A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    salt3d's Avatar

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    Default Suggestions for solo monster for level 3 party

    I'm trying to construct a fairly spectacular, cinematic opening to a campaign, and one of the possibilities is a pit or arena style fight against a legendary beast. When I say legendary I'm talking within the context of the setting so I can make it as legendary as I like, but the more iconic the beast, the better.

    The party will likely be level 3. I'm not particularly looking for something challenging, although I'm not specifically trying to avoid it either. The main thing is to make the encounter memorable. I realise that may be challenging when it comes to a single monster in a large, featureless room, so I was hoping for some help.

    The one thing I'm pretty sure on is that I don't want the beast to be a dragon, because the concept I have is more of a kept-under-the-castle-and-fed-a-diet-of-criminals type of beast rather than a sentient being. Trouble is the solo monsters listed in Monster Vault are nothing but dragons up to level 7. Even the Adventure Tools has about 75% dragons as lower level solo monsters.

    So I'm hoping someone can suggest how I might be able to re-skin an existing monster to fit the idea in my head. As I said, something with memorable mechanics is what I'm looking for.

    Thanks in advance for any help!

    EDIT: The setting is Eberron if it's relevant.
    Last edited by salt3d; 2011-04-08 at 07:15 AM.

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    Devil

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    Default Re: Suggestions for solo monster for level 3 party

    Well, you can just get a dragon and refluff it to be something else.
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    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Suggestions for solo monster for level 3 party

    This is the most compelling fight I have run as a GM to date.

    The concept changed how I handle Solo/boss monsters:

    This is the monster card:
    http://angrydm.com/wp-content/upload...odknuckles.pdf

    This is the concept and how to play him:
    http://angrydm.com/2010/08/the-dd-boss-fight-part-3/
    Last edited by evirus; 2011-04-08 at 09:06 AM.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Suggestions for solo monster for level 3 party

    If you are not into refluffing, de-level something. As long as you don't cross tiers too far and stick to the +/-5 levels guidelines it works just fine. I don't remember all of the specifics off-hand, but I think they are in the DMG. It's something like add/subtract 1 damage per level changed, and add/subtract one per defense per two levels changed.

    You have to do it a lot if you don't want to always stat up your own monsters at low levels. Otherwise add templates to an existing low-level monster. Two templates = solo (albeit a little weaker than a normal solo a lot of the time).

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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Suggestions for solo monster for level 3 party

    If you are refluffing your monster, you could try for a monster similar to the one in Jabba the Hut's palace from Star Wars

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    DwarfClericGuy

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    Default Re: Suggestions for solo monster for level 3 party

    In addition, you could try taking a higher level iconic monster which isn't a solo and making it a level 3 or 4 solo monster (to represent it being much stronger than the PCs at the time).

    Like a chimera or a medusa.

    Look at the dragons for ways you can give the monster lots to do in the round.

    Also, read the angry dm article posted, all 4 parts. It'll help immensely.

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    Default Re: Suggestions for solo monster for level 3 party

    Use Adventure Tools to build your own Solo.

    Guidelines for Good Solos
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    Rule #1: Solos must be able to engage an entire party on their own.
    This is not a matter of HP or Defenses, but Actions. The main problem with MM Solos is that they are not built to actually engage an entire party over the course of the fight. Instead, they are just really big monsters which can be focused-fired and debuff-stacked into oblivion.

    There are a couple of variations as to how to fix this.
    - Have them act on multiple initiative turns (e.g. Solo acts on Turn 20 and Turn 10 every Round)

    - Give them large (minimum range 3) Threatening Reach

    - Give them multiple attacks per turn. For example, give them a Brute Standard and a Controller Move.

    Rule #2: Solos must be able to avoid Lock Down
    Related to Rule #1, Solos are in a unique position of being the only target on the field by design. This means that they are going to face every single debuff the party has at hand - and many of them stack. Worse, a party can "ration" it's debuffs to keep a Solo in a weak state for the course of an entire combat.

    Suggested options:

    - Give them multiple saving throws (e.g. have then roll saves like Wardens, multiple initiative turns per round)

    - Allow them to ignore 1 Condition at the start of each of their turns (ex: if a Solo were Dazed or Immobilized, it could ignore either the Daze or the Immobilize for the duration of that turn - save as normal at the end)

    Rule #3: Solos must be in it for the long haul
    This Rule is actually followed pretty well by the MM. As Solos are going to be fighting for the duration of the Encounter, you want to make sure they have access to interesting powers the whole time. So don't give them Encounter or Daily powers - give them At-Wills and Recharges. The one exception here is the Blooded Power; it's thematic for Solos to have it, but it should only go off once.
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  8. - Top - End - #8
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Suggestions for solo monster for level 3 party

    Quote Originally Posted by evirus View Post
    This is the most compelling fight I have run as a GM to date.

    The concept changed how I handle Solo/boss monsters:

    This is the monster card:
    http://angrydm.com/wp-content/upload...odknuckles.pdf

    This is the concept and how to play him:
    http://angrydm.com/2010/08/the-dd-boss-fight-part-3/
    Sensational. I love that idea.

    Everyone has made similar, very good suggestions. I will come up with something and report back. Cheers!

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Suggestions for solo monster for level 3 party

    Wow, as a DM and as a player, I can't help but dislike the way Bloodknuckles is written.

    I get frustration with having the boss proned, dazed, stunned, etc., but this is a non-solution. He's got a move action at-will close burst attack that ends grabbed, immobilised and restrained, an at-will no action save+5 vs. dazed, stunned, and dominated that works even if the effect didn't have a save.

    It's just silly, on top of his 4+ attacks /round and 3 action points.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Suggestions for solo monster for level 3 party

    Quote Originally Posted by Epinephrine View Post
    Wow, as a DM and as a player, I can't help but dislike the way Bloodknuckles is written.

    I get frustration with having the boss proned, dazed, stunned, etc., but this is a non-solution. He's got a move action at-will close burst attack that ends grabbed, immobilised and restrained, an at-will no action save+5 vs. dazed, stunned, and dominated that works even if the effect didn't have a save.

    It's just silly, on top of his 4+ attacks /round and 3 action points.
    He is built for a specific purpose, you should read the whole article behind his creation.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: Suggestions for solo monster for level 3 party

    It's true read the article and then you will understnad how he works and why.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miscast_Mage View Post
    You're a frickin' ninja below me, too!? You got mad skills, Vknight.
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    Rogue vs. Dog. (The new Cat vs. Commoner, only not amusing!)
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    You are making the assumption of rational planning. After 37 years of dungeon crawling, I still have zero evidence that the average dungeon was designed by the sane.
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  12. - Top - End - #12
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Suggestions for solo monster for level 3 party

    Quote Originally Posted by Vknight View Post
    It's true read the article and then you will understnad how he works and why.
    I read the article before I made my comment.

    I know why each of those powers were given, but it still bothers me, it essentially means that conditions are not for boss monsters. I have less of a problem with getting multiple attacks off, as boss monsters are at a disadvanatge in actions, though I prefer to see more in the way of area attacks and attacks that allow 2nd or 3rd targets, rather than seeing ways that the boss can get multiple attack actions and focus all his attacks on a single target.

    I also agree that bosses are disproportionately affected by single round stuns/dazes, immobilises, and prones. It ties up all the opponents essentially, instead of tying up one enemy.

    If this was the only such enemy, it could be fun, but if every solo is built along these lines it would just be frustrating. At higher levels, it makes a certain amount of sense to have ways to end some conditions, but this is at *3rd level*. That one daily power you have that stuns an enemy for a round is basically thrown away against this guy. I'm somewhat opposed to making the game solely about damage, and if you've held your conditions back for against the boss (or if your build is based on exploiting/dealing conditions) it's just a kick in the teeth.

    I suppose I'd want to shrug off the effects, if possible, while rewarding the players for it. Make it cost HP to end effects, so that that stun you landed isn't just a free action to shrug off, it's got a cost to it. He can break free of immobilization, but opens up one of his wounds, suffering from ongoing damage. Maybe he can snap out of a daze, but still is a little wobbly, so suffers a -2 to hit and grants CA for one round. At least that way the PCs can use their effects and get some sort of reward for their power choice.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: Suggestions for solo monster for level 3 party

    Thats what I do.
    Follow the guide lines but edit them to make it less about damage. Thats what I do. I've only had one bad case (Below)

    Also giving a boss a bunch of area attacks is fun until the players decide to stand around him and keep attacking after being warned that he is still fused to the power crystal that keeps the city flying

    Sometimes an additional melee attack and counters are useful. Making counters so they go off once per turn not round is also good idea
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miscast_Mage View Post
    You're a frickin' ninja below me, too!? You got mad skills, Vknight.
    Quote Originally Posted by Arbane View Post
    Rogue vs. Dog. (The new Cat vs. Commoner, only not amusing!)
    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    You are making the assumption of rational planning. After 37 years of dungeon crawling, I still have zero evidence that the average dungeon was designed by the sane.
    "Sleep is optional, just ask Vknight" Someone I Forget but thanks... I don't

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Suggestions for solo monster for level 3 party

    This type of template is not for every solo, it's a boss fight.

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    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: Suggestions for solo monster for level 3 party

    That to.

    Some Solo's are not boss fights but difficult encounters.

    Especially a lower level solo and normal monsters against a higher level party
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miscast_Mage View Post
    You're a frickin' ninja below me, too!? You got mad skills, Vknight.
    Quote Originally Posted by Arbane View Post
    Rogue vs. Dog. (The new Cat vs. Commoner, only not amusing!)
    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    You are making the assumption of rational planning. After 37 years of dungeon crawling, I still have zero evidence that the average dungeon was designed by the sane.
    "Sleep is optional, just ask Vknight" Someone I Forget but thanks... I don't

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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Suggestions for solo monster for level 3 party

    I personally just find a lot of his actions stupid, for their economy type. A body slam as a minor? No. The foot crush, sure, but the slam? No.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: Suggestions for solo monster for level 3 party

    I see it. Otherwise the party can pin him well he's down. Trust me prone is a killer
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miscast_Mage View Post
    You're a frickin' ninja below me, too!? You got mad skills, Vknight.
    Quote Originally Posted by Arbane View Post
    Rogue vs. Dog. (The new Cat vs. Commoner, only not amusing!)
    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    You are making the assumption of rational planning. After 37 years of dungeon crawling, I still have zero evidence that the average dungeon was designed by the sane.
    "Sleep is optional, just ask Vknight" Someone I Forget but thanks... I don't

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    salt3d's Avatar

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    Default Re: Suggestions for solo monster for level 3 party

    For what it's worth, the party is shaping up as having no controller, so I suspect the removal of conditions wouldn't be too big a deal anyway. For that matter I half expect most of the party wouldn't figure out to move away from Bloodknuckles when he's prone! 'Hit it until it's dead' is likely to be the strategy employed.

    But I understand the concerns and I'll see what tweaks I can come up with to address them. Thanks for all the input everyone!

  19. - Top - End - #19
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Suggestions for solo monster for level 3 party

    Quote Originally Posted by Crossfiyah View Post
    I personally just find a lot of his actions stupid, for their economy type. A body slam as a minor? No. The foot crush, sure, but the slam? No.
    Call is a shove then. The point of that power is to push, which is to give the impression of size and to prone which gives players a way to escape stomp damage. The damage is also smaller than the std. In anycase, if the monster card is not to your liking, it is a custom build. You can use the same logic presented in the article to build something that would fit better.

    I ran Bloodknuckles last week with a new party (4 newbies and one vet), and he worked out beautifuly. He was deadly enough for them to take him seriously, he acted enough to keep my players on their toes. My only concern was encounter powers at low levels. I'm not sure I would allow them to rechage all their encounter powers between transitions...
    Last edited by evirus; 2011-04-11 at 08:20 AM.

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    Default Re: Suggestions for solo monster for level 3 party

    Back on topic, take a look at the Tembo from the Dark Sun book.



    It's a (IIRC) Level 6 Solo Skirmisher that has a lot of cool abilities. It's rather deadly, but if de-level it to about Level 2-3 they should survive.


    Also from Dark Sun, maybe a refluffed Id Fiend? They're Level 1 Solo Controllers and could make for a cool arena battle.
    Last edited by RTGoodman; 2011-04-11 at 12:07 PM.
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  21. - Top - End - #21
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Suggestions for solo monster for level 3 party

    Quote Originally Posted by salt3d View Post
    For that matter I half expect most of the party wouldn't figure out to move away from Bloodknuckles when he's prone! 'Hit it until it's dead' is likely to be the strategy employed.
    It's not just when he's prone, it's a move action, he can use it every round. It happens to have an effect that allows him to stand if prone, but it's a move action burst attack that can be used every round.

  22. - Top - End - #22
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Suggestions for solo monster for level 3 party

    You may not like it, but it's also the direction for official monsters. Many of the more challenging foes in the monster vault (cough cough) have condition dumping powers and either multiple initiatives or counter attacks.

    Most boss monsters in epic are just flat out immune to most conditions. Most in paragon have various dumping mechanics (My favorite is the "this creature makes a saving throw to end an effect, even if that effect would not normally allow a saving throw" ability - they basically gave them Iron Heart Surge, haha). In heroic like this, they usually have "dump a single condition" powers or "dump all conditions - at the end of your turn" powers so that condition spamming still sort of works, but I don't think it's at all unreasonable to give a low level monster mid-level condition dumping mechanism, especially if it's their "thing".

    Trust me, even fairly non-optimized players are tough enough to weather this storm, and it makes the game so much more challenging and fun! I mean, wasn't the main criticism of 4e that it wasn't lethal enough? They're essentially patching that concern with better monsters, and making combat more dynamic at the same time.

    TL;DR - Bloodnuckles looks fine. And awesome.
    Last edited by Erom; 2011-04-12 at 08:29 AM.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Suggestions for solo monster for level 3 party

    In case anyone was wondering how it went I ran this encounter the other day and the players had a pretty good time with it. There were only four in the party so I was mildly concerned it might be a bit tough for them, but they were fairly optimised so they didn't have much trouble.

    Having said that, I think it was also partly due to the bad rolls I was making. Two natural 1s in between successive criticals from one of the strikers meant I didn't get to roll for damage often enough. On top of that the fighter went nova in the first round and the first iteration of Bloodknuckles didn't last to round 2.

    The other issue was that my printer wasn't working and I didn't manage to print the stat blocks, so I had to resort to looking at the PDF on my phone. On a couple of occasions I realised all too late that I'd missed a mechanic that would have spiced things up a bit.

    All in all it was quite an enjoyable encounter for all concerned. I wouldn't use a boss monster all that often, because I think the players would get bored with single target encounters, but every now and again it should be fun.

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