confront the dragon, giving the players some allies that they may wish to join in fighting the dragon (making it appear doable to some of them anyway).

As I mentioned in the title, this is an E6 campaign, and the players are all level 6 at this point with some "epic" feats under their belts. My intent for the dragon is to make it huge, but to use the stats of a lower CR dragon: basically, I want the imposing grandeur of the enormous creature, but I don't want to throw a CR 14 at them. They don't have to know that it's been scaled down a bit, and, really, this works well enough for my vision of the world-->dragons aren't quite as restricted by the E6 nature of the campaign, but everything has been zeroed in at around that level of heroism, unless it is meant to be something only gods can hope to challenge.

The party consists of a tiefling rogue with Slow Reactions and Pressure Points, a changeling ranger focused on two-claw fighting, a kobold fire damage spec'ed sorcerer (and has a little healing ability, and has natural flight), a samsaran Clouded Vision Spellscar Oracle, a sylph witch (can't recall his focus, but he does have the Flight hex), a human Flowing monk with the whole Crane line, and a human Two-Handed fighter. I'll post stats for the group later when I can find my papers for them, but off the top of my head, I believe the rogue, ranger, monk have ACs in the mid-20s (depending on buffs, stances, landing sneak attack, etc...), while the fighter has an AC of 20 I think. The martial characters have HP ranging from around 50 on the low end to something like 75 or 80 for the fighter. Low saves are at around +5, while high saves are at about +12. The weakest of the casters have an HP of around 30. I think the to-hit for the martial characters is at about +11, and they're hitting for something like 1d6+5 to 1d8+10 twice a round for he most part, while the fighter is swinging for 2d6+14ish with Power Attack.

What I'd like help with:
1. suggestions for ways to entice the players to actually join in the fight with the dragon, other than simply having them see the dwarves in action
2. some suggestions on an appropriate make-up for the fight: ideally, I'd like to have a juvenile or young adult black dragon increased to huge size (perhaps use the base stats from a young black dragon with the other abilities of the juvenile or young adult) supported by some number of kobolds. I'd think some basic kobolds, maybe some warrior 3s, and a kobold cleric or oracle of about level 5 or 6. I think I'm looking at something like a CR 12 encounter, but I don't want to kill (all) of the players. If one dies, that would be okay, as it would help to reinforce their sense of mortality and not being gods among mortals--that's kind of the point of E6 to a degree, isn't it? Plus, I have had one player tell me that he would be totally fine with dying in that fight if it should happen.

3. So, how many dwarves, and of what levels, do you think would be appropriate to balance with the party of 6 or 7 players I have? I'm thinking one dwarf will be level 6 with some epic feats, maybe a paladin, but I'm not sure about the rest.

4. Does my plan for the over-sized dragon seem like it's going to be totally unreasonable? Will adding the high-level kobold divine be too much?

5. The fight will take place on a wide stone dais not quite surrounded by fetid water into which a (clean) waterfall pours. Reaching the dragon's lair requires swimming underwater through a series of tunnels. The room this takes place in is essentially an amphitheater--there are stadium-style benches rising in a semi-circle for kobolds to look down upon the dragon and their shaman.

I'd like some help figuring out tactics for the dragon--I want it to fight smart, not just stand there trading blows. Also, I'd prefer for it to make an aquatic egress when things start looking dire. The players have anticipated having to swim for a while, and obtained some consumables that will allow them to breath underwater for a while, so I'd like to lead them through there for the conclusion of the fight with the dragon. Some dwarves would accompany them.

Ultimately, I want this to be a truly epic and memorable encounter for them, but I don't want to be too hamfisted about pushing them into it--if they REALLY don't want to fight, they won't have to, and I know at least a couple of them REALLY don't want to, but I'd like for them to fight. I want it to be dangerous, and taxing, but I want it to be winnable...with NPC help.

6. Some suggestions for cool treasure to provide them with. I'm already intending to leave some spellbooks, scrolls, and Pages of Spell Knowledge for story reasons, but those will be useful for the group's casters, but I also want to include some nifty items for the other characters in the group. Nothing from the Big 6--I want cool stuff.

7. Suggestions for hazards or traps in the waterway and on the other side in the dragon's lair.

I appreciate all replies and suggestions, thanks!


Anybody have some thoughts?


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The giant template might be good here, or the advanced template. Provides a change of pace.

I think the only way to be really sure is to playtest it. Get copies of the players character sheets, and just roll it out yourself in advance.

Alternatively, use the dwarves to match the kobolds, and narrate what's happening in the background while the PCs fight the dragon.

And for treasure, crafting stuff out of the dragon is an option. A dragonscale cloak would be pretty impressive in E6, I'm thinking.


Couldn't you just add advanced template to dragon? it increases CR by 1, but raises size by one (and some other benefits). Repeat till large enough.


Starbuck_II wrote:
Couldn't you just add advanced template to dragon? it increases CR by 1, but raises size by one (and some other benefits). Repeat till large enough.

Yes, I could, but I want some of the defining/iconic traits of somewhat older dragons...I know that these have an affect on the CR of the dragon, in addition to its increasing ability scores, melee and breath weapon damage, DCs, caster level (and consequent spell levels available), saves, and AC.

I guess, for the dragon, what I'm looking for is something that hits at somewhere around a CR 5-7 brute, is huge, and has DR 5, 3rd level spells, frightful presence, spell resistance, and the Corrupt Water ability, as those abilities are defining characteristics of a black dragon beyond simply its color and breath weapon. I think I'm going to keep the effects reliant upon CR, HD, or age category lower, so they aren't overwhelming to a group of level 6 characters (even an SR in the mid-teens is going to be harsh). So, I'm partly taking some various dragon bits and mashing them up, then trying to season them and render to taste for the palate of a group of level 6 characters.

Speaking of...the players' stats:

Ranger: HP 60, AC 22, Fort 5, Refl 7, Will 5, attack bonus +13
Monk: HP 55, AC 24, Fort 8, Refl 11, Will 9, attack bonus +11
Fighter: HP 71, AC 22, Fort 8, Refl 5, Will 5, attack bonus +14
Rogue: HP 50, AC 20, Fort 4, Refl 8, Will 3, attack bonus +8
Oracle: HP 42, AC 21, Fort 3, Refl 5, Will 7
Witch: HP 33, AC 13, Fort 3, Refl 5, Will 5 (Evil Eye DC 18)
Sorcerer: HP 25, AC 16, Fort 4, Refl 6, Will 5

The ranger, rogue, oracle, sorcerer, and witch all have darkvision.


Anonymous Visitor 163 576 wrote:


I think the only way to be really sure is to playtest it. Get copies of the players character sheets, and just roll it out yourself in advance.

I should probably get in the habit of doing this, but I don't have copies of their sheets at present. I have a form I send around that everyone updates with some of their basic stats, as I posted above, and some key features like permanent resists or situational save bonuses.

Also, the handwriting of at least two members of the group is absolutely illegible, but this is a good idea that I'm going to have to start doing, thanks.

Quote:

Alternatively, use the dwarves to match the kobolds, and narrate what's happening in the background while the PCs fight the dragon.

My intent, at present (I can be swayed by input here) is to have a large force of dwarves burst in, and to describe what's going on around the players as you say, but to have a small contingent of them active in the fight with the players. I'm still on the fence on this, but if I don't have the dwarves fighting the dragon, I'm going to need SOMETHING to inspire the players to leap into the fight, because if it's just them vs. the dragon, I doubt they'll do so (except for the fighter, who I'm fairly certain will charge the dragon first chance he gets...and the rest of the group will probably let him run to his death while the shake their heads and run away).

That's at least part of what spurred me to post this thread in the first place: getting suggestions for how to get the PCs to fight the dragon when they don't really want to.

I suppose I could announce that the dragon is going to be heading out to wreak havoc somewhere, but that would be somewhat out of character for this dragon at the moment.

Hmm...or have him about to dine on some proffered sacrificial prisoners.

I just want something that doesn't seem TOO forceful, or contrived...that makes the decision to sneak away difficult, but not impossible.

The dwarves could come in, and start the fight, and they could see the dragon get wounded, maybe emboldening them to jump in. Or if the dwarven paladin is a Sacred Shield...and they somehow can figure this out, knowing that some of them can stand with him and take half damage...

Quote:


And for treasure, crafting stuff out of the dragon is an option. A dragonscale cloak would be pretty impressive in E6, I'm thinking.

Oh, without a doubt the PCs will be stripping the dragon for parts if they have the time to do so.


Oh, another query: what spells would you suggest this dragon know? He'd have up to 3rd level spells, and a single 4th level spell as a spell-like ability.

I'd very much like suggestions on these!

Liberty's Edge

Well, if you want the fight to be hard, Mage Armor, Shield and Mirror Image combine to make most Dragons verge on un-hittable. Resist Energy (especially at CL 7+) or Protection from Energy added to that combination makes it even worse. See Invisibility or Glitterdust are also must-haves, IMO.

More generally, at this CR anyway, Dragons are best served by buff spells, though an offensive spell or two can't hurt.


Probably going to throw in one of Mage Armor or Shield, but not both, and Mirror Image is a possibility. I want him to be tough (and one of the +4 AC buffs will put him at about the right spot for the party unless they get significantly buffed), and I want him to be smart, but I don't want to frustrate the party TOO much.

Very tempted to use Resist Energy, since there's a fair amount of fire specialization in the group, but with the SR as well, I'm not sure I want to nerf the sorcerer (who just joined) that hard...even though I told the group they should look towards diversifying a bit (and I gave a player who has since left a Metamagic Rod to change a spell to Cold).

Glitterdust is probably going to get included, but I don't know if anyone in the party even has Remove Blindness. Heh. Maybe will have to drop a scroll of it for them? Or it could get used on the dwarves when they first come in.


Probably going to throw in one of Mage Armor or Shield, but not both, and Mirror Image is a possibility. I want him to be tough (and one of the +4 AC buffs will put him at about the right spot for the party unless they get significantly buffed), and I want him to be smart, but I don't want to frustrate the party TOO much.

Very tempted to use Resist Energy, since there's a fair amount of fire specialization in the group, but with the SR as well, I'm not sure I want to nerf the sorcerer (who just joined) that hard...even though I told the group they should look towards diversifying a bit (and I gave a player who has since left a Metamagic Rod to change a spell to Cold).

Glitterdust is probably going to get included, but I don't know if anyone in the party even has Remove Blindness. Heh. Maybe will have to drop a scroll of it for them? Or it could get used on the dwarves when they first come in.

Hmm...just realized that I'd misread the entry for dragon's spells, that it's caster level, not spell level...


if you find your casters using magic missile alot, throw a shield spell on him. otherwise, mage armor is always easier to give reasons for him having it up before the fight starts ;).

my suggestion is, look at the abilities of the older dragons, and then scale them down accordingly, What were some abilities you were looking at in particular?

I have always wanted to play an E6 game, feels so much more real/low fantasy. reminds me of LoTR. anyway get back to me on the questions.

Liberty's Edge

yeti1069 wrote:
Probably going to throw in one of Mage Armor or Shield, but not both, and Mirror Image is a possibility. I want him to be tough (and one of the +4 AC buffs will put him at about the right spot for the party unless they get significantly buffed), and I want him to be smart, but I don't want to frustrate the party TOO much.

Seems like a solid choice. Of the two, I'd go Mage Armor. It's a generally better spell, and allows for the possibility of Magic Missile working, which is probably for the best.

Mirror Image, in my experience, buys the villain more or less precisely one round, so that's a good spell for an epic battle of any sort, but not brokenly so.

yeti1069 wrote:
Very tempted to use Resist Energy, since there's a fair amount of fire specialization in the group, but with the SR as well, I'm not sure I want to nerf the sorcerer (who just joined) that hard...even though I told the group they should look towards diversifying a bit (and I gave a player who has since left a Metamagic Rod to change a spell to Cold).

Yeah, that might be a worry if your Sorcerer is blast-focused.

One way you could go, depending on the Dragon's knowledge of the PCs, is to give him the spell and have him use it only if he gets hit and damaged by an elemental spell. That way, the PC deals damage once, costs the Dragon an action, and gets to know not to use that element again. This only works if the Dragon's mostly winning of course, otherwise he wouldn't spend the action.

yeti1069 wrote:
Glitterdust is probably going to get included, but I don't know if anyone in the party even has Remove Blindness. Heh. Maybe will have to drop a scroll of it for them? Or it could get used on the dwarves when they first come in.

Oh, pshaw. They get a new save to get rid of it every round. They'll manage well enough.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
yeti1069 wrote:
Probably going to throw in one of Mage Armor or Shield, but not both, and Mirror Image is a possibility. I want him to be tough (and one of the +4 AC buffs will put him at about the right spot for the party unless they get significantly buffed), and I want him to be smart, but I don't want to frustrate the party TOO much.

Seems like a solid choice. Of the two, I'd go Mage Armor. It's a generally better spell, and allows for the possibility of Magic Missile working, which is probably for the best.

Mirror Image, in my experience, buys the villain more or less precisely one round, so that's a good spell for an epic battle of any sort, but not brokenly so.

yeti1069 wrote:
Very tempted to use Resist Energy, since there's a fair amount of fire specialization in the group, but with the SR as well, I'm not sure I want to nerf the sorcerer (who just joined) that hard...even though I told the group they should look towards diversifying a bit (and I gave a player who has since left a Metamagic Rod to change a spell to Cold).

Yeah, that might be a worry if your Sorcerer is blast-focused.

One way you could go, depending on the Dragon's knowledge of the PCs, is to give him the spell and have him use it only if he gets hit and damaged by an elemental spell. That way, the PC deals damage once, costs the Dragon an action, and gets to know not to use that element again. This only works if the Dragon's mostly winning of course, otherwise he wouldn't spend the action.

yeti1069 wrote:
Glitterdust is probably going to get included, but I don't know if anyone in the party even has Remove Blindness. Heh. Maybe will have to drop a scroll of it for them? Or it could get used on the dwarves when they first come in.
Oh, pshaw. They get a new save to get rid of it every round. They'll manage well enough.

Yeah, the sorcerer is blast focused, mostly because I delegated to another player in my group to help her roll up a character and that's his inclination when playing a caster. If I'd have helped her, she would have been a bit more diversified (I know for certain that she has Magic Missile, Flaming Sphere, Fireball, and I THINK Scorching Ray)).

Well, getting seconded on the Mage Armor vs. Shield decision ratifies it, as does your assessment of Mirror Image, and Glitterdust.

So here's what I'm thinking for spells known (bumping the dragon up a bit as far as casting goes):
1st - Mage Armor, Protection from Good, Magic Missile, Charm Person
2nd - Mirror Image, Glitterdust
3rd - debating between Eruptive Pustules (thematic) or Dispel Magic (seems appropriate); the Pustules may end up not doing much of anything if the party takes time to buff, as they have a wand of Resist Energy (acid)
and
4th as an SLA (an E6 epic thing I've done) - debating amongst Acid Pit (thematic...and I like pits), Confusion, Crushing Despair, or Bestow Curse (things the speak to the power of the dragon, its dominance and such, without being something that will kill a PC)

Thoughts on those?


I like Crushing Despair out of the 4th level SLA. It just feels right. You are fighting a dragon your going to lose, get over it. lol.

does this dragon fight magical enemies often? If so, dispel magic, or does he fight non magic enemies alot? possibly the raw damage. I am quite sure he fills untouchable, even with magic against him. lol.


Darien Cedric Espoir wrote:

if you find your casters using magic missile alot, throw a shield spell on him. otherwise, mage armor is always easier to give reasons for him having it up before the fight starts ;).

my suggestion is, look at the abilities of the older dragons, and then scale them down accordingly, What were some abilities you were looking at in particular?

I have always wanted to play an E6 game, feels so much more real/low fantasy. reminds me of LoTR. anyway get back to me on the questions.

It will be debatable as to whether he gets any buffs before the fight begins. When the dwarves burst in, or the PCs see him, he'll be addressing his kobold minions, not in a fight, although word may have reached him about the band of warriors that have invaded the lair. He may put a long lasting buff up as a precaution up receiving this news.

As for the abilities the older dragons have that I kind of want on this guy...Frightful Presence (because dragons are SCARY!), Spell Resistance (I'm on the fence on this one, since even at something fairly low, it's going to be crippling to half the party), DR 5/magic (10 would be too high, I think), and then the acid/aquatic themed abilities that really define a black dragon: Acid Pool (I like this better than a straight-up breath weapon, but I'm worried about it being too strong), Acidic Bite (if I include this, it would be at only 1d6), and Corrupt Water.

So far, I'm very much enjoying running the E6 game! It fits my sensibilities more (Tolkien-esque), and doesn't leave me as frustrated with trying to create encounters for the party that are challenging (once players start being able to fly and teleport regularly, I tend to flag a bit). The players are mostly enjoying it (I've got one who's kind of a munchkin, and another who always wants to feel like a super-hero, and they aren't quite taking to it as well as the rest of the group has). What I've enjoyed most, I think, is that the players have a clearer measuring stick against NPCs regarding their epic-ness from an earlier point in the game, and are kept somewhat humbled by the fact that the town guard is still a threat en mass, as are even unleveled lowly kobolds. Plus, since they remain a little bit of a threat (but not too much), I've been able to do silly things like throw 24 kobolds at them! Normally, I feel like, as characters level, they gain too much power to continue to be threatened by stuff too far below them in CR, so you can't toss overwhelming numbers at a group and expect them to be in danger, but not actually overwhelmed.

It also means that, when the heroes accomplish some epic quest, they can still relate to the people they've known since they started adventuring.

I've also got some house rules going on, the most relevant of which is Kolokotroni's Heroic Distinctions in place of the Big 6 of magic items (basically, starting at level 3, characters get a choice once per level to get a +1 bonus to attack and damage with a chosen type of weapon, or +1 AC with a type of armor or shield, +1 luck to their saves, a +2 bonus to a stat, or a +1 bonus to attack rolls, damage, and caster level checks with spells). This allows me to not shower them with magic items, and to pass along nifty or weird stuff when I reward them without feeling like I'm totally shortchanging them. The goal being that magic items should feel unique and impressive, which fits E6 very well.

Liberty's Edge

For the Spell Like Ability...I'd go Dominate Person. Making people your mind-slaves is so nicely in-theme for evil Overlord types, and if arranged properly by you the GM shouldn't kill any PCs outright.

I'd definitely go Dispel Magic for the 3rd level spell.

And he should certainly have Mage Armor up to start with...though his other buffs probably aren't long enough in duration to do that with.


Darien Cedric Espoir wrote:

I like Crushing Despair out of the 4th level SLA. It just feels right. You are fighting a dragon your going to lose, get over it. lol.

does this dragon fight magical enemies often? If so, dispel magic, or does he fight non magic enemies alot? possibly the raw damage. I am quite sure he fills untouchable, even with magic against him. lol.

I haven't gone that much into this dragon's backstory...or at least not in that way. He probably will not have fought much at all up to this point, actually.

The backstory I have for him is that, a few hundred years ago, his father was slain by the dwarves when he attacked their home in the mountains, but not until after he had wrought much destruction. Now, this dragon has somehow established himself as the lord (almost a god) of a tribe of kobolds far south of where his father died. The kobolds were all initially golden scaled and somewhat pacific--they weren't GOOD, per se, but they also didn't go out of their way to cause trouble--but the dragon has tainted them, changing some, and their offspring to be black scaled, more violently evil. After building up this army for a time, he sent a scouting party to the largest nearby city to steal supplies and spells (the players don't know that yet), but they were found out by the PCs, and either killed or captured. A few months later, he sent the kobolds in force to raid the city, and recover as many spells (books and scrolls) as they could find, and to exact some revenge for the earlier plot being foiled. The PCs managed to rebuff the kobold army, although they managed to do quite a lot of damage, and did manage to make off with some items and captives. The players have tracked them back to their lair.

What they don't know yet, is that the dragon has been in contact with an ancient lich who has been imprisoned within a special lair he had created for his phylactery, unable to leave, because he no longer has the magic to do so (there is no physical means with which to enter or exit the place). I haven't come up with exactly why he didn't have a copy of his spellbook with all of his spells in it alongside his phylactery, and I don't think the players are going to think to ask about it, but he was slain unexpectedly and lost the spellbook he'd carried with him when he materialized at his phylactery again. He's been trapped there for hundreds of years with only the spells he knew when he was cut down. One of those spells has allowed him to communicate to some degree outside his prison. Initially, he called upon his old acquaintance, this dragon's father, to help liberate him from his tomb, but that plot failed. At the time that he had created the resting place for his phylactery there hadn't been dwarves living in the mountains there, but their having established a kingdom in the region makes such an assault all but impossible at this point.

After some time, the wizard was able to contact the son of his old assistant, the current dragon, and, taking a different tact, requested that he recover spells and send them along to him (I have the lich with some spell that will allow such transference, sort of copying them visually through a sort of scrying window). The current dragon, at the time, was too young and weak to embark on such and task at the time, so he boded his time making plans and gaining life experience in other ways until he stumbled upon the kobolds.

When the players and dwarves finally do defeat him, or at least get into his true hoard, they'll find, among other things, a map pointing toward something hidden within the mountains where the dwarves live, but without indicating what exactly it is. The dwarves, imagining it to be a treasure of some kind (for why else would a dragon covet it), will charge their miners with seeking it out, which will cause some other serious problems down the line...

Because of the E6 thing, the highest level of spells anyone in the world can cast normally are level 3, then epic heroes can take a feat that will allow them to cast a 4th level spell once per day as an SLA (this can be taken a few times to gain additional uses of that spell, or an additional spell as an SLA). They've already uncovered a writing room of the lich's from when he was still a mortal wizard, a millennia ago, in which they found a spellbook of his, and notes on spell research he was conducting, as well as a couple of scrolls, for 4th, 5th, and 6th level spells (essentially, the power of the gods). One of those was Teleport.


That was the long way of saying, "I've thought about some of the dragon's backstory, but not about who or what he has fought up to this point."

I think I'll go with Dispel Magic as his 3rd level spell. I like the idea of the dragon's acidic blood bursting forth, burning and sickening anyone foolish enough to harm him, but also feel like it's going to either be overkill (if they aren't resisted), or essentially worthless (if they are), while Dispel really says, "I'm a power caster!" like few other spells do at that point.

Dominate Person would be great, but it's too high a level, and I want to stay away from too much mind control stuff at the moment, as I'll be employing more of that down the road. Besides, even though I haven't figured out too much of his combat history, I DO know that the dragon has spent a good long while lording it over kobolds who were predisposed to worship him from the get go, and as such wouldn't need Dominate.


Darien Cedric Espoir wrote:

I like Crushing Despair out of the 4th level SLA. It just feels right. You are fighting a dragon your going to lose, get over it. lol.

Hmm, yeah, I'm inclined to agree here, although I like the idea of Bestow Curse as well, especially since I THINK the oracle doesn't know Remove Curse, which would open up the possibility of sending the players on a quest of sorts to get the curse removed.

If I did go with Bestow Curse, the question becomes, which character should I target, and which curse should I bestow? The DC will be 16 (4th level spell/SLA, and a 14 Cha to be able to cast spells of that level). The monk is out, since he's most likely to make that save, and unfortunately I think the person playing the fighter would just throw a hissy fit, as might the ranger, if they get cursed. I don't want to hit the rogue, even though I'm sure he wouldn't mind, because he's already had several sessions where he was dealing with a cursed weapon, and then a negative level brought about from destroying said item.

It might make sense for the sorcerer, since she's playing a gold scaled kobold (one of the members of this tribe who rebelled against the evil influence of the dragon). He could curse her for going against him, and she doesn't have a fantastic will save...There's the issue of actually reaching out and touching her, as I'm sure she'll be hanging back, or trying to...

So, if I go to target the kobold sorceress with Bestow Curse, which curse do you think I should use? I'm thinking -6 to a stat, but which stat? Cha seems obvious, and it won't disable her casting, though it will hinder it, but it won't do much besides. Str or Dex would hamper her in day to day stuff...skills, maybe carrying.


By the way, I wanted to thank all of you for your input so far!

I always want to note that even if it seems like I'm dismissing your ideas, the very process of thinking about the suggestions helps me figure out my own mind, either helping me make a decision, or forcing me to give thought to something I hadn't considered yet, and leading down some new path. The point is, it's all been useful!

Liberty's Edge

yeti1069 wrote:
Dominate Person would be great, but it's too high a level, and I want to stay away from too much mind control stuff at the moment, as I'll be employing more of that down the road. Besides, even though I haven't figured out too much of his combat history, I DO know that the dragon has spent a good long while lording it over kobolds who were predisposed to worship him from the get go, and as such wouldn't need Dominate.

Huh. My bad, guess I've played too many Bards. It's 4th level for them. :)

Of your list, Crushing Despair sounds best, though Acid Pit is probably the most powerful, mechanically it's also a PC killer. Sadly, ditto Black Tentacles, which sound awesome to me thematically...

Detonate with Acid damage is also potentially cool and amusing, since it'll likely hit the full PC group, and even do enough damage to get through Resistance 10 (on a failed Save anyway).


I'd say that bards get the good stuff, but 4th level bard spells come a lot later than 4th level sorcerer spells, so...it works out. And with the way this game is set-up, a bard would be getting a 3rd level SLA as their highest spell, anyway (the epic feat grants a spell of a level up to 1 higher than the highest you can cast, so 4th for primary casters, 3rd for secondary, and 2nd for scrubs like paladins and rangers).

I wanted to stay away from straight-up damage stuff like Detonate, even though it would be cool, because I figure the dragon can dish out damage with attacks and the breath weapon if that's what it wants to do. Black Tentacles was a possibility, but it can be very rough on a party, and seems a little out of character for a dragon's only 4th level SLA, even though, yeah, black tentacles from a black dragon...

I think I'm just debating between Bestow Curse and Crushing Despair now, leaning a little toward the curse.


My suggestion would be to give the dragon more hit points rather than all-round stat increases. Giving it great saves vs save-or-die is also recommended, but CR14 offensive stats sounds like TPK.

*A big dragon should survive a lot of beating
*you have a lot of martials in a low magic setting
*you want a prolonged fight to make it memorable. Wearing it down, giving it (and the party) time to respond to changing tactics. Almost a bit of MMO-raid boss flavour to it with different phases.
*it makes the fight a bit more predictable, which is often good for the characters and DM


Okay!

On evening the playing field and rousing your players to fight, how about some interestingly placed siege weapons?

Kobolds are the crafty sort and they'll build all sorts of machines of war especially if they're being strong armed into a more militaristic lifestyle. A well-placed Ballista near where the PCs may come out might give them the courage they need to want to stand and fight. This Ballista would normally be used in the defense by the Kobolds but it sounds like they're getting caught off guard a bit here and it's left unattended while they rouse their forces.

Have em roll something like 4d12 damage for the Ballista and perhaps since it's a siege weapon it punches through the Dragon's DR.

I can imagine it right now, the enterprising player's face lighting up when you tell him he rolls 4d12 for damage and the chain reaction along the players. "Maybe we can do this!"

Add in some fluff description of the dragon roaring in pain as the Ballista punches through it's foreclaw and it sounds you'll be right into your encounter.


randomwalker wrote:

My suggestion would be to give the dragon more hit points rather than all-round stat increases. Giving it great saves vs save-or-die is also recommended, but CR14 offensive stats sounds like TPK.

*A big dragon should survive a lot of beating
*you have a lot of martials in a low magic setting
*you want a prolonged fight to make it memorable. Wearing it down, giving it (and the party) time to respond to changing tactics. Almost a bit of MMO-raid boss flavour to it with different phases.
*it makes the fight a bit more predictable, which is often good for the characters and DM

Yeah, I think I'm going to use the stats for the young black wyrmling (ability scores...mostly, hit dice for determining breath weapon damage and DC), add a tail attack, bump Str up by 2 (he's BIG), and Cha enough to cast the spells he'll have, then just inflate HP by a bit, going for exactly that feel. Plus, adding the spells, frightful presence, DR 5, corrupt water, and acid pool (shouldn't be TOO bad, since the breath weapon will only be 6d6, although...characters caught in it would be taking 6d6 from the initial breath, then another 6d6 on their turn, before it drops to 3d6 on the dragon's next turn...that could be a bit much), and a few of the E6 epic feats.

Still on the fence about the SR, though. On the one hand, it feels appropriate, but on the other, SR 18 is going to be kind of rough on the level 6 group. I think two of the casters have a +1 to the CL checks for a total of +7, meaning they'd need to roll an 11 to get their spells through, on top of the dragon's pretty good saves. I believe the party's save DCs are at about 15 + spell level.

Opinions on SR?


Scavion wrote:

Okay!

On evening the playing field and rousing your players to fight, how about some interestingly placed siege weapons?

Kobolds are the crafty sort and they'll build all sorts of machines of war especially if they're being strong armed into a more militaristic lifestyle. A well-placed Ballista near where the PCs may come out might give them the courage they need to want to stand and fight. This Ballista would normally be used in the defense by the Kobolds but it sounds like they're getting caught off guard a bit here and it's left unattended while they rouse their forces.

Have em roll something like 4d12 damage for the Ballista and perhaps since it's a siege weapon it punches through the Dragon's DR.

I can imagine it right now, the enterprising player's face lighting up when you tell him he rolls 4d12 for damage and the chain reaction along the players. "Maybe we can do this!"

Add in some fluff description of the dragon roaring in pain as the Ballista punches through it's foreclaw and it sounds you'll be right into your encounter.

That sounds cool, but if the players do fight the dragon here, it will be in the throne room at the heart of the kobold's city...no cause for ballistas or other weapons of war to be present...they'd have already gone through the heavily trapped upper levels, then the barracks, living quarters, trapsmith's shops, etc...

If they elect to flee, whatever battle they DO have against the dragon will probably get some armaments like that, since this idea of yours is pretty good.


Ive been thinking about dragon fights lately, heres some input:

the dwarfen allies part
1 6th level dwarf
2 4th level dwarfes
+ 4 6th level players
= Challenge rating 12 group. (13 if theres a 5th player)

That means that you can pit them against an enemy team of CR up to 12/13 and it will be an even fight, "even" as in theres roughly 50/50 chance of the players loosing.
Note that I am assuming that these 3 dwarves will be free to fight the dragon while the rest of the regiment fades into the background fighting kobolds or something.

Encounter part:
Assuming the players decide to fight, Idd aim for a CR 9-10 dragon, supported by a variety of kobolds.

Enemy lineup example:
Dragon, Cr 9.
Kobold hero (Some spellcaster or hybrid class such as Sorcerer or inquisitor), cr 6
Kobold elite warrior (fighter or barbarian), cr 4.
Kobold arcane caster (wizard or witch), cr 4
6 kobold warriors, cr 1/3 each.

Dragon design
For this situation have you thought of simply using all the statistics of a younger dragon, but give him a 3-4 age category boost in special abilities, thus granting him the spell capacity and special abilities of a slightly older beast? You can add the Giant template to get a more imposing beast.
It works out neatly with the Young black dragon from beastiary 1.

Take the young dragon, medium size.
Apply Giant template x2. = Huge dragon. New CR is 9, but stats and abilities are pretty bad for the level because of the way double stacking works, so theres room for additions.
Increase age category bonus by 4, making him "old", this gives him superhuman spellcasting (Caster level 7, 1 more than the players can ever hope to achieve), an acidic bite, frightful presence, spell resistance and DR 10.
Note that the Age categories don´t increase the CR that much, the DR(10) and SR(A custom value, 9+cr = 18, that makes it very resistant to spells, but not impervious) bring the dragon in line for his new CR. The addition of spellcasting to a combat monster is only worth so much, it will at best serve to bridge the CR gap in AC caused by applying the Giant template, at worst it might throw a fireball (I am deliberately ignoring muchkin magic such as pits, we dont want to rob the fighter of his fun by dropping him into a pit for the rest of the fight do we?).

Curse vs Crushing despair
Dont go for crushing despair, the best moment for a dragon to use that spell is at the start of combat before the players start checking for frightful presence, if you tell your players "You feel hopeless and afraid" you will give them a mechanical excuse to run away, which might be very bad if they are reluctant to fight to start with.

My braincells unanimously agree that you should go for curse, and not just any curse, go for a unique homemade curse, they´re the most fun!
Examples:
-Bow before a god: The victim must fawn and prostrate themselves before any creature stronger or higher ranked than themselves, this functions as an involuntary burst of bowing and fawning whenever the player comes within 20ft of such a creature, it costs them a move action and provokes attacks of opportunity. In addition to the initial curse save, the player can resist "fawning" by making a dc 14 will save, success negates that instance of fawning but the curse effect remains, remaining within 20ft of the creature that provoked the fawning spree means the player has to roll saves every round until he is again at least 20ft away.
-Im a lizard now: The victim subconsciously "knows" that it is actually a lizard, though it suffers no outward change. The victims mental faculty and ambitions remain largely unchanged, but now it must make every decision biased by that fact that the character is a lizard, it prefers insect and fruit foodstuffs, and his detached alien though process imposes a -4 penalty on bluff and sense motive.
-Scaled children: The character is "doomed" to give birth to Half-Black dragon children (if he has any children at all), the children will, invariably as part of the curse, develop an evil, parent hating, personality. This curse would most appropriately be applied by giving the dragon a Hero point explicitly to use at the moment of his death. If the campaign ever moves far enough for these children to be relevant then they might move on to be the villain of the next campaign.
-Ooze curse: The victims lower body becomes a wobbly ooze, he cant stand upright and suffers the effects of being prone permanently. Attacks against his ooze parts affect him normally.
-Steel fingers: The fingers on the victims favored hand suddenly stretch, dropping any held item, then clench tightly, and then a layer of metal grows to cover the entire hand like a layer of liquid chrome. Henceforth the hand is unusable but grants a slam attack (1d6 for a medium creature), as an additional healing impediment the metal hand must be worked by a skillful smith right after applying remove enchantment, an unskilled smith can do the job at the risk of broken fingers.


I think you missed where I listed the players in the group, Tsuruki--I've got 7 6th level characters playing, although we occasionally are short a person due to scheduling conflicts.

That aside, thanks for the input! Some good stuff here.

Question regarding the Giant template x2: would that mean the dragon gets +4 Str twice (as per the Rebuild rules entry for the template), or does it get +8 Str twice (as per the table Size Changes) going from medium to large, then large to huge?

It's unclear to me whether the total adjustment for using the Giant template twice would be +8 Str, +8 Con, +6 natural armor, -4 Dex, increase dice rolled for attacks by 2 steps, -2 attack, -2 AC, or whether it would be +16 Str, -2 Dex, +8 Con, +7 natural armor.

If it's the former, That might be reasonable, but the latter is going to be excessive for this group, I think, as it will mean the dragon will almost never miss, and will be hitting VERY hard, while also being almost unhittable.

The curse ideas look amusing, and your point regarding Crushing Despair is a good one.


Regarding crushing despair, You could wait until they are already locked into the fight, to have its effects come across. Just a thought. Either works well though.


Darien Cedric Espoir wrote:
Regarding crushing despair, You could wait until they are already locked into the fight, to have its effects come across. Just a thought. Either works well though.

True.


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yeti1069 wrote:

First, George, Rob, Andrew, Jon, Mike...get out of this thread!

Okay, so here's the background: the party has gone into a kobold lair (a city, even) in pursuit of retreating kobold troops that have recently raided the city in which the PCs were based. Their primary goal is to gather some intel--they've heard that there is a dragon governing the kobolds, spurring them to this uncharacteristic militarism. At least one member of the group wants to find and fight the dragon, while most of the rest are mortally terrified of that possibility. They DO have a ritual that they may perform that essentially hides them from being detected by dragons completely (invisibility, plus it masks their scent, etc...). They haven't used it, because it doesn't last long enough for them to make their way through the complex to the dragon, so they're holding that in reserve until they feel the time is right.

What I'm looking to do:

First, I want to give the players time to overhear a conversation among the kobold leadership and the black dragon, and to get into a storehouse of some of the dragon's hoard to investigate some items.

Somewhere in the middle of this, my plan is to have a dwarven attack squad break into the great assembly hall to confront the dragon, giving the players some allies that they may wish to join in fighting the dragon (making it appear doable to some of them anyway).

As I mentioned in the title, this is an E6 campaign, and the players are all level 6 at this point with some "epic" feats under their belts. My intent for the dragon is to make it huge, but to use the stats of a lower CR dragon: basically, I want the imposing grandeur of the enormous creature, but I don't want to throw a CR 14 at them. They don't have to know that it's been scaled down a bit, and, really, this works well enough for my vision of the world-->dragons aren't quite as restricted by the E6 nature of the campaign, but everything has been zeroed in at around that level of heroism, unless it is meant to be something only...

Hi Yeti,

Have you thought about having a larger force of Dwarves show up? You can add some really cool cinematic scenes to the battle if you have more canon fodder for the Dragon to lay waste too. Also, the more good guy mooks you have around, gives more opportunities for you to spare the PC's some insane dragon pain if they are getting wrecked (if you go for that style of game).

I'd also recommend having the players meet the dwarves before they attack the dragon. Give the players time to prepare for fighting one. That way you can feel a bit better about unloading on them and making the fight really challenging. Plus you would have the time to convince the players to help the Dwarves, possibly enough time to give the dwarves some unique names, traits etc to make their deaths feel like a loss when the dragon starts eating dwarf kabobs.

Cinematically, you could have the dragon chase small groups of dwarves through the lair, melting them with its breath, disappearing down a tunnel, and reappearing elsewhere to snatch a Dwarf up and eat it.

With the Witches Slumber Hex and access to Blindness/Deafness, they can technically end the fight immediately with a lucky roll. (That's how my group took out the Dragon's Demand module. I landed Blindness/Deafness. It felt a bit anti-climactic.) I'd try to find a way to keep the Dragon airborne, so if Slumber hits it, falling damage would wake it back up. An alternate sense (blind/tremor) would allow it to function if blinded. I would buff the dragons health up to an almost absurd level.

Environmental challenges could add a lot to the fight. Imagine if the players, or a player with a squad of dwarves caused the main gate to come down on the dragons head, pinning it for a round or two, giving the dwarves a chance to lay into it. Or having the dragon operate in a 3d arena.


Some good ideas, Cubic, though I don't know if I can use them all. Definitely going to have some additional dwarves for the dragon to crush, and to describe fighting kobolds.

I could have the dwarves show up prior to the fight... That's weighing the shock and cinema of them suddenly bursting through a cavern wall and going on the attack, and their showing up somewhere else in the dungeon to lay out a plan with the PCs. The players don't know they're coming, but the dwarves know about the dragon because of inadvertent actions on the part of the PCs. Hmm...their showing up early might not be a bad idea, but then I'm not sure how the players would use their Hide from Dragons ritual, and I want to make sure that they get the chance to do so.

As an aside, I'm just going to point out that dragons are immune to sleep effects, so Slumber wouldn't do anything to the big guy. I'm not positive what spells the witch and oracle have (I really need to get a list of these), but I'm pretty sure they don't have Blindness/Deafness. Also, dragons have Blindsense 60 ft. Not a fantastic defense against becoming blinded, but good enough to keep it alive for a bit. Plus, it has kobold minions who might have the ability to cure it of such ailments if needed.

The image of the dragon chasing them through the tunnels and such is pretty cool. As for environmental challenges, they'll be fighting on a (n albeit large) platform surrounded by deep, roiling water, with the noise of a waterfall making it difficult to hear. The water is also somewhat befouled by the dragon, so I imagine falling it would, at the very least call for a Fort save vs. becoming sickened, and the dragon, or one of the kobolds might seek to knock characters into said pool.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

With water terrain available...the dragon could fight from or even entirely under the water...making matters much harder for his opponents. For example that 'platform' could be rigged to drop into the water at the dragon's whim. Or when a given kobold throws a switch.

The high hit point creature sounds like fun in theory...but we ran into this a great deal in other systems and unless your damage it up to par, it becomes a grind fest. If the party is cool with that fine.

How tactically minded are the players? A well organized party can trivialize a fight, though being E6 it does limit their options somewhat.


With everything the dragon can do, I don't expect it to be a boring meatbag of HP, even if I were to dramatically inflate its HP, but I'm thinking somewhere around 150-200 might be right: I've got characters who can do 20-40 damage in a round, and if they all focus on the dragon, it could be dead fairly quickly.

They are sometimes fairly tactical. A little too much for my liking at times (too much out of character planning during rounds).


Yeti, Witches do have blindness/deafness. They are curse oriented, so shutting down baddies is their bread and butter.

Blindness-Deafness
School necromancy [curse]; Level antipaladin 2, bard 2, cleric/oracle 3, sorcerer/wizard 2, witch 2; Domain darkness 2
CASTING
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V
EFFECT
Range medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Target one living creature
Duration permanent (D)
Saving Throw Fortitude negates; Spell Resistance yes
DESCRIPTION
You call upon the powers of unlife to render the subject blinded or deafened, as you choose.


Cubic Prism wrote:

Yeti, Witches do have blindness/deafness. They are curse oriented, so shutting down baddies is their bread and butter.

The witch in THIS game/party.

I know the class gets B/D, but if the witch doesn't have it in their familiar, it's irrelevant.


What sort of tactics should this dragon employ? How does he start the fight? If he doesn't have a chance to prebuff, does he spend his first round on Mirror Image, or does he attack first?

I'm figuring that if he can catch 3 or more characters in his breath weapon, he'll use that. Maybe try to maneuver foes to get their backs to the water.

Would he be proactive or reactive with Glitterdust? Would he spend some time meleeing reveling in his superiority until he recognizes the group as being a significant threat, or would he immediately take to the air or water? I'm thinking that he'd spend at least a few rounds toe-to-toe if only to demonstrate his might to the players and the gathered kobolds.

What would he prioritize for Dispel Magic? Would he seek to remove an obviously significant offensive buff? Resist Energy (acid)?

Liberty's Edge

yeti1069 wrote:

What sort of tactics should this dragon employ? How does he start the fight? If he doesn't have a chance to prebuff, does he spend his first round on Mirror Image, or does he attack first?

I'm figuring that if he can catch 3 or more characters in his breath weapon, he'll use that. Maybe try to maneuver foes to get their backs to the water.

Would he be proactive or reactive with Glitterdust? Would he spend some time meleeing reveling in his superiority until he recognizes the group as being a significant threat, or would he immediately take to the air or water? I'm thinking that he'd spend at least a few rounds toe-to-toe if only to demonstrate his might to the players and the gathered kobolds.

What would he prioritize for Dispel Magic? Would he seek to remove an obviously significant offensive buff? Resist Energy (acid)?

Personally, I'd say he should Breath Weapon the first turn, and fly way out of melee, then cast Mirror Image on round 2 when it won't provoke. Assuming he's relatively unhurt, he'd then melee them to show his prowess (maybe moving into melee after his Mirror Image on round 2 so he can Full Attack on this the third round...this'd let them melee him for a round before his attack, but he's relatively unhurt and just did Mirror Image).

I'd expect his Dispel Magic and Glitterdust to both be reactive to things that upset, annoy, or frustrate him, like Invisibility or the aforementioned Rsistance (Acid). Seems fitting with the "I am a God." attitude.


Well, they didn't get to the dragon this session, but they probably will next (in about a month), so I've got time to do some more planning here. Any continued input is appreciated! =)


2x giant template gives a total of +8 strength. The increase strength per size is for when adding HD.

For motivation to fight, consider letting the PC's overhear kobolds talking about how great their high priest is and how powerful it is etc etc, and include that cleric 5 or whatever it was you thought about - and have the dwarves kill the cleric soon after they arrive. The PC's will see it as their chance when the dragon's right hand is dead.

On design of the throne room, consider adding few pools of water, that are actually tunnels between each other. Black dragons are water dragons, and that would allow it a lot of defensive options for easily retreating.

I'd recommend against mage armor and similar spells, since it's basically just +4 AC without making it feel like a more magical encounter, especially since it's so long duration.

Also, note that you _can_ have the dragon be incredibly over-powered compared to the PC's, if you don't always play it to it's perfect strength. Remember, it's an int 10 character that's probably quite arrogant, being really the top of the food chain. Let there be loads of weak dwarves, and have the dragon waste a round now and then killing off a bunch of them.

Also, while I agree with others that Crushing Despair is very powerful, it thematically overlaps a lot with Frightfull Presence. It might be worth considering a few other options, such as;
Lesser Globe of Invulnerability - In e6, stops pretty much any direct hostile magic. If a caster has this, they really feel like a super-powerful caster.
Confusion - This would be a very powerful spell for scaring the players. You know that large dwarven force that's charging the dragon? Well they just stopped and started killing each other.
Wall of Ice - A very visual and powerful effect that can separate party members from each other. Especially useful against such a large party.

For 3rd level spells, I strongly recommend against Dispel Magic. Yes, it's iconic, but in pathfinder, it's also quite weak, especially if you have no special abilities making it more efficient. It's just not likely that you'd want to cast the spell. Instead, consider one of the following:
Aquaeous Orb - fits with the black dragon's water theme and is in general just a great spell.
Stinking Cloud - fitting, but kinda boring. it's such a great spell that it's a little too obvious of a pick.
Suggestion - dominate person lite, depending on what your party's general motives and personalities are.
Gaseous Form - should the dragon want to retreat, this can be a great aid. In addition, its spell like abilities (including the 4th level spell and corrupt water) still works.
Slow - just a generally powerful and disheartening spell to suffer.


Also, if the dragon has gathered any intel on the party, and one of the casters often use a spell that is on the dragon's spell list, consider letting the dragon have a Ring of Counterspells charged with that spell.


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Ilja wrote:
Also, if the dragon has gathered any intel on the party, and one of the casters often use a spell that is on the dragon's spell list, consider letting the dragon have a Ring of Counterspells charged with that spell.

Some good thoughts and suggestions!

Mage Armor is going to be there mostly to get the dragon's AC into the right range for characters to not be hitting him too frequently, although, given the research front, I may lean toward Shield: the sorcerer they had with them previously killed the dragon's avatar (a kobold synthesist summoner whose eidolon was designed to mimic the dragon: wings, long neck, bite, claws, acid breath weapon) and a few other notable foes with Magic Missile as the final shot (the avatar was slain as it was trying to escape, and had out distanced all other attacks available at the time), so he may want to gird himself against that.

He'd have received some information about the PCs, but not too long before they arrive...maybe 2 or 3 days, and would get some reports of what's been going on in the lair on the way in (the PCs haven't managed to kill off everything they've fought, and survivors have escaped late in battle).

I like the connected pools of water idea--the dragon could dive off the dais, spend a round or two underwater...maybe he has some way to heal himself down there? And then resurface elsewhere. It could be connected pools, or just a large, deep pool over which the dais extends like a shelf, rather than springing up from the bottom like an island...

For this fight I do want to play the dragon fairly intelligently. I know that he's only got a 10 Int, unless I bump that with the other age category stuff I'm incorporating (a possibility, since he's going to be around 200 years old). The primary reasons are that, in the past, of the few dragons we've fought in our D&D "careers" few of them have been much more than brutes with a nasty breath weapon (I haven't run a dragon fight before, and the other frequent DM in our group handles fluff and flavor much better than mechanics and encounter design), and the players have acknowledged this a few times during the sessions leading up to this encounter, citing both the basically animal-level intellect his dragons have exhibited, and their assumption/assurance that MY dragon is going to be played to the best of its capabilities, since I put more thought into how creatures should behave, and into designing interesting, varied, and challenging encounters. So, sure, I could soften up the dragon a bit by playing it down somewhat, but I feel like I really want to give them what they've been expecting, even hoping for: a nasty, intelligent, incredibly dangerous, and deadly dragon fight. That's why I started the thread...I wanted some outside input, and some people to bounce ideas off of to get my own thoughts rolling.

That said, I think having the dragon devote some energy toward the dwarves is reasonable, especially since it was dwarves that slew his father two centuries ago...and they're going to remind him of that all through the fight.

I feel like Globe, while appropriate, would just be too punishing for half the party. The oracle has Dispel Magic, so it might be worth tossing out something of this caliber that he can deal with in that way, but I'm not sure I want to go to this extreme--it leaves the witch with nothing but Hexes (and he's taken Flight and Healing, so I think he only has Evil Eye as an offensive Hex...maybe Cackle, but I'm not sure), basically nothing else for the oracle to do, but Dispel, and really nothing for the sorcerer. All of that said, I think I also may want to save this for when they fight the lich wizard down the line; he's definitely more casting-focused than the dragon, so something like that would be more thematic there.

I'd forgotten that Confusion isn't single target, and actually hits an area...that sounds pretty good! Between the NPC dwarf mooks, the PCs, and the NPC dwarf heroes (and maybe some errant kobolds for comedy), that could be fun. Definitely leaning in that direction now.

Wall of Ice is also a pretty decent one, but I may save this for when they head north and are fighting more cold-themed foes.

I'd similarly forgotten that Dispel Magic lost its AoE version to an exclusive deal with Greater Dispel. Trying to think of which spells would be important enough that he'd want to Dispel them: the oracle has Aqueous Orb, which isn't going to do much to the dragon, but it will wreak hell with his minions, the sorceress has Glitterdust and Flaming Sphere (and with a fire damage focus with her bloodline, it can be fairly dangerous), and they're likely to all have up Resist Acid (10). Still, the dragon has good saves and SR, so Dispel may not be necessary for anything but stripping their Resist Energy, and that's not critical.

Aqueous Orb...part of me is tempted to use it, since the party has just started employing it and have discovered how ridiculously incredible it is (they got a taste of it a while back when I used it, and nearly drowned one of them...though they finished the fight by dropping the wizard who cast it into his own Orb, where he promptly drowned to death), but it's also an incredibly dangerous spell, and I'm not sure I want to add that into this fight. Although...they DO have a few items that can allow them to stay underwater for a long period of time without drowning...

Suggestion is a possibility, as is Slow--the latter is especially attractive (from my perspective) because I've got so many characters with multiple attacks in the group (the range has 2 claw attacks, the teifling has TWF and a bite he only just realized he could combine with his shortswords, the monk has flurry, and the fighter has his second iterative).

I had considered Stinking Cloud, but I've noticed that, for the most part, making a character nauseous for any period of time just totally deflates them at the table.


Here are some things I'm thinking about regarding motivation for the party, and the dwarves...

Sometime before the PCs get to the dragon, but not too far away (and before they perform their Hide from Dragons ritual), a dwarven rogue/ranger is going to sneak into the vicinity near them, having climbed up one of the counterweight elevators that descends to mines. Either the players will see her, or she'll sneak up on them--if she sees the group, she'll recognize them as the foolish adventurers that started a riot with talk of a dragon and/or as the special forces group that helped rebuff the kobold invasionl, but if she sees the party's kobold sorceress, she may sneak up upon her and attempt to kill her, not realizing that she's one of the "good guys." Either way, the dwarf will inform the party that word reached their troops several days ago, and they sent a sort of task force to investigate and deal with a dragon if the rumors bore out. The rest of the dwarves, she'll say, are down in the mines awaiting a signal from her on where they should place their blasting charges to come up into the kobold lair in force. When the PCs and the dwarf get into the throne room, she'll sneak off to a clear spot and provide the signal (easier if she benefits from their ritual).

Sometime shortly thereafter, a muffled blast will be heard, a tremor will run through the ground, and a hole will open open up, through which will pour the dwarven attack group.

The leader, who will go after the dragon, possibly inspiring them to join in the fight (a Knowledge check will allow them to identify him as the prince of the neighboring dwarven kingdom whose father, in addition to being king, was with the dwarf force that slew the dragon's father 200 years ago) will be clad in dragonhide plate made from that dragon's hide, while wielding the weapon that slew the dragon of old. I'm thinking he'll be a 6th level Sacred Shield paladin (and with several epic feats under his belt), which will give the PCs some cover (1/2 damage from the dragon, some more AC) if they're next to him, though I'm not sure if he'll provide too much protection to the players with that set-up. He's built to be sturdy, and I think that, because of this, the other dwarf NPCs don't need to be too strong/special. Probably a cleric or oracle at level 3, an inquisitor at about the same level, the rogue/ranger, and some warriors. Probably don't even need both the cleric and the inquisitor.

My intention, before all of this comes to pass, and if the PCs succeed on their Hide from Dragons ritual, is to give them a clue of some sort that will lead them to investigate a room off of the throne room, in which they'll discover some of what has motivated the dragon thus far--spellbooks, scrolls, Pages of Spell Knowledge, and some notes from the dragon and his kobold helpers about obtaining spells to pass along to a "master." They may also find the map to the lich's tomb here at the same time. This should provide a nudge toward dealing with the dragon now.

When they first enter the throne room, the dragon will not be present, but while they're investigating in the spell repository, or otherwise milling about, the kobold's head priest/witchdoctor/something or other, will summon the dragon with a gong, and the wyrm will burst out of the water and onto the dais shortly thereafter. At this point, the PCs will have a few moments to eavesdrop, hearing the dragon disgruntled at being calling from his repose, a report from the kobold about having finally collected and collated all of the newly gathered spells (with a query as to when the dragon will begin sending them along), and a report about the invading PCs' progress that isn't quite up-to-date (it'll be an hour or two old, I think, so they won't know necessarily where the players are). During the talk, some kobolds will drag forward a captive or two who they will proffer upon the dragon as a sacrifice.

At about THAT moment is when the dwarves will enter. So, between the need to deal with the dragon before he can send more spells to this mysterious "master" (they may have some guesses as to who that could be), the imminent threat to the lives of some innocent captives, and the heroic dwarves rushing into the fray, there SHOULD be sufficient motivation for them to leap into the fight, while still not FORCING them in--they could opt to steal or destroy the spells, maybe try to sneak through the water to find the dragon's quarters, maybe rationalize that the dwarves have it handled...

How does all that sound?


And here's what I was thinking for tactics:
-before the fight, cast Mage Armor (I was also thinking about Tongues, but I may go with a more relevant spell...he could have a potion or something of Tongues, or he could have Comprehend Languages in a less valuable slot).
-start combat by flying into the air and either using the Acid Pool breath weapon if there are 3 or more characters clustered together and within range, or cast Mirror Image
-next, either Acid Pool or Glitterdust, possibly some other offensive spell, before landing, ideally with at least a few PCs (and maybe the NPC paladin) trapped between him and the water at the dais' edge
-melee time...talking a lot of smack
-if he drops below 50% HP, take to the air again, or dive underwater to attack from safety or heal up a bit and get some better positioning
-below 1/4 HP flee underwater to the safety of his lair

I'm thinking that he perhaps should attack earlier, to trigger Frightful Presence, but it could also work to wait a little on that, letting the players feel a little confident before he terrorizes them. On the other hand, the sooner he activates Frightful Presence, the more likely the PCs aren't close enough to the paladin to benefit from his Aura of Courage yet.

Grand Lodge

The dragons demand has a bunch of 6-7 level PCs against a dragon.

If you have that it may have some ideas. We're nearly through it now and we've heard a few things about what may make the encounter easier including something that may make the dragon 'lose it' and some thing to mess with his allies (hope that isn't too spoilerific).

Not sure what the CR of the dragon is.

Grand Lodge

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yeti1069 wrote:


The leader, who will go after the dragon, possibly inspiring them to join in the fight (a Knowledge check will allow them to identify him as the prince of the neighboring dwarven kingdom whose father, in addition to being king, was with the dwarf force that slew the dragon's father 200 years ago) will be clad in dragonhide plate made from that dragon's hide, while wielding the weapon that slew the dragon of old. I'm thinking he'll be a 6th level Sacred Shield paladin (and with several epic feats under his belt), which will give the PCs some cover (1/2 damage from the...

Avoid NPCs like this. It takes the spot light away from the characters, allows them to think its the GM giving a hand and confuses things... UNLESS he dies horribly very early. ie Talk him up and his description, make him sound all badass and then have the dragon bite the guy in half!

There is a reason that there are a lot of flunkies fighting in the final scenes of Bond movies. It leaves the spot light on Bond and the villain. I love the idea of dwarves tying up all the kobolds and also commandeering the siege weapons then.

Liberty's Edge

Helaman wrote:

The dragons demand has a bunch of 6-7 level PCs against a dragon.

If you have that it may have some ideas. We're nearly through it now and we've heard a few things about what may make the encounter easier including something that may make the dragon 'lose it' and some thing to mess with his allies (hope that isn't too spoilerific).

Not sure what the CR of the dragon is.

For the record:

Spoiler:
CR 11, bog standard Young Green Dragon...which is rather terrifying at that level. Only 1st level spells, but has a lotof other nastiness

On tactics:

Make sure to move up adjacent to the Dragon's victims the round before he starts melee so he can get off a Full Attack. They'll get one on him, too...but it's still a solid plan.


I don't think I have Dragon's Demand. Is it part of an adventure path, or a stand alone module?

Liberty's Edge

yeti1069 wrote:
I don't think I have Dragon's Demand. Is it part of an adventure path, or a stand alone module?

Stand-alone module. Big one, though. Designed to take characters from 1st to 6th or 7th. Solid idea for an E6 game, actually. Though I believe you do run into one or two NPCs a bit above that over the course of it...it is only one or two.

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