D&D 5E Beefing up Acererak for 16th level PCs?

dave2008

Legend
All characters are level 16 and will be when they face Acererak and the atropal.

Okay, so the major damage dealer is the tiefling swashbuckler rogue who recklessly throws himself into danger. Since the characters had previously gone through Curse of Strahd, he's a wereraven. (He volunteered to be resistant to nonmagical damage instead of fully immune.) Thankfully, all of the attacks will either be magical or of a type to which he's not resistant.

Next up is the halfling barbarian/tempest domain cleric of Kord. He has a magic hammer that is essentially Mjolnir, and one of his go-to spells is shatter.

Then there's the elven rogue/cleric/ranger whose favored enemy is the undead. He has a magic bow, the archery fighting style, an extra attack, and the sharpshooter feat, so he can deal a ton of damage.

The wild card is the eight year old girl with a fiendish patron. She likes to set things on fire and uses the bonfire cantrip anytime she can. She also has the use of counterspell, so that can usually screw up the villain's plans for a couple rounds.

The half-elf sorcerer/fighter also has counterspell, plus she has an extra attack. She also has a +3 staff, but I'm hoping most of the party will choose to avoid close quarters combat.

The one who can't avoid close quarters combat, however, is the dwarven fighter battle master. Honestly, he doesn't do nearly as much damage as one would think a high level fighter would do. He's pretty tanky, though, and has an AC of 21.

So yeah, six PCs with a lot of actions per round. That's why I worry that the enemies will just get wailed on and only occasionally be able to dish out some significant damage.
OK, 6 level 16 PCs is probably to much for a solo Acererak, even with my simple suggestions that buff him to CR 26. What you need is something in the quick fix #2:
  • Use the CR 25 version (replace raise dead with fireball / lightning bolt)
  • Make it Mythic: give it the Mythic Trait: when he hits 0 all conditions and effects on him end, he regains all of his hit points, and he can use mythic actions (if you want to add them). Mythic actions don't change the CR, just give you more options. The XP of Mythic CR 25 Acererak is equivalent to a CR 30 monster is about right for 6 lvl 16 PCs
 

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mrm1138

Explorer
While I have people's attention, I'm also worried that I'll be having trouble for the very final encounter of the campaign. The way things are set up, the BBEG is yet another lich, in this case Raugilath. That said, the intended final boss is Dendar, The Night Serpent, but the PCs are already aware that Raugilath is pulling the strings and trying to get the lizardfolk to free him from his dimensional prison by tricking them into thinking they're summoning Dendar. The characters will all be level 20 by this point, so I'm not sure that even a CR 30 creature like Dendar will be much of a challenge since it's a six-on-one fight. I'm thinking of having Raugilath show up as well, but I'm afraid that, since they'll have already fought a lich, it will feel too repetitive. Like I said, though, they're already aware of Raugilath, and it would seem anti-climactic for them not to face him.

And since they will already have faced an arch lich, there any such thing as a super arch lich I could use for Raugilath?
 

dave2008

Legend
While I have people's attention, I'm also worried that I'll be having trouble for the very final encounter of the campaign. The way things are set up, the BBEG is yet another lich, in this case Raugilath. That said, the intended final boss is Dendar, The Night Serpent, but the PCs are already aware that Raugilath is pulling the strings and trying to get the lizardfolk to free him from his dimensional prison by tricking them into thinking they're summoning Dendar. The characters will all be level 20 by this point, so I'm not sure that even a CR 30 creature like Dendar will be much of a challenge since it's a six-on-one fight. I'm thinking of having Raugilath show up as well, but I'm afraid that, since they'll have already fought a lich, it will feel too repetitive. Like I said, though, they're already aware of Raugilath, and it would seem anti-climactic for them not to face him.

And since they will already have faced an arch lich, there any such thing as a super arch lich I could use for Raugilath?
This might be OP, but the Dendar I made several years ago was CR 45 monster in 3-parts (effectively 3 CR 45 monsters). It used some old revised guidelines, but you can nerf it a bit to be a truly epic finish to your campaign. Anyway, it is in my 5e Epic Updates Thread: Primordials (2nd from the top after the traits)

PS It is a bit old and could use an update (which I will get to eventually)
 
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dave2008

Legend
Ok, I went ahead and made a Mythic Acererak for you: Acererak

I think it should be a good solo challenge for your group. A couple of notes:
  • if your part is looking a bit ragged when Acererak's mythic trait activates, you might remove the part where his spell slots recharge. It will not nerf him a lot, but it will just a bit.
  • I based the CR with Acdererak casting disintegrate at the maximum possible level, but you don't have to do that. It may be more effective to use a up-cast fireball or lightning bolt if he can catch more the 2 people in the AoE.
  • Don't forget about his shield and counterspell reactions. If you worried he might be pinned down by multiple spells, you can always give him the reactive trait (maybe just 2 reactions though).
 



doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
While I have people's attention, I'm also worried that I'll be having trouble for the very final encounter of the campaign. The way things are set up, the BBEG is yet another lich, in this case Raugilath. That said, the intended final boss is Dendar, The Night Serpent, but the PCs are already aware that Raugilath is pulling the strings and trying to get the lizardfolk to free him from his dimensional prison by tricking them into thinking they're summoning Dendar. The characters will all be level 20 by this point, so I'm not sure that even a CR 30 creature like Dendar will be much of a challenge since it's a six-on-one fight. I'm thinking of having Raugilath show up as well, but I'm afraid that, since they'll have already fought a lich, it will feel too repetitive. Like I said, though, they're already aware of Raugilath, and it would seem anti-climactic for them not to face him.

And since they will already have faced an arch lich, there any such thing as a super arch lich I could use for Raugilath?
Why not have your lich become one with Dendar, becoming a sort of hybrid eldergodlich thing, with two turns and some wild lair actions.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Ooh, that's a cool idea! Thanks!
Glad you like! The main thing for solo fights is to give more action economy to the solo enemy.

Some things I did recently with a fight against a beefed up Warforged Titan (called an Arcane Titan)
It had absorb elements, heat metal on it's weapons, and it exploded when destroyed
It had an arcane energy shield that it could regenerate by spending charges, basically like the artillerist's THP cannon.
It also absorbed part of any spell with a level that was used on it, gaining charges as if it were a magic item. (in story, the cult that made it had mixed creature magic and magic item magic. Next version they face will also have place magic, and thus lair actions!)
It had a bonus action arcane cannon, as the artificer's eldritch cannon, and two emplacements for snipers to sit and have half cover.
Each of it's major systems was a creature with it's own hit points and AC and 1 action per round independent of it's turn. These systems were each arm, the legs and lower torso, the upper torso and head, and the cannon up top.

Now, obviously a lot of that doesn't translate, but you've got a powerful lich mixed with an elder god of darkness. Absorbing the PC's magical attacks and using the power to hit them back is pretty on-brand, as is giving it both legendary and lair actions, and a couple turns per round, and separate HP pools for each head, tail, etc.
 

Auto-damage close range auras definitely add up over time, especially when combined with the damage most of them do when someone hits the target with a melee attack.

  • Give lichboy an aura that deals fairly minor damage to all creatures in it, and heals him.

One thing to keep in mind is that where Acererak first appears, there's at least 20' of lava between him and the PCs. And he's on a small balcony with his sphere of annihilation beside him - only about 2-3 PCs can close with him, and once they do, almost any AOE effect is going to hit them as well.
The one who can't avoid close quarters combat, however, is the dwarven fighter battle master. Honestly, he doesn't do nearly as much damage as one would think a high level fighter would do. He's pretty tanky, though, and has an AC of 21.

Another option I'd think would be to give him a dracolich mount. Something threatening enough to draw some of the fire from him.
 

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