One-Shot Fighting an adult white dragon


Advice


Hi all,

I am running a one shot for a party of 7 level 10 characters with the boss being an adult white dragon. Am. I correct in thinking that if it was the party vs just the dragon the encounter would be considered a trivial encounter?

Do you have any advice on running this fight with just the dragon or should I add some additional enemies.

Thank you in advance
A new GM


Yeah, a lone creature the same level as the party would be a trivial encounter for a normal part of 4. You're party is nearly twice as large, and therefore needs nearly twice as much challenge.
How tough do you want this fight to be?


Pretty tough, I'm setting it in the Lost Age of my homebrew world and its the first dragon encountered and possibly killed by the mortal races.

Outside of making the dragon Elite I'm not sure what I could add to the fight that won't break world lore, I've boxed myself in from the sounds of it.


Versus a prepared party (fire, ranged or flying, maybe cold resistance, & lots of healing) it'd be a cakewalk. It'd hardly be worth running.

If the party lacked most of those components, it might be more competitive, but Level 10 PCs are equal to a Level 10 monster (even if monsters are on the maximum end of the scale) so if even 2 or 3 PCs were ready & able, they'd win w/ little doubt or drama.
That really is a 7v1 battle.

If it's a true one shot (who cares who dies), then you might even boost it up to an Ancient White Dragon, most likely w/ the weak template, but maybe not.
If a one-shot in between larger arcs (as in you're using recurring PCs), then maybe the same, but w/ lots of forewarning and opportunity to equip to suit, but only if the dragon has campaign significance (a name & history, and whose death will impact the world). That is because that dragon will focus all of its hate on one PC at a time to devastating effect.
BUT given the party size, I'd recommend numbers of enemies; preferably with terrain & abilities that prevent Fireball dominance. So maybe not cold-themed ones, but maybe Hill Giants (up on ledges?).

The guidelines are mostly reliable. With a group of 7, the troubles are about map layout so there aren't choke points keeping some from playing and about focused fire. A boss, by nature, automatically focuses fire so can be more severe (at least vs. the first PC!) than its rating states. In turn, a well-run party will focus fire too and demolish any overconfident target.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I'd go a mating pair of Adult White Dragons (80xp) 4 Young White Dragons (40xp) and 5 lvl 8 Hazards that would make the environment interesting or threatening (snow drifts over jagged rocks, icicles the dragons can knock from the ceiling to deal large damage in one off attacks etc) for 20xp. This gives a moderate encounter for 7.

Want it to be extreme? Double the Young Dragons, give Elite to everything and up the hazards to level 10.

Silver Crusade

Why not make it a White Dragon family? - with two adult dragons and some young white dragons. Have the mother guarding the young ones and the father out killing for food - returning after a period of time - giving the party some time between encounters.

The amount of time can be used to adjust the difficulty. Less time => more likely the party will face both adult dragons (and is one long encounter) - more time gives the party a chance to heal up/prepare for the second encounter. You can also adjust the number of young dragons - not too challenging alone, but can become difficult if there are as many young dragons as party members. Or you can give the father an Elite Adjustment.

Or you could have a single adult white dragon dimension door around the dungeon (or whatever setting you use) forcing the party to chase it into other areas of danger with other challenging encounters - tiring the party out if they wish to press the attack. So that when it finally becomes the "boss" encounter they have used up their magic/healing and need to be careful/strategic.

I like how you think Malk - but you posted it first.


Kohrune wrote:

Pretty tough, I'm setting it in the Lost Age of my homebrew world and its the first dragon encountered and possibly killed by the mortal races.

Outside of making the dragon Elite I'm not sure what I could add to the fight that won't break world lore, I've boxed myself in from the sounds of it.

If the dragon's that important to lore, it might have ties to stronger forces, including outsiders. And there's no reason it can't have guards, traps, and such. Put in a Bottomless Pit (Level 9 Hazard), some giants, maybe a collapsing ceiling of ice if fire's used, etc. Ice, fog, slopes (maybe sliding down into that pit) could all work, as could having a faux encounter, perhaps w/ an illusion or something that pretends to be that dragon so that it triggers all the PCs' strongest limited-use abilities.

Example, a Remorhaz (Elite) w/ an illusion on it.

I also like the idea of dragon spirits aiding it, maybe in the form of undead dragonkind, like several Ghost Young White Dragons, flitting through the walls so it's hard to nail them all w/ AoEs.

You can recover the situation, no worries.


You've all given me some nice ideas and I'll take the advice to heart. I think a family would be an interesting encounter with hazards throughout the large cavern I'm planning on having the fight take place in.

Thank you all. I'm still trying to get my head around things, because after this one shot I'm moving my group fully over to Pathfinder as well.


Trap

Could always have the dragon be the 'pet' of a stronger monster. Like a elite storm giant comes in riding another white dragon. With some giant underlings trapping the PC's in the cave or such. with ranged PC's at the front now and melee in the back.


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Is there a reason the party has to be level 10?

Any reason you cannot use an ancient white?

For a party of 7 level 10s I wouldn't worry about the white being +5, although you could drop a weak template on it.

A severe encounter would be roughly it by its self as a +5.

A extreme would be it with 80exp of extra stuff in the fight.

At +5 it will crit and hit often, but there are 7 party members and a huge action economy advantage.

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Advice for the new gm though, don't run a level 10 oneshot if you don't know the system in and out and have a really solid working knowledge of the rules. Let alone running it for 7 players.

It is just asking for your cool ideas to turn out not as cool as you had hoped for and for the session to be a slog of barely understood characters and mechanics.


The Gleeful Grognard wrote:

Is there a reason the party has to be level 10?

Any reason you cannot use an ancient white?

Advice for the new gm though, don't run a level 10 oneshot if you don't know the system in and out and have a really solid working knowledge of the rules. Let alone running it for 7 players.

It is just asking for your cool ideas to turn out not as cool as you had hoped for and for the session to be a slog of barely understood characters and mechanics
.

Yeah, deviating from these specific levels seems like it would be a good idea. 10th level means your players spend a lot of time building their character and then not really being familiar with the options, for one. Individual turns will take a long time because of it, and with 7 players a round it can get reaaal bad.

Quote:

For a party of 7 level 10s I wouldn't worry about the white being +5, although you could drop a weak template on it.

A severe encounter would be roughly it by its self as a +5.

A extreme would be it with 80exp of extra stuff in the fight.

At +5 it will crit and hit often, but there are 7 party members and a huge action economy advantage.

This I disagree with. Even if this is a winnable fight, I don't think it would be a fun one, even setting aside the complexity concerns we share. And an unfun fight would be an awful way to let people experience the system for the first time.

An optimized expert martial will need a 16 on the dice to hit with their first attack and nat 20s on anything beyond that. For casters, the dragon autopasses fort saves and only needs to roll a 5 to pass on its worst save. Even if 7 people rolling against it each turn is enough to get SOME things to stick, most of the players won't be landing anything of note. That ain't fun.

Then you have to consider how good dragons are at fighting groups. Their Frightful Presence puts most people on the backfoot out the gate. Their breath weapon is a 50 foot cone. It can divide and conquoer with Wall of Ice. Even standard debuffs like flanking are hard to get on a flier with an aura that saps the heat from you.

I could build a party of 7 that would probably win the fight, but it will be hella specific: a couple of sorcerers with fireball, 4th level invisibility, and who can prebuff the party with Resist Energy. An alchemist who can outfit the rest of the party with Alchemist Fires that will still trigger weakness damage on a miss and probably some mutagens. And then everyone else is a ranger with Favored Terrain, Quick Draw, Far Shot, Deadly Aim, Camoflage, and Fast Stealth.

I really wouldn't have faith in a bunch of newbies building a party up to par and then having the tactical experience to pull it off.


Captain Morgan wrote:


This I disagree with. Even if this is a winnable fight, I don't think it would be a fun one, even setting aside the complexity concerns we share. And an unfun fight would be an awful way to let people experience the system for the first time.

An optimized expert martial will need a 16 on the dice to hit with their first attack and nat 20s on anything beyond that. For casters, the dragon autopasses fort saves and only needs to roll a 5 to pass on its worst save. Even if 7 people rolling against it each turn is enough to get SOME things to stick, most of the players won't be landing anything of note. That ain't fun.

Then you have to consider how good dragons are at fighting groups. Their Frightful Presence puts most people on the backfoot out the gate. Their breath weapon is a 50 foot cone. It can divide and conquoer with Wall of...

Dropping it to a "14" with weak is still going to elicit most of those issues and be made worse by whatever else is added into the combat imo. Any +4 or higher foe at level 10 is going to be a crapshoot. And sadly unless they have lots of other combatants added into the mix, a single level 11 dragon just isn't going to last.

My point was more that to get a solo creature to work vs a party of 7 is going to be a challenge.

Hence my advice at the end suggesting that this is flirting with danger from the get go. I would possible go with a group of level 7s vs the adult white dragon alone as a moderate encounter with an environmental advantage to the beast to give it the extra 20xp worth of budget.

Be pretty easily overwhelmed by the sheer number of actions the players have and options available, but if they are newer to RPGs it could still be exciting.

I knew that if I threw that at my PF1e players even being green on PF2e they would chew it out and go "was that it" in those numbers though :)


Two elite adult dragons would fall somewhere between low and moderate for this group and be easily explained as a mated pair. One could be a caster and one could have draconic frenzy, which would be pretty easy. But if you wanted a severe encounter, you'd need to add a third dragon (which is less plausible unless thruples are popular among the dragons of your world) or some bebes.

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