Game or system best suited for epic boss fights

thuryl

Active member
Validated User
I hadn't considered D&D4e, I've only really done group vs group. I'd be worried that the fight could drag on, fights in 4e tend to be super lengthy. But I'd definitely keep it in my back pocket.

I've heard of Double Cross but I haven't played it. It seemed very married to its setting the last time I looked into it, how flexible is it?
I'd say the core setting element that's baked into the mechanics is that the player characters have powers that carry a risk of turning them into the same kinds of monsters they fight against, and they maintain their humanity through their connections to other human beings. If you're okay with that, everything else can be reflavoured.
 

Zaleramancer

Social Justice Warlock
Validated User
If you're interested in trying out a PbtA game, you might wanna look at Rhapsody of Blood. It's a game about playing what amounts to Castlevania or Dark Souls aesthetically, about generations of heroes fighting their way up a magic reappearing castle to punch dracula.

It has special moves and mechanics for significant, boss-like foes. I've run a single game in it that felt very satisfying. The most fun I've had in a combat centered tabletop game.
 

Colin Fredericks

Dorkasaurus Rex
Validated User
As several other folks have mentioned, D&D4 did a great job with this, especially with later Monster Manuals where they had the math down.

Exalted 3rd does a pretty good job if you're up against something with Legendary Size. You can't easily have a single Exalted antagonist for a circle of Exalts, but things like Nephwracks are statted up so as to be threats to multiple characters at once.

The Mistborn Adventure Game does pretty well. I ran more than one fight with a crew of characters against an Inquisitor, and it was a brutal and dynamic fight each time.

My own game, Super Console, did a fairly good job with boss fights, but it's designed to emulate Final Fantasy so if it didn't it really wouldn't be doing its job. I'm still tweaking the math and the battle maps on Virtual Machine, but in playtests it's done fairly well so far.
 

Zaleramancer

Social Justice Warlock
Validated User
How does one do a combat-centric PbtA game?
Well, Rhapsody of Blood has a few different "sets" of moves that are active at different times. For the purposes of this discussion, the relevant ones are the "Exploration Moves" and the "Confrontation Moves".


When the group is moving through the twisting confines of the castle, full of strange evershifting hallways and deadly magic, they are using the Exploration moves- these have a spread of different effects: There's a move for trying to navigate and understand the labyrinthine halls, for avoiding dangers and problems, for reading the situation, finding shelter, tapping the area for magical power and, of course, one for conflict.


The conflict move in Exploration is Stand Against the Horde, which emulates the action hero scene of having to fight a large number of individually weak or less effective enemies- a bunch of hollows in dark souls, or goblins, or vampire thralls. Large vampiric horseshoe crabs in our case, once. It resolves the fight fairly quickly, and usually is a nice chance for the players to show off cool stunts and smoothy deal with threats.


Now, the Confrontation Moves? Those are only for fighting the bosses. The entire game pivots into them when you face the Acolytes or Regent of the Castle.


These moves somewhat resemble some from the PbtA game Fellowship: The Boss has a number of qualities (Like 'Flying Leviathan' or 'Inferno Breath'), and if you can make a successful Strike move then you will destroy one of those qualities. Each quality supplies some more GM moves for the GM to draw on, some of which use soft/hard moves as part of the traditional telegraphing of these genre of games. In my game, the first Acolyte was a Sea Serpent, who had the quality:


Coils like Lead and A Serpent's Head

  • Crush the unwary with waves and coils (2 harm)
  • Coil up to strike.
  • Strike them down (4 harm)

This allows for an interestingly telegraphed conflict, and if done in certain ways even a multi-stage boss!


The moves themselves revolve around creating “openings” that allow you to make strike moves, by dodging, searching, or confronting the Acolyte. This creates a fluid environment in which different characters will act to line up openings for another to act, which result in changing how the boss acts and what it can do.
 

Theo Axner

Likes dressing up, yes
Validated User
Mythras has great mechanics for a cinematic, detailed fight; its 'Special Effects' subsystem - various special maneuvers you can trigger on a good enough attack or defense roll, meaning you don't have to choose them beforehand - making for much more varied and interesting fight scenes than most BRP variants. However, I've only tried it for combat between human/humanoid opponents and I'm not sure how it works for big monsters. (I don't see why it shouldn't work as well, just no personal experience.)
 

Gee4orce

Registered User
Validated User
The Mistborn Adventure Game does pretty well. I ran more than one fight with a crew of characters against an Inquisitor, and it was a brutal and dynamic fight each time.
Ooh - this is interesting, because Mistborn doesn't strike me as a mechanics or combat heavy game at all. What was it about that game that made these fights interesting and dynamic? Was it mechanics, or was it just that the players were invested in the story at the time?
 

Knaight

Registered User
Validated User
Mythender is built for exactly this, and while it's a little specific that might actually work in your favor here.
 
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