How to Create Tarrasque Encounters | The Gallant Goblin

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How to Create Tarrasque Encounters

by | Feb 7, 2023 | Gallant Goblin | 0 comments

Video transcript

I’m going to change things up a little bit. Today we’re looking at the new Tarrasque mini from WizKids, and many thanks to them for sending it to us. Arguably their biggest mini yet, and one of the most expensive with an MSRP of 400 bucks. So I daresay a lot of you watching today aren’t necessarily going to be picking this one up. But everyone can use a tarrasque in their game, whether you have the mini or not. So as we take a look at this big boy, I’m going to tell you the lore behind the tarrasque, give you ideas for incorporating them into your games, and I’ll give you a new Gallant Goblin magic item or two that you can use in your tarrasque encounters. Another thing we’re going to play around with is putting the transcripts of these videos on our website, with any new items or monsters or NPCs that we develop that you’ll be able to download for free and use in your games. So check out gallantgoblin.com for that! Now, the tarrasque can make for an incredible kaiju fight, but you’ll want to do certain things ahead of time as the gamemaster to get the most out of the encounter. 

So this is how I want to approach videos like this with minis going forward. When we look at that goblin camp encounter mini set coming up soon, let’s talk about some fun ways to use goblin camps in our campaigns, whether or not you get the mini. This way, even if you don’t buy a lot of minis, you’re hopefully getting some good value out of these videos. And we’ll throw in some fun items, monsters, spells, and more hopefully each time. So, let me know what you think! I’m sure we’ll be tweaking this plan as we go, and your feedback, plus our capacity as creators, will guide the way. All right, let’s get to it, starting with the legendary Tarrasque.

Before we jump in, if you’re looking for some new games to try in the new year, our good buddies over at Hit Point Press have you covered! They have an ongoing Kickstarter for Constellation: An RPG Zine Anthology which includes 12 brand new table top RPGs for you to play. You can get them either digitally or in a nice hardback edition. You’ve got a solo games called What Really Happened, a two player narrative combat game called Vis-a-Visage, and a 3-4 player horror game based on Chinese folklore called Chinese Ghost Stories We Tell Ourselves, plus 9 other creative and eclectic games.  Use the link above to access the Kickstarter page. The campaign ends on February 9th, 2023, so check it out before it’s too late. That’s Constellation, the RPG Zine Anthology from Hit Point Press.

Tarrasques are the Godzillas of D&D. Outside of Tiamat and Bahamut, the tarrasque is the only CR 30 creature in the game, and 30 is as high as the scale goes.  At heart, it’s just a giant bruiser that’s hard to kill.  AC 25, 676 hit points, immune to fire, poison, and non-magical physical damage. Can’t be charmed, frightened, paralyzed, or poisoned. Resistant to magic and immune to magic missile, line spells, and ranged attack spells, except for one sixth of the time when those spells are reflected back against the caster. Each turn it can attempt to frighten its foes, and, each turn, it gets one bite attack, two claw attacks, one horn attack, and one tail attack. If all those attacks hit, and they get a plus 19 to hit, they’ll deal, on average, a total of 148 damage. Plus the bite attack restrains which can lead to a swallow, and while you’re in its belly you take 56 acid damage a turn. And the tail attack can knock you prone. Plus it has legendary actions and resistances. This is a fight that more or less completely nullifies magical blasters. Fireball, magic missile… completely unhelpful. And don’t forget that the tarrasque also has a stat block in Pathfinder 2e, which is, on the whole, pretty similar, but it also has the ability to to throw spines off its tail at a range of 120 feet. It’s considered a level 25 creature, and their scale goes up, checking my notes, 25.  The only other current creatures at level 25 are Treerazer, who also has a mini you can see here, and Damari-Diji, the treeant type creature who, you guessed it, has a video review here.  

All that said, a party with a strategy can tackle a tarrasque without much danger to themselves at all. If all the party members are flying or out of reach, there’s really nothing the tarrasque can do, at least in a 5e campaign. It completely lacks for ranged attacks outside of 20 feet. So this means 2 things for your stories. 

First, this can be an encounter that you can use to reward a party’s preparation. If you’re going to drop a tarrasque into your campaign, you’ll want a lot of build up to it. The party gets word that the big bad of your campaign is going to summon into being something devastating. Or signs and portents around the world point to the imminent arrival of something catastrophic. It’s up to the adventuring group to first find out what it is, and then learn as much as they can about it. This can mean doing research, espionage, completing certain quests, finding sages, conducting spells and rituals to contact higher powers, whatever makes sense for your campaign and your group of adventurers. The gamemastery guide in Pathfinder has a good research mechanic you can make use of. And using the book Strongholds and Followers from MCDM for 5e your party can found their own information gathering agency which can be a lot of fun in and of itself.  

So what can they learn about the tarrasque?  They can learn that it isn’t able to deal well with ranged attacks with magical weapons and that spells like reverse gravity, banishment, and maze work well at buying time for combatants to deal with it, at least once those legendary resistances are out of the way. If the party doesn’t have members who can cast those spells, this preparation time will allow them to get scrolls or recruit casters to help.

Ultimately, the difficulty of this upcoming battle is largely going to depend on how much your party knows going into it and how much preparation they do. And from a metagame perspective, giving your players a chance to learn this information ahead of time will hopefully let you avoid the situation where the player whose PC is a magical blaster feels completely unable to participate meaningfully in the battle. It’s great to make players change up their usual combat strategies, but you don’t want players to feel completely useless and just have to sit there watching other people have fun for 3 hours. If nothing else, it might be an opportunity to let that player control a recruited ally or drive a powerful combat vehicle or war machine.  Get creative with it.

The second thing I’d recommend:  I would frame this encounter as less of a straight up battle, and more of a chase. And this is something that your players can perhaps discover in their information gathering.  The tarrasque simply wants to destroy, it doesn’t hold grudges, it doesn’t recognize threats, most wounds against it don’t even register. When the tarrasque lands or is summoned, have it go on a rampage through the important locations you’ve established in your campaign setting. It’s almost more of a natural disaster than an intelligent monster. The party not only has to find a way to bring it down, but also to redirect it away from population centers or at least slow it’s progress, and it has a movement speed of 40 ft. If you need help on running an encounter like this, there’s a similar one in chapter 4 of Rime of the Frost Maiden. And that adventure also features a scroll of tarrasque summoning, so you might end up with two rampaging monsters in that adventure.  

If your party fails to do its research and doesn’t take the threat seriously, the tarrasque can really cause some destruction. But if they do all their preparation, they might be able to dispatch it fairly easily, which could be really satisfying for your players. But if you’re going to bring in a creature like this, you’re going to want to have a memorable, out of the ordinary encounter.  

If you worry that a well prepared party is going to make short work of your terrifying tarrasque, consider having some flying scavengers follow it around. Chimera and manticores come to mind. They may not tip the scales too much, especially CR 3 manticores, but they’ll give those parties that decided to make everyone fly have to deal with some complications. Or, perhaps your big bag summoner or necromancer or skeletor comes riding in on the tarrasque’s back. Having a capable spell slinger riding a tarrasque is going to really up the challenge. Now using a tarrasque as a mount is a dangerous proposition, and you’re going to need some magical assistance to pull it off.  So we’ve developed for you a Saddle of Tarrasque Wrangling, which let’s you, or your evil baddie, exert some level of control over the enormous monstrosity. And we also have a Tarrasque Lure that the baddie may try to smuggle into your heroes’ keep to direct the wave of destruction in their direction.  Again, you can find those down below!

Now, there is a good, pre-written tarrasque module if you want just a fun one-shot to run with your group: Invasion from the Planet of the Tarrasques by James Introcoso. It’s technically a follow-up, epilogue for Dungeon of the Mad Mage, but it’s fine on its own. As the name implies, multiple tarrasques invade Waterdeep from another planet and the PCs have to mount a defense, then they have to travel to the tarrasques’ world via portal to put a stop to the threat once and for all. Good level 20 adventures are rare, and this is one of the more celebrated ones. 

As for the Wizkids mini, I’m happy with it. The paint job is good, the sculpt is magnificent, and overall it lives up to the hype of being the biggest bad on the material plane. It stacks up well next to our other gigantic minis like Tiamat and the others. If you want it a bit cheaper and don’t mind painting it yourself, there is an unpainted version as well available for between $250 and $350 dollars. Those purchase links are down below. The painted Tarrasque mini is available now for between $315 and $400. Let me know what you think of it down below, and if you’ve had some memorable tarrasque encounters, I’d love to hear about it.  

Don’t forget to check out Constellation: An RPG Zine Anthology on Kickstarter now from our sponsor hit point press! And, I think we can say that our kobolds are switching from pre-order status to shipping now. So if you’ve been waiting to adopt some of your own, well, now is the perfect time. They’re all in stock with limited quantities, so hop over to koboldplush.com to pick up your new babies.

Let me know what you thought of this new video format. For most minis, I think showing you the figure in detail and in comparisons let’s you decide if it’s one you want to pick up for your collection. If there’s anything I think you should know about it, i’ll certainly let you know, but for the most part, I don’t think my subjective opinions on them aren’t super useful to you, but hopefully related story hooks, items, GM tips and strategies, and the like, are useful.  But, let me know.

Again, the items are available here at gallantgoblin.com and you can always find me on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Mastodon. If you enjoyed the video, liking, subscribing, and clicking the notification bell will help us grow and bring you more cool new stuffs. Thanks for watching today. For now, stay safe, have fun, love each other, and I’ll see you next time at the Gallant Goblin.

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<a href="https://www.gallantgoblin.com/author/theothourson/" target="_self">Theo Thourson</a>

Theo Thourson

Theo Thourson

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