Content of the article: "Using PS2 God of War I to design your boss fights"
I ran a boss fight today that was a lot of fun, challenging and didn't turn into a melee slogfest. It can easily be scaled up or down, depending on the level and proficiency of your players. It required them to explore and think about how to defeat the giant and when asked, they said it was a lot of fun and satisfying. So, here's my process and how I designed the encounter.
I beat God of War I recently and I remember feeling that the creators of the game did an excellent job of making the bosses interesting to fight and often included using multiple parts of the terrain to defeat them. I felt that this was lacking in my game, so I decided I wanted to try it.
For a boss, I used a Frost Giant that the PC's had encountered earlier, defeated but hadn't managed to kill. I have him some area effect Legendary Reactions and 3 yeti to act as speed bump minions. I gave him two Legendary Resistances:
Gigantic Leap: The Giant could move 30 feet as a Legendary Action over PC's and difficult terrain. This will be important latter.
Icy Invulnerability: I transfered his hitpoints to his upgraded "armor". When all the hitpoints were gone, the armor had been knocked off in the fight and he was then invulnerable to all forms of damage. However, if he did take any damage, he would be stunned for one round and unable to make a Gigantic Leap move.
I created a generic battle map of a room. 50×50 with a raised platform in the center, about 30×30 squares. There were 6 important elements to the room.
2 seige ballista- ballista bolts were thin and sharp, shattering on impact with metal, but sinking in deep to flesh. Bolts were attached to chains hooked to the floor. It two actions to load and then rotate the ballista to be able to fire them. Firing was a bonus action. Ballista were set opposite of each other.
2 Statues of fire Elementals that burned with deep magma within them. These were opposite of each other.
2 depress-able circular stands. It took the body weight of a PC standing on it to push it to the ground. If both were pushed to the ground, the statues above would gout fire and create a turbo charged Wall of Fire.
To anyone who has ever played the game, it's pretty obvious that the armor needs to be knocked off, the giant trapped by the ballista and both circles need to be stepped on to activate the fire. The Giant will use the Gigantic Leap to get out of the way of anyone trying to activate the fire without being pinned down by the Ballista. The Ballista won't be able to pin him down until those hitpoints are gone and he's stunned. It becomes a game of trying to goad him into the right place while others try to get into place to spring the trap. Add yeti's or other appropriate level minions to thwart their shenanigans and make them sweat
If you have power gamers, I wouldn't give them more than a round or two in the room before the giant busts in. If you have a younger group or a group not focused on tactics, give them plenty of time to experiment.
You could easily scale it down to a ogre for lower parties or up to Titans for very high level parties.
I plan on stealing a lot more ideas from those games since they are pretty innovative on using terrain to make a fight more interesting and though provoking.
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