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Belial_the_Leveler
2013-05-19, 08:44 PM
OK, here's an idea; what would actual volcanic eruptions look like in DnD? Now, let's take this one step further; what would a creature that caused volcanic eruptions would look like? Specifically, a dragon the size of a small volcano whose special attacks and abilities replicate phenomena associated with volcanoes or are linked to its physical size/shape, with a bit of cosmic power added 'cause a creature that can do that kind of stuff is deity-level.

Enter the Volcanic Archdragon.

A dragon-shaped primordial the size and mass and literal toughness of a mountain that can exhale the power of a volcano, roar with the fury of pyroclastic waves and step on you with its not-inconsiderable weight (because a couple billion tons does qualify as not-inconsiderable). And with a bit of the Power Primordial up its sleeve because those pesky wizards got lots of loophole exploits memorized.

So, what do you think? Specifically;

1) Is the strength/constitution right for something that large?

2) What CR would you assign to it?

3) Are its attacks over the top mechanically or have the results of volcanic eruptions been effectively replicated without totally breaking anything?




Volcanic Archdragon
Titanic Dragon (Earth, Fire, Primordial)
HD 88d12+7216 (8200 HP)
Speed 1 mile (4800 ft./960 squares); burrow 1/2 mile, fly 2 miles (clumsy)
Init: +14
AC 127; touch 35; flat-footed 127
(-1 dexterity -20 size +92 natural +16 cosmic +10 deflection, +20 insight)
BAB +X; Grp +X
Attack Bite +166 melee (20d20+123 plus stun fort dc 136 plus annihilation fort dc 136, 17-20/3x) OR Tail Slap +166 melee (15d20+82 plus stun fort dc 136 plus annihilation fort dc 136, 17-20/3x) OR Claw +166 melee (10d20+41 plus stun fort dc 136 plus annihilation fort dc 136, 17-20/3x)
All count as cosmic (i.e. beyond epic) and chaos.
Full-Attack 1 bite +4 claws +1 tail slap
Space 1 mile.; Reach 1 mile.
Special Attacks Reshape Reality, Earthshaker, Deep Impact, Terror, Thunderer, Pyroclastic Roar, Volcanic Winter, Magma Breath
Special Qualities Titanic Size, Power Primordial, Nigh Invulnerable
Defenses Spell Resistance CR+20, Damage Reduction 90/-, Dragon Traits, Fire Immune, Electricity Immune
Saves Fort +144 Ref +44 Will +84
Abilities Str 174, Dex 8, Con 174, Int 20, Wis 50, Cha 30
Skills Perception 88 ranks, Sense Motive 88 ranks, Intimidate 88 ranks, any 8 more maxed
Feats Lightning Reflexes, Iron Will, Power Attack, Awesome Blow, Vital Strike I-IV, Fly-By Attack, Whirlwind Attack, Damage Reduction 30x, Improved Spell Resistance 4x
Environment any volcanic (natural or created)
Challenge Rating ???

Deep Impact [Ex]
Creatures of titanic size are so vast that their melee attacks affect anyone on a 2000-ft cube for focused blows or 1000ft x 4000ft cylinder for more sweeping blows; roll attack once and affect objects and creatures whose AC is exceeded. In addition, such attacks possess tremendous force and normal impediments like walls or armor are all but irrelevant; they function as the "Irresistible Blows" and "Annihilating Strike" deific powers; hit as touch attacks, force saves against stunning for 1d4 rounds and instant destruction and automatically shatter natural and magical barriers less than 30 ft thick.

Earthshaker [Ex]
Titanic beings are massive like major geographical features are massive; each time they take a move action with their ground or burrow speed, earthquakes shake the surrounding area as the spell up to 1 mile per 10 HD the creature possesses (round up).
Their bulk comes with tremendous strength; they can move, lift, shove aside or break a volume of matter per round equal to their space, thus being capable of tearing down small mountains, opening massive features, burrowing through the planet's crust and so on and so forth.

Thunderer [Ex]
Titanic beings that fly physically -via wings or equivalent- displace tremendous amounts of air at enormous speeds. Whenever such beings take a move action with their fly speed, they cause blastwaves of supertornado-level wind. This causes 1d6 bludgeoning damage per point of strength modifier the titanic being has and any creatures in the area must make a strength check with a DC equal to the number of dice or be carried along by the blastwave. Objects less dense than solid stone are also carried alone if free or broken free by the damage dealt. The effect slowly loses strength by 1 dice per 400 ft traveled as it expands outwards at 1 mile/round.

Titanic Size [Ex]
Titanic beings are those beings sufficiently beyond Colossal size to be comparable to geographical features - such as mountains. The Titanic size confers +100 size bonus to strength and constitution over what Colossal does, an additional -12 size penalty to attack rolls and AC, and doubles all other penalties and bonuses of the Colossal size.
A Titanic being has a size/reach of at least 1 mile, one or more movement speeds at 1 mile/round and its weapons and natural attacks are more damaging due to sheer size; a primary natural attack or 2-handed weapon does 20d20 base damage, a standard natural attack or 1-handed weapon does 15d20 base damage and a secondary natural attack or light weapon does 10d20 base damage.
Titanic beings have several extraordinary abilities due to sheer size, strength and mass and always have at least 50 racial HD. They almost always are Cosmic or Primordial entities with multiple powers as well.



Magma Breath [Cs]
Much like its namesake, a volcanic archdragon can exhale massive amounts of superheated molten rock at supersonic speeds - and just like a volcanic eruption, this breath is powerful enough to shatter mountains. This breath weapon takes the form of a line 1000 feet wide and up to 9 miles long. Upon impact, it spreads into a torrent of magma 200 feet thick and at a radius of 2 miles. Creatures and objects in the area of the cone take 88d10 crushing and 88d10 fire damage from the primordial elemental power of the breath and must make a DC 136 fortitude save or be annihilated; objects and barriers are annihilated outright, similar to a divine blast. They must also make a strength check (DC equal to the dragon's strength modifier) or be carried along by the blast. Those in the spread area are not subject to annihilation, take 88d6 fire and 88d6 crushing damage and may attempt DC 136 fortitude saves for half damage.
Volcanic Archdragons can breathe once per minute. The magma of their breath is initially created by primal elemental forces but once the breath is used the remaining magma becomes mundane lava. It continues to spread if unimpeded like a thick viscous liquid at speeds not exceeding 40 mph until it becomes thin enough to form a crust (at 10 ft thick or less). While naturally spreading, treat as a combined avalanche and lava effects.


Nigh Invulnerable [Cs]
Volcanic Archdragons are nigh invulnerable. They have 66% chance to simply shrug off any effect - as if a Rank 16 deity using the Divine Dodge power except the effect comes from supernatural toughness rather than dodging.
In addition, at the end of their turn they recover from any lasting effect that isn't damage or death. An attacking deity, primordial or cosmic entity may make opposed rank checks to overcome this second aspect of their invulnerability. Mortals on the other hand have to contend with many of their abilities only having temporary effects.
A slain Volcanic Archdragon reforms in the planet's core in 6d100 years, its rise to the surface accompanied by the birth of a new volcano.


Power Primordial [Cs]
Like all Primordials, Volcanic Archdragons share a number of benefits common to gods and other powers.
First, they are immortal; not subject to aging or sleep and do not need to breathe, eat or drink - though they can still do so if they want to.
Secondly, they are deities; they are not subject to any mundane or environmental attacks, dangers and hazards - falling, normal poisons and diseases, mundane weaponry, common fires, cold and heat, pressure and vacuum are no danger to them. Third, they are not subject to ability damage, ability drain, ability penalty, energy drain, control effects, form-altering attacks, instant death, stunning, daze, turning, banishment or entrapment due to their divine nature; other Powers and Artifacts can make opposed Divine Rank checks to personally affect them. Mortal magic and power has to contend with such immunities though Epic Spells and class abilities gained at epic levels have 1% chance per level of the caster to work normally (if a spell/ability has multiple casters/users, the lowest applies).
Fourth, they are unique divine creatures with all the ramifications this has to various abilities that work differently on such.
Fifth, they have a measure of omniscience. All their senses (including touch) work at a range of 1 mile per Divine Rank fully. Ranged senses extend further, taking -1 penalty to perception per multiple of that distance. Such beings can also sense up to 1 mile away from places/objects/people of importance to them or any utterance of their name regardless of distance or intervening barriers. If an event is associated with their portofolio directly (such as the casting of a spell for a god of magic), they sense the event, its location and its perpetrator up to 1 week per rank before that event happens
Sixth, they are more powerful than mortals of the same race and class, getting +1 bonus per rank to any d20 rolls and checks except for pure ability checks.
Last but not least, they extend to all adjacent planes of existence; primordials have no trouble physically walking from one coterminous plane to the next, or observing and attacking (or being observed and attacked by) beings on overlapping planes such as the Ethereal or the Shadow.
Volcanic Archdragons typically have a divine rank of 16, equivalent to greater deities in mortal pantheons.


Preshape Reality [Cs]
Volcanic Archragons, like all primordials, gods and cosmic entities, can bend reality to their whim. As a full-round action they can use the Power Primordial to alter the world around them, performing a "miracle" equivalent to a spell effect of level 5+Divine Rank (21 in this case). This ability can be used to affect the world - such as raining meteor swarms from the heavens or altering the weather, other creatures - such as slaying or ressurrecting them, or even perform instantaneous effects on the Volcanic Archdragon itself. However, it is not powerful enough to boost the being's power with lasting buffs or directly affect other deities.
In addition, any being that can alter reality can grant spells to its mortal worshippers. Volcanic Archdragons rarely do so however - most mortal beings are beneath their notice.


Pyroclastic Roar [Cs]
Once per round as a swift action, a Volcanic Archdragon can roar with primal elemental force, unleashing a cone of destructive power similar to a volcano's pyroclastic wave. Creatures and objects in the cone take 41d6 piercing, 41d6 crushing, 41d6 fire and 41d6 sonic damage. If there is some sort of cover within reach when the wave hits, a creature may attempt a DC 136 reflex save for half damage and if they see the wave coming and withdraw behind total cover before it hits they take no damage - unless the wave destroys their cover at which case they take the full damage. Creatures caught in the open cannot avoid the wave with mundane means. The cone-shaped wave of the Pyroclastic Roar expands at a speed of 1 mile per round, to a maximum of 9 miles.


Terror [Cs]
Volcanic Archdragons are immensely powerful, immensely destructive creatures and absolutely terrifying simply due to what they are. However, their Power Primordial takes this far beyond natural fear.
Any being observing or feeling the presence of an active (i.e. not sleeping, dead or otherwise unaware) Volcanic Archdragon suffers 1d6 points of wisdom drain per round. A will save DC 71 reduces this to temporary ability damage. All beings observing or feeling the presence of a Volcanic Archdragon (including unaware but not dead) must then make a DC 71 will save each round or be panicked for 1d4 minutes. Immunity to fear reduces the panicked duration to a single round instead.
The "Terror" effect extends as far as the dragon can be clearly observed or its presence felt, typically 10 miles. Remote viewing with magic, telescopes or other abilities subjects the viewer to the Terror as if they were present.


Volcanic Winter [Cs]
The massive devastation caused directly by a Volcanic Archdragon is usually only a regional problem despite its intensity. However, the side-effects of the primordial's actions can affect vast areas indirectly; each time a Volcanic Archdragon uses its breath or roar, each time its wings tear up vast amounts of dirt and soil or its feet come down with the force of a meteoric impact, dust and ashes rise to the atmosphere.
For every minute of activity, ash comparable to a standard volcanic eruption is produced. This darkens the sky at a radius of 1 mile per each HD the dragon has and over the following week falls down in a rain of ash, covering everything in a fine layer of dull grey powder. This rain of ash reduces visibility comparably to mundane fog, slowly chokes smaller plants and causes respiration problems to common animals and humanoids. (fort DC 15 per hour or take 1 constitution damage). Prolonged activity expands the covered area by 20 miles radius per minute. For every 10 minutes of activity, enough ash is produced to have minor but significant effects on global climate; for the following month reduce global temperatures by 1 degree and light intensity by 5%. For each additional 10 minutes add a month of duration and for every 6 months reduce the temperature by 1 degree and visibility by a cumulative 1%, to a maximum of -20 degrees and -80% visibility.

Lasting activities by a Volcanic Dragon can produce really dark, really long global winters.

FreakyCheeseMan
2013-05-19, 09:25 PM
Thing is, this isn't really interesting to fight, at any level. "If it can hit you, it kills you; if the ability can be resisted, it resists it." So, the only fights are gonna be either instant TPKs, cases where the party has made itself invulnerable to the dragon and neither of them can hurt each other, or cases where the party has some method of killing it without being targeted that's just very slow and boring, and breaks suspension of disbelief.

So, CR isn't really a thing here - I don't think there exists a party for which this is a reasonable encounter, only parties that have no chance against this thing, and parties that have some way of engaging it without it having a chance to fight back at all.

Tanuki Tales
2013-05-19, 10:09 PM
I'm not familiar with the [Cs] tag. What does it mean?

Belial_the_Leveler
2013-05-20, 02:58 AM
@FreakyCheeseMan:
Think of it as a (much) bigger version of the Tarrasque. Big T has most of the immunities and strikes pretty hard for a CR 20.

Also, this isn't meant to be fought by nonepic parties where its attacks would kill most people instantly much like a Tarrasque would not be used against a lvl 5 party. By "appropriate CR" I mean the level at which it can't kill the party outright -but is not yet ineffectual- and where the party's attacks can deal significant damage - but not yet curbstomp it.
For example, a group of 40th level PCs could put up a credible fight for a time by having the group's casters using enough immediate/readied group teleports to dodge its more dangerous attacks and having the meele uberchargers attack with wraithstrike to ignore most of its armor. And a couple Maces of Ruin that negate DR of all types could bring in the hurt too.


@Tanuki Tales

The [Cs] tag indicates cosmic powers such as the special abilities of deities or primordials/titans. Unlike [Ex] abilities who are more or less natural and [Su] abilities who draw their power from magic, [Cs] abilities come from the individual power of each deity or titan.
I.e. if the god of Death uses the "Hand of Death" ability on you to slay you across all planar and physical barriers with no save, that isn't a natural (i.e. Ex) ability but it doesn't depend on magic either - the god of Death can slay you despite pesky dead magic zones because he fuels the ability with his own divine powers, not channeling magical energy.

[Cs] abilities vary greatly between deities, as much as class abilities differ between mortals, but there are some constants; limited omniscience, a domain they can control,invulnerability to most save-or-lose and ability/level reducing stuff, the ability to bend reality, granting spells, not failing on a natural 1 and not being subject to some mortal magic like dispels or gates.

Debihuman
2013-05-20, 03:07 AM
First of all, this obviously doesn't use the Titanic Creature Template from MM II, so is this something you made up or is it from a book? Citing your source material would be useful.

I recommend for creatures that are larger than Colossal, that you take a look at the rules from the The Immortal's Handbook Epic Bestiary Volume 1 for balance.

What is the Primordial Subtype? The Cs tag is also non-standard for 3.5.

I'm not familiar with Vital Strike feats. Can they be used with natural weapons?

A dragon's BAB is equal to its HD. Grapple is BAB + special size modifier (not sure what that would be in this case) and Str modifier.

Damage Reduction feat is an epic feat. You should note which feats are epic and also cite to anything that doesn't come from the core books (PH, MM, DMG).

Space/Reach should be noted in feet regardless.

Modifier on 174 is +66 unless I've miscalculated.

Debby

Belial_the_Leveler
2013-05-20, 04:06 AM
The special abilities are homebrew. It's the reason I explain them in detail.

[Cs] is not a standard tag but RAW divine abilities are explained in Deities and Demigods (also, on the SRD). You can look them up.

It doesn't use the titanic template because that template doesn't make a creature actually titanic, only colossal. The Titans of Greek mythology were quite a bit larger than colossal; they and the Olympians fought their little war by throwing mountains at eachother. The Titanic abilities here reflect that.

I didn't use the Immortals Handbook for size because I didn't want to refer to what essentially is a 3rd party book while making my own stuff. But thanks for suggesting it.


Vital Strike is from Pathfinder. It increases the base damage dice when the creature performs a standard attack instead of a full attack, closing the gap between full attacks and single attacks. With the full Vital Strike chain, the dragon rolls the base damage four times in a single attack, then adds 6 further damage. (I.e. rolling 80d20+129 for a bite).
Natural weapons being still weapons and many PF creatures with only natural weapons having that line of feats in the SRD, it does work for natural weapons.


Thanks for pointing out the grapple modifiers and for the helpful comments.


PS:
Ability scores of 174 have a +82 modifier.

Tanuki Tales
2013-05-20, 11:32 AM
Do you plan to introduce feats, classes, monsters, items, etc. that are specifically immune to, resistant to, can bypass, are vulnerable to, etc. Cs tagged abilities?

If not, the tag is completely unnecessary and those abilities should just be tag-less like Salient Divine Abilities.

Sunken Valley
2013-05-20, 11:41 AM
30+. Full round miracle at will is nasty

Debihuman
2013-05-20, 12:13 PM
Lava Effects

Lava or magma deals 2d6 points of damage per round of exposure, except in the case of total immersion (such as when a character falls into the crater of an active volcano), which deals 20d6 points of damage per round.

Damage from magma continues for 1d3 rounds after exposure ceases, but this additional damage is only half of that dealt during actual contact (that is, 1d6 or 10d6 points per round).

An immunity or resistance to fire serves as an immunity to lava or magma. However, a creature immune to fire might still drown if completely immersed in lava.

As far as the stats go. It's exactly the sort of monster that just isn't all that interesting. Why would something like this even exist? I don't mind some epic creatures but this is just too complicated to critique. It's too strong compared to other epic dragons for the HD.

If you wanted to make up size categories larger than Colossal you could. (This is pretty much the previous book did). This would assume extrapolated size categories that increase at 128 feet, 256 feet, 512 feet and 1,024 feet. Note, I'm not saying that you have to do this or that you even should but it would be a consistent way to figure out the appropriate modifiers.

So it would basically have a -128 Size modifier to AC/Attack and +32 Size bonus to grapple.

Otherwise the CR is far higher than 88 HD would suggest.


Debby

Belial_the_Leveler
2013-05-20, 03:47 PM
CR isn't really linked to HD. A Balor has 20 HD. A Tarrasque has 48 HD. Both are CR 20.

Eurus
2013-05-20, 04:02 PM
Epic CRs are notoriously fiddly, so I'm not really sure. The system breaks down a bit. I'd probably guess it somewhere in the 30 range? It's massively more competent than most other things in that CR range, but most epic monsters are terrible anyway. Same with the strength/constitution; it's hard to really tell what's realistic at that point, but the abilities seem to do a good job of capturing the "it's really big, guys" feeling.

I can't help but feel like Rank 16 is a little crazy. If it was a one-of-a-kind thing, the ultimate avatar of volcanic destruction, it'd make sense, but it seems to strain belief a bit that there are numerous primordial-volcano-dragons, each on par with a greater deity.

The volcanic themes seem to work pretty well. Magma, pyroclastic doom, and ash cloud are pretty much the main things I'd think of when imagining a volcano, and this seems to get them well enough. Can significant magical effort clean up the Volcanic Winter quicker? I'd imagine some sustained Control Weather to bring down rain might help mitigate it, or just throwing Miracles at it for a while.

Debihuman
2013-05-20, 04:48 PM
CR isn't really linked to HD. A Balor has 20 HD. A Tarrasque has 48 HD. Both are CR 20.

There is no direct cause and effect with HD but it is still a consideration.

Debby

Belial_the_Leveler
2013-05-20, 04:56 PM
Well, the point of the creature was to reflect a living volcano or similar - and give epic PCs that want to kill gods some unusual challenge.



The creature doesn't really have to be a dragon though. It can reflect any of a number of fantasy beings. For example, I can think of at least one living volcano - the Great Fury "Kalus" from the Furies of Calderon series.

inuyasha
2013-05-20, 05:13 PM
im probably going to sound stupid but i'd say CR 56

Amechra
2013-05-20, 06:56 PM
You do realize creating a volcano is an 8th-level spell effect, right?

Belial_the_Leveler
2013-05-20, 07:00 PM
A volcano a couple dozen feet high? Yes.

Opening a mile-wide hole in the planet's crust with main strength so that torrents of magma can cover an entire kingdom, not so much.

eftexar
2013-05-20, 07:10 PM
To be bluntly honest, I really don't understand the point of stating out something that can't be fought. If this is meant to be fought as an 'event' or 'roleplay' then you should require players to carry out certain action(s) to win the 'fight'. It's likewise pointless if just used for cinematics.

If you honestly still want to stat it out, here's how I would do it:

I would start with a Great Wyrm Pyroclastic dragon, change any references it has on lightning to fire, and then add on the Dragon Ascendent and Elemental Master PrCs.
From there you can use the divine rank rules to bring it's CR to whatever is necessary. If you wanted to even give it an extra punch you could allow it to cast any earth and fire domain spells at will.
Then, if it's missing something you think it needs, you can add extra abilities, but they should be in line with the other abilities he already has at this point.

And as far as larger sizes than colossal there are rules. It's called colossal+.

Belial_the_Leveler
2013-05-20, 07:17 PM
To be bluntly honest, I really don't understand the point of stating out something that can't be fought.

It can be fought just fine. I'll bet if someone posts it to the gaming forum as a challenge, someone will find a way to kill it pretty soon... with a single lvl 20 wizard, too.

eftexar
2013-05-20, 07:22 PM
I perfectly understand somebody with a 20th level wizard could probably find a way to defeat it. That's actually quite irrelevant.
If it takes excessive cheese, or precise combinations of abilities, that the PCs may or may not have, to defeat a monster, and you don't provide some way of defeating it (or escaping it) yourself then your argument is inapplicable. You also assume someone is playing wizard. Most groups I've played with, or watched play, prefer the sorcerer or druid over wizard. And neither of them can prepare spells.

And did you read the rest of my post? I did give a suggestion on how to better balance it. It would even make determining CR easier.

[edit]: The Reshape Reality ability kind of makes the rest of the creature moot. And honestly, other than it's size and Volcanic Winter, it's kind of boring for an epic battle at level 70+ something.
Most of it's other statistics and abilities are overinflated numbers. It's speed and weight alone would be enough to destroy an entire city. All of the players would be dead before they even knew what landed on them. Here I'll give some scenarios:

The Dragon lands on the city where the player's reside:
DM "Roll for initiative. Where you and the city once stood is a volcanic crater of magma and steam, but you can make a spot check to see if you saw what happened."

Player "But I didn't roll for initiative yet?!"

DM "You weren't fast enough."

The Dragon uses it's magma breath:
DM "A huge wall of flame and earth approaches at colossal speeds. You can't even see the sky. Make a reflex save."

Player "Oh, Ok... I rolled a natural 20."

DM "You are completely incinerated."

Player "But, I rolled a natural 20!"

DM "Alright. Observers who pass by generations later can see your petrified leg sticking out of the igneous rock. They now worship you as the god of foot fungus."

The Dragon uses thundering:
DM "You hear a loud whistling sound as the wind picks up and windows begin to rattle. Moments later a roar, load enough to knock over tents and nearly deafen commoners, tunnels through the town."

Player "Me and everyone else plane shifts to another plane."

DM "You can only move 30ft and still use plane shift. Joe and Bob are 60ft away."

Player "..."

DM You, your party, and the entire town, are shredded into dust by wind while you take your time to decide what to do."

The Dragon uses Reshape Reality:
DM "Rocks fall, everyone dies."

Players "Wait, what?."

DM "Who wants a drink? pretzels? no?"

Players *Angry Glare*

Debihuman
2013-05-21, 08:56 AM
Yeah, I have to say I agree completely with Eftexar on this one. At this point, it's just ludicrous.


Opening a mile-wide hole in the planet's crust with main strength so that torrents of magma can cover an entire kingdom, not so much. So its just a TPK. What good is that and why bother? You could just as easily have a natural disaster that does that with the same outcome.


On the other hand, I do like the concept of a gigantic volcano dragon.

Debby

OzymandiasX
2013-05-21, 01:08 PM
And did you read the rest of my post? I did give a suggestion on how to better balance it. It would even make determining CR easier.I have a feeling that neither balancing not reading are on the menu based on the stats of this monster. lol

Debihuman
2013-05-21, 03:05 PM
Only the creature's primary attack belongs in the Attack line. Secondary attacks are never put there. DCs do not belong in the attack lines. Secondary attacks are at -5 to hit penalty since it does not have Multiattack feat.

Bite is primary and claws and tail are secondary.

Why does your dragon have Dex 8 instead of 10? No matter how big a dragon gets, it should have Dex 10.

Stun and Annihilation should both be notes as special attacks and be listed somewhere in the paragraphs of special abilities.

Abilities: These just seem off to me. Until I can say something reasonable, I'm letting them sit except that the Dragon should have Dex 10 just like true dragons and regardless of size.

If it has divine rank 0 it should be in the stat block. See other divine creatures.

Here is how I would rewrite Earthshaker. All saves are based on the environmental factors rather than on the Dragon itself since this is incidental to what the dragon does.

Earthshaker (Ex): The volcanic dragon shakes the ground like an earthquake spell each time it moves. Any creature standing within one mile of the volcanic dragon must make a DC 15 Reflex save or fall down. Fissures open in the earth, and every creature on the ground has a 25% chance to fall into one (Reflex DC 20 to avoid a fissure).

Any structure standing on open ground takes 100 points of damage, enough to collapse a typical wooden or masonry building, but not a structure built of stone or reinforced masonry. Hardness does not reduce this damage, nor is it halved as damage dealt to objects normally is. Any creature caught inside a collapsing structure takes 8d6 points of bludgeoning damage (Reflex DC 15 half) and is pinned beneath the rubble (see below).

Fissures open underneath the water, draining away the water from that area and forming muddy ground. Soggy marsh or swampland becomes quicksand until all the water drains, sucking down creatures and structures. Each creature in the area must make a DC 15 Reflex save or sink down in the mud and quicksand. Creatures in mud move at half speed and creatures caught in quicksand must make a DC 10 Swim check every round to simply tread water in place, or a DC 15 Swim check to move 5 feet in whatever direction is desired. If a trapped character fails this check by 5 or more, he sinks below the surface and begins to drown whenever he can no longer hold his breath (see the Swim skill description).

Any creature pinned beneath rubble takes 1d6 points of nonlethal damage per minute while pinned. If a pinned character falls unconscious, he or she must make a DC 15 Constitution check or take 1d6 points of lethal damage each minute thereafter until freed or dead. The saves are based on environmental factors and not on the dragon at all

Debby

eftexar
2013-05-21, 03:45 PM
All of this, I think, works much better Debihuman. Still a walking disaster, but I could actually see the landscape falling apart as the party tries to close in on it's location. Just arriving there would be an event in itself, especially if you throw in some wind to prevent flight.

Eurus
2013-05-21, 06:05 PM
It seems a little bit rude to say "this is unplayable, here's a better version". :smallamused:

For what it's worth, I think it might honestly be viable at reasonably epic levels even without chain-gating level cheese or epic spellcasting abuse. Presumably, something like this doesn't get out and about moving around often, or the world would've been drowned in ash already. So if it's popping up as an enemy, it's almost certainly a serious boss that the PCs have some cause to expect and plan for.

(If they don't know it's coming, and aren't paranoid enough to be buffed up to their eyeballs at all times, they're dead. But that's arguably going to be true for just about any monster at that kind of level.)

At this kind of power scale, numbers are only half the equation. The options and safety nets available to epic characters are many. Even if it wipes them out the first time around, they can respawn in their clone-bodies or get themselves rezzed somewhere to regroup for round 2.

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the miracle on a stick, because it feels a bit... easy? But it's kind of necessary, otherwise this thing isn't much more than a doubleplus Tarrasque.

So I think it's probably a level-appropriate challenge to someone, somewhere. Exactly what level? No idea. I still stand by my guess that a level 30ish party should certainly have the tools to stand up to this thing, but then again, a sufficiently high-op 20th level party (or character, even) could do the same, so it's tricky to pin down. If compared to other epic monsters, it'd be some ludicrous 60+ CR, but I think that's a but much. Monsters like this really don't have CRs, I feel.

Debihuman
2013-05-21, 06:05 PM
The rules I just swiped verbatim, it was much easier.

The problem with such a walking catastrophe is that a creature like this has an environmental impact that affects much more than just the relevant PCs.

Titanic Size (Ex): A volcanic dragon is so large that its titanic size confers a -32 size penalty to attack rolls and AC. It has a reach of 1,000 feet with its bite and claws and a 2,000-foot reach with its tail. A volcanic dragon has maximum hit points due to its immense weight and size. When it makes a melee attack, with its natural weapons (claw, bite, tail sweep), any creature struck must make a Fortitude save (DC 55) or be stunned for 1d10 rounds. The save is Dexterity based. In addition, if it succeeds with a critical hit, creatures, attended objects, and magic items must make Fortitude saves (DC 136) or be reduced to -10 hit points and killed outright. Unattended, nonmagical objects are obliterated. The save is Constitution-based.

That DC 136 is a problem. I would probably just reduce Str and Con by 100 points. What level would the PCs have to be to make such a save (DC 136)? Because that would be more of the deciding factor than anything else or it becomes just a TPK.

I would also lose the Preshape Reality ability. A volcanic dragon is not a god and shouldn't have the ability to alter the world at a whim. I don't object to them having powerful spell-like and supernatural abilities on a grand scale, but this isn't something that fits the theme of the creature.

Spell-like Abilities (Sp): The pent-up rage of volcanic dragons know no bounds and can be unleashed in several ways. Three times a day as standard action, a volcanic dragon can cast meteor swarm as a 20th level wizard. In addition, a volcanic dragon can control weather at will as a 20th level druid but never creates cold effects.

Debby

wayfare
2013-05-21, 09:55 PM
I'm ok with it. I'd say that Cr is less of a concern than Divine Rank in terms of fighting it. Cheese builds can pull of similar abilities, so a whole team of High-Op characters could probably go toe to toe, but I think thats kind of contrary to the spirit of the thing.

I really see this as a monster that divines fight. Which is cool.

Belial_the_Leveler
2013-05-22, 04:34 AM
OK a few things;


@worldwide destruction:
This is an Elder Evil kind of thing guys. If a CR 20 Elder Evil beatable by nonepic parties can freeze the entire world and blot out the sun and a CR 23 Elder Evil beatable by a low-epic party can make every creature killed on the entire world rise up as undead and eventually shatter the entire planet if you don't beat it back, why would a significantly more powerful entity not pose similar threats.

@instant TPK:
A 30th level cleric or wizard has ridiculous amount of wealth and can easily get up to 30 contingencies of any spell level on his person. He is capable of immediate actions, has access to 12th level spells or more and definitely has Wish and Miracle, probably in one of the many rods he has crafted or something.
It is very easy to delegate one of the primary spellcasters on the group to teleporting away the entire group every time some powerful attack comes their way - or even immediate action ressurrect killed group members. If they're relying on their own spell slots, they can do this for 20-30 rounds straight. If they have a rod or two or a book full of scrolls, they can do it for 50-100 rounds.

@DC 136 annihilation:
Epic parties rely far more on not getting hit (immediate actions help) than surviving high DCs. Even if someone in the group dies, see above for how the party can immediately ressurrect them for minimal effort.
In short, annihilation is not so much a problem for the group unless it hits all of them at once and none of them have contingent ressurrections - which means they have no business facing Epic dangers in the first place.


@Reality alteration:
Almost any spell the dragon could replicate is far weaker than its standard attacks, let alone its special powers. The only reason I put this there is that advanced dragons typically have spellcasting equal to 2/3 their HD - and the dragon would have been a level 130 sorceror instead, had I followed the normal rules for dragons.


@high ability scores:
For every 3 HD an Epic dragon is advanced, they gain +2 to strength and constitution. A dragon advanced by 150 HD would get +100 to strength and constitution, among many other bonuses. While the Volcanic Archdragon doesn't follow all the normal rules, I gave it physical ability scores to match its HD.

Debihuman
2013-05-22, 06:30 AM
I see your points, however, whenever you start getting into epic play I find that things really deteriorate quickly as the power levels just don't have as much meaning.

Contingency is a 6th level spell and at 20th level you get 6 as sorcerer and 4 as wizard, not 30. "The wizardís number of spells per day does not increase after 20th level. Each time the wizard achieves a new level, he or she learns two new spells of any spell levels that he or she can cast (according to his or her new level)."

So where you get the idea that epic spellcasters are flinging spells like confetti is beyond me unless you use some house rules and then I say Shenanigans on that!

Yes, you could cast 30 contingencies over time. So could a much lower level PC. You don't need to be epic for that. However, contingencies aren't the issue here.

If you are going to have a DC 136, then the PCs should be able to have a chance at rolling a D20 and succeeding. Otherwise, it's overpowered and not nice. Why have a save at all then?

I admit I haven't played much at the epic level because frankly at that level it wasn't as much fun. Once you have "enough" gold, you can pretty much buy whatever you want, retire from adventuring, and do stuff that doesn't require you to get your hands dirty.

Worldwide Destruction

Is far less interesting to PCs after a while. Epic evils that blot out the sun are far more interesting to non-epic parties than "EPIC" threats are to epic parties. Once a party is epic, it takes a lot more to challenge them and killing the BBEG is kinda repetitive. Once you throw a tarrasque nothing else compares. The first real BBEG is always the most exciting.

And worldwide destruction means far less to adventuring PCs who are visitors to places rather than in their own places. Once a PC is settled down, then he or she has a vested reason. If the inn where I rent a room collapses, I'm not as worried as the innkeeper.

Nobody ever considers the fact that sometimes the PCs surrender or decide that fleeing is a better option. "He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day!" You have to make the PCs want to fight this and frankly there's nothing about this creature that's all that enticing.

Instant TPK

Yes, epic wizards have lots of stuff. So should epic monsters. If you gave monsters stuff instead of making them BIG, they'd be a lot more interesting and lot better as adversaries. Give the PCs a reason to stick around-- fighting a Uber Monstrosity that has no good loot is a poor incentive. Furthermore, combat should never last more than 10 rounds. It's boring as hell if it takes longer than that. Fighting and running is always an option for monsters too. If I see a monster with Int 50 that can't cast teleport, contingency or other spells my first thought is what a waste of good brains.

Str 174 and Con 174 adds up to one big bully but that's all it has. It has nothing good for tactics and no purpose for being. It's just a titanic blob making life miserable for everyone so the PCs have to come and save the world from a monster that is basically a bully for no good reason. Bullies aren't as much fun to beat up after a while.

I'd say the Titanic size should add +25 to Str and Con to creatures with 50 or fewer HD, +50 to creatures with 51-99 HD and +100 to creatures with 100 or more HD. Adding +100 to Str and Con with no HD consideration is not reasonable. It throws off too many DCs and makes judging CR a lot tougher.

DC 136 annihilation

Then make you goal to NOT have the party need to rely on not getting hit and make surviving high DCs interesting. As a DM is it kind your job to make the DCs matter. There is no point to having ridiculously high DCs if they don't even matter.

You can make resurrection tougher by having a monster that depletes holy water. Why does nobody ever do that? THAT would be so much more interesting. Suddenly nobody has any holy water. THAT's epic. An earthquake that destroys Tokyo suddenly doesn't seem quite so epic any more. Call me jaded but this is the 2nd thread on making "The Biggest Monster" and what nobody seems to understand is that when it comes to Epic, bigger isn't necessarily better.

I almost never see a DM devising clever monsters who use clever tactics and who have clever backup plans. Substituting brawns for brains isn't better and it doesn't make the monster better. What you have is a thug. And thugs are boring.

Reality Alteration
So what you're saying is that the critter can alter reality like a god but the PCs shouldn't be able to deal with it. I disagree. Raining meteors is a spell. Why wouldn't the volcano dragon just turn everything into magma and sink into its new nice cozy home? Because having it do almost anything else seems punitive. It has no reason for fighting the PCs. Its destructive effects are not purposeful. It walks and fissures appear because of its size not because it maliciously made them.

Nigh Invulnerable Why would any mortal tackle this thing? First thing my PC is doing is calling the god-squad for help. Only an idiot would face this without proper back-up. What I dislike the most is that you say it has Divine Rank 1 (or was it 0?), and then you go and give abilities as if it had a much higher Divine Rank. That's just not fair. Pick a rank and stick with it.

Don't go off adding much higher abilities that make it harder to critique because it is badly balanced. I hate it when a low HD monster can cast 10th level spells for the same reason. It's a bad design.

Rather than killing it, the PCs' The goal should be to move it to a new planet where nobody lives and leave it alone. Whether it exists or not isn't the issue. As long as it isn't bothering anyone who cares where it is? In fact, send it to a world it really likes (one full of magma and whatever it likes to eat) and then it would have no interest in coming back. Rampaging beasts are usually rampaging for a reason; some people are like that too.

High Ability Scores: According to your Titanic size special ability a 150 HD dragon gets +100 to Str and Con but why should yours? Yours has only 88 HD. The Titanic size leaves no wiggle room. The Titanic size special ability is especially bloated. There is no way that it should grant +100 size bonus to Str and Con over what Colossal does. That makes designing it harder to judge CR. And for all that a paltry -12 size penalty to attack and AC. This needs fixing. Size bonuses should be a lot lower and the penalty should be higher. See above for my suggestion.

Also, a creature a mile high doesn't have a reach equal to its height. Reach should be 500 feet for claw and bite and 1,000 feet for tail.

Without knowing what CR, you are aiming for, it makes it hard to judge. And nobody ever thinks that they should figure out the CR they want first! This is so many creatures are overpowered when they are made.

I still like the idea of an oversized volcanic dragon despite the fact I have issues with this one.

Last of all, the Primordial Subtype needs a full write up. There are things it probably does that I'm missing.


It seems a little bit rude to say "this is unplayable, here's a better version".

You're right and I've deleted that content. And I've gone back to critiquing to fix some problem areas.

Debby

137ben
2013-05-22, 02:08 PM
Contingency is a 6th level spell and at 20th level you get 6 as sorcerer and 4 as wizard, not 30. "The wizardís number of spells per day does not increase after 20th level. Each time the wizard achieves a new level, he or she learns two new spells of any spell levels that he or she can cast (according to his or her new level)."

So where you get the idea that epic spellcasters are flinging spells like confetti is beyond me unless you use some house rules and then I say Shenanigans on that!

Yes, you could cast 30 contingencies over time. So could a much lower level PC. You don't need to be epic for that. However, contingencies aren't the issue here.

If you are going to have a DC 136, then the PCs should be able to have a chance at rolling a D20 and succeeding. Otherwise, it's overpowered and not nice. Why have a save at all then?

I admit I haven't played much at the epic level because frankly at that level it wasn't as much fun. Once you have "enough" gold, you can pretty much buy whatever you want, retire from adventuring, and do stuff that doesn't require you to get your hands dirty.
I may have time to write a full response later, but I can point out right away that you failed to account for what is by far the most important power-giver at epic levels: WBL.

While every other aspect of character power slows down at epic levels, WBL continues to increase exponentially. Magic item cost usually goes up quadratically for a linear boost. While class levels do not continue to give additional spells/day, increases to your main casting stat do. In fact, because available gold increases so quickly, nonepic spells/day actually increase faster at epic levels. This is without even taking into account spells cast from items. So yes, at epic levels, the PCs are really throwing around nonepic spells like confetti. Even non-casting classes can afford a ton of nonepic spells with UMD (put one cross-class rank into UMD, then buy a magic item which gives +30 to UMD, which is affordable even at nonepic levels).
Many of the points you make later are reasonable--the key to epic fights is to add complexity to what the monster can do. You do need higher numbers sometimes, since the PCs likely have magic items or epic spells which count as "I win" buttons against sufficiently small numbers, but just raising STR and CON alone isn't enough.

@the OP: A save DC of 136 does seem extremely high. By level 40, the players can be expected to have about 15 million gold each (based on extrapolating trends of non-epic WBL combined with the gold/encounter in the ELH). Getting a +80 on one save from a single magic item (which, combined with a high bonus from ability scores/classes/spells/other stuff, could give a reasonable chance of rolling a 136) costs 6,400,000 gold, more than a third of each player's WBL at level 40. You can reduce this cost by splitting the effect as a +53 resistance bonus and a +27 other type of save bonus, bringing the cost down to 4,267,000 gold, which is still far too much for a permanent boost to only one saving throw. Now, perhaps you meant for the players to be substantially higher leveled. At level 60, their WBL is about 106 million per PC, and a 6 million gold piece item is easily affordable. But keep in mind the power level you want.

Debihuman, you do seem to be coming at this with your intuition from nonepic games. It is critical to keep in mind that a great many of the facts we have come to accept about nonepic play have gone completely out the window by the time you are fighting volcanic greater deities:smallbiggrin: