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  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by ClaytonCross View Post
    So if your talking 3 level 20 adventurers they should be fighting an ancient dragon with an AC 22 and a flight speed of 80ft (160ft if they dash away for a turn) that is nether low AC or slow...
    I was going with a level 17 adult red dragon, because ancient red dragons are level 24 and there's no such thing as a character of equal level. I guess you could go with an ancient brass or white dragon, which are level 20 and have AC 20, but sticking with level 17 means we get to avoid some of the silly capstone abilities.

    A speed of 80 isn't very fast, compared to the range of eldritch blast (120), let alone a longbow (150). The dragon's breath only has a reach of 60, which means it can't hang out 125 feet away and then move within breath range and get out of blast range after that. If it attempts hit-and-run tactics, then it will have to spend at least one round where it's within blast range and can't fight back.
    Quote Originally Posted by ClaytonCross View Post
    That said if your building your party out as strait killing machines and gods of war... then sure they are killing higher than there level. That's not a Dragon CR issue its a power game style and as such you will have to alter combat above CR to challenge them. The CR is a generally good base but it can't cover all parties.

    What are their stats AC, to hit, HP, classes, level ? if you don't mind me asking.... just so I can see your comparison.
    The CR is generally a good base line, in the context of fighting six of these things in a day without risking death. A single dragon is a chump compared to the immense resources and focus of a party.

    As for stats, just consider a tiefling fiend/tome warlock 17 with eldritch blast. Nothing fancy. It doesn't even have to be a tiefling, given fiendish resilience, but this is the character I saw in action. That's four attacks at +11 to hit against AC 19 for 1d10+1d6+5 damage, per round, every round, against the dragon's 31 fire damage every third round... unless the warlock saves, in which case he only takes 15.

    That's not a "killing machine" or "god of war"; it's a level 17 warlock without any feats or (in this example) magic items. (Realistically, a level 17 is probably going to have some magic items, but let's ignore those for now.) That's not playing intelligently on the part of the PC. That's not using readied actions, or pushing the dragon out of range to spoil its breath. It's not using any of the high level spells available to the warlock - no Foresight to gain advantage on everything, or Forcecage to end the fight in an instant without requiring a save. That's just a dragon getting in over its head by messing with the wrong individual. (To contrast, that dragon would have a much better chance if it dropped into melee against this warlock. Even with only getting one legendary action, its damage output against AC 13 would eat through the warlock's ~170hp in about three rounds, unless the warlock did something about it.)

  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saelorn View Post
    I was going with a level 17 adult red dragon, because ancient red dragons are level 24 and there's no such thing as a character of equal level. I guess you could go with an ancient brass or white dragon, which are level 20 and have AC 20, but sticking with level 17 means we get to avoid some of the silly capstone abilities.

    A speed of 80 isn't very fast, compared to the range of eldritch blast (120), let alone a longbow (150). The dragon's breath only has a reach of 60, which means it can't hang out 125 feet away and then move within breath range and get out of blast range after that. If it attempts hit-and-run tactics, then it will have to spend at least one round where it's within blast range and can't fight back.
    The CR is generally a good base line, in the context of fighting six of these things in a day without risking death. A single dragon is a chump compared to the immense resources and focus of a party.

    As for stats, just consider a tiefling fiend/tome warlock 17 with eldritch blast. Nothing fancy. It doesn't even have to be a tiefling, given fiendish resilience, but this is the character I saw in action. That's four attacks at +11 to hit against AC 19 for 1d10+1d6+5 damage, per round, every round, against the dragon's 31 fire damage every third round... unless the warlock saves, in which case he only takes 15.

    That's not a "killing machine" or "god of war"; it's a level 17 warlock without any feats or (in this example) magic items. (Realistically, a level 17 is probably going to have some magic items, but let's ignore those for now.) That's not playing intelligently on the part of the PC. That's not using readied actions, or pushing the dragon out of range to spoil its breath. It's not using any of the high level spells available to the warlock - no Foresight to gain advantage on everything, or Forcecage to end the fight in an instant without requiring a save. That's just a dragon getting in over its head by messing with the wrong individual. (To contrast, that dragon would have a much better chance if it dropped into melee against this warlock. Even with only getting one legendary action, its damage output against AC 13 would eat through the warlock's ~170hp in about three rounds, unless the warlock did something about it.)
    Your Adult Dragon stats are very wrong:
    The dragon exhales fire in a 60-foot cone. Each creature in that area must make a DC 21 Dexterity saving throw, taking 63 (18d6) fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. (32)

    On average your warlock with +11 to hit vs an AC of 19 is going to hit 64% of the time for an average DPR of 36.4 vs The Adult dragon with default 256 HP killing the dragon on turn 8

    On average The Adult dragon with +14 to hit vs Warlock with AC 18 (studded leather armor +3? Dex 16? would be really good for a warlock) and roughly 80HP
    --Dragons Fire breath is a save not an attack so AC doesn't matter your not proficient in dex saves so warlock rolls D20+3 vs DC21 has a 15% chance to reduce 63 by half ...we will call it 54.55 DPR basicly warlock is at 25 hit points after round 1.
    -- The Dragon makes a multi attack doing 3 attacks at +14 vs the AC18 we gave him above at an 80% chance to hit for each damage of default 15/15/19 total 49 with hit DPR 39.2 which will easily kill the Warlock with good armor.
    -- If we say the Warlock had a friend then they both got the fire friend at - "54.55" too, chances are the the first 2 claw attacks killed the Warlock and his friend takes the 19 bit call it -"15.2" total of 68.75 damage to him as well... alive but likely dead next turn.

    So the group of 2 has 3 rounds maybe 4 if the second is a high HP or higher armor if we double the warlocks damage for both players for 2 rounds (145.6) + solo 2 rounds with the same damage (72.6) the dragon has 36.6 hp left without using the second fire breath he has likely recharged in these 4 rounds and has TPK'd them unless the second team member has more than 147.15 hp.

    That said the CR17 adult red dragon is 18,000 xp and represents a deadly challenge for no more than 2 level 17 character (8,800xp each total of 17,600) so for a larger party it should be a hard but solid win as stated in the DMG.

    ....So eather your players are getting lucky roles, they have good gear to out way the the dragon (fire Resistance from proper planing), or the party is bigger than 2 people and you have not balanced the encounter for your group since CR is not how you lock on the monster group size its how you prevent them from one shotting your party members.
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  3. #43
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    ClaytonCross. At 17th level a warlock taking average HP option and a 10 con has 88hp. 8 from first and 5 from the remaining 16. Should we gather you see commonly characters at 17th level with 10 con?

    Also, he referenced eldritch resilience which halves the breath weapon assuming the type of dragon is known and that thematically is not unusual for large adult dragons.

    Not saying all is good with either side but pointing out the obvious presumptions of unnecessary vulnerability.

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  4. #44
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    I wanted to write something similar to what @ClaytonCross wrote in #35 but i would not have done it so perfectly with all the math.

    Exactly this is your Problem most of the time when you complain about having no challenge for your mid to high Level Group!

    Stop playing your Dragon like an acid blob who sits there to be slaughtered.

    A Dragon (/Vampire/Lich/Evil Archnecromancer/fiend) should per Definition have at least the same intelectual capabilities like your most intelligent Party member.

    That means he will not have eventually a good tactic for the Group, but he will have a perfect tactic and exploit every weakness!

    Be fair though, the Dragon is sure to kill the caster / ranged guy / healer first unless he is intimidated to Launch his wrath on a tank guy instead.

    The dumb Level 21 orc captain though will have difficulties to decide who is the Party cleric and who is the rogue though.

    The key to overcome highly intelligent opponents should be something like exploiting some flaw in their personality, making them underestimate the Party
    or intensive tactical planning / battlefield selection by the Group and not a dpr Ratio required, not ever.

    If you do not want to use minions there are certain ways around this.

    1. Make the solo Boss real tough hitpoinwise. So if your Group dishes out 100 Points of damage average then the Vampire Lord has 200 hp and he regenerates 30hp next round (the round when he charms the Charisma dump character into backstabing the Party cleric before truning invisible to regenerate a bit more)

    2. Prebuff if your end Boss is the squishier type. For enemy mages have contigencies going of for them. They might have a clone prepared. The Party might notice that they slayed the Simulacrum instead of the real bbeg.

    3. for the melee types: give them Speed, no hit and run tactics. Make them hit real hard and reliable. +12 to +14 to hit is a fair game. Multiattack of course.

  5. #45
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    I think Saelorn illustrates what I was talking about. His entire post is comparing stats to stats, and not even considering the extremely intelligent nature of the dragon. The dragon should recognize the threat of the party and plan accordingly just like the PCs plan before taking on a dragon. If in a forest, instead of attacking the party, maybe the dragon sets the forest on fire. That in itself could cause a ton of havoc (funneling the PCs into a choke point for an ambush, or encircling them in the fire, etc). Or if in a cave complex, the dragon can cause cave-ins. Or if the dragon is really evil, it flies off to the nearest town and begins to obliterate it, forcing the party to come after it to save people--rinse repeat until the party is low on resources, and then it attacks. Or have it's minions harass the party non stop, sucking up their resources. Or it waits until nighttime, where darkvision isn't nearly as far of range as EB, so it swoops in and torches the entire base camp before the party can react. Those are just a couple of ideas, it really depends on the environment or scenario.

    Point being, is if you're going to ignore half of the monster's entry, then it's probably no surprise why you feel they might be less of a challenge, and will need to do some work to modify it to fit your needs.

    On a side note, I've never really bought into the argument of why a monster is weak when your example is a highly specific PC build. That doesn't seem representative of the general PC make up in adventures.

  6. #46
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    A few notes on thst dragon fight... you should expect fire resistance at that level. Most parties are going to find ways to get resistances st thst level, especially fire.

    Could be spells, abilities, magic items, nature domain, whatever...but a party of thst level going against s real dragon will find a way to get resistance.

    Also that warlocks hitpoints are way too low. 100 hp is going to be your norm, either by base or some temp hp ability. To put it in context, every single one of my players at 20th level had over 200 hp...but thst was with feats and an extra +2 con. Our barb had over 300. Oh and thst was before inspiring leaders temp hp.

    Lastly the warlock should have +12 minimum....and probably advantage. Again at those levels you are going to have something that boosts attacks, could be a magic weapon could be bless. And there are many ways to get advantage at those levels.

    And I think that right there is where high level crs break down. There are certain bonuses at those levels that you just have to expect. You may not know how the party gets them...but you have to trust thst at those levels they just will.

  7. #47
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    Am I the first to suggest making Dragons spellcasters (as from say 1E)?

    I routinely do so.

    The young adult red dragon my PCs may encounter has enlarge/reduce and locate object. It can maneuver through much of the dungeon chasing after any stolen treasure (it knows what it owns).

    Its lair is a 3D cavern that joins 3 separate rooms with ledges for it to land on and a half cave 3/4 of the way up to rest in. The floor is littered in treasure that jingles when stood on and which the dragon would be loathe to flame. That said, it can judge distance precisely and can swoop, flame, swoop to cover.

    Located nearby on the 2nd level are a tribe of kobolds with Half-Dragon leader. These two are allied under the red dragon and will respond to mutual threat.

    ***

    Okay for level 10, try this:
    - Give enemies resources (e.g. allies, spells, information, magic items, wealth) that they actually would have tapped prior to combat.
    - Play with spacing of encounter areas (remember three dimensions) to give consequence to PC choices between boosting melee, ranged or mobility.
    - Do the same with timing of waves, within reason, to challenge the strength of 1 minute buffs.
    - Vary it. Challenge some different aspect of the PCs each time to keep them honest and value their prudent forethought. You're not aiming to beat them, just give them resistance.

  8. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by ClaytonCross View Post
    The dragon exhales fire in a 60-foot cone. Each creature in that area must make a DC 21 Dexterity saving throw, taking 63 (18d6) fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.
    The warlock in this example has fire resistance, either from race or class. That's not planning, but it is a coincidence. Even ignoring the possibility of making the save, which is an extreme assumption when it comes to PCs, you still have the dragon dealing 31 damage every third turn, for a DPR of ~10.3. Congrats, your adult red dragon will kill a warlock of equal level in sixteen rounds.

    Quote Originally Posted by ClaytonCross View Post
    On average your warlock with +11 to hit vs an AC of 19 is going to hit 64% of the time for an average DPR of 36.4 vs The Adult dragon with default 256 HP killing the dragon on turn 8
    Sure, let's go with that.

    Quote Originally Posted by ClaytonCross View Post
    The Dragon makes a multi attack doing 3 attacks at +14 vs the AC18 we gave him above at an 80% chance to hit for each damage of default 15/15/19 total 49 with hit DPR 39.2 which will easily kill the Warlock with good armor.
    That was my entire point, is that dragons are way scarier in melee. Trying to play hit-and-run with their breath weapon would be suicide for such a creature.

    You specifically said that a dragon should be played intelligently by having it fly around and use its breath weapon, which is actually one of the worst things it could possibly do. You specifically said that many DMs run their dragons foolishly, by putting them into melee combat, when going into melee is actually one of their most effective options. I mean, make no mistake about it, that dragon is probably going to lose either way because their stats are a complete joke in this edition, but a well-played dragon that breathes once and then jumps directly into melee at least has a chance of winning.
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  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5ekyu View Post
    ClaytonCross. At 17th level a warlock taking average HP option and a 10 con has 88hp. 8 from first and 5 from the remaining 16. Should we gather you see commonly characters at 17th level with 10 con?

    Also, he referenced eldritch resilience which halves the breath weapon assuming the type of dragon is known and that thematically is not unusual for large adult dragons.

    Not saying all is good with either side but pointing out the obvious presumptions of unnecessary vulnerability.

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    Your Right I did health wrong but the damage that I suggested killed him for the third strike was more than 8 damage. The "eldritch resilience" is not in the player handbook... What is the reference?

  10. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by ClaytonCross View Post
    Your Right I did health wrong but the damage that I suggested killed him for the third strike was more than 8 damage. The "eldritch resilience" is not in the player handbook... What is the reference?
    Fiendish Resilience is a feature of the Fiend patron archetype for warlocks. They get their choice of damage resistance, and can change it after a rest. If they expect to a fight a specific dragon, and they don't otherwise have resistance to that dragon's breath type, they'll probably switch it to that before heading out there. (The tiefling warlock in my game usually set his resistance to either slashing or bludgeoning.)

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