Solo tactics

Robtheman

First Post
Daren, E'an, and Thadeous, don't read this one.

Would like suggestions on refining this solo and then discussion of tactics.

[sblock=stat block]
Template - Young Red Dragon from Monster Vault
332 hps, Move 6, Fly 8 (hover)
Restist Fire 15
Saving Throws +5; Action Points 2
Initiative +8; Perception +11; Darkvision

Traits
Burning Blood - Once bloodied the dragon deals 5 fire damage to opponents that strike it in melee.
Action Recovery - Whenever the dragon ends its turn, any dazing, stunning, or dominating effect on it ends.
Instinctive Assault - On an initiative of 10 + its initiative check, the dragon can use a free action to use bite or claw. If the dragon cannot use a free action to make this attack due to a dominating or stunning effect, then that effect ends instead of the dragon making the attack.

Powers
Bite (fire) At-Will
Attack: Melee 2 (one creature); +12 vs. AC
Hit: 2d10 + 6 damage. The target is grabbed and takes ongoing 5 fire damage, or ongoing 10 fire damage if the dragon is bloodied, until the grab ends (escape DC 19).

Claw At-Will
Attack: Melee 2 (one or two creatures); +12 vs. AC. If the dragon targets only one creature, it can make this attack twice against that creature
Hit: 2d8 + 5 damage, and the dragon grabs the target (escape DC 16) if it has fewer than two creatures grabbed.

Breath Weapon (fire) Recharge 5/6
Attack: Close blast 5 (creatures in the blast); +10 vs. Reflex
Hit: 2d12 + 7 fire damage, or 2d12 + 17 fire damage while the dragon is bloodied.
Miss: Half damage.

Triggered Actions
Tail Strike At-Will
Trigger: An enemy leaves a square within 2 squares of the dragon.
Attack (Immediate Reaction): Melee 3 (the triggering enemy); +10 vs. Reflex
Hit: 1d6 + 5 damage, and the target falls prone.

Bloodied Breath Encounter
Trigger: The dragon is first bloodied.
Effect (Free Action): Breath weapon recharges, and the dragon uses it.
[/sblock]

[sblock=Scenario]
This dragon carries a vestige of the elements themselves. Hatched in a erupting volcano, the dragon is a way of introducing the a theme of elemental dragons. The standard dragon is dangerous enough so I did not want to add too much more.

I want the dragon to play with them, reveling in its power for the first portions of the fight and then make marked transitions by first focusing it's fire, then getting really dirty.

Fight takes place on either a 100 or 150 feet tall pillar of rock. Access between the two levels is by steep stairs. The PCs exit a tent at the top level and may engage the enemy at either location. Dragon is currently having fun burning slaves and throwing them off the 100 foot high level. I figured this would be my way of warning the PCs about the danger of the dragons Grabs.
[/sblock]

[sblock=Tactics]
My thoughts on tactics was to split in to 3 phases which would represent the creatures perception of the threat level.

Phase 1
Ends when the creature reaches bloodied. During this phase it will use it's breath weapon once then toy with the PCs. It will spread it's attacks around a bit and if it successfully starts its main initiative turn with a grabbed PC it will fly up 6 and drop the PC down on the ground.

Phase 2
Ends when the creature reaches 1/4 hit points. During this phase the dragon will use it's breath weapon whenever it recharges. It will actively target its attacks at the greatest perceived threat and fly up to recharge it's weapon as possible. PCs can theoretically use this time second wind, heal check, gain tactical positioning, etc..

Phase 3
Ends when the creature dies. At this point it will try to cast players off the top of the ledge, however in its weakened state it will not be able to fly at it's full speed of 8. This should allow sufficient time for the players to make some saves, teleport, daze, etc.. the dragon.

Party consists of a Resourceful Warlord, Cunning Bard, Hexblade, Assassin and a Paladin with a 2-handed hammer (not sure of build).

They have 4 minor action heals, a daily that heals 5 on a successful hit, and will find a handful of healing potions among the remains of the Orc chieftain and shaman they just slew.

Possible ways to turn down the threat level. At bloodied the spirit of a long dead green dragon (who is upset at the intrusion of the red) might offer them some resistance to fire, or could ease their fall if they are thrown off the top en masse.

Thoughts? Pitfalls? Improvements?
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M8

First Post
I'm new to d&d so take this with a grain of salt.

I think this is one of those fights which can turn out to be: a pushover, a solid battle or an epic encounter, being determined by the dice rolls.

The dragon will deal a certain amount of dmg, based on his avg. dmg output and his aura/tail combo. Making phase 1-2 a solid fight.

But in phase 3, if the dragon manages to throw off players into their demise the luck factor takes a HUGE role. If the players have some unlucky dice rolls in this phase, they pretty much die.

If only one char survives and manages to slay the dragon and resurrect the other players it might become an epic and memorable fight.

If the dragon doesn't manage to throw off enough players, they won't even notice this mechanic. Making it an easy-hard hack&slash.

-

My two cents::
1. The green dragon idea is probably a very good one. The small green dragon catches a falling player, and needs a few turns to bring them back into the battle. Other ideas might be: a druid casts a transform spell that turns them into birds, a shaman summons mystical winds, a djinn has a magical carpet, a wizard is using forcefields to block the edges of the pillar etc..
It makes the dragons grab basically a one turn "stun", while they have to wait till they are placed back into the battle. It's not deadly, but still memorable. :)

2. The players (or a dead player) could control this npc, or the npc will be able to use his ability only a certain amount of times during the encounter. Or just any given number of turns. Or the dragon kills the npc at a certain point of the fight etc. Which could create a tactical challenge to them.

3. The NPC uses a magic item to catch the players, which he drops when he dies, one of the players needs to run there, pick it up, and use it, to be able to win the fight. (A minor action?)

4. There are several NPC's, who deal a great amount of (non-existent dmg), to the dragon, which makes him angry, forcing him focus his attention on them first. Once they are all dead or thrown down, the next one to be thrown down are the players. (The npc's deal no real dmg to the dragon, and the dragon gets an "extra" attack to deal with the npc's). Making the NPC's a "turn counter", by the time the NPC's run out, they have to slay the dragon or else.

5. In your place I would use a "wing flap" mechanic instead of the grab mechanic.
Phase 1&2 as normal, in phase 3 the dragon flies up and lands at a tactically good spot, flaps his wings, to create an air pressure, which pushes the PC's towards the edge (push x, or slide x).
There are some obstacles the PC's could hide behind, or if they stay in the middle of the rock pillar, they won't have to worry, or there could be a mechanic which would make the dragon stop this attack. (There is an important thing on the rock pillar the dragon protects, eggs, an artifact etc.)
I think this mechanic is better because none of the players would feel they died because of a bad die cast, or that they have been picked out, for uncertain reasons by the DM, but rather, everyone has to endure the wing flap mechanic at the same time (no bias) and come up with a plan to avoid it /survive it.

Although all the methods I came up with, needs some sort of "player understanding", if they think this is just a normal hack&slash fight, with no new elements, they might get into trouble.

I hope it helps. :-/
 

the Jester

Legend
Solo monsters are not meant to be run alone. They either have minions or hindering terrain or traps with them as well.

People say this a lot as if it were universally true, but there's nothing wrong with a solo being the only danger in a fight.

That 100' cliff (or worse) is a horrendously bad idea, imho- that's a possible free 10d10 damage that the dragon really ought to be able to make happen without too much work. I would make it a 50' cliff or something instead- that's still plenty high without being basically enough of a swing to make a lethal difference (I'm assuming a high-heroic level party here).

Also, I hate to see a dragon played poorly. IMHO you should forget about your "Oh I'll fight stupid for half the battle" tactics, or at the very least switch over well before he's bloodied, especially if said dragon is alone.

You want to spread the damage around? Use that breath weapon!

Edit: Also, I wouldn't rely on an npc saving them, that cheapens their victory. If anything, maybe let them have an opportunity to arrange something in advance, whether fire protection for a few rounds, a warning about the dragon's tactics or something else that puts the power to win in their hands.
 
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Robtheman

First Post
@ hindering terrain/minions
I'm considering the terrain (cliff) to be a major hinderance/tactical consideration. I intend for the players to be very aware of the dragon's tactic of throwing victims down to the swamps below. They will definitely have a chance to fashion whatever defenses they want to. They already created a poison from the Shamans alchemical items. It would not be unusual for them to find some sort of Fire Protection balm or token as well.

[MENTION=13913]pl[/MENTION]aying the dragon stupid
Initial plan was to have it switch tactics at each 1/3 hps but i was worried of dishing out too much damage.I'm a bit concerned because it's a level 7 solo against a level 5 party. That said, two of the party members (striker and striker/defender) are highly experienced with 4e and the Assassin just learned the ways of the Fullblade. I suppose the challenge level is out of respect to my players.

[MENTION=16689]fal[/MENTION]ling damage
Your point has reinforced my concerns. I think I'll use a combination of the grab (but make it a secondary attack that wont' hit as easily) and the wing flap. If they are blown over the edge they can catch themselves and climb up the slope and re-enter battle.

If they are thrown over the edge in phase 3 ... well, I sort of want an element of awfulness to this fight. They can have a decent chance of landing in a deep marshy pool that will cut the damage. Also there are some NPCs floating around the area that could stabilize the dying in a pinch.

Thanks very much for the suggestions! I'll add the wing flap and incorporate it with the grab in moderation. This will create a more dynamic fight but maintain a level of dread as the PCs wait to see if they are flung headlong over the cliffs edge.
 

Prestidigitalis

First Post
Could you tell us the level of the characters and what level your dragon is supposed to be?

Regarding the cliff, I would be just as concerned about characters being knocked out of the action via separation as about the damage from the fall. Divide and conquer is a powerful tactic.
 

Piratecat

Sesquipedalian
I'd keep the 100' cliff, but add ledges 40' and 80' down. That way you still get the drama of a fight in a high place, but the thrown PCs can make saves to catch themselves before they fall all that way. Also note that the real pain isn't in falling, it's in doing nothing for 2 rounds after you fall as you try to run back up the cliff. That's not fun for anyone.

EDIT: Annnnd... Prestidigitalis beats me to my point! :D
 


I would say dropping someone off the cliff shoul be expected. But it is difficult to deal with in 4e.

A ritual of featherfall and some ropes would be my response... or some temporary flight items or some grease to make grabs harder. But you must make those rituals expensive and time consuming enough to prevent using them as standard tactics...

Maybe rituals with rare components. A feather of a harpy or something like that. Or some levitation ritual powered by fresh beholder blood.

Or of course some mundane ideas. I like M8´s number 5.
 

Mengu

First Post
I'd say make the "running up the stairs" part a bit abstract if they fall, so it only takes them out for one round. And throw in a ledge to catch at the 50 foot mark or so.

It takes 1 move action to run round and up the stairs 50 feet. So if they fall all the way down to the bottom, they can spend a move action to stand up, and a move action to get half way up. Next round they can run the other half, and join the fight with their standard action, either a ranged attack or a charge (with -5 penalty due to running). If they catch the ledge at 50 feet, and happen to be able to stand up as a minor action, they could even get back to the fight during their next turn.

To introduce a bit of skill use, I'd ask for an Athletics or Endurance check. If they make easy DC they have a -2 penalty instead of -5 penalty to attack due to running, standard DC no penalty, difficult DC no penalty and they get to move 2 squares in the top fight area.
 

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