D&D 5E Blanking on my finale Dragonlance battle this weekend


No rule is inviolate
So short notice, as I procrastinated at the end of a year-long Dragonlance campaign (wherein we ran the original modules converted, with Level Up for characters), the players made it to the finale. And, while I have the "as written" part, it's not the climatic ultra-conflict boss battle that I envision most campaigns ending on. I've got till Sunday afternoon to figure something super-amazing out for a dynamic battle.

Spoilers (if you want to run the original module someday, avoid).



In our adventure, the Dark Queen can be defeated if the players bring an undying cursed NPC to the foundation of the Dark Queen's temple, and he sacrifices himself on the foundation stone where he was originally cursed. It's a long story for those who don't know DL, and the game has 6 random ways the Queen can be stopped. The letdown is that, as originally scripted, it's a blank room with a single guardian, easy-to-beat at these levels. Skip to Epilogue.

And, my players are already in the dungeons, fairly close to stumbling upon the foundation stone room. I'm blanking on ideas to make it cataclysmic. In Out of the Abyss, I gave players demon lords to control in a royal rumble finale (them facing the last weakened one). In Strahd, they had to survive his guerilla tactics to uncover a way to drive him so insanely mad he'd abandon his invincible strategy, doing a run-and-gun through his massive castle. And so on. There's always a boss finale that has a unique and epic feel to it. HELP!

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If I recall right, what distinguishes Dragonlance finales from, say, the Rise of Tiamat storyline, is that the final confrontation is not about physical combat with Takhisis. Rather, the climax tends to be a highly character-focused mosaic – Raistlin wavering on the cusp of evil, Tasselhoff disappearing and believed dead until reappearing at the opportune moment, Tanis Half-Elven pleading with the undead elf to help his friends in their hour of need and having to argue his worthiness, etc. So I'd actually be looking at the PCs' specifics to craft the finale.

Edit: Oh! The eidolon with multiple sacred statues (Volo's Guide to Monsters) is a really terrifying opponent. I ran it for 5th level group as part of an Indiana Jones-esque puzzle mini-dungeon with rival NPCs, and it served as a great overpowered foe to trigger as part of a trap and inspire a "let's GTFO" response. I could see it making an interesting final adversary...and kinda matches what you've described already.
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The characters are still at the heart of the empire, there is no reason why no one should be down there.

Depending on their levels and your storyline you could have Lord Soth and Kitiara there, plus some stormtroops, or something similar
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Distracted DM

Distracted DM
Endings are hard. I've been satisfied with maybe 2 campaign endings I've done- and the part that I was most satisfied with wasn't the ending battle, but going around the table and doing back and forth questions with each player about their character's epilogue.

I guess I'm trying to say .. try not to stress about the combat, it's where the characters end up that'll be most important.

Of course, if the party loses or characters die in the end combat then that will impact your end conversation ;)


Have some priests etc. work on the stone, so Takhisis can finally enter the world for good. If they can snatch and sacrifice the gemstone man, the gate for Takhisis opens, if the players manage to hold them off so he can do his ritual, the connection closes for good.

Add troops / bosses (high priest?) to the priests as needed


Do the bad guys know what the PCs are planning, and can they prepare accordingly? I'm thinking of things like illusion magic to mask the true position of the foundation stone, restraining magics to hold the sacrificial NPC in place, or just focus-firing on them before they can do their ritual sacrifice.

First of all, is the NPC actually ready and prepared to sacrifice themselves? Do they know what's coming? Because if not, that could be one way to do things. Have the PCs hold off all sorts of bad guys while the NPC wrestles with their internal demons (probably in visible dreamscape form so the PCs can see what's going on)

If you want a more conventional smackdown combat, consider that the foundation stone of the temple in Neraka is actually the stone from the great temple of Istar, the very place where the Cataclysm was caused. As such, it's probably haunted as hell. One possibility is to have the tormented, insane ghost of the Kingpriest himself tethered to the stone. Given who the Kingpriest is, he is probably set on defending 'his' temple from anyone who bears the slightest taint of 'evil', which by his impossible standards is pretty much anyone who's ever had bad thoughts. Defeating Takhisis's guardian, and whatever Dragonarmy reinforcements are en route, AND the ghost kingpriest at the same time could possibly be a scenario you could work with. Maybe the kingpriestghost has some sort of hallucinatory terrain ability, that can make the foundation stone room appear as the heart of the Istar temple on the day of the Cataclysm, and/or the desolate ruins much later where Berem (or whoever you're using) found the gemstone.

Fighting both the forces of Evil and an expression of excessive 'good' is pretty thematic for Dragonlance. What is of course MOST thematic is for the PCs internal ructions and conflicts and personal subplots to interfere, but it sounds like you're beyond that point.


As you just did Ravenloft my first suggestion is likely not a great one - have the PCs get thrust into a Ravenloft Domain that is tied to the foundation stone.

A simpler answer is to add a few guardian creatures to the combat and then put it on a timer. They have X rounds to achieve their goals or everything is lost. The intensity of a counting down timer adds a lot of stress and planning to a combat.

I'd also consider the enemies and allies that they've met along the way. Is there a loose thread that they did not resolve that could complicate the situation now? In one campaign I ran the PCs had an ally that occasionally adventured with them (traveled, but always left them when the real adventure began). However, that NPC was hunting the big bad of the campaign for years and the PCs assumed it was to kill it. In truth, it was because he was cursed and was driven to offer himself to it as a new host. The PCs brough the NPC along and used a lot of magics to buff him up - only to have him suddenly turn into the foe they were there to face. It was a well received and memorable battle because they were facing off against a former ally at the same time they were facing their arch nemesis.


I was going to suggest pulling a few cues from DL10 - Dragons of Dreams. As they get close to the foundation stone, reality begins to warp, melding with the Abyss to create visions and landscapes. When they get to the stone, Takahisis hits them not physically, but mentally. She promises gifts of treasure, power or to fulfill the character's deepest desires. She doesn't just voice an offer, she immerses the characters in their desires - she makes the offer real to make refusing it that more difficult, and the demons within the offers are there (in disguise) to make sure the characters are dealt with if they refuse.

And even if the characters work their way through the offers, they arrive at the foundation stone where the Gemstone Man sacrifices himself - only for it to go horrendously, terribly wrong as the Gemstone Man is flayed for his sacrifice - and it looks like the PCs are next as demons tear from the poor man's screaming body. Of course, this is the last "illusion" the Queen of Darkness can put forward to try and dissuade the PCs, by playing on the PCs being willing to sacrifice someone else instead of themselves. If the PCs can prove they are brave and willing enough to make the sacrifice in the Gemstone Man's place, they can defeat the illusion and seal the rift. Until someone steps forward to sacrifice themselves, the flood of (illusionary) demons won't stop and will eventually overwhelm them and/or hunt them down if they attempt to retreat. If the players succeed and the illusion is thus dispelled, that might be when Takahisis herself decides to (partly) step in to ensure the group doesn't complete their plan.

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