Looking Over Book of Challenges: Dropping like a Stone


It's just cover art

Premise

Some gargoyles have set an ambush over a chasm with a carrion crawler.


Good

This is an atypical combination of creatures who’re working together only out of mutual convenience and may resort to in-fighting. That’s something that doesn’t tend to come up much in play, especially among creatures on the lower end of the Intelligence scale.


As ever, using some terrain aspect (the chasm) or a trap (basically what the carrion crawler is) to divide and conquer is a tactic that I’m always in favor of, so doing both in a single encounter gets my approval.


While much of the treasure is either currency or mathemagical items, the rod of metal and mineral detection is an interesting choice.


Salvageable

The gargoyles ought to be cunning enough to consider grabbing lightweight characters and flying up with them instead of relying solely on bull rushing to knock people over the chasm’s edge. They think to grapple airborne characters, after all.


Bad

The plan view map is entirely useless.


Repeating basic rules for non-combat attack actions is still worthless.


Overall

This is a very simple and self-contained encounter, similar to Close Quarters or Fool Me Once, but I like this more than those because there’s potential for an interesting relationship between the gargoyles and the carrion crawler. Admittedly, it’s not much potential as written, since the gargoyles attack immediately and have no interaction with the crawler unless they run out of targets up high, but the GM needn’t stick with that just because someone wrote it.


And even if the GM does keep it that simple, it can still provide a seed for coming up with more such interactions. Harpies working with trolls, stirges working with ropers, or invisible stalkers working with aboleth could all be suitable for similar set-ups.


All in all, this is what Troll and Pets should’ve aspired to. It’s still not anything amazing, but it has a lot of small points in its favor, it can work as written, and the creature combination is one that I would be happy to use rather than feeling annoyed that it wasn’t something better.

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