The Rise of Tiamat
(Analysis) Langdedrosa Fight
This is how the battlefield looked before the fight began (right click and open in new tab if you are using Chrome or similar):
– The party came up the stairs into the shrine, and Langdedrosa noticed them straight away.
– Leo was in front (no name under him), followed in the order you see (Findar also unnamed in this image).
– Langdedrosa had his followers gathered near to him.
I’m setting aside the question as to whether you should have engaged at all. (You could have tried seeing where the other tunnel back near the start of the cave went – and perhaps approached this fight from the south and a better angle, OR you could have decided to try to draw Langdedrosa out of the shrine to the kobold barracks or some other room that you had prepared.)
Instead, based on attacking in this room from this direction, some thoughts:
Once Langdedrosa started to speak, his henchmen immediately began to fan out. Although I hadn’t drawn anything on the board at that stage, it would have been entirely appropriate (and for the best) for someone to speak up out of character and indicate that if the berserkers were changing their position, the party would be doing the same. Once the henchmen had moved into their positions as shown below, the battlefield was very much not in your favour.
Once you were in this position, though, nothing stopped you from retreating and trying to draw the enemy after you.
As it stands, note the way that the berserkers prevent you from coming very far into the room. Their placement naturally draws your frontline fighters into a line facing off against them, which leaves your back line (any ranged attackers, typically low armor class) very much at threat from Langdedrosa.
Langdedrosa, meanwhile, is shrouded in darkness. What you could not have known at the time was that he had blindsight – he could see perfectly in darkness out for a little ways, and by moving to the edge of the darkness with no impediments, he could breathe lightning knowing where you all were and with the best chance of doing serious damage.
In this case, the darkness was a mistake. It could have been used more effectively against the berserkers who were humans – no darkvision, no blindsight, so the darkness is a problem for them. But if it were up to me, I wouldn’t have used the darkvision at all in this fight, and saved the ki points for extra attacks to bring an enemy down faster.
But let’s assume that you’d spoken up and decided to move the moment the enemy started to try to get a good position. One of two things should have happened – either the fight started before the berserkers could get in position (maybe a 1 square move for each of them), or a cautious advance would have ended up in something kind of like this:
The red curve shows how the enemy – slower or further from where they wanted to get to – would likely have set themselves, presenting an entirely different front. Now, instead of forcing your front line to move south in the room, leaving your back line open to Langdedrosa, you have your front line cutting the enemy off from the rest of the room. There isn’t much room to maneuver.
Langdedrosa in particular isn’t given many good options with his lightning breath. I’ve highlighted his most likely attack based on position (see yellow lines). Any square that is more than half affected by the lightning lines gets the brunt of the blast. Otherwise, the lightning bolt isn’t considered to have gone through it. In this case, Findar gets zapped, as does Leo. Kev is just outside the range. [EDIT: I’ve since looked at this line in the light of day, and it would only have hit Findar – but there is a positioning that would hit both Findar and Leo, so my comments remain appropriate.]
Langdedrosa could instead have targeted straight at Kev, but note the green circle around Oloster. That is to highlight that he isn’t in the room, and he’s partially down some steps. He can use plenty of spells to good effect from that angle, so long as Langdedrosa doesn’t move. Until that happens, he also benefits from a massive amount of cover from the lightning breath attack. He’d be considered to have 3/4 cover (p 196 of the PHB) and so his Armor Class and his Dexterity save would both be boosted by +5. Odds are the lightning strike does only half damage if Oloster is targeted, so Langdedrosa picks a more likely target.
From this position, the pillars in the room give Breena a chance to wreak havoc with her ranged attack (sneak attacks galore) and probably never has to worry about the berserkers or the lightning breath attack.
Saladir would utilise his flurry of blows ability to run through multiple attacks targetting one of the berserkers only. Findar and Breena would focus on the same berserker. My description of them wearing hide armor should be a giveaway that they are probably easily hit – and with them going berserk, you get advantage on the attacks. Findar would use his sharpshooter feat plus his Colossus Slayer ability to hit pretty much every attack he makes and do massive damage (1d8 + 4 for the bow, 1d8 for Colossus Slayer, +10 for the feat). If all those three attacks hit, average damage is about 54 – one berserker would be bloodied and not far off dying.
Oloster would target Langdedrosa with a punchy second level spell – not sure of spell list, but scorching ray a good option. (If web is on hand, using that to really mess with several enemies being able to move around could be good too – particularly if Leo and Kev are willing to try to push enemies back in if they break free.) Kev would use spiritual weapon to get two hits in on Langdedrosa, while Leo would ready an action to attack when a berserker moved within reach (moving up sacrifices positioning, as does moving back). Alternatively, he could throw a javelin at the bloodied berserker for a chance to take him out of the fight entirely. (In general, it is better to reduce the number of attack rolls you face as quickly as possible.)
Technically, the berserkers can slip past Leo to attack the back line – but to do so, there will be attacks of opportunity. On that basis, the best berserker to attack first is berserker 2 (second from the bottom in the image). Almost dead, he won’t risk two attacks of opp going past Leo (and leaving where Saladir would have moved up to), and will just take extra swipes at Saladir.
In fact, Saladir will probably benefit in the second round from some sort of healing. Findar can reposition to do that, or if Breena has a healing potion, she can use a bonus action to feed it to Saladir (thank you rogue abilities). She still gets an attack off that round, along with Findar and Saladir’s flurrying, and the result should be one berserker down, and a second possibly bloodied. Meanwhile, Kev can cast bless or wade into the melee. The spiritual weapon will get another hit in, Leo will smite, and Oloster attacks Langdedrosa again (assuming he hasn’t moved out of sight from the stairwell position – if so, Oloster has more than enough movement to move into the room and position in a safe spot behind the front line before casting a spell – if available, shatter would be perfect).
And so it goes. The fight would likely go much better on that basis. Depending on the dice, of course!