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D&D 5E Lvl 20 One Shot Recap

tglassy

Adventurer
I Dm’d a lvl 20 One Shot with my brothers the other day. They chose to be an Oathbreaker Paladin and a Wolf Totem Barbarian. I let them pick whatever magical items they wanted. The Paladin picked the Hammer of Thunderbolts, which also needs the Gauntlets of Ogre Power and a Belt of Giant Strength, and I said meh, whatever. He rolled for the belt and got a Storm Giant’s Belt, so his strength was 30 with the Hammer. The Barbarian wanted a Vorpal Sword, except as a Greataxe, and he wanted Plate Armor of Etherealness. Now, barbarians aren’t proficient in Heavy Armor, but I went ahead and let him have it. It was just going to be the two of them, and this was supposed to just be a fun romp with quickly generated lvl 20 characters, and they barely understood what their characters could do, anyway.

So naturally I threw them up against a Tarrasque. Not at first. This was set during the war thousands of years before our current campaign (in a homebrew setting that my brother is DMing), and is during a pivotal battle that led to the defeat of the BBEG, who winds up slumbering until he starts gathering power in the current campaign. I was given leeway to do what I wanted, so I decided the BBEG summoned a Tarrasque to destroy his enemies. They had to figure out where it was being summoned, and they had a chance to stop the summoning. They failed.

When they found out it was a Tarrasque coming through a portal, they basically said “Oh well, we’re going to die anyway.” I had the Tarrasque appear in a forest a number of miles from the good guy’s capital city, and I wanted to give them time to get back to the city to get reinforcements, if they so wished, so I had it start devouring the trees and all living things in the area. Like, swallowing trees whole.

But these two weren’t on the Smart side of the isle, so they decided the only way they can fight this thing is from inside it. They waited in a particularly large tree until the Tarrasque ate it, with them on it. Then I told them about the Acid damage.

Fortunately for them, the Paladin was a Black Dragonborn, and was resistant to acid. I ruled that the trees the Tarrasque ate gave him room in the stomach to be able to swing his hammer, instead of being restrained, and he started pounding on the stomach walls. So that’s two rulings I gave in their favor: giving the Barbarian proficiency in Plate Armor, and letting them attack while in the Tarrasque’s stomach.

Of course, before he could be hurt by the acid, the Barbarian went Ethereal and went looking for the Tarrasque’s heart. Seeing no way out of that, I let him find it, but said the thing actually had Three Hearts, fairly close together. I gave each major artery 50 HP, two major arteries per heart. He started slashing with his Vorpal Greataxe. Note: Barbarians are beastly. He never did crit, but that would have been awesome. He had critted earlier against a Barbed Demon, though, so at least he got to use it once.

So anyway, the Paladin gets regurgitated from doing too much damage at once, and he wanted to grab the Tarrasque’s teeth when it inevitably came to bite him and jump back in it’s mouth to get back inside. Considering he had a 30 strength, which is the same strength as the tarrasque, and he succeeded on the contest against the Tarrasque’s strength check, I allowed it. So the Tarrasque comes down to bite him, but he grabs its teeth as they close in, keeping them at bay, and then leaps into its mouth to be swallowed again. He’s taking Acid damage, of course, but he has resistance, so it’s not a big deal to him as it’s the only damage he’s been taking.

Meanwhile, the barbarian is whacking away at those arteries, and has already severed an entire heart, and is absolutely covered in blood. He can’t breath, of course, as he had to leave the Ethereal Realm to attack the hearts, and he’s a human, but he can hold his breath for a number of rounds equaling his constitution modifier, which is 24. He starts working on the second heart.

Now, the Tarrasque is in a pickle. He can’t fight these two guys, as they’re inside him. So I decide it has to do something drastic. As the Barbarian is attacking the second heart, a hole rips in front of him, letting the outside light, and air, in, as well as a massive claw, which slashes him, doing damage. The Tarrasque had ripped a hole in its own chest, trying to get to the guy cutting away its hearts. On his next turn, the Barbarian, instead of attacking, decided to grab the second heart, which is very damaged, and hold on for dear life. On the Tarrasque’s next round, he reaches two claws in and attempts to grapple the Barbarian. The Barbarian, who cannot roll less than a 24 on a strength check. The Barbarian, who has a +13 on Athletics. The Barbarian, who decides, instead of resisting the grapple, he is going to hold on to the second heart.

The Tarraque grabs him. The Barbarian rolls a 29 to hold on to the heart. The Tarrasque pulls him, and the heart, out.

Still going, the Tarrasque uses all its attacks on the barbarian, who is of course taking half damage on everything. Even so, he loses half his total hit points in that one round, which ends with the Tarrasque eating him again, so the Acid can finish the job, as the Barbarian is NOT resistant to Acid. Two rounds should do it.

But, at this point, the Tarrasque only has about a hundred hit points left, between the Paladin causing internal injuries, the Barbarian cutting away its hearts, and having to rip a hole in itself. Inside the belly of the beast, they ask if the Paladin had been able to rip open the stomach lining to get to that last heart. Well, no, because it’s a hammer. So they ask if the axe would do it, and realizing they're going to kill it this round anyway, I said yes, it’s been damaged to the point where the axe should be able to rip through the stomach easy enough. They could have just attacked and killed it, they’d been doing over 100 points of damage each round together, but they wanted to finish it epicly. So the Barbarian ripped open the stomach lining, and the Paladin surged forward, towards the heart, and hit it twice, both with 5th lvl Divine Smites, which he had saved for this moment, doing well over 100 points of damage.

The heart explodes, the Tarrasque falls, they take a little damage from the fall. (The Tarrasque actually just ran out of HP, but it was a glorious moment for it to run out of HP).

When they finally make their way out of the Tarrasque’s body, they find that the Tarrasque, during the last few moments, had tried to get to the city to accomplish its mission. It fell just outside the city gates. They see the King’s entire army standing there, looking at the Tarrasque in silence, the faint smell of crapped pants wafting from the entire army after watching a rampaging Tarrasque speeding at them and then fall before them. The Paladin and Barbarian come out, absolutely soaked in blood and gore, and the army goes nuts.

They are cleaned up, and are granted titles and lands. Even a goddess, who was the main force against the BBEG (who is an evil god) appears to grant them both boons for their bravery and heroism. Both characters wanted to have these two guys appear as NPC’s in the normal campaign we were playing set a few thousand years later, or even play as them in the Epic Campaign we are planning to play once our current one is over, which will be a plane hopping campaign against Cthulhu, so one picked the Boon of Immortality and the other picked the Boon of Planar Travel. This causes a little trouble, as one will still be alive, and the other can plane shift but isn’t immortal, so I gave both boons to both characters. They just killed a Tarrasque with just two people, earning a collective 155K xp. That’s 75.25K per person, and the book says to give an Epic Boon for every 30K they earn, so I didn’t see it as a big deal, especially since the Boon of Immortality is really cosmetic. And now, they can use these characters later in our current or future campaigns.

So, what I learned is that if you want to fight a Tarrasque, find a way into the Border Ethereal and go kill its heart.
 

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Toledo

Explorer
Now this is truly epic and awesome! One of the best fights I've ever seen!

Great job GMing too - sounds like you all had a great time!


The Tarrasque might have been better served smashing the Barbarian to a pulp rather than eating him again though.
 

tglassy

Adventurer
Now this is truly epic and awesome! One of the best fights I've ever seen!

Great job GMing too - sounds like you all had a great time!


The Tarrasque might have been better served smashing the Barbarian to a pulp rather than eating him again though.

Yeah, we were talking about it afterwards and that would have been the better call. However, I don't know if he'd have had the chance. The Tarrasque never got another turn, as he only had about 100 hp left.

It is interesting, in that mundane fighters using weapons actually do better damage to the Tarrasque than spellcasters. It has so many defenses against spell casters that it makes them mostly useless. But a Paladin can do 100 points of damage in one round with his two attacks and two 5th lvl Divine Smites. Way more if he crits. A team of six lvl 20 Paladin can take out a Tarrasque in one turn, two tops if they don't roll well. The Tarrasque might take one out on its turn and with Legendary Actions, but that would be about it. You really do need minions, or multiple uber badies, thanks to the Action Economy.
 


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