Maltwin, Oogru, Ailas and Arluar: if I find out you've read past this point, I'll send in Venomfang's angry parents to do to you what those three bugbears did to the woodworker's widow.
tl:dr 4 man lvl 5 party murders the everloving shit out of upscaled Wave Echo Cave, please help me design a climactic final battle (not the Black Spider, he's already dead).
So here's my problem. It's actually not a very exciting one: my party (Goliath Battle Master Fighter, Half-Elf Vengeance Paladin, Elf Archer Ranger, Elf Moon Druid, all lvl 5) has been breezing through Wave Echo Cave, even though I upscaled the encounters to account for their high level and the bonus feat I gave them at lvl 4. We only got partway through; I need help making the final encounters more challenging.
I'm using this map: https://www.reddit.com/r/battlemaps/comments/kpkdn7/wave_echo_cave_70x90_lost_mine_of_phandelver/
What happened so far:
The party took the north exit from the pit in the first room (why the hell is that even there?), slaughtered the five huge, double HP Ochre Jellies I sent at them (to dissuade them from their chosen path once I realized it would take them straight to the Black Spider), and of course hugged the left wall on their way onward.
This took them to the barracks in the middle of the map, where I'd stationed twice the number of Bugbears listed in the adventure text. Granted, awesome bit of roleplaying right there: the paladin actually negotiated their retreat by badmouthing the Black Spider as a bad leader who lets his troops go hungry, then rolling a natural 20 to back up his story. So I had the Bugbears retreat to the cave entrance, and as soon as they were out of sight, I copy/pasted them into the top/middle room to bolster the forces already there.
Up the stairs the players went, getting noticed by the 12 or so Bugbears and the Doppelganger/Drow in the aforementioned room. At first, the party only noticed the 6 of them charging down the stairs, and not the ones circling around through the water to take them from behind. Still, it was like feeding Bugbears into a wood chipper. I tried to get them to go right instead of left by having the last Bugbear surrender and lying about the whereabouts of the Black Spider, but they didn't fall for it.
So they continued their counterclockwise romp of slaughter. My paragon (homebrew, two monsters in one, with two turns and everything), 5th level spellcaster Black Spider and his 6 (instead of 4) giant spiders were just more meat for the grinder. The druid got taken out by the spiders, but that was it. They left the bodies where they fell, so I might be able to do something with that.
From that point, they went to the top right of the map, then southwest to the smelter room with the Flameskull. Okay, the fireball fazed them a bit, but even though I had the Flameskull fly out of melee range, the ranger and the druid took it down without too much fuss. They haven't realized it'll revive in one hour, though.
Then they murdalized the ghouls in the large chamber in the middle of the map, the other ghouls in the barracks south of there, and there we had to cut the session off because it was 1.30am.
So, what now? What do I have left to make the last leg of the dungeon interesting?
A corridor with a swarm of Stirges that probably won't amount to more than a minor nuisance, a room full of animating Skeletons that they'll huff, puff and blow into smithereens, a room full of poison fungi that you can run through while holding your breath, an angry Wraith in the Wizard's Quarters to the north of that, and the Forge of Spells housing a single Spectator. Oh, and a Flameskull on the way back to unlife.
What I need is a way to stretch these last few rooms into something that'll fill the better part of an evening instead of just an hour and a half, and leaves my players with a sense of accomplishment. I mean, they had tons of fun playing weed whacker with my monsters, but they sure didn't feel challenged.
I'm considering adding a Beholder Zombie to the encounter with the Spectator in the Forge of Spells, but am doubting whether one will be enough to make things interesting if it comes down to combat. I just don't have the experience required to judge where the CR sweet spot lies, so I'm hoping one of you has some thoughts on the matter to help me along.
- How do you run your combat encounters that have a lot of monsters?
- Transitioning from LMoP to OOtA at lvl5
- A PC died. Should I have metagamed or provided a deus ex machina to save them?
More about Dungeons & Dragons OnlinePost: "Looking for some input on spicing up the last leg of Wave Echo Cave for my 4 man lvl 5 party." specifically for the game Dungeons & Dragons Online. Other useful information about this game:
- The Death of a Hero.
- Consulting other DMs
- Crafting an NPC that is a Vampire By Choice, for the Greater Good
- Breaking Anti-Magic Laws: Are my Consequences too Severe? Tips appreciated!
- “I told you to take the wizard’s staff!”. Passive Insight, cooperation, and spellcasting during negotiations and high-stakes social encounters in D&D
Top 20 NEW Medieval Games of 2021
Swords, dragons, knights, castles - if you love any of this stuff, you might like these games throughout 2021.
10 NEW Shooter Games of 2021 With Over The Top Action
We've been keeping our eye on these crazy action oriented first and third person shooter games releasing this year. What's on your personal list? Let us know!
Top 10 NEW Survival Games of 2021
Survival video games are still going strong in 2021. Here's everything to look forward to on PC, PS5, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch, and beyond.