I thought I would start the week with some fun monsters for the paragon tier that fight in tandem.
My six players faced a sextet of these monsters at 15th level; four of the bronze, two of the silver. Obviously, they were intended to work together. The mechanics of Curse of the Blightborn were a matter of some debate. The original design was something much closer to a Warlock’s curse, but that would not have had the intended effect. Eventually, all of the characters would have become cursed and subject to increased damage. What I wanted was for the monsters to be able to focus on the characters that were giving them the most trouble. By restructuring the power so that it could only be on half the party at one time, I was able to achieve this.
Sinister Omen seemed like a good idea at the time, but it was unsupported thematically. Yeah, the golem has a power that messes with the laws of chance, but why? It simply doesn’t fit in with the other powers. It has much more of a capricious, fey feel, so I will probably save it for something else.
Unlike Sinister Omen, Antipode was not discussed with the players before the session. There isn’t a true controller in the party, but many of the characters have abilities that allow them to edge over into that role. Come and Get It being the prime example of this. Antipode was intended to remind them that what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. As such, I expected a moderate amount of backlash, given that it’s the kind of power that can make an encounter grindy and unfun. Normally I would shy away from this sort of thing, but this was the first fight as they explored the lair of a lich. I wanted these monsters to serve as a wake-up call.
To my delight, it actually turned out to be a blast. The players not only rose to the challenge, that ability got everyone excited. It turned the encounter on its side in a way that they really enjoyed.
I don’t know what it is that makes me want to create humans that run around with dogs. This is the third time I’ve done it in 4e. I think this iteration will work fairly well. Often, when I’m shopping for paragon and epic tier monsters that aren’t solos or elites, I find that the development is highly binary. Either the monster melts faces or, more commonly, it’s really bland. The trick for designing for the paragon tier is that the monsters need more options, just the same as the players. These options don’t have to be earth-shattering. They just have to change the fights enough to keep things from getting stale and repetitive.