by Mike Shea on 29 August 2011
Solos need help. A while back I wrote about the economy of actions and the devastation that limiting those actions can have on a powerful solo monster. In short, a daze, stun, or dominate against a solo ends up far more effective than that against a normal or even an elite monster. Dazing a solo is roughly five times more effective than soloing a normal creature.
More recent solo monsters published in the Monster Vault and the Monster Vault 2: Threats to the Nentir Vale handle dazes and stuns well. Older books like the Monster Manual 3, and the Dark Sun Creature Catalog try a few different things but sometimes need help.
Today we're going to build a few tools to help DMs better manage status effects on solo creatures. These three effects help you manage the pace of battle, give you more control over your monsters, but don't reduce the value of the PC's powers.
We've paid a lot of attention to daze, stuns, and dominates but they aren't the only problem. At higher levels, marks, immobilizes, and other status effects can be just as debilitating. Sometimes it's fun to see the effectiveness of these well-placed conditions but other times it wrecks what could otherwise be an interesting battle.
When we're building powers like this, it's important to keep a few design guidelines in mind. Let's take a look:
And now, let's look at these status shakers themselves.
I've mentioned this power originally in Three Monster Powers to Speed Up Combat but it is worth bringing up again. This one has a few changes to it. First, it is exclusively designed for a solo. Second, it handles more than one status effect depending on the tier — a requirement for the higher degree of debilitating status effects at higher levels.
This monster power is a good one to keep in your back pocket for any encounter in which it might be needed. If you want to use it on an elite, reduce the damage taken to 2 per level instead of 5.
Ideally this power would be applied to a brute or soldier, but it can work with any solo creature where the flavor works.
Brutal Shakeoff - No action (at will)
This powerful beast rips free from its entrapments, tearing muscle and cracking bone in the process.
Trigger: This creature begin's it's turn.
Effect (no action): This creature can remove one status effect per tier and takes 5 damage per level.
This power best fits controllers or leaders in a combat that includes additional allies with the primary creature. If you have a particularly powerful battle, you can give this power to your primary solo controller and brutal shakeoff to a pair of elite bodyguards who can shake off the effects in exchange for damage.
Dark Transference - No action (at will)
This mastermind whispers a word of power and transfers his bonds to his willing lackey.
Trigger: This creature begins it's turn.
Effect (no action): This creature can pass one current status effect per tier to a non-minion ally within 10 squares.
Though this monster power is ideally suited to a lurker or skirmisher, it can just as easily be applied to another suitable solo. This power lets the solo creature shake off one or more effects but puts the solo in a particularly vulnerable position. Once discovered by the players, they will figure out ways to get this effect to trigger and then pile on damage, thus changing the pace of the battle around the power.
Forced Resolve - (at will)
Through sheer force of will, this powerful creature rips free from its shackles. Doing so, however, leaves it vulnerable to attack.
Trigger: This creature begins it's turn.
Effect (no action): This creature can remove one status effect per tier and grants combat advantage to all enemies and is vulnerable 5 per tier to damage until the beginning of its next turn. It may not use this power if it is already under the effect.
4th edition is a wonderful system but it's focused rules system removes a lot of freedom from the dungeon master to change the pace of battle during combat. These three powers return some of that control. They are not to be used lightly, however. They should only be used when doing so returns fun to the whole table when fun would otherwise be reduced.
If you enjoyed this article, please check out Sly Flourish's Dungeon Master Tips and Running Epic Tier D&D Games. Looking for some great solo miniatures take a look at D&D Miniatures from Troll and Toad, an official Sly Flourish sponsor.