pathfinder monsters that aren't fun for their CR


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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There are hundreds of monsters in the pathfinder universe. Which ones do you think are unfair for their CR and why?

Here's two that come up very often.

1) Wisp

Immune to most spells, high AC, invisibility, situational fast healing, and a touch attack that's a guaranteed hit on any level 6 character. Even though they aren't nearly as deadly as other powerful creatures they can be incredibly annoying to fight, especially if they have friends who can dish out fear effects.

2) Shadow Demon

Depending on the environment you battle it in shadow demons can easily kill or incapacitate a party unprepared to fight it. Having low hit dice means nothing if you boast abilities that synergize so well that it defeats the purpose of hit points. Incorporeal + DR 10 + demon immunities/resists. At will deeper darkness combined with invisibility in low-light conditions. Attacks that target touch combined with pounce. Magic jar once per day that doesn't require a focus. Summoning another of its kind with a 50% chance of success. For any party less than 6th level the fight will more than likely end in a TPK. Even at 10th level and beyond they can be a pain in the rear to fight against.


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It seems like resist energy could shut a will-o-wisp down.

The shadow demons's SLAs key to about 9th level; although the shadow demon is CR 7, I'm wondering if CR 8 wouldn't be fairer.


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Thing is the wisp can run away and come back and with 50 fly move speed plus invisible there is not much the players can do to stop them. Also it says in there stat block that they like to have people chase them so they can lure them into traps.


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Shadows:

CR 3, incorporeal d6 str drain touch attacks that turn you into controlled spawn in 1d4 rounds.

Cleric channeling is effective, little else is.

Quote:
Organization solitary, pair, gang (3–6), or swarm (7–12)

Even at high levels an ambush by a swarm is nasty.

I ran a module with an encounter with I think six shadows and one greater shadow in a perpetually shadowy dungeon cavern. I swapped them out for something of an equivalent EL.


Fireball isn't terrible against shadows.


RJGrady wrote:
Fireball isn't terrible against shadows.

AoE works to great effect against groups of shadows so long as it's powerful enough, as incorporeal creatures take half damage from corporeal spells (one-fourth if they make the reflex save). At high level it's a great way to destroy large groups of shadows.


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RJGrady wrote:
Fireball isn't terrible against shadows.

Magic weapon or magic fang, a 1st level spell possessed by most every casting class, or bless weapon, or shillelagh, or an oil of any of those will wreck a shadow proper. They don't have many HP so even at 1/2 damage a martial should have little trouble mopping one up. Since shadows deal Strength damage, they are actually no more dangerous to a 1st level party than a 3rd level party sans being a little harder to hit relative to the group.

Given that an oil of magic weapon costs a mere 50 gp and can be purchased in almost any settlement (anything bigger than a thorpe), every adventuring party should have a few at low levels for encounters with incorporeal creatures and/or creatures with DR/Magic.

EDIT: At mid-high / high levels, death ward should be a staple that you use frequently.


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Ghouls.


Scavion wrote:
Ghouls.

Really? Those are fun right? I mean, it's a way for the elf in the party to be all like "yay! That acutslly came in handy!"

Oh, wait, it just CDG'ed someone else? Oh.


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Yep, Shadows

Spoiler:
I am looking at you, Thornkeep

Grand Lodge

Ghouls, any CR 1-3 with special material DR.


Scavion wrote:
Ghouls.

You evil bastard....


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Half red Dragon trolls.


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thegreenteagamer wrote:
Half red Dragon trolls.

that is brilliantly evil, I approve.


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Tooth Fairies.

CR 1/4, can do dex or cha damage.

Contributor

The Asura from Bestiary 3 are all kind of edgy, I think.


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Is it bad of me that this thread makes me want to take notes about what to put in my game?

Edit: question mark.


fictionfan wrote:
Is it bad of me that this thread makes me want to take notes about what to put in my game.

Not at all.


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Sceaduinar

With their spell-likes particularly Anti-life Shell and Enervation coupled with the fact they hunt in packs and are intelligent, never mind the 120ft darkvision, flight, and lifesense, these things are terrible.

Grand Lodge

Hoenn wrote:
Scavion wrote:
Ghouls.
You evil bastard....

Three natural attacks and paralysis. God help you if the GM likes to use coup-de-grace.


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thegreenteagamer wrote:
Half red Dragon trolls.

I've always enjoyed pink dragons. When a red dragon and a white dragon fall in love (or lose a bet), their offspring is a beautiful, horrible, terrible creature of opposing elements that is immune to both frost and fire and can live as easily in a volcanic mountain as it can in an icy cave and may have elements of both in their lair. I prefer the base chassis for the creature to be a white dragon (they are the most agile with land, fly, burrow, and swim speeds) with the half-red dragon template. They're magnificent and vicious creatures to be certain.

Here's a sample pink dragon.

Adult Pink Dragon CR 12
XP 19,200
CE Large dragon (cold)
Init +5; Senses dragon senses, snow vision; Perception +22 Aura cold (5 ft., 1d6 cold damage), frightful presence (180 ft., DC 18)
DEFENSES
AC 35, touch 10, flat-footed 34 (+4 armor, +1 Dex, +21 natural, –1 size)
hp 188 (13d12+104)
Fort +16, Ref +11, Will +12
DR 5/magic; Immune cold, fire, paralysis, sleep; SR 21
Weaknesses vulnerability to fire
OFFENSE
Speed 30 ft., burrow 30 ft., fly 200 ft. (poor), swim 60 ft.
Melee bite +23 (2d6+16), 2 claws +23 (1d8+11), 2 wings +21 (1d6+5), tail slap +21 (1d8+11)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft. (10 ft. with bite)
Special Attacks breath weapon (40-ft. cone, DC 24, 12d4 cold), breath weapon (30 ft. cone, DC 24, 13d6 fire)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 13th)
At will—fog cloud, gust of wind
Spells Known (CL 1st)
1st (4/day)—shield, mage armor*
0 (at will)—dancing lights, detect magic, ray of frost, mending
STATISTICS
Str 33, Dex 12, Con 27, Int 14, Wis 15, Cha 14
BaseAtk +13; CMB +25; CMD 36 (40 vs. trip)
Feats Flyby Attack, Multiattack, Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, Iron Will, Hover, Wingover
Skills Fly +11, Intimidate +18, Knowledge (arcane) +18, Perception +22, Spellcraft +18, Stealth +13, Swim +35, 13 additional skill points
Languages Common, Draconic
SPECIAL ABILITIES
Cold Aura (Su)
An adult pink dragon radiates an aura of cold. All creatures within 5 feet of the dragon take 1d6 points of cold damage at the beginning of the dragon's turn. An old dragon's aura extends to 10 feet. An ancient dragon's damage increases to 2d6.
Ice Shape (Su)
A young pink dragon can shape ice and snow at will. This ability functions as stone shape, but only targeting ice and snow, not stone. A pink dragon's caster level for this effect is equal to its Hit Dice.
Icewalking (Ex)
This ability works like the spider climb spell, but the surfaces the dragon climbs must be icy. The dragon can move across icy surfaces without penalty and does not need to make Acrobatics checks to run or charge on ice.
Snow Vision (Ex)
A very young pink dragon learns to see perfectly well in snowy conditions. A pink dragon does not suffer any penalties to Perception checks while in snow.
Treasure 27,000 gp worth of treasures (unaccounted for)


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Browman wrote:
thegreenteagamer wrote:
Half red Dragon trolls.
that is brilliantly evil, I approve.

I actually put together a combat of two half-dragon trolls, one red, one black, each with a ring of resistance vs the energy they're not immune to.

Then, after the battle is complete, and the party is blown away by how hard that fight was, the look on their face when I give them the piddling exp for their surprisingly low CR will be the greatest gift of all...

Oh, man, if my wife weren't asleep next to me right now, I'd be laughing malevolently. I'll have to settle for a Burnsian "excellent..." for now.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Shining Child (Works very well in pair...almost disgusting)

Very effective, a blinding aura 60 ft radius, can usually mask their enviromnent or hide with mirage arcana, they can cast spell turning at least saving them from the mage attempting to kill them early in a fight. Usually open a battle by flying close enough to affect all party members with your aura, if they failed, they are blinded and to make matters worse, can cast wall of force to separate party members and kill them with your searing ray. You can also cast greater dispel magic, mostly annoying on casters with long term buffs.

Searing ray - 120 ft - ranged touch at will 10d6 fire. With a fly speed of 50 ft perfect, you have no need to touch the ground.


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Gibbering Mouthers. They have lots of good defensive abilities (immune to flanking, crits, have DR), moderately well off AC and HP, a staggering six bite attacks that ALL have the Grab special ability. Get grabbed by this thing and it will kill you within 2-3 rounds.

This thing is expected to be an "average" fight against a level 5 party? HA!


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thegreenteagamer wrote:
Browman wrote:
thegreenteagamer wrote:
Half red Dragon trolls.
that is brilliantly evil, I approve.

I actually put together a combat of two half-dragon trolls, one red, one black, each with a ring of resistance vs the energy they're not immune to.

Then, after the battle is complete, and the party is blown away by how hard that fight was, the look on their face when I give them the piddling exp for their surprisingly low CR will be the greatest gift of all...

Oh, man, if my wife weren't asleep next to me right now, I'd be laughing malevolently. I'll have to settle for a Burnsian "excellent..." for now.

But they got a pair of rings of resistance out of it. So clearly you weren't as mean as you could have been. Potions on the other hand leave no loot to claim unless they had multiple

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

Sceaduinar from bestiary 2.

The only thing CR7 about these bad puppy cats is their AC.

They have life sense. They cast deeper darkness and silence, hide within an anti-life shell, throw enervation spells and dispel magics at the party, and then, finally, move up in the silent darkness to cast harm and slay living on some party member. Their normal attacks life drain and do +1d6 negative energy damage. You attack them with a 5' reach melee attack, and you take 1d6 negative energy.

Aboleths also seem tough for CR 7 because of their DC 22 dominate monster 3/day. Most DMs just have this used to have dominated minions, but they can easily dominate most of an adventuring party before the party has managed to see through the illusions that hide the aboleth.

Both of these monsters are way cool, but when DMing you need to be careful what you do with them in an encounter, because they can easily TPK a 7th level party of adventurers.


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At low level, just a simple swarm can TPK an entire group!


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Twigjacks. An appropriate encounter for a level 1 party. Cone that deals 3d6 damage. Fey are crazy.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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We fought shadows in a watery cavern once. That was pretty intense.
Taking Strength damage while trying to make untrained Swim checks in Medium armor is TOUGH!

Silver Crusade

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Pretty much anything incorporeal isn't fun when the location allows them to hide in walls.

Other than that ability drain and level drain are some of the nastier abilities.


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I can't imagine any low lvl party being thrilled to fight a swarm of stirges. They suck

Pun intended


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If encountered in terrain such as swamp or river, crocodiles are scary as heck.

They casually stealth for 23, sneaking silently closer to you in the water, then they strike at you, or a party member that is falling behind, such as small-folk.

Once it strikes it bites down on you in the surprise round, attacking your flat-footed AC for a 15 to-hit average, biting you for 1d8+4 dmg and grappling you with an average grapple-check of 21.

Then comes the actual round, and you better pray that your party was walking right-the-flip next to you, because if you are not immediately adjacent to eachother, and you're in bog, they're gonna have to slowly wade to your rescue, and if you're in river, they'll have to swim to your rescue. Meanwhile, the crocodile continues its grapple and proceeds to pin you, death-rolling you for 1d8+6 with a free trip attack, while dragging you below water.

Now you're pinned, damaged, drowning, sinking and potentially blind, depending on the clarity of the water the crocodile struck from. Your party members can come to your rescue, but even if they can reach you/swim down to you/whatever they're making attacks vs the crocodile at -2 and dealing half damage, that is if they can even see it and not just alot of bubbles and blood in the water.

for a CR 2 monster, I find the crocodile to be rather unpleasant. Not to mention being attacked by a pair - or gods forbid a colony (3-12). :C

-Nearyn


Scavion wrote:
Ghouls.

we just had an almost TPK because of a ghoul in a cramped L-shaped hallway, paralyzed the fighter, knocked out the alchemist, witch, and the wizard but finally got it with our flame sorcerer.. that was a bad roll night

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Nearyn wrote:

If encountered in terrain such as swamp or river, crocodiles are scary as heck.

They casually stealth for 23, sneaking silently closer to you in the water, then they strike at you, or a party member that is falling behind, such as small-folk.

Once it strikes it bites down on you in the surprise round, attacking your flat-footed AC for a 15 to-hit average, biting you for 1d8+4 dmg and grappling you with an average grapple-check of 21.

Then comes the actual round, and you better pray that your party was walking right-the-flip next to you, because if you are not immediately adjacent to eachother, and you're in bog, they're gonna have to slowly wade to your rescue, and if you're in river, they'll have to swim to your rescue. Meanwhile, the crocodile continues its grapple and proceeds to pin you, death-rolling you for 1d8+6 with a free trip attack, while dragging you below water.

Now you're pinned, damaged, drowning, sinking and potentially blind, depending on the clarity of the water the crocodile struck from. Your party members can come to your rescue, but even if they can reach you/swim down to you/whatever they're making attacks vs the crocodile at -2 and dealing half damage, that is if they can even see it and not just alot of bubbles and blood in the water.

for a CR 2 monster, I find the crocodile to be rather unpleasant. Not to mention being attacked by a pair - or gods forbid a colony (3-12). :C

-Nearyn

Let me tell you about crocs. I was playing through one of the pfs modules and we had to cross a river that apparently had one of these little bastards in it and a trap across the only good path across while his ranged druid parked it on the other side of the river and just waited for us. And unfortunately for yours truly I was the main tank as the slayer and had to test the path. By the end of round 1 I had a damn bear trap on one leg, a croc on the other, and an arrow in my leg. It was like a scene from Ace Ventura. Damn crocs hurt.


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The Cyclops (CR 5) scares me. They can get one guaranteed natural 20 a day, and their x3 crit weapon means that a critical hit is going to do around 50 damage (more with Power Attack), instant death to most level 5 characters.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Any giant that has an axe and power attack!


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Pugwampies. Pugwampies suuhuuuuuuck.


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The Remorhaz. It's CR 7, but they can easily TPK an unprepared party. Huge, immune to fire and cold, causes 8d6 fire damage when touched (once it's angry - not hard), DC 19 fort save to avoid your weapon taking for damage, swallow whole (2d6+9+8d6 fire), CMB+21 grapple. The person who gets bit/swallowed first need to hold on while the party kills it - super rough.

This monster has inspired terror in my parties for years. That's why I made intelligent spellcasting civilisation-building versions for my homebrew. *evil laughter*

Edit:forgot the 20 ft burrow speed and tremorsense. They get the drop on pc's, pretty much guaranteed. They suck to fight.


Rabbiteconomist wrote:

The Remorhaz. It's CR 7, but they can easily TPK an unprepared party. Huge, immune to fire and cold, causes 8d6 fire damage when touched (once it's angry - not hard), DC 19 fort save to avoid your weapon taking for damage, swallow whole (2d6+9+8d6 fire), CMB+21 grapple. The person who gets bit/swallowed first need to hold on while the party kills it - super rough.

This monster has inspired terror in my parties for years. That's why I made intelligent spellcasting civilisation-building versions for my homebrew. *evil laughter*

Edit:forgot the 20 ft burrow speed and tremorsense. They get the drop on pc's, pretty much guaranteed. They suck to fight.

Now they only need Spring Attack. Erupt from the ground, bite the casty, grab, go underground, swallow, wait, repeat as needed. It's not even hard to replace a few of their feats with Dodge, Mobility, and Spring Attack, they don't really need skill focus or the awesome blow chain.

Also, earlier on I threw a single sceaduinar against a level 10, mythic tier 5 paladin with a barbarian friend. I thought they could take care of it. Nope. It won initiative, used deeper darkness to blind them, then started casting enervation and rolled well enough to nearly kill the paladin. The only reason it didn't win was that the paladin went nova and ended up using a lot of mythic power and hero points plus an oil of daylight she'd forgotten about to dispel the darkness and get enough extra actions to fly up to it and kill it. Even then she needed a lucky crit.

If it'd cast its antilife shell before that, the paladin would have been screwed. As is, she still had to eat seven negative levels.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

My players complained about clockwork soldiers (CR 5ish?), at level 14. What are you going to do?

I mean, it isn't like I had stripped them of all their magical gear and forced them to get out of an antimagic, wall of force, adamantine prison practically naked and then attacked them with these soldiers while they had no protective gear.

Apparently clockwork soldiers have high hit and damage for their CR. Who knew?


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Orc warriors are actually horrifically unfun for their CR. If you can get the drop on them at range, great. At close quarters? Ferocity more than doubles their effective hit points for most purposes. And they hit very hard for their CR.


Ipslore the Red wrote:
Rabbiteconomist wrote:

The Remorhaz. It's CR 7, but they can easily TPK an unprepared party. Huge, immune to fire and cold, causes 8d6 fire damage when touched (once it's angry - not hard), DC 19 fort save to avoid your weapon taking for damage, swallow whole (2d6+9+8d6 fire), CMB+21 grapple. The person who gets bit/swallowed first need to hold on while the party kills it - super rough.

This monster has inspired terror in my parties for years. That's why I made intelligent spellcasting civilisation-building versions for my homebrew. *evil laughter*

Edit:forgot the 20 ft burrow speed and tremorsense. They get the drop on pc's, pretty much guaranteed. They suck to fight.

Now they only need Spring Attack. Erupt from the ground, bite the casty, grab, go underground, swallow, wait, repeat as needed. It's not even hard to replace a few of their feats with Dodge, Mobility, and Spring Attack, they don't really need skill focus or the awesome blow chain.

Also, earlier on I threw a single sceaduinar against a level 10, mythic tier 5 paladin with a barbarian friend. I thought they could take care of it. Nope. It won initiative, used deeper darkness to blind them, then started casting enervation and rolled well enough to nearly kill the paladin. The only reason it didn't win was that the paladin went nova and ended up using a lot of mythic power and hero points plus an oil of daylight she'd forgotten about to dispel the darkness and get enough extra actions to fly up to it and kill it. Even then she needed a lucky crit.

If it'd cast its antilife shell before that, the paladin would have been screwed. As is, she still had to eat seven negative levels.

Yep. Sceaduinar are brutal

My party of Spellslinger, Paladin, Superstitious Barbarian, Hunter, and Synthesist Summoner, ran into these at level 6 myth tier 3.

The creatures were in a dimly lit maze and were encountered in packs of 2-4. An opening move of anti-life shell + blocking chokepoints, along with enervation spam was brutal.

I put down almost my entire party easily. Also unless you have cleric in the party the negative levels are almost impossible to deal with.

This same party regularly take down CR 12-14 encounters at that level with no problem.


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thegreenteagamer wrote:
Half red Dragon trolls.

I certainly hope I never see the video of how that combination came to be.


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CR 17 Winterwight.

I remember our party fighting one of these at 16th level (along with a banshee and other things) and with its +30 attack it tagged our barbarian first round who missed the DC 29 fortitude save and entered a death spiral of con loss that killed him.

Quote:
Blightfire (Su) Whenever a winterwight damages a creature with a bite or claw, the wound erupts with tongues of black fire. For the next 5 rounds, the victim must make a DC 29 Fortitude saving throw at the start of its turn or take 1d6 points of Constitution drain.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

@RJGrady

Remember, too, that NPCs get favored class bonuses. Do you know the orc fighter's favored class bonus? Build a bunch of those. Your players will never mock orcs again.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Nearyn wrote:

If encountered in terrain such as swamp or river, crocodiles are scary as heck.

They casually stealth for 23, sneaking silently closer to you in the water, then they strike at you, or a party member that is falling behind, such as small-folk.

Once it strikes it bites down on you in the surprise round, attacking your flat-footed AC for a 15 to-hit average, biting you for 1d8+4 dmg and grappling you with an average grapple-check of 21.

Then comes the actual round, and you better pray that your party was walking right-the-flip next to you, because if you are not immediately adjacent to eachother, and you're in bog, they're gonna have to slowly wade to your rescue, and if you're in river, they'll have to swim to your rescue. Meanwhile, the crocodile continues its grapple and proceeds to pin you, death-rolling you for 1d8+6 with a free trip attack, while dragging you below water.

Now you're pinned, damaged, drowning, sinking and potentially blind, depending on the clarity of the water the crocodile struck from. Your party members can come to your rescue, but even if they can reach you/swim down to you/whatever they're making attacks vs the crocodile at -2 and dealing half damage, that is if they can even see it and not just alot of bubbles and blood in the water.

for a CR 2 monster, I find the crocodile to be rather unpleasant. Not to mention being attacked by a pair - or gods forbid a colony (3-12). :C

-Nearyn

We were playing a PF conversion of a 1st Ed module, and we all had a henchman and a PC. A new player got control of a named NPC, a ranger/rogue of some kind. Anyways, relatively Perceptive and Stealthy, probably 4th level+. Anyways, about 30 minutes later, NPC did not botch Stealth or Perception, but still got one-shotted as croc=chow. :-(


Swarms in general, particularly at low level, aren't much fun. Too many characters just try to spread out and wait around (maybe throw some alchemist's fire) for the wizard to fireball them.


Swarms are easy to handle if you have anything that does energy damage. That's why carrying torches is handy at any level, because you can burn (provided the swarm isn't immune or resistant to fire) them without worrying if your wizard/sorcerer/bard/magus/cleric/druid/shaman/witch/bloodrager/oracle/alch emist/hunter/summoner/kineticist/psion/wilder/occultist forgot to take AOE spells or effects for the day.

Shambling mounds are not fun for their CR if they are in ambush territory. Nor are grizzly bears. I had one grizzly bear that came close to TPKing a party of 6 2nd level characters because they decided to attack it rather then running. The shadowcaster trying to use his equivalent of forbid action/aka command found out grizzly bears don't understand Halfling. The fighter alchemist punching the grizzly bear was another ironic attempt as the grizzly bear mauled him to death. Only the elf and the rogue in the party survived, one making his stealth roll and the other climbing up a solid oak tree that the bear couldn't knock down.


stormcrow27 wrote:
Swarms are easy to handle if you have anything that does energy damage. That's why carrying torches is handy at any level, because you can burn (provided the swarm isn't immune or resistant to fire) them

I don't think there's any rules support for hurting a swarm of spiders or whatever with a torch. Torches don't do area effect damage.


gargoyles, lycanthropes, any low CR with 10+ damage reduction. A single lantern archon can probably solo most groups of level 1 adventurers.

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