Eclipse – Bosses, Creeping Doom, Lair Actions, Mythic Actions, and The Lion At Bay

And for today it’s a selection of abilities for running boss encounters since the original article has developed all sorts of side branches long the way…

Creeping Doom Caller (6 CP):

With this ability greenish-purple iridescent ectoplasmic ooze spreads out around you whenever you stand still long enough – delimiting the boundaries of a Ward Major (per the Practical Enchanter) that provides it’s “residents” with concealment, boosted movement, healing, and sustenance. Unfortunately, the ooze (and it’s borders) is blatantly obvious, it evaporates back into the astral plane if it ceases to be sustained, and it spreads relatively slowly – and never, of course past the appropriate limits of the Ward. One Creeping Doom Master can maintain enough Creeping Doom to cover a small house. If they’re compatible, three or more can cover a great mansion or small castle. Nine or more can cover a manor, a normal castle or some other great structure. Twenty seven or more can cover a city or small valley. and eighty one or more can cover a region with a maximum radius of up to four miles, although that’s the maximum limit. If you happen to have a legion of Creeping Doom Callers, they’ll just have to set up somewhere else and start blanketing their own area. Regions of Creeping Doom may but up against each other – they don’t need to be circular – but they never overlap.

  • Innate Enchantment, Ward Major IV (12,500 GP, 13 CP), Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / requires that the user stand still, only spreads out to cover an area gradually, leaves area coated in extremely obvious “ooze” (4 CP).
  • Action Hero / Crafting, Specialized and Corrupted / only pays the XP cost for the Ward Major (2 CP).

The ward, of course, recognizes all members of whichever group it is set up for as “residents”, and grants them the following four benefits – its minor ward powers:

  • Continuous Camouflage: +10 to Stealth when hiding or moving within the ooze
  • Continuous Expeditious Retreat: +30 Enhancement Bonus to Movement within the ooze.
  • Grant Of Aid with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Hit Points Only. The ooze will flow up to patch it’s residents wounds. Note that this does not stack; you can’t exhaust the provided healing, move over to another Ward / separate patch of Creeping Doom and get more healing.
  • Sustenance: Within the Ward it’s “residents” need not Eat, Sleep, or Breathe as they are sustained by the ooze.

Other powers can, of course, be substituted – but would call for changes in the special effects.

Creepy Master (6 CP):

A skillful summoner of the Creeping Doom can manipulate and use the ooze in a variety of ways – causing it two swap two unresisting creatures positions, using it to strike at targets remotely, sensing nearby creatures touching it, causing it to heave itself up into low walls or obstacles, letting it fall away to create pits, and causing it to erupt into protective barriers. Although the Creepy Commander still cannot move and maintain the ooze… he or she may not need to.

  • Innate Enchantment, Specialized for Half Cost / only works within an area covered by the user’s Creeping Doom. All effects Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP Unlimited Use Use Activated. Benign Transposition (Swap the positions of two nearby, willing, creatures), Blood Wind (Melee Attacks gain a 20′ Range Increment), Embrace The Wild (Blindsense out to 30′, +2 to Perception), Expeditious Construction (create 10′ of low wall), Expeditious Excavation (create a small pit), and Shield (+4 Shield Bonus to AC, gain Immunity to Magic Missiles). (6 CP).

Creepy Commander (6 CP):

A true master of the Creeping Doom may direct it almost instinctively, and – in fact – binds to it so tightly that it can act on it’s own on a larger scale to help out the commander and his or her troops.

  • Opportunist / may expend his or her Attacks Of Opportunity on using Innate Enchantment Effects, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Only works within the ooze, only for Creepy Master Effects, continues to require standing still (2 CP).
  • Advanced Blessing (Shared Powers), Specialized and Corrupted / only works with the Creepy Master package, only to share those powers with the Ward itself (4 CP). This allows the Ward to use a Creepy Master effect on it’s own (using the granting characters initiative) once per round – but, as usual for a magic-using Ward Major, it can use them to affect large numbers of targets over a considerable area. This allows it to erect barriers, open pits, swap allies positions, and shield allies without requiring anyone else’s actions.

Creepy Pasta (5 CP):

Those who truly understand and immerse themselves in the Creeping Doom may begin to tie exotic sources of power into their Wards, spinning threads of power both great and small inwards and outwards. While that power is somewhat unpredictable – those who learn to spin the Creepy Pasta are all at least slightly different – the technique can make the Creeping Doom considerably more effective.

  • Leadership with Exotic Followers (Elementals, Nature Spirits, Demons, whatever), Specialized and Corrupted / these never actually appear and only act indirectly, “flavoring” the area around your home, notifying you of disturbances and attackers, and manipulating the environment to assist you. They only act a limited number of times per turn (taking up to three minor actions, one minor and one notable action, or one major action) to assist you – and they can only help you out when you’re defending your home. Worse, the actions must always fit within a particular theme and the selection is limited (3 CP). This, of course, is the equivalent of Fifth Editions “Lair Actions” and lets you easily represent some source of assistance that isn’t directly involved in the fight.

So what sort of things are suitable?

  • Minor Creepy Lair Actions: Minor and inconvenient traps, smoke obscures the field, there is an earth tremor or unsteady footing, a gust of wind fouls up archery for a bit, someone gets entangled in a curtain, the lights go out, thunder crashes making it impossible to communicate this round, a huge boiling cauldron spills.
  • Notable Creepy Lair Actions: A large tree falls, a crevice opens up, part of the roof collapses, something explodes, a dangerous trap goes off, some caged pets get unleashed, the hostages are placed in danger forcing some characters to turn away from the fight and go to the rescue, a blinding flash of light occurs, the place catches fire (if already on fire, floors can give way, flames erupt, and so on).
  • Major Creepy Lair Actions: Small volcanic eruptions or other drastic and dangerous changes in the local environment, toxic mists, tentacles try to grab several characters, an escape route opens up, an enemy creature regains thirty hit points or recovers from some nasty condition, a wall pops up.

At lower levels it’s usually best to reduce things – likely to a Notable or two Minor actions, or even to a single Minor action.

It’s usually best to use “lair actions” to try to add interest rather than direct damage. A bear trap that keeps someone from moving away as the monster charges changes the tactical situation interestingly. Being hit by a falling rock? Now that’s just random damage.

  • Ward Upgrade to L5 (Adds 1 Major Power, 2 CP): Major Powers can be found in The Practical Enchanter, but effects such as Haste (for a total of ten minutes per day), Freedom Of Movement, True Seeing, Recovery, Spell Absorption, a powerful Barrier, Teleport Suppression, Spellcasting, and more are all possible. With this upgrade the Creeping Doom can become an even greater tactical factor.

Mythic Creep (12 CP):

Some monsters go well beyond the normal limits of reality, their legends take on a life and power of their own, twisting the world around them to suit their narrative. The creature is no longer “A Hydra”, but the legendary “Hydra of Terlence”, not “An Adult Red Dragon” but “Nightfire The Reaper” – a unique entity of terrible power. Such creatures are no longer entirely bound by reality, and are often capable of opposing a group of adventurers entirely on their own.

  • Mana with Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only for Reality Editing, only for a list of 3-7 minor (1 Mana), Notable (2 Mana), and Major (3 Mana) effects unique to each user, no more than three Mana may be spent per turn, edits can only be made at the end of another creatures action. This costs (6 CP) per die of Mana,
  • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized die Reduced Cost and Corrupted for Increased Effect (May be activated once per round during active combat by expending an Attack Of Opprotunity) / only to recharge the Reality Editing pool above (6 CP).

While Mythic Creep Effects have the same general hierarchy as Lair Actions, they’re usually direct actions of the creature, rather than things it causes by its mere presence.

  • Minor Mythic Creep effects commonly include making single attacks, using minor spells or other special abilities, and movement powers.
  • Notable Mythic Creep effects include low-level spell effects, taking a target out of the fight for several rounds, launching a full attack on someone.
  • Major Mythic Creep effects include forcing everyone else who fails to save to lose an action or two, stronger spell effects, and triggering various unique abilities.

With Mythic Creep the characters will always be a bit unsure of just what THIS creature might be capable of.

The Lion At Bay, A.K.A. A Party Of One (12 CP)

You’ve all seen this one in novels, comic books, or movies. The Hero or Villain stands alone against a group of attackers, and basically dares them to come at him or her. They do so, coming forward in a wave of simultaneous attacks designed to overwhelm the sole defender.

Yet somehow, that sole defender gets to deal with that mass of opponents either one at a time or – at most – in pairs. It doesn’t matter if it’s ninja, or power armor troopers, or the X-Men. Always they seem to wind up attacking one at a time even if the start of the sequence clearly shows them moving in to attack simultaneously. Thus when the X-Men start a coordinated attack on Magneto… somehow Wolverine leads off, and gets entrapped in twisted metal. Colossus moves in, there is some banter, and he gets tossed away by Magnetos magnetic powers. Magneto then turns to face Storms lightning bolt, which is deflected as he simultaneously hurls a chunk of metal into her, knocking her away, Shadowcat gets ignored or power-tasered, depending on the writers, and Cyclop’s shot misses or bounces away – but he gets to remain standing to make a defiant speech (which Magneto politely waits for him to finish, since talking is a free action). Of course, being the bad guy, Magneto then either stands and gloats over his scattered foes or argues with Cyclops, = giving the rest of the X-Men plenty of time to recover and to try again – launching attacks which suddenly really WILL be simultaneous. And no, that doesn’t really make any sense. Lets build it anyway.

  • Reflex Training (three actions per day variant) with +6 Bonus Uses, Specialized for Increased Effect (the user gets to take a full rounds actions) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only usable when facing a substantial group of foes on your own, user and each individual attacker (or pair thereof) basically exist in their private time-stop effect: the user may only attack those currently attacking him or her (rather than, say, throwing area effects that take out the entire party) – although, on the upside, outsiders using immediate actions never get to interrupt these private duels either (9 CP).
  • Opportunist (User may trigger a Reflex Action whenever an opponent takes their turn instead of being limited to one per round), Specialized / only when facing a group of opponents alone (3 CP).

There. For a mere 12 CP / two Feats your boss villain, legendary dragon, or similar creature can entirely ignore the overwhelming action economy advantage a part of adventurers has over him or her for two or three rounds. Admittedly, the bad guys bonus-action luck will soon run out – but it will make the fight a lot more interesting and allow your bad guy to show off his or her power, rather than (as they all too often do) going down like a chump.

Now, for those who want a lair on the cheap… they want the Sanctum ability (6 CP), which provides 24 CP worth of abilities, but only in a specific location.

3 Responses

  1. The Lion at bay should probably have a few more limitations, like not being able to use area attacks. I mean, in that classic x-man scenario, Magneto isn’t allowed to just hit them all with a storm of lightning each time they attack.

    • You are quite right! And I either got distraced at the wrong moment and/or forgot about it in the first place. I shall fix that, and thank you for pointing it out so I can.

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