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D&D 5E Bosses should have half as many actions as there are PCs

d24454_modern

Explorer
I believe the best way to solve the problem of bosses not having good action economy would be to give bosses extra turns per PC. Half seems like a good number.

Let's say the boss is fighting a party of four. The boss would get two turns per round. Everybody rolls for Initiative. The DM would roll for Initiative twice for the boss. The turn order would be something like: PC #1, Boss, PC #2, PC #3, Boss, PC #4.

Some extra rules:
  • The boss' buffs and debuffs last per Round rather than per turn.
  • When a boss casts a spell that takes more than one round, each individual turn counts as "1 round" or 6 sec.
Any other rules you think I should add? Any flaws that you want to point out? Let me know.
 

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tommybahama

Adventurer
The Ravenloft Mist Hunters adventure I was in gave stars for role play and avoiding certain actions in the adventure. The more stars, the more legendary actions the BBEG had at the end. Some were movement, some were spell effects. It worked out well imho. This was a level 3 adventure.

The BBEG also had minions. They were about equally important to the combat as the legendary actions. I guess each minion is a legendary action of sorts.
 




ECMO3

Adventurer
I believe the best way to solve the problem of bosses not having good action economy would be to give bosses extra turns per PC. Half seems like a good number.

Let's say the boss is fighting a party of four. The boss would get two turns per round. Everybody rolls for Initiative. The DM would roll for Initiative twice for the boss. The turn order would be something like: PC #1, Boss, PC #2, PC #3, Boss, PC #4.

Some extra rules:
  • The boss' buffs and debuffs last per Round rather than per turn.
  • When a boss casts a spell that takes more than one round, each individual turn counts as "1 round" or 6 sec.
Any other rules you think I should add? Any flaws that you want to point out? Let me know.
I think you should pick (or build) a boss with legendary actions to acomplish this. I do not think most monsters should have the ability to take more than 1 normal action per round.
 

tommybahama

Adventurer
I also like solo fights since I only need to keep track of one set of HP when I fight.

Check out Sly Flourish's (the Lazy DM) rules for running hordes.

Running Hordes: The Lazy Way to Run Lots of D&D Monsters

Rules Summary
  • Tally damage done to any member of the horde in a single tally. Any time that tally is higher than the hit points of a single monster, remove a monster. Round monster hit points to the nearest 5 or 10 to make the math easier.
  • Whenever the monsters attack or must make a saving throw, assume one quarter succeeds and round up or down depending on the sitation. Increase this to half if the monsters have advantage or one in ten if they have disadvantage.
  • Adjudicate areas of effect by assuming lots of members of the horde are caught in the area. Small areas hit four, medium areas like thunder wave or burning hands hit eight, large areas like fireball or turn undead hit sixteen. Huge areas like circle of death hit thirty two. If the damage done by an area of effect is close to a single monster's hit points, remove the monsters if they fail the saving throw.
 

When I have a solo monster, it takes a second turn on initiative 20. If I have a solo monster at a high level, it can take an another turn on initiative 10 or sometimes even initiative 0 too.

It really does make a big, big difference.
 




D&D simply isn't designed to handle "boss fights" very well because of the nature of the game's history as a wargame. Frankly, if you want to do "boss fights," you do need to give NPCs extra actions, but the best option is to stagger them throughout the turn, giving him multiple initiative counts.
 

Panfilo

Existential Risk
There's a definitely a tension between these solutions (both the core legendary/lair action economy and its alternatives) and the verisimilitude of facing a foe who feels governed by the same reality as the party. A dragon's lair actions are fairly intuitive, but Some Cool Evil Guy With Class Levels acting three times as often as a normal person can feel strange to narrate. It's a similar issue to a 4E Ettin effectively being twice as fast as a normal character because of its doubled action economy. For me, this is the major challenge for improvement over what we have now.
 


CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Yeah, "boss" monsters in 5E take a little more work for the DM...especially at low levels, when you want to challenge the party but you don't want to completely annihilate them. I don't know if it's what you're looking for, but here's what I do:
  1. Choose a creature to be your "boss monster." An ettercap, for example.
  2. Make it legendary: give it Legendary Resistance 3/Day, and give it three Legendary Actions (invent them yourself, or borrow them from other Legendary monsters.) Remember to increase the CR by +1.
  3. Give it three Lair actions. Remember to increase the CR by +1 if the encounter occurs in the monster's lair. Invent these lair actions yourself, or borrow them from other Legendary monsters.) I borrowed mine from the vampire because Why Not?
  4. Give it some henchmen or allies. Use an encounter balancer (like this one) to dial in the difficulty you want. For my players and this "boss" monster, I think two CR 1/2 insect swarms would be appropriate.
  5. Give it a proper treasure hoard.
  6. Done!
Boss ETTERCAP
Medium monstrosity, neutral evil
Armor Class 13 (Natural Armor)
Hit Points 44 (8d8+8)
Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft.
Abilities STR 14 (+2), DEX 15 (+2), CON13 (+1), INT 7 (-2), WIS 12 (+1), CHA 8 (-1)
Skills Perception +3, Stealth +4, Survival +3
Senses Darkvision 60 ft., passive perception 13
Challenge 3 (700 XP). In lair: 4 (1100)

TRAITS
Legendary Resistance (3/Day):
If the ettercap fails a saving throw, it can choose to succeed instead.

Spider Climb: The ettercap can climb difficult surfaces, including upside down on ceilings, without needing to make an ability check.

Web Sense: While in contact with a web, the ettercap knows the exact location of any other creature in contact with the same web.

Web Walker: The ettercap ignores movement restrictions caused by webbing.

ACTIONS
Multiattack:
The ettercap makes two attacks: one with its bite and one with its claws.

Bite: Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 6 (1d8 + 2) piercing damage plus 4 (1d8) poison damage. The target must succeed on a DC 11 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned for 1 minute. The creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.

Claws: Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (2d4 + 2) slashing damage.

Web (Recharge 5-6): Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 30/60 ft., one Large or smaller creature. Hit: The creature is restrained by webbing. As an action, the restrained creature can make a DC 11 Strength check, escaping from the webbing on a success. The effect also ends if the webbing is destroyed. The webbing has AC 10, 5 hit points, vulnerability to fire damage, and immunity to bludgeoning, poison, and psychic damage.

LEGENDARY ACTIONS
The ettercap can take 3 Legendary Actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action can be used at a time, and only at the end of another creature's turn. Spent legendary actions are regained at the start of each turn.

Move: the ettercap moves up to its speed without provoking opportunity attacks.

Claw: the ettercap makes one claw attack.

Bite (costs 2 actions): the ettercap makes a bite attack.

LAIR ACTIONS
The ettercap's lair is a cramped, dark room or cavern that is choked with hundreds of tiny spiders and curtains of their webs. When fighting inside its lair, the ettercap can use this inhospitable environment to its advantage. On Initiative count 20 (losing ties), the ettercap takes a lair action to cause one of the following effects.
  • The ettercap grasps a fistful of webbing and pulls it, causing a section of the webs to tighten. All creatures within a 15-foot cone eminating from the ettercap must make a DC 11 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone and dragged up to 15 feet toward the ettercap.
  • A Tiny spider drops down from the ceiling and bites one opponent within 30 feet of the ettercap. The creature bitten must make a DC 11 Constitution save or take 4 (1d8) poison damage and gain the Poisoned condition for 1 minute.
  • One of the ettercap's opponents accidentally steps on a clutch of spider eggs, causing them to break open and cover a 5' x 5' section of the floor in a thick green slime. All creatures that enter that 5' x 5' square, or begin their turn there, must make a DC 11 Dexterity save throw or fall prone.
 
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vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I've created small template to create Basic, Elite and Solo version of any monster.

- Max HP, 1 or 2 Legendary action, 1 or 2 legendary resistance goes a long way. (Basic have the minimal HP permissible for their HD, Minions have 1 HP)

- Give 1-2 skills proficiency, 1-2 saves proficiency. Solo monster have 1/2 PB to all untrained saves.

- All Enemies adds their PB (half/full/double) for any size category over medium to resist being moved/grappled.

- All Enemies add their PB to damage dealt by an attack/spell.
 

I've created small template to create Basic, Elite and Solo version of any monster.

- Max HP, 1 or 2 Legendary action, 1 or 2 legendary resistance goes a long way. (Basic have the minimal HP permissible for their HD, Minions have 1 HP)

- Give 1-2 skills proficiency, 1-2 saves proficiency. Solo monster have 1/2 PB to all untrained saves.

- All Enemies adds their PB (half/full/double) for any size category over medium to resist being moved/grappled.

- All Enemies add their PB to damage dealt by an attack/spell.
Thw peoblem is often: does giving the enemy boss extra turns feel like cheating...

At some level players usually like humanoids to work on a basis that is at least similar to the PC's capabilities.
For nom humanoids there is more leeway for such things.

So I actually do prefer minions and higher level for humanoids and legendary abilities for big monsters.
Smaller monsters fall somewhere in between, so I like the elite approach.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Thw peoblem is often: does giving the enemy boss extra turns feel like cheating...

At some level players usually like humanoids to work on a basis that is at least similar to the PC's capabilities.
For nom humanoids there is more leeway for such things.

So I actually do prefer minions and higher level for humanoids and legendary abilities for big monsters.
Smaller monsters fall somewhere in between, so I like the elite approach.
Honnestly, I dont really mind it, myself.

I've a large table (about 8 players), so if I do a solo, it can be a little static if the monster only goes once per 15 minutes.

And my players are pretty bad, so the rounds are extra long. Having the big bad uglies have more actions keeps them a little more engaged between their turns. :p

Now, I dont use solos all that often either. I tend to favor one Elite with waves of minions over 2-3 back-to-back encounters.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
I believe the best way to solve the problem of bosses not having good action economy would be to give bosses extra turns per PC. Half seems like a good number.

Let's say the boss is fighting a party of four. The boss would get two turns per round. Everybody rolls for Initiative. The DM would roll for Initiative twice for the boss. The turn order would be something like: PC #1, Boss, PC #2, PC #3, Boss, PC #4.

Some extra rules:
  • The boss' buffs and debuffs last per Round rather than per turn.
  • When a boss casts a spell that takes more than one round, each individual turn counts as "1 round" or 6 sec.
Any other rules you think I should add? Any flaws that you want to point out? Let me know.
It definitely has a domino effect on several parts of the game...
  • More Reactions: The "boss" will have more reactions to use throughout the round, as the rule is: "When you take a Reaction you can’t take another one until the start of your next turn." That's a cool side effect.
  • Uneven Shaking Off: Additionally, the boss will shake off effects that last until start/end of its next turn much faster. This will make concentration or other longer duration effects more valuable. And it also doesn't mitigate effects like the monk's Stunning Strike, which last until the end of the player's next turn. I'm not sure whether that's a good side effect, because of its uneven application.
  • Susceptible to On-Its-Turn Triggers: Some spells/effects trigger on the enemy's turn, such as immolation, which states: "At the end of each of its turns, the target repeats the saving throw. It takes 4d6 fire damage on a failed save, and the spell ends on a successful one." In other words, as a side effect of giving the boss multiple turns, suddenly you've made it more susceptible to a very specific type of spell/effect which smart players will exploit.
  • Initiative & End-of-Round Hijinx: If we say the boss' buffs/debuffs last till "end of round", then what happens when the boss gets unlucky and rolls crummy initiatives of 6 and 8, and then all the PCs go first, then it does its buff/debuff which... lasts until the end of the round... which comes right after its initiative count of 8? Not saying it couldn't work, but as presented, poor initiative rolls would affect this proposed boss more than many of the baseline critters in the Monster Manual.
  • Boss' Spells End Faster: With each individual turn counting as 1 round on the boss' "spell clock", that means that the larger the PC's party, the faster the boss' spell effects end. For example, against 3 players, the boss casts a 1 minute duration spell – that 1 minute would normally be 10 rounds (of 6 sec each), but with your interpretation becomes 10 turns, which instead becomes 2-and-1/2 rounds, or thereabouts. Whereas against 6 players, the boss casts the same 1 minute duration spell – and instead of lasting 10 rounds, or even 2-and-1/2 rounds, it barely lasts 1-and-1/2 rounds. Is that intended? It seems to be an unintentional side effect?
 

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