Tag: CR 7

  • Dragon Tactics, Part 6: Lunar and Solar Dragons

    If you’ve played around extensively with dragons, not a lot in the lunar dragon or solar dragon stat blocks will come as a surprise. At every life stage, they share the archetypal Strength-and-Constitution-heavy brute ability contour of most chromatic and metallic dragons, along with breath weapons and proficiency in the ambush skills (Perception and Stealth). Young, adult and ancient lunar dragons possess the classic Claw/Claw/Bite Multiattack, while solar dragons, which lack claws, attack in the same manner but with Bite and Tail; adult and ancient lunar and solar dragons have Legendary Resistance, and ancient lunar dragons have opportunistic Tail attacks along with Wing Attacks for when more opponents than they’d prefer are engaging them in melee and they want to bug out.

    So let’s focus on what makes them different. Lunar dragons, which typically dwell in burrows on (wait for it) barren moons, aren’t all that different from white dragons; power-wise, they’re on par or very slightly weaker. They lack blindsight, but their darkvision has much greater range: 120 feet for wyrmlings, 240 feet after they hit puberty. This fact suggests that they dig big: When they burrow into a moon, they carve out not only tunnel networks (although those would be great for trespassers to get lost in) but also an enormous central cavern with plenty of room to maneuver in and no illumination whatsoever. Their Cold Breath deals less damage than a white dragon’s, but it also immobilizes targets that fail their saving throws. Those targets aren’t restrained or paralyzed, so freezing them doesn’t grant the dragon advantage on its follow-up attack rolls, but it does prevent them from pursuing (if they’re trying to engage in melee with the dragon) or from escaping (if they’re trying to avoid engagement).

  • Spelljammer Githyanki Tactics

    As popular as githyanki seem to be, the fact that they’re native to the Astral Plane has always demanded some contortions when introducing them as adversaries on the Prime Material. Send your player characters into spaaaaace, however, and that’s no longer an issue. Wildspace, where the astral and the material overlap, is the perfect place for githyanki pirates to go hunting for fish out of water. If the PCs venture all the way out into the Astral Sea, they’re on githyanki turf.

    Based on their name, I’d hope that githyanki buccaneers would have some sort of ability that would make them uniquely good pirates. I don’t see that this is the case, though; they have the same challenge rating as githyanki warriors, and aside from having a ranged attack, they’re ultimately not all that different.

    Githyanki buccaneers’ ability scores are slightly better than githyanki warriors’, a fact that’s offset by their slightly lower Armor Class (they wear AC 16 breastplates instead of AC 17 half plate). A higher Constitution, which matches their Dexterity, gives them the option of staying engaged in melee rather than moving fast, hitting hard and getting out. But they don’t have to engage in melee at all, since they have Telekinetic Bolt, i.e., mind lasers.

  • Astral Elf Tactics

    As soon as my last post went up, I got a request to examine the gaj. However, I already promised you astral elves. So it’s astral elves today, gaj next time.

    Ageless astral elves pilot ships made of crystal and plant matter, because of course they do. It reminds me of all the “elves be like this, dwarves be like that” jokes we used to make back in high school (Gruff voice: “Dwarves drink stout!” Prissy voice: “Elves drink wine!”), to the extent that I kind of want to see a Spelljammer game in which a bunch of space dwarves cruise by on a big lump of rock that’s nothing more than a mined-out and repurposed asteroid with a bar at the center, where you’ll find the drunkest dwarf spellcaster at the helm. (I say that with the absolute certainty that it’s been thought of at least a thousand times already, and actually done at least a hundred.)

    Your basic mook, the astral elf warrior, has a challenge rating of 3, on par with its counterpart among the giff. That CR makes it a match for most mid-level player characters, and a whole crew of them is threat suitable only for high- and legendary-level PCs to take on. However, the astral elf warrior is an extremely uncomplicated foe. Despite its very high Intelligence and Wisdom and high Charisma, it’s not a spellcaster; it has no offensive capabilities beyond its weapon attacks. Among its physical ability scores, only its Dexterity stands out. Thus, it’s a combination sharpshooter and shock attacker that employs the solid but unexciting tactic of shooting at its opponents from a safe distance of 60 to 150 feet away until they’re all perforated enough for it to charge in and finish them off with its blade.

  • Bodytaker Plant Tactics

    If you’ve ever had a hankering to reenact Invasion of the Body Snatchers at your table, bodytaker plants are the monster for you. The mechanics are a bit different—rather than be transformed by individual pods, victims are transformed in a chamber within the body of a huge parent plant—but the result, a crowd of simulacra of previously existing people, is the same.

    Bodytaker plants are big and slow; unnervingly, however, they can climb and swim as well as drag themselves across the ground. Their exceptional Strength and extraordinary Constitution make them brute fighters, but even if they lacked those abilities, their low speed would shoehorn them into a melee combat role. They simply aren’t mobile enough to avoid being charged, and they have no way to attack at range. They have to tough it out.

  • Dragon Follower and Dragonborn Champion Tactics

    Tyranny of Dragons (Hoard of the Dragon Queen plus The Rise of Tiamat) was the first full-length campaign I ran for my fifth-edition Dungeons & Dragons group, after putting them through The Lost Mine of Phandelver. It was the right campaign for the moment, and its linear nature and geographic jumping around made it easy to insert character-specific side quests, which I appreciated. It also had many flaws, though, and a big one is that the dragon cultists just weren’t that interesting or memorable as opponents. (There’s also all of “Mission to Thay,” chapter 8 of Rise of Tiamat, which … whoo, boy, don’t get me started on that.)

    Might the insertion of some dragon followers or dragonborn champions from Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons have livened up Tyranny? Maybe, but not without some fiddling.


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“I’ve always said, the Dungeon Master is the whole world except for his players, and as a result, I spend countless hours prepping for my home group. What Keith gets is that the monsters are the DM’s characters, and his work has been super helpful in adding logic, flavor, and fun in my quest to slaughter my players’ characters and laugh out the window as they cry in their cars afterward.” —Joe Manganiello

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