View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next MOG Mechanics: Adrenaline Surge (Fixing Short Rests, bosses, Hit Die and Warlocks)

2019-01-08, 11:27 AM
A lot of 5E's balance hinges on satisfying the Encounter per Short Rest per Long Rest dilemma, but a lot of tables still prefer to have fewer battles per day, which improves Long Rest classes (Clerics, Wizards, Paladins), and hinders Short Rest classes (Fighters, Warlocks, Monks). Additionally, solo bosses are pretty wimpy due to how important the action economy is. A lot of players will ignore Short Rests completely (heck, I got to level 4 with my most recent character without a single short rest), and with them, Hit Die.

So to fix all of these concerns, I created a battle mechanic that you'll see being utilized by major enemies/bosses, called Adrenaline Surge:


The Rules:

When a major enemy reaches a certain threshold of their HP (like 50%), they activate their Adrenaline Surge feature. The basics with each Adrenaline Surge are:

There is an immediate change of the battlefield that is relevant to the boss (such as the boss pushing all creatures within 15 feet of them to be 15 feet away, streaks of arcane energy arc around the room that damage randomly, the boss leaks out puddles of acid regularly, etc).
All other creatures in combat gain the benefits of ending a Short Rest, and they also suffer one stack of Exhaustion
Initiative is rerolled, with the boss having advantage on their initiative roll
The enemy gains half of their maximum Legendary Resistances back (rounded down)

After an Adrenaline Surge, the enemy gains some new power and a new defensive trait that change the mechanics of the battle. This may be being able to unleash a hidden dark power, consuming a transforming potion, or trading something for more strength (like their soul to the Devil). These changes should reflect what changes the foe underwent, and should be dramatic enough to alter the players' strategy.
An enemy can potentially have multiple "stages" of transformation they can undergo, each with their own Adrenaline Surge, by having the Adrenaline Surge trigger at different life intervals. To avoid flat out restoring health to the enemy (and erasing the players' progress), grant the foe effective health, with things like:

Gaining Temporary Hitpoints equal to half of the Boss's maximum HP (potentially triggering another Adrenaline Surge once this THP runs out)
Turning all currently resistant damage types to be immune
Gaining Absorb Elements as an At-Will spell
Gaining immunity to a damage type the player's are using constantly
Gaining resistances to several common damage types (such as Bludgeoning, Piercing, Slashing)


For reference, here is the Exhaustion table:

Disadvantage on ability checks
Speed halved
Disadvantage on attack rolls and saving throws
Hit point maximum halved
Speed reduced to 0

So the maximum number of Adrenaline Surges you should see in a hard boss fight is about 2, but you could make an interesting mechanic with the players trying to flee from a creature that regularly causes Adrenaline Surges for the Exhaustion effect against the players (maybe with something like fighting Death himself).

On the topic of unorthodox mechanics, you can create unique scenarios for your players to take out a boss. For example, having a boss that, upon reaching 80 HP (out of 300), activates an Adrenaline Surge that grants them Temporary Hitpoints equal to half of their missing health (almost restarting the battle) but hint to the players, via NPC or arcane knowledge prior to the battle, that the creature is easily taken down by Power Word: Kill. Or perhaps, the boss becomes steadily more resistant to most forms of damage but one with each Adrenaline Surge.

By implementing Short Rests in the middle of combat, there can be a dramatic shift towards Short Rest characters as being effective in battles of endurance. Additionally, with the option to use Hit Die in the middle of combat (which, by the way, all creatures, including enemies, can technically use HD), they can regularly see the value of their higher amounts of health and endurance be used throughout their adventures. With Exhaustion as an additional threat (which the first few levels shouldn't matter too much), the players will really start to feel the pressure to bring a boss down.

Adrenaline Surge can help fine-tune a boss's difficulty. By tuning a boss to be slightly too easy, with Adrenaline Surge as a backup plan, you can better aim for the perfect difficulty for your players.

2019-01-09, 12:41 PM
I really like this idea. I will play around with it and let you know more feedback.

2019-01-09, 01:15 PM
I really like this idea. I will play around with it and let you know more feedback.

I'm glad you like it! I'm looking forward to any information you might have on it. If this thread gets outdated, feel free to message me about it or any concerns you have. My biggest concern is the availability of Hit Die (being able to heal to full HP in the middle of combat), but with how the current healing system is, the fact that only half of your HD is restored from a long rest, and how HD are ignored in the current system, I don't see this being too much of an issue.

A minor modification you can make is to make it so that Hit Die spent from this Short Rest apply Temporary Hitpoints instead of HP, and you can only have as many THP this way as you have missing health. Being healed reduces these temporary hitpoints by an equal amount.

The idea being that your "health" is actually coming from a rush of adrenaline. It's "fake" health, and getting another Adrenaline Surge in a short amount of time may not restore any more health. It also prevents other THP sources from benefiting this character, so it turns HD into less effective combat healing.

I haven't seen it in action, but having a Barbarian have his entire HP's worth in healing in reserve on top of any other defensive/THP benefits can probably be a bit too much and render a lot of healers obsolete in longer fights, so my recommendation is nerfing how HD work from these Adrenaline Surges.

An alternate solution is halving the healing provided by HD in this way (so that a character has 50% of their HP in reserve).

2019-01-09, 01:28 PM
So basically, this isn't even their final form?

2019-01-09, 01:47 PM
So basically, this isn't even their final form?

Exactly. I feel that boss fights are hard to balance, and putting several new mechanics to change up the fight, while restoring health on both sides, means you force stale/cheesewizz tactics to fail or provide the players a means to tackle the problem from another angle.

2019-01-09, 02:07 PM
If you worry about the over abundance of healing, you could crib from the Wounds and Vitality idea I had a while back. Basically your Wounds point is represented by your CON mod plus unspent Hit Dice, and is depleted when taking a critical hit. To prevent mass wipe out on a critical hit, damage to a Wounds pool is done by the number of dice rolled (with static bonuses adding 1 for every 5). So a Greatsword critical is 4 wounds, for example.

This results in Hit Dice being a defense against critical hits, but depletion of HP results in every hit going to your Wounds pool, so there is a balance to be struck.