Question on tactics for the Ancient White Dragon Arkrhyst

Rise of the Runelords

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

My group ended up surprised by Arkrhyst after retrieving the Runeforge keys and so far haven't been hugely effective against him - with the exception that they have eliminated two of his more effective buffs: Shield and Protection from Energy (Fire). He's taken nearly 100 points of damage so far and is now bleeding 2 hps a round, and has a pair of Huge Air Elementals attacking him.

Would it be in character for him to go Invisible and take a couple of rounds to replenish his missing buffs before once more attacking the group (with his breath weapon as it will have replenished by then), or would he press the attack and try to kill them off as quickly as possible? He did do a bit of damage the (flying) melee character, and his breath weapon (and a later Cone of Cold - I gave him a couple levels of Sorcerer to compensate for their 2 Mythic Tiers) has hurt the group, but not hugely so. And he knows they use fire.

So if you were running this dragon, what would you do next? Have him regroup, rebuff, and then return to savage the group, or continue to press the attack?

Oh, and as a brief aside, would a Strangling Hair (which hasn't yet been able to latch on) continue to track an invisible dragon and try to grapple him further? Or would it loose track and then the moment the dragon reappears, surge to attack?

I dont know about the Strangling Hair.

But I would have him regroup and just as a side note how did they surprise him I thought when the keys were all pulled it set off some type of an alarm I havent looked in some time but I thought it did.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

The group was surprised by him. That said, I forgot to do the Surprise round, so they acted afterward in the same round... and the only one who did any damage was the Cleric who did a Flame Strike. After they all were hosed for 20d4 breath weapon damage. It wasn't exactly an even exchange of fire. ;)

Oh I miss read it, my fault

But as a high level powerful dragon he would do the best tactics which would be to regroup recast and hit him with his breath weapon again

He can both swim and burrow. He can get away enough to buy himself some time. He's ancient, and he didn't get that way by being impatient.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

He can also fly, and as a Sorcerer can recast spells - thus I was thinking Invisibility (as he acts first in the round), then next round when flying away recast Resist Fire, and then finally Shield.

His actions when he returns will depend on the grouping of the adventurers. If they are together? Breath weapon. If they are divided? Wall of Ice to keep them divided. (The latter has the benefit of not breaking the Invisibility.)

Then again, he could also hit them with a Blizzard instead of his breath weapon (I don't think he can use Blizzard until his breath weapon recharges at least). Seeing that it won't impact HIM, and would hurt ranged attacks against him, that likely would be a good starting point. (The Staff of Heaven and Earth could reduce the blizzard to just a snowfall, but even that won't stop the difficult terrain or the fog effect.)

It's a shame I didn't think to give him Infernal Healing...

Edit: I'm also curious about the Freezing Fog ability - would the Dragon's ability to see through snow help with seeing through its own fog? Or do those in it still get concealment (even with the dragon's blindsense)? I was contemplating instead of Invisibility, using Freezing Fog, following up with Blizzard (as its breath weapon will be available in Round 5), and then restoring buffs.

I would have Freezemaw, heal, rebuff, and then change tactics as you mentioned. Perhaps Invis / come in during blizzard or have him come to greet them about the time they are entering the cave entrance. (Icy hallway + deep pit + breath weapon = fun for dm). I feel he is a smart apex predator and should have a ego to match. I got 3 + encounters out of this guy and he still is destroying villages to this day, while trying to find the group to get his treasure back.

Invis, freezing fog, and blizzard are just nasty when breath weapons are involved.

Freezemaw has dragon senses, dark-vision, snow vision and blind-sense so it doesn't matter if the PCs are obscured via the fog and blizzard effects, as long as he has a straight line on them he doesn't need to roll perceptions. Freezemaw also has icewalk so is not effected by the grease aspects.

I found two other threads on the subject that might help out. #1

My group just started their battle against Arkrhyst tonight, and it's not going too well for them; for reference the party is currently 13th level (+2 mythic tiers earned during the AP just because we were curious about how it would affect play overall), consisting of a half-elf paladin, fetchling rogue, halfling oracle (life with the clouded vision curse), gnome sorcerer (sylvan bloodline with a tiger companion), and human wizard (transmuter).

The PC's have survived the first 4 chapters without any deaths so far (slow as it may sound, we've been playing this AP 3-4 hours per week for the past 2 years now!), and have honestly steamrolled about 80% of the things they've encountered, due to a combination of experience (this group has been together since 1996), shrewd char-op choices, and the boost from the mythic tiers has certainly helped as well.

Anyway, the party had just finished retrieving the 7 keys from the Sihedron Circle & the 2 arcane casters were still messing around with the statues trying to see what else they might do when the dragon struck, opening up in the surprise round with a flyby breath weapon from invisibility on the rest of the party. Because of Arkrhyst's poor maneuverability, they had a little time before his next pass, so they started laying on the energy resist/protection spells and taking cover behind the statues, and the paladin powered up his bonded weapon, wisely opting for keen/flaming/bane (dragon).

On the dragon's second pass he snatched up the gnome sorcerer and just flew away, leaving the rest of the party dumbfounded on the ground. The plucky gnome tried launching a couple fireballs down the dragon's throat, but really ended up injuring himself more than the dragon, and the dragon simply responded by breathing with the sorcerer still clutched in his jaws, all the while remaining airborne well out of reach of the other PC's.

As of right now (the start of round 6), the wizard has transformed into a young red dragon ("the ancestral enemy of white dragons!") in an attempt to draw Arkrhyst's attention away from the badly injured gnome, while the rogue has activated his celestial armor to fly after the dragon and the oracle managed to successfully hit the dragon with a debilitating portent spell to mitigate some of his damage output. Still, with both the party's healer and their heaviest hitter still helplessly landbound, both squishies drawn away from the party and into direct aerial melee with the dragon, and even the flying rogue unable to match the dragon's flight speed, I'm honestly kind of doubtful about their chances at this point.

The way things are going now, this may end up being my first legitimate TPK since I started GMing way back in '77!

A bit late to the party, but this fight went really bad for my party. Few of them were prepared for ranged and flying combat, and they made some poor movement decisions that caused them to bunch up when I was using his breath weapon. In addition I got a number of people with the frightful presence, and the fighter/paladin ordered his cleric cohort to flee at the beginning of combat because he did not want her to die.

I ended up having the Pit Fiend they saved in book 3(all religious characters were dead or unconscious at that point, Barbarian and witch freed him) swoop in and save the day. Promising to kill them, instead of saving them the next time they met.

Scarab Sages

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Mark_Twain007 wrote:
I ended up having the Pit Fiend they saved in book 3(all religious characters were dead or unconscious at that point, Barbarian and witch freed him) swoop in and save the day. Promising to kill them, instead of saving them the next time they met.

Nice way to bring back an old face. My party killed their pit fiend.

The Arkhyst fight in my campaign took about four sessions between hit and run tactics on both sides. They eventually killed him, but only after he slew two party members. I had to rebuild him since I have 9 players. Vital Strike when it's tiered all the way up combined with Power Attack and Flyby Attack pretty much guaranteed a kill if he hit.

Freezemaw is fascinating - I think he's honestly the hardest fight in Book 5, and he shows up really early in it.

Nothing in Runeforge is nearly as bad-ass as Freezemaw.

(My PCs had a HORRIBLE time with him, since they flubbed all of their dispel checks against his buffs. Killing him came down to pure luck with crits. I was pretty impressed - my PCs got ambushed, teleported away, healed up, buffed up, teleported back to throw down, and nearly lost anyways. I wasn't pulling punches but I was worried Freezemaw would be a TPK.)

Yeah, I'd allow Snow Sight to allow Freezemaw to see through Freezing Fog - it seems thematically appropriate.

Freezemaw has an Int 16, making him every bit as smart as a smart human.

If you can think of it, he can think of it.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

He wasn't quite as dangerous for my group. First couple of rounds he owned them. But then they got some lucky shots off, started debuffing him, and their two air elementals were causing troubles. He finally fled but the group felt they couldn't fight him so they went home. Rested up, and returned the next day to negotiate.

They want to have him go to Xin Shalast with them.

Or, possibly 'Questions on tactics for Arkrhyst' out of respect for those who don't know an Ancient White Dragon is on the way. In fact, that might be a good tactic - NOT telling the PC's (or having someone else tell them for you) what they're going to be facing ahead of time ;)

To answer the spirit of the question though, I'd definitely say use the invisibility. An under-utilized ability of white dragons is their wall of ice power, which can be cast while invisible and shaped as domes to separate party members, leaving them more vulnerable to be picked off one by one.

EDIT: Oops, just got to the part of the thread where you already mentioned that tactic, and the part where you said the fight had been resolved. Ah well, at least the spoiler lives on!

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He is the source of the only pc death (avoided with Hero Points) in my campaign. And it could have been two but for some fast action by the bard getting freedom of movement on the cleric - being grappled in the dragon's mouth is a very bad place to be. Outside, in the air, invisible, he gets surprise and has superior mobility. My players eventually forced him to retreat - the conjurer got some summoned creatures in the air and the fighter got fly and so forth but for several rounds he was very frustrating for them. He retreated to his lair, they retreated to Sandpoint via teleport. Returning the next day prepared for a white dragon and confronting him in his lair, the battle was more one-sided in the pc's favor. My interpretation was that at full hit points (which he was via potions) the dragon would not willingly abandon his hoard.

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