Content of the article: "Balancing the Black Spider for three level 5 characters (LMoP spoilers)"
Hoping I can pick your brains for ideas to buff the Black Spider for a party of level 5s, without making the encounter too imbalanced or 'un-fun'.
The party consists of a High Elf Diviner, Hill Dwarf War Cleric and Half-Orc Battlemaster, all level 5 because all the players like tough fights and so I have been pretty much running most encounters as written despite there only being three of them.
With this in mind, they have just completed a long rest and are likely about to enter the Black Spider's quarters next session. The wizard rolled a 19 and a 20 on his portents, but the fighter loudly tortured the Doppelganger after defeating him, so I figure Nezznar will have plenty of warning.
Here are my initial thoughts on buffing him, bearing in mind the big power bump the players have just picked up upon hitting level 5. Would this be overkill? And if so, any suggestions for tuning it down/tweaking it at all?
Keep the Spider Staff the same as written, except it also grants Blindsight (30ft) to the person attuned to it. Keep the four giant spiders the same.
Nezznar becomes a 6th level spellcaster (DC 14, +6 to hit although HP remains the same) with the following spells prepared:
- Cantrips: Ray of Frost, Shocking Grasp, Toll the Dead, Mage Hand
- Level 1 (4 slots total, 3 remaining): Mage Armor
, Magic Missile, Shield
- Level 2 (3 slots): Mirror Image, Phantasmal Force, Misty Step, Invisibility
- Level 3 (3 slots): Counterspell, Lightning Bolt
Innate spellcasting would be the same, except of course the DCs would go up by 1 with his proficiency bonus.
The Black Spider
Nezznar himself has had plenty of advance warning so he would cast Mage Armor on himself and instruct the spiders to get in position and ready their webs (see below).
He would ready an action to cast his racial Darkness spell as soon as the party enters and he'd stand just 5ft inside it, 25ft away from the door, which would be at the edge of the Darkness. He would thus still be able to perceive the characters and attack them with advantage due to the Blindsight granted by his staff.
On his first turn of combat, he would then cast Mirror Image on himself. On his second, he would likely let the Darkness drop and cast Phantasmal Force, depending on how the fight is going.
He would then try to find a good spot to line up the characters and hit them with Lightning Bolt. Failing that, he would cast things like Magic Missile, Phantasmal Force and Web (the latter from the Spider Staff). If he’s threatened, he has Misty Step ready to go, and Invisibility as a last resort. He also has Counterspell and Shield for emergencies.
The Giant Spiders
Nezznar's four giant spider pets would all be Hiding on the walls inside the Darkness, roughly 10ft away from the doorway, and would all Ready an action to shoot their webs (with advantage, given their Blindsight) as soon as the door opens. On the spiders’ turn once combat starts, they would then crawl in and attack the webbed PCs or, if their web recharges, climb up to the ceiling and shoot it again.
What do you reckon – too overpowered, still too weak or about right? I am more than open to better ideas as to how to balance this fight in my position.
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