Dragon Encounters

Making dnd combat fun, finding monsters that fit together, monster tactics and strategies, and other ways of using the monsters of dungeons and dragons

PLANATAR: Cross-Examining the Players’ Motives



Combat challenge 19


1 Planetar (CR 16)

4 Fire elementals (CR 5)

Combat challenge 21


1 Planetar (CR 16)

1 Cloud giant (CR 9)

2 Rocs (CR 11)


Combat challenge 22


1 Planetar (CR 16)

3 Djinn (CR 11)

2 Marids (CR 11)


Combat challenge 24


2 Planetars (CR 16)

1 Adult bronze dragon (CR 15)

3 Young gold dragons (CR 10)


How to Use – Fighting Alongside

The planetar seems built to be an ally. Unfortunately, it’s too powerful to actually join with any party, even one that is level 20. This is instruction for how to go about it if you want your players to fight alongside an overly powerful ally.

  1. Put a lot of enemies in the fight. It should be a fight against a large number of weak[er] monsters, not joining together against 1-2 strong monsters. This way, they can both be fighting in the same area without totally joining together. The planetar will fight the enemies in one direction, and the players will fight the enemies to the other side. (I’m not saying to keep it totally separate. There can be spillover, especially with spell affects, but the fights will still be reasonably separate.)
  2. The fight will start the adventure, but it will leave them free to split up right afterwards. Perhaps the joint fight was to break into a fortress, but now that they are in the planetar will go after the leader and/or distract the fortress occupants, and the players will go free a prisoner (so they don’t kill him when they see they’ve lost) or destroy a power gem or something.
  3. As the main story belongs to the players, make certain the head villain escapes. The planetar can accomplish something reasonably impressive, such as killing the seconds in command, but the main villain should be left for the players to eventually meet sometime later, when the planetar isn’t around. [the same goes for any villain that you know the players really want to kill.]

The Planetar’s Tests

Unlike the deva, if the planetar wants the players help, it won’t test them. It will just want to know if they’re strong enough to help it, and then it will ask them to swear to the cause, and that will be it. The planetar can detect falsehoods, so it knows it they’re lying, and as a soldier it has no need to seek out anything except the means to carry out its mission.

If a planetar is testing the characters, it’s because the players are the ones asking the planetar for help. Perhaps they have a mission [quest] to do so. The planetar will then quiz the players carefully to determine whether they are worthy of its help.

The planetar can detect lies. It doesn’t have the means to set up tests. Therefore, the test will be [speaking as a DM] whether the players can find an adequate way to justify their actions.

Questions you might use:

  • Are they going on these quests because they want to help people, or because they are profitable? What if one quest would help more people, and the other quest would pay better?
  • Are they certain of the guilt of the people they kill? Can they be certain that there were no innocent people caught up in the villain’s schemes? What would they do if they learned that some of the people working for the villain were only doing so because they had no choice, they needed the money or were forced into it?
  • Past: Do they realize that if they fail, they might have made the consequences worse for everybody affected? Do they have the right to take chances with other people’s lives? What about the cases where the danger wasn’t immediate (where the villain didn’t have a plan that would cause harm, he was just doing research, setting up a base.) Future: What if the only way to stop a villain would cost a few people [perhaps hostages] their lives, people that might live if they leave the villain alone?
  • Past: Have they ever gone after treasure that was hidden away in a tomb or some such? What gives them the right to take such treasure, and to disturb the dead? Future: What if a descendant of the dead came to them, and demanded the treasure back? What if the original dead wizard was resurrected?

Each of the questions I put here have two halves, one in the past and one in a hypothetical future.

In order to make the questions about the past effective, try to find specific times in past quests where these issues came up, and remind your players about them, if needed.

In order to make the hypothetical/future questions effective, ask them a lot more specifically than I did here. Make up a very specific case, and ask what they’d do in that situation. (I made them general only because I wanted you to be able to adjust them easily.)

Be aware of your players. Not every group of players will necessarily like this kind of interaction in their D&D game. Depending on your players, you may want to avoid using this type of interaction. Even if you do use it, keep in mind that it doesn’t become too long, and therefore boring. [I would suggest no more than three questions, and if they can answer two out of three well, they win.]

To limit frustration if they lose – first of all, provide another path. Losing should not leave them wondering “what do we do now?”

You might consider making the planetar asking the questions to secretly be a fallen, evil angel. This will give the players the satisfaction of getting back at him when they find out, and it will assuage the frustration these questions might have given them. If you go this route, I would suggest the original meeting be with three planetar, only one of which is fallen. This way the test is fair, since they can convince the other two and thereby outvote the fallen one.

It’s tempting to decide that since one of them is against the players, another one should be in favor of assisting the players, and the third neutral. I would advise against this, as then the planetar in favor of the players will be arguing the players’ position, and that should be the players’ job.

In order to distinguish the two neutral planetar from one another, I would suggest:

  • One is male, the other female.
  • Different accents.
  • One cares about the morality of the matter, one about the consequences for the future. (Or to make it simpler, one about the questions labeled past, one about those labeled future.)
  • One asks rapid-fire questions like a lawyer, the other listens and occasionally remarks to compliment the players of a good argument or to gently point out the flaws in a particular argument. (The fallen angel criticizes and argues against the players’ arguments.)

Combat Encounter (Difficulty 17)

The planetar has invisibility, but in my opinion, he won’t use it to attack. Such methods are beneath his dignity (I’m talking specifically when he’s acting on his own. If he’s together with a solar, or other high-authority creature, he’s beholden to their orders.) He will use invisibility to search out the best place for the encounter to take place, but he’ll cancel the invisibility while he’s still in the sky, so they can see him descending on them like… well, like an avenging angel.

[He’ll cancel the invisibility when they’re looking elsewhere. They will most likely never know of it, especially since most people aren’t looking up at the sky while walking.]

There are two main ways the battle can go

  • The planetar chooses a narrow passage while they are climbing the mountain. He puts up a blade barrier between the player in front and the other players, then lands in front of the lead player with his sword drawn to engage him in combat. The other players can’t brave the blade barrier and rush through because there is nowhere for them to stand. The only area not blocked by the planetar is where that one player is standing. Going around the side means climbing, and to climb while being attacked by the blade barrier should give disadvantage on the skill check, at least. [Remember also that failing can mean a large fall.] Nor can they use a rope, as the blade barrier will cut that.

If the players are standing too close for him to put up the blade barrier, have him throw two pebbles while still under the invisibility. One will land behind the players, and one in front. This will hopefully make them think that they there are enemies on both sides, and will get them to adjust their position.

Appearances: I would describe the casting of the blade barrier as the planetar opens his wings/cloak, and a vast number of daggers/knives/blades come pouring out. Instead of falling, they fly out and form a wall of constantly moving blades.

If he defeats the first player, and there aren’t other players on his side of the wall by then, he’ll move the blade barrier by recasting it so that he’s together with another, isolated PC.

  • The other way to do the battle is to have the planetar be standing above them on a high, inaccessible mountain peak or outcropping and raining down flame strike and insect swarm onto them. Should one of the PCs reach him, he’ll put up a blade barrier and the fight will move into the form described before.

As it will probably be pretty easy for the PCs to reach him at this level of play, you will probably want to give him minions/allies. I would suggest treants, shield guardians, and/or any type of golem [except flesh].

[Difficulty 19] Another way to use the planetar: Have the planetar use its control weather spell while the PCs are traveling through a canyon. The planetar appears before them as the wind picks up, and announces that they will should make peace with their fates, for they will finally face the justice they deserve. [This works especially well if they defeated the planetar in the past without killing it.] Soon rain starts to fall, and while the rain is only light at first it is intensifying. If they don’t escape to high ground soon, they will be wiped out by the flash floods. As they try to climb/escape to safety, the planetar will do anything it needs to in order to stop them.

[If the players don’t realize the danger of flash floods themselves, either let them know with a skill check [knowledge: nature], or have the planetar tell them. If you use a skill check, this is very basic knowledge. DC10 is more than enough.]

Note: How this scenario goes will of course depend a lot on depending what spells and abilities the players have. At this level, that can vary a lot. You will have to adapt, and of course this won’t challenge every party. I will also note that the planetar losing concentration won’t help the party. The weather is already in motion.

You can also use this scenario in different terrain. Have strong winds and rain threaten to drive them off the side of a mountain. At the bottom of foothills, rain can cause mud slides. In whichever terrain, I suggest setting up a location that if the PCs can reach it they will be safe, at least from the weather. Not having a win condition would make this scenario more frustrating than fun.

One final scenario: [This is more of an optional climax to any of the above scenarios than its own scenario.]

If the planetar that they are fighting is one of three planetars, have the other two arrive. If not when the planetar gets frustrated, and/or feels that it’s losing.

The planetar grapples one of the players, and is holding him over a deep drop. Let the players know that this drop is not survivable, and if he breaks free from the grapple, he will have killed himself. The players have to figure out a way to rescue this player. [The planetar should also hold him inside his wings so the they can’t see him to cast a spell on him.]

Summary… 3 ways to use

  1. When asking the planetar for help, have him grill them about their past deeds and/or hypothetical situations, to see if they’re worthy. He can tell if they try to lie. (Winning is spinning the answer to their advantage without outright lying.)
  2. When hostile, have the planetar use Blade Barrier to isolate one PC, so it can duel and kill him. In mountains, Blade Barrier is especially nasty, as it will sever ropes and impose disadvantage on climb skill checks.
  3. Control Weather is also a powerful spell to use in battle. You just need to set it up in advance. Bring down strong winds when climbing mountains, or a flash flood in a canyon. In addition, the planetar can send Flame Strikes against them as they try to reach safety.

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About Me

I have been a DM for several years, and I was designing home RPG games since my young childhood. I have been a fan of many different types of games (computer, board, RPG, and more) and have designed several for my own entertainment. This is my first attempt to produce game content for a wider audience.