• Justin Handlin

Angry GM's Paragon Monsters

Updated: Aug 31, 2020

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"I WANT BIG BOSS FIGHTS, DAMMIT!" We know exactly how the Angry GM feels on this topic. Luckily, he has solved this problem for us. Crit Academy covers the Angry GM's Paragon Monsters. Epic Dungeons and Dragons boss battles that can leave your players split in twain.

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How Tasha’s Cauldron Changes the Games Approach to Race

Wizards of the Coast just recently announced the newest official supplement for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, Tasha's Cauldron of Everything. The book already promises to bring plenty of new tools and options to the table for players and Dungeon Masters alike, but perhaps one of the most significant changes this book will bring are to the facet of character races.

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Main Topic: Angry GM's Paragon Monsters

“Let’s be honest: D&D is a combat-focused game. You can’t argue that. And you’d be stupid to try. You can stay away from combat if you want, but you can’t pretend it isn’t designed around a pretty damned cool combat engine. And the basic structure of the game is a string of mostly action-oriented encounters (including combats) that ultimately resolve a problem or achieve a goal. And, at the end of that string of encounters, we expect something big and climatic. And if we’ve spent most of the game fighting, we expect a big, climactic fight. Boss fights are cool. They are a great way to end an action-oriented game.” - Angry GM

“See, I don’t want to only have dragons as bosses. Or vampires. Whatever. I kind of want to be able to pull a bog-standard kobold out of the book, slap a few modifications on it, and call it Killer Kobby the Kobold Kween. And I wanted something versatile. I wanted to be able to pull off different tricks with my monsters. I want monsters that change forms and change tactics. I want monsters with heads you can sever. I want monsters with body parts you can target to limit its abilities. And I wanted a simple framework to contain it all.” - Angry GM

A Tale of Two Snakes

“Working on a new creature: the two-headed, two-tailed, bifurcated snake. It’s a snake with two heads, two tails, and two completely separate, independent bodies.” - Angry GM twitter

What is the difference between one monster and two monsters?

Two pools of hit points(double the monsters hit points), two turns in each round of combat, occupy two different positions and cannot be affected simultaneously except by certain effects.

What are the benefits?

Spillover damage is lost. In his example an Orc with 5 hit points that takes 12 damage, that excess is lost.

Keeping the hit points separate, creates a visual queue that the monster is weakening, as it loses its extra turn in around.

Challenges? Calculating the CR is a pain in the ass, luckily it’s the only real challenging part. See Angry GM’s blog for specific details.

There are two features Angry GM has created that put this concept into practice and form the basics of a Paragon Monster.

Paragon Hit Points. The creature has multiple pools of hit points, each of which is tracked separately. All damage and healing must be completely applied only to one pool of hit points. One pool of hit points must be completely reduced to zero hit points before any damage is applied to another pool. When a pool of hit points is reduced to zero, all ongoing conditions and effects affecting the creature end immediately. After a pool of hit points has been reduced to zero, it cannot receive any healing until after a long rest. If all pools of hit points have been reduced to zero hit points, the creature is killed.

Paragon Actions. The creature gains one complete turn in each combat round, including one reaction between each turn, for each pool of hit points it has above zero. When a pool of hit points has been reduced to zero, the creature loses one turn each round thereafter.

What is fantastic about this concept is it is great for monsters with multiple forms (Queue Dragonball Z joke). Likewise, maybe several smaller creatures join fuse (Queue another DBZ joke) into one ultimate boss.

Lastly, the coolest thing is that it’s a great way to include called shots, as the loss of hit points can cause a feature to cease functioning.

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Unearthed Tips and Tricks!

Character Concept:

A Knight’s Honor

Being of noble birth is something few can be proud of. Tracing lineage back to heroes of old. Nobility is an honored tradition, granting access to many luxuries that many commoners can’t imagine. The most notable is the honor of becoming a knight in the high court. Knighthood yields awe and respect from even nobility. Because of this, your character has spent childhood growing up to be a knight. Every minute not spent watching the knights joust or battle in the arena was spent learning the practice yourself. It wasn’t until you were of proper age that the truth hit you like a maul. You must be of noble birth to even be considered.

When you thought all was lost you came up with an idea that just may work. Forge your own documents, blackmail anywho can help make your position a reality and take up the mantle of a distant, and unknown noble. All in the name of becoming an honorable knight.

Monster Variant:

Butcher of Cruelty

Some creatures love combat and death. Some even revel in it. Few do it like the Butcher of Cruelty, who not only smiles with each swing of its cleavers but seems to be invigorated by it, to the point where even those around are also swept up in it’s madness, the Butcher even destroying villages by merely passing through, though partaking in the in the chaos it finds to be a delight, for to them what better feast is there?

Origin: Young White Dragon

Lost Features: Burrow, Fly, Swim, blindsight, ice walk, bite, cold breath

Claws become dual cleavers.

New Features:

Aura of Blood Lust. When any other creature starts its turn within 20 feet of the butcher, that creature must succeed on a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw, or it must immediately take the Attack Action, making one melee attack against a random creature within reach. If no creatures are within reach, it makes a ranged attack against a random creature within range, throwing its weapon if necessary.

Feed on the Crowd. Whenever a creature within 40 feet of the butcher dies, the butcher gains 5 temporary hit points and has advantage on all attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws until the end of its next turn.


While the characters are asleep (they may have a watch posted), late into the night a beaten, broken and bloodied, and dying courier (M, CN, scout) stumbles into camp. Collapsing to the ground, in his hand is a damaged envelope, with a wax seal. A successful DC 14 Intelligence (Arcana) check reveals the seal to belong to a nearby minor noble house. It warns of an assassination attempt of Cali El (F, NG, priest) in three days during her birthday celebration by an enemy noble house. The city where the noble house is two days travels away under normal conditions. If the characters decide to try and warn the noble of the assassination by a hired oni named Yezug, they must travel at a forced march (PHB) for at least 20 hours each day in order to make it in time, exhaustion setting on the characters.

When they arrive the characters must locate the assassin and stop them. This is extremely difficult because of the change shape ability it possesses. The characters may also attempt to locate and warn Cali El, this is difficult due to the massive amount of protection and guards she has, including Captain Elin (Yezug in disguise) who prevents anyone from getting near Cali.

Magic Item:


A blasting patch is a small mixture of explosive powder mixed with jagged crystals. A creature can spend 1 minute applying the blast patch carefully to the ground in a 5-foot square. The blastpatch becomes a dangerous trap that explodes when tread upon with 20 lbs or more. Blastpatch can be detected with a contested Wisdom (Survival) vs Wisdom (Perception).

Blastpatchs come in a multitude of varieties. Below are three of the most common.

  • Firepatch—Releases an intense explosion of flames. Each creature within 10-foot sphere must make a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw, taking 14 (4d6) fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

  • Icepatch—Releases blast of icy air. Each creature within 10-foot sphere must make a DC 14 Constitution saving throw, taking 7 (2d8) cold damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. Additionally, the area in a 10-foot square becomes slippery ice (DMG).

  • Shockpatch—Releases a burst of crackling lightning. The creature must make a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw, taking (2d6) lightning damage on a failed save. The creature's movement becomes 0 and it can’t take reactions until the start of its next turn. On a successful check the creature takes

Dungeon Master Tip:

Designing your Naval Ship and Crew:

Designing a ship, its crew, and their motives really add to the narrative in fun and exciting ways. Call from the Deep by JVC Parry had great formats for this that really gave each crew a great personality, as well as any individual NPC. Below is a sample from Call from the Deep.

The Breaking Dusk

Function Pirate

Crew 15 human bandits

Captain Renk Stormgale (NE male half-orc bandit captain wielding a scimitar of speed)

Weaponry 2 ballistae, 1 ram

Treasure 1d6 gp per crew

The Breaking Dusk is a notorious pirate ship that plies the waters south of the Nelanther Isles known as The Race. The ship flies the flag of the Black Armada, three red cutlasses on a field of black. Captain Ander Stormgale is a charismatic individual and would prefer his targets to give up their ship ‘willingly’ than take it from them by force. At a press, he’d accept a duel instead of a full out naval fight, which is likely to end badly for both boats. If the Breaking Dusk is forced into combat, it attempts to ram the opposing ship, before the crew use grappling hooks to tether the two vessels together and board. The ballistae are used primarily as harpoons fulfilling the same purpose as the grappling hooks, but prefer not to use them due to the damage they cause.

Player Tip: Don’t be a Dick

Martial Training: What illusion?

“We’ve all been there. You want to hit the Wizard with your powerful spell/stunning fist/two-handed axe of wizard decapitation, but then they go and cast a spell-like Mirror Image, which lets them basically ignore three attacks, or they drop Blur which makes them harder to hit as their body gets all soft and Song 2-y. These are potent spells that don’t require concentration, so even if you hit the wizard, they still have their defenses.

Unless you just don’t look. Seriously, all you have to do is close your eyes and suddenly nothing else matters. Mirror Image, Blur, and many other powerful defensive abilities, like a Medusa or Basilisk’s petrifying gaze rely entirely on your character being able to see it to believe (and be affected by) it.” -Bell of Lost Souls

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