Looking Over Book of Challenges: In Media Res
The party comes across a fight between two large creatures.
The premise is underused and can help give a sense of life in the world beyond the PCs.
The intro gives enough background about the creatures to serve as a basis for roleplaying without going overboard.
While it’s somewhat overwritten, having boxed text for what the players hear as they approach the encounter is nice.
The art of the two creatures fighting is one of the better drawings in the book.
The “Tactics” section has simple guidelines for how each creature is likely to react to PC interference, both before and after their initial opponent is defeated.
A DC 13 Spot check in an EL 11 encounter is just wasting time with rolls. Let the players see the mephit’s corpse automatically.
I’d make it automatic for the PCs to notice that the render is protecting the mephit’s corpse if they take time to observe before jumping in.
Despite how fancy the long stat blocks may seem, the two creatures are both pretty straightforward melee bruisers. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, but it also wouldn’t be a problem to spice them up in some way if a more tactically-complex encounter is desired.
The only thing lazier than a reused map is no map at all.
“Xflox” is a terrible name. I don’t care that it’s an alien being; if the humans at the table can’t say the name, it’s not worth writing the name out.
I don’t understand why this encounter write-up goes out of its way to include Knowledge checks to identify the creatures involved. The descriptions of the creatures ought to be good enough to make decisions about what to do.
While it is quite a haul, the treasure is still just a pile of currency.
The advice for scaling the encounter down is just about varying the creatures’ HD.
Right off the bat, the idea for the party to come across some NPCs fighting with each other is great. There really isn’t much else to say about this encounter (it’s extremely straightforward), but that idea alone is worth keeping in mind to mix in occasionally.
All in all, this is a great premise, and the actual encounter itself can get a lot of mileage out of the little bit of roleplaying that the text supports. It’s filler, but it’s interesting filler.