Looking Over Book of Challenges: Bugbear Pit Fight


It's just cover art

Premise

A bugbear challenges a PC to a one-on-one pit fight, but it’s really a trap for a goblin ambush.


Good

The noisy stairs leading into the room justify its occupants being prepared for the PCs’ arrival by default. It would’ve been nice to have some mention of what happens if the PCs are able to enter undetected, but that shouldn’t be terribly onerous to improvise.


The distributed treasure and the inclusion of some non-coin treasure (along with a fancy but mundane dagger) are both nice touches.


The idea for scaling up the challenge by having a lever-triggered trap to spray acid into the pit is cool. Particularly simulationist GMs may want to consider the additional hazards presented by diluting the acid with all of the ambient water draining into the pit.


Salvageable

The description of the overall chamber is tucked into the end of the main balcony’s description, for some reason.


As written, it’s obfuscated that water is supposed to be coming into the chamber from all directions, not just from the stairway.


Bad

The premise is pretty terrible here, since the text offers nothing of value to justify why the PCs should accept the duel (the examples given all beg the question “but why not just have everyone gang up on the bugbear?”). I can think of some that would actually work (such as having a more powerful NPC task one of the PCs to do it as a way of proving their worth), but the fact that the text doubles down on providing no input of value lands this criticism in “Bad” instead of “Salvageable”.


The main balcony’s description has a whole lot of details that add nothing.


The side view map is out of scale and not labeled as such.


Repeating basic rules for non-attack combat actions (bull rushing, in this case) is worthless.


The bugbear’s tactic of retreating under the balcony “if faced by overwhelming odds” accomplishes little since the balcony is high and open enough to permit normal fighting for most characters.


Maybe I’m not understanding the written descriptions as intended, but nothing about the room descriptions makes it sound like there should be enough water to pose a significant impediment to normal movement, yet the mechanics say it should make climbing harder and require checks to avoid slipping/falling just for fighting in the area. That’s not just water dripping; that’s a significant flow for a roughly 30’x25’ footprint.


No real reason is given why the hidden goblins only use their most damaging attacks against PCs trying to reach them instead of using them by default.


Given the amount of dead space allocated for the map, it’s just lazy to have only text description for the network of tunnels connecting all of the balconies and its escape shaft.


Most of the advice for scaling up the challenge is just throwing in more monsters. Nobody needs help thinking of that.


Overall

There’s very little merit to this entry. It’s easily the worst one so far, and even the few points in its favor don’t do enough to justify giving it over two full pages.


All in all, this one was obvious filler, with the only saving grace being that the acid spray trap can be used to inspire a better encounter of the GM’s own creation.

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