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D&D 5E Help With fixing the BBEG, after he got destroyed in 3 rounds

NotQuiteANoble

Explorer
Actually, I'm surprised they had problems with Bel with that much magic. At the end of our Avernus campaign our 13th level characters with much less in terms of magic (except for our paladin) were able to defeat him. Tough battle, but with buffing like Heroes Feast against his fear, not impossible. We did have more than four PCs though.
There was the 4 Fire Giants as well, and the Paladin got into a one on one with Bel(dragonborn hates Giants). I didn't end up using Meteor Swarm or Imprisonment, just Legendary Action fireballs and 3 attacks
 

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NotQuiteANoble

Explorer
OK OP, for the party you describe above - try this:

Alias
Medium Undead, neutral evil
Armor Class 22 (natural Armor)
Hit Points 300 (35d8+140)
Speed 40 ft., fly 40 ft.

STR-14 (+2), DEX-20 (+5), CON-18 (+4), INT-13 +1), WIS-18 (+4), CHA-24(+7)

Resistant: Psychic, Cold, Lightning*, Radiant*
Immune: Necrotic, Poison; Bludgeoning, Piercing and Slashing from nonmagical weapons
Condition Immunity: Charmed, Exhaustion, Frightened, Paralysed, Poisoned, Stunned
Saving Throws Con +12 Wis +12, Int + 9
Skills: Insight +9, Perception +12, Persuasion +15, Deception +15, Arcana +17, Acrobatics +13
Senses: truesight 120 ft, passive perception 22
Languages: all, Telepathy 120’
Challenge 23 (50,000 XP) – Proficiency bonus +8

Regeneration- Alias recovers 30 hit points at the start of his turn as long as he has at least 1 hit point, and he hasn’t taken any radiant damage since the end of his last turn.

First to battle: Alias treats all Dexterity checks to determine initiative as if he rolled a natural 20.

Jack of all Trades: Alias gains +4 to any ability checks that he does not normally add his proficiency bonus to.

Legendary Resistance (3/Day). If Alias fails a saving throw, he can choose to succeed instead.

Magic resistance. Alias has advantage on saves vs other spells and magical effects.

Magic Weapons. Alias’ weapon attacks are magical.

Turn Immunity – as Revenant

Hateful Ricochet: As a reaction, Alias adds +8 to its AC against one melee Attack that would hit him. To do so, Alias must see the attacker and be wielding a melee weapon. If this reaction causes an attack to miss, Alias can make one attack with Mythcarver at the same creature, and as part of the same reaction.

Spellcasting- Alias is a 17th level spellcaster. He uses Charisma for his DC and spell attacks (DC 23). Aliases spells are cast without somatic or material components, using the power of Song of Chaos in the Dark speech of Thanatos. He has the following Bard spells prepared:

0-Mind Sliver, Minor Illusion, Friends, Thunderclap
1(4)- Bane, Cure Wounds, Healing Word, Thunderwave
2(3)- Misty Step, Invisibility, Suggestion
3(3)-Dispel Magic, Major Image, Lighting bolt
4(3)- Greater Invisibility, Dimension Door, Death Ward (1 slot used)
5(2)-Scrying, Synaptic Static, Steel Wind Strike
6(1)-Ottos Irresistable dance
7(1)-Teleport
8(1)-Glibness, Feeblemind (1 slot used)
9(1)- Foresight (1 slot used)

Alias has cast Death ward, Glibness and Foresight prior to any battle with the PC's.

_____________________ Actions _____________________

Multiattack- Alias makes two attacks with Mythcarver, and one attack with Deconstructing Touch:

- Mythcarver - melee weapon attack +15 to hit, one target – Hit: 12 (1d10+7) slashing and 14 (4d6) force damage.

- Deconstructing Touch: - melee spell attack (+15 to hit). On a hit, the target must make a DC 15 Con save, or magically take 10d6+40 force damage on a failed save, or half as much on a success. If the target is reduced to zero hit points, they are disintegrated, and are reduced to dust.

Legendary Actions (Alias has 3 legendary actions)-

- Striking Enmity (1)- Alias makes one attack with Mythcarver

- Quickened Retort (1-3)- Alias expends a number of legendary actions in order to cast a spell of a maximum level equal the number of actions spent x 2

- Lightning reflexes (2)- If Alias has spent his reaction, he instantly regains it as if it were the start of his turn

Equipment: Alias has Boots of flying, Mythcarver (a +2 Longsword with the Finesse property that grants its wielder advantage on Charisma ability checks) and Half plate of Radiant resistance (factored into above), and a Ring of Lightning resistance.

-----------------------------
Tactics:

Alias is immune to being surprised (thanks to Foresight) and always gains an initiative check result of 29 (thanks to his First to battle and Jack of all Trades ability).

On his first turn, he targets the Ki-Rin with Dispel magic. Thanks to Glibness his Charisma check is 15, plus 7 for Charisma, plus 4 for Jack of all Trades for a total result of 26 - meaning True Polymorph is dispelled and the Ki Rin is reduced to his normal form.

He then flies 40' straight up.

He makes judicial use of Counterspell to counter any attempts by enemy casters to counter any of his own spells including the dispel magic (his counters cannot themselves be countered as they lack any V, S or M components).

If engaged in melee and he still has his reaction available, he uses Hateful retort against the first attack that hits and is less than a 30 (granting him an AC of 30 and causing the attack to miss) and then whacks the martial PC with mythcarver as part of the same reaction.

For his first legendary action, he refreshes his reaction if it is spent with his lightning reflexes ability. If it is not spent, he uses Quickened retort to blow 3 legendary actions to cast Steel Wind strike (+15), ending his reaction within 5' of the Wizard, and as far away from the Barbarian and Paladin as possible.

He also frequently uses this reaction to cast Misty step for extra movement (1 LA), Dispel Magic (2 LA) if there are any problem spells in operation, or for other spells such as pinning an enemy martial to the spot with Ottos irresistible dance for 3 LA (although his preference is to recharge his reaction to enable him to counter enemy spells, and to use his Hateful retort Parry ability to scare the melee fighters to death).

If trapped in a forcecage or wall of force he uses Misty Step to escape, using his reaction to cast it if necessary.

Your parties weakness is they lack the ability to fly (barring the Ki-Rin) and are extremely melee centric. Dispelling the True Polymorph on the Ki Rin will have the PCs on the back foot from the start of the encounter, and they'll have to figure out how to deal with a flying spellcaster, who can parry 1 attack each turn, and can easily counter the Wizards attempts to get the Melee guys flying.

The Wizard needs to figure out how to get more than 60' away from Alias or become unseen (to avoid his counter spells) or wait till Alias is out of reactions (ready action perhaps) in order to cast Fly on the PC martials.

In other words, they'll have to think their way out of this one.
That is... extremely helpful. Thank you
 

There was the 4 Fire Giants as well, and the Paladin got into a one on one with Bel(dragonborn hates Giants). I didn't end up using Meteor Swarm or Imprisonment, just Legendary Action fireballs and 3 attacks

I highly doubt the PCs you listed above are making the DC 23 Dex save vs Meteor Swarms 140 points of damage, which as 13th level PCs, kills them on the spot.
 

NotQuiteANoble

Explorer
I highly doubt the PCs you listed above are making the DC 23 Dex save vs Meteor Swarms 140 points of damage, which as 13th level PCs, kills them on the spot.
Ancients Paladin was the problem. It has a Scarab of protection I forgot about. Advantage on magical saves, +5 to all of them, resistance to spell damage. Wizard and Barbarian have advantage as well. The Wizard would probably die regardless though
 

Ancients Paladin was the problem. It has a Scarab of protection I forgot about. Advantage on magical saves, +5 to all of them, resistance to spell damage. Wizard and Barbarian have advantage as well. The Wizard would probably die regardless though

It's a DC 23 Dex save. I doubt his bonus (even with the +5) is high enough to make advantage really matter.

Ditto the Barb (at best he gets +2 or 3) and the Wizard (same).

They need nearly natural 20's to succeed, and take the full 140 damage, which should kill even the Barbarian.
 

NotQuiteANoble

Explorer
Wizard has Robe of the Archmagi, Barb has Danger Sense for the dex throw. I'm just a bit hesitant to TPK them, even though they clearly picked a CR 26 fight
 

NotAYakk

Legend
Because it amuses me, I'm going to run your BBEG through D&D 5E - Ridiculously Simple Monster Building

The Core is 1 MBP/8 HP, 1 per AC, 1 per Attack stat bonus, 3 per at-will damage and 1 per one-shot damage.

Extras are 1 per save, 1+legendary resist count

HP: 18.13 MBP
AC: 10 MBP
Attack stat bonus: 12 MBP
Resists: Moderate (+25%) (+4.5)
Regeneration: ~30 HP (4.7, after resist multiplier)
Legendary resists: 4 MBP
Good saves (I assume 4?): 4 MBP
At-will action damage: 45 (15 MBP)
Legendary: using melee, another 45 (15 MBP)

Total: 87.3 MBP.
CR is 87.3-14 over 4=18

Add in tenser's precast is +13*6=+26 MBP, which boosts you to about CR 20.

You'll get a bit of boost from Foresight.

...

Encounter budget. A lazy and pretty damn good way to balance encounter is to add up CR with a bit of a fudge factor for level 10+ and 20+ and +1 per monster.

Water elemental Myrmidon is CR 7
Lampad is CR 3
Cambion is CR 5
Mind Flayer is CR 7
Alias is CR 20

For encounter building points, where CR 1 to 10 is worth 1 per CR, CR 11 to 20 is worth 2, and CR 20+ is worth 4, this adds up to:

Total of 57.

The PCs total encounter budget is 17*4 = 68

At 83% of the player's budget, this should be a hard fight.


Dragonborn Zealot Barbarian- Belt of Storm Giant Strength, Volt Edge(+3 Greatsword and deals 2d6 Lightning damage as well, don't really know how these items got approved by the DM) and nothing else of interest aside from some Boots of Striding and Springing(he joined later)

Aasimar Paladin- +3 Greatsword, Demon Armor and a Ring of Protection.

The bloody Ki-Rin- True Polymorph scroll another DM randomly rolled turned him into the literal stat block-https://5e.tools/bestiary/kirin-vgm.html

Elf Wizard- Robe of the Archmagi, Staff of Defence, Ring of Invisibility, Boots of Elvenkind, Bag of Holding, Master's Amulet, and a spellbook the size of a small library, as well as WAY too many scrolls.

Machina-Shield Guardian with a cloak of displacement.

As far as the OTT items go, I've stepped in to DM from level 13, since the DM and a player had an argument over the magic items, and left. I picked it up since my friends still wanted to play(kind of wanted to do a high level one, but didn't really know what I was getting into). They are still in the Hells anyway.

What do you think of an adaptive ability? More uses of the same spells may build up an immunity, like a Bacteria with Antibiotics. Simply attacking won't work after a while.

Thank you though, for the detail and effort you've put into this.
Ok, here is the part that did it.

Ki-Rin isn't all that bad, but at as CR 12 monster isn't actually going to steal the show against level 13 PCs.

But that barbarian is way-over powered for CR 13.

Demon Armor is junk. +3 greatsword is strong, not as strong as +3 with 2d6 damage. Storm Giant belt is really strong.

Robe of the Archmagi, Staff of Defence, and a Shield Guardian are also big. 7 extra CR for the party.

That barbarian's damage output is easily doubled by the stuff given to him. Paladins are strong in single-encounter days, especially against undead and fiends.

Call the barbarian closer to 25 EBP, and round everyone else up to 21, adding in 8 for the shield guardian, for a total budget of 95 EBP. Let's round up to 100. ;)

68/100 is still past deadly, but deadly in 5e just means "with bad rolls someone dies".

---

Start pushing them with multiple encounters.

Standard budgets look something like this:

50 EBP - deadly -- 4 scene building points (50% of PC budget)
40 EBP - hard -- 3 scene building points (40% of PC budget)
30 EBP - medium -- 2 scene building points (30% of PC budget)
20 EBP - easy -- 1 scene building points (20% of PC budget)

We can extend this with +1 SBP for every 10 EBP on top of deadly if we want (10% of the player's encounter budget, which happens to be 100 here).

Remember, "deadly" isn't "one fight for a day deadly". "deadly" means "in a standard adventuring day, the players could lose a PC if they roll poorly".

Similar to encounters, scenes have a budget range:
Easy Scene: 4
Medium Scene: 6
Hard Scene: 8
Deadly scene: 10

We then have Chapter Points ("adventuring day"), where Easy Scene is 1, Medium is 2, Hard is 3, and Deadly is 4.

Easy day: 4
Medium day: 6
Hard day: 8
Deadly day: 10

(You may notice a pattern. Each tier attempts to reflect that clumping stuff is more dangerous than spreading things out. We could use a power curve, but a simple (X+1) resources for (X) cost does a decent job at emulating a power curve if X remains in the 1-4 range; easy medium hard deadly.)

Again, "deadly" doesn't mean "PCs have an even chance of losing" but rather "non-zero chance a PC dies".

Let us build a deadly chapter. We give ourselves 10 Chapter Points.

For Scenes, we'll have 1 Deadly (boss, 4), 1 easy (1), 1 medium (2), 1 hard (3).

For order, how about Easy, Hard, Medium, Deadly -- not pure rising action, there is a lull before the storm.

Our goal? The PCs give up and run away before fighting the boss, or fight the boss and are really scared by it, because they are out of HD, low on spells, and drained.

Easy has 4 SBP, so 2 medium encounters (30 EBP each)
Hard has 8 SBP, so 2 deadly encounters (50 EBP each)
Medium has 6 SBP, so a deadly and two easy encounters (50 EBP and two 20 EBP)
Deadly has 10 SBP, so 1 deadly encounter (4) and one deadly++ (6) encounter (50 and 70 EBP)

In terms of CR, 20 EBP is a CR 15 monster, 25 EBP is one CR 17 monster, 40 EBP is a CR 22 monster, 60 EBP is a CR 27 monster. But usually you'll want to break it down into multiple smaller monsters.

The boss above is a CR 20 creature (or so), which is 31 EBP -- a medium encounter in itself against your party. Stacked with those allies, you'd expect the fight to be challenging -- and it was, they probably burned resources and it took 4 rounds.

Throw that fight against PCs who have pushed through anything like the above budget and they'll be crying.

---

Ok, we'll get rid of PC "superscaling" from their cool items. They are back to 74 EBP (sum of CRs and levels, where levels/CR over 10 count double, +1 per creature).

This was a 57 EBP fight, 75% of budget, so 6.5 Scene points. Beyond deadly!

But, a 6.5 point scene all by itself is just a medium scene (6 points).

A chapter with only one medium scene is trivial, easier than easy.

Your PCs roflstomped it.

---

Now, I find it hard to narratively justify the above kind of grind. Which is why I advocate for switching to gritty rests - overnight is a short rest, a week's vacation is a long rest.

Justifying each "scene" being a day, and the lack of an opportunity to have a week's rest over the "chapter".

It means that a dungeon ends up using a scene's budget, not a chapter's budget, but you have plenty of room for that if you don't want the dungeon to be crazy.

With this, you have the protagonist -- the BBEG -- have a plan on the scale of 5-30 days. Players who take a long rest are likely to fail to stop the plan, and the BBEG wraps it up and moves on. Better luck next time. (the BBEG is the protagonist; the players are reacting. This makes sure that you, as a DM, aren't railroading player action. They are free to let the BBEG complete their plots, and you should make that an interesting result!)

For a 5 day plan, that is 1 chapter.
For a 15 day plan, that is 2 chapters.
For a 25 day plan, that is 3 chapters.
etc.

An X chapter adventure should take about 10X-5 days for the bad guy to complete their plans.

Now build a trail of breadcrumbs for the PCs to follow, where each chapter has something that the PCs don't want happen to the world that is blatant and obvious, and investigating it (or stopping it) would lead to the next chapter.

For extra fun, have multiple BBEG each with their own plots. Each plot has a doom (a goal), and chapters.

Chapters have a portent (public information that the chapter has started; orcs march on a town, graveyard corpses are dug up, dark riders are searching for someone). Then roll 2d10 for how long for the bad guy's to finish their task. At the end, there is a consequence if the PCs don't interfere. If the PCs interfere and stop it, the next chapter kicks off in 2d10 days, if they don't in 1d10 days.

As a sample:

Plot 1: Vizer usurping kingdom. 3 chapters.
  • Chapter 1: The Princess (princess's life is threatened)
  • Chapter 2: Paying Debts (Plot 4 chapter 1, vizer funds the coup by paying off a bank with a mine)
  • Chapter 3: Assassination (Vizer kills king and replaces him)
Plot 2: Necromancer kills entire City to become a Lich. 5 chapters.
  • Chapter 1: Uneasy lies the dead (graveyard produces undead, causing problems)
  • Chapter 2: The Stolen Cup (an artifact is stolen from the cathedral)
  • Chapter 3: Sleepwalkers (people start doing horrible things in their sleep)
  • Chapter 4: Inquisition (a possessed archbishop starts a massive purge)
  • Chapter 5: Ascension (necromancer sacrifices city for eternal life)
Plot 3: Dragon cult hatch Tiamat and Bahamut's egg, starts a new Dragon empire. 7 chapters.
  • Chapter 1: An Archeological Expedition (scholar finds ancient tomb)
  • Chapter 2: A Trade Disruption means what? (kobold dragon cultists shut down a trade route)
  • Chapter 3: Lost and Found (plot 4, chapter 2) (something is found in the mines)
  • Chapter 4: The Stars Align (an astrological event occurs, leading to outpouring of chaotic magic and a problem)
  • Chapter 5: A Cold Dish (dragonborn mercenaries are brought in, as part of Plot 2.4 or in response to 1.3 or 4.5).
  • Chapter 6: Wages of Death (Necromantic energy harvested for the ritual)
  • Chapter 7: All Good Things (Mortal rulership is overthrown by an immortal god-dragon)
Plot 4: Bank reopens ancient mine in exchange for kingdom's debt, delves too deep. 4 chapters (+1 delay)
  • Chapter 1: Paying debts (Plot 1, chapter 2)
  • Chapter 2: Lost and Found (Plot 3, chapter 3)
  • Chapter 3: Riches untold (A rich vein is found)
  • Chapter 4: Drums in the deep (Something is awoken in the deep, and if not sealed comes to the surface)

Lacking PC intervention, these plots advance at 1 every 3d10 days (call it 15), so we have (approximately).

45 days from 0 the Vizer overthrows the King.
60 days from 0 an ancient mine spews forth monsters from the deep.
75 days from 0 the entire Capital City is killed.
105 days from 0 a Dragon Empire is reborn.

At 19 chapters over 105 days, that is 5.5 days/chapter. PCs are expected to spend ~10 days clearing a chapter (including resting), and doing so delays the total plots by 5 days; so over 10 chapters they buy enough time to complete another chapter. So the PCs have the time budget to stop about 11/19 of the above plot chapters. So the players will have plenty of plots to follow or ignore. When things happen (like the king is replaced), there will have been plenty of foreshadowing and the PCs will have chosen to not interfere.

If the PCs are slower, no problem, the world spins. If they are faster, also no problem!

Now we return to the D&D assumption that endurance matters as much as power, and that attrition of resources is expensive. Not because players are like "if I don't rest I'll die", but rather "if I rest, we'll lose". That pressure on the PCs, that there is more to do than they have time to do, ensures that massive alpha-strikes aren't free.
 
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