Friday, June 3, 2011

The Boss Template

This template is an attempt to give enough power, versatility and resistance to a monster so that it can face an entire party of adventurers by itself (while still providing a challenging and entertaining encounter). Traditional Pathfinder creatures hardly present a challenge when placed alone against the player characters, the exception being what you would call – in D&D 4th Edition vocabulary – of “solos”, like dragons and some types of outsider. Only these monsters usually possess the right combination of HPs and defenses capable of resisting the onslaught caused of a party of adventurers. But even in this case, the fact that monsters are generally limited by the same rules as player characters (for example: 1 standard action/round) greatly diminishes their tactical capabilities and – more important – their dramatic role as final obstacles.

I used two sources as inspiration for this template: the excellent Trailblazer and – of course – D&D 4th Edition. One key design approach that I’ve become quite fond of late is that monsters/NPCs shouldn’t follow the same rules as PCs. I’ve used in my first attempt to mess with the Pathfinder creature rules and I still believe this direction offer the best solution to lessen the Gamemaster’s load of work.

The Boss Template

These alterations are meant to increase a creature’s capabilities so that it may face a group of PCs (player characters). After applying the template the creature’s CR will be equal to its original value + 1 for every 2 PCs in the party. For example: a ghoul boss facing 5 PCs would be CR 3 (original CR 1 + 2 for 4 first PCs, ignore the 5th). As always, this is just an approximation and the Gamemaster should check the creature’s new stats.

This template presupposes a narrative structure underling the adventure (i.e.: the altered creature has this powerful not itself, but only in contrast to the heroes).


General: The creature gains a general bonus on all its initiative attack rolls, damage rolls, ability checks, skill checks, saving throws, concentration and caster level checks, AC, SR, CMB rolls and CMD equal to the number the number of PCs faced or its original CR (whichever is lower).

Hip Points: Multiply the creature’s original HPs by the number of PCs.

Combat Prowess: The creature gains one extra attack for each 2 PCs it is facing. These extra attacks are usually normally with the creature’s best attack bonus or damage bonus (GM’s call).
All extra attacks granted by this template must be target at different targets.
Finally, the creature also gains the same number in extra attacks of opportunity.

Theme: The creature gains special abilities linked to a common theme, chosen below. These special abilities can be used a number of time per encounter equal to the number of PCs faced.


- Make one extra combat maneuver (free action)
- Automatically pass one Fortitude save (immediate action)
- After hitting an attack, deal maximum damage (can’t be used on critical) (free action)
- Gain a number of temporary HPs equal to original CR x 5 (immediate action)
- Keep fighting for 1 more turn even if reduced bellow 0 HPs or dead (standard action)


- Apply any metamagic feat (the creature doesn’t need to have it) to one spell, spell-like ability or supernatural ability (swift action)
- Recover one spell, spell-like ability or supernatural ability use (free action, after using the ability)
- Gain one free counterspell attempt (immediate action)
- Automatically pass one Will save (immediate action)
- Ignore the next spell/powers cast against it, until the creature has ignored a number of spell/power levels equal to its original CR (swift action, can only be used once per encounter)


- Extra standard action (can’t be an attack) (swift action)
- Force enemy to reroll any check and take the worse result (immediate action)
- One enemy’s action provokes an attack of opportunity (immediate action)
- Gain Sneak Attack (as Rogue of a level equal to the creature’s original CR) to your next strike or improve its natural Sneak Attack die to d8s (immediate action)
- Automatically pass one Refl or Will save (immediate action)

An example:
Ghoul Boss (facing a party of 5 adventurers)
CR 3
XP 800
CE Medium undead
+3; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +8
AC 15, touch 13, flat-footed 13 (+2 Dex, +2 natural, +1 boss)
hp 65 (2d8+4 x5)
Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +6
Defensive Abilities channel resistance +2; Immune undead traits
Speed 30 ft.
Melee bite +4 (1d6+2 plus disease and paralysis), 2 claws +4 (1d6+2 plus paralysis)
Special Attacks brute (5/encounter), combat prowess (2 extra attacks against different targets; 2 extra attacks of opportunity per round), paralysis (1d4+1 rounds, DC 13, elves are immune to this effect)
Str 13, Dex 15, Con —, Int 13, Wis 14, Cha 14
Base Atk +1; CMB +3; CMD 15
Feats Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics +5, Climb +7, Perception +8, Stealth +8, Swim +4
Disease (Su)
Ghoul Fever: Bite—injury; save Fort DC 13; onset 1 day; frequency 1/day; effect 1d3 Con and 1d3 Dex damage; cure 2 consecutive saves. The save DC is Charisma-based.

No comments:

Post a Comment