2019-01-08, 11:27 AM (ISO 8601)
MOG Mechanics: Adrenaline Surge (Fixing Short Rests, bosses, Hit Die and Warlocks)
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:
- 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:
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).
- Disadvantage on ability checks
- Speed halved
- Disadvantage on attack rolls and saving throws
- Hit point maximum halved
- Speed reduced to 0
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.
Last edited by Man_Over_Game; 2019-02-08 at 01:46 PM.
Originally Posted by KOLE
Originally Posted by Man_Over_Game
5th Edition Homebrewery
Prestige Options, changing primary attributes to open a world of new multiclassing.
Adrenaline Surge, fitting Short Rests into combat to fix bosses/Short Rest Classes.
Pain, using Exhaustion to make tactical martial combatants.
Fate Sorcery, lucky winner of the 5e D&D Subclass Contest VII!