D&D 5E What Level To Hunt A Great Wyrm?

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
I want to run an adventure (something like 6 3 hour sessions) focused around the PCs hunting a Great Wyrm that has recently awakened in a remote land. The king of that land tries to kill it himself and is destroyed, and his queen and heir send out the call for heroes Beowulf style. The PCs are the ones that answer. The conceit is that the PCs are dragon hunters by trade, so the players will know this (but not know anything about this specific dragon) and create characters based on that conceit.

Assuming a CR 24 Great Wyrm (I have not decided on the color yet; it might be something custom) using dragon enhancing options from Fizban's, what level should the party be? My assumption would be they have to track it to its lair and fight it there, but I also tend to run things pretty loose so maybe a party could lure it out? That's up to the players.

Anyway, what do you think? My gut says about 13th level. Especially against a solo creature, characters of that level punch above their weight. Does that make sense?
 

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Reynard

Legend
Supporter
How good are your players at optimizing? Building a character specifically to fight against a particular foe can definitely let a PC punch above their weight.
If the people I think would be interested are, assume pretty solid character generation skills.
 

Stormonu

Legend
I haven't tried 5E at that level, but I'd very disappointed with D&D if a "typical" party of 4 at 13th level can crush a CR 24 wyrm.

With this being a somewhat longer adventure, I suppose it's really going to depend on what the party faces in the lead-up and if you expect them to be full strength for the final encounter. How difficult do you want the overall adventure to be to get to the end fight?
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
I haven't tried 5E at that level, but I'd very disappointed with D&D if a "typical" party of 4 at 13th level can crush a CR 24 wyrm.

With this being a somewhat longer adventure, I suppose it's really going to depend on what the party faces in the lead-up and if you expect them to be full strength for the final encounter. How difficult do you want the overall adventure to be to get to the end fight?
I assume they will be mostly fresh going into the final fight, just knowing how players tend to deal with big boss battles. I don't intend to have a extensive dungeon gauntlet leading to the lair.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
Anyway, what do you think? My gut says about 13th level. Especially against a solo creature, characters of that level punch above their weight. Does that make sense?

Solo creature?

Ancient dragons (with the notable exception of the White dragons) typically have Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores in the upper teens to 20s. Dragon arrogance be darned, why on this good green Oerth would the dragon be dumb enough to meet the PCs alone? You are talking about a creature that has survived centuries of conflict with PC-types.

Going after a Great Wyrm should be a tactical choice roughly equivalent to fighting a land war in Asia, or going up against a Sicilian when death is on the line....
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
Solo creature?

Ancient dragons (with the notable exception of the White dragons) typically have Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores in the upper teens to 20s. Dragon arrogance be darned, why on this good green Oerth would the dragon be dumb enough to meet the PCs alone? You are talking about a creature that has survived centuries of conflict with PC-types.

Going after a Great Wyrm should be a tactical choice roughly equivalent to fighting a land war in Asia, or going up against a Sicilian when death is on the line....
Smaug didn't have any minions...
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
How many members do you expect the party to be?

If it's going to be only 4, then...yeah...I don't know. 13th level still sounds high to me, but I'm not particularly familiar with the 5e "CR vs. PC level mathalizations."

When I originally read the OP, I thought, "Oh, 6-8 characters around 8-10th should have a rip-roaring time with this." A real challenge. True risk of death. But totally plausible victory. But I could be wrong...could be a bloodbath TPK.

Yeah. I guess it'd depend on the party size and, as other posters have mentioned, the quality/skill of your players.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
How many members do you expect the party to be?

If it's going to be only 4, then...yeah...I don't know. 13th level still sounds high to me, but I'm not particularly familiar with the 5e "CR vs. PC level mathalizations."

When I originally read the OP, I thought, "Oh, 6-8 characters around 8-10th should have a rip-roaring time with this." A real challenge. True risk of death. But totally plausible victory. But I could be wrong...could be a bloodbath TPK.

Yeah. I guess it'd depend on the party size and, as other posters have mentioned, the quality/skill of your players.
I didn't actually think about mentioning party size, but you are right, it is an import element. Like 5 players (although it would be fun with more, lower level PCs like 10 8th level characters or something; I just don't think I could wrangle that many for that long).
 

TwoSix

"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
Neutralizing allies and then neutralizing the lair defenses would be make a good pre-dragon gauntlet, actually.

Remember that having a high stat doesn't mean the individual has to embody every aspect of the stat. It's OK to have a creature with high Wisdom because they're incredibly perceptive, but they still might be blindingly arrogant. A creature can have a 20 Charisma and also no friends or allies simply because the only time they utilize their high Charisma is to intimidate people.

High stats are tools, not personalities.
 

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