On verdant soil treads the Dracolich…

2011 July 3
by Dante

Our gaming group reconvened for the first time in two months for our campaign.  They had left off just prior to a perilous battle with an unknown evil.  I was grateful as DM that they left off where they did, because I wanted to find them a particularly butt-puckering iconic encounter to welcome us back to semi-regular gaming.  As with most things these days, Real Life happened and I didn’t get time to prep very well but I did leaf through my Monster Manual enough to see that there was a like-leveled dracolich.  Yes, this will do.

Sadly, I didn’t read the fine print and just assumed that the terrifying dracolich of yore would provide an adequate solo creature to both frighten and challenge my players.  Frighten, yes.  Challenge, not so much.  You see, in 4e the dracolich is a controller.  This job it does admirably, having stunned most of the party for several consecutive rounds.  The trouble came in dealing the damage.  Unintelligently, I split up the yuan-ti’s that they recommend as being a Level 20 encounter into a second room and they were dispatched the previous session… so there was nothing in the way of big damage dealing to really threaten the party… what a shame.

So the moral of the story is this: when designing an encounter, be very sure to read what creature type you’re setting up to be your solo baddie… controllers don’t fit the bill very well, aside for dragging out combat extensively due to most of the party being stunned.

The upside: one of my players took the dracolich skull to ornament his bachelor pad with.  I really love my current group of players.

One Response leave one →
  1. mbeacom permalink
    September 1, 2011

    Honestly, very few of the solos make good encounters, regardless of role. The thing is, “Solo” is a misnomer. You don’t really want to run them by themselves. They need helpers. In Draco’s case, they need somebody else to do damage. The Draco can stun like mad. If you have some good brutes pounding skulls and skirmishers moving around in melee, the Draco becomes a truly challenging abomination. Looking at the encounter group listed in the MM, I think it could be ok. The soldiers would lock down the party while the controller stunned and artiller pelted them from a distance. I’d still want to pump the damage to the new errated numbers. It would have the Draco doing 3d8+13 instead of 2d8+7. Getting hit by the thing while stunned would be truly frighting (an additional 3d8 of damage).

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