5e/Pathfinder/13th Age: Guide to Mini-Bosses

There’s a short story by Janni Lee Simner called Practical Villany that I particularly love. It’s from the villain’s point of view. The opening line is “The first thing I want you to know is that I drowned those kittens for a reason.” It’s a dark comedy about a villain talking to his latest kidnapee about his rebellious daughter that turned hero, betraying the family business. In the story, the author talks about how evil is a business while heroes are just one person. That is where mini-bosses come in. Mini-bosses are akin to mid-level managers. The real question is why would someone in a fantasy RPG world need them.

No matter which level-based fantasy game you play, you get more powerful by level. You are obviously more powerful at level 2 than level 1 and even still more powerful at level 3 and so on. The same is true for your main enemy. They didn’t try to take over the world at level 1. They worked to amass enough wealth and influence and easily outclass the adventurers at the start of the campaign. So why are they employing people that can’t hold their own against a plucky group of low levels?

1) Your Big Bad Has a Source of Revenue and Power that Must be Maintained

Your big bad has a source of income that still needs to be maintained, and they are busy with taking over the city/country/worlds. So the actual job of generating that income has to be in the hands of some trusted aid to oversee the operation. Whether that operation is a kobold mining company digging up gold, orc hunters that sell skins for leather armor, or an ogre timber consortium, they have to perform operations far to trivial for the big bad to do. The problem comes in when they interact with the humanoid races. Do the kobolds breech into a dwarven mine or a gnome village? Do the orcs kill the cows of a small hamlet? Are the elves upset the trees are being felled? The people doing the work need direction and someone to pay them for their work, someone that represents the big bad to the workers. That is a mini-boss. Remember, any good business has lots of moving parts to it (different managers in charge of different workers at different locations all doing the same job, different departments doing different jobs, etc.). That is a lot of different mini-bosses at a number of different difficulty levels. In this case, the employees are minions.

2) Your Big Bad Doesn’t Have Every Skill or Ability

The person at the top simply can’t have every skill or talent possible in the whole world. CEOs hire accountants and lawyers to help them navigate those arenas. Your big bad trying to take over the city/country/world needs someone to advise them on the way to the crown and how to finance it. So your mini-bosses can be advisers to the big bad in their specialty field. Other possible advisers include a cleric of an influential church and the big bad isn’t a follower of the deity or doesn’t have any divine casting ability, a public relations bard to smooth over incidents like the kobolds invading the dwarven mines, and a spiritual advisory monk.

The important thing to remember with advisers is that they should fill two roles: the official one and an unofficial one. The official one is the job for which they are known. This is their day job, how this adviser is presented in the public. The unofficial one should be the real reason that person in particular was hired by the big bad. Does the financial advisory funnel money from the crown to the big bad? Does the cleric get people (more minions) to act against their interests in the name of the religion? Is the public relations bard in charge of spreading disinformation? All of these roles a big bad needs done and these make great mini-bosses.

3) Dirty Workers

Bad guys are not known for fighting fair. Once the adventurers have been identified as disrupting some small plans, they should have someone to deal with them. Assassination attempts have been done and the players will see that coming. Instead, trying having the big bad hire the adventurers for a job they are not qualified, like killing a monster that is more powerful than they can handle. Have the public relations bard hire them, apologizing for any previous incidents involving low-level managers, and praise them for bringing such bad actors in their organization to light. The job is something like clearing out a cave where some new miners will be going soon. The adventurers aren’t told there’s a dragon in there. The dragon will be warned and compensated for it’s trouble. Naturally the dragon will have his own minions to soften you up in your way there. The idea behind this is that if the adventurers never return, no one will miss them or possibly figure they left for another problem elsewhere. As an added bonus, the public relations bard can claim they had bad information and apologize for their near deaths. By doing this, you turn what would otherwise be a single encounter into a night’s game session and they might even believe the big bad isn’t so bad.

Every mini-boss need minions and we have some excellent ones in the Book of Beasts series, available now for Pathfinder, Fifth Edition, and 13th Age. Download them now.

Pathfinder: Ravager Wolf

I mentioned last month that we at JBE decided to continue with Pathfinder 1e support. Having said that, we decided to not continue on as business as usual. Since Paizo will be ending support for PF1 soon, we no longer feel the need to continue on in their footsteps; we want to do things our way. One of those ways is that we do not care for the core Bestiary monster creation rules. Personally, I never followed them. If anything, I did them backwards from the way the Bestiary described them. So all our monsters from here out will be using the Pathfinder Unchained monster rules. Today being Friday, I decided to make one for fun. Let me introduce you to the Ravager Wolf.

First a little background. The artwork was originally intended for the Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Shadow Plane, however, we cut it for space. I always liked this image of a wolf with its guts cut out and felt bad we never used it. So today I am creating a monster around this image. The ravagers are corpses of animals that are consumed by the darkness and are reanimated into unlife. Each is more vicious than their mundane counterparts as they suffer from a constant hunter and an unquenchable desire to feed. Even worse, as they get more powerful, they get more intelligent. This one here is one of the weaker ones as well as one of the most commonly encountered. These creatures are without mercy and will attack as soon as see an opportunity.

Be sure to follow the JBE blog since we will be posting more monsters and other options while we are working on new Pathfinder 1e projects. Also, be sure to tell you friends that we at JBE are working on some awesome Pathfinder projects. We need your help in letting everyone know that plans to stick with 1e PFRPG that we are here for them.

We hope you enjoy this monster.

Ravager Wolf CR/HD 3

Init +5; Perception +11 (darkvision 60 ft., scent)
Size Medium; Speed 30 ft.


AC 17 (touch 12, flat-footed 12); Fort +4, Ref +4, Will +4; CMD 18
hp 33; Immune undead immunities


Melee bite +6 (1d12+4 plus bleed), 2 claws +1(1d4+2)
Attack Options bleed (1d6, DC 15 or any magical healing); CMB +6


Str +4, Dex +1, Con —, Wis +2; Climb +8, Perception +11, Survival +8
XP 800; CE undead

13th Age: A Rogue’s Dirty Tricks

A rogue would not be a rogue if they fought fair. Dirty tricks are their stock in trade. So today we are giving you a new power for rogues called Dirty Trick. It applies a condition to an enemy you hit, making them a less lethal opponent to you and the rest of your party. Be sure to check out the vicious strike power and the magical savant talent that we showed off already. If you like these, download 13 Rogue Powers and Talents for your 13th Age game today from the JBE Shop, DriveThruRPG, and the Open Gaming Store.

Dirty Trick (3rd Level Power)

Special: Opponents wise up to dirty tricks pretty quickly—you can only use this power on each enemy once during any battle. Additionally, If you have the swashbuckle talent, you can use dirty trick in place of an attack during a stunt.
Melee attack
One enemy
Attack: Charisma + Level vs. PD
Hit: WEAPON + Charisma damage, and the targeted enemy gains your choice of one of the following conditions until the end of your next turn: dazed, hampered, or vulnerable.
Miss: Damage equal to your level.
Adventurer Feat: Once per battle, you can perform a dirty trick to inflict the confused, stuck, or weakened condition.
Champion Feat: Once per day, you can perform a dirty trick to inflict the stunned condition.
Epic Feat: Once per day, you can perform a dirty trick to inflict the helpless condition.

13th Age: The Talented Rogue

The best way to describe a stereotypical rogue is simply not possible. Rogues always have a wide assortment of tricks up their sleeves that they area easy to mistake for a fighter or a wizard. While it is true that they get themselves out of bad situations as quick as they get themselves into them, know the best routes of escape, are aware of which guards are not paying attention, and can tell you how many coins were in that merchant’s purse, the way they go about all this is unique to the individual rogue. That is as true in 13th Age as it is in any other fantasy roleplaying game, and our latest release for 13th Age helps rogues to find their own unique style.

13 Rogue Talents and Powers gives your rogue new ways to show some flare. The rogues at Jon Brazer Enterprises managed to steal this little tidbit and are sharing it with you letting you see what is inside this bag of goodies. To see what else is inside, be sure to come back to the JBE Blog next week as we share more.

Of course, what rogue can wait? Instead, download it now at the JBE Shop, DriveThruRPG, and the Open Gaming Store.

Magical Savant

Choose a number of wizard cantrips equal to the highest of your Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma modifier; you can cast them like a wizard who lacks the Cantrip Mastery talent.
Adventurer Feat: Choose one wizard spell of your level or lower. Regardless of the spell’s usual frequency of use, it is a daily power for you. When you cast this spell, it has an effective level equal to the current escalation die, up to a maximum of your own level.
Champion Feat: If you have momentum, your Sneak Attack feature works when you cast this spell on an enemy that would normally be subjected to it, even at range.
Epic Feat: You no longer need momentum in order for your Sneak Attack feature to work with your chosen spell. Additionally, your chosen spell becomes recharge 11+ after battle rather than a daily power.

Traveller: Magmites

When we finally travel to different solar systems, one of the lifeforms we are expecting to find are called snottites. They are a glob of single-celled organisms that dissolve rocks and other mineral deposits for substance. It gets its name from the fact that it has a consistency close to snot. That is perfect for a game that is closer to hard science fiction like Traveller, except snot is not all that exciting. However, if it had a body similar to magma, that gets considerably more interesting. Blobs have been in Dungeons and Dragons since the beginning. I have yet to see one in Traveller and considering they do have a basis in reality (not the gelatinous cube, obviously), it only makes sense that this game should have a blob monster as well. This one just happens to be composed of magma.

Magmites come from deep inside a planet or moon. It is life made from the molten core inside the planet. When they come up to the surface through volcanic activity or quakes, they can quickly eat away at anything from living flesh to the metal of a space ship. It just burns away anything that it touches. It is not intelligent at all and as such lacks skills. So anything that it wants to do it is just a straight roll. However, anything it touches does take 2D damage In addition, anything that touches it—like melee weapons or those using their claws—take 2D damage.

These magmites will be in the upcoming Foreven Worlds: Creatures of Distant Worlds. Check out all of our Traveller products at DriveThruRPG.

Image by Gary Dupuis
Animal Hits Speed
Magmites 40 3 m
Attacks Burn (2D)
Traits Immune to Everything (Cold), Large (+3), Natural Healing (1D/day), Slow Metabolism (–4)
Behaviour Herbivore, Grazer
Burn: The animal sets on fire whatever it touches. Anything in the same space as the animal takes the listed damage. Attacks against the animal using bare flesh—such as a fist or claws—take the burn damage.
Immune to Everything (Damage Type): The animal takes no damage from any source except what is listed in the Immune to Everything trait. For example, those immune to everything except cold take 1D damage for every gallon of water thrown on the creature.
Natural Healing (Damage/Interval): The animal heals itself by the listed amount every interval.

Traveller: Reidian Flyer Poster

Whenever I play Traveller, I like to have the ship my players are in in a large format hanging on a wall for quick reference so they can see it in full detail. So when I set up to do the single ships for Traveller, I decided to include a poster map of the ships with its specs and an external picture. Having this helps to immerse my players in the universe of Traveller that much more at the start of every game session. We did this with the Gannet that we produced last year and we are doing this again for the Reidian Flyer.

The Reidian Flyer, incase you do not follow all the sneak peeks I post to Twitter or Facebook, is a blockade runner. What would normally be over a hundred tons cargo space is taken up with a high burn thruster reaction fuel. When the high burn and the standard gravitic drive are engaged at the same time, it produces a a full 11G of thrust, allowing the ship to pull away from pursuing missiles and get away from attacking ships. Whether your characters are passengers or in command of a Reidian Flyer, they can expect a bumpy ride while they are being shot at.

Download the Reidian Flyer when it is released and be sure to check out all of JBE’s other Mongoose Traveller 2e releases exclusively at DriveThruRPG.

Final Thoughts on the Switching to PF2e Poll

Just shy of 3 weeks ago, I posted a poll asking if you were planning to switch from first edition Pathfinder to Pathfinder 2e. The results were quite amazing and not at all what I expected. So lets go over them.

The answers can be broken down into these basic answers: yes, yes with reservations, maybe, eventually, no, both, and this poll doesn’t apply to me but I want to vote anyways. The “yes” answer of “We already switched to the playtest and will switch to 2e when it is released,” was what I had assumed to be the top answer, yet that only got about 14% of the vote. That honor went to the “no” vote of “We’re not switching (tried the playtest and don’t like the direction, feel 1e is the perfect game, etc),” with about 35%. Sandwiched between them is “maybe” with “Our group is ignoring the playtest, and we will see what the final version is before we decide,” with 18%. “Eventually” got the fourth highest at 12% with “It will take years for all the classes/archetypes/feats/spells/etc we enjoy in 1e are in 2e, and we plan to keep with 1e until that happens.” 5th place goes to “yes with reservations” with 9% as “We’re sticking with 1e for the time being. We anticipate converting over shortly after the new edition is released.” “Both, thank you” is obviously the “both” answer, capturing 8%. The final 5% goes to “this poll doesn’t apply to me but I want to vote anyways” with “I don’t play Pathfinder 1e now and don’t anticipate playing 2e either.”

To put those answers another way that us gamers easily understand:

Answer 1d20
Yes 18-20
Yes with Reservations 16-17
Maybe 12-15
Eventually 10-11
No 3-9
Both 2
N/A 1

The real question is: what does this mean for JBE? First and foremost, we will take another look at continued support for PF1e. I had anticipated our final 1e Pathfinder book to be Deadly Delves: Temple of Luminescence. Now, I can’t say for sure. Am I saying that we definitely will be supporting Pathfinder 1e going forward? No. Am I ruling out further Pathfinder 1e plans? No. What I am saying is, “We’ll see.” If I had to guess how things will shake out in a year is that we’ll release products for Pathfinder 1e and 2e at the same time or one shortly after the other, but even then, that is not a guarantee.

In the short run, we will be continuing to focus on Fifth Edition, Traveller, and 13th Age since we have been ignoring them while trying to finish up those last few Pathfinder titles. Even then, we will not be doing much for the rest of the year. If you haven’t heard, my wife and I changed day jobs and moved from New Jersey to Missouri earlier this year. Well, we are closing on a house soon and will be moving again. Two moves in under six months makes finishing up projects difficult. Having said that, we should be back to normal in the new year.

Be sure to download Pathfinder books you have been wanting at the JBE Shop. We have all of our Pathfinder 1e, Fifth Edition, 13th Age, and 1e Mongoose Traveller titles there for you to download and order in print when we have that available in print. It really helps us out when you order direct from us. You can also find our titles at DriveThruRPG/RPGNow, Paizo, and the Open Gaming Store.

5e: Dire Owl

A classic of the Worlds Oldest Fantasy Roleplaying Game involves giant animals. The origin of these is quite simple, someone trying to convince someone else that their fight with some animal was far more valiant because it was far larger than most. In a fight when the adrenaline is pumping, a fierce creature can seem substantially larger than it actually is. In our roleplaying games, however, these perceived larger creatures are indeed larger. That makes the fight more dangerous and the night more creepy and makes giant-sized creatures perfect for a Halloween game.

Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Forbidden Woods (5e)The dire owl you see below originally appeared in the Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Forbidden Woods. Within you will find more giant animals like the bloodboar, the monstrous rat, and the dire lion—trust me, you really don’t want to face this guy. These monsters are perfect fodder for your fifth edition game, whether against the adventurers or for your group’s druid to summon with the conjure spells. Download this awesome book of monsters for your Fifth Edition game today from JonBrazer.com. You can also find this at DriveThruRPG/RPGNow, Paizo and the OpenGamingStore.

Owl, Dire

Medium beast, unaligned
Armor Class 12
Hit Points 19 (3d8 + 6)
Speed 10 ft., fly 40 ft.

Str 11 (+0) Dex 15 (+2) Con 14 (+2)
Int 2 (–4) Wis 13 (+1) Cha 5 (–3)

Skills Survival +3
Senses passive Perception 11
Challenge 1/2 (100 XP)


Multiattack. The dire owl makes two talon attacks when flying.
Pellet Vomit (1/Day). Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft.; one target. Hit: 2 (1d4) bludgeoning damage. If the target is a living creature, it must succeed on a DC 12 Constitution saving throw or become poisoned until the creature completes a long rest. While the creature is poisoned, all creatures (other than the dire owl) that are within 5 feet of the poisoned creature must succeed on the same saving throw or become poisoned as long as they stay so close to the creature. Creatures with the scent ability gain disadvantage on this saving throw.
Talon. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft.; one target. Hit: 5 (2d4) piercing damage.
Screech. An owl can let out a loud screech. All creatures within 10 feet that fail a DC 12 Con save are deafened until the end of the dire owl’s next turn.

5e: Young Spiderbear

With Halloween fast approaching, we thought it would be fun to share one of our favorite monsters, the spiderbear. It is our own take on classic D&D mashup monsters like the owlbear. It is creepy and dangerous, terrifying for being both a spider and a bear, and an all around evil creature. While this one is a challenge 1/2 monster, the Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Forbidden Woods has an adult spiderbear of challenge 3, and an elder spiderbear of challenge 7. Download this supplement today at the JBE Shop to get these and other awesome monsters for your game. You can also find it at DriveThruRPG/RPGNow, Paizo and the OpenGamingStore and get these and many more awesome monsters now.

Young Spiderbear

Small monstrosity, neutral evil Armor Class 13 (natural armor) Hit Points 16 (3d6 + 6) Speed 40 ft., climb 40 ft.
Str 15 (+2) Dex 16 (+3) Con 14 (+2) Int 6 (–2) Wis 14 (+2) Cha 4 (–3)
Skills Stealth +5 Senses darkvision 60 ft., tremorsense 60 ft., passive Perception 12 Languages Common, Spiderbear Challenge 1/2 (100 XP)
Pack Tactics. The young spiderbear gains advantage on attack rolls against a creature if at least one of the spiderbear’s allies is within 5 feet of the creature and the ally isn’t incapacitated. Spiders are always considered a spiderbear’s ally. Spider Climb. The young spiderbear can climb difficult surfaces, including upside down on ceilings, without needing to make an ability check. Web Sense. While in contact with a web, the young spiderbear knows the exact location of any other creature in contact with the same web. Web Walker. The young spiderbear ignores movement restrictions caused by webbing.


Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft.; one creature. Hit: 4 (1d4 + 2) piercing damage, and the target must succeed on a DC 12 Constitution saving throw or take 3 (1d6) poison damage.

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑