I've been playing and DMing D&D for 10 years across versions 3.5 to 5e and am now running a campaign for a group of enthusiastic newcomers in 5th Ed. The group is a mix of level 4 and level 3 characters.

I've been taking a lot of style inspiration from the Sword and Sorcery subgenre (moral ambiguity, magic as a force of evil/non-good) and I feel like the party's finally ready for an evil wizard/sorceror as a dungeon boss.

The only problem is that I'm inexperienced with playing primary spellcasters and don't have a lot of experience in leveraging magic users as hostile NPCs. If I were to make an evil magic user as a stand-alone boss (or a boss with minions) what spells and tactics should I give this NPC to make him challenging and memorable to the PCs without setting up an unavoidable TPK?

Specifically, since I am dealing with a mix of level 4 and level 3 characters, I would like to challenge them with with a CR 6-7 encounter. The group is eager to play but inexperienced so I feel like this is the upper limit for them.

Right now I'm envisioning the boss as a shadowy cult leader leading a cult devoted to some evil deity/demigod of snakes/spiders/other creepy crawlies. As such, what spells could I use to create a sense of of confusion in the characters as they try to get in melee range? Beyond confusion, what spells could limit party movement as the cult leader's minions (either humanoid cultists or monsters) could close in to protect their dark master? As a higher-Int character the boss should also have contingency plans for invaders such as traps but I also want to give the party the opportunity to bypass some hazards if they're clever.

What level should I make this NPC if I am to use the standard character generation system and class levels?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hello Rob, and welcome to RPG.SE. Please take the tour and visit the help center page. Your question right now is not a good fit for our site because it's asking for something that is at once both too broad and highly opinionated, two things which make answering difficult in our Q&A format. Please narrow down your question and provide some parameters that we can work with, as I do believe this can be a good question and we have lots of users here who can provide valuable information. \$\endgroup\$ – LegendaryDude Mar 2 '17 at 16:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ [cont'd from previous comment] For example, what level and/or CR are you aiming for with your boss? What "type" of badguy is he? Is there a more specific flavor of bad guy you are aiming for beyond sword & sorcery? Any further details you can provide, including things you have already considered, will help narrow down the question. \$\endgroup\$ – LegendaryDude Mar 2 '17 at 16:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ In the interest of not being on hold: consider making your question more specific. "What spells should I give them" leaves room for opinion; "What spells can I use to do x" does not! \$\endgroup\$ – Conduit Mar 2 '17 at 16:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ For reference, Volo's Guide to Monsters contains an excellent collection of wizards of various spellcasting schools and increasing CR. You might look there for insight, since they've been playtested by WOTC. This isn't an answer to your question, though, since you want to use actual class levels. \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder Mar 2 '17 at 16:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RobSteel You've received enough rep now that you can participate in Role-playing Games Chat. If you want to stop on by we can discuss this without continuing in the comments (which are a bad place for this type of continued discourse). \$\endgroup\$ – LegendaryDude Mar 2 '17 at 17:16

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