I've been working on a couple different components of my adventure path at once: the pieces that are urban and focus on the devil activity. This is something of a side quest; the main thrust of the adventure path is about evil fey and demons, after all. But a devil-focused, urban, intrigue-based subplot allows players who really like that type of adventure to shine, and gives the whole adventure path some variety.

I've been specifically working on the 5th-level adventure (which introduces the cult of the "Red Crown," the primary devil scheming in this) and the 17th-level adventure (in which the heroes face Red Crown himself). Both have been very different, from an adventure design perspective. For the former adventure, I found I have too much content I wanted to jam into a single level, so I've expanded that a bit; look for my solution there in my next blog post, which will be extra long. For the latter adventure, I've found that I have not enough monsters to work with, and too few encounters to drive a whole level's worth of story.

I finally hit a place where I need to make up a new stat block, which should be something I can use at least a few times. It'll be a mortal follower of the Red Crown, and a powerful one--sort of a cleric type. I'll call them Red Tyrants, and they'll be the most senior devil cultists who come in to drown the city in evil and fire. But what level should a Red Tyrant be, to give me the most, best use?

My adventure is 17th level. A moderate encounter will be 2 of these Red Tyrants if the Red Tyrants are 17th level. But that maybe doesn't give me a lot of variety in encounters if the heroes are just fighting a pair of these over and over (you may note, from my adventure so far, that I'm trying hard to not duplicate any fights in this adventure path). If a Red Tyrant is 18th level, then I can pair one with a Level 15 creature for a moderate encounter, and I can use two Red Tyrants for one of my severe encounters. That seems pretty useful. What Level 15 creatures pair well? Demiliches! Ooh, that is visually awesome: a devil-worshipper with a gem-studded skull at the end of a chain, like a prisoner/damned soul/spellcasting ally. Level 18 it is. And since a demilich casts some powerful spells, my Red Tyrants should be less about spellcasting and more about melee combat. And have only a one-handed weapon, so they can hold the chain with the demilich at the end of it in the other hand. (...time passes...) And here it is: the Red Tyrant stat block I'll use a few times in my 17th-level adventure:

Red Tyrant                             Creature 18

Rare, LE, Medium, Human, Humanoid

Human diabolic executioner

Perception +29; greater darkvision

Languages Common, Infernal

Skills Acrobatics +30, Athletics +34 (+36 to Trip), Devil Lore +26, Intimidate +30, Religion +29, Society +26

Str +6, Dex +4, Con +3, Int +0, Wis +5, Cha +2

Items +1 striking composite longbow (40 arrows), +2 greater resilient full plate with a red crown design incorporated into the helm, +2 greater striking greater flaming temple sword

AC 42; Fort +33, Ref +27, Will +30

HP 335; Resistances fire 15

Tyrant’s Retort [reaction] Trigger A creature within the red tyrant’s reach critically misses with a melee Strike; Effect The red tyrant makes a melee Strike against the target. On a hit, the target is enfeebled 2 until the end of its next turn (enfeebled 4 on a critical hit).

Attack of Opportunity [reaction]

Speed 25 feet

Melee [one-action] temple sword +35 (magical, trip), Damage 3d8+16 slashing plus 1d6 fire plus tyrant’s smite

Ranged [one-action] composite longbow +35 (deadly d10, magical, propulsive, range increment 100 feet, reload 0, volley 30 feet), Damage 2d8+13 piercing

Divine Innate Spells DC 40; 9th divine wrath6th dominate (undead only); 2nd death knelldetect alignment (at will, chaotic or good only); Constant (9th) true seeing

Rituals DC 40; infernal pact

Crush the Fallen The red tyrant’s damage dice with its melee Strikes increase to d12 when making against prone targets.

Tyrant’s SmiteThe red tyrant’s melee Strikes cause wracking pain in good creatures, dealing an additional 2d10 persistent evil damage. If a red tyrant critically hits a good creature with a melee Strike, the target is slowed 1 for 1 minute.