Need help building a boss


Advice


So I've been sitting on this story for a long time and thought I'd finally get down to making this thing a reality. But I'm stumped on the boss...
I really like the "Cursed Lord/Dread Lord" template, and I'm looking to make a villain with it. This guy is the ruler of a large town, once a powerful human warrior for his people before turning on everyone. I had originally thought that I would make him a cleric of Asmodeus, buuut that was before I realized that the Cursed Lord template has a -4 to Wisdom...

What I originally wanted was for him to be a champion of Asmodeus and lead a cult that is subjugating his city.
What I need is a class for him that will be able to fight a gunslinger, ranger, a close ranged sorcerer, a cleric (maybe), and an armor master. The first three are really who I'm most worried about though.

Have 12 levels to play with, and I rolled his stats very well (10, 14, 14, 15, 15, 17). From the template he will get +4 to Str, Dex, Con, Int, and Cha, but -4 to Wis. Any ideas?


First, you'd typically use a stat array for an NPC, rather than rolling them. For an NPC with PC class levels, that would be 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, and 8 before modifiers for race or templates.

Second, I'm sure you're aware of this already, but a big boss battle should always include minions. Due to the action economy, a single monster is almost always easier to overcome than several lower level monsters of an equivalent CR.

With this in mind, I'd suggest keeping the template you want, making the big boss some type of heavy hitting melee character with good mobility, and giving him some support cultists of Asmodeus to buff and heal him in battle, or some devil allies to add chaos to the battlefield.

There's a bunch of interesting stuff in the Planar Adventures book which might be fun to throw at your players, such as the feat that grants Dimension Door, for example. It would tie in well with the Dimensional Assault, Dimensional Agility and the rest of the feat chain from Ultimate Combat, provided you can squeeze in the feats. I know I'd be terrified if I was a Gunslinger or Sorcerer facing a melee character that can Dimension Door into my face and full attack afterwards.


I'm actually fairly new to DMing, and this is just going to be a most likely 3 part offshoot from my DMs main story. The only DMing I've done is from a campaign book for a school club me and another teacher run, so I still need to grow a bit

So a swashbuckler maybe? Or if I need to be able to cast dimension door for that feat you mentioned, Magus?

I want the CR to be around 12-13 so of I give him minions I'll have to lower his level right?
The thing is then, if I want to have this character have that dimension door attack, he'll need to be either a lvl 12 monk or a 10 Magus and that would leave little room for his support right?

I very much like the idea and I would love to make it effective.


If you're new to GMing and are looking for advice on building encounters for a three part story, it'll help to know the average party level of your group will be. If you're aiming for a CR 11 boss (which is a 12th level NPC with PC class levels), your party should all be around 9th level to keep the fight challenging but winnable, or 8th level for a super tough battle. If they're all about 12th level, they will likely steamroll the boss. If they're under 8th level, there's a good risk of a TPK if the boss is particularly optimized or has good luck on rolls.

Especially if you're new to running multiple NPCs on the board during combat, you don't want to pick a crunchy class like magus that uses a variety of situational bonuses and buffs unless you're intimately familiar with the class. Unless you regularly play a magus and know their quirks backwards, it'll be easier to build a more static build such as a fighter or barbarian.

The particular feat I'm discussing, Flickering Step, only requires 9 ranks in Knowledge (Planes) as a prerequisite, and adds the Dimensional Agility feat chain to a Fighter's combat feat list, so it's basically built for a BAMF fighter (pun intended). Of course, that's just my knee-jerk reaction to your request, without having any specific knowledge of your group's typical tactics in combat.


I second minions. Pepper the field with level 10 fighters with 10 Constitution who rolled a one on hp every level so that they have a chance to hit but die very, very easily. Also have a few sargeants and one or two lieutenants.

Gunslingers only need a touch attack to hit, so high Dexterity, Dodge, and Deflection bonuses are your friend. If the boss has been the ongoing antagonist, it is reasonable for him to know the party's strengths and for him to have taken steps to counter them.

Does the ranger have an animal companion? How about the boss has a trained magical beast for it to fight? Is the ranger an archer? The Flickering Step is a good solution. So is a first-level wizard (or higher) minion with one scroll of invisibility and several scrolls of wall of force.

As for the close-ranged sorcerer, I suggest another first-level wizard with one scroll of invisibility and many scrolls of dispel magic who takes the readied action to counter the sorcerer's spells. Dispel magic won't work every time, but it'll probably divert the sorcerer's attention from the boss for a round or two.

Invisibility: For purposes of this spell, an attack includes any spell targeting a foe or whose area or effect includes a foe.

The walls of force won't cancel the invisibility because no foe will be in the area of effect, the AoE will be between foes. Neither will the dispel magic cancel it because the foe is not the target of the spell, the foe's spell is the target. That might seem like splitting hairs, but if you want the Boss Fight to last longer than two rounds, sometimes you have to be the DM and just make that ruling.


They will be about lvl 10 by the time I can get them to play this. The template I'm giving the boss will add an additional 2 CR to him, and I wanted to make this very challenging (my DM usually makes the boss fights +3 CR).

I'm okay at running multiple characters on a board as the module I've been running has had moments where I've had to. My biggest problem really is figuring out how to balance the fights, at least with carefully crafted NPCs.

Okay, I'm definitely going to have to use that. I think pairing that with a inspired blade swashbuckler might be good, as the +4 to int and cha will give him a large pool of panache to play with. They also rely on DeX a lot so it would be good to counter the gunslinger I think (maybe give him an enchanted item to give deflection bonus too).

The ranger has a wolf companion, yes. I was actually toying with the idea of giving the boss a "pet" or ally gifted by Asmodeus, though I'm not sure what.

I definitely like the idea of having wizard minions with scrolls to heckle them. How many fighters would you suggest on top of that?

And looking at the flickering step feat I think I'd like to have the boss at lvl 10 so he can use it at least twice.


Dread Lord template will give the boss one power per 3 HD, so he'll have 3 between 9th and 11th. It sounds like you definitely want Physical Mastery for the +4 profane bonus to physical stats, then I am guessing Fear Aura and Unquestioned Ruler for the thematic stuff.

The best class for dealing with your party would likely be a druid or something but that doesn't fit your plan for him to have been a warrior in the past (unless he became nature-oriented). Plus the Wisdom penalty would hurt. For a similar effect, you could still swap out Fear Aura for Plant Affinity and face the party in a garden, forest, or park.

Plant Affinity tactics:
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The Plant Affinity powers will use his boosted Charisma, rather than his lowered Wisdom (which would be what most casters using those spells and effects would use). His at-will entangle will hinder the PCs' movement and will give a –2 to attacks and a –4 to Dex (lowering their Reflex and AC obviously but that's also another –2 to attacks for the gunslinger and ranged attackers).

If he activates the trigger word on a liveoak spell he's placed on an oak tree sometime in the past (a free action if he can remember the words), that will give him a treant ally, which can then animate two more trees as slightly less effective treants. This will give him some muscle (and more importantly they'll have reach to attack into the entangled areas without being affected). Additionally, he can use plant growth overgrowth effect to lower the party's movement to 5 feet (10 for Large or larger creatures, like the treant) and that also increases the entangle's save DC by +4 in the area. Since the entangle makes the area difficult terrain and the plant growth reduces speed to 5 (unless the PCs are Large), that means it now requires a full-round action to move 5 feet (and it's not a five-foot step). This should slow and corral them considerably, allowing weaker minions and the boss a chance to ping at them with arrows or crossbows or throw alchemist's fire, etc.

As a fighter, some of the Weapon Training features are pretty interesting for making unique options. The Item Mastery talent would allow the fighter to use any magic weapon (presumably of a chosen weapon group) for one of the Item Mastery feats, whether it meets the normal item requirements or not (he would need some ranks of Use Magic Device to qualify). So from how I read it, with the Energy Mastery feat and any magic weapon, at his expected level he could cast two burning hands (of any energy type he chose) per day or one lightning bolt type energy attack. Or with Telekinetic Mastery he gets a once per day telekinesis that he could expend over time making trip or disarm attempts against entangled PCs while concentrating, or for a massive showy blast, can hurl up to 10 or so weapons at one target, making 10 attacks (really nice if this is done in an armory or there are several alchemical items laying about, like alchemist's fire, some acid, a tanglefoot bag, and some poisoned weapons he's scattered about or on shelves).
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Unquestioned Ruler's abilities can be used to charm or dominate the ranger's pet too, if not attack and hinder the party, at least make it run far, far away. Possibly into another trap (though an obvious one might allow a new save), but a lockable room or cage should work.

With minions, giving one of them an arrow catching shield (whether it comes from the BBEG's WBL or not, he is the ruler of the land) and keeping them near the boss will redirect any ranged attacks to them. This will free up the boss from worrying about the gunslinger or ranger (if ranged) until the minion drops, at which time he can order another to pick up and ready the shield. This only works against attacks with enhancement bonuses of +2 or less for most shields. Otherwise, if the boss knows they use more powerful weapons, a tower shield will work on up to +4 enhancement attacks. If the minion is a fighter, it can have taken Shield Focus and Missile Shield at low levels to both increase their AC against redirected attacks and they can automatically deflect one attack per round if it does hit them. They can go total defense or fight defensively to up their AC while they throw axes or javelins or more likely alchemist's fire (touch attack to help with their lowered attack).


Thanks for the advice! Definitely getting the unquestioned ruler ability cause that looks like fun (I really like the idea of messing with the ranger's wolf, it's like a running gag at this point).

Thanks for the fighter tips too. I'll be sure to try and play with those ideas.

Also, I double checked with the main DM about the conduit feats because I knew we weren't including one of the modules and that is apparently a part of said module so no flickering step. I'll need a new way to get close easily.

I do however have a way to help take care of the ranged attacks. Cut from air will be great to deflect all the attacks, and with combat reflexes I can deflect up to 8 attacks in 1 round if I roll well.

I was looking into counter spelling with dispelling magic btw, and I couldn't find any clear rules about it. Anyone able to explain?

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