D&D - The Council of Snakes and the Demon Boss

February 15, 2012

So last session my players spent time preparing to fight a mean demon with intents on ruining everyone's day. This time was the big showdown, where they faced off against the demon in two fairly drawn-out encounters. There unfortunately won't be any maps in this post because we ran it without my friend over Skype and I'm lazy so I didn't make Flash programs for it. Both maps were just 20-unit diameter circular rooms, anyway, without much exciting going on...initially.

The first battle played out as follows: The demon was still possessing the body of a warlock and could not be harmed in any way. Instead, the goal was to kill the 5 snake-people accompanying it, who were trying desperately to block a beam emanating from the center of the room from hitting the demon. If the demon started its turn without a creature in between it and center of the room, it lost its turn, which was a significant source of the enemies' damage. But every time one of the snakes died, they gave the demon an enhancement to one of its powers. Once all the snakes were dead, that phase of the battle was over and we moved on to the next encounter.

The stats of the enemies were as follows:

The Demon - int. +2, spd 5, I didn't give this guy any HP or defenses, as it couldn't be hurt. I probably should have, though, since I allowed it to be moved around by abilities, so I just sort of made them up on the fly and don't remember them.
Summon demon (minor, recharge 456), range 10 - teleports in a lvl 8 minion, AC20, Fort17, Ref19 Will17, flying 6 w/ a +11 v AC attack for 5 dmg and a -2 to targets attack until end of next turn (augmented the demon has 20hp, +1 defenses and a +12 v AC attack for 1d6+3 and blinds and slows target until end of next turn)
Curse (free, 1/turn), range 10 - +11 v Will, target vulnerable 3 to fire and necrotic for remainder of encounter (augmented vulnerability becomes 5 and prevents regeneration)
Shadow bolt (standard, at will) - range 10, +12 v AC for 2d6+4 necrotic (augmented the attack becomes +17 v AC)
Pestilence (minor, at will) - range 10, +10 v Fort, 5 ongoing necrotic, save ends (augmented gives 3 ongiong poison with a separate save ends)
Flame veil (standard, recharge 56) - close burst 2, +10 v Ref, 2d8+2 fire (augmented becomes burst 4 and 2d8+6)

Serpent Warmaster - 100hp, large, int. +4, spd 5, AC19, Fort21, Ref16, Will16, augments 'summon demon' on death, also reduces all forced movement by 2
Cleave - +11 v AC, 1d10+5 and 5 damage to adjacent target
Hammer Slam - +10 v Fort, 1d10+6 and knock prone

Serpent Shaman Chief - 80hp, int. +4, spd 5, AC21, Fort18, Ref18, Will22, augments 'curse' on death
Heal (standard, recharge 56) -ally recovers 1/4 of their total hit points
Lightning bolt - range 10, +11 v Ref, 1d8+3 and target is charged (save ends), charging effect causes target to deal 3 damage to all adjacent creatures at the start of its turn. If it deals this damage, it also takes 3 damage.

Serpent Bowmaster - 80hp, int. +7, spd 7, AC21, Fort18, Ref23, Will20, augments 'shadow bolt' on death
Poisonshot - range 20, +11 v AC, 1d10+4 and 4 ongoing poison (save ends)
Multishot (recharge 56) - range 20, up to 3 targets, +10 v AC, 1d10+1
Scattershot - melee range, doesn't provoke OA, +12 v Ref, 1d6+2 and dazed

Serpent Shadowblade - 70hp, int +7, spd 6, AC22, Fort17, Ref22, Will20, augments 'pestilence' on death
Invisibility (minor, recharge 6) - gains 2d6 bonus damage on sneak attack (combat advantage)
Stab - +12 v AC, 1d6+4
Crippling strike (recharge 56) - +12 v AC, 1d6+4 plus 4 ongoing poison and slowed

Serpent Elementalist - 70hp, int. +3, spd 6, AC22, Fort16,Ref22, Will21, augments 'flame veil' on death
Staff blow - +10 v AC, 1d8+1 and push 2
Fireball - blast 1, range 10, +10 v Ref, 1d8+3 fire
Shrink (recharge 456) - range 10, +11 v Will, 1d4+2 and target is dazed, vulnerable 3, -3 to Fort and -2 to melee attack and damage (save ends all)

The fight was fairly interesting, up until the warmaster died. Then the players were able to crack open the group of serpents and really start pushing them around everywhere, leaving the demon completely vulnerable to the beam. I think it would have worked a little better if I had decided that the demon was not affected by forced movement. The problem was that they never saw any of the augmented attacks because of the beam stun, thus making the fight easier and easier as it progressed, instead of challenging throughout.

Once the demon could be perma-stunned by the beam, it revealed its true form, smashed the floor in an attempt to reach the depths below and proceeded to fight the players in free-fall. Well, of course it had wings. Whereas in the previous encounter a battle map in this blog was unnecessary because of the room's simplicity, here a battle map is largely impossible because I was changing the layout of the battlefield every turn as they fell down this series of tunnels.

Basically, the walls started closing in on them and changing at the top of every round. If a player was in an area where the walls had closed in, the took 1d10+3 damage and were pushed into an open space, though players could perform perception checks to see if they were in danger of this happening beforehand. Force movement into a wall also cause this damage, as ramming into a jagged surface while falling at high speeds can also have a negative effect. So essentially, over time, one big room became several smaller chambers that connected and disconnected as the fight went on, leaving players in danger of becoming separated from the fight.

The battle was also fought in free-fall, with special free-fall rules. Creatures could move in all three dimensions (how I handled this was sort of a debacle, but we eventually figured it out), but it was essentially considered rough terrain for non-flying creatures. Non-flying creatures in free-fall also could not make opportunity attacks and performed melee attacks at a -2 penalty. There were rock platforms falling with them. If players were standing on one of these, they could move around on it freely and act normally, however, as the walls closed in and moved around, these platforms eventually were crushed and destroyed.

While dealing with all these issues, players were fighting a large flying demon and its minions, of course. The demon had the following stats and abilities:
400hp, 2AP, +6 int., 6 spd flying, 23AC, 20Fort, 22Ref, 21Will, resist fire and necrotic 20
Grapple (move, at will) - +11 v Ref, once grappling a non-flying creature, the demon could use its next move action to move the target into a wall, forcing it to take the 1d10+3 rock damage
Black Breath (standard) - close blast 3, +12 v AC, 3d4+4 and immobilize (save ends)
Wreath of Flame (standard) - creates an area-wide fire storm at start of next turn (shielded if on falling platform) +12 v Fort, 1d8+5
Mind Control (standard, recharge 56) - +10 v Will, 1d6+2 and dominated (effect is permanent until player uses a special item on the target, requiring arcana check of 25)
Wing Buffet (minor) - +11 v Fort, 1d4+2 and pushes free-falling targets 1
Summon Demon (minor, recharge 56) - Summons 2 augmented demons (stats above) within range 10. The demons are flying.

This battle went pretty well, I think. The demon's abilities and the constantly changing battlefield kept things interesting. My greatest problem was when the players started using the damage of the walls against me, forcing the demon into the wall over and over, dropping his HP much faster than I would have liked. Again, it might have been a more suitably challenging fight if the demon was unaffected by forced movement.

And that's that. The demon died and my campaign came to a close...for now. Another player has taken up the DM mantle and I'll probably write some words about that at some later point, as well.

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