Hello, hello, hello and welcome back to another episode of Fae & Fiend. Today we are going to be looking at the Wraith. Sticking with some undead fun, lets see how we can use this spooky ghost to make a great encounter (MM page 302).
Alright so the first thing to note is that the encounter will take place inside a temple, crypt or barrow of some sort. We do this as to get give your players the AID, which i'll come to in a bit.
A: Ok, so the players have entered the death trap and the Wraith can surprise with it's Incorporeal Movement. I would make him rise from the ground slow and menacing like. Our players will quickly see he is nothing to scoff at. With 67 HP and resistances to most magic types and non magical attacks this guy can take a beating. His movement is 60 ft, meaning he can fly across the map to hound the casters and archers alike. We'll get him to engage and use his Life Drain, a nasty attack that not only does a chunk of damage (4d8 +3), but makes the target make a DC 14 Con Save. And if they fail, their hit point total is reduced by the amount of damage taken. Any hero that can't take a big hit will want to stay clear. Because if the damage takes them to 0 HP... They die. Yep. No death rolls. Straight. Death.
Aid: The players are rightfully afraid of the death sapping attacks the of Wraith. In order to give them a higher chance of survival were going to give them sunlight. Why sunlight? Well as the Wraith has a feature called Sunlight Sensitivity, it will greatly hinder the evil being as he tries to suck up PC souls. The feature means disadvantage on wisdom checks, but more importantly attack roles, if he is in sunlight. This is why we make the map a building with the light coming threw open windows or a collapsed roof. If the players hold their ground in the sunlight they may survive yet.
B: Regardless if the players know this vulnerability of the wraith or not, as tactician DM's, we want to stall their plans. Dump a bunch of Crawling Claws to try and grapple them so they can't move (MM page 44). The claws are insignificant in their damage potential, but make them contest the players strength or acrobatics to hold them down for a turn so the Wraith can catch up. At it's worst, they give the players an obstacle course to overcome. I'd even throw one or two onto a players leg. The image of a dozen hands jumping up from the floor towards you is a terrifying bone rattling.
C: Now this is for if you want to give your players a real surprise, and will drastically effect CR. Send in a NPC with low hp with the party. Kill him with Life Drain and then raise him the next turn as a Specter with Create Specter (MM page 279). It will absolutely dismay the party as they see a former comrade turn against them. Their soul floating out of their body, ethereal and green to then bare it's fangs and charge. Summary: Get that Wraith to charge the players whilst the Crawling Claws hold them in place. If they reach the sunlight and you think it may be too easy an encounter, pop that Create Specter and add an extra foe to the mix.
CR: 4 if Create Specter is used. CR: 3 without it.
It's a big jump in difficulty with a specter added to the mix. Not only do you have to deal with the Claws, the Wraith but the Specter also has, albeit less powerful, a Life Drain attack. So chuck this at the party and see if they don't become the dead they fight against!