Content of the article: "Help Me Balance Three CR 13 Boss Variations"
WARNING: Raynor, Rincewind, Taryn -> Stop reading this. Best Regards, Breex. Hehehe.
Dear Redditors, I need some help with balancing a CR 13 boss NPC's 3 variations. My DM will pick from ONE of these variations, and I want to ensure that none of them over-extends itself to the point of being insanely overpowered. Important to note that the variations don't need to be balanced against each other, we will only use one, they only need to be balanced as a CR 13 boss NPC encounter. I welcome all critique.
Kumquat – Basic Form: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1s0Mr1fcdygR1bGUSmwWEQ45YAba1SxvB/view?usp=sharing
Kumquat – Lich Gnome variation: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1zDTw5JXYri1Vf6-mIQNqTVl9VDH7qoi9/view?usp=sharing
Kumquat – Lifedrinker variation: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1mZC1hqTGYDEakLJJ8PxrMPupkLFKQ0To/view?usp=sharing
Kumquat – Tenta-Quat variation: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1XbxhQ5uri6u7CvcHCYwVXQFjngdAZ7bc/view?usp=sharing
I have been DMing for my 3 friends for a year or so now and a newer player to my group is an experienced DM. He has been kind enough to DM a one-short-turned-three-shot for all of us recently.
I was a bit excited.
My character was Sir Kumquat Fizzibeard, a level 3 gnome eldritch knight fighter, whose speciality was his Headache Hammer (warhammer with Booming Blade cantrip) and the use of his mechanical squirrel Nutsack (Find Familiar + Gnome Tinkerer racial). Through a series of events with 3 other player characters, Sir Kumquat ended up receiving an eldritch item that gave him control over the undead forms of goblin aberrations and the undead in general.
I know right. Awesome.
Unfortunately, this was all very evil and corrupted s***, all this power went to his head and that same night (after a series of failed Wisdom saving throws) he used his newfound army of the dead to first restrain and then horribly murder his companions, my patient fellow players.
Also, there can only be one Lich Gnome.
Anyway, to cut to the chase that experienced DM has offered to cook up a small campaign where Kumquat will feature as a BBEG. Kumquat and his small army of the dead will be roving around the countryside, doing Lich Gnome stuff. The DM has asked me if I'd like to create the statblock to be used. So you're asking me to design the guy we're going to have an epic battle with that used to be my old character?
One problem though: I didn't want to be tempted to check his statblock during the campaign and be sub-/consciously leveling and preparing my character just to fight this guy. So I decided to give my DM a basic form of Kumquat, and then 3 decently different variations for him to choose from.
It was fun.
As you will see in the base form, Kumquat is a pretty regular fighter. His Booming Blade and army of the dead are both in there. I've taken three different approaches with the variations. I'll be including a short description of the variation differences and why I made them below, for anyone who is interested.
Now I'm here.
I'm happy with the results till now. I just need some input and feedback. Are my numbers right? Did I get the themes right? Is there something blatantly too over/underpowered that I'm not considering? Any and all criticism is welcome!
LICH GNOME KUMQUAT – This variation of Kumquat tries to be a minion master. Your recharge weapon attack Unholy Hammer now heals a nearby summoned creature, and Army of the Damned now summons additional ghast. Lich Command increases your control of the battlefield with another summon ability and creature actions. Lich Gnome Kumquat variation allows you to be in the thick of battle with your minions, bolstering and fortifying your ranks while allowing for some decent frontline defense with cold resistance and Undead Fortitude.
- Added cold resistance.
- Undead Fortitude. If damage reduces Kumquat to 0 hit points, he can succeed on a Constitution saving throw with a DC of 5 + the damage taken, unless the damage is radiant or from a critical hit. On a success, Kumquat drops to 1 hit point instead.
- Headache Hammer (Recharge 5-6) has been reworked into Unholy Hammer (Recharge 5-6)
Unholy Hammer (Recharge 5-6). Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (1d8 +5) bludgeoning damage, plus 4 (1d8) necrotic damage. One creature summoned by Kumquat within 15 ft regains 4 (1d8) hit points.
- Army of the Damned (1/day) also animates 1d4 ghasts now.
- Lich Command (costs 3 points). Kumquat casts a smaller version of Army of the Damned, summoning 1 ghast. In addition, Kumquat commands 1d4 of his animated undead to take the Attack or Use an Object action, or to move half their movement speed.
LIFE DRINKER – Life Drinker Kumquat is all about that sustainability. His Leech, Reaping and Voracious Hunger actions just keep on piling on the hit points, while Infected Claws provides some damage while trying to grapple. Low on hit points and no enemies nearby? No matter, Leech is even more beneficial when used on your own animated undead! What this build lacks in firepower it makes up for with ridiculous amounts of healing.
- Unarmed Strike has been reworked into Infected Claws
Infected Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d4 +5) bludgeoning damage, plus 4 <1d8> necrotic damage. If the target is a Medium or smaller creature, Kumquat can grapple it (escape DC 18) instead of dealing the bludgeoning damage.
- Headache Hammer (Recharge 5-6) has been reworked into Bloodletter (Recharge 5-6)
Bloodletter (Recharge 5-6). Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (1d8 +5) bludgeoning damage, plus 9 <2d8> necrotic damage.
- Leech. Melee Weapon Attack: Any creature that is grappled by Kumquat or any willing creature within 5 ft (requires free hand) takes 9 <2d8> necrotic damage and Kumquat regains hit points equal to half the amount of necrotic damage dealt. If the creature is undead, Kumquat regains the full amount of necrotic damage as hit points.
- Reaping. When a creature that Kumquat can see within 30ft is reduced to 0 hit points, Kumquat can use his reaction to drain some of its remaining life essence and gain 10 temporary hit points.
- Voracious Hunger (costs 2 points). Kumquat uses Leech.
TENTA-QUAT – Tenta-quat is the hidden big bruiser of the 3 variations. His improvements are almost all psychic abilities, which will make for a huge, terrifying surprise when he activates Eldritch Horror. Of course, Eldritch Horror is the powerhouse ability here, with high damaging attacks and easy restrains giving Kumquat good battlefield control.
- Added psychic resistance
- Added telepathy 120 ft
- Creature Sense. Kumquat is aware of the presence of creatures within 1 mile of him that have an Intelligence score of 4 or higher. Kumquat knows the distance and direction to each creature, as well as each creature’s Intelligence score, but cannot sense anything else about it. A creature protected by a mind blank spell, a nondetection spell, or similar magic cannot be perceived in this manner.
- Innate Spellcasting (Psionics). Kumquat's innate spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 16). He can innately cast the following spells, requiring no components.
At will: detect thoughts, detect magic
1/day: dominate monster
- Army of the Damned (1/day) has been reworked into Eldritch Horror (1/day)
Eldritch Horror (1/day). Kumquat summons aberrations within 30 ft of him, which appear as 1d4 nothics and 1d4 intellect devourers OR 1d4 nothics and 1d4 gibbering mouthers OR 1d4 intellect devourers and 1d4 gibbering mouthers. The aberrations act as allies of Kumquat and obey his spoken and telepathic commands. The aberrations remain for 1 day, until Kumquat dies, or until he dismisses them as a bonus action.
In addition, strange alien powers infuse Kumquat, causing him to take on an Eldritch Horror form. For 1 minute, 4 tentacles sprout from Kumquat’s body. While these tentacles are active, Kumquat is Large size, and makes Strength checks and Strength saving throws with advantage. If Kumquat lacks the room to become Large, he attains the maximum size possible in the space available.
If Kumquat drops to half his hit points, Eldritch Horror activates even if it is not Kumquat’s turn.
- Multiattack has been reworked
Multiattack. Kumquat makes 2 weapon attacks using his hammer or 4 weapon attacks using his tentacles while in eldritch horror form only.
- Tentacle Slam (eldritch horror form only). Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (2d8 +5) bludgeoning damage and the target is must succeed on a DC 18 Strength saving throw or be pushed 5 ft away and knocked prone.
- Tentacle Grab (eldritch horror form only). Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (1d8 +5) bludgeoning damage and the target is grappled (escape DC 18) if it is a Large or smaller creature. Until this grapple ends, the target is restrained and takes 14 (2d8 +5) bludgeoning damage at the start of each of Kumquat’s turns, and Kumquat can’t use this tentacle on another target.
- Alien Visions (costs 3 points). Kumquat magically emits psychic energy in a 30 ft radius. Each creature in that area must succeed on a DC 16 Intelligence saving throw or take 12 (2d8 +3) psychic damage and be knocked prone. Aberrations summoned by Kumquat have advantage on the saving throw.
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