I have a party of 5 players level 6. I was thinking of running this in the weak build (CR8) as a harder encounter but I think this will be too brutal. The reaction petrifying glance is still limited to one character within 30 ft per round but flying, breath weapon, gaze and effective melee attacks sounds very rough. Does anyone have any experience using these to say that the CR is not accurate? Thanks for any help.
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CR is accurate, but since it's a +2 higher CR than the party, they'll struggle if unprepared for such a fight. If they depend on melee attacks or energy that matches the breath, have low Fort saves, or if the terrain favors the dracolisk, the party will likely need to use all their resources to prevail. That's expected.
Meanwhile, a party will have a tough-but-reasonable time if filled with martials who can switch to ranged attacks (or specialize in them) & prepared casters who know what they're facing, perhaps to memorize AoEs so they can keep their eyes closed if Slowed. An opportunity to go shopping beforehand would also help. This is a pivotal encounter so likely shouldn't come up out of nowhere.
It's kind of expected somebody will get petrified, which is why dracolisk blood remedies that. If the party lacks the Recall Knowledge skills to recognize that (especially since it's an Uncommon, higher level creature), you might want to base the DC on a normal basilisk or give the party an information source that tells them.
If you still think your party will struggle (as perhaps they're mainly low-Dex melee w/ support), then you could give the dracolisk motivation to land, i.e. treasure to protect or it's starving (which might be why it's Weak). Or you could give your players a learning experience first facing other flying creatures, i.e. gargoyles or harpies w/ Reach weapons so they can recognize they need to patch that tactical gap.