Published October 7/9/2019
With the rise of video games many people have become familiar with the boss fight. Any creature in the monster manual, SRD or any other source can be a boss we just need to find a way to make this boss live longer. Most importantly, the battle scene must feel intense with a real risk of death. For those rule mongers out there, this can easily be done within the confines of the rules.
Boss Mob Development Rules
- Hit Points: The boss should have hit points equal to all of the players in your game.
- Attack: Boss monsters should have multiple attacks. Legendary creatures work best for this, but at level 1 going through you mini dungeon a creature like the Orc War Chief would suffice. However, you can also take the standard orc, add a few Hit Dice till it reaches half the total player level, then grant it a multi-attack. We can say this creature is a champion or hero now.
- Damage: Always deal maximum damage. If you want a little more randomness to feel more real then roll 1d4 and take it off the maximum.
- Equipment: Healing potions, magical armor, wondrous items
- Challenge Rating: If using a creature from the 5th Edition rule system, then use a monster 3 challenge rating higher then average player level.
During this phase the boss mob will be protected from normal attacks. Perhaps this is a barrier of minions, a command center fortified by a leaned over wagon, or perhaps our boss is in the next room and its minions engage us. Either way this phase should feel easy to the players before the real deal happens in phase 2.
Congratulations you have attracted the attention of the boss and probably made it mad. Our boss now takes you a little more serious, this usually happens before all its minions are defeated and after the players have used some of their resources. Our boss should start combat with one of its aggressive attacks, perhaps during Phase 1 it was buffing up, drinking potions or whatever it needed to prepare for your encounter. Add a few more lackeys into the mix that can easily be killed by the players within a few attacks. We don't want to overwhelm the players, just get in their way of attacking our boss.
If you have made it this far, you are closer to success. Phase 3 kicks off when our boss looses almost all of its minions or when its hit points drop to between 50% to 75% of its total. The boss will start off using its ultimate weapon or attack on whatever creature has its focus. Focus, what is that? Well focus is whatever creature it feels most threatened by or whatever creature the boss feels will be the easiest to take down. Our boss wants to live, it doesn't want to die. This encounter needs to feel iconic and they may mean that our squishy wizard who dropped a fireball early on is now faced with a raging orc chieftains axe.
If we designed our encounter correctly, the players should be greatly deminished after the encounter, having using most or all of their spells and consumables. The most important part of this is to reward the players with that nasty magical axe that cut through them like butter or that staff that was calling lightning or summoning creatures. Whatever the reward it should be something the players seen during the battle or came to get. Make it worth their wild and they will for sure come back for more epic encounters.