So my party leans towards the chaotic side of the spectrum (don't they all?), even going so far as to include a tiefling Paladin of Selune. I want to confront them with a aasimar Paladin of Amaunator who takes their twisted sense of lawfulness to an extreme, and takes it upon themself to destroy the party.
Roleplay wise, I feel like I know what to do, the problem is I can't seem to find a good template for creating an enemy paladin anywhere in 5e materials. How would you design a light-themed, celestial, LG paladin who nevertheless stands a chance of scrubbing the floor with a party of rough and tumble adventurers?
A bit more info: I have a big party, 7 players, and I expect them to be around level 6 or 7. I've given up on designing challenging boss fights for them since they just steamroll anything I throw at them, but I would like this enemy to be capable of giving them a scare once or twice in the battle. Any advice for making the terrain or environment more challenging or dangerous to go along with the paladin would be appreciated as well. Thanks!
Pretty much any creature can be good aligned with a little reskinning. I'm a frequent advocate of that, mostly because wholly original content runs a higher risk of being imbalanced.
The Fist/Wings duo is a cool find, but even if the party is used to steam rolling things, I think these guys are going to give the party more than a scare or two. They're both capable of one hit KOs against level 6-7 squishies even before you take into account the possibility of crits. Their DPR is really high, and they have a boat load of HPs to make any fight last awhile.
Make a level 11 Aasimar Paladin with the Oath of Vengeance per normal PC creation rules. Give him a reskinned wyvern mount (maybe its tail crackles with radiant energy instead of injects poison). Give him greater than average HPs (possibly max for his level), and have him maintain Aura of Vitality to stretch those HPs out. The fight will probably still last under 5 rounds, but you can have him smite pretty much every hit, or whenever you want to give the PCs a scare.
As for environmental hazards, what sort of arena did you imagine this fight taking place in? Or is that still totally undecided yet?
Alright, I'll swing the nerf-bat. Standby for impact. I'll keep the originals around so that if your party is wiping the floor again, you can change the CR accordingly.
Actually, you know what? I am going to make two more so that if your PCs do too well with these guys, you can sic the Fist and Wings on them a week later . The unicorn here totally takes the spotlight from its rider, but who cares?
I agree with Nevvur in that those two would be quite the challenge for your party of 7 players that are 6th or 7th level. Here is a nice calculator I found that can help be a guide, but should never be law, to help you decide how much to throw at your players. dhmholley.co.uk/encounter-calculator-5th/
Toning them down like Nevvur suggested would be good. I would add in some of the legendary actions as well as legendary resistance to help combat the high action economy that a group of 7 players has. You can look to beholders, dragons, vampires, and other creatures for inspiration on what actions to give your paladin. I would also look into having a lair be hallowed ground that the paladin has set up to combat the players.
Also, I'm unclear as to whether your party is in fact evil. If they are, then the monster manual is your oyster! They can fight good and evil and everything in between. There don't seem to be any templates in the monster manual for celestial as there once was, but checking pg 280 in the DMG for monster features that would make sense adding to creatures/people you want to throw at them. Hopefully those things are helpful!
Also, know your party! Three of my players' power-gaming PCs that are min-maxed can take down 3xCR3, 2xCR5 and a CR11 without resting. I throw something at them a bit at a time to up the stakes, but if the PCs over or under-perform, I can always withhold parts of an encounter to avoid a TPK. Besides, these LG monsters would be satisfied with knocking the party out and arresting them anyway (can't speak for the wyvern, someone needs to feed him).
Hey everyone! Good ideas in here, I certainly like the idea of giving the Paladin a mount of some kind.
My party isn't evil, they are actually all good aligned, but most aren't very lawful. This paladin enemy, who is being manipulated and doesn't realize it, decided that the party must be brought to justice. I'm looking at the NPC list though, and it doesn't offer a paladin to fight, just a knight or a priest. As for the MM, I don't want to throw a deathknight or whatever at them, because this paladin is NOT evil--but it is their enemy. I'm probably going to just build a PC paladin several levels above theirs and deck it out with some neat tricks to make it a good boss encounter, and that's what I'm looking for ideas for.
Is there a divine-spellcaster/fighter hybrid in the MM that I'm overlooking?
As for the arena, I'm not sure yet. This paladin will ambush them in a sort of "I cannot let you go further" sort of scene, and they'll have to beat them into submission or convince them to relent. I'm thinking the ambush may happen in a temple.
This is probably a topic for another thread, but my issue with balance isn't that my party are power gamers (they barely know how to use their characters) but that I'm just not very good at DMing and fighting strategically at the same time. I just had the 7 level 4s face a CR 8 wizard supported by 5 giant spiders, thinking I might need to pull some punches, and they mopped the floor with him. He spent so much time on the run or hiding that he only got to fire off a single offensive spell in like, 7 rounds of combat. It was not a lot of fun for me. I can't buffer out a boss fight with minions because my party ignores them and focuses on the boss, so I need a really sturdy boss.
Building a paladin who is just several levels above the PCs would make him a high AC, low HP opponent. If he is lucky, he would last 2 turns against a 7 man party, since pure damage dealers can burst for 50-70 damage at level 7. I had some fun with my players with such characters, but in general players like to deal damage and contribute to the fight (I had a CR7 bladesinger encounter which the unhappy rogue did not even hit the whole fight).
Also, pure spellcaster NPCs tend to be tricky to run unless you give them some sort of damage mitigation due to their incredibly low hit points and relatively low AC. Load them up with stoneskin, blink, shield, and greater invisibility so they last a little longer (not all 4 at once, because that's not possible). The mage in the MM is notoriously under-powered when he is disadvantaged by initiative order. On the other hand, if he pulls off a successful misty step + cone of cold, or a couple fireballs while invisible, your party will drop like flies.
I am sure that most DMs have a few red smears on the ground that they once called mages.
If your party has exceptional DPR, raise or maximize the enemy HPs. Remember that the values outside the parentheses in Monster Manual creatures are just averages for their Hit Dice + Constitution modifiers.
Also, a fun environmental hazard might be something like beams of bright sunlight pouring through a crumbling ceiling. Most of the arena is dim light, but in areas of bright light he heals and/or has increased defenses. While the PCs are standing in it, he has the option to cause radiant damage and/or blindness on them. Narrate the magical effects well, so the PCs understand part of the challenge is working around areas of light. Kind of symbolic too.
Just to toss them in the mix, here are a few Lawful Neutral law-jerks that I put together recently. I honestly have no idea what the CR for these is, but I was aiming for 7-ish for the Knight and way higher for the Tribunal.