Pip Fizzlebang's Spicy Encounters | PREVIEW

by PipFizzlebang

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Tired of random encounter tables leaving you disappointed in their genericness? Have some veterans in your party, not challenged by prewritten hordes of mooks? Just want to feel like your monsters were actually worth the XP they gave?

Well this book is for you! These single encounters can be introduced as random encounters, side quests, boss fights, or even to fill rooms in your dungeon. Just pick a recipe, and get to cookin!

An Encounter Recipe?

Rather than limit these encounters to a particular to the level and number of characters in your party, these encounters focus on strategy the enemy uses and how to combine monster's abilities in interesting (and challenging) ways. When my recipe says "1 Ogre, 4 goblins", you should think of it as roughly a 1 to 4 ratio of Ogres to Goblins, but feel free to add more or less to fit your party's dietary needs!

On that note, Most of my encounters will even give guidelines on how to scale the encounter up for more players or higher levels, but I still can't possibly know what your party's real strength is. If you have them kitted to kill zombies, for example, and you throw them into my Zombie Zoo, take that into consideration when deciding how to scale them.


Spiciness describes the synergy between the creatures in an encounter. For example, a CR 1/4 and a CR 2 creature doesn't sound like a threat to a level 10 party member. But if that party member is low on health, and that CR1/4 can cast Sleep, then the CR2 Intellect Devourer can insta-kill it with one intelligence check. Because of that, Intellect Devourers are very spicy when combo'd with anything that can stun, sleep, or otherwise leave someone Incapacitated. Here's a breakdown of my system:

Spiciness Meaning
1-2 The abilities of these creatures do not synergize in any meaningful way. I won't waste my time writing any of these for this book.
3 These creatures have some light synergy in their abilities that makes for a unique tactical approach. Expect the party to think that their opponents were clever in how they used their skills, but not that it will make the encounter much harder.
4 Enough synergy that players will need to bring some tactics of their own if they want to all come out alive. Expect some downed players.
5 This encounter involves insta-kill abilities, AoEs, or combinations so effective that a TPK is more likely than if you used random creatures of equal CR. Bossfight Material.


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The Aria Spectre

The Aria Spectre

Spiciness: 5/5 (Boss Fight)

This performance is deadly; your players will need strategy to survive.

Feeds about 3-5 players, level 4-6

Scales for: Number of Players, Player Level


Stat blocks are on the next page or Monster Manual!

  • The Aria Spectre
  • X Stage Hands (One Per Player)
  • X Will-o-Wisps (One for every level over 4)

Scale the Save DCs: At level 6, add +1 to their Save DCs.


The Aira Spectre is a hauntingly beautiful spectre. In life, she was the center of the show, and in death-- she refuses to yield the stage. After all-- the show must go on!

Based on the Banshee and Shadow statblocks, these two custom creatures have been modified to more perfectly compliment each other, with the Aria acting as a soloist performing massive AoEs attacks and debuffs, while the stage-hands remain hidden and protect her. At higher levels, I've added Will-O-Wisps to add an additional threat to the players, forcing them to heal their downed players or risk losing them!

Cooking the Will-O-Wisps

Round 1+: The role of the Will-o-Wisps in this fight is partially asthetic (I loved the idea of floating lights on the stage), and partly for their Consume Life ability. Consider keeping them invisible until someone drops to 0 (which may be immediately due to Killing Aria). Then, consume life as a bonus action and use your action to return to invisibility.

Defensive Note: Be sure to end their turns away from visible creatures to avoid them getting hit by a fireball while invisible! If they take any damage, they're likely to lose concentration on their Invisibility (+0 Con Save) or just perish outright (they only have 22hp)

Cooking the Stage Hands

Round 1+: The Stage Hands have 3 jobs, keep Aria well-lit, remain in the shadows, and prevent people from stopping the show! Keep Cue Lights on Aria, try to use Fly Rigging to prevent melee people from getting close to her by hoisting them in the air, or finish off downed party members.

Reactions: Always try to end your turn next to party members to get the most use out of The Show Must Go On!

Don't forget! If you're not in bright light, use Preserve Immersion to stay Hidden. Otherwise, you must move to an area that isn't brightly lit. (After all, stage hands are not meant to be seen in the show!)

Cooking the Aria Spectre

Round 1: If she's in bright light, she can use her Killing Aria (which is her best ability). If your Stage Hands have used Cue Lights on her, or you can simply move to bright light, then do that. Otherwise, fly upwards and use your Tessitura to do a little damage. While it may be tempting to Coloratura, your Aria will damage all of them, so it would end the effect if used before that.

Round 2: If you've used your Killing Aria, use your Coloratura now to prevent the remaining party members from healing them (and giving your stagehands / will-o-wisps time to finish them off), using your bonus action for Arcane Crescendo. Otherwise, definitely use your Killing Aria now!

Round 3+: By now, it should be a cleanup job: Either the party has gotten lucky on their saves and avoided the worst of Killing Aria, or the party is in dire shapes. Either way, the strategy is the same: Keep your Coloratura active (it's concentration & recharges on 6), and throw in some extra damage through Tessitura when you have a free action.

When you reach 0HP for the first time: Your Cadenza activates, recharges all your abilities, and gives you an immediate action. If you're brightly lit, use Killing Aria. Otherwise, Coloratura might be enough to keep you alive until the start of your next turn.

Note on Cue Lights: Since your spotlight follows you, you can position yourself better before using Killing Aria to hit more party members, but be careful with your movement. You could accidentally reveal the location of the stage-hands by moving through them (and thus, brightly lighting them).

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Aria Spectre

Medium undead, chaotic evil

  • Armor Class 12
  • Hit Points 58 (13d8)
  • Speed 0 ft., fly 40 ft. (hover)

1 (-5) 14 (+2) 10 (+0) 12 (+1) 11 (+0) 17 (+3)

  • Saving Throws Wis +2, Cha +5
  • Skills Performance +7 (expertise)
  • Damage Resistances acid, fire, lightning, cold, psychic; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
  • Damage Immunities necrotic, poison
  • Condition Immunities charmed, exhaustion, frightened, grappled, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, prone, restrained
  • Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 10
  • Languages Common, 2 it knew from life
  • Challenge 4 (1,100 XP) Proficiency Bonus +2

Care Selve. Aria has resistance to Psychic Damage.

Incorporeal Movement. Aria can move through other creatures and objects as if they were difficult terrain. She takes 5 (1d10) force damage if she ends her turn inside an object.

Arcane Crescendo: While concentrating on a spell, the Aria may use a Bonus Action to continue singing the vocal components of that spell. Until the start of her next turn, creatures have Disadvantage on their saves against it.

Cadenza. When Aria would be reduced to 0hp for the first time, she is instead reduced to 1hp. Her abilities recharge, and she may immediately take an action.


Thunderous Tessitura. Aria projects a violent vocalization. Ranged Spell Attack: +4 to hit, 30ft range, one target. Hit: 12 (3d6 + 2) Thunder damage.

Coloratura. (Recharge 6) Aria may cast Hypnotic Pattern without a spell slot. When doing so, you sing until the start of your next turn, and the spell is centered upon you and does not effect Undead.

Killing Aria (1/day). Aria releases a powerful solo performance, provided that she is in bright light. This song has no effect on constructs and undead. All other creatures within 30 feet of her that can hear her must make a DC 13 Constitution saving throw. On a failure, a creature drops to 0 hit points. On a success, a creature takes 10 (3d6) psychic damage. Aria continues singing until the start of her next turn.

Stage Hand

Medium undead, chaotic evil

  • Armor Class 12
  • Hit Points 16 (3d8 + 3)
  • Speed 40 ft.

6 (-2) 14 (+2) 13 (+1) 6 (-2) 10 (+0) 8 (-1)

  • Skills Stealth +6 (expertise)
  • Damage Vulnerabilities radiant
  • Damage Resistances acid, cold, fire, lightning, thunder; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
  • Damage Immunities necrotic, poison
  • Condition Immunities exhaustion, frightened, grappled, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, prone, restrained
  • Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 10
  • Languages common, Thieve's Cant (theatre jargon)
  • Challenge 1/2 (100 XP) Proficiency Bonus +2

Preserve Immersion. While in dim light or darkness, the shadow can take the Hide action as a bonus action. If a creature is singing or performing, they have advantage on this check.

Stage Fright. While in bright light, the stage hand is Frightened. While The Stage is frightened, it must use its movement to head towards dim lighting or darkness, if possible.


Cue Lights. The Stage Hand targets a creature it can see within 60ft. While the Stage Hand maintains concentration, that creature's space is brightly lit by magic, and the surrounding 20ft radius around it becomes dimly light (even if it was brightly lit before).

Fly-Rigging. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 9 (2d6 + 2) piercing damage, and the creature is Restrained. While Restrained in this way, they are hoisted 10ft off the ground via rope, which can be severed (AC 10, HP 5).

"Good Luck!". The Stage Hand casts Bane against a creature by wishing it luck.


The Show Must Go On. When a creature adjacent to the Stage Hand would target a singing or performing creature with an attack or spell, the Stage Hand may use Fly Rigging against that creature.

The Tyrannosaurus Lich

Nilbog's Whack-A-Booyagh!

Spiciness: 5/5

Feeds about 3-5 players, level 5-8

Scales for: Number of Players, Player Level


  • Booyahg Wielder (VGM, Necklace of Fireballs, 1 bead, Possessed by Nilbog Spirit at start of battle)
  • Booyahg Booyahg Booyahg (mage armor already cast)
  • One Goblin per player.
    Scaling for Level: For each level over 5, convert one Goblin to a Booyagh Wielder (Wand of Wonder). At Level 8, use Goblin Boss stat block for each (with Wands of Wonder)


Usually, all you need to know about a monster (for combat) is in their stat block-- but the Nilbog is so sneaky and mischievous that one of it's most flavorful (and powerful) ability is actually on an entirely different page!

Nilbogism. A nilbog is an invisible spirit that possesses only goblins. Bereft of a host, the spirit has a flying speed of 30 feet and can't speak or be attacked. The only action it can take is to attempt to possess a goblin within 5 feet of it.

A goblin targeted by the spirit must succeed on a DC 15 Charisma saving throw or become possessed. While possessed by the spirit, the goblin's alignment becomes chaotic evil, its Charisma becomes 15 (unless it was already higher), and it gains the nilbog's Innate Spellcasting and Nilbogism traits, as well as its Reversal of Fortune reaction. If the save succeeds, the spirit can't possess that goblin for 24 hours. If its host is killed or the possession is ended by a spell such as hallow, magic circle, or protection from evil and good, the spirit searches for another goblin to possess. The spirit can leave its host at any time, but it won't do so willingly unless it knows there's another potential host nearby. A goblin stripped of its nilbog spirit reverts to its normal statistics and loses the traits it gained while possessed.

Things to know:

  • The Nilbog doesn't die, it keeps fighting until it runs out of goblins to possess.
  • It says that goblin gains those traits in addition to whatever it already had. Spellcaster goblin nilbog? Goblin boss Nilbog? If it's on a goblin stat block, the Nilbog can have it!
  • Volo's says that the position of Jester is coveted-- it makes sense that the goblins may choose to let it possess them! If that's the case, forgo the Charisma Save.

Map Setting

The battle takes place on a trail with two very steep hills or otherwise difficult terrain on the sides of it, which is where all the goblins but the necklace-wielder are hiding. When not hidden, this rubble can provide partial cover for them, giving them +2 to AC and Dex Saves.


The Goblins are hiding, ready to play a deadly "prank" on passerbys. When the party approaches, have the Nilbog (dressed as a Jester), dancing in the middle of the road, alone. It pretends to not notice the party at first, but of course it already has (it only reveals itself if it sees the party).

It jumps and kicks its heels, causing its hat laden with bells to jingle, and its necklace of red pearls to bounce and shine. and asks the party, "What would a wizard want when wet, whenever weary, or while a whacko?" While the party tries to answer him, he stealthily reaches for the necklace (Perception or Insight DC 16 to notice). On failure, the party member is rightfully surprised that the Nilbog Wielder throws the bead at his own feet, hitting the entire party!

Note on Surprise: The Nilbog is taking an aggressive action here (throwing the beads), it cannot be done outside of combat. Instead, the party members who both are not surprised and roll higher than him on initiative will have a chance to stop him, or flee. If they try to damage him, they'll need to pass the Charisma Save, and even then he can negate the damage as a reaction! Don't let 'em stop you!

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Cooking the Wielders

Round 1: The Nilbog wielder with the fireball necklace explodes it at his feet, hitting all the party members (ideally). He will not survive this. All other Wielders pop out of hiding, use the Wand of Wonder, and then Bonus action to hide again (make sure there's plenty of bushes/rubble on your map). Keep spread out-- these guys do not have much HP and one fireball or Sleep can do them in!
Round 2+: They continue the guerilla warfare, trying to remain as defensive as possible. The Wands of Wonder don't present a huge threat, since most the effects are non-damaging, but the party should take them down fast. The longer they last-- the more likely a second fireball is coming!

Cooking the Goblins

Round 1+: Any regular goblins on the field act as reinforcements. If a Wielder dies, have them bonus action disengage or dash, run over, and pick up the wand of wonder (free action). Tada, they're now a Wielder! If the Nilbog needs a body, they can provide that too! Otherwise, just stay in the shadows and use your shortbow to stay out of any potential AoEs that are happening. Make use of that 80ft range! Don't forget to bonus action Hide!

Cooking the Nilbog

Round 1: It will immediately be in spirit form due to the answer of the riddle being "FIREBALL." Go possess the Booyagh Booyagh Booyagh to give it some major defensive buffs.

Round 2+: If they manage to kill the Booyagh Booyagh Booyagh before killing the rest of the goblins, try to possess a regular goblin and then use your Confusion / Hideous Laughter to disable party members. If there are no regular goblins left, go for a Wielder. And if no one is left-- fight's over, flee!

When you would take damage: One per turn, you can negate ALL damage done in an attack or spell effect via Reversal of Fortune, and instead heal d6. That's super good!

When Attacked: The someone tries to damage you (via attack roll or saving throw ability), Nilbogism fires off and might cause them to entirely lose their turn.

Pro tip: Give the spirit it's own turn in the initiative, so when it "possesses" a goblin, it doesn't take up their whole turn too!

Cooking the
¡Booyahg! !Booyahg¡ ¡Booyahg!

Round 1: The Booyahg is far more powerful than the Nilbog's magic, so even while possessed, prioritize the Booyagh's spells. Since the party is likely still grouped up, Ice Storm or Fireball could be great openers. Don't use Cone of Cold just yet-- we're pretty far away from them so it might not hit everyone.

Round 2: You're possessed by now, which is great since that means both 1. The party will need to make a Charisma Save to even target you, and 2. If they succeed, you can still negate one source of damage and heal instead (from Nilbogism). That's major defense on a caster! If the party is still grouped up, hit them with the AoE's from turn 1 again (because they need to learn from their mistakes).

Otherwise, Magic Missile can be used to insta-kill a downed player (3 hits = 3 failed death saves) or to simply nuke a player who's low, or Fly+Disengage can be used to get you out of danger (great against paladins, barbarians, & hex-blades!)

Round 3+: Oh god, they haven't killed this guy yet? Position yourself well and Cone of Cold. Enjoy your party-cicles, then just keep blasting them with spells until you're out of them.

Every Turn

Wild Magic: Don't forget that, unlike Wild Magic Sorcerers, BOOYAHGs roll on the wild magic table every single time they cast a spell. That combined with the Wands of Wonder are going to make for absolute arcane chaos.

Nimble Escape: You can disengage as a bonus action, meaning you never have to take an attack of opportunity!


Reversal Of Fortune vs Counter Spell vs Shield: If the only person effected by the spell would be the Nilbog and it's a damaging spell, it may be better to use Reversal Of Fortune to negate the damage rather than burn a spell slot. If it's a big AoE that's gonna take out all your Gobbos-- Counter spell! Alternatively, if it's an attack-roll based spell (or weapon attack), it's actually best to use Shield that way you get that tasty +5 to AC for the rest of your turn.

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Spiciness: 5/5

Feeds about 3-5 players, level 5-7

Scales for: Number of Players, Player Level


  • Florabarian (stat block on next page!)
  • X Poison Vine Blights (One Per Player)
  • Use the Vine Blight stat block but add the following ability: Toxic Thorns. Any creature that grapples the Blight or otherwise comes into direct contact with the Blight's vines must succeed on a DC 12 Constitution saving throw or become poisoned for 1 minute. A poisoned creature no longer in direct contact with the Blight can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.

Scaling for Level: At level 7, add +1 to their Save DCs.


The Florabarian is named such because they are intoxicatingly beautiful, yet dangerous. They utilize their vicious vines to brutalize their enemy, poisoning them and twisting their minds until they can no longer discern friend from foe.

This fight is all about Poison & Charm. Each ingredient in it can either inflict poison (and help the Florabarian get her Intoxicating Charm off), or has other means of crowd control to prevent the party from simply ganging up on the florabarian until she's downed.

Things you should know for this fight:

  • Reactions can happen even on the turn of the person triggering the reaction (thus if the Florabarian poisons someone, she can use her reaction on her own turn).
  • Poisoned gives them disadvantage on Attack rolls and Ability Checks.
  • While charmed, they follow Florabarian's orders without hesitation or misinterpretation.

Cooking the Florabarian

Round 1. Start off by isolating Florabarian-- you don't want the party getting close to her. Spike Growth is a great option for keeping melee people distant.
Round 2: Fun note, spike growth damage applies for every 5ft a creature moves within there. So pick a target, Thorn Whip them to pull them within 10ft of you (and dragging them through the spiked growth), then use your Poison Ivy to maybe poison them. If that succeeds, Intoxicating charm them. Order all your new charmed friends to run... through the spiked growth!
Round 3+: Once you lose concentration on Spiked Growth, you've lost a large deal of your damage output. You can combo Ray of Enfeeblement with Instinctive Strike to get someone charmed in a turn, play defensively with Dispel Magic to shut down buffs & concentration spells, or even just focus someone down with Blight.
Reaction. Instinctive Strike is fantastic for quickly charming enemies who've been poisoned. Between that and being able to use Intoxicating Charm as an action, you could charm up to 2 party members a round!

Cooking the Poison Vine Blights

Round 1+: Their one job is to poison as many people as possible and keep them grappled. Note that the reach on their Constrict is 10ft, and it inflicts grapple + restrained. So you can grapple a melee person from 10ft away, and they won't be able to hit you on their turn until they've broken out of the grapple (which takes an action to escape anyways), though melee fighters are likely to be able to escape since it uses their athletics or acrobatics to escape. The good news is that since it uses a check and not a save, being Poisoned gives them disadvantage on it!

Round 2+ Once they have someone grappled (and poisoned), use your Entangling Plants to make the whole area difficult to navigate. You don't want your party members getting close! The Entangling Plants only affects creatures you choose for it to affect as well, so don't have it restrain your charmed friends!!

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Medium Plant, Neutral Evil

  • Armor Class 14 (bark armor)
  • Hit Points 88 (16d8 + 16)
  • Speed 30ft.

11 (+0) 15 (+2) 12 (+1) 12 (+1) 17 (+3) 16 (+3)

  • Saving Throws: Con +4, Wis +6
  • Damage Immunity. Poison
  • Condition Immunity. Poisoned
  • Skills Arcana +4, Insight +6, Nature +4, Religion +4
  • Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 13
  • Languages Common, Sylvan, Druidic
  • Challenge 5 (1,800 XP) Proficiency Bonus +3

Telepathic Bond. The Florabarian can communicate telepathically with a creature it has charmed. The two don't even need to be on the same plane of existence to do so.

Spellcasting. The Florabarian is an 8th-level Druidic spellcaster. Its spellcasting ability is Wisdom (spell save DC 14, +6 to hit with spell attacks), and has the following druid spells prepared:

  • Cantrips (at will): poison spray, thorn whip
  • 1st level (4 slots): entangle, ray of sickness
  • 2nd level (3 slots): Ray of enfeeblement, spike growth
  • 3rd level (3 slots): dispel magic, plant growth
  • 4th level (2 slots): blight, giant insect


Multiattack. Florabarian casts one cantrip and uses her Poison Ivy once.

Poison Ivy. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 10 ft., one creature. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) piercing damage plus 14 (4d6) poison damage, and the target must succeed on a DC 14 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned for 1 minute. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.

Intoxicating Charm. The Florabarian targets a Poisoned Creature within 30ft of it that it can see to activate the toxin's hallucinogenic properties. That creature must make a DC 14 Wisdom Saving Throw or become Charmed by Florabarian. The charm lasts until the creature is no longer poisoned. The charmed target obeys the Florabarian's verbal or telepathic commands.


Instinctive Strike: When a creature within 30 feet of the Florabarian becomes poisoned, she may use her reaction to use her Intoxicating Charm.

Dire Owlbear

Star Shinobi

Spiciness: 4/5

A lot of single target Damage, but not going to TPK.

Feeds about players 3-5, level 5-7

Scales for: Number of Players, Player Level


  • 2 Star Shinobi (Based on the Star Spawn Mangler, MToF)
  • X Star Spawn Grue (One Per Player, MToF)

Scale the Save DCs: At level 7, add +1 to their Save DCs.


Star Spawn are the demons of aberrations-- Chaotic, Evil, looking to destroy things. But unlike the animalistic, primal demons that use brute force or arcane might, the Star Spawn can be hyper intelligent.

As an example, the Star Spawn Mangler is very stealthy. Between having a +7 to stealth, darkvision, Ambush, AND Shadow Stealth, it already felt like a ninja, so adding the two abilities Time Warp and Substitution Jutsu make it feel way more interesting and "ninja like". Of course, the encounter has to be an ambush as well, so here's the pre-battle prep!
Before the Combat: The Star Shinobi are hiding in shadows (possibly on the walls or columns as they have a climb speed), while the Grue are behind total cover. As the party walks into their trap, they each roll Perception (DC 17) to notice the Shinobi, who are quickly beginning the fight. On a failure, that creature is surprised.

Things you need to know for this fight:

  • Any time the Shinobi has advantage on its claw attack, it deals 2d6 extra psychic damage. On a critical, this number would also be doubled (to 4d6).
  • If you're surprised, you can't move or take an action on your first turn of the combat, and you can't take a reaction until that turn ends. You may still take a bonus action.
  • Recharge X–Y: The notation “Recharge X–Y” means a monster can use a Special ability once, and that ability then has a random chance of recharging during each subsequent round of Combat. At the start of each of the monster’s turns, roll a d6. If the roll is one of the numbers in the Recharge notation, the monster regains the use of the Special ability.

Cooking the Star Spawn Grue

Round 1+: The role of the Grue is straightforward: hit people with Confounding Bite so the Shinobi deal way more damage. Easy peasy. Don't forget their Aura of Madness, so players have disadvantage on the save against the Confounding Bite. Be sure to end your turn near the party as well, to keep that Aura on them.

Simple, but Spicy! The Grue isn't the most complicated stat block ever-- it has 2 abilities, one of which is passive. However, everything they have combos very well with the Shinobi, both flavorfully (as they're both Star Spawn) and mechanically (as it gives the Shinobi a steadfast way to get advantage on attacks). This is a great example of how simplicity can still be interesting!

Cooking the Star Shinobi

As Initiative is Rolled: Time Swap to get a better spot in the initiative! Try to use this on someone within 20ft of a Grue so they have disadvantage on the save.
Round 1: You have advantage on all attacks against people who haven't had a turn, so use Flurry to get close to them (you won't provoke AoOs and can dash as a bonus action), then hit them with SIX Claw attacks from the Flurry. Since you have advantage, you deal the extra psychic damage for a total of about 90 damage Average, assuming no crits. This will likely down a player, maybe two in the first round.
Round 2+: Now that Ambush is offline, we have to get creative on how to get Advantage. Creatures confused by the Grue are easy targets for this, or you can use your bonus action Hide from Shadow Stealth to get advantage on 1 of those attacks. Don't forget to Recharge Flurry and use that again if you can!
Reactions: As a reaction to being the target of an attack roll, you can try to make someone else take that attack for you. If your health is pretty high, try to swap with a party member. There's a chance it fails and you get hit, but there's also a chance that the party hits themselves this way. If you're low on health, it may be better to switch to a Grue or someone who can tank the shot (since they get no save against this and it won't fail).

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Star Shinobi

Medium aberration, chaotic evil

  • Armor Class 14
  • Hit Points 71 (13d8 + 13)
  • Speed 40 ft., climb 40 ft.

8 (-1) 18 (+4) 12 (+1) 11 (+0) 12 (+1) 7 (-2)

  • Saving Throws Dex +7, Con +4
  • Skills Stealth +7
  • Damage Vulnerabilities damage_vulnerabilities
  • Damage Resistances cold
  • Damage Immunities psychic
  • Condition Immunities charmed, frightened, prone
  • Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 11
  • Languages Deep Speech Challenge 5 (1,800 XP) Proficiency Bonus +3

Ambush. On the first round of each combat, the Shinobi has advantage on attack rolls against a creature that hasn't taken a turn yet.

Shadow Stealth. While in dim light or darkness, the Shinobi can take the Hide action as a bonus action.

Timewarp. The Star Shinobi can bend space and time to gain an advantage. When initiative is rolled, it may target a creature. That creature must make a Dex save (DC 15), or that creature and the Star Shinobi trade Initiative Scores.


Multiattack. The Shinobi makes two claw attacks.

Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d8 + 4) slashing damage. If the attack roll has advantage, the target also takes 7 (2d6) psychic damage.

Flurry of Claws (Recharge 4–6). The Shinobi makes six claw attacks against one target. Either before or after these attacks, it can move up to its speed as a bonus action without provoking opportunity attacks.


Substitution Jutsu When the Shinobi would become the target of an attack roll, you may choose another creature that you can see within 30ft as a reaction. The target creature swaps places with the Shinobi, and becomes the target of the attack. If the creature is unwilling, it may prevent this effect with a DC 15 Wisdom Save.

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Special Leigh, The Wizard

Spiciness: 5/5

Some creatures can hold their own against the action economy... Especially the Wizard.

Feeds about 3-5 players, level 8-10

Scales for: Number of Players, Player Level


  • Special Leigh, The Wizard (Next Page!)

Scale the Save DCs: For every level over 8, add 15hp to Special Leigh. At level 10, add +1 to their Save DCs.


When writing Special Leigh, the Wizard, there were some no-brainers in the design, such as giving them Fireball, but what makes Special Leigh Special? They went to all the schools. Leigh is an abjurer, conjurer, diviner, enchanter, evoker, illusionist, transmuter, and necromancer!

The problem usually faced by single-creature boss fights is that the action economy is stacked so far against them that the creature either has to nuke them down immediately to have a chance or has to abuse bounded accuracy to survive more than a round or two (and it's not fun for the players to constantly be missing).

To fix that, we're doing a couple things:

  • Scaling the number of Legendary Actions they have to party size-1
  • Scaling the number of Legendary Resistance they have to half the party's size.
  • Buffing the shit out of them pre-battle.


  • Special Leigh has stoneskin, mind blank, & Mage armor already cast. They regained these spell slots through Arcane Recovery or some other bullshit though (power pearl? Used Scrolls?)
  • Special Leigh begins the fight with their Abjurer Shield shield active at 30HP, the Illusion from Illusionist active, & the Transmuter's Stone giving them +10 to their movement speed.
  • Leigh begins the fight as an Enchanter.

When to Choose what School? Rather than choosing what spell you want and simply picking the school that goes with it, I'd prioritize picking what benefit you want and then choosing what spell you want after. Remember that you still have to recharge each of these abilities through casting a spell of the same school while that school's effect is active on you.

Note: Abjurer is particularly good because you can switch to it as a legendary action, and then heal your Arcane Ward as a reaction through casting Shield.

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Cooking the Wizard

Before your first Turn: Your Instinctive charm is active, so if someone targets you with a ranged attack or they target you with a melee attack and have an ally next to them, use it!

Round 1 (Active buffs: Displacement, Arcane Ward, Instinctive Charm, Transmuter's Stone, Stoneskin): At the start of the fight, you have all your defensive buffs active, and we want to keep it that way! Getting hit will remove your Displacement, reduce your Arcane Ward, and force a concentration check on Stoneskin, so play some cat-and-mouse with your 40ft movespeed. Don't worry about attacks of opportunity, we can cast Shield if necessary (and it will last until the start of your next turn, giving you a full round of its benefits). We can't use a Concentration spell yet without losing Stoneskin, so use fireball or cone of cold to hit as many of them as possible.

Round 2: It's time to trigger a trap! I'd wager there's at least 1 melee person next to you now (who probably had to Dash to catch you), so use Wall Of Force to exclude everyone else from the fight, and cantrip that person down with legendary actions. Note that Wall of Force is concentration, so you lose Stoneskin if it was still active (though I doubt it is).

Round 3: Switch to Necromancer if you've lost 15+ hp, or Diviner if you haven't. If someone is in the wall of force with you, hit them with Finger of Death to kill them, and then heal for 21hp if that person dies & you chose Necromancer; if you chose Diviner, you can make them re-roll their save if they pass (and you should!). If no one is in the wall with you, switch to Enchanter and target the party's spellcaster with a Power Word Kill. That likely kills them outright, and recharges your Instinctive Charm. Since only spells can get through Wall of force, if that was their only spellcaster... you're effectively invincible at this point.

Round 4: With 2 people down, we can gain a lot by removing a third from combat. If your Diviner is ready to use, switch to that before using Mental Prison on one of the survivors. That drops Wall of Force, but also prevents that person from doing something to pick up a downed party member by turning this effectively into a duel between whoever is left and Special Leigh. If you'd rather not lose Wall of force, hit the remaining party members with Synaptic Static instead to potentially down more of them but also to debuff them.

Round 5+: At this point, if things have gone as written above, it's going to be a TPK. While we're not aiming to TPK as a DM, this encounter will absolutely require your players to be smart to avoid it!

Legendary Actions: Notice that my tactical breakdown doesn't say "Turn X", but rather Round X. If you can do the suggested strategies as a legendary action, do it!

Reactions: You have both Counterspell and Shield. If someone is casting a spell at you that uses attack rolls (or magic miss), it's actually better to use Shield. It costs a lot less (level 1 spell vs 3) and provides better benefit

Special Leigh, The Wizard

Medium humanoid (any race), any alignment

  • Armor Class 12 (15 with mage armor)
  • Hit Points 99 (18d8 + 18) + 30THP (arcane ward)
  • Speed 30 ft. (40ft with Transmuter's Stone)

10 (+0) 14 (+2) 12 (+1) 20 (+5) 15 (+2) 16 (+3)

  • Saving Throws Int +9, Wis +6
  • Skills Arcana +13, History +13
  • Damage Resistances damage from spells; nonmagical bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing (from stoneskin)
  • Senses passive Perception 12
  • Languages any six languages
  • Challenge 12 (8,400 XP) Proficiency Bonus +4

Legendary Resistance (X). When Special Leigh fails a save, they may choose to succeed instead. They may do this a number of times equal to half your party's size.

Magic Resistance. Special Leigh has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Scholastic Expertise. At the beginning of each of Special Leigh's turns, you may choose a school of expertise on the Scholastic table (next page). You gain the benefits of that school until you select another. If a benefit has a lingering effect, such as the Arcane Ward's shield, it remains after switching.

Spellcasting. Special Leigh is an 18th-level spellcaster. Its spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 17, +9 to hit with spell attacks). Special Leigh has the following wizard spells prepared: (See Descriptive Block on right).

Legendary Actions

Special Leigh can take X legendary actions (where X is the number of party members -1), choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature's turn. Special Leigh regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.

Cantrip. Special Leigh casts one of its cantrips.

Switch Schools. Special Leigh can trigger their Scholastic Expertise, causing them to switch schools.

Cast Spell (Costs 2). Special Leigh casts a spell of level 1 through 4.

Special Leigh Spell List
  • Cantrips (at will): fire bolt, light, mage hand, prestidigitation, shocking grasp
  • 1st level (4 slots): Chromatic Orb, Shield, mage armor*, magic missile
  • 2nd level (3 slots): Mind Spike, mirror image, misty step
  • 3rd level (3 slots): counterspell, fireball, Slow
  • 4th level (3 slots): banishment, fire shield, stoneskin*
  • 5th level (3 slots): cone of cold, Synaptic Static, wall of force
  • 6th level (1 slot): Mental Prison
  • 7th level (1 slot): Finger of Death
  • 8th level (1 slot): mind blank*
  • 9th level (1 slot): Power Word Kill

Special Leigh casts spells marked with a * before combat.

Spicier Variant

Rather than at the start of each turn & as a legendary action, you can choose to instead run Special Leigh as being able to switch their school any time they cast a spell, up to twice per round. This makes them a bit easier to run (since you don't have to set yourself up for your next spell ahead of time), but it also makes it a lot more challenging for your players since you basically now have the benefit of essentially whatever school of expertise you need at any given time.

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Scholastic Expertise Table
School Spells To Pair With Effect
Abjurer Shield, counterspell Arcane Ward. The abjurer has a magical ward that has 30 hit points. Whenever the abjurer takes damage, the ward takes the damage instead. If the ward is reduced to 0 hit points, the abjurer takes any remaining damage. When the abjurer casts an abjuration spell of 1st level or higher, the ward regains a number of hit points equal to twice the level of the spell.
Conjurer Misty Step Benign Transportation (Recharges after the Conjurer Casts a Conjuration Spell of 1st Level or Higher). As a bonus action, the conjurer teleports up to 30 feet to an unoccupied space that it can see. If it instead chooses a space within range that is occupied by a willing Small or Medium creature, they both teleport, swapping places.
Diviner Mind Spike Portent (Recharges after the Diviner Casts a Divination Spell of 1st Level or Higher). When the diviner or a creature it can see makes an attack roll, a saving throw, or an ability check, the diviner can roll a d20 and choose to use this roll in place of the attack roll, saving throw, or ability check.
Enchanter Synaptic Static, Power Word Kill Instinctive Charm (Recharges after the Enchanter Casts an Enchantment Spell of 1st level or Higher). The enchanter tries to magically divert an attack made against it, provided that the attacker is within 30 feet of it and visible to it. The enchanter must decide to do so before the attack hits or misses. The attacker must make a DC 17 Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, the attacker targets the creature closest to it, other than the enchanter or itself. If multiple creatures are closest, the attacker chooses which one to target.
Evoker Fireball (it's the only evoc spell you have that can hit you) Sculpt Spells. When the evoker casts an evocation spell that forces other creatures it can see to make a saving throw, it can choose a number of them equal to 1 + the spell's level. These creatures automatically succeed on their saving throws against the spell. If a successful save means a chosen creature would take half damage from the spell, it instead takes no damage from it.
Illusionist Mirror Image Displacement (Recharges after the Illusionist Casts an Illusion Spell of 1st Level or Higher). As a bonus action, the illusionist projects an illusion that makes the illusionist appear to be standing in a place a few inches from its actual location, causing any creature to have disadvantage on attack rolls against the illusionist. The effect ends if the illusionist takes damage, it is incapacitated, or its speed becomes 0.
Necromancer Finger of Death Grim Harvest (1/Turn). When a necromancer drops a creature to 0hp that is neither a construct nor undead with a spell of 1st level or higher, the necromancer regains hit points equal to twice the spell's level, or three times if it is a necromancy spell.
Transmuter Slow Transmuter's Stone. The transmuter carries a magic stone it crafted that grants its bearer one of the following effects: Darkvision out to a range of 60 feet OR An extra 10 feet of speed while the bearer is unencumbered OR Proficiency with Constitution saving throws OR Resistance to acid, cold, fire, lightning, or thunder damage (transmuter's choice whenever the transmuter chooses this benefit). If the transmuter has the stone and casts a transmutation spell of 1st level or higher, it can change the effect of the stone.
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A Truly Vicious Mockery (Fiends!)

Spiciness: 4/5

Your party will need to work together to avoid a death or two.

Feeds about 4 players, level 5

... but can scale for different sizes and up to level 9!


  • Barlgura (2 if feeding a party of level 7-9)

  • If you don't like the taste of Barlgura, consider substituting a Tanarukk or other heavily martial, high damage fiend, but give them innate casting of invisibility 1/day and Entangle 1/day for the below strategy!

  • 4ish Cacklers (one per party member)

  • If you don't have Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica or just want to lower the spice a little, don't worry about it! Just use 4 imps, give them each innate spellcasting of : 1/day Tasha's Hideous Laughter & at-will vicious mockery, with a spell-save DC of 12 (or higher to suit your group).

  • Don't forget to scale their Save DCs-- start with 12 at level 5s and add one for every 2 levels above that! This keeps their strategy effective.


The Cacklers are known for laughing endlessly-- the joke this time is that their leader is a huge fucking stealth monkey. They're just waiting for a telepathic signal, distracting the party with their antics. They can perfectly mimic the voices of people too, so they might mock us using our own voices!

The Barlgura (with his climb speed) is in the rafters, invisible-- because yeah, apparently they can do that! When the party is in position, the Barlgura drops from rafters, everyone makes a perception check to notice the sound of a giant ape-demon dropping. It does a stealth check (with advantage, as the Cacklers are aiding him by distracting you-- an insight check could reveal this prior to the stealth roll). Everyone who rolls lower than his stealth is surprised for the first round (they can't take any kind of action until their turn has been skipped once).

Cooking the Balgura

  • Round 1: Since people will be surprised, the party won't get a lot of attacks off, and using his Reckless to get advantage on all his attacks will be super efficient (note that whoever does attack him will get advantage too, but oh well)

  • Alternatively: If the party is heavily melee or abuses the Mobile feat, you can use the Barlgura's Entangle spell to keep them from running around and killing all your Cacklers!

  • Round 2+ : Hulk Smashes whoever is currently Prone (see Cacklers Strategy). Since he's attacking a prone person, he'd get advantage, so don't use his Reckless ability.

Cooking the Cacklers

  • Round 1: Targeting in order of who has the worst Wis saves, use Tasha's Hideous Laughter to make them drop Prone and be Incapicitated. This means not only will they be removed from combat, all attacks against them will have advantage, until they pass their save.

  • Round 2+: If using cacklers, they stay spread out and whip the party with their Spiked Chains (10ft range). This is important because when one dies, they have their Last Laugh ability which is a 10ft AOE of psychic Damage.

  • If using Imps, have them grapple prone people to prevent them from standing up, and then have them turn invisible so that party members have disadvantage on attacks against them. Since maintaining a grapple takes no action, it doesn't break their invisibility!

REACTION: On death, cacklers explode dealing extra psychic damage to those in 10 ft!

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The Hag's Ménage À Trois

Spiciness: 5/5

Boss fight material. TPKs possible!

Feeds about 4-5 players, level 11-13

But has instructions for scaling up!


  • Annis Hag
  • 2 Dusk Hags (with brooms of flying)
    • If your party has fewer spellcasters / ranged attacks, consider only giving one broom or none! (also give them out as loot)

Scaling Up: If your party has more than 5 players, consider giving them 3 Legendary Action points shared among them-- for 2 points, a hag can cast a cantrip, for 1 point, they can move without provoking attacks of opportunity. Also consider giving them shared Legendary Resistance-- they can (as a unit), automatically succeed on X number of failed saving throws-- usually about 1-3.


The hags have formed a coven unlike most-- blending their talents from 2 different kinds of hags. The Annis hag is a brute, capable of crushing her foes in her arms! Meanwhile, the dusk hags rain spells down on the party from their brooms, focusing on disabling the party and preventing them from returning to the fight (because fuck yo-yo healing!).

As well, The hags have performed a dark ritual-- their health is combined into a single pool of health, making it impossible to just focus down one of them! (this dark ritual was a level 6 spell and can be Dispelled appropriately, immunities resistances and vulnerabilities are shared amongst them; if an AOE would hit more than one of them, then you aren't playing your witches on flying brooms right).

Cooking the Annis Hag

  • Round 1+ (or any round not-grappling someone): Despite their spellcasting, Annis Hags make excellent brutes. Find the party member with low AC and use your Crushing Hug to deal 9d6+5 damage, plus the same amount at the start of each of your turns.

  • Round 2+ (when grappling someone): Unfortunately, the ability says "The hag can't make attacks while grappling a creature in this way." It doesn't, however, say anything about spellcasting! Bestow Curse (Strength or Dex) on the character you're grappling to ensure they'll never get out of your claws. Then on subsequent turns, use your action to cast spells that don't require an attack, such as Hold Person, Blight, or Phantasmal killer.

  • REACTIONS: Since you can't make attacks of opportunity while using your death-grapple anyways, this hag becomes a great counter speller or can tank with Shield. This hag will be the only one in melee range for the fight, so it will need the beef!

Cooking the Dusk Hags

  • Round 1 : Open up with high damage SINGLE TARGET spells-- Blight is a great example. Why single target? 1. Because we don't want to encourage our players to spread out before our sleep spells can go off. 2. because we want some of them to have very, very low HP quickly.

  • Round 2+ (No one's sleeping): Cast sleep! When the Dusk Hag casts sleep, it rolls 9d8, which is more than enough to knock out 1 or 2 party members that have taken some damage. Since the Annis hag should have dumped out 18d6+10 damage by now on a single target, that's an easy sleeper!

  • Round 3+ (Look who's sleeping...): Nightmare Touch the sleeping creature up to twice, dealing 11d6+4 psychic damage (if both hit and they wake up after the first hit). Note that since they're waking up, both dusk hags can burn their reaction to deal another 2d10 psychic each, AND healing the hags.

  • REACTIONS: Every time someone is no longer unconscious (if they wake up from your sleep spell, or if someone heals them back from 0hp!) you can use their Dream Eater ability to deal 2d10 Psychic Damage (possibly knocking them unconscious again), and healing your hags for the same amount.

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Oh My Gob-lins!

Spiciness: 3/5

Feeds about 3-5 players, level 2-4

Scales for: Number of Players


  • Peeper the Goblin Boss (shout out to @DnDGoblin on twitter!)
  • Booyagh Caster (use Goblin stat block with the feature below added)
  • Spellcasting (Recharge 5-6). The goblin can cast a randomly determined 1st-level wizard spell. Intelligence is its spellcasting ability (spell save DC 10, +2 to hit with spell attacks). Roll on the table below, then roll on the Wild Magic table (from the sorceror subclass)
D4 Spell to cast
1 Color Spray
2 Burning Hands
3 Magic Missile
4 Chromatic Orb
  • One additional Goblin until the total number of goblins equals the number of players + their class level (so a party of 3 level 2s would have 5 goblins total, including Peeper & the Booyagh).


Peeper the Goblin was called that for being a famously good scout, and a good shot with his bow when needed. His ability to avoid danger and get the jump on adventurers has gained him a small following of Goblins who rely on him for food-- and so they'll defend him til death.

The Ambush: Peeper is an expert in Survival, and has used that to find the perfect spot to ambush some traveling adventurers. His crew is up in the trees, waiting for unexpecting caravans. The branches and leaves give them half cover (+2 to AC and Dex Saves). They've rolled a 16 for stealth (using Peeper's Modifiers), so first have the party roll a perception against that. Whoever fails it is Surprised as the Goblins begin their attack!

Cooking the Peeper

  • Round 1+: Peeper's whole stick is to protect his friends while taking shots at the party on his turn. Use his bonus action disengage to keep away from party members that get to close, or if you're in a spot to hide, use that! Stay in the Tree tops as long as possible!

Reactions: When the Booyagh Caster is targeted by an attack, use Peeper's Look Out! ability to keep him alive longer! Or, if it's about to be Peeper's turn again and you haven't used it yet, just use it on whatever you can before your reaction resets.

Cooking the Booyagh

Round 1+: Booyaghs (goblin casters) know they have very little control over their magic. Roll the D4, see what you get, then move where you need to go and cast the spell. Don't damage your own goblins! You need them! Then, roll on the Wild Magic Table and see what secondary effects are available. Their spells recharge on a 5-6, so keep them around long enough to actually do that (hide if you have to!) 2 spells will require you to get closer though (burning hands and Color Spray) so get ready to protect your Booyagh!

Cooking the Goblins

Round 1+: The Goblins jump down and begin attacking with their Scimitars. They're smart though, focusing down casters while the party is still surprised. They aren't looking to die here though, and will disengage / flee up a tree if they get too low (trees are about 10ft tall here). From there, they use their javelin attacks, which are far less effective when thrown by lil gobby boi noodle arms.

Peeper the Goblin Boss

Small humanoid (goblinoid), neutral

  • Armor Class 15 (Chain shirt)
  • Hit Points 36 (6d6)
  • Speed 30 ft.

10 (+0) 14 (+2) 10 (+0) 10 (+0) 8 (-1) 10 (+0)

  • Skills Stealth +6, Survival +8 (expertise)
  • Condition Immunities Frightened
  • Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 9
  • Languages Common, Goblin
  • Challenge 1 (200 XP)

Nimble Escape. Peeper can take the Disengage or Hide action as a bonus action on each of its turns. Actions


Shortbow. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, Range 80/320, one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) slashing damage.


Look Out! Peeper can spot an attack and warn his friends. As a reaction to an ally you can see being the target of an attack, you may impose disadvantage on that roll.

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The Abyssal Brewer

Spiciness: 4/5

While none of the creatures have particularly high damage, they have a lot of AoEs and Crowd Control-- it's possible the party might not get that many actions!

Feeds about 4 players, level 8-11

Scales for: Player Level, Party Size


  • One Glabrezu
  • The Abyssal Brewer
  • This is a Quasit with the following ability added:
    Volatile Brew: As a bonus action on your turn, you may quickly throw together a mix of ingredients. Roll a D6 on the Potion Table, and that is the potion you create. As an action, this potion can be drunk, administered to an ally, or thrown up to 10ft. Due to the unstable nature of the potion, it loses its potency at the beginning of your next turn. Roll 2d6 for any damage or healing done. Save DC = 15.
  • X Dretches, one per Party Member!

Scale the Spell Save DC: At Party level 10, add +1 to the Save DCs of the Demons, and consider using the Variants provided based on the strength of your party.


What do you get when you have a brew-happy Quasit pumping experimental potions into a very large crab-demon spellcaster with his pet stink dogs? A fight that your players will remember!

Things you should know for this fight:

  • Every demon in it is immune to poison & being poisoned.
  • The Glabrezu is 10ft tall with a 40ft speed.
  • The Abyssal Brewer is riding the Glabrezu as a mount. The party will want to attack this guy, but since the Glabrezu (your mount) is 10ft, melee attacks actually can't reach the Brewer without at least 11.18 of reach (yay pythagorean theorem!) Also, since it's a tiny creature on top of a Large creature, I'd give it half cover (+5 to AC and Dex Saves!)

Cooking the Abyssal Brewer

Round 1+: This happy little agent of Chaos wants to do 3 things: brew, brew, and brew. If the potion you brew isn't useful (for example, getting a Healing Potion when everyone is already full this turn), you can Ready your action to administer it as soon as an ally takes damage. If the potion is the exploding kind (or simply one you throw), you can also Ready your action to throw it at an enemy after the Glabrezu moves and they come into range. Just tell the players they readied an action, but not what action or what the trigger is-- This will make them a bit nervous (since they won't know what the potion does yet!)

Potion Table
d6 Save result
1 Dex (half on success) Explodes at the end of your turn, dealing fire damage to creatures within 15ft of where its thrown.
2 Dex (Half on success) Corrosive, dealing Acid damage when thrown at a creature.
3 N\A Heals a creature when drank or administered
4 Con (half on success and no poison condition) Noxious Gas that deals poison damage within 5ft of where its thrown. The creature is considered Poisoned until the start of your next turn.
5 N\A Potion of Haste
6 Choose any of the above.

Potion Checks: if your players want to try to figure out what the potion it made does, make them pass a DC 15 Arcana check to do so, with disadvantage if they're not up close to it!

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Cooking the Glabrezu

Round 1+: The Glabrezu's main goal is to shepherd people into a 10ft cube, and then hit them with spells. Use your 2 Pincer attacks to grapple 2 different people, and use your (now halved) movement speed of 20ft to move them to an ally of theirs. You can then either cast a spell (see notes below) or to make 2 fist attacks (but honestly the spells are so much better, so deplete those first!)
Notes on Spells:

  • Confusion is a 10ft AoE, making it excellent for hitting both the people you have grappled and maybe 1 other Party Member. Since you now have 3 confused party members right next to each other and only 1 demon, there's a good chance they'll attack each other!
  • Power Word Stun is brutal against spellcasters, since they won't be proficient in Constitution Saves (probably) and it just automatically works against anyone with less than 150 health (which, at this level, should be everyone unless someone minmaxed for it).
  • If a player casts an AoE with a duration of more than instant (like Sickening Radiance), that will screw over your "everyone group up" strategy so feel free to hit Dispel Magic on that.

Glabrezu Spell Variant: For more spice, switch up the spell list a little.

  • Fly is unlikely to be helpful, so swap it out for another 3rd level spell: Counterspell for defense, or Stinking Cloud to fit the theme of this encounter, though it may be confusing to run both Fetid Clouds and Stinking Clouds with two separate save DCs and effects.
  • Detect Magic doesn't actually help you at all. Consider swapping it to the Poison Spray cantrip for extra damage (since your players will be grouped up, it should be an effective tiny AoE), or bump it to a (1/day) ability and picking up a level 1 spell like Shield for some defense.

Cooking the Dretches

Round 1: Each Dretch has a Fetid Cloud ability which should be their priority. Use it on anyone who you've Grappled (and thus can't leave the stink-cloud) or Stunned with Power Word (and thus, can't leave it!) Treat them like guided stink-missles! Don't worry if the Glabrezu or Brewer is in that radius, because they're immune to poison anyways.

Note that the poison is best used against Rogues, Monks, two weapon fighters, and spellcasters that make good use of their Bonus Action (and thus will hate losing it). While poisoned, they can't take Reactions either, so don't worry about attacks of opportunity, Hellish Rebuke, or the Shield spell!

Round 2+ (No more Fetid Cloud): While tempting to Action to grapple and then drag them back into your poison, your clouds don't actually deal damage... so it's not super effective to do so. Also, your to-hit is pretty low, so find someone you have advantage on, or someone who has really bad AC and get your 2 attacks off with it. If none of those are possible, consider using one of the Dretch's actions to Aid Other on the Glabrezu, making his Pincers more likely to hit (and to crit).

Note on Fetid Cloud: The 10ft cloud stays around for 1 min with no concentration (awesome!) so don't just bomb the same spot over and over with this ability-- spread out and make sure there's lots of places for your Glabrezu to dunk them into! Alternatively, you could rule that 2 overlapping Fetid Clouds heavily obscure the area (treat creatures in that area or aiming into that area as Blind) and gives disadvantage on saves against the Fetid Cloud effect.

Dretch Mild Variant: If you want to make this encounter a little spicier, add the following italicized text to the Dretch's bite attack, and have them go for grappled players. Since their movement speed is 0, they won't be able to stand up! Free Advantage on attacks thereafter!

If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 13 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.

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Knight of Degradation

Spiciness: 4/5

While none of the creatures do a lot of damage and all abilities are single target (making a TPK rare), they can certainly kill an party member with their Wisdom Draining ability!

Feeds 3-5 players, level 6-8

Scales for: Number of Players, Player Level


  • Knight of Degradation (Stat block below!)
  • X Shadows of the Self (where X is the number of Party Members)

Scale the Save DC: At level 8, add +1 to their Save DCs.


Knights of Degradation believe that killing a man is not enough. You must break them before yourself, destroy their legacy, and bind their souls to your service forever as Shadows of the Self. Who they were before does not matter-- Now, they only exist as shadows...

Variant Prep: The Variant Knight begins with Find Steed cast already, giving them a mount.

Cooking the Knight Of Degradation

Round 1+: Your multiattack allows for up to 3 "melee" attacks, but it doesn't specify what kind. That opens you up to melee special attacks too. So find the lower Str party members and try to use your Shield Bash to knock them prone. If they're passing the DC 15 Str Save a bit too easily, use a Shove attack with your +10 Athletics score (but be warned, if you do this they can choose the better of their stats between Str (Athletics) or Dex (Acrobatics). When you knock someone prone (or crit), you can Degrade them as a bonus action.

So long as they're frightened from this ability, your Shadows of the Self will be able to get their Drain Willpower off more easily, as they'll have disadvantage on the save! Plus, since their movement speed is 0, they can't stand up.

Round 1+ (Variant only) Thunderous Smite is fantastic for knocking people prone. Thunderous smite on your Shield Bash? That's 2 saves or go prone, which still triggers your Degrading Blow! For parties with high AC, Magic Weapon might help you land your blows. Otherwise, Darkness is a great defensive ability in case the Shadows are forced into Bright Light.

Reaction (Variant Only): Hellish Rebuke is a great way to get a little extra damage out. Save for when the Squishies hit you with something though.

Cooking The Shadows of the Self

Round 1+: Simple yet effective, the Shadows of the Self are the real killers here. They should target whoever has been Degraded with their Drain Willpower, which synergizes not only with the Degrade but itself, since every time you drain their willpower, they'll be less likely to pass the Wisdom Save!

Note on Sunlight: So long as they are in Sunlight, the Shadows of Self have disadvantage on basically everything. This is bad, as they don't have much health! The Variant Knight can address this by giving them an area of darkness, which they can see through, that protects them from Sunlight, even if you have to fly out of the darkness, make your attack, and end your turn back into it.

Reactions: Note that the Drain Willpower is an Action, not a Spell, meaning you can do it as an Attack of Opportunity.

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Knight Of Degradation

Medium humanoid (any race), Chaotic Evil

  • Armor Class 16 (studded leather armor, shield)
  • Hit Points 112 (15d8 + 45)
  • Speed 30ft.

18 (+4) 15 (+2) 16 (+3) 10 (+0) 12 (+1) 15 (+2)

  • Saving Throws Str +7, Dex +5, Con +6
  • Skills Athletics +10, Intimidation +5
  • Condition Immunities Frightened
  • Senses passive Perception 11
  • Languages Common, Undercommon
  • Challenge 5 (1,800 XP) Proficiency Bonus (PB) +3

Brute. A melee weapon deals one extra die of its damage when the Knight hits with it (included in the attack). Actions

Degrading Blow: When the Knight lands a critical hit ono a creature or knocks it prone, they may use their Degradation ability against that creature as a bonus action.


Multiattack. The Knight makes three melee attacks or two ranged attacks.

Spear. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft. and range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6 + 4) piercing damage.

Shield Bash. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 9 (2d4 + 4) bludgeoning damage. If the target is a Medium or smaller creature, it must succeed on a DC 15 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone

Degrade Target creature the Knight can see within 30ft must make a Wisdom saving throw or become Frightened. While Frightened in this way, the creature has disadvantage on Wisdom Saves, and their movement speed becomes 0.


Parry. The Knight adds 3 to its AC against one melee attack that would hit it. To do so, the Knight must see the attacker and be wielding a melee weapon or shield.

Variant Knight Spell List

The Knight is an 8th-level spellcaster. Its spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 14, +6 to hit with spell attacks). It has the following paladin spells prepared:

  • 1st level (4 slots): command, hellish rebuke, Thunderous smite
  • 2nd level (3 slots): Darkness, find steed, magic weapon

Shadow of the Self

Medium undead, chaotic evil

  • Armor Class 12
  • Hit Points 16 (3d8 + 3)
  • Speed 40 ft.

6 (-2) 14 (+2) 13 (+1) 6 (-2) 10 (+0) 8 (-1)

  • Skills Stealth +4
  • Damage Vulnerabilities radiant
  • Damage Resistances acid, cold, fire, lightning, thunder; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from non magical attacks
  • Damage Immunities necrotic, poison
  • Condition Immunities exhaustion, frightened, grappled, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, prone, restrained
  • Senses Blindsight 60 ft., passive Perception 10
  • Languages -
  • Challenge 1/2 (100 XP) Proficiency Bonus (PB) +2

Amorphous. The shadow can move through a space as narrow as 1 inch wide without squeezing.

Shadow Stealth. While in dim light or darkness, the shadow can take the Hide action as a bonus action. Its stealth bonus is also improved to +6. Sunlight Weakness. While in sunlight, the shadow has disadvantage on attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws.


Drain WillPower: Touch a creature within 5ft. They must make a Wisdom saving throw or suffer (2d6 + 2) necrotic damage, and the target's Wisdom score is reduced by 1d4. The target dies if this reduces its Wisdom to 0. Otherwise, the reduction lasts until the target finishes a short or long rest. If a humanoid dies from this attack, a new Shadow of the Self rises from the corpse 1d4 hours later.

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King Critcrab

Spiciness: 5/5

This is boss fight material. While not particularly high damage, most characters are not equipped to fight underwater, and that can result in

Feeds about 3-6 players, level 5-8

Scales for: Number of Players, Player Level


  • The King Critcrab
  • A Harpy
  • X Sahuagins, where X is the size of the party.

Scale for Level: Give the Critcrab 10 additional HP for every level above 5. At level 7, add +1 to ALL Save DCs.


The Critcrab is not just a creature-- it's the center of an ecosystem, a community of collaborators. A Harpy has made a nest on the Critcrab's back, luring in potential food for it. Underneath, Sahuagins wait to loot the remains of the Critcrab's meals.

Important things to know for this encounter:

  • While Underwater:
  • A creature can hold its breath for a number of minutes equal to 1 + its Constitution modifier (minimum of 30 seconds). When a creature runs out of breath or is choking, it can survive for a number of rounds equal to its Constitution modifier (minimum of 1 round). At the start of its next turn, it drops to 0 hit points and is dying, and it can't regain hit points or be stabilized until it can breathe again.
  • If you're holding your breath, you can't do vocal components of spells.
  • When making a melee weapon attack, a creature that doesn't have a swimming speed (either natural or granted by magic) has disadvantage on the attack roll unless the weapon is a dagger, javelin, shortsword, spear, or trident.
  • A ranged weapon attack automatically misses a target beyond the weapon's normal range. Even against a target within normal range, the attack roll has disadvantage unless the weapon is a crossbow, a net, or a weapon that is thrown like a javelin (including a spear, trident, or dart).

Pre-battle setup: The party will see a strange coral reef, floating in the ocean-- this is the critcrab, using it's Shell Camouflage to be unassuming. Put a treasure chest, a skeleton, something on it's back to entice them in to check it out. Meanwhile, the Sahaugins wait under it, and the harpy flies about 700ft above it (this is important). Since it's more than 0.13 miles, it's unlikely the party would notice the Harpy or even realize that it isn't a bird, but the Harpy is patiently waiting for anything to get close to the crab.

When a creature gets within 50ft of the crab, roll initiative and a DC 16 Perception check to notice the harpy dropping down into position. Any party members who fail are Surprised.

Cooking the Harpy

Round 1: You can drop 500ft in a round, as per the falling rules, so do that! Now that you're within 200ft of the back of the crab, use your Song to lure the party into the crab's reach (and off it's back if necessary).

Round 2+: Continue to stay at 200ft up (see High Altitude Combat for why), and keep as many people as possible charmed. The Harpy's role is Crowd Control. If someone gets knocked unconscious, you can use the harpy to rush in and finish them off with their 2 melee attacks (2 melee attacks at 5ft against an unconscious person means 2 auto-crits and thus 4 failed death saves).

High Altitude Combat: Since you're 200ft high now, your 300ft radious song ability will effect only 223 ft around sea level-- that's the Pythagorean theorem at work! That's still way more than enough to hit the whole party though, and many spells won't be able to reach you at this distance. Eldritch blast, for example, only has a range of 120ft. Longbows, crossbows, & Shortbows will have disadvantage at this range (even while directly beneath you) and hand crossbows are completely unable to hit you. NEAT!

Cooking the Sahuagin

Round 1+: Sahuagins are there for extra damage-- if the Critcrab is holding someone underwater, they swim up and stab it with spears. If a creature starts to get away, they chase it down with their impressive swim speed. Also, consider swapping out one of their attacks with a Grapple if a creature is escaping-- keeping them underwater is key.

Passives: Don't forget that they have advantage on attacks against literally every creature that doesn't have full HP!

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King Critcrab

Huge Beast, Unaligned

  • Armor Class 17 (Natural Armor)
  • Hit Points 76 (8d12 + 24)
  • Speed 20 ft., swim 30 ft.

19 (+4) 8 (-1) 16 (+3) 3 (-4) 11 (+0) 3 (-4)

  • Senses passive Perception 10
  • Languages -
  • Challenge 5 (1,800 XP) Proficiency Bonus (PB) +3

Amphibious. The Critcrab can breathe air and water.

Electroreception: The Critcrab uses low levels electricity to detect prey. While at least partially submerged, it knows the location of creatures within 60ft who are also in that body of water, even around corners, except for Undead & Constructs.

Shell Camouflage. While the Critcrab remains motionless with its eyestalks and pincers tucked close to its body, it resembles a natural formation (such as a coral reef) or a pile of detritus. A creature within 30 feet of it can discern its true nature with a successful DC 15 Intelligence (Nature) check.

King of Critaceans. The Critcrab is known for his vicious strikes, aiming for the fleshiest bits of adventurers. When it would make an attack roll, it crits on a 19 or 20.


Multiattack. The Critcrab makes two attacks with its claws, and one Spiked Shell Attack. If a creature is grappled by its claws, it cannot use Spiked Shell against it.

Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 20 (3d10 + 4) bludgeoning damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 15) & Restrained. The Critcrab has two claws, each of can only attack the creature that claw is grappling, while it is grappling anything.

Spiked Shell: Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6 + 4) piercing damage, and the target must make a DC 15 Strength Save or be knocked Prone.


Reactive Crustacean: When Critcrab is targeted by a melee attack from a creature it can see (or detect through Electroreception), it may immediately make a Spiked Shell attack as a reaction against it, before the attack is rolled.

Cooking the King Critcrab

Round 1+: The Critcrab is an impressive creature-- but not super complicated to run. Make 2 claw attacks against creatures not in the water, then hold them under the water! If someone's on your back, try hitting them with your Spiked Shell first to knock them off. If Everyone is in the water, you know exactly where they all are due to electroreception, neat!

Reactions: When a creature hits him with a melee attack, don't forget to knock them prone with your Spiked shell. Since this fires right before their attack roll, they'll have disadvantage on the attacks they make while prone. They can, however, stand up and make the rest of their attacks without disadvantage after though.

Want a little extra spice?

Make the water Murky enough to restrict vision to 5 or 10ft out. Critcrab's Electroreception will make that not effect him, and being blind will stop them from casting any spells at further than that range. Hard to cast fireball when you've reduced the range to 10ft!

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Pip Fizzlebang's

Spicy Encounters

Each encounter in my "Cookbook" is written as a recipe, with ingredients (Monsters), how to cook them (battle tactics), and preparation info (for example, if a monster inflicts poison, it will have a friendly reminder of what that does).

The monsters are paired thematically, in a lore friendly way, but also to combo abilities off each other. For example, my vicious vines encounter includes a monster who heals from lightning damage with a monster that has lightning AoEs. That's a spicy combo!

Each fight works well as a sidequest, dungeon filler, or boss fight, and has tips to scale the encounter for player level and party size, and sometimes additional tips to make the encounter even spicier!

Thank you!


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