Final Battle vs Karzoug (Spoilers)

Rise of the Runelords

So, I started this a few years back with my face to face group, and we made it pretty far (a little over halfway through Runeforge) before we reached a point where they wanted to take a break for a different game, and we never got back to it. A few weeks back, a couple of players brought up the idea of doing the final battle against Karzoug. They want to go in, full power, and see if they can beat him. The party consists of:

1. A wizard, with another wizard cohort (probably fairly optimized)
2. A Two-Weapon Fighter (Sword and Shield) with a Life Oracle cohort (Good optimization)
3. A Swashbuckler with the Musketeer archetype (not super optimized)
4. An Unchained Rogue (....maybe not optimized? I could never figure it out)
5. A Druid/Green Faith Initiate with a tiger animal companion (super optimized)

The wizard's player told me to beef up the encounter, since he said he and the fighter's player expect Karzoug to last maybe 2 rounds if they don't get a surprise round (I'm not sure why they think they'll get a surprise round). I was already planning on toughening the encounter up regardless because of optimization, but given their level of confidence, I toughened it up a little more. I'd like people's feedback on if you think I've made it too difficult, or if you think I need to do more.

Here's what I'm doing for the fight in general:

1) First, Max HP for everything. The damage I expect the fighter to be able to put out requires it.
2) I've added a Hallowed Lynx (courtesy of Book 6 of Return of the Runelords) to the battle as Karzoug's favored pet and guardian. I figure it'll add another dimension to the fight if anyone looks like they might be able to get close enough to melee him.
3) I'm adding two Tomb Giants, with +4 full plate and sihedron rings, to increase the side numbers. I figure if they kill a storm giant, the tomb giant can just animate the corpse of the storm giant, and Karzoug gets extra minons.
4) I reworked the blue dragon's feats to give him Flyby Attack and Improved Grapple. Figure he might be able to separate a caster out from the group and neutralize them for a bit.

As for Karzoug himself, I've reworked his feat and spell selections a bit, given him two traits (I know NPCs usually don't have them, but I decided to add them in this case), applied the Advanced simple template once...and given him a single mythic Archmage tier. With that Archmage tier, he gets the following:

1. Mythic Spellcasting (I chose Mythic Contingency for him)
2. Arcane Surge (1 Mythic Point to cast a spell as a swift action without expending the spell slot)
3. 5 Mythic Points
4. Mythic surge +1d6
5. Mythic Improved Initiative (Add tier to Initiative, spend 1 Mythic Point to treat Initiative roll as a natural 20)

Here is the stat block.


Karzoug the Claimer CR 23
Male advanced Azlanti transmuter 20/archmage 1
NE Medium humanoid (human)
Init +16; Senses arcane sight, darkvision 60 ft, see invisibility, Perception +24
AC 41, touch 24, flat-footed 32 (+6 armor, +5 deflection, +9 Dex, +7 natural, +4 shield)
HP 435 (473) (20d6+353)
Fort +22, Ref +20, Will +21; +8 vs mind-affecting
Defensive Abilities freedom of movement; Immune disease, confusion effects, feeblemind; SR 24
Speed 30 ft; fly 60 ft (perfect)
Melee Karzoug’s Burning Glaive +24/+19 (1d10+18/x3 plus 1d6 fire)
Melee Talons of Leng +22/+17 (1d4+15/x3)
Special Attacks mythic power (5/day, surge +1d6)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 20th, Concentration +35)
At-will - change shape (beast shape III/elemental body II), 20 rounds/day
16/day - telekinetic fist (1d4+10 bludgeoning)
Spells Prepared (CL 20th, Concentration +35)
9th (9/day) - quickened baleful polymorph (DC 32, 2), crushing hand, reach mage’s disjunction (DC 34), time stop (2), wail of the banshee (DC 36), wish (2)
8th (9/day) - quickened dimension door (2), horrid wilting (DC 35), maze, mind blank, polymorph any object (DC 35), prismatic wall (DC 33), temporal stasis (DC 35, 2)
7th (9/day) - finger of death (DC 34), forcecage (DC 32), quickened haste, quickened lightning bolt (DC 28), limited wish (2), reverse gravity (2), spell turning
6th (10/day) - disintegrate (DC 33, 2), flesh to stone (DC 33), globe of invulnerability, greater dispel magic (2), repulsion (DC 31), quickened resist energy, sign of wrath (DC 31), true seeing
5th (10/day) - baleful polymorph (DC 32), cloudkill (DC 32), cone of cold (DC 30), quickened magic missile (3), quickened shield, telekinesis (DC 32, 2), wall of force
4th (10/day) - bestow curse (DC 31), black tentacles, enervation (2), ice storm (DC 29, 2), mass reduce person (DC 31, 2), scrying, solid fog
3rd (10/day) - blink, dispel magic, fireball (DC 28), keen edge, greater magic weapon, protection from energy, slow (DC 30, 2), stinking cloud (DC 30), vampiric touch
2nd (11/day) - blindness/deafness (DC 29), false life, glitterdust (DC 29), pyrotechnics (DC 29, 2), resist energy (3), scorching ray (2), shatter (DC 27)
1st (11/day) - alarm, enlarge person, expeditious retreat, grease (DC 28), ray of enfeeblement (DC 28, 5), reduce person (DC 28, 2)
0 (at will) - acid splash, flare (DC 25), mage hand, prestidigitation, touch of fatigue (DC 27)
Thassilonian Specialization transmutation Opposition Schools enchantment, illusion
Before Combat Karzoug casts mind blank and false life at the start of every day. When he knows the PCs are preparing to enter the Eye of Avarice (thanks to the sihedron medallions), he casts resist energy (fire, acid, electricity) and quickened resist energy (cold), expends a wish to cast spell immunity (greater dispel magic, cloudkill, flesh to stone, baleful polymorph, dominate person), expends a limited wish and one charge of the quicken rod to cast project image of himself seated on his throne. He then uses his arcane bond to cast undead body iv, turning into a ghostly version of himself and hides in the wall behind the throne just before the party enters.
During Combat Karzoug starts combat hidden in the wall behind his throne, using the image seated upon his immense throne to speak and cast spells, and strives to remain out of melee for as long as possible. On the first round of combat, he casts reach mage’s disjunction then uses his rod of greater quicken metamagic to cast time stop as a quickened spell. During the 1d4+1 rounds he gains, he casts spells like prismatic wall, wall of force, cloudkill, and solid fog among the PCs to disrupt their tactics, and casts defensive spells on himself like spell turning, true seeing, and globe of invulnerability. He’ll also use his wand of stoneskin upon himself during this time. He’ll repeat this tactic on the second round (pairing a quickened time stop with horrid wilting this time around), to finish casting any spells he didn’t get a chance to cast the first time. On the following rounds, Karzoug hits the PCs with area-affecting spells like wail of the banshee and finger of death, saving spells like temporal stasis and maze to use against anyone who seems particularly dangerous. Karzoug’s glaive takes actions on its own, as well, unleashing fireballs on non-spellcasters and curing Karzoug of wounds whenever he drops below 220 HP. If it comes down to melee, Karzoug releases his glaive to dance as soon as possible, fighting with his talons and using quickened spells like lightning bolt and magic missile to support his attacks. Whenever he drops below 200 hit points (or otherwise suffers a crippling effect), he casts wish to restore himself and his living allies to full health.
Morale Karzoug has nowhere to flee to - he fights to the death.
Str 28, Dex 28, Con 32, Int 40, Wis 19, Cha 26
Base Atk +10/+5; CMB +19; CMD 41
Traits Reactionary, magical lineage (mage’s disjunction)
Feats Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Craft Wand, Craft Wondrous Item, Eschew Materials, Greater Spell Focus (conjuration, necromancy, Transmutation), Improved Initiative (M), Martial Weapon Proficiency, Quicken Spell, Reach Spell, Scribe Scroll, Spell Focus (conjuration, necromancy, transmutation), Toughness
Skills Bluff +28, Craft (alchemy) +38, Diplomacy +28, Fly +40, Intimidate +28, Knowledge (arcana, engineering, history, nature, nobility, planes, religion) +38, Perception +24, Sense Motive +24, Spellcraft +41, Use Magic Device +28
Languages Abyssal, Aklo, Aquan, Auran, Azlanti, Draconic Elven, Giant, Ignan, Infernal, Necril, Sylvan, Terran, Thassilonian; tongues
SQ arcane bond (glaive), arcane surge, exceptional stats, immortal, inherent bonuses, mythic contingency, mythic spellcasting, permanent spells, physical enhancement +5 Con
Combat Gear rod of greater quicken metamagic, wand of blood money (33 charges), wand of dispel magic (CL 10th, 40 charges), wand of magic missile (CL 9th, 24 charges), wand of stoneskin (CL 10th, 17 charges) Other Gear Karzoug’s burning glaive, talons of leng, belt of physical might +6 (Str, Dex), implanted ioun stones (3 crimson spheres, 12 emerald ellipsoids, 3 onyx rhomboids, 5 amber spindles), ring of protection +5, ring of freedom of movement, robes of Xin-Shalast, runewell amulet, sihedron tome, ruby inscribed with the sign of wrath worth 1,000 gp (focus for sign of wrath), ruby dust worth 1,500 gp (material component for forceage), vial of powdered gemstones worth 10,000 gp (for temporal stasis), eye ointment worth 500 gp (for true seeing), 75,000 gp in diamonds for wish/limited wish
Mythic Contingency (Sp) Karzoug has three different contingent spells ready. First, if Karzoug ever becomes affected by a hostile spell effect that prevents him from acting on his own, that spell effect is targeted by a greater dispel magic spell. Second, if an attack would reduce Karzoug’s hit points below 100, a heal spell (CL 20th) automatically casts to heal his wounds. The heal spell came from a limited wish. Third, if any of Karzoug’s items are targeted by a mage’s disjunction spell, that spell is automatically countered by a greater dispel magic spell.
Exceptional Stats (Ex) Karzoug was destined from birth to become one of the greatest wizards of his age. As a result, his ability scores were generated using a 25 point buy, rather than the standard 15 point buy NPCs are usually created with. Additionally, Karzoug has much more gear than an NPC of his level would normally have. These modifications increase his total CR by +2.
Immortal (Ex) Secrets from ancient Thassilon and the realm of Leng have allowed Karzoug to sustain his life indefinitely. Unless slain by violent means, he is immortal. He gains a +3 bonus to Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma for reaching venerable age, yet retains the youth of a young man and does not take penalties to Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution. This immortality also grants Karzoug complete immunity to disease and to all forms of madness (including confusion effects and feeblemind).
Inherent Bonuses (Ex) Karzoug has used wish spells to increase his stats. He has a +5 bonus to Intelligence and +4 bonus to his other five ability scores.
Permanent Spells (Sp) Karzoug has made the following spells permanent on himself: arcane sight, darkvision, see invisibility, and tongues.

My plan for when combat starts is to use Mythic Improved Initiative to make sure Karzough goes first, since I don't think any of my players will be able to hit a +16 Initiative mod, then cast mage's disjunction at the party, modified by the Reach Metamagic feat to give it the range, with the goal being to suppress their magic items and knock out some buff spells, not permanently break anything. I would then cast the spells in the order they are presented in the book, but using the projected image as the point of origin for his spell casting, since he'll be hiding in the wall behind his throne.

So, what do you think? Too easy, too hard, just right?

Dark Archive

Eh 5 players on cohort and two optimized characters who are overconfident and requested more difficult encounter?

Just tell them that you can redo encounter if they want to take their words back :D

But yeah, if you are running essentially an oneshot, (aka skipping everything from runeforge to finale) then it should be fine no matter how difficult it is.

That said, quickened save or die spells with buffed DCs might not be fun for the less optimized characters.

I'm going to give them the dominant runeforged weapon enchantment they're supposed to get from Runeforge, so their weapons can absorb up to 3 harmful transmutation effects each. I figure that'll cover the quickened save or die spells, since they're all part of the Transmutation school.

It's also 5 players and two cohorts - although the life oracle will mostly be serving as a hit point battery for the fighter due to shield other, I'm sure.

Thanks for looking at it. I just want to make sure it's not going to be too hard for them.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I take it that you are skipping the part where they have to scale Mhar Massif and make their way through the Pinnacle of Avarice? And that the party is entering the Eye of Avarice completely rested and with all daily abilities completely refreshed?

Yes to both. The game died in Runeforge because the dungeon crawling wore the players out. Scaling Mhar and going through the Pinnacle of Avarice would just drag it out. I'm going to narrate that part, and they go in fully rested with all daily abilities.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Yikes, then Special K certainly needs some help. The Pinnacle is supposed to reduce the party's resources (both daily and otherwise).

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

How about moving Viorian Dekanti into the Eye? And possibly Ceoptra too? Other possibilities include Khalib and the denizens of Leng.

In addition to the tomb giants and Hallowed Lynx I added already?

Viorian and Ceoptra might not be a bad idea, though.

I'm with Bellona. You know your party better than we do, but a fully rested and optimized party with dominant weapons is likely to shrug their way through this encounter until K uses his wish to bring everyone back. The nice part about the stage you've set is that if mythic K, the lynx, and tomb giants aren't enough, it's not impossible for one or more of Bellona's suggestions to show up the same way the party did. You have real time and plausible control of how hard things are. Even if only one shows up in the same spot the PCs did, the party is likely to spend some resources to prevent any more from showing up, especially if your narration allows for a hint or two that more are available to show up. The threat of an enemy is sometimes just as good as the real thing!

I think I'm going to move Viorian into the Eye of Avarice, and have Ceoptra and Khalib ready to move in if they're needed.

Hmmm...since the Storm Giants are controlled by the Rune Giant, and it says that if the Storm Giants are removed from their domination effects they would aid the PCs, I can bring in Ceoptra and Khalib if that happens early in the fight - particularly if the PCs use their dominant weapons to enter the Eye of Avarice. They won't expect any enemies coming from behind them.

Thanks for the advice, guys!

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