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I'd like to create a monster for my players to fight in an upcoming adventure.

The Skeleton King

They'll be fighting the skeleton of a decades-dead king in his throne room, with the goal of retrieving the crown he's still wearing. I immediately thought of King Leoric from the Diablo series, and though it would be fun to recreate him in my game. King Leoric appears as the Skeleton King in both Diablo I and Diablo III.

The main thing I remember from playing these games is a huge skeleton running at me with a huge sword. There are additional abilities listed at each of those links, including life steal (gain life equal to the damage dealt), teleportation, a stunning-pushing bash attack, summoning skeletons, and a spinning sweep with his sword. He's fairly accurate, but mostly a big tank with some abilities, so I think his role would probably be brute.

The Party

The party is a group of five level-7 characters, including a fighter, an invoker, an assassin, a paladin, and a warlord. They've been pretty successful in combat, and I regularly throw encounters 2-4 levels above their level at them.

Getting this crown will be a huge plot point for the party, so this should be a memorable fight. In life, the king was the paladin's grandfather.

The Goal

I don't have much experience creating monsters or even really fiddling with monster stat blocks. I mostly just use the monsters as-is and build up to my experience budget.

Could someone give me some guidelines for creating this guy? As nice as a fully-spec'd monster block would be, if the answers get too specific we're going to devolve into a list of similar answers.

I'm hoping for some advice on setting stats like defenses and hp, some suggestions for ways to emulate Leoric's abilities with a solo monster (perhaps by alluding to a similar ability on an existing monster), that kind of thing.

Thanks.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I know you weren't really looking for full stat blocks, so I hope the below walkthrough was helpful. Please let me know what you like/don't like or if there's more questions you have, and I am happy to help tweak it with you. \$\endgroup\$ – webbcode May 18 '15 at 14:46
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There actually is a level 10 Solo named The Risen King, in Fortress of the Yuan'ti pg 16, but he's a controller and poison/snake themed, which doesn't fit the Leoric concept very well.

Malachi's Butcher, from Dungeon Mag #163 pg 83, brings a different iconic Diablo undead boss to mind, so is also mostly un-helpful here, but he gave me an idea, so let's walk through the process of stealing his Spawn Meat Mote power, and applying it to a level-reduced Kas of Mondahan, who is originally printed in Dungeon Mag #170 pg 55, and was reprinted as Kas the Betrayer in Open Grave pg 204 with some math tweaks that don't really come into play after we de-level him from 26 to 11.

Kas has the following things going for him:

  • A Bastard Sword
  • A cleave power
  • Regeneration
  • The soldier template, which gives him high HP and high AC.
  • A movement power, which we'll convert from flying to teleportation
  • A healing-on-hit power, which we'll allow him to recharge.

I'm removing his dominate, because it's decidedly un-Leoric, and in its place I'm putting in that Spawn Meat Mote power I stole from the Butcher, only spawning a Skeleton Soldier (Open Grave: SotU pg 77) instead of a Meat Mote (they're both minions. Feel free to level up the Soldiers a bit, as the level 6 versions defenses are a tad low -- but Leoric's minions are cannon fodder, easily replaced and highly expendable, so I don't mind this at all.) A slightly stronger option would be Skeletal Legionaries from the Monster Vault, pg 257. These are level 7 minion soldiers.

I am also removing his fire resistance, climb speed, and mist-form, changing his training in Arcana and Stealth to Athletics and History, and giving him immunity to Daze and Dominate. Some of these are to more strictly adhere to Leoric canon, while those last two immunities are more because Solos desperately need all the help the can get in keeping clear of status effects.

I'm changing his mark-punishment from dealing ongoing necrotic damage to another means to summon a minion. In-play, this should work out fairly similarly to the ongoing damage, but consider changing the duration of the mark itself to save-ends, or removing the "this effect can trigger only 1/round" qualifier, if you want it to be more potent. As is, there's a fairly weak give/take between the two minor action options, with one definitely summoning a minion at the cost of 2% of his health, and the other maybe summoning a minion, without a health cost.

I'm also changing the condition upon which Regeneration is disabled. Sunlight implies that the original was a Vampire. Instead, let's make it stop working for one round after being hit with a Radiant power. This gives the paladin a reason to do the happy dance, and potentially gives the invoker interesting choices to make, given how many minions will be afoot.

After leveling him down to 11 (Level+4), this nets us:

Kas of Monadhan, the Skeleton King
Medium natural humanoid (undead)

Level 11 Solo Soldier
XP 3000
Initiative +8
Senses Perception +10; Darkvision
HP 440; Bloodied 220
Regeneration 20 (regeneration doesn’t function the round after Kas is hit by a Radiant power)
AC 25; Fortitude 26, Reflex 21, Will 26
Immune disease, poison, daze, dominate; Resist 10 necrotic; Vulnerable 10 radiant
Saving Throws +5
Speed 7
Action Points 2
Standard Actions:

Bastard Sword (standard, at-will, MBA) Weapon
+16 vs AC; 1d10+14 damage.

Blood Drain (standard; requires combat advantage against the target, recharge 6) Healing +16 vs Fortitude; 2d10+14 damage, and the target is weakened (save ends), and The Skeleton King regains 50 hit points.

Betrayer's Whirlwind (standard, at-will) Weapon Targets up to three creatures; +16 vs AC; 1d10+14 damage, and The Skeleton King slides the target 3 squares.

Minor Actions:

The Skeleton King's Challenge (minor 1/round, at-will) Necrotic Close burst 5; targets one enemy; the target is marked until the end of The Skeleton King's next turn. If the target makes an attack that doesn’t include The Skeleton King as a target while marked by this power, a Skeleton Soldier appears in a square adjacent to them and immediately attacks them. This effect can trigger only 1/round.

Raise Skeleton (minor, at-will) Effect: the Skeleton King takes 10 damage. A Skeleton Soldier appears in a square of the king's choice within 2 squares. It acts immediately after the king.

Triggered Actions

The Skeleton King's Recovery (free action when kas becomes bloodied) All adverse effects affecting Kas end, Blood Drain recharges, and then The Skeleton King takes a standard action after the triggering action is resolved.

Regal Assault (immediate reaction, when hit by an attack by a target within 5; at-will) Necrotic
The Skeleton King teleports up to 5 squares to a square adjacent to his attacker and immediately attacks them with his Bastard Sword. If it is available, he may use his Blood Drain attack as part of this power. If The Skeleton King is bloodied, a Skeleton Soldier appears in the square The Skeleton King vacated.

Alignment Evil Languages Common
Skills Athletics +15, History +13, Intimidate +16, Religion +13, Endurance +12
Str 21 (+10) Dex 12 (+6) Wis 11 (+5) Con 14 (+7) Int 16 (+8) Cha 23 (+11) Equipment: bastard sword , plate armor .

I quite like this result. His damage isn't too massive, so feel free to tweak it, or give him more minions at the start, or even more HP. But he's pretty tanky between his healing and regeneration, and should be spawning 2-3 easily dispatchable minions/round, which should keep the invoker occupied, and he should almost always be making 2-4 attacks/round.

If your players are decimating him, you can adjust on the fly by deciding not to remove his regen on radiant powers while he's bloodied, or by doubling his Blood Drain heal while bloodied, or by increasing the recharge on blood drain to 5/6 or even 4/6 while bloodied, or similar adjustments.

If your players are having a terrible time (or if your melee characters have attack bonuses under 13 (which would hit him on a 12), consider dropping his AC a few points. Swapping him to a Brute template would be as easy as reducing his AC by 4 and adding 1d10 to all of his damage rolls.

Remember to use his skeletal minions to flank with to gain CA for Blood Drain.

I hope this was a helpful exercise in monster creation, regardless of if you use him!

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Nice! I probably won't modify that much. I don't have DnDInsider, can I ask which books the original monsters were in? \$\endgroup\$ – DCShannon May 18 '15 at 18:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Added links to the source materials - not all of the links would have fit in a comment. \$\endgroup\$ – webbcode May 18 '15 at 18:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ The party did not enter the castle when I anticipated, but instead went on this whole other adventure. They're finally back to the castle, and we should be doing this encounter soon. They're level 9 now, and might be 10 by the time they fight him. I think I'll level him up to 13, recharge blood drain on 5-6, and increase the bastard sword (but not the whirlwind) to 2d10. I'll use the Skeletal Hauler from Open Grave pg 182 for the minions. \$\endgroup\$ – DCShannon Feb 9 '16 at 22:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DCShannon 2.5 years later, i just got some points for this that caused me to look at it again.....how did the encounter go? \$\endgroup\$ – webbcode Jul 13 '18 at 21:51

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