Author Archives: Donny Rokk

How to Create a Memorable Final Battle

Learn how to plan a BBEG Boss Fight for your RPG game that will leave your players on the edge of their seats. This guide covers everything from creating a compelling villain to designing an engaging battle arena.

As a Game Master (GM) or Dungeon Master (DM), creating a memorable final battle with a Big Bad Evil Guy (BBEG) can be one of the most challenging aspects of running a role-playing game (RPG). After all, the BBEG is the main antagonist of your campaign and the ultimate challenge for your players. You want to ensure that the final battle is challenging but also memorable, and satisfying for everyone involved. In this guide, we will walk you through the steps of planning a BBEG Boss Fight that will highlight your RPG campaign.

Creating a Compelling BBEG

The first step in planning a BBEG Boss Fight is creating a compelling villain your players will love to hate. Here are some tips to help you create a BBEG that will be both memorable and challenging:

Backstory and Motivation

Your BBEG should have a well-defined backstory and a clear motivation for their actions. This will make them more relatable to your players and give them a reason to want to defeat them. Make sure your BBEG has a compelling reason for their evil deeds, whether it’s revenge, power, or something else entirely.

Personality and Traits

Your BBEG should also have distinct personalities and unique traits that make them stand out. Consider what makes your BBEG different from other villains and how they interact with your players. Do they have a twisted sense of humour? Are they incredibly intelligent or cunning? These traits will make your BBEG more memorable and add depth to their character.

Minions and Allies

Your BBEG should also have a group of minions and allies that help them carry out their evil plans. These can be other villains, monsters, or even NPCs your players have encountered throughout the campaign. Ensure that your BBEG’s minions and allies are well-developed and have their motivations for helping your BBEG.

Designing an Engaging Battle Arena

Once you have created your BBEG, the next step is to design an engaging battle arena for your final fight. Here are some tips to help you design a battle arena that will challenge your players and make the final fight more memorable:

Terrain and Obstacles

Your battle arena should have terrain and obstacles that add a layer of challenge to the fight. This could be anything from a room filled with traps to a maze-like dungeon with multiple levels. Ensure your terrain and obstacles are relevant to BBEG’s backstory and personality.

Interactive Elements

Your battle arena should also have interactive elements that your players can use to their advantage. This could be anything from levers that activate traps to hidden passages that allow players to flank their enemies. Make sure your interactive elements are well-designed and add an extra layer of strategy to the fight.

Visuals and Sound Effects

Finally, your battle arena should have visuals and sound effects that add to the atmosphere of the fight. This could be anything from eerie music to special lighting effects highlighting your BBEG’s powers. Make sure your visuals and sound effects are well-designed and add to the tension of the fight.

BBEG Boss Fight FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about planning a BBEG Boss Fight:

How do I balance the difficulty of the final fight?

To balance the difficulty of the final fight, you should consider the level and abilities of your players. Make sure that your BBEG is challenging enough to provide a satisfying final battle, but not so difficult that it becomes impossible to win. You can also adjust the difficulty level during the fight, depending on how the players are doing.

How can I make the final fight more cinematic?

To make the final fight more cinematic, you can use descriptive language to paint a vivid picture of the battle. You can also incorporate dramatic moments, such as when the BBEG reveals their true form or unleashes a devastating attack. Make sure to also use music and sound effects to enhance the atmosphere of the fight.

How do I handle player character deaths during the final fight?

Player character deaths can be a tricky issue during the final fight. As the GM, you should make sure that the players understand the risks involved in the fight and have contingency plans in case of character death. If a character dies during the fight, you can give the player the option to create a new character or resurrect their character after the fight.

Planning a BBEG Boss Fight can be daunting, but with the right preparation, you can create a memorable final battle that will leave your players talking about it for years to come. Remember to create a compelling BBEG with a well-defined backstory and personality, design an engaging battle arena with challenging terrain and interactive elements, and balance the difficulty level of the fight to ensure a satisfying conclusion to your RPG campaign. Happy gaming!

WotC Apologizes But Not Really

On Friday the 13th, Wizards of the Coast FINALLY responded to the fallout of the leaked Open Gaming License 1.1 (or 2.0 as they call it.).

It really wasn’t much of a response. “They won—and so did we.”

DnDShorts does the Lord’s Work again, breaks down the corporate babblespeak and outright lies in Wizard’s statement. A statement, according to Linda Codega (Gizmodo) that was written up not to put out any PR fires, but in response to the mass cancellation of DnD Beyond Subscriptions.

The Open Gaming License Fiasco


Wizards of the Coast have done the impossible. They have united the entire tabletop RPG community. People bickering back and forth on Twitter a week ago are now rallying together, joining hands, and marching forward. Content creators from Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, and everyone in between are standing together.

Why? Because Wizards of the Coast, and their parent company Hasbro, have tried to pull some shady shit. Shady, shady shit. And while they are a Dungeons and Dragons company, the Open Gaming License that they are manipulating affects many TTRPG systems, including the one I play – Pathfinder.

What am I talking about? There is no shortage of videos and articles explaining the OGL 1.1 garbage that Wizards of the Coast are trying to pull. But DnD Shorts posted a great video that explains it in a friendly, abridged version.

It’s been about five days since the OGL 1.1 was “leaked,” and WotC has yet to comment. I suspect they’re busy consulting their legal and public relations departments to calculate their next move. Sure, they can say that it was just a “draft” and would never come out in that form (despite Kickstarter having already received copies with contracts attached.) For now, the TTRPG community can only sit back and wait (and, as many already have done, lawyered up).

Good job WotC. Good job Hasbro.


WoW Tokk – Dragonflight Addons and UI

Hey, did you know that World of Warcraft has a new expansion? They do! It’s called Dragonflight, and as you might suspect, it is all about Dragons! A flight of dragons, you might say!

Editor’s Note – This has no relation to the 1982 animated classic The Flight of Dragons starring none other than James Earl Jones and the late John Ritter. Damn, that was a great movie and amazing cast.

Over the past few months, you may have noticed that I have not posted much along the lines of World of Warcraft content. That’s because I let my subscription lapse just before Dragonflight was released in November (Nov 28, 2022). Great timing, right? I had been playing just to earn enough gold to purchase additional months of subscriptions, but my mojo fell off a steep cliff. I had to decide where to put my spare time – World of Warcraft or the Pathfinder RPG. As you can tell from my posts, the TTRPG beat the MMORPG.

However, I have not gone to scorched earth with WoW. Despite not having an active account, I continued to ensure my addons were up to date just in case I got the itch to start playing again. As luck would have it, the WoW PVP and real-live swolverine, Bajheera posted his preferred addons and UI setup for Dragonflight 10.0. I’ve followed his guidelines in the past (both for World of Warcraft and fitness/workouts), so when I saw his video, I knew I had to check it out.

Not gonna lie – this may have been the motivation I needed to resub and try out the new expansion. He won’t see this, but just in case… thanks, Boss.

Enjoy his video!

GM Tokk – Lore Dump

I haven’t done one of these before, but I might want to start doing this more often. What is this, you might ask? GM Tokk will be where I give my thoughts about a Pathfinder session I ran recently. Maybe there was something I learned or could give a tip to others who might find themselves in a similar situation. It could be helpful to someone. It could not be. It could end up being coffee-infused babble. *Shrug*

If a post says GM Tokk, consider it a SPOILER to any of my players who might read this. I may reveal storyline aspects (either personal or from the Rise of the Runelords campaign itself), so if you are one of my players (and you know who you are) or are playing Rise of the Runelords and don’t want things spoiled, you should probably stop reading now.

Last chance.


Last night I ran Rise of the Runelords Episode 57, cleverly entitled Tales Beyond Time. Typically, when we get together, we play a four-hour session. But due to scheduling, last night’s session ended up being about half of that. In the prior session, one of the players was missing, and I had planned some storyline connective tissue for them. So when I had been planning last night’s session, I was going to start with the missing player, plug in the storyline content that they had missed, then have them rejoin the party and continue on from there.

I had also originally planned to use last night’s session to fill in some backstory on the BBEG. One of the problems I have with Rise of the Runelords adventure path is that unless your players really dig right from the beginning (and they honestly had no reason to do so), they have no idea who is “pulling the strings” until about 3/4 of the way through the campaign. Even then, they will have minimal contact with him until they come face-to-face with him in the finale. Your BBEG is supposed to feel like a significant threat, and the players should feel pressure to stop him. There are consequences to failure.

We had a running joke at our table. I mean, we’re playing “Rise of the Runelords.” That tells everyone that there’s a Runelord out there, and he or she is looking to Rise. Not precisely the foreshadowing you want for your villain. What the Hell is a runelord? At what point should my character know about said runelord and why they should stop their rise?

I had to do some heavy lifting to start hinting at that threat. I introduced the Runelord’s champion and tried to make them feel dangerous. But as far as the Runelord himself, the books give all sorts of backstories to flesh him out. But there’s no way that the players would ever find out about most of it. Not unless there was someone who could share that information. Someone with insider knowledge about a person who lived ten thousand years ago. In context, ten thousand years ago, humans just started using stone tools and travelled in nomadic tribes. What do we know about the leader of the largest nomadic tribe in 8000 BC?

So, lore dump.

While lore dump sessions happen (even the professionals like Critical Role have them), I don’t like reading to my players for an evening. It’s hard to keep them engaged unless the material is solid. I want them rolling dice and for it to mean something. I planned an encounter, but we didn’t get to it before time ran out. We might have gotten to it if I had been watching the clock closer, but I fell into the groove of pacing as if it were a regular session.

The upside of ending where we did, means we’ll start with an interesting encounter next session, but everyone was disappointed when we packed up for the evening. Had it been a regular session, we would have had the encounter, and the players could have actually engaged with the game. It was the perfect storm of “too much lore” and “not enough time.”

GM Lessons

  • If you have chunks of lore that you want to narrate, script it. If you are so comfortable with it that you can let it fly conversationally, do so. Otherwise, write it up and edit it. Get it tight. Pass along what the players need to know with a splash of flavour to keep it interesting. As a GM, there’s nothing worse than stumbling through your point-form notes and watching your players disconnect so severely that they either reach for their phones or fall asleep at the table, one eye at a time.
  • Keep an eye on your pacing, especially when you’re on the clock. If running a shorter session than usual, be mindful of the time. Your “muscle memory” will trip up your pacing because you feel you have more time when you don’t. Either check the time more often or keep your phone with the clock facing you to constantly remind you where you’re at. Things may have to move faster than you’re generally comfortable with, and there’s a thin line between moving things along and rushing through them.

How do you play out your own lore if you’re a GM? Do you use the “show, don’t tell” philosophy, and if so, how? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks, and Happy Gaming!