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D&D 5E Bag of Beans killed 2 PCs, solo bosses suck, and where to go from here....

toucanbuzz

Legend
Looking where to go from here since a bag of beans nearly wiped out my gamers.

Last session, Player remembered several real-life months ago they obtained a mysterious bag and got it identified it as a bag of beans. So, of course they had to plant it. We're in a fey-heavy, dark fairy-tale heavy, campaign. The magical beanstalk is well known. This party of 5 5th level characters unfortunately planted a CR16 mummy lord.

Two observations: (1) they very nearly beat it, with the exception of an absurdly high damage roll on a spell on my part (I roll in view). Had I rolled average, PC victory. So, the recent post about CR 16 solo needing to challenge 5 5th level PCs, scripted for my last session. And, (2) ummm, really #1 continued. Solo bosses in D&D don't match their CR.

So, weird naughty word happens and even in death we can find new story lines. So, I need ideas on where to go with a CR16 Mummy Lord. He killed off 2 PCs. PC #1, paladin with powerful artifact weapon made in part by the gawd of the dead, who HATES undead. Mummy has her body and the weapon. PC#2 had pre-determined on death his warlock patron snatches him away, no rez possible.

So yeah, I've got a CR 16 Mummy Lord very confused to be in a forested faery land in possession of a powerful artifact sacred to the gawd of the dead, who HATES undead in this setting. This Mummy Lord is in the middle of the PC barony, a rival monster kingdom about to invade, rival city states that fear expansion of their kingdom, a soon-to-be awakened cyclops lich in a nearby barony's ruins who will resume world conquest on behalf of his long-dead conquering race, and a supreme fey threat yet to be fully unveiled.

So, ideas where my poor Mummy Lord goes and does? I really wasn't expecting this...
 

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Savage Wombat

Adventurer
Well, mummies would have to be patient. I'd say he first finds a place to retreat to, where he can learn what he's up against before making any kind of non-defensive move. Mummies are also traditionally passive, but that doesn't need to apply here.

I'm kind of curious how much a "powerful artifact weapon" in the hands of a 5th level party contributed to their ability to almost defeat a CR 16 opponent.
 

tommybahama

Adventurer
1. PC #1 is now a greater zombie (Tales from the Yawning Portal) in service to the mummy lord. I would keep the artifact on the greater zombie.
2. The mummy lord uses his divination spell to find the nearest ruins or burial ground. He animates any corpses he finds to create more undead servants. By casting at 6th level he will gain six regular zombies in addition to the greater zombie.

3. From the ruins/burial ground the mummy lord will raid surrounding settlements to collect treasure and slaves for his lair. Some evil fey may willingly join his faction. The longer the PCs wait to deal with the mummy lord, the larger his treasure horde and number of minions will grow.

4. Eventually the greater zombie will become a variant undead revenant (monster manual) if he isn't dealt with. He will have spells equivalent to a Level 5 Oathbreaker paladin.

If the party have trouble locating the mummy lord's lair then you can drop a rumor that there have been outbreaks of locust swarms destroying the areas near his lair. The locusts are from the mummy lord's insect plague.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Honestly, before complaining about the CR values of monsters, you should be checking the actual power level of your PCs. The fact that, at 5th level, they already have "powerful artifact weapon made in part by the gawd of the dead" makes me suppose that they are all optimised, using all options like feats and possibly multiclassing. Is that the case ?

Moreover, the mummy lord is a very well known case of a delicate monster, because of its vulnerability to fire. So if the PCs know about it and exploit it, it makes the monster much weaker. Was it the case ? Did your PCs use fire ? Was there any reason these 5th level character would know that fire would be effective against that monster ?

In any case, by its very nature, 5e is fairly swingy, the combination of a d20 and of bounded accuracy which limits the range of differences between a powerful monster and a weaker one inherently makes it so.

But if you boost the offensive capabilities of PCs (artefacts, powerful builds through feats), you will have PCs that are offensively very powerful but defensively weak (few hit points). When you combine this with a solo monster that is also very unbalanced (it's a well known fact about the mummy lord, CR 15 but only 97 HP and an easy to exploit vulnerability) you have an extremely swingy situation, like you noted yourself.

Try that with another CR 15 monsters like a green abishai (187 hp and many resistances, no vulnerability and a DC 17 confusion) or any of the CR 15 dragons (flying, breath, etc.) and you will not get the same result at all.

So if there is something to be learned here, is that you have to be careful in designing encounters. 5e is not 4e which was designed with restrictions but with balance in mind. 5e's objective is NOT to be balanced, for once, so if you introduce further imbalance, you will get very swingy situations, and it's not really fair to say that the design sucks, when the problem is the unbalanced way you are using it, not even correcting for the imbalances that you are introducing (overly powerful PCs for their levels but therefore weak defensively, imbalanced monsters).
 

The Mummy Lord would find a place to hide and recover and learn about the artifacts it just gained. Then it will try to take control of one of the main factions, grow its power, take over the entire region and be the Big Bad Evil Guy for the whole campaign.

* evil laughter *

Seriously though, it needs many many minions if it gets to build the Giant Pyramid that it really wants to have.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Looking where to go from here since a bag of beans nearly wiped out my gamers.

Last session, Player remembered several real-life months ago they obtained a mysterious bag and got it identified it as a bag of beans. So, of course they had to plant it. We're in a fey-heavy, dark fairy-tale heavy, campaign. The magical beanstalk is well known. This party of 5 5th level characters unfortunately planted a CR16 mummy lord.

Two observations: (1) they very nearly beat it, with the exception of an absurdly high damage roll on a spell on my part (I roll in view). Had I rolled average, PC victory. So, the recent post about CR 16 solo needing to challenge 5 5th level PCs, scripted for my last session. And, (2) ummm, really #1 continued. Solo bosses in D&D don't match their CR.

So, weird naughty word happens and even in death we can find new story lines. So, I need ideas on where to go with a CR16 Mummy Lord. He killed off 2 PCs. PC #1, paladin with powerful artifact weapon made in part by the gawd of the dead, who HATES undead. Mummy has her body and the weapon. PC#2 had pre-determined on death his warlock patron snatches him away, no rez possible.

So yeah, I've got a CR 16 Mummy Lord very confused to be in a forested faery land in possession of a powerful artifact sacred to the gawd of the dead, who HATES undead in this setting. This Mummy Lord is in the middle of the PC barony, a rival monster kingdom about to invade, rival city states that fear expansion of their kingdom, a soon-to-be awakened cyclops lich in a nearby barony's ruins who will resume world conquest on behalf of his long-dead conquering race, and a supreme fey threat yet to be fully unveiled.

So, ideas where my poor Mummy Lord goes and does? I really wasn't expecting this...
Question: what are the other three characters doing and do they have enough left in the tank to maybe finish this mummy off before it has a chance to recover and get its bearings?
 

MarkB

Legend
The Bag of Beans produces a Mummy Lord complete with pyramid, so it effectively comes with its own lair. Would it want to set up where it is, or would it prefer to find a way to return itself and its pyramid back to where they belong?
 

The Bag of Beans produces a Mummy Lord complete with pyramid, so it effectively comes with its own lair. Would it want to set up where it is, or would it prefer to find a way to return itself and its pyramid back to where they belong?
Good point. Did the OP use the Mummy Lord's legendary and lair actions, I wonder?

In general, though, I do agree that solo bosses punch under their CR. Which is why I (1.) view CR as just a general guide rather than having any real expectations about it and (2.) typically have some minions, very low level or otherwise, accompanying a boss.

That said, the outcome of the encounter you (@toucanbuzz) describe sounds amazing. The PCs nearly defeated it but didn't and now have two big reasons (well, three, if you count retrieving the sword which might be calling out to the heroes to avenge its former wielder) to pursue the mummy lord into the pyramid lair. If the players want to do that, perhaps the two new PCs are already inside the pyramid - captured or otherwise already adventuring there for some reason - the old and new PCs end up being able to bond and team up.

If a pyramid would be too off-putting in the campaign setting, I might have it appear as an "iceberg"... meaning just the very top might be visible with the bulk of it underground. The pyramid certainly creates a bit of a side quest but, IMO, that's part of the wackiness that can ensue when the bag of beans gets introduced into a campaign.
 

Some thoughts:

4 or 5 PCs in a party use an xp factor of 1 against a solo monster. 6 PCs would use 0.5. In my experience, 5 well built PCs with some powerful magic items should be treated as 6 PCs and use the 0.5 multiplier against solo monsters.

Now you will have an adjusted xp value of 7500, only slightly above 6600 for 6 PCs or 5500 for 5 PCs.
So killing 2 PCs even with a loss is about what deadly is meant to be. It does not mean deadly in the sense of "all PCs will die", but rather "enemies have a good chance to challenge a well rested party".

Edit: as said in the post above: even a few zombie minions spread out might have tipped the balance heavily towards the mummy lord. I have challenged lvl 5 PCs with 5 Zombies, 4 creeping claws and a CR2 Wizard with a wand of magic missile. (i think it was CR2).
 

J-H

Adventurer
As above - the mummy starts gathering minions, setting up traps to deter intruders, using divinations to orient itself, and determining what it's going to do next.

It's a mummy lord, an intelligent and OLD undead. What does it want, in the context of your game?
-Is it a researcher of some sort? Astronomy? Alchemy? Arcane symbols?
-Does it just want to kill people and make them undead?
-Does it want to shut down necromancy and secure dead bodies as dead?
-Does it want to become a new pharoah?
-Who does it worship? In past editions of D&D, mummies with magic often had clerical magic.
 

jgsugden

Legend
If you follow the recommendations in the DMG, a party of 5 PCs of 5th level will have only a handful of uncommon magic items. As others have theorized, the PCs may be a bit on the overpowered side of things. While any group can get real lucky rolls against most foes and manage to survive, it would surprise me if any 5th level party I've DMed against would survive terribly long against a Mummy Lord, even if it did not have Lair actions.

Putting that aside - I would come up with a backstory for that Mummy and then have them pursue the goals they had in life. That would likely take them across the globe to return to a place where they once lived/existed and trying to reclaim their seat of power. They might go there and fall to new heroes of that realm, might conquer it, etc... all possibilities open up interesting story questions (if a LG Paladin killed the Mummy Lord and claimed the near artifact weapon to use in their Righteous Cause ...)
 

Mort

Legend
As others have said, a Mummy Lord is a bit of an outlier (as a seriously glass cannon). Heck a 5th level sorcerer who wins initiative and gets lucky on damage rolls (or crits) can take the mummy lord out himself! Solos (despite the name) need support from minions, or a lair, or some seriously good legendary actions (which the mummy lord has - if he gets to use them).

As for what happens next?

1. The mummy lord raises the 2 dead party members as minions (he seriously needs the support);
2. He solidifies his lair to make getting to him not so easy;
3. Including getting some more baddies to soften up potential interlopers;
4. He decides on an agenda and pursues it (or maybe he had an agenda and just shifts it to the new location).

Lots of fun ways to go!
 

Solos (despite the name) need support from minions, or a lair, or some seriously good legendary actions (which the mummy lord has - if he gets to use them).
Maybe this is why they are NOT called "Solo" in 5e. They are called "Legendary". The misnomer was used in 4e though.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Last session, Player remembered several real-life months ago they obtained a mysterious bag and got it identified it as a bag of beans. So, of course they had to plant it. We're in a fey-heavy, dark fairy-tale heavy, campaign. The magical beanstalk is well known. This party of 5 5th level characters unfortunately planted a CR16 mummy lord.
Player remembered, in real-life time, that she identified a bag of beans. Um, congrats?
Charlie Sheen Applause GIF

Mummy has her body and the weapon. PC#2 had pre-determined on death his warlock patron snatches him away, no rez possible.
The funny thing about gawd weapons - in the hands of their hated minions, they transport those minions directly to the gawd for the appropriate lashing/burning/what-have-you. This will make the mummy lord particularly vengeful, who will return to seek revenge on the PCs at its earliest (and most DM convenient) opportunity.
So, ideas where my poor Mummy Lord goes and does? I really wasn't expecting this...
If it doesn't immediately teleport, it could also limp off in the direction of the nearest Undead-Hating-Gawd shrine. There, it can stab the altar with its relic-weapon, and thus summon the gawd that hates it so much. A pretty epic confrontation ensues, and the fallout clears up some of the other regional issues. The mummy lord can just limp off like that, because it's CR 16, and it eats level 5 PCs for breakfast.

Just wait until the Gods find out about this...
 

toucanbuzz

Legend
I'm kind of curious how much a "powerful artifact weapon" in the hands of a 5th level party contributed to their ability to almost defeat a CR 16 opponent.
It's a "legacy" weapon from 3rd edition style, gets powers as the PC increases in levels and completes rituals. The PC had recently unlocked the weapon to +1. So, able to bypass the mummy lord's damage resistance, in the hands of a paladin with smites.
 

toucanbuzz

Legend
Honestly, before complaining about the CR values of monsters, you should be checking the actual power level of your PCs. The fact that, at 5th level, they already have "powerful artifact weapon made in part by the gawd of the dead" makes me suppose that they are all optimised, using all options like feats and possibly multiclassing. Is that the case ?
I replied to an earlier thread, perhaps should have toned that down to "powerful" in the hands of a high level character, and less powerful in the hands of a lower level character. At the time, it was a +1 weapon that could cast gentle repose and had some gorgeous artwork. The group is not optimized at all and tend to play what makes a good story.
Moreover, the mummy lord is a very well known case of a delicate monster, because of its vulnerability to fire. So if the PCs know about it and exploit it, it makes the monster much weaker. Was it the case ? Did your PCs use fire ? Was there any reason these 5th level character would know that fire would be effective against that monster ?
My gamers are good about playing dumb, but only one had fire anyways and he went down quick.
Try that with another CR 15 monsters like a green abishai (187 hp and many resistances, no vulnerability and a DC 17 confusion) or any of the CR 15 dragons (flying, breath, etc.) and you will not get the same result at all.
Very true, the mummy lord is very vulnerable with 97 hp. It's an unusually weak CR15/16 foe if faced solo.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
So if there is something to be learned here, is that you have to be careful in designing encounters. 5e is not 4e which was designed with restrictions but with balance in mind. 5e's objective is NOT to be balanced, for once, so if you introduce further imbalance, you will get very swingy situations, and it's not really fair to say that the design sucks, when the problem is the unbalanced way you are using it, not even correcting for the imbalances that you are introducing (overly powerful PCs for their levels but therefore weak defensively, imbalanced monsters).
The Mummy Lord was the random result of a Bag of Beans. It's really confusing about what you're adding to this, as he's asking for ideas about how to integrate plots from the player-agency-created Mummy Lord into his game, and instead this was all just a criticism about picking a monster (which he didn't do).
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
The Mummy Lord was the random result of a Bag of Beans. It's really confusing about what you're adding to this, as he's asking for ideas about how to integrate plots from the player-agency-created Mummy Lord into his game, and instead this was all just a criticism about picking a monster (which he didn't do).
I love the idea of a future group of adventurers seeking out the destruction of the Mummy Lord. There's been decades of mystery surrounding its creation. Where did it come from? An ancient curse? A corrupted cleric? Dwarves mining too deep?

Then they discover the Mummy Lord's secret origin... a Bag of Beans!
 

toucanbuzz

Legend
Question: what are the other three characters doing and do they have enough left in the tank to maybe finish this mummy off before it has a chance to recover and get its bearings?
Getting the heck out of dodge. Two stumbled out of an insect plague when it was clear things were going south. They would've been dead in one more hit. The third, a player who had just rolled up a cleric after his last character died, was down and dying. He used a stronghold power (Colville's product, after building a temple to the faith can roll for a chance to briefly gain a blessing or curse, and with a really high roll, summon briefly a servant of the gawd, chances increase when doing great deeds for the religion and decrease when using this power or going against ethos). Player rolled really high, against the odds, and summoned a servant briefly that carried him to safety. There's a cool factor that I liked quite a bit. They've been though quite a bit to get this temple and their barony up and going, and to actually, for the first time, see something awesome come from it, makes it worth the months of gaming.

I should add that many sessions ago they came across an elemental gem (water) and smashed it during the battle. However, the user lost Concentration and the elemental went rogue. The retreat began soon after, and the rampaging elemental bought them a good round to run since it was already engaged.

Had the players stayed, they might have taken the mummy down and then likely died to the elemental. It was a no win.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
A lot of old modules you would find an anti-X weapon in the horde of X, either because they sought ti out to remove it, or because someone came after them with it. The Mummy might collect minions (undead, evil fey, etc) just to stop it from falling into the hands of those who might wield it.

As a side note, I would raise the body of the warlock as well - but it's just a simple grunt since it's soul has been taken. Just to add to the horror (or pleasure of closure) when the party needs to deal with them again.

Remember the Mummy Lord is not omniscient - it will need to learn it's in the feywild, etc. It's more likely that enemies of the party would find out about it first and approach it, especially as it has already dealt with two of them.
 

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