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Boss Battle Events

Boss

For days, perhaps months, the heroes of your story have unearthed secrets of a nefarious cult capturing nobles in the capital city. Investigating crime scenes, questioning witnesses, digging into hostage backgrounds, and careful stealth operations, they have some answers. And all of the evidence points to another noble seeking to undermine the current king. He is hiding in the ruins of a village lost to a previous plague. It's time to confront him, save any hostages, and bring him to the king. Dead or alive.

The core of all adventures be it a tabletop module, game setting, MMORPG expansion, or good book hinge on an adversary for the heroes to face. Sometimes this is the world itself, someone from their past, a growing and dangerous power, or themselves. Whatever the enemy, after a series of quests and investigations, the final battle nears. But this battle needs to be epic! A stellar confrontation that stirs the story and brings an astounding conclusion to a mighty tale.

This guide provides information on how to build not only a cool fight but develop your boss(es), determine their powers, set the stage, and define the epic final battle flow to end the threat. You will learn how to refine your boss, tactics, and prep to keep the action moving and players guessing.

Game Genres

This guide can be used for MMO-RPG in-game events, tabletop games, LARPs, and more! Examples include tabletop and MMO images. The rolling rules are for a d20 system, but you could easily convert this to a d10 World of Darkness table of successes and botches, d6 Shadowrun system, and so on.

What makes a good boss battle?

Before we build the ultimate boss battle, let's consider the elements of a good boss and their battlefield.

Bosses typically are the "big bad" of your story, with goals and ambitions driving a campaign or series of events. You want to evoke an emotion from your players using your villain, from how they look, words they use in speech, their base of operations, the environment, and past transgressions to develop an atmosphere of dread, fear, excitement, concern, anything to heighten the danger. If you simply toss in one large token or a description of a strong man with an angry look, your players may just mow through them like any ol' loot pinanta.

To develop the battle, use the boss as a launching of creative ideas for additional elements such as powers and flow for the battle. Rather than stand around and run constant attack rolls for hours on end, consider the following for the battle:

  • What they have done to incur this epic fight?
  • How the field is laid out?
  • What minions aid the boss?
  • Do heroes need to complete vital tasks while battling?
  • When they face the boss either immediately or after a series of obstacles?

Building your boss, their cohorts, the location, and key motivations can push your battle from a simple smash and grab to a legendary experience. This information also includes ideas around powers, rules for abilities, and difficulty classes (DC) for actions. Let's get started!

Boss Battle Building Blocks

The following are just a few building blocks of story and mechanics to consider when creating boss battles.

Determine the boss motivations. Knowing what your boss wants can help you determine elements, powers, and reactions for the battle. If this is vengeance, what happens if the players bring the subject of their aggression? Have they captured hostages to force the king's hand, what happens if players save them first? If they hunger for chaos, why is that? Do they use it to fuel some great magical ritual to summon a demon or release a power?

Set the location for the final confrontation. Where the battle(s) happens can lend to the flow, elements, and final end of event as much as the powers of your enemies. For example, if you have them moving through halls of a building, they could encounter choke points, traps, and defenses leading to the fight. This could cause a series of minor battles leading to the finale. A single chamber may give room for the heroes to move about, but be limited to where they could go, leading to entrances of minions or waves of action. An open field can have exciting elements as well from the atmosphere, weather, hidden threats, or arrivals. Through city streets could provide a chase scene of skirmishes and trying to catch up to a retreating foe to corner them or use other tactics before the final showdown. This gives you room to plan and coordinate, lengthening options and obstacles to add to the fight.

Develop a flow for the battle from start to conclusion. The flow of action is vital for a battle, especially one with simplified rules. You may think open roleplay is the only unlimited option for a battle, but even a simple D20 system of combat and environmental rolls can expand with some thought on flow. Give consideration for breaking battles up into waves or turns, marking a location or group to act in a cadence. Give opportunities to catch breath, but keep the tension high. Taking too long, and something could and will go wrong. For clutch moments, consider rolls or actions your players take such as critical successes and failures or inventive thinking and requests to heighten a moment. For those, be ready to shift and change the flow of battles. But don't fully restrict this to time. Some players need that time to type for text based battles, and may fluster and grow frustrated. Instead of the pressure of time, do it by turns and rounds. Also give thought to different kinds of actions, not just fighting, but magic, traps, healing, and so on. Battle flow will be a major section in this guide.

Determine what they fight, minor to major. Not all battles need to start the moment they arrive. To keep action fresh and motivations forward, consider minor obstacles for players to face. These could include small groups of enemy guards, finding and defusing traps, locating and healing hostages, stopping a magical ritual, unlocking complicated locks or bypassing massive doors or gates. This gives you breathing room too for setting up the tension, crafting the story, and revealing just how terrible your villain is and their ultimate motivations.

Decide potential outcomes for ending the fight. Players can be inventive in how they approach a situation. Boss battles included. But they may also just want to smash and have stellar moments of being a bad ass. Whatever options they may have or offer, you should have a list of potential or expected ways to consider the battle ended and boss down. Does the battle end when the main boss dies or a series of actions completes? Can players knock out the boss to capture? If the boss is a ritual, spell, unleashed storm, multi-target situation, what determines the end? Can they stop part or a majority of the elements to end the battle? These factors can also help determine the flow and mechanics of the battle to give every player type something to do.

Define what happens after the fight. Once the fighting ends and the boss is stopped, what other elements or targets need to be dealt with? This may include stopping the doomday machine or checking on hostages. Perhaps if taking the boss alive, they need to properly secure the prisoner so they don't get away. The action has ended, make sure these final actions don't detract from the monumental climax of the event! Yet another show down may work in the movies, but may not for players.

Reward your players. If this is the absolute final battle, consider rewards to those that took part. Not just who landed the final blow, but clutch moments of roleplay, action, healing, and more. They could earn a title, commendation from leaders, weapon of the kill, and so forth.

If this boss battle is the first of many to topple all of the targets of a campaign like leaders of a criminal organization or commanders in an army, provide elements and rewards to lead to further engagements. When they end this boss and threat, consider if they find evidence of their threat, information leading to others, captured weapons for buffs or debuffs usable in future fights.

Boss Battle Inspirations

You can find a ton of incredible sources for battle inspiration. Here are just a few:

  • TV: Game of Thrones, The Pacific, Vikings, Band of Brothers, Attack on Titan, Bleach, Cowboy Beebop (vs Vicious), Fullmetal Alchemist, Death Note, The Following, Castlevania, Breaking Bad, The X-Files, Doctor Who, Ghost in the Shell
  • Movies: Lord of the Rings series, Jaws, Star Wars franchise, Alien franchise, Gladiator, Harry Potter franchise, Red October, Hackers, Kill Bill, Predator, and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, John Wick, 300, Spartacus, Battlestar Galactica, Braveheart, Scott Pilgrim, The Mummy series, Nightmare on Elm Street
  • Games: Many of the end bosses of FF14, FF15, WoW, Bloodborne, and other games, Ganondorf, Sephiroth, Critical Role, LA by Night, Legacy of Kain, Curse of Strahd, Ruined King of League of Legends
  • Books: The Heroes Joe Abercrombie, Tolkien battles of the Battle of the Pelennor Fields and the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, The Crippled Gods and Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson, Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gaveriel Kay, The Thousand Names by Django Wexler, Nine Princes In Amber and Lord Of Light by Roger Zelanzy, Changes in the Dresden Files, The Riftwar Series and almost anything by Raymond E. Feist, The Adept series by Katherine Kurtz and Deborah Turner Harris, Horus Heresy

League of Legends Ruined King is a great example of multiple storylines leading to the final boss, needing many together to end his reign.

Stranger Things Season 4 finale battle vs Vecna (spoilers) shows multiple battles happening simultaneously to take down the boss threat.

Advanced Boss Mechanics

Not every boss needs additional or special touches, but incorporating some or all of these may give your players a memorable experience or give you something to lean on when the fight shifts in a way you least expected. For extensive examples, see Legendary Actions. More mechanics and examples coming soon!

Sample Battles

This guide will create 2 villain battles using the options and examples to give you ideas for your epic fights. We will create battle elements, the environment, develop the flow, and end the battle.

Symbols and D20

For ease of understanding, Warcraft raid symbols are used and the Warcraft Conquest and Expanded Expertise system for D20 rules created by the Warcraft Conquest community. This guide also includes Opt-In Hard Mode options. Any system can be used in place of these or simply open roleplay. These examples just help highlight different methods for running the battles with DCs.

dragonAncient Prison is a final epic battle of a magical ritual holding two combatants in locked combat: Brightmorn a dracthyr (or dragonborn) hero and The Betrayer a corrupted dragon. Held behind a magical barrier ribboned in time and arcane, the villain dragon is locked in combat with a valient warrior of old, both showing terrible wounds yet bound by the spellwork.After learning of this enscrolled battle in previous events, the players arrive at the top of a tower to breech the barrier, end the corrupted dragon, and save a potential hero lost to time and draconic machinations.
pirateBandit King is a smuggler group under the moniker Red Fox Curios connected to pirates and running a smuggling venture. With the Dragon Isles opening, luring numerous explorers and skilled scholars, but few guards. With keen ideas and ingenious plans, they have attacked caravans leaving evidence of Primalists. Over time, they have numerous people, stockpiled and stolen vast amounts of cargo, supplies, and relics. They have also taken a few hostage scholars to sell. It's time to deal with them in a cavern base.

Building the Battle Elements

A battle can be as complicated or simple as you want, focused with one or a couple major enemies or tons of smaller foes leading to that one massive threat. Options are limitless! But with so many options, you could get lost, too complicated, or flounder wondering where to start.

Deciding the following key elements can help you shape the battle:

  • Major Enemies: How many major enemies will be in the fight? Only the main villain or a number of moderate villains? Will they fight all of these enemies at the same time, in groups, or one at a time?
  • Minor Enemies: Be these minions, beasts, traps, or guards, will the players need to battle through lesser powered enemies to find the major villain(s)? Can they bypass the minions? Are they fought from entrance to boss, or summoned during the fight?
  • Special Allies: The battle may have potential allies to gain through rescue or sent as NPCs with the players. They could provide key information, a buff, or items for the battle.
  • Moving or Stationary Battles: Will players move through to find and fight the boss, begin in the location and not move, fight and move in phases? Or will the players battle the villain and follow them through a series of places in a chase? This can help determine timing, breathing room, and options to keep players motivated.
  • Special Attacks: You may want to consider buffs the players may have, debuffs applied by the villain, or special attacks that function like environmental effects, debuffs, or a task to complete. This gives your battle diversity while staying within the bounds of the rules. These attacks could also be [Legendary Actions].
  • Environmental Attacks: These attacks can be unleashed spells and area of effect (AOE) from the location or boss, affects from the location like storms, fly by attacks from minions, or sprung traps. Environmental rolls can get interesting if you handle them with key elements, such as melee takes an environmental attack while ranged get to attack and vice versa.
  • Battle Tasks: Can players affect your villain and their plans by tackling tasks during a fight? If there is a ritual, magical folks could use their combat actions to instead use skills for undoing the ritual. If there is a magical barrier protecting the villain and minions attacking, some members could attempt taking down the barrier. Healers need to heal and save fallen comrades and hostages as warriors hold the enemy at bay. Heavy fighters could bust through gates using loaded cannons while magical folks hold up a barrier protecting the fighters. So many options! For an easy method to create and manage these, use the Opt-In Hard Mode Combat Expertise options.
  • Heroic Tactics: These are Opt-In Hard Mode options to enrich an encounter, in and out of combat. Combat expertise checks for special abilties such as a stat roll check against a higher DC to pass or fail and take a flat amount of damage or affect, higher extended perks and debuffs, and boss execute attempting to wipe out small to large groups of players. For example, a boss could slam the ground causing earthquakes requiring a Body roll to withstand or a they may cast a ritual over the area affecting all lands to affect magic rolls by -1.
Opt-In Hard Mode

Opt-In Hard Mode is a d20 supplement of rules for WoW events, specifically to use with Warcraft Conquest Simplified system with Expanded Expertise. These rules provide:

  • Players with harder, more realistic options for health, healing, and long campaigns
  • Dungeon Masters with heroic event options including NPC abilities, negative health, DC thresholds, and combat expertise
DM Resources

If looking for more ideas, many guides and videos are available to leverage tabletop game ideas in any boss battle. Here are some favorites to check out:

Legendary Actions

Unlike a normal battle of players attacking enemies as obstacles towards the event end goal, these bosses ARE the end goal. As such, a normal hack and slash, attack and environmental roll, general combat damage may not feel epic. To push your event and bosses into something unique, you can consider Legendary Actions. In Dungeons and Dragons, this is a special ability the boss or lair (location) has available. Like player perks and abilities, they only get so many of these per event. For Warcraft Conquest, these are also considered NPC perks.

In this guide, Legendary Actions develops simple perks or special abilities into something with teeth. These actions could occur at any time: in the middle of a combat action or back-to-back without giving players a chance to act.

When building this action, consider the boss and who they are, what they do, where they come from. Do they focus on magic, have a breath weapon, have powerful attacks, have intelligent flying swords? As a boss, do they summon minions or call a mount and gain a mounted advantage? Consider melee, ranged, and spells. Can they heal themselves? You get the idea!

Boss Legendaries

Here's a list of potential custom Legendary Actions to consider, giving examples of some you could create for your bosses. These can be used as limited Perks or abilities, buffs, and debuffs. This simplifies the usage and tracking while running the event.

ActionOptions
ReactionGive the boss an extra attack or affect in response to a perk used by a player. This could be overcharge or rally. For overcharge, the armor could shimmer in response reducing the damage. For a rally, it could focus on rallied character with a morale roll or flee.

This could also be based on class or abilities. Consider the Neltharion battle with class calls in Blackwing Lair. Before starting the fight, make a list of your players and determine what they may be. Call those players out for these attacks. For example, all magical attackers are overwhelmed with power, suddenly blinded and seeing only the magic around them. Their attacks are wild and could hit a player. Melee fighters feel suddenly light and thrown up into the air, unable to move as they float, any major movement sends them into random directions. Ranged may attack only to have their spells fizzle in hands, missiles fail and fall once released, without momentum. Healers may be burned and hurt by their healing spells as the power turns against them.

You could also have them react to magic and attack types. Holy may do more damage, void may heal them, and so on.
Multiple AttacksThey attack, use abilities, use actions, heal themselves, etc multiple times. Players only get to act after these multiple actions end. They occur together, giving your players a sense of dread and danger.
TeleportThe enemy can literally disappear and reappear somewhere else in the area. This keeps the melee moving.
Crowd ControlA failed Environmental roll to a polymorph spell, ice trap, fear, or other crowd control could cause no damage. Instead it freezes the player in place and they loose a turn or need to be broken out of the control. Another option could be a knock back feature, causing everyone around them to be tossed back and away.
StealthBe it roguelike stealth, invisibility through spell or potion, a magic cloak of displacement, the boss can disappear and sneak around the area. This keeps players from attacking for a round, or give them a chance to roll perception.
Sneak AttackIf they are hiding prior to the battle beginning, or hidden through stealth, they could do double damage when attacking a group.
Damage TypeWhen they use an ability or attack, it could be a particular type that does something extra. Acid could burn through armor, a chain lightning of fire, a freezing burst with slicing wind, a shadowbolt writhing with void and mind controlling whispers... All of these could affect different players to greater or lesser degree. A holy attack may cause pain to the undead, and barely hit the holy. And so on!
HealingPlayers can heal, why not bosses? They could be standing in a rune of healing that provides a return of health. They could have damage reduction to specific types of damage. They may regenerate health points if a specific type of damage is not applied (like no holy or fire is used on an undead boss, they could just regenerate after successful damage). Or they may have a healing minion or group just dedicated to keeping them on their feet.

Player Legendaries

Another option is creating Legendary Actions for players! This could be using weapons or items found in the environment, calling in allies for a single attack or healing wave, empowering all magical attacks or enchanting all attacks with a damage type. These options could be found and used in the boss battle, or collected from lead up events to employ in this finale, similar to the abilities above.

ActionOptions
Heroic AttacksThe battle has raged for quite some time, either as a prolonged single battle or the finale battle in a series. As players are hurt and falling, the boss seems impossible to end, give the players one final attack with power! Allow players to add Body to a physical attack or Intelligence to a magical attack. This can replace a roll for killing blow as well, giving everyone the killing blow.
Combined Attacks or AbilitiesGive players the option to work together on an attack, magical ritual, diplomacy or intimidation action to pool their rolls for something greater. You have a couple of options for running these:

  • Ask for a combat roll without damage. Every point of damage is a success.
  • Ask for an expertise roll with a DC in mind. If more people succeed than fail, it succeeds. If someone rolls critical 1 or 20+, those count as 2 failures or successes.

Ancient Prison

The following information lays out the major boss, minor enemies, expected battle elements, and some roll DCs for the Ancient Prison event. This event includes a major enemy and special ally along with various waves of battles leading to the final confrontation.

ElementsDescription
Major EnemiesThe Betrayer was a blue dragon named Lein that fell to a strange corruption. Long in the past, he received a magical artifact to investigate that held a whisper and offer of arcane. What Lein received was a tincture of the old gods through their priest and a terrible legacy. Becoming The Betrayer, the dragon has sprouted eyes that see all things. This enemy is not accessible until the minor enemies are fought and battle task completed. The Betrayer is not fresh to the field but grievously wounded. It's battle with Brightmorn kept it in place as the imprisonment spell was cast.
Minor EnemiesA number of waves of protodragon whelplings and protodragons are called and rise to battle players. These waves start after players located at the prison star start working on tasks to repair runes and unlock it. Waves will crawl up the sides of the tower or land. The DM keeps a tally of damage and decides based on accumulated rolls when a group is bested, or by number of turns. Keep watch for critical failures and hits to highlight actions.

Warcraft Conquest Rules: Call for Combat rounds by groups, keeping groups fighting in turns to make larger events managable. The first enemies are groups of whelplings, second set are massive protodragons. Each point of damage kills a whelpling in a sizable group. Protodragons are a large pool of hit points to burn through.
Special AllyWhen the prison is released, not only the The Betrayer is freed. A hurt but fighting dracthyr known as Brightmorn will aid the heroes in the final conflict. He is terribly hurt, and only able to provide a rallying buff for one attack in the last stages of battle. This dracthyr was locked in battle with The Betrayer, long enough to cast the prison ritual spell that locked them both together. He is the final line of defense if the prison was ever opened.

Warcraft Conquest Rules: All players receive the Rally buff for their final rolls, be it combat or healing. All players choosing combat take part in the killing blow. Brightmorn will fall unconscious.
Moving or StationaryStationary event. Players will arrive to the battle area without moving locations.
Special AttacksWhen active, the Major Enemy boss has one special attack called Betrayed. It becomes a vision of someone that has betrayed the player, voice and look, behavior and aspect absolutely matching someone in their past.

Warcraft Conquest Rules: Roll PERCEPTION + BODY or INT or CHA.
  • 1-10 skull has the face and voice of someone that has betrayed you.
  • 11+ you feel something cloud your mind as you gaze upon it…but seen only this twisted form of Dragon. Those versed in Old Gods and the Void, this feels like something from those realms…
Environmental AttacksFew if any environmental attacks. With the waves of enemies and a battle task to complete, this is a good amount of split attention and combat for the group. Highly recommend not using these for this battle.
Battle TasksMagical players can use skills (such as Advanced Expertise from the Warcraft Conquest system, Arcana, Spellweaving, and Puzzles/Enigmas) to rework runes, repair missing runes, to reconnect the leyline power to the prison ritual. Leylines directed by ancient draconic runework attempts to connect to the spell prison, much like previous events. The DM calculates these successes accumulative between all players working on runes to hit the DC for unlocking the prison.

Warcraft Conquest Rules: star Roll PERCEPTION + INT or BODY.
  • 10-15 some runes are connected
  • 16-19 more runes connected
  • 20+ a sequence locks

Bandit King

The following information lays out the major boss, minor enemies, expected battle elements, and some roll DCs for the Bandit King event. This is a group of enemies with a lead boss. In effect, the entire group of named enemies are the boss.

ElementsDescription
Major EnemiesThe battle includes 2 bosses to tackle. Dorn Ramson is the leader of the Red Fox Curios smuggling group. He is a massive Kultiran warrior with a quick wit, clean shaven with tattoos of waves over his jaw, piercing steel eyes. He fights with a heavy saber and mace, with a shaman in his backpack. Pierce is a half Quel'dorei rogue with deadly percision, poisoned blades, and an unrivaled skill taking down magi. A mage slayer and scholar of people, he has spear-headed the hostage work.
Minor EnemiesThe rest of the cadre are minor threats including small groups of riflemen led by Mr. Fellows, hyenas, bully boys led by Wrenn, and Grosser the goblin shaman in Ramson's backpack. If you need to increase the threat, Grosser can be a heightened problem. These enemies are set up outside the cave, into the cave, and deep in the cave with the hostages and goods.
Special AllyThey do not have readily available allies. But they could use Perception rolls and skills to find supplies and use them in the battle. For example, they could find potions of healing, petrification potions, bombs, and more. Get inventive and let players try new things. These could provide buffs for attacks!
  • Disoriented/On Fire: Bombs explode causing NPCs to take 2 additional damage in next attack.
  • Healing Potion: The player could drink it or feed it to another, providing +2 to a healing roll.
  • Petrification potions: Splashes cause more damage to the enemies, making them brittle. They take +1 damage for the rest of the battle.
Moving or StationaryMoving event. Players arrive to a location, scout and seek the first lines of battles, working towards the main boss battle.
Special AttacksDorn Ramson may have special attacks as the main boss as environmental rolls applying debuffs or damage:
  • Line of Fire in melee causing an AOE of damage split between those nearest
  • Totem of Grounding affecting magic users thrown from Grosser the shaman in his backpack, debuffing all healing and battle magic -1 until destroyed
  • Spinning saber thrown to dance and cut through the ranged, AOE damage
Pierce's special attack is to kill hostages. If players do not fight to save hostages, he will begin stabbing them. Expect 1-2 hostages to be at death's door or dead. Make this hurt.
Environmental AttacksEnemies have various options for causing trouble and applying pressure. These could be run as environmental rolls (D20 rolls for ducking, debuffing, or receiving damage) against melee and ranged. Each attack could be special per enemy.
  • Petrification potions could cause minor damage or destroy items
  • Throw nets to immobilize
  • Hyenas could cause a combat debuff on rolls from cackling howl or bleed targets
  • Riflemen could set fire to oil in the ground with a volley
Warcraft Conquest Rules: Depending on the attack, you could follow the usual rules for safety or damage. I highly recommend considering debuffs such as:
  • Disoriented: Hyenas could cause a combat debuff on rolls from cackling howl. Take 2 additional damage in next attack.
  • Disarmed: Grosser the shaman casts chain lightning causing people to get disarmed. Next attack, they must pick up their weapon to fight using only a straight attack roll for 1 turn, no perks.
  • On Fire: take 1 extra damage every turn until they put the fire out
Battle TasksSave the hostages. Pierce will attempt to kill and use the hostages to keep people back. Scouts and stealth players could attempt to sneak in and take on Pierce to safeguard the hostages. Hostages have damage and may die easily if stabbed. You should have some die, to push the terrible situation.

Building the Environment

The location of your finale battles should be more than just a cool spot in a game or a fancy map in a virtual table top or printed for miniatures. Consider all aspects of the environment to create a mood and atmosphere that heightens excitment, fear, concern, and other emotions you want the party to cycle through. You can capture this with a physical location, music to play for the fight, minis/tokens/drawings to push the look and feel for the enemy, in game tricks like toys and spells, animations in VTTs, and simply the written word.

Once you have these elements, you can set that stage with locations for your enemies. Consider their movement and actions as part of that atmosphere. They don't need to sit in one place, but can shift, move, and be free in how they attack or flee.

Again, the options are limitless. These elements can help you shape the environment:

  • Physical Location: From tabletop maps to in-game areas of an MMO-RPG, you can find any location to fit your needs.

    • For online games, you may want to consider a proxy if you don't find what you need in the lands of your campaign.
    • Consider the open world, dungeons, and raid instances depending on the size of your event. If the location is too wide open, you could lose people. If you keep on a path, players will stay on target.
    • If the battle remains stationary, consider entrances and exits, furniture and props available, lightning, and feeling of the area.
    • For moving events, play with halls and rooms, caves and tunnels, structures in the open world to direct your path.
    • Consider the time of day as it may affect an in-game location providing extra elements.
  • Extra Touches: From music to art, you can provide additional touches to really push the atmosphere and feeling for your battle.

    • Discord is a fantastic platform for posting artwork and images of your enemies, playing music like a DJ, and sharing your screen for those that may not be available. You are only limited by your imagination.
    • For in-game options, consider toys such as the new Dragonflight environment machines for weather and sky, inky darkness potions for outdoors, various items as evidence they may find, and in-game mail messages copied as letter or documents they locate.
    • Addons may give you more flexibility, including created items with TRP Extended or using custom transmog looks and character profile descriptions for interactive NPCs.
    • Post early stories that lead into the narrative, giving players more time to immerse themselves. These could be tales leading into a campaign and summaries after events.
    • Look at player profiles and consider their backstories. Latch onto key elements to connect with the enemies and location. Did they come from the area? Do they recognize some targets from a past city or school? They could have skills that also provide insights, such as religious teachings, battle techniques, scholarly pursuits, ability to see and speak with the dead.
  • Writing: If you know your enemies will give grand statements, have creepy things to say, or you want to craft their speech or your descriptions with colorful terms, consider prewriting. It not only helps when running and intense event, but you can use this for speeches, one-liners, lists of words to describe something, and more! Here are some examples:

    • If you plan to run in different types of weather, write lists of words describing the weather from storms to intense heat.
    • Pick colors and adjectives for attacks and results to give fresh words to read and interact with. Swords can do more than simply slash, magic enchants could enrich a mace's smash, and so on.
    • Consider aspects of your enemies you want at the forefront. Write a list of common words or phrases they use, words to describe them. Give them a tick or trait that sets them apart. It helps solidify who the enemy is beyond a bouncing Skull icon.
    • Let players describe something for you, keep notes of key things they say or come up with, and run with it. Whispers and passed information can also be a life saver for a DM. Prewrite lists of insights, correct and incorrect depending on roleplay and rolls, then pass these quietly along. Players can craft the action for you.

Ancient Prison

The location for the Ancient Prison is a single tower with enough space to break up all members into multiple groups. This epic battle will run only at the top of the tower in Waking Shores, Warcraft Dragon Isles. The tall tower has enough space for a center area for the prison and 4 leaves to separate players into groups based on compass directions. All views are majestic with a vibrant sky, towers and mountains in the distance, and enough distance between groups to give them space to work and move.

This layout supports a stationary battle, giving players just enough space to shift, atmosphere to enjoy, and a focused waves battle.

Based on events, players have directed power to this tower which has caused a beacon to rise and shine over it, like sunlight pouring up from the ground around it. However, as it charges, it takes time (which lets the events stretch from one night to the next). This may cause others in the area to be intrigued. Use that to push the feeling of this tower and the awe of power. Let's prewrite a description:

The air feels tense, crackling with energy, as the empowered tower gleams as a beacon in the Waking Shore. So many were pointing, gawking below, wondering throughout the day WHAT was happening. And your group like others is drawn there…but with a purpose. The Silver Legacy likewise pinwheel through the air with you as you fly…up…up..up to the top until your drake shivers from the power needed for wings and breath. Reaching the summit, you find an intact tower. By sight, it is quiet if bright.

prison base

The following are the main characters I determine for this battle, using these guidelines to craft the experience:

ElementsDescription
The BetrayerOnce a young blue dragon called Lein, an old god relic connected them to a tendril of power and influnece from an old god's priest. For now, who that is doesn't matter and can evolve later if players show interest. Less is more right now. This description is what they see when the barrier drops. Until then, it is too bright to see details.

Description: A mass of violet violence carves through the air. Once a blue dragon, it is now some amalgam of deep night. Deep gashes rend through scale and muscle revealing bone in some places, yet blood does not flow or clot. Indigo and night gems scatter across flesh and scale, one with its body. Small, yet a youth, but something unwholesome lies in the eyes. And the gems all open at once. So many eyes, of so many races… It does not speak…

Keywords: violet, violence, darkness, seething, lurid, hypnotic, deceiving, soo many eyes, goat iris, triplicate reflections, pooling darkness that absorbs like never reflecting

Aspects: Constantly standing staring at all players at once and speaking. Players hear and see those that betrayed them most. Demeaning, disinterested, disappointed, mourning and sadness. Not direct hate, let the players find their own hate.
BrightmornA dracthyr of little renown, he battled the once dragon with others. When death seemed impossible and cleansing unknown, he sacrified himself to be locked in a force cage with The Betrayer until the dragons could find a solution. He was forgotten. This backstory may be important later, for now he is badly hurt and still locked in battle. This description is what they see when the barrier drops. Until then, it is too bright to see details.

Description: A Dracthyr of brilliant dove gray scales lands with a mail plated clack of claws. Armor in layers of dunes and waves wraps around the heavy form, banded over horns coiled in bronze. A line of writhing deep violet seethes along one wing, a wound left by the other. He holds forth a greatsword cracked through with golden sand falling to the tower stones. “Why have you…released this spellwork? We cannot allow it to leave this place!”

Keywords:inspirational, tired, unfaltering, nearing the razor's edge, fighting not to die to sink into oblivion, pale and losing strength, heralding strength to those that need it, a cold sunlight, a winter's touch to his breath and flesh as if warmth was lost

Aspects: Unwilling to fall lest this creature be released on the world. He does not see himself as a hero, merely doing what must be done at all costs. He is so irreevocably tired and aware of time's passing. He has felt those many eyes on his...for thousands of years. Any warmth is drawn from him, leaving him thin as smokein a still room.
ShimmersThroughout the events, odd shimmers have been visible by dracthyr and highly magical players. Asking players with high magic (regardless of class) to roll, I kept a list of those to provide whispers of oddities to. These shimmers are magical reflections of the past battles and histories caught from the timeloop of the Betrayer and Brightmorn. This is a way to add even more backstory or direct players. Shimmers could be seen with perception rolls seeming to give direction (rather than just saying HEY DO THE THING!).

Aspects: Helpful and afraid, hints of being familiar to dracthyr but they can't seem to pinpoint why

A group is helping the players gather and fight this as helpful allies. They are here for story and only provide a buff if absolutely required. They can help in the description of seeing the combatants locked in the barrier:

Two figures seem locked in place, hovering in air, within the glow. Runes are pulsing in some odd patterns, the power is available, but not all of the runes are connecting as stonework is in the wrong pattern! It looks much like the stones from last night. Felarin motions to those with magics call. “Fellowship and Legacy, let’s work together on this. Maybe we can reorder these runes and stones to unlock the ritual or connect with the leyline?”

Bandit King

The location for the Bandit King is a large cavern with a wide entrance and area to fight. This event was held in a cavern system in Waking Shores, Warcraft Dragon Isles. The cave located near the Life Vault Ruins has an extensive system inside, a wide field leading to the entrance, and many hiding places for players to slowly scout up to the location.

This layout supports a moving battle, working through minions to find and fight the final boss deep in the cave.

Based on events, players have tracked the last frightful run of a caravan until they find one wagon destroyed, the rest escaped. They find blood and week old trails leading away along a river. When they arrive, they see a clearing. The description gives hints that scouts and stealth may be a good idea:

Leaving the trails, you come along a riverside, rocks and deep earth damp from the shallows and fast moving depths. The clarity of the water is beguiling, perhaps far deeper than you imagine as you scan across. Yet wildlife does not flourish here, and any tufts of grasses or small trees are lacking. Beyond the bend seems to be an opening into the low hill…perhaps a lagoon or cave?

bandit base

As this is a moving location with active enemies, asking for rolls and scouting can lead to more information whispered to players based on rolls and roleplay. Writing out this information early helps give insight with quick copy and pasting in whispers. Players can then take off with the descriptions and warnings. For this, consider creating a set of perception insights for two groups: scouts and adventurers.

Scouting Perception: Gathering or flanking out, the scouts easily spot a couple riflemen on guard duty behind boulders near the entrance of the cave. They could easily sound the alarm to call others out. There is a ledge above the cave, thick grasses. As a group you can start your search and infiltration. The rest of the group will get a chance to look soon… SCOUT TEAM PERCEPTION + BODY or INT!

  • Your eyes and senses are keen for finding oddities and quickly notice a cave. Shadows move within a good number of people. Most seem tall, a few smaller, and a few…animals?
  • Beyond the entry of the cave you spy out numbers of people and crates. Numerous crates, rolls, large amounts of goods in the cavern. Perhaps you found the Silver Legacy tucked away?
  • What lies in the cave is not friendly. The scent of wild animals like those from the Barrens is heavy with musk, fresh and old blood, rotted meats from spoiling, and the usual refuse of too many people in a space for too long.
  • Despite the natural setting, you have keen sight to pick out weapon caches of firearms, javelins, swords, and buckets that stink of oil. Marks in and out would be overlooked by most, not you. A fair lot is in there, none of them friendly…
  • The muffle of a sob. The backhand smack of flesh. A broken soul or two is inside. There is an aggressive force in the cave holding prisoners. But you don’t see anything of the Djaradin or Primalists.
  • Within the confines of the CAVE, three men and women huddled near catatonic in fear, hunger, and blood loss. Despite the pretty sum of wealth they would bring in, some of them had been troublemakers. As the scouts have dove through the clues, sought the edges of the cave, they have some to perceive these folk needed help fast. Scouts now the Stealth Squad had a new mission…save the hostages.

Adventurer Perception: As the Scouts head within, their steps and stealth taking them from your sight, those remaining at a distance can take a look. Sonceri whispers around to those nearby, “Let’s try and see what we can, with peepers and magics, just not too close.” As the Scouts are away, time for the rest to look! ALL OTHERS PERCEPTION + BODY or INT

  • As you study ahead, you can hear the echo of water and rapids into a hollow space…perhaps a cave! The shadows among the rocks and grasses seem to have an opening.
  • Ahead is a cave with a wall of rocks and boulders around the entrance. Marks in the riverbed and nearby hill mark the old locations in rivets and yellowed grass.
  • A tang drifts on the air, something that burns the nose and waters the eyes. It reminds you of lamp oil, cleaning fluid, a mix of things stronger than it should be. But you don’t see anything being cleaned…
  • You scuff your boot into the rocks and sand, noticing a sheen of oil through the earth, a bit in the water. It seems to flow and eek from a ways down. Perhaps in the earth and around that cave. As you step along the riverside, your foot catches on something like a branch. It cracks and breaks, the end curved and worn, the other shattered. Bite marks marr along the length. As you rub it clean a bit, you realize…it’s bone. Here and there, chewed, shattered bones…

Once they get into the cavern depending on battles and guile, they will find the entire cavern filled with crates of stolen supplies, carefully maintained relics, fineries plucked from the isles, bags of strange herbs, ore to be packed, and hostages chained and bloodied. Weapons and munitions are stored near at hand, with enough safeguards to protect the fineries lest something set fire or explode. A shaman tends the wares and wards. Thugs keep hyenas fed. Everyone has a task. Additional crates of potions and evidence lies towards the back of the cave for setting up false attacks and leads for the locals.

The following are the main characters I determine for this battle, using these guidelines to craft the experience:

ElementsDescription
Ramson DornMassive for a Kultiran, he's a pirate turned bandit with the wiles and brute strength to keep this gang going. So far the venture has been insanely successful, perhaps too successful. The place is heavily filled and difficult to move for smuggling efforts. He wields a heavy saber and mace, is clean shaven with various tattoos including over his jaw. He speaks well with a keen mind always at work, piercing eyes as sharp as his blades. In a large backpack, he keeps a goblin shaman Grosser who works with the mountain to cast spells, heal, and protect.

Loyalties: He has an agreeable situation with Grosser and an abiding partnership with Pierce. They two have saved each other from untidy ends many times over. He doesn't hold much hate, either you matter or you don't.

Keywords: calculating, intelligent, careful, chilled charisma, lethal in battle, solid in negotiating, despises vice
GrosserA goblin of middling years, small for his size, he rather enjoys this rough work. The boss keeps him deep in vices, mainly a snorting drug and elementals primals. His work is simple, keep the boss alive and fight when needed, keep the hostages from the brink of death, and do some of the dirty work with Pierce.

Loyalties: He has a respect for Dorn. He hates Pierce with a passion and dreams of killing the assassin.

Keywords: enjoys his vices, leathery, tiny and spurned by most, vindictive, sharp teeth, more a wolverine than a goblin, smelly
PierceA half Quel'dori, half human, the rogue took to killing quite early in life. He never speaks of his past, with an unknown age and lethality that borders on excessive. He is the sharp razor that kills in a heartbeat, in the moment of a blink. He never seems to blink or look away. His sight is direct, and holds you regardless of where you are, even if you think you are hiding a sense of forboding spying wears on your nerves. He dresses in clean leather, refined, simple, easly lost in a crowd by flipping up and down pieces to blend in.

Loyalties: None. He works with Ramson and gives his respect only to him. He seems to care for nor love anything.

Keywords: complicated, resourceful, ice, unyielding, flat, forgotten, deadly
Mr. FellowsJust a hired hand that handles the guns and riflemen.
WrennA woman so broad and strong to be mistaken for a man. Just a hired hand for the bully boys.
HyenasBeloved pets that eat anything and everyone. Belong to Ramson.
HostagesThe three hostages and a dracthyr are held against their will. Marigold Brighthorn a thin tauren druid in soiled leathers, Shandrisen a kaldorei magi holding an arm close, and Bobbin Brightcog an eldering goblin bookkeeper wearing the bloodied whites of a Silver Legacy member. The Dracthyr is Skentha a translator from the Crumbling Life Archway deeply wounded and breathing shallow. While all of the hostages look in poor shape, the dracthyr is near death.

Building the Flow

Regardless of the amounts and types of enemies, allies, battlefields, and themes, all big battles come down to two types: linear and branching paths based on actions.

Linear battles tend to have planned turns and rounds, following a specific path of action. This could be a series of combat actions with environment rolls or special abilities/attacks interspersed. Enemies could be a set of waves or major bosses available one at a time. Many video game battles follow this method, such as the Kael'thas battle in The Eye. In this fight, you battle a court of mini-bosses one at a time, a series of magical weapons, all of the bosses raised again, and finally the major enemy Kael'thas.

Branching path battles have base attacks, environmental effects, special attacks, and moments prepared ahead of time and instigated in different orders based on player actions. Key attacks and situations may initiate based on a path they take through a location, bosses and enemies they choose to fight in different orders, or the cause and effect of choices made early on. For example, raid battles in an MMO-RPG provide different paths and orders sometimes to encountering bosses and enemies. The actual boss fights in those raids may be linear or buffs differ based on choices. Warcraft provides a great example in Ulduar. This raid provides different paths and orders for fighting mini-bosses, and different mechanics on the final boss depending on decisions before the fight by speaking with different defeated mini-bosses.

All of these battles can be pre-written with scripted moments to help keep the flow of battle moving forward. With too little prep, you may spend too much time writing situations on the fly, slowing a fight and losing player interest. I strongly recommend prewriting combat calls, perception and skill checks, environmental calls, buffs and debuffs, and any speeches or descriptions. This gives you time to watch the flow of roleplay and battle, reacting to player actions for a unique experience!

Was it a NATURAL 1 or 20?

The natural 1 and 20 are powerful rolls in a battle. These could mean a terrible failure and grand critical success! When these are rolled, consider providing extra touches for those players. Perhaps someone with a 20 could save someone that rolled unwell or suffer a bad response (save from falling, help dodge an attack, reduce damage a little). A natural 1 could lead to misinformation, devastating attacks, or a buff to the enemy seeing such a success.

Ancient Prison

As this is a stationary location, this battle is written as linear with carefully ordered battle sequences. The map is marked with symbols for the groups to stand, not for enemies. This battle includes a vital part of tasks completed with combat and skill rolls to unlock a magical prison. Due to this sequence, environment rolls are not asked for.

Battlemap

bandit base

skullBetrayer: Unreachable enemy The Betrayer locked in battle with Brightmorn. Until the ritual is brought down, the battling pair cannot be reached.
starMagical: Magical players working to repair and reorder the runes to unlock the magical ritual. Until they open this sealed ritual, players cannot interact with The Betrayer and Brightmorn are unable. However, enemy protodragons are being called by the horror within! So much magic is awakening the sleeping horror. Battling groups must protect this group at all costs. Likewise, this group cannot let the others fall.
triangleNorth: Battling and healing players in this location. They must protect the center at star.
diamondSouth: Battling and healing players in this location. They must protect the center at star.
moonEast: Battling and healing players in this location. They must protect the center at star.
squareWest: Battling and healing players in this location. They must protect the center at star.

Wave One Encounter

Each round of battle, groups will be called to attack enemies and working on the ritual magic in a specific order. To keep this interesting and flowing forward, groups will swap around after whelps. The center group may also have a chance to help those around the edges battling depending on their success. This is a revolving fight through waves. Breaking up players into groups and calling them for each round keeps the flow going, action high, and the DM focus on player responses and requests. The special aspect of this fight is DM attention to rolls not writing a ton of battle steps due to the ease of prewritten content to lean on.

This is an example of prewritten linear battle steps for wave 1 protodragon whelps.

Prewriting Helps!

I wrote these literally in a list per turn. This gives me time to focus on player responses, heroic rolls, potential ideas. So much text flies and having a chance to focus on what players post is important. Prewriting helps give breathing room and time without slowing the pace.

starMagical: star So it begins… Magical folk take up positions and find a massive pattern of runed stones. Some of them are out of order, flipped, incorrect. You need to start putting them in the correct order to connect the magic.

star PERCEPTION + INT or BODY! 10-15 some runes are connected, 16-19 more runes, 20+ a sequence locks!

ALERT! Everyone at the points begins to hear screeches and howls… many draconic forces are coming, too many to rightly discern where, how many. But it’s a growing number!
triangle diamondNorth & South: triangle and diamond Some of you hear clattering sounds of stone reach your ears. Claw on rock and the telltale screech of something from below. Over the side you peer out and spy numerous Protodrake Whelplings climbing up! Hungry jaws snap and throats wail. They sense a meal and magic! “They come over the sides soon! Ready yourselves!”

triangle and diamond COMBAT ROUND! Every point of damage kills a whelpling!
square moonEast & West: square and moon No sooner had the clamoring of scales and cries reached your ears than you see Protodrake Whelplings skitter away from the north and south, joining more of their siblings, crawling up like a dark wave. Gouts of tiny flames form in their maws as they crest the side! “They’re here too!”

square and moon COMBAT ROUND! Every point of damage kills a whelpling!
starMagical: star Runes have started to light and connect, but one is cracked! It requires something to fuse it back together..a dangerous venture though… Using magics might backfire!

star COMBAT MAGIC: Every point of damage fuses the rune back together! Or get zapped!
triangle diamond square moonNorth, South, East, West: triangle diamond square moon The whelplings attempt a final hungering assault scattering and wheeling up in a storm! A tornado of snapping jaws and wracking claws! They descend on you all with a fierce abandon trying to topple you and maul in groups!

triangle diamond square moon COMBAT ROUND! Every point of damage kills a whelpling!
starMagical: star As the runes lock into place, power glimmers through the dark crystals into pearlescent azure with touches of purple. The sudden shock of power rises and in lines connecting with larger runes of golden bronze time magics. Yet they…clash! A bubble of time is pushing outward, needing to be held at bay!

star MAGIC COMBAT! Every point of damage battles back and lashes the time eruption, unraveling or constraining the power!

Finally, the whelplings end:

The last of the whelpings are ended for some, any remaining try to press forward to get any nibble they can. You have but a moment to catch your breath. Howls and roars pierce the air...it's not over!

At this point, you can give them just a moment to breath, but keep the battle moving. If you have some players fall, consider giving the healers a moment to get them back up and on their feet. When ready, press on to the second wave.

Second Wave Encounter

At this point you enter the second wave with 2 large protodragons, switching up the groups, and completing the battle task. Here is an example of how that may go:

diamond moonSouth & West: diamond and moon A howl splits through the night sending the whelplings skittering away ! A large Earthen Protodrake circles and lands hard between your groups! Claws gain easy traction, as foreclaws and razor maw seek to consume diamond and the spined club of a tail batters moon.

diamond and moon COMBAT ROUND! Battle back the EARTHEN Protodrake!
triangle squareNorth & East: triangle and square Hairs begins to rise from the storm above… A rival protodrake comes covered in sparks and sizzles, gold and teal flashes of lightning. Eyes glare down over a feast of adventurers the other found. With a greedy wide maw, an Electrical Protodrake rears back clinging to the edges seeking to cook you all with lightning breath, sparks running through a white mane.

triangle and square COMBAT ROUND! Battle back the STORM Protodrake!
ALLIES AID!To help the magical group, the allies provide aid: Felorin of the Silver Legacy calls together the other members, surrounding those working steadily. Each of them take up wands, form runic circles around those that battled the time eruption. Eyes closed, incanting, casting, they channel from one to the next forming another circle around the edges. star you get +1 to any next roll!
starMagical: star With the force bubble pressed back to a manageable level, some of you show clashes with the power. Some with longer hair, a couple extra lines about the eyes, younger hands. Felorin looks over the runes with you all and nods. “I think…we can move more of them!” Some sequences are close to lightning, if only the southern edge of runes were in the right order… You can gather your wits and try!

star PERCEPTION + INT or BODY! 10-15 some runes are connected, 16-19 more runes, 20+ a sequence locks!

These sequences continue, swapping around, reacting to players, the center group dealing with runes and helping battle when they can. When done, call for killing blows on these mini-bosses and continue into a rest period for open roleplay and healing.

Rest Periods

These are important to give players a chance to heal and deal with the situation. Judge the time and give appropriate time to players. When ready, you can move into the final phase opening the ritual circle and the last battles with the main boss and potentially saving Brightmorn.

Final Boss Battle

Players from the center now join their fellows in the side groups in the compass positions. They no longer need to unlock the rituals and can battle and heal as needed. Star is now Brightmorn and Skull is The Betrayer. Both are targetable.

Again setting the turns with linear prewritten content. This is when you introduce The Betrayer and Brightmorn, detailing what they see and providing an empowered special attack by the enemy:

RUNES UNLOCKAs you empower the ritual, the magics unfold in layers of golden see-through discs, moving and revolving around the center platform. Symbols shine in lines from top to bottom of the soft glowing discs of power, the spellwork caught in golden sand.
skull starTwo figures float within the circle of magics. Gazes sear into the other, then beyond and the ghostly faces of mortals about them…and kin.

star BRIGHTMORN: A Dracthyr of brilliant dove gray scales lands with a mail plated clack of claws. Armor in layers of dunes and waves wraps around the heavy form, banded over horns coiled in bronze. A line of writhing deep violet seethes along one wing, a wound left by the other. He holds forth a greatsword cracked through with golden sand falling to the tower stones. “Why have you…released this spellwork? We cannot allow it to leave this place!”

skull THE BETRAYER: A mass of violet violence carves through the air. Once a blue dragon, now some amalgam of deep night. Indigo and night gems scatter across flesh and scale, one with its body. Small, yet a youth, but something unwholesome lies in the eyes. And the gems all open at once. So many eyes, of so many races… It does not speak…
triangle diamond square moonNorth, South, East, West: This is the special attack by The Betrayer:

EVERYONE triangle diamond square moon: BETRAYED! Roll PERCEPTION + BODY or INT or CHA. 1-10 skull has the face and voice of someone that has betrayed you. 11+ you feel something cloud your mind as you gaze upon it…but seen only this twisted form of Dragon. Those versed in Old Gods and the Void, this feels like something from those realms…

At this point, players will drive themselves crazy, filling their minds and roleplay with those that betrayed them. Make note of some responses for later touches to the fight.
BATTLE BEGINSAs this is the final battle, with few rounds left, this is a good place to provide DM notes, flavor text, and get back in the groove of attacks with environmental rolls added in.

skull “I bring a gift.” The BETRAYER plucks a gem from its chest holding it out. It is not an eye, but a glittering, expensive, powerful, magical piece of wealth. “I offer power to any who wants it…”

star BRIGHTMORN levels his sword and begins to encant seeking to rebind them again! “No…NO! The way must be shut! The gate cannot be opened further! Either aid me or end him!”

DM NOTES: In this battle you can aid star BRIGHTMORN by lashing magics, casting rituals. Those combat actions count as points of binding for the gate. You can fight skull BETRAYER and just end him!
triangle diamondNorth & South: triangle and diamond The layers of bronze protection discs shift and move like a puzzle then pause! You have an opening to strike. The BETRAYER floats in the air filling the top of the tower with its presence, eyes watchful…

triangle and diamond COMBAT! Aid star every dmg point aids in his spellwork OR fight skull every point damages the fiend!
square moonEast & West: square and moon The layers of bronze protection discs spin again! A sliver of space opens to get closer for a strike. The BETRAYER coils deeper into the shadows above in the tower’s arches. It roils like…stormy water…

square and moon COMBAT! Aid star every dmg point aids in his spellwork OR fight skull every points damages the fiend!

Continue the battle until you feel the time is right, then post the final attacks asking for final rolls. For those that do attack, give them special responses of what they experience. This gives every player a sense of purpose, and ends with a bang.

As time resumes, you see a flicker of yourself disappear as the loop completes. Brightmorn looks aloft and eyes widen… “The gate…those eyes…you are right. We must finishing breaking them! I know now who you are…but give all you can!” He raises the sword, glimmering with the power entrusted by others and whispers. “Come. FInish it.” The roiling shadows reach forth, slithering and slipping to fall upon the Brightmorn! A seething mass of scales, limbs, and eyes…far less than started… From within the mass of shadow is a SCREAM and the carving of magic!

EVERYONE triangle diamond square moon: Safeguard the Brightmorn! Break the eyes and send the creature back! Close this gate!

Destroying the eyes and closing the gate will end this battle. The blue dragon cannot be saved, only the influencing force can be pushed back. Once this is done, the battle ends.

Bandit King

This boss battle is far more branching paths, where players get to decide how they proceed. If you have a strong core of stealth and scouts, they may want to enter quietly to get a full view into the cavern and bring that info back, or hide and wait for the moment to strike. You may create diversions to lure out the enemies into the open, sending a group in to save hostages. So many options!

The best way to handle these events is to prewrite potential attacks and some key phrases. This gives you something to lean on when responding to players. You can also break up the group by encouraging teams: stealthy scouts, ranged, and melee. This gives you some leeway at least in environmental rolls.

The goal here is to end the bosses and save hostages.

Battlemap

bandit base

skullRamson Dorn: The main boss of this group. He's smart, careful, and tactical. He has most folks fooled out here, and hasn't been caught until now. He can attack ranged and melee.
crossGrosser: The stunty goblin shaman settled in Ramson's backpack. Where he goes, the goblin goes. This simplifies their locations. Also players can decide one or the other to fight. Grosser will fight according to orders or heal Ramson.
starPierce: This is the assassin. While he is deadly, his goal is to kill hostages or poison them if anyone attempts to get back there. He is a one man wrecking crew against any scouts or stealth entering the back. He has a couple worthless thugs working for him. Use them if the scouting/stealth party is big.
triangleHyenas: Saber, Fang, and Rake are the three hyenas. They are always hungry, smart, and will play with their food.
diamondMr. Fellows and Riflemen: Group of riflemen of variable size depending on the party size. They tend to attack ranged.
squareWrenn and the Boys: Dumb as dirt, mean as hell, and will body slam anyone into submission. This group is variable size as needed. They tend to attack melee.
moonHostages: They are hurt, chained, and cannot be easily moved. The dracthyr is near death. All else fails, they must save Bobbin per the contract of work.

For anyone sneaking into the cave, they may receive this information:

The cavern stretches deep within the hillside, farther than you expected. Within you spy out a group of cutthroats led by a half elf. PIERCE star has blades at the ready, flicking about their hands, a shock of dark hair with a length of soft blue run through. Baleful eyes lay upon the hostages. “Gag and bind their hands.” A small group of knife wielding thugs get to work on the three hostages next to a battered dracthyr moon.

Boss Mechanics

When prewriting this event, consider potential attacks for each boss and lean into loyalties depending on how the odds will go. This gives breathing room and options for different enemies to shine. If you have a heavier ranged party, you could have more ranged attacks. For a large stealth group, consider traps and leaving the hyenas inside to help find and ferret out the hidden.

These are just examples that you can tweak, shift, and scale depending on the size of the group.