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How to ramp up an epic level opponent

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Kurt Wiegel

No Cards!

Joined: 11 Jun 2009
Posts: 23

PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 9:07 pm    Post subject: How to ramp up an epic level opponent Reply with quote

So in this weeks fantasy game, just when they think the adventure is over, the big bad for 3-4 episodes is waking up and becoming more powerful. I have a pretty nasty set of opponents for the big finish: a Herald of Nhit (Hellfrost), 3 shadow elementalist, and an ancient shadow dragon.

The PCs are 5 veteran characters: ranger, fighter, Mage, priest (Sun god) with several other seasoned and novice character types, lots of troops, spell casters etc.

I'm pretty sure that directly hitting them with all of this is a meat grinder and a TPK in the making, so I was thinking of making the dragon just starting to awaken and gain strength back: he's been slumbering/wounded/ near death for about 3000+ years. I'm not sure what to start with and then add on. Any suggestions for the minimal power level, and every dx rounds or something or kills he gains another power suite or something?

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King of Clubs

Joined: 11 Jun 2009
Posts: 2623
Location: Ulm, Germany

PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2013 12:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would change the 3 shadow "elementalists" (Elementalism knows normally only the 4 elements, so these may be other magicians with a Darkness trapping) to priests or paladins of Niht, or one of the minor gods associated with the Night. These minor gods are Vakr, the Lord of Bats and the Night Hunter (Region Guide 02 - Liche Lands), Sváfnir, the Sleepbringer and Tvíblinidi, the Sneak (both Region Guide 20 - The Mistlands). Makes more sense to me, when the Herald of Niht mingles with priestly types. But its your game! Wink

Read the description of the Niht cult in the PHB and especially in Region Guide 20 - The Mistlands, to get an impression how the cult of the Night operates. As you might surmise, it's more about sneak, stealth, and backstabbing, then a frontal assault meat grinder.

Structure the place of this conflict like a mazelike subterran dungeon with many shadowy halls and corners, many secret pathways, entrances and exitways, OLD shadow magic that predates even the Blizzard War and the Selari Empire, powerful elementals that lurk here for millenia, mix in a link to the old Selari Empire as mentioned (good reason for both Night or Sigel clerics to visit this place) and its powerful guardian, said ancient Shadow Dragon. Maybe he woke up, because someone broke the "last seal" when stumbling into this place, or a band of Goblins or Orks just traveled too deep into the Underdark. Think even about an old Niht Relic both parties want to find in this dark rooms - one to revive the Dragon to full strength, the other to kill it.

In all case you should familiarize yourself with the complex tactics and spell powers of the Night cultists, the Herald and the Dragon. As i said, it's all about sneaking and shadows.

Play the scene, so describe the encroaching and living darkness, the cold air, the deadly traps and pitfalls, the frightening noises and irritating echoes. Play their paranoia, so that the Priest of Sigel might shine - literally - when using his light miracles. Just for fun give the heroes' troops RED SHIRTS! You know what i mean... Wink

The minimum power level should be Heroic, but it might work with a well teamed group of Veteran characters. The Herald, the 3 Night cultists, and the Shadow Dragon are all Wild cards. Because the players come with troops, give the bad guys a similar sized and powered entourage. You might even add a few Nihtstalkers to their ranks. Avoid direct confrontations, so place those opposing troops tactically throughout the shadowy maze. This confrontation is more a match of Smarts and Spirit, less of Strength and Agility.

I always like to introduce a third party for diversion, so you might consider to add a troop of crazed fungals, shadow trolls or even a group of those enigmatic Dřkkálfar.

Finally consider safe routes to flee the scene, and eventually a reserve contigent of Niht troops waiting outside.
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