View Full Version : Balancing a "Survive X Rounds" encounter in 3.5

Angry Bob
2011-02-07, 10:56 PM
I envision a boss battle where, once the boss has gone down to half health or worse, they flee, pursued by the players. Cornered, the boss doses him or herself with a homebrewed psycho serum (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PsychoSerum). This renders them a super-strong, super-fast killomatic that's almost indestructible. At the end of a certain time limit, whatever it was they took also causes them to self-destruct.

Has anyone here ever run a similar encounter? Should the villain be invincible, or just so out of reach that only very good tactics or a string of crits can kill him or her before there time runs out? Should the players be locked in with the monster, or have an obvious way out? Should I leave samples of the stuff the boss is tripping on out in the open, so the more munchkiny players use it on themselves in hopes of defeating the boss?

tl;dr: What should I consider that I probably haven't when building an encounter where the players are forced to outlast an invulnerable killing machine?

2011-02-07, 11:19 PM
sounds like a WoW instance.


You should consider all the spells that a caster can cast on him/herself or the boss that would render this situation useless.

Sanctuary immediately comes to mind, as well as all the spells that work similar to Disquietude or Hold Person. If the boss fails the saving throw on Sanctuary, then they won't be able to attack the Creature Touched for several more rounds/level which may be the entire fight. If the boss fails their throw against a disabling spell like Disquietude, Hold Person or Glitterdust, then they could be disabled for the rest of the fight and be rendered mostly useless. Many of these spells target a monster's will save, which usually isn't very high.

Sanctuary is probably the best spell for taking on an encounter like this because the spell is cast on the defensive creature and not the offensive one, along with the fact that the spell ignores Spell Resistance.

Even if you give the boss Spell Immunity, the PCs can still cast spells that ignore SR and therefore still work on the him.


The other thing you need to watch out for are spells or abilities that would allow a PC or multiple PCs to run away and avoid the encounter. Spells like Dimension Door or the wearing of a Clock of the Monteblanc fall into this category.

Angry Bob
2011-02-07, 11:38 PM
If they run, I resurrect the boss offscreen.

As it stands right now, it'll be a party vs. single boss, so the boss needs something to make up for that in action economy. I was considering Supernatural Quickness, as the choker, but I wonder if an even better ability might be appropriate("Gets twice the normal actions in a turn)?

At the moment, the boss will be immune to a lot of things - mind-affecting, precision damage(well, damage in general, but also effects that things that are immune to precision damage are also immune to), have high SR or spell immunity, and high enough virtual health from the effect that power words shouldn't be an issue. I don't want to just lock them in a room with the killbot and not reward them for creative thinking, but it's pretty anticlimactic to have it lose to something that paralyzes it in the first turn.

I could have it chase them through an obstacle course, but in that case, it would catch at least one of them and disembowel them.

2011-02-08, 12:05 AM
Well, first, don't tell them they have to survive X rounds, then they won't use things like sanctuary. I would say make it possible, if hard, for them to succeed.

2011-02-08, 06:55 AM
I had an npc cleric use revenance spell once in combat. That's the extent of it, I think.