Prevent boss battles from being ended immediately after bad save


Advice

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I recently GM'd for the first time and did a one shot at level 10. One of the PCs was a Wizard with the Babble spell. He targeted a boss enemy I had created and I rolled badly on the save. This basically took away all the suspension because as I understand it there is no way to get rid of the nauseated condition after that.

How can you as a GM make it so that if you fail 1 single save on a spell like Babble your encounter is not entirely ruined as a result? I'm having a hard time thinking of a balanced way that wouldn't ruin the fun of the player casting it, while at the same time making it so that a boss I worked very hard on is turned into a babbling idiot before it's easily killed by the party.

Thanks for any suggestions :)


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Have other mook enemies around, maybe some tasked with getting the boss out when things go wrong. Or maybe the boss has an ally who will cast Soothing Word on them.

Have the BBEG inaccessible in some way so that they can't be targeted in the first round. Simple distance would do as Babble has a range of 25' + 5'/2 levels, but there are more exotic options.

If the boss is obviously undead (or something else immune to mind-affecting) then they won't even try Babble.

Maybe the most dangerous creature around isn't an obvious thing.

Maybe rather than a boss you have a few equally dangerous enemies.


Once the party has dispatched the illusionary boss, the real one shows up with his entourage.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Well, having minions durring the fight helps with action economy, and having items or spells that grant immunity to certain effects helps with the save or suck abilities and spells.

If you feel that giving him immunity to a player's encounter ending ability/spell is too much, you might have luck with having a tough 'mini boss fight' before the big bad, and have some reason why they can not rest for eight hours after the mini boss. Sometimes the mini boss fight will end up being the harder fight, however, if the party knows that the big bad is next, since they want to save everything for the final fight. A way around this is tricking the players into believing that the mini boss is the big bad.


Well, the average adventuring day is supposed to be about four encounters. XD Quite frankly, PCs should never fight a boss until they've had at least three fights before it - this helps to drain some of their resources and make it a real challenge, because a fully-refreshed party will usually stomp right over anything that's realistic for their level.

As GM, you gotta play the long game. Simple attrition of the party's resources can do more to make boss fights challenging than trying to adjust the fight itself. XD Although minions do help, of course.


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Fantasty wrote:

I recently GM'd for the first time and did a one shot at level 10. One of the PCs was a Wizard with the Babble spell. He targeted a boss enemy I had created and I rolled badly on the save. This basically took away all the suspension because as I understand it there is no way to get rid of the nauseated condition after that.

How can you as a GM make it so that if you fail 1 single save on a spell like Babble your encounter is not entirely ruined as a result? I'm having a hard time thinking of a balanced way that wouldn't ruin the fun of the player casting it, while at the same time making it so that a boss I worked very hard on is turned into a babbling idiot before it's easily killed by the party.

Thanks for any suggestions :)

Simple. Don't use "boss" monsters. As a general rule, single monster encounters are bad encounter design.


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While that's true from a mechanics perspective, it's also true that boss monsters are kind of a staple of RPGs and a very iconic sort of thing.


Squiggit wrote:
While that's true from a mechanics perspective, it's also true that boss monsters are kind of a staple of RPGs and a very iconic sort of thing.

Boss monsters are a staple.

Lone bosses in a small featureless room with absolutely no allies or support...not so much.

Throw in some supporting fire with your BBEG, and add some relevant environmental features while you are at it. It will go a long way towards making the fight more memorable and less easy to shut down.


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This happened to us in RotRL, Karzoug rolled a 1 on his fort save vs. suffocate and was down for good shortly thereafter in a flurry of arrows.

It was kind of funny, but also an anticlimax. Still, seeing that 1 come up is a fond memory so I'm glad it wasn't rolled in private or fudged to extend that fight.


Snowblind wrote:
Squiggit wrote:
While that's true from a mechanics perspective, it's also true that boss monsters are kind of a staple of RPGs and a very iconic sort of thing.

Boss monsters are a staple.

Lone bosses in a small featureless room with absolutely no allies or support...not so much.

Throw in some supporting fire with your BBEG, and add some relevant environmental features while you are at it. It will go a long way towards making the fight more memorable and less easy to shut down.

Truth. Boss fights are much more epic when the boss is backed up by minions.


Have the boss use an illusion of themselves in some really exposed position, bam, highest level spell just wasted trying to baleful polymorph a figment.

You know exactly what the PCs are specialized in, why can't the boss have a lacky or a knowledge check that tells him what the party is good at "Look out for the wizards Feeblemind" so the boss picks up a magic item like a potion of restoration or maybe even a spell storing ring to counter it.

The boss should have lots of mooks and henchmen who try to 'bait out' the PCs big guns before he faces off with them. There's no sense in fighting on the PCs terms, have them fight on his.


Level 10 is a pretty hefty level to start GMing Pathfinder. I'd recommend running adventures at first level to get a better feel for all of the moving parts. I understand if this is a one time experiment or whatever, but the advice still stands.

A boss always sends in minions first and then presses the advantage. Single bosses can get merc'd pretty easily by an optimized party with a few favorable rolls or unfavorable saves as in your case.

Also, it is worth mentioning that sometimes you as a GM can fudge a roll if you feel it helps the game. Your mileage may vary.


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Sometimes bosses get punked. It happens, don't let it bother you, and move on.

Can't get attached to your NPCs.


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Fifth edition gives boss monsters a limited number of saves they can choose to succeed on. It is way more meta gamey, but I don't see why single opponents shouldn't remain part of the game.

Silver Crusade

Sissyl wrote:
Fifth edition gives boss monsters a limited number of saves they can choose to succeed on. It is way more meta gamey, but I don't see why single opponents shouldn't remain part of the game.

It does sound a bit metagamey. I'd imagine the casters just send expendable spells they don't expect to end the encounter with but are still okay if the enemy fails - stuff like Slow or Terrible Remorse, things like that. Then when you have counted the rounds it will always pass, hit it with the proper save or die like Possession.

I guess it makes battles last longer, but doesn't it mean in practice that the caster waits a few round before striking hard?


My DM uses a house rule where PCs and certain enemies get bonuses against certain 'terminal' effects (such as 'save-or-die' spells, or ones which have an equivalent effect in the particular circumstances, such as a lone BBEG getting nauseated, etc). PCs and 'sub-bosses' get a +4 on saves against such effects, and 'main bosses' get a +8.

I quite like the house rule, as it mitigates situations where PCs get hosed by a single bad roll, while also avoiding some of the anti-climatic battles that can occur when the primary antagonist fails an important save. I think it also subtly pushes PCs away from using 'save-or-die' spells and tactics, which I believe improves the game for everyone.

(My DM also uses hero points for the PCs, while giving important 'main bosses' an equivalent 'villain point' for them to use. It seems like he has been judicious about how he uses those, bringing them out when the enemy is on the ropes, rather than using it to spam hardcore spells right off the jump.)


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There are a few ways to handle this - as many have already suggested, nooks are a perfect answer to this.

For an NPC boss wizard of sufficient level or resources, I'd actually give him a *bunch* of simulacrums of himself and deliberately make it difficult to figure out which wizard is the real wizard. On top of that, giving nooks the ability to back up, heal, protect, etc, their boss is something that a prepared baddie *should* have in place. Magical alarms can give a big bad spellcaster ample time to begin a fight pre-buffed (just as the PC's will be.)

If you *have* to have a solo boss, though, I can't recommend enough the mythic monster rules. You can use mythic enemies without them creating an ascension event, and mythic foes have all sorts of tricks available at their disposal that should make them more deadly and more difficult to pin down.

The mythic simple templates are especially nice and very easy to tack on. Agile practically guarantees your big bad will act first, and its dual initiative granting two full sets of actions per round is golden. Invincible, on the other hand, makes an enemy that is very hard to injure and very difficult to shut down.

Whatever power that is granting these extraordinary abilities can easily be ruled as location- or event-based (the fruits of that horrible ritual that they've been performing, for instance, which can give your big bad the opportunity to monologue with a cheesy, "YOU'RE TOO LATE, HEROES, MY RITUAL IS NOW COMPLETE! AND YOU WILL BE THE FIRST TO TASTE MY POWER!)


A thought I had for this was the idea of layering the health of bosses (or any creature with X more HD than the PCs). As in, a save-or-die removes 1/4 of their "health", with the final blow (or charm, or swing or whatever) being the one that decides what happens to the boss after the fight. If using the +X HD route for deciding when it takes effect, tit could also be applied to PCs to allow them to more easily take on armies.

Silver Crusade

The Steel Refrain wrote:

My DM uses a house rule where PCs and certain enemies get bonuses against certain 'terminal' effects (such as 'save-or-die' spells, or ones which have an equivalent effect in the particular circumstances, such as a lone BBEG getting nauseated, etc). PCs and 'sub-bosses' get a +4 on saves against such effects, and 'main bosses' get a +8.

I quite like the house rule, as it mitigates situations where PCs get hosed by a single bad roll, while also avoiding some of the anti-climatic battles that can occur when the primary antagonist fails an important save. I think it also subtly pushes PCs away from using 'save-or-die' spells and tactics, which I believe improves the game for everyone.

(My DM also uses hero points for the PCs, while giving important 'main bosses' an equivalent 'villain point' for them to use. It seems like he has been judicious about how he uses those, bringing them out when the enemy is on the ropes, rather than using it to spam hardcore spells right off the jump.)

It does seem punitive to PCs whose whole set of abilities revolve around them getting good DCs up. With these bosses, what is the point in ever using SoD effects as they'll never fail anyway. Do all the casters in these games have middling casting scores and only use buff spells?

For that matter, do these bosses get massive +8 AC bonuses against the Fighter or Barbarian?

Bosses seem to be perfectly happy to use devastating effects against PCs - look at bosses in published APs, they are always using them, from Confusion and Cloudkill to Blasphemy and Wail of the Banshee. Do the bosses in these games only use buffs too?


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0o0o0 O 0o0o0 wrote:
It does seem punitive to PCs whose whole set of abilities revolve around them getting good DCs up.

I think that's kind of the point. Effective use of high DC SoS spells makes encounters boring.

0o0o0 O 0o0o0 wrote:
With these bosses, what is the point in ever using SoD effects as they'll never fail anyway.

So don't use those effects on bosses. Use them on the minions.

0o0o0 O 0o0o0 wrote:
For that matter, do these bosses get massive +8 AC bonuses against the Fighter or Barbarian?

An effective boss is likely to have high AC or good hit points or similar to stop a martial character defeating them in a single round.


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I think the easiest solution is to simply give "boss" NPCs hero points.


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Matthew Downie wrote:
0o0o0 O 0o0o0 wrote:
It does seem punitive to PCs whose whole set of abilities revolve around them getting good DCs up.
I think that's kind of the point. Effective use of high DC SoS spells makes encounters boring.

I agree. But not nearly as boring as trying to kill a boss via hit point attrition.

I think I've noticed something, here, and in other threads. You consider competent, tactically sophisticated characters to produce boring play, because such characters deal with encounters quickly and efficiently. "Effective," I believe, is the word you used.

You therefore think that the Game Master should arbitrarily nerf the characters actions to turn them into the Keystone Kops.

I'm afraid we're simply going to have to disagree on this. I feel that arbitrarily removing character agency because otherwise your imaginary dragon's feelings might get hurt is the literal antithesis of fun.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

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The obvious solution is to give the boss a number of mooks or flunkies. As long as they're tactical enough to not all stand in a 20' circle, this means save-or-lose spells are no longer a problem.

One boss vs. five or six PCs is a bad setup because of action economy alone.


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Matthew Downie wrote:
0o0o0 O 0o0o0 wrote:
It does seem punitive to PCs whose whole set of abilities revolve around them getting good DCs up.
I think that's kind of the point. Effective use of high DC SoS spells makes encounters boring.

I agree. But not nearly as boring as trying to kill a boss via hit point attrition.

I think I've noticed something, here, and in other threads. You consider competent, tactically sophisticated characters to produce boring play, because such characters deal with encounters quickly and efficiently. "Effective," I believe, is the word you used.

You therefore think that the Game Master should arbitrarily nerf the characters actions to turn them into the Keystone Kops.

I'm afraid we're simply going to have to disagree on this. I feel that arbitrarily removing character agency because otherwise your imaginary dragon's feelings might get hurt is the literal antithesis of fun.

To each their own, but Matthew Downie's conception of enjoyment matches what my groups have enjoyed over the course of my 25+ years of gaming. We're all optimizers for the most part, but we also like challenging encounters. All of the battles we still fondly reminisce over years after the fact are the tough ones we survived by the skin of our teeth; ROFLstomp fights that end in the first turn because someone failed a save are mostly forgettable. Even the ones we joke about "lol remember the time when the BBEG who tormented the party over the course of the campaign died in the 1st round because he failed his save?" are discussed with a tinge of regret.


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Don't for gods sake do the SOS spells are impossible to use route if you wanna talk about sapping the fun out of things nerf one characters skill set into oblivion.

The vast majority of the time these problems are solved simply by having multiple enemies, particularly condition removal enemies or better yet varied enemies there are monsters immune to mind effecting, monsters immune to negative levels just like there are monsters immune to trip or fire or with high DR just use a variety of different monsters and enemies and suddenly casters have to think about which spell to use and sometimes won't have the answer.

Don't for gods sake reduce all casters to being buffers or blasters because soon enough youll find that either they are bored of just buffing their friends who are allowed to have fun or that someone makes a good blaster and you'll find yourself back on the forums asking how to nerf the sorc that just melted the last boss and all his mooks with him.

Allso starting off with a one-shot at level 10 is always going to be difficult if you and your players don't like the early game try starting at 4 most classes have some good toys by that point but most of the game breaking stuff isn't online yet


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Pathfinder Maps Subscriber

This is precisely why I *don't* bother trying to boost my save DCs. Instead I'll invest in pearls of power and other things that give me another shot. I'm going to need the boss to roll a 1 anyway because the GM is cheati... HOUSE ruling things so that bosses don't fail saves like this anyway.

EDIT2: Thanks to sideromancer for showing me how to fix the strikethrough


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Xexyz wrote:


To each their own, but Matthew Downie's conception of enjoyment matches what my groups have enjoyed over the course of my 25+ years of gaming. We're all optimizers for the most part, but we also like challenging encounters. All of the battles we still fondly reminisce over years after the fact are the tough ones we survived by the skin of our teeth; ROFLstomp fights that end in the first turn because someone failed a save are mostly forgettable. Even the ones we joke about "lol remember the time when the BBEG who tormented the party over the course of the campaign died in the 1st round because he failed his save?" are discussed with a tinge of regret.

I gotta say that my players and I are different. We remember the outliers more than the slogs. If the BBEG goes down with a save of 1, we'll remember that more than if we whittled him down bit by bit (and probably tease the GM endlessly about it because he rolled the 1). Actually, it'll probably be the teasing that will help us remember it.


SlimGauge wrote:

This is precisely why I *don't* bother trying to boost my save DCs. Instead I'll invest in pearls of power and other things that give me another shot. I'm going to need the boss to roll a 1 anyway because the GM is [strikethrough]cheati[/strikethrough]... HOUSE ruling things so that bosses don't fail saves like this anyway.

EDIT: There's no strikethrough flag ?

it uses (s) rather than (strikethrough). I'm helpful guys!!!


I personally like the single boss monster setup. I don't use it all the time but one every few levels is pretty fun. A mini boss dropping every once in a while on round 1 can be funny but a big climatic boss doing so is not. 5e legendary rules are actually a nice in between from invulnerability and well that happened.

Legendary Rules
1. X(typically 3) times per day on failing a save MAY treat it as a successful save. This is very easily comparable to the many reroll powers the players have available
2. Gain 1 legendary action per round. Each legendary creature has 1-4 different attacks/abilities that count as legendary actions. Typically includes a movement ability, an aoe attack, and a single target attack.

None of this is automatic and even if you implement it as the dm you decide how they use it. It makes save or sucks still useful, helps fix the action economy, and stops fights from being over round 1.

Flunkies on the other hand don't fix the save or suck issue(though they do certainly fix action economy). Either you let the boss die to save or suck OR you grant them effective immunity via minion effect removal.

Silver Crusade

I don't think the massive boost to bosses' saves goes far enough. Witch should be banned because the entire point of the class is save or suck. Paladin should be banned because they are designed to nova on evil bosses. Summoning classes should be banned because they can tie up the minions while the adults concentrate on the boss.

The suggestion of Mythic isn't bad though, especially things like Dual Inititaitve and the ability to have a couple of surges to get them over the line a couple of times.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I can sympathize with players who might feel cheated out of their win because the GM overruled a blown save for their BBEG. There are 2 ways around this that I can suggest:

1) roll behind a screen then they won't see your save of 1 and know it was blown

2) let the players know ahead of time that you have a rule in place to narratively save important NPCs and extend encounters AND offer compensation for it. Mutants and Masterminds used to award hero points if the GM used fiat to save his NPCs (the process is a bit less formal now). This is a good reason to give out a hero point or something like 5e's inspiration - to compensate the player for thwarting him via fiat with something he can then use as his own narrative boost.


0o0o0 O 0o0o0 wrote:
Witch should be banned because the entire point of the class is save or suck.

Not sure if I'd go so far as to ban the Witch, but the Slumber hex has made short work out of quite a few encounters.


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Sundakan wrote:

Sometimes bosses get punked. It happens, don't let it bother you, and move on.

Can't get attached to your NPCs.

Speaking as a GM, it isn't about being attached to an NPC.

It is about having a long, interesting adventure end with a flump. I don't want my players to be thinking, "That was it?"


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I'm not sure 5e's solution is the best, but I can say from lots of Pathfinder experience that extra enemies is not the answer either. Extra enemies definitely makes boss encounters more interesting and longer, but my optimized players still immediately focus the boss and take them out in one round, sometimes before the boss can go. After a full campaign of this, I actually asked them nicely to just not make characters of that strength in the next game and that worked, believe it or not.

The one shot effect also isn't exclusive to SoS/SoD spells. While a typical martial needs something like pounce to have a chance, an archer can do it just fine. I had an extremely powerful archer in my Runelords game (anniversary edition) that routinely killed major challenges before they even acted. If I put in countermeasures, other party members would undo those and we'd still be back to square one. For Karzoug, I needed the fight to be epic. He put up a wind wall that looped back in on itself. So round 1, the archer didn't hit him, round 2, the archer only moved up enough to get past the first wind wall. Round 3, karzoug still had some DR and he had protection from appropriate energies and a globe of invulnerability to deal with the rest of the party. The encounter went perfectly and everyone loved it. Nobody complained about removing player agency.

Making solo encounters fun and lengthy is something I'm working on in my custom rules. These are my basic feelings on the techniques mentioned in the thread:

- Extra enemies: great! But unfortunately it isn't a solo encounter any more
- Clone/simulacrum/illusion: These are some of the best solutions for solo encounters in my eye. Two problems though. Not every solo encounter has these as options; in fact, most don't. Also, repeated use of these techniques will get old fast.
- Increasing saves/AC: this feels sneaky. My main issue though is that it encourages even more min-maxing and punished those who don't min-max at all. I'd still like Bards and other 6th level casters to have a chance to have their attacks and spells do something.
- SoS/SoD spells do percentage hit point damage. This is a good idea. I kind of like it. But I think we can do better.
- Hero Points: this is the best solo encounter official Pathfinder rules solution, IMO. I have used it quite a lot.

My WIP solution:

Miniboss Template

Challenge Rating: Same as base creature +1
Requirement: Creature must be encountered alone
Shrug it Off: Once per encounter, can convert a failed save to a success. Doing so on a spell with no secondary effect applies the shaken condition to the miniboss. If already shaken, applies sickened. A GM could alternatively apply an effect appropriate to the effect. For example, a failed petrification could have partially succeeded and act as a slow spell

Boss Template

Challenge Rating: Same as base creature +1
Requirement: Creature must be encountered alone
Shrug it Off: As miniboss, three times per encounter
Two initiatives: Boss rolls initiative normally. After the surprise round, the boss acts normally on their initiative, and also gets an extra standard action each round once half the PCs have acted. This extra action should not be the same as their normal action unless they have no choice. For example, no stacking wails of the banshee to easily wipe out a party.

-----

Perfect? Probably not. But it feels alright to me. I need to think on it more. In the meantime, as this is the advice forum, my tl;dr is to use hero points. And you know what, sometimes your PCs have earned that one shot. Maybe it's the end of a long night of gaming and you're already running over on time. Boom one shot. It won't be fulfilling as a GM, but judge how your players are feeling.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

If the players don't want fights to end with one botched save, then they should use things that don't end fights on a failed save.

If the GM doesn't want the climax to end with one botched save, he needs to use more than one enemy and include ways for the enemy to recover.

Naturally, as the levels increase, covering all the contingencies is exponentially more difficult.


Pathfinder Maps Subscriber
Saldiven wrote:
I don't want my players to be thinking, "That was it?"

How about thinking "YES ! I finally landed Phantasmal Killer and made it stick !" (that one's particularly hard because the target has to fail two saves, so about 1 in 400).


Bill Dunn wrote:

I can sympathize with players who might feel cheated out of their win because the GM overruled a blown save for their BBEG. There are 2 ways around this that I can suggest:

1) roll behind a screen then they won't see your save of 1 and know it was blown

2) let the players know ahead of time that you have a rule in place to narratively save important NPCs and extend encounters AND offer compensation for it. Mutants and Masterminds used to award hero points if the GM used fiat to save his NPCs (the process is a bit less formal now). This is a good reason to give out a hero point or something like 5e's inspiration - to compensate the player for thwarting him via fiat with something he can then use as his own narrative boost.

This is only a palatable idea if you're handing out the M&M hero points and not the Pathfinder ones.

A Pathfinder Hero point is not a commensurate reward for having the GM fiat your abilities into uselessness whenever convenient. All of the effects are by design hefty but not gamechanging mechanical bonuses.

A Mutant and Masterminds Hero Point gives you the same narrative power the GM has for part of a scene. Being able to conveniently edit the area to have the thing you need or pull a new power out of your ass to solve the current scenario.


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Sundakan wrote:
This is only a palatable idea if you're handing out the M&M hero points and not the Pathfinder ones.

It took me til the end of your post to realize you didn't mean candy M&Ms lol


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drumlord wrote:
Sundakan wrote:
This is only a palatable idea if you're handing out the M&M hero points and not the Pathfinder ones.
It took me til the end of your post to realize you didn't mean candy M&Ms lol

I read something about palatable M&Ms and just imagined the rest of the post so I'm still thinking of candies.

Sovereign Court

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I like the idea of boss fights feeling special, and I don't want to have to use bodyguards every time. I do like some of the "shrug it off" ideas, but what about this?

To shrug off an effect, the boss must sacrifice one of its running effects that the players have already noticed. This could be the boss "losing control of his Hold Person spell on the fighter" while shrugging off a Slumber hex, or "throwing the energy of the Stoneskin" into the the Disintegrate spell to block the worst of it.

The aim here is to give the boss a measure of endurance, but we don't want it to look like a long HP vs HP grind, so if he wants to shrug something off he has to be seen to sacrifice something else.


I figure if you give players M&Ms to stand in for hero points, there's a good chance they'll never get cashed in. It's like the Stanford Marshmallow experiment: expert version.


Welcome to PFS rocket tag. The game where initiative and a poor roll means death on round 1 before you act.


My solution to this is to give my 'bosses' hero points with some custom rules. They can use these hero points to reroll failed saves and get extra actions.

My players already have hero points of their own so it isn't like I'm letting the bosses cheat.


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Ascalaphus wrote:

I like the idea of boss fights feeling special, and I don't want to have to use bodyguards every time. I do like some of the "shrug it off" ideas, but what about this?

To shrug off an effect, the boss must sacrifice one of its running effects that the players have already noticed. This could be the boss "losing control of his Hold Person spell on the fighter" while shrugging off a Slumber hex, or "throwing the energy of the Stoneskin" into the the Disintegrate spell to block the worst of it.

The aim here is to give the boss a measure of endurance, but we don't want it to look like a long HP vs HP grind, so if he wants to shrug something off he has to be seen to sacrifice something else.

That's pretty interesting. It also means that, potentially speaking, this ability can be countered (if you Greater Dispel all his buffs, for instance) meaning it's not a binary f$*+ you defense in multiple ways.


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I do think that "giving bosses hero points for rerolls" is going to distort the game somewhat, since if players know that the bosses are sitting on a reroll or two, they're probably not going to rely on "save and nothing happens, fail and you die" effects, and indeed may not bother with them. Alternatively, they may hold back the big guns for when they estimate the boss is out of "villain points."

Silver Crusade

That's what I guessed happens in 5e upthread, Cabbage (though I don't play that system). Spend a couple of rounds spamming bad effects, then hit them with something killer on the 3rd or 4th round.

Can any 5e players confirm or not that happens?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Eh, that's just...kind of how the dice go sometimes. I'd be wary of giving bosses special tricks, since the players might feel like their abilities were just arbitrarily overridden because you want the fight to last longer.

If you don't want to add extra enemies (having some backup is a good idea for most big bads), maybe give them invisibility or mirror image? The party has to be able to see/pinpoint them to target them with most save or die spells. (Sure, spells can mark them out anyway, but it depends on the makeup of your party. And they still have to spend a turn casting see invisibility or true seeing or whatnot.)

And sometimes the short fights are the most memorable. For example, in the Serpent's Skull game I played in, my cavalier spent a lot of money on a vorpal sword (you can probably see where this is going).

When we fought

Spoiler:
Ydersius

cavalier rolled a 20 on the second round of combat. Boss rolled a 1 on the save to resist getting his head chopped off.

Anticlimactic? Sure, a bit. But it was funny, and kind of cinematic and fitting, really, and we still talk about it as a cool fight even though it didn't last that long. So players won't necessarily find a quick fight unsatisfying.


Saldiven wrote:
It is about having a long, interesting adventure end with a flump. I don't want my players to be thinking, "That was it?"

If the final boss battle was boring and too short, than it wasn't the final boss - have the "real" one show up an go all "congratulations heroes, you've slain my faithful minion - now let's see how you fare against a real challenge!" on the PCs.

Bacondale wrote:
Not sure if I'd go so far as to ban the Witch, but the Slumber hex has made short work out of quite a few encounters.

Sure, but Slumber is basically the easiest effect to end - have the next minion move to the boss and rouse him as a standard action.


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Our table gives "bad guy points" to bosses. Basically the equivalent of hero points, they form a limited pool to make sure the bosses don't die to a single poor roll.

It's a pretty darn good solution imo. Doesn't feel like cheating because the players expect it, it's limited, and the players have their own. When I played a char focused on save or dies and save or sucks, I felt condident that with persitence I could overwhelm the bosses, instead of having to always expect bosses who would only fail saves on nat 1s (and then suspect the GM would cheat if not rolled in the open).

Illusory double is, imo, rather lame unless the context makes it predictable.


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drumlord wrote:

Boss Template

Challenge Rating: Same as base creature +1
Requirement: Creature must be encountered alone
Shrug it Off: As miniboss, three times per encounter
Two initiatives: Boss rolls initiative normally. After the surprise round, the boss acts normally on their initiative, and also gets an extra standard action each round once half the PCs have acted. This extra action should not be the same as their normal action unless they have no choice. For example, no stacking wails of the banshee to easily wipe out a party.

That's pretty much the 5e solution -__-

Goblin_Preist wrote:
Illusory double is, imo, rather lame unless the context makes it predictable.

Yeah adding illusions every time makes it predictable and annoying. If your going to do that just go ahead and make it a multiple stage boss

0o0o0 O 0o0o0 wrote:


That's what I guessed happens in 5e upthread, Cabbage (though I don't play that system). Spend a couple of rounds spamming bad effects, then hit them with something killer on the 3rd or 4th round.

Can any 5e players confirm or not that happens?

I can confirm that it doesn't happen. The point is that the boss doesn't HAVE to use the rerolls. It can choose to accept lesser effects akin to how players do. As for not relying on save or die I have still had several players run save or die characters to good effect. Since I didn't have to increase the saving throws to sky high they could exhaust his rerolls consistently within the first 2 or 3 rounds if they had saved their spell slots. Also will point out that even if the dm does use the rerolls every time that still extends the boss fight by several rounds. Have been using 5e legendary rules in pathfinder for about 2 months after release. Also have done 3 5e campaigns.

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