• Justin Handlin

100 Interesting Dungeons & Dragons Boss Mechanics

Updated: May 1


100 Interesting Boss Mechanics!


As Dungeon Masters, we always do our best to attempt to have the most interesting of villains. Cool motivations, relatable morals, and so much more. But when it comes to the characters engaging the big bad enemy guy, that...that is where we want our villains to shine. We want to give the players an encounter they will never forget! This can be a challenging task sometimes, luckily, DNDSpeak has you covered! The DNDspeak site has an awesome list just for you! Find them here! Below are some of our favorites!


Ian’s Picks!

5. The boss is blind and takes damage when hit by natural light. Adventurers need to use the boss’s tremorsense/echolocation to lead it into beams of light.


Armor Ecdysis: The boss is wearing powerful heavy armor that takes damage instead of the boss, but makes the boss slow. As the armor is attacked, it breaks off and leaves the boss vulnerable, but the boss gets faster and more maneuverable as a consequence. For each stage of armor that is destroyed, the boss takes more damage, the boss’s heavy attacks get weaker/fewer, they become able to perform light attacks, movement speed +, initiative order +, etc.

Justin’s Picks!


The bosses are a dark mirror of an adventuring party from another plane. One of the main quest givers actually traveled from that plane to the adventurer’s plane and gathered them together because he knew they had great power potential - since he knew of their evil might. Make them twisted versions of the characters, and have the player’s aid come from good versions of baddies the characters fought on their home plane. For example - A gnome cleric was a warlock, the fighter was a death knight, the wizard was an enchanter, etc.


Every turn, the boss teleports as a bonus action. Every time the boss takes damage, it teleports to a random spot in the arena.


A strong fighter-type character with a greatsword emanates magic power. Turns out that he’s being possessed by the weapon. When disarmed he won’t know where he is or what is going on and surrender immediately. Just make sure that no one else picks up the sword.


Justin’s Picks!


The boss cannot be close to an object or another boss, or else it will rapidly restore health; keeping it away will make it easier to takedown.


The boss is a wall, slowly shrinking the room and pushing the party to a pit or wall of spikes


Shadow Tag: The boss can restrain/hold a person with advantage by simply standing on that creatures shadow. The boss has multiple spotlights they can move around the battlefield. Although the boss cannot hold people on a dark battlefield, the boss has keen darkvision.

33 Adaptivity.

  • Type A. The boss can only be damaged the first time by each attack, after that the boss becomes invulnerable to it until they have a long rest. The party must come up with new ways to damage the boss. (switch weapons, new spells, etc.)

  • Type B. The boss is protected by a shield/forcefield that reflects damage of the type last used to hit the boss.

Brandon’s Picks!

Blank...no surprise there….


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Character Concept:

Spirit Summoner

Charles Koontz

So I have been watching a lot of Fate Night animes. So new character concept


Summoner character that is a normal npc that made a pact with an ancient spirit of battle. They have no knowledge of how to use a blade so when a fight breaks out the ancient spirit fills them with energy and bolsters their body to justify the higher stats. The spirit also guides their blade and gives them knowledge of techniques to use.


Could also work really well for a wizard or sorcerer that the spirit channels the spells through the character. As the character levels up the ability to channel more power through their bonds lead to higher spell levels.


Monster Variant:

Warthorn Battlebriar

Origin Stat Block: Tyrannosaurus Rex

Battlebriars are deadly monstrous living plants purposefully grown to serve in military capacities. They can destroy massed formations of lesser troops, storm defended embankments, and bring down fortifications. Most take on forms similar to that of a large beasts of burden, making them essentially living siege engines. Since they don’t feed on light and nutrients from the ground, they make excellent eternal guardians.


New features:

Darkvision


Death Burst. The battlebriar explodes when it drops to 0 hit points. Each creature within 30 feet of it must succeed on a DC 17 Constitution saving throw or take 20 (6d6) poison damage and become infected with a disease on a failed save. Creatures immune to the poisoned condition are immune to this disease.

Thorny spores invade an infected creature's system, killing the creature in a number of hours equal to 1d12 + the creature's Constitution score, unless the disease is removed. In half that time, the creature becomes poisoned for the rest of the duration. After the creature dies, it sprouts 2d4 Tiny egg that grows and hatches into a young battlebriar in 2 ten days.

This battlebriar’s stats are half of the originals until it matures in 1 years time.


Thorny Body. At the start of its turn, the battlebriar deals (2d6) piercing damage to any creature that is grappled with it.


Spores (1/Day). A 15-foot-radius cloud of toxic spores extends out from the battlebriar. The spores spread around corners. Each creature in that area that isn't a plant must succeed on a DC 17 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned for 24 hours.


Encounter:

Altar of Judgement

Relief sculptures cover the walls and ceiling of this chamber. The alcove-lined passage from which you just emerged is obscured by a rolling cloud of mist surrounding an altar. Two approximately human-sized handprints are carved on the altar's top. On the altar's face glyphs spell out(choose a unique language among one of your players) a message. "Place thy hands upon me and seek Judgement. Only those who are worthy shall pass.”

Once a character places their hands on the handprints, their eyes glow white and they are incapacitated, in their mind they hear a telepathic riddle.


If the creature removes their hands from the prints, They must succeed a DC 25 Wisdom saving throw or have their memory is wiped by the modify memory spell. This effect removes any knowledge of the riddle.


Formless, I can move even gods to action.

Soundless, my fervor can inspire grand rhetoric.

Colorless, in my absence atrocities gather and fester.

Breathless, victims of those who ignore me echo to the sky.

Not all care to receive me, but those who do wield salvation.


Answer: Compassion

Magic Item:

Ghoststrike Oil

Potion, very rare

This vial of grey and yellow translucent murky oil can coat one melee weapon or up to 5 pieces of slashing or piercing ammunition. Applying the oil takes 1 minute. For 1 hour, the coated item is magical and you take the attack action against an undead creature, a wraith like after image of your weapon also strikes the creature, make another weapon attack as part of the action. If a creature hit with a weapon enchanted by this oil is possessed ends and the creature reappears in an unoccupied space within 5 feet of the body of the creature it possessed.


Dungeon Master Tip:

Game Master Stash - A hero Passes!

Sometimes, the kingdom must mourn the tragic loss of a national hero. In fantasy settings so many great heroes come and go. Sometimes they win the hearts of the people and when this happens we might see a national holiday for the mourning of the hero.

This might be a rival hero or important npc. The gap left in their death might be a chance for ambitious heroes to fill. There may be a backlash to their actions if they died in a controversial way.

Alternatively, it could be the mourning of a player character. In which case you might honor the player who has lost their long-term characters.

Finally, the question might arise, what happens if a hero comes back from the dead after such a celebration?


Player Tip: Don’t be a Dick

Reflect and Review

Like a birthday or New Year's Eve, leveling up is a great time to reflect on the adventures you've had since the last time this occasion rolled around. First, consider the moments you enjoyed most, especially when your character really shone. What could you choose now that would help those golden moments occur again? If your paladin extolled the virtues of sacrifice while taking a hit that was meant for an ally, keep an eye out for more reaction skills/features/spells that have the martyrdom theme-both at your new level and as replacements for older selections.


Next, think about missed opportunities, when you were frustrated by being unable to rise to a situation. Such occurrences are not once-in-a-lifetime events, so use your newly gained choices to better prepare you for the next time. Do you still gripe about when an ally's life hinged on your elf ranger's bow shot when, as you picked up the dice, you declared that missing was not an option and your roll let you down? That thought can help guide you toward the Elven Accuracy racial, lucky, or a few other features that let you re-roll or grant advantage opportunities.



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