Thursday, April 7, 2011

Solos: Purple Worm (Test Build)

My players read this blog, so you can be sure that they'll be expecting to see something sneaky soon ('cause purple's da sneakiest)

Incidentally, I didn't include the cleanser or Save vs End of Next Turn effects into the stat block, as those are a bit more ad-hoc fixes. I'd generally recommend using Save at Start of Turn (as normal-that's implied in all my builds). For the Purple Worm, Cleanser should probably be usable once per encounter at most.

The purple worm is a straight up damage dealer, and not truly suitable for an end-boss to an adventure, so it's best not to make the party feel like they have to throw a whole bunch of daily resources at it just to take it down. Proceed with caution.

Purple Worm (14th level)
Level 14 Solo Brute
Huge natural beast
XP 5,000
HP 560; Bloodied 280
AC 28; Fortitude 28; Reflex 26; Will 24
Speed 6, burrow 6
Immune gaze, illusion
Saving Throws +5; Action Points 2
Initiative +9
Perception +8
Blindsight 10, Tremorsense 20
Mouth and Stinger
A Purple Worm either uses Poison Stinger or Burrows its speed as a free action on an initiative count equal to its initiative +10. Whenever the Purple Worm uses this action, it gains an additional Immediate Action for the round.
Whenever a Purple Worm would be dazed, stunned, or dominated, it instead loses its next Mouth and Stinger turn count.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
If a Purple Worm begins its turn marked and underground, it is no longer marked.
Standard Actions
m Bite • At-Will
Attack: Reach 3; +19 vs. AC
Hit: 4d8 + 8 damage.
M Devour Whole • At-Will
Attack: +17 vs. Fortitude
Hit: 3d10 + 7 damage, and the target is swallowed (Escape DC 21). While swallowed, the target does not occupy a square and has neither line of sight nor line of effect to anything except the worm and other creatures swallowed by the worm; in addition, nothing has line of sight or line of effect to the target except other creatures swallowed by the worm. If the target attacks the worm using a close or an area attack, that attack targets all other creatures swallowed by the worm. While swallowed, the target takes 30 acid damage at the end of its turn.
M Poison Stinger • At-Will
Attack: Melee 3; +19 vs. AC
Hit: 2d8 + 0 damage, and ongoing 15 poison damage (Save ends); if the target is already suffering from ongoing poison damage, instead increase the ongoing damage by 10.
Minor Actions
Regurgitate • At-Will
Effect: One creature Swallowed by the Purple Worm appears in a square of the worm's choice within 4 squares of it. That creature is no longer swallowed and takes 3d10+8 damage.
M Fling • At-Will
Requirement: The Purple Worm must be bloodied.
Attack: +17 vs. Fortitude
Hit: 3d10 + 8 damage, and the Purple Worm slides the target 4 squares.
Triggered Actions
Thrash • At-Will
Attack (Immediate Reaction): Melee 3 (one creature); +17 vs. Reflex
Hit: 3d12 + 5 damage and the Purple Worm must push the creature five squares.
Str 17 (+10)
Dex 15 (+9)
Wis 13 (+8)
Con 25 (+14)
Int 1 (+2)
Cha 3 (+3)
Alignment unaligned     Languages
© 2010 Wizards of the Coast LLC, a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. All rights reserved. This formatted statistics block has been generated using the D&D Adventure Tools. Failure to post this line probably deals 2d6+8 Legal Damage, but that depends on your Resistance to ™ defense, now doesn’t it?

In all seriousness, let's dive right in. At first glance, the design probably looks a bit overwhelming. After all, not only does it have a fairly crippling standard action, it also gets a really nasty ongoing poison damage attack once per round. That combined with Regurgitating enemies already leads us to the desired 3 attacks equivalence per round. But then there's Thrash! If you've kept up with the Monster Vault, you know that Thrash normally targets up to two creatures, but seeing as how this Purple Worm can theoretically get Immediate Actions, it seemed appropriate to scale that back to one. But even ignoring thrash, when the creature's bloodied, you can expect to see it use fling as needed even if it hasn't managed to hit with Devour Whole!

So, what's the secret? The bottom line is that the Purple Worm is a melee-only build; this means even its bonus actions are useless if the party is sufficiently spread out. Obviously, when you have two or more melee classes, you can't really "do" the sufficiently spread out thing, but sometimes it pays to let the controller move the enemy so you can do hit and run tactics. In this case, however, forcing the Purple Worm to miss its Stinger attack means that you also give it the chance to burrow-meaning you're going to have a full round of doing absolutely nothing but defending or delaying. Or readying an action, but that's a dark dark road I'll explain later.

It's true that the Purple Worm being able to burrow gives it a certain level of immunity to all attacks-but it's important to remember that this isn't without cost to the Worm. Before being bloodied, the Purple Worm in this design doesn't have access to fling, and as thus can only use minor actions to regurgitate, but once the Purple Worm is bloodied, it'll want to use as many minor actions as possible. If the Worm has to retreat, that means that's also a move action it's going to need to spend-meaning a move action it won't be able to convert to a minor action. Playing the field and making sure that when the Purple Worm burrows rather than attacks it's on your terms, not the worm's, is the key.

Of course, the other fact is that the Purple Worm is still fairly easily to optimize against. Poison Sting is fairly harmless if you can somehow pre-negate the ongoing poison damage, and all attacks are melee attacks-leaving the Purple Worm particuarly vulnerable to slowing, immobilizing, and similar effects.

Overall, my redesign of the Purple Worm from Monster Vault really isn't that radical-the Worm has a bit more ability to respond to the changing circumstances around it, but overall can probably be considered to actually be a weaker design (due to the inability to simply use Fling or Poison Sting three or four times per encounter). If you're interested in using the Solo Rebuild rules, consider using the Pruple Worm to experiment, as it's deliberately designed to not be earth shattering, but to show the difference between Solo Monsters (Yes, even Monster Vault solo monsters) and 5E Now solos.

As for my crew, Level 14 is just the level of the Purple Worm as it appears in the Monster Vault-I can raise or lower it as needed.

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