Scaramouche the Merciless (BBS)
Scaramouche is a supremely vain, arrogant, and talkative assassin. Rumored to have been built by a cadre of evil artificers and injected with the life essence of an immortal shapeshifting master of darkness, this crooner of carnage scours the mortal plane in search of its next deadly performance.
Aliases: The Pied Piper of Ruination. The Crooner of Carnage. The Ambassador of Annihilation. The Eradicator of All.
Scaramouche is armed with a magical singing voice that it uses to command various abilities. It favors scat-singing, a vocal improvisation with wordless vocables, nonsense syllables, or without words at all. Deprived of its ability to sing, this ambassador of annihilation will be all but crippled.
It prefers to personally introduce itself to its targets, simultaneously taunting and analyzing them for their strengths and weaknesses. It will go to great lengths to set up an appropriate “stage” upon which to confront its targets, even going as far as to annihilate an entire town as a way of luring its targets there.
Art Credit: Ultron-12
It strongly favors large battlefields with a lot of high ground that enables it a wide range of movement and rubble for it to manipulate. If it is targeted in any hostile manner before initiative is rolled, it immediately activates its Greater Leap ability to put some distance between itself and its targets, ideally on higher ground.
Scaramouche has the Paragon Fortitude feature, meaning it has multiple pools of hit points. Whenever a hit point pool reaches 0, Scaramouche changes battle tactics. In addition to the Actions, Reactions, Bonus Actions, and Legendary Actions it normally has, it gains access to additional abilities depending on which stage of the encounter it is at. When a hit point pool is reduced to 0, it loses access to the abilities that correspond to that hit point pool, and gains the abilities that correspond to the next.
3 Stage Encounter
Scaramouche is an agile creature. Whenever it takes damage, describe it as just barely managing to avoid the blow or exerting considerable more effort to avoid it. Only in its 3rd stage should it noticeably begin to take visual damage. Keep Scaramouche moving using its Stride Legendary Action.
Scaramouche likes to begin by putting significant distance between itself and its targets by cunning action dashing away, flying using Featherweight to reach higher ground, and then using its Flute of Animation to create a buffer zone between it and its targets. It can use its flute to cast animate objects at-will but can only maintain concentration on 1 spell at a time, so if its number of animated objects begin to run low, it can end the spell and recast it on its turn. When its 1st hit point pool drops to 0, describe how the attack that did it rids Scaramouche of its magic flute.
Scaramouche continues to avoid direct confrontation by unleashing a large, flying scimitar manipulated by its magic voice. At its command, the sword streaks across the battlefield, forcing creatures to dodge of the way and destroying everything in its path. When confronted in melee, Scaramouche will draw its Tuning Dagger unsheathed to parry blows that would hit it, and commands its flying scimitar to counter enemies that miss. Fun fact: if the scat-dancing sword can’t reach you, it can’t hurt you!
What are Legendary Reactions?
Legendary Reactions are a new type of action I created in my guide to designing Big Boss Solos. It is a kind of reaction that has one use per turn rather than per round and requires some kind of trigger to activate.
In its final stage, Scaramouche draws its trump card, the Tuning Dagger. It is a powerful magic item that injects into any object it strikes an explosive vibration. Scaramouche continues to attack indirectly, using its Tuning Dagger to simultaneously parry and disarm its targets as well as strategically striking objects around the battlefield as traps to spring upon its targets. All meanwhile the scat-dancing sword continues to streak across the battlefield.
When the final blow is struck, I recommend describing it as a critical strike to Scaramouche’s neck or vocal cords, crippling Scaramouche’s ability to sing but perhaps not its ability to speak. It may then offer a sheepish surrender, which provides its targets an opportunity to spare its life or deliver a satisfying finishing blow.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Scaramouche’s chief strength is its ability to avoid and counter attacks. Scaramouche prefers to strike from a distance and slowly wear down its prey. It is very difficult to land an attack on it, especially melee attacks, due to high AC, its ability to dash and disengage as a Bonus Action, fly in straight lines, move without triggering opportunity attacks as a Reaction or Legendary Action, as well as parry attacks that would hit it during later stages of the fight.
Its chief weaknesses are thus effects that force it to make STR, CON, INT, and WIS saving throws, and abilities that reduce its movement speed or action economy. Its Bite the Bullet ability can end any condition it wants, but that forces it to take damage as well as lose action economy. Thus Scaramouche will tend to prioritize spellcasters and those who apply debilitating status conditions first.
Since its scat-dancing sword attacks in 30-foot lines, it will attempt to move the blade(s) so that it hits at least 2 targets each swing. PC positioning and maneuverability will be key to reducing the volume of damage the sword deals. On a successful save, the swords deal half damage, so the longer the encounter goes on, the bleaker the outlook of the PCs.
Many of Scaramouche’s later stage attacks rely on PCs missing their attacks against it. Accurate attacks will strip it of its ability to counterattack.
As mentioned earlier, several of Scaramouche’s abilities rely on its magical singing voice. These include the Flute of Animation and the Scat-dancing Sword. Effects that hamper its ability to sing, such as the silence spell, can disable these abilities.
Scaramouche is also vain and disdainful. It’s possible to upset or distract it with criticism and insults or through one-upmanship. Scaramouche likes to pride itself as being the best at what it does, which include but are not limited to singing, killing, and “playing the blades”.
If you feel as though Scaramouche is not challenging enough, consider granting it the following ability:
Innate Spellcasting. Scaramouche’s innate spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 16). It can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:
1/Short Rest: blur
One half of a pair of Sending Stones. Studded Leather Armor. Fine Clothes. Sack of 300 gold pieces. A small bag of oiled lugnuts. Scat-dancing sword(s). Tuning Dagger.
Scat-dancing sword (rare)
Can only be attuned by Scaramouche
To anyone but Scaramouche, this “great-scimitar” has the same stats as a +1 magic greatsword.
Tuning Dagger (very rare)
A magical musical dagger of explosive properties. When inactive, the blade functions as a normal dagger. When activated (no action required), the blade splits down its middle and separates by a few inches, forming a shape similar to that of a tuning fork. In this state, an attack with the dagger deals no initial damage. However, an attack against an object causes that object to explode in a 10-foot-radius sphere at the start of your next turn. Each creature within range must make a Dexterity saving throw (DC10), taking 4d6 thunder damage on a failed save, or half as much on a success. Magical objects are not destroyed, though the explosion still occurs.
An attuned Bard can substitute the DC with their own spell save DC.
Medium construct, Chaotic Evil
Armor Class 18 (Studded Leather Armor)
Hit Points 56/56/56
Speed 40 feet
|12 (+1)||22 (+6)||14 (+2)||13 (+1)||15 (+2)||18 (+4)|
Saving Throws Dexterity +10, Charisma +8
Skills Acrobatics +14, Deception +8, Performance +14, Perception +6, Survival +6
Damage Resistances Poison
Condition Immunities Poisoned, Charmed, Exhaustion
Senses passive Perception 16
Languages Common, Abyssal, Scat-singing
Challenge 11 variable
Paragon Fortitude. The creature has multiple pools of hit points, each of which is tracked separately. All damage and healing must be completely applied to only one pool. When a pool is reduced to zero, all ongoing conditions and effects affecting the creature end. Once a pool is reduced to zero, that pool cannot receive any healing until after a long rest. If all hit of the point pools are reduced to zero, the creature is killed.
Evasion. If Scaramouche is subjected to an effect that allows it to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, it instead takes no damage if it succeeds on the saving throw, and only half damage if it fails.
Featherweight. Whenever Scaramouche moves in a straight line, it can fly during that movement.
Bite the Bullet. Scaramouche takes 10 damage and ends any one condition or effect afflicting it. This damage cannot be reduced in any way. If it is unable to take an action on its turn, it can instead use this ability at the end of its turn, no action required.
Greater Leap. Once per short rest, when this creature takes damage, this creature can as a reaction move up to twice its speed in a straight line without triggering opportunity attacks.
Recharge Fortitude: When one Hit Point pool is reduced to 0, greater leap recharges and can be used immediately as a reaction.
Cunning Action. Scaramouche can dash or disengage as a bonus action.
Legendary Actions (3 actions)
Stride. Scaramouche moves up to its speed without triggering opportunity attacks.
3 Stage Encounter
Stage 1 (1st Hit Point Pool)
Flute of Animation. By playing his magic flute, Scaramouche casts Animate Objects at 5th level. On subsequent turns, it needs to use its Action instead of its Bonus Action to command these objects. If there are more than 4 PCs in the encounter, Scaramouche casts Animate Objects at 1 level higher for each PC beyond 4. The flute is lost or destroyed when Scaramouche’s 1st hit point pool is reduced to 0.
Stage 2 (2nd Hit Point Pool)
Scat-dancing Sword. Scaramouche launches one Scat-dancing Sword. If there are 6 or more PCs, it instead launches two. When it uses this ability and as an action on subsequent turns, Scaramouche can verbally command its sword(s) to move up to 30 feet and then attack in a 30-foot line. Each creature in the line must make a Dexterity saving throw (DC 16), taking 11 (2d6 + 4) magical slashing damage on a failed save, or half on a success.
Parry (Sheathed). Scaramouche adds 4 to its AC against one attack that would hit it. To do so, Scaramouche must see the attacker and be wielding a dagger.
Scat-dancing Riposte. When an attack misses against Scaramouche, it verbally commands a sword nearest to the attacker to attack in a 30 foot-line towards the attacker. Each creature in the line must make a Dexterity saving throw (DC 16), taking 11 (2d6 + 4) magical slashing damage on a failed save, or half on a success.
Stage 3 (3rd Hit Point Pool)
Multiattack. Scaramouche makes 2 Tuning Dagger attacks and 1 Scat-dancing sword attack.
Tuning Dagger. Scaramouche strikes an unworn object, such as a wall or an item a creature is wielding. If it attacks an item a creature is wielding, it must make a melee weapon attack: +10 to hit against the creature’s AC. On a hit, at the start of Scaramouche’s next turn the object explodes in a 10-feet-radius sphere and is destroyed. Each creature within range must make a Dexterity saving throw (DC16), taking 4d6 thunder damage on a failed save, or half as much on a success. Magical objects are not destroyed, though the explosion still occurs.
Parry (Unsheathed). Scaramouche adds 4 to its AC against one attack that would hit it. To do so, Scaramouche must see the attacker and be wielding its Tuning Dagger unsheathed. If the attack was a weapon attack and now misses, then at the start of Scaramouche’s next turn the weapon or piece of ammunition explodes as if struck by its Tuning Dagger.
Scat-dancing Riposte. Same as before.