I'm excited for this one; it's a character from my book! I'm generally reluctant to do this sort of thing but it means that character could be killed prematurely or something of that sort. Normally, a writer would just say this is what happens in the book universe and this is what happens in the campaign universe. Better yet, there'd be no overlap between the sequences of time to begin with. Well, maybe. There is probably a right way for me to do this. I don't know what that way is, so I'm just going to try to execute what it is I'm currently doing in the best way possible. I hope there is something in that statement that made sense.
It's a fleeting hope.
Nevertheless, with this character I didn't need to worry about anything of that sort! The means of cheating death are rare, but this guy has access to one of them. In fact, this neatly packages an excuse to make him a recurring villain, even if the players kill him. Especially if the players kill him. In fact, love tossing out enemies that know who the players are and what they can do. I generally employed intelligent enemies to begin with, who react reasonably to the players mid fight. But when my monsters get to meta-game? Oh boy, how I love smacking down my players. For the record, they love it too!
All right, let's go over the man. You may have guessed he's probably going to make an appearance in the upcoming argon forest side quest I've set up for my players. I'm starting more and more to get the hang of creating solo or near solo boss fights, thanks largely to the creativity and diligence of my friends. Is a friendly reminder that don't worry if you suck as a DM; chances are at least one of your friends is good at some aspect of it. Learn from them!
Now the Deathtaker's are not really a legion themselves. They're more of a sub faction. Then again, that sort of what the lesions are. To put it another way, they don't fit perfectly within the militaristic paradigm of the Brestrels nation. They have other functions within the state, simply put. Nevertheless, a focus on death and necromancy makes for a nice supplement to a military force. Plenty of corpses on a battlefield....
Let's jump into the purpose. Necromancers as PCs (or summoning undead in general) can be annoying for DMs. I'm generally fine with it, I just hand the player a monster manual when they start summoning. There's also the RP aspect, and while my group does not I think suffer from the oft maligned "lawful stupid" character, we very much DO have the "I antagonize the lawful good" character(s). I of course, being noble and virtuous as I am, would never annoy another player in such a fashion. I don't need to worry about the rp or mechanical annoyances in any case though, as I'm controlling the "I make more NPCs" character.
This proves an easy solution to the issue of disparity in action economy when it comes to boss fights. Not only that, you get to exploit something I could do more often but simply forget, which is to introduce more creature in the midst of a fight (again, something I really don't do in boss fights).
It works really, really well for this guy in particular. Check Army of Death; +1 to AC for every undead within 30 feet. AC rarely changes across the course of a fight! Even when it does, it's usually pretty predictable. Here though, it's extremely dynamic. I'd actually pose that as a warning if you end up using this guy or even just this mechanic in particular; you may find it difficult to manage. Spells are easy enough to manage, but let's look over Voice of the Dead for a moment. The creature Kother chooses (either an Undead or staying true to my "this faction is special" design, another Deathtaker) uses its reaction to let Kother cast a spell through it. Simple right? I realized my language was poor off the bat for the secondary effect, and didn't want to leave it hanging.
The secondary effect talks about "as if the creature cast it". Here's how I define it: if the creature would suffer or gain any advantage or disadvantage or any other bonus or restriction if it was the one casting the spell, that effect is in play. Examples usually clear this sort of confusion. If the creature Kother chooses is under the effect of a silence spell, he can't use that creature to cast a spell with a verbal component. If it's restrained, it has disadvantage on any spell attack roll. If the creature is paralyzed, it can't take any actions.
I hope I cleared that up, the language went through more than one iteration before I settled on the final product you see there.
Death Touch is a ripoff of Lightning Touch from the Kraken Priest in Volo's. Consume Undead is actually pretty great though! At this level zombies and skeletons aren't a threat to the players in terms of damage. You're only 1 failed strength check away from being grappled though! Dog piling the cleric or paladin could be a great investment just to hold back those particular heavy hitters. Also goes back to the dynamic AC thing. Take a penalty to AC, get HP back.
Legendary Actions! Cantrip actually gives me a lot of room to play around with given the Voice of the Dead ability. Beckon is very convenient if a number of enemies are on the field. Fail a wisdom save, take an outrageous number of opportunity attacks. Empower Undead won't be particularly useful by and large in this situation, I'm not giving Kother high CR undead to control (in this encounter), but when I do, it'll be nasty.
Also, I'm now realizing the spell save DC and Spell Attack Bonus should be 1 higher if I think of this guy as a 16th level caster. Proficiency bonus is annoying when it comes to NPCs with "class levels".
I'm not concerned if my players see this (they now have access to my blog) for 2 reasons. One, they're great roleplayers. Two, I have other unique statblocks to add on to this encounter :)