Low Level Legendary Encounter

4th Edition

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OK, here are my assumptions as laid out by 5e:

  • Legendary creatures are intended to be encountered alone, though they may call for aid.
  • Lair effects need to match the flavor of the encounter, and serve mostly to "delay" a party for the legendary creature to recover.
  • Legendary actions are used to set up the next turn by the creature
  • Regional effects are deeply rooted and the flavor and represent supernatural and cultural influences of a legendary encounter in the region.

I am looking to design some fun and interesting fights for lower levels (3-8) that use the principles of high-level legendary creatures to make epic encounters for a more typical party. I'm talking expanding on bandit captains, wights, hags, and anything else that is a good main villain in a lower level campaign. That preamble said, my initial idea is a pair of psychically linked twin monks that use some of the monk class features to devastating effect.

Here's the link.

Let me know what you think.

Curse of Strahd Origins of Thread:
This started because I was attempting to make the Old Bonegrinder location a more epically evil place due to the encounter of three night hags in a coven being recommended as a deadly encounter for level 11 characters.

Not only will regional effects serve as a warning, using legendary actions for coven spells or lair actions to pull dretches from a barrel give clear indication this encounter is horrible when they are together and let's the party run away and learn about taking them down individually. I also tied the Death House to the Bonegrinder and a few other bonus story ideas they can explore to give some lore to my Ravenloft.

Sovereign Court

I'm totally for lower level legendary action creatures. It's like mythic light for 5e. I haven't seen how it plays out entirely, though, but I am curious to really put the system through its paces. Hearsay is that HP is a better determiner of longevity, where action economy helps with keeping the fight deadly. I'm starting to think that legendary creatures should have max HP by default.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

We played a 5th Edition conversion of RotRL from levels 1 through 13 (we got to 14th level after we beat Big K).

We really enjoyed the Legendary Action-using encounters. It kept us on our toes (since Legendary actions occur after a PC's turn, not during the monster's turn) and let us know it was an important encounter. They were also challenging without being TPKs.

I think the lowest CR critter in the MM that has LAs is the unicorn at CR 5. I

Lorathorn wrote:
Hearsay is that HP is a better determiner of longevity, where action economy helps with keeping the fight deadly.

This certainly matches my experience. Especially given my players' (and I presume it's widespread) tendency to identify the "tough monster" in a group and do everything they can to pile attacks onto them early in the fight before the various additional actions can have much effect.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

My group is pretty chaotic. The plan is to take out the big guy first, but that almost never happens. Lots of independent thinking.

I'll be DMing soon, so I can exploit that. ;-)

Anyone have any other ideas for low level legendary encounters?

I was thinking a pirate crew would be a good one with the captain's lair being the ship and the additional actions using traps/crew attacks/etc.

I would probably write it to be easily refluffed as a living or undead crew.

Sovereign Court

It depends on what themes you are looking for. It's a bit easier to justify if there is a supernatural element. For instance, an aberration or undead might be able to affect the environment in some tangible way, while a really bad ass pirate may just bolster their crew or make creative use of the rigging. Maybe the pirate has a ring that is bound to the ship that makes some supernatural action possible?

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Or a spirit of the ship? A magical figurehead?

Sovereign Court

Oh yeah, anything like that. Of course, if its an undead pirate crew, the sky (sea?) is the limit.

It could even be a mundane proposition; so long as the ship is still floating (HP damage), enough of the crew remains alive to perform lair actions; not that it has to be a pirate ship, or there has to be more than one lair action per round, either. Back to the thread title, I think the secret of a low level legendary encounter is limiting the number of legendary actions per round by tier. Hope that makes sense.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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I think the number of Legendary Actions per round should be tied to party size. If you have 8 PCs, then doing the standard 3 Legendary Actions per round shouldn't be too overwhelming. But if you have 3 PCs, doing 3 Legendary Actions per round, plus the NPC's regular actions, might be a bit much.

I have not run into anything crazy using the DMG encounter guidelines, but legendary and lair actions definitely throw a kink into the encounter planning.

Also, an update.

CoS Spoilers:
My bump in difficulty with the jags of the Bonegrinder didn't backfire but the party is basically suicidal facing these things and I can fix that. Using the coven spells as a 1/round legendary action adds a lot of flavor and let's me pace things really well, the encounter started with a single hag outside and the session ended with Morgantha retreating into the windmill with her daighters waiting. Next session the real fight starts and I kill my party - but I can see how the lair actions work out!

They've taken 3 days to get to Vallaki and wolves saw them before they left Barovia village so I'm thinking I might have Strahd show up to "save" them.

I ran a session against a vampire spawn with legendary actions, and it worked quite well!

Report here: http://the-gneech.livejournal.com/2469272.html

-The Gneech

Oh, I should update this.

CoS Spoilers:
My party steamrolled three night hags even with casting as a legendary action and using lair actions to summon dretches. Pure fate of the dice allowed them to break the coven, isolate the hags and beat them down one at a time. It was bonkers, they had like 4-5 critical hits in this massive 2 hour fight.

It went so well I'm adding these actions to other encounters. Right now I'm giving Izek Strazni lair actions. They just ran into him after leaving Blinsky's Toys with Ireena and managed to create a distraction (they are all non-human and Vallaki has a humans-only policy) by drawing attention to themselves as she ran with the children from the windmill. I'm super excited to chase them out of Vallaki at spear point - especially since they didn't get a chance to save the church.

Good to see some free 5e twin shadow stuff for 2016. ;)

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