My group had just killed off Dweller-in-Dark-Places, and I knew next session, they would face off against Maukui. I wanted to make this an interesting fight and was turning over the idea of turning Maukui into a full-blown Boss Fight (tm) since this was basically a dragon and all dragon fights should be memorable because it would be a bit of a surprise for the party. As I was pondering this during our weekly family movie night, we happen to be watching Kyrum vs The Swords of Justice. Here we had a perfect example of a Boss Fight. In the movie, Kyrum transforms and has three phases. Each phase has a different attack and defence power. Bingo!
So here is Kyrum, Maukui’s Host 2.0, which is a four-phase fight with Maukui popping out once all forms are exhausted. I grabbed three dragons – white, blue and red and stuffed them in one body. I took the base abilities of the middle-of-the-row dragon – in this case, the blue. I then tweaked it a bit, but it’s still essentially three dragons stuffed into one Kyrum body. But it worked well. I nicked the dismemberment idea, battle map and (modified) paragon system from good old Angry
GM DM. I also chucked in some 13th Age ideas as well, mixed it all together and got Maukui’s Host 2.0.
However, the characters pretty much frontal assaulted this guy. One of my players complained about the hit point pools post-battle that it was unfair since it made him invincible until he transformed. I pointed out he just made seven attacks and rolled 18d6 damage, so let’s not quibble over mechanics.
It nevertheless dropped three of the five characters during the battle and ended up being the real boss of the Valley of the Brain Collectors. I am still not convinced this is the best way to run a boss battle. I found the old 4e Boss Battle system of three separate stat blocks easier to run than the one stat black with keywords attached. I am not seeing this as an improvement over the original Boss Fight system, and I will use it for the next “end boss” I run.
NB: 2023 Update – an updated boss battle, including map of Macau (renamed) lair can be found on World Anvil here.
MAUKUI’S HOST 2.0
Huge paragon dragon (kyrum), neutral evil
Armour Class 18 (natural armour)
Hit Points 152/152/152 (16d10 + 64)
Speed 40ft., burrow 20ft., fly 80ft., and swim 40ft.
STR 21 (+5) DEX 10 (+0) CON 19 (+4)
INT 14 (+2) WIS 13 (+1) CHA 17 (+3)
Saving Throws Dex +4, Con +8, Wis +5 Cha +7
Skills Perception +9, Stealth +4
Damage Immunities form dependent – cold, fire or lightning
Senses blindsight 60ft., darkvision 120ft., passive Perception 19
Languages As Maukaui
Challenge 16 (15,000 XP)
Escalator. The escalator ability allows the Maukui’s Host to add the escalation die to its attack rolls. See Tactics section below.
[White] Raw Power. Until White is bloodied it does an additional 5 (1d10) cold damage with its bite and claw attacks.
[Blue] Counterspell. Blue has advantage on saving throws against spell affects.
[Black] Draconic grace. At the start of each of Black’s turns, roll the escalation dice, if a 1 is rolled it gets an extra action.
Paragon Fortitude. The dragon has multiple pools of hit points, each of which is tracked separately. All damage and healing must be completely applied to only one pool. When a pool is reduced to zero, all ongoing conditions and effects affecting the creature end. Once a pool is reduced to zero, that pool cannot receive any healing until after a long rest. If all hit of the point pools are reduced to zero, the creature is killed.
Paragon Fury. The dragon may take one additional turn in each round of combat for each of its hit point pools that have been reduced to zero. The dragon determines initiative normally for its first turn, though it gains advantage on the roll. Each subsequent turn the dragon gains is inserted immediately after any one PC’s turn in the initiative order.
Paragon Transformation. The dragon has multiple forms; each corresponding to one of the creature’s hit point pools. The dragon begins the battle in its White Form. When that form’s hit point pool has been reduced to zero, it assumes its Blue Form and then its Black Form in turn. Statistics, traits, or actions keyed to a specific form are only used when the creature is in that form.
Multiattack. The dragon makes three attacks: one with its bite and two with its claws. In addition the dragon may also use its breath weapon when available.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target.
Hit: 16 (2d10 + 5) piercing damage plus 5 (1d10) [cold, lightning or fire] damage.
Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target.
Hit: 12 (2d6 + 5) slashing damage.
Dragon Breath (Recharge 5-6). Maukui may use a breath weapon dependent on the form he is currently in but no more than one breath weapon per round:
[White] Ice Beam. The dragon exhales an icy blast in a 30-foot co ne. Each creature in that area must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw, taking 45 (10d8) cold damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.
[Blue] Fusion Bolt. The dragon exhales lightning in a 60-foot line that is 5 feet wide. Each creature in that line must make a DC 16 Dexterity saving throw, taking 55 (10d10) lightning damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.
[Black] Flamethrower. The dragon exhales fire in a 30-foot cone. Each creature in that area must make a DC 17 Dexterity saving throw, taking 56 (l6d6) fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.
The dragon can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. The dragon regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.
- Detect. The dragon makes a Wisdom (Perception) check.
- Dragon Punch. The dragon makes a claw attack.
- [White] Frostbite. The dragon’s mere presence causes numbing cold. All creatures in melee range or one specific target at range must make a DC 15 Constitution save. On a failed save, the target takes 9 (3d6) cold damage, and it has disadvantage on the next weapon attack roll it makes before the end of its next turn.
- [Black] Immolation. Flames wreathe one creature you can see within range. The target must make a DC 17 Dexterity saving throw. It takes 21 (7d6) fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. On a failed save, the target also burns for 1 minute. The burning target sheds bright light in a 30-foot radius and dim light for an additional 30 feet. At the end of each of its turns, the target repeats the saving throw. It takes 9 (3d6) fire damage on a failed save, and the effect ends on a successful one. These magical flames can’t be extinguished through nonmagical means. If damage from this spell reduces a target to 0 hit points, the target is turned to ash.
If Maukui’s host is killed then Maukui emerges within five feet of the body.
Additionally Maukui’s Host gains shield as a reaction ability while inhabited: An invisible barrier of psionic force appears and protects the host. Until the start of your next turn, you have a +5 bonus to AC, including against the triggering attack, and you take no damage from magic missile
Finally when first entering [Blue] form the Host triggers a Storm Sphere centered on it. The sphere moves with Blue Maukui. A 20-foot-radius sphere of whirling air springs into existence centered on you. The sphere remains for as long as Blue form is active. Each creature in the sphere when it appears or that ends its turn there must succeed on a DC 16 Strength saving throw or take 6 (2d6) bludgeoning damage. The sphere’s space is difficult terrain. Until the spell ends, Blue can use a bonus action on each of its turns to cause a bolt of lightning to leap from the center of the sphere toward one creature you choose within 60 feet of the center. Make a ranged spell attack at +6. Blue has advantage on the attack roll if the target is in the sphere. On a hit, the target takes 4d6 lightning damage. Creatures within 30 feet of the sphere have disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks made to listen.
The Host uses the escalation dice during combat adding the die to its to-hit rolls. Initially there is no escalation die and then it progresses to d4, d6 and finally d8. Maukui’s Host gains an escalation dice whenever:
- It scores a critical hit,
- Reduces a player to the bloodied state for the first time.
Characters may also access the escalation die under the following circumstances:
- The first time a characters scores a critical hit – “filled with hope the party feels they can overcome this foe”.
- The first time a character is bloodied – “things are looking dicey, pull out all the stops”.
- The first time a character is knocked out or killed – “we need to finish this NOW”.
Depending on the creatures form the environment within ½ a mile will change:
[White] It begins to snow and the temperature drops to 0 Fahrenheit. Ice forms wherever White moves. When first exposed to this cold a creature must succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw or gain one level of exhaustion.
[Blue] A storm rolls in and it begins to rain soon becoming torrential. Everything within an area is lightly obscured, and creatures (excluding Maukui’s Host) in the area have disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight. The heavy rain also extinguishes open flames and imposes disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing.
[Black] The sun comes out and the skies clear. It becomes very hot very quickly reaching temperatures in the low 100s of Fahrenheit. Each round of heavy exertion (such as combat) must succeed on a Constitution saving throw at the end of each round or gain one level of exhaustion. The DC is 5 for the first round and increases by 1 for each additional round. Creatures wearing medium or heavy armor, or who are clad in heavy clothing, have disadvantage on the saving throw. Creatures with resistance or immunity to fire damage automatically succeed on the saving throw, as do creatures naturally adapted to hot climates. If a character spends a round drinking water this cancels the affect of the heat (including the exhaustion effect).
The Host is a gray and blue, bipedal creature of indefinable but seemingly draconic basis. The Host has a blue head and snout and has yellow eyes without pupils, has a pair of pointed light bluish horns on its head and a yellow crest on its skull. Three pointed teeth jut out the bottom of either side of its jaws, which are frozen shut by the ice covering its head.
Very interesting. It seems like it was sort of necessary to be so impressive to give your characters a challenge. It makes me rethink the tiamat stats out of the 5e Adventure.
I suspect the tech items which I mostly give out as the adventure dictates are helping here. With 5e restrictions on magic items my group uses tech items more often.
Interesting dynamic. Did any of your players die and need raise dead, or were they merely “dying”?
So far we have had only one death. The monk Sylvanus was killed outright by Hellion (my first boss fight). In 5e it gets harder and harder to outright kill a character – which I am fine with. Being knocked out is a lot more common.
I do like that. My new players have almost died a few times, but we’re able to survive the fight. It might have soured the adventure if they had died.
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An updated battle played recently, with Macau (renamed) to be much more a “master of puppets”:
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