I am running a pathfinder campaign for a group of 5 players. I have a half-elf wizard, human druid, dwarf barbarian, halfling bard and half-orc paladin. The party were all level 5 at the time of this encounter and reached level 6 at the completion of it. It is also worth noting my party typically punch above their weight in CR calculations so hard or deadly encounters are normal for my campaign.
In our last session the group came up against a Mind-Flayer (using the stats from 3.5e D&D MM) and their mind-controlled orc minions (story reasons). I choose to not have the Mind-Flayer act directly in combat until attacked. The encounter was going fairly well, the party had the orcs under control and turned their attention to the Mind-Flayer. When the following sequence occurred:
- The wizard attacked the Mind-Flayer with a fireball. Angering but not seriously harming it.
- On the Mind-Flayer's turn it used it psionic blast spell-like ability targeting the wizard and anyone that happened to fall in that area of effect.
- The wizard, bard, and paladin (along with a bunch of orcs) were all within the area of effect. The wizard and paladin failed their saves and were stunned for 6 rounds.
- The orcs that were not stunned continued to attack the paladin.
- The bard began to attack the Mind-Flayer on her turn.
- Mind-Flayer used suggestion on bard to make them surrender.
- The orcs dealt massive damage to the paladin, killing him before the stun ended. I had intended to stop hitting him once he went unconscious but the orcs rolled enough damage to kill him.
- Remaining PCs kill the mind-flayer. I ruled that suggestion broke when the orcs continued attacking.
- The players felt frustrated that the stun left them unable to prevent his death.
The party is currently on their way to get the paladin resurrected. For story reasons it is highly likely that the player will come up against Mind-Flayers again. Potentially even multiple at once.
How can I reduce player frustration and risk of PC death due to the mind flayer's psionic blast ability?
I am looking for anything I can do as a DM to prevent the players from being frustrated by the stun condition from the psionic blast. This could include:
- Magic items/abilities to help them fight the stunned condition
- Changes to my encounter design/how I run the Mind-Flayers to reduce frustration
- Tested alterations to the Mind-Flayer's stats to make it less dangerous without changing the feel.
- Anything else that could help this situation.
Answers are reminded of the Good Subjective/Bad Subjective criteria for our site. I want answers where people have experience similar situations and how they have changed things to prevent it in future.
I have read this related question on defending against psionic blast. The answers there are from a players view in 3.5e D&D, my question is more focused on what I can do as a DM in pathfinder. My game only uses 3.5e content when I find something that doesn't exist in pathfinder. Answers using 3.5 content should justify why it is a better solution than anything offered in pathfinder.