Looking Over Book of Challenges: Mimic Madness


It's just cover art

This is collection of four simple encounters featuring mimics, so I’ll give a breakdown of each individually before my final assessment.


WEAPON RACK

Premise

An old weapon rack is actually a mimic who’s thought of using weapons.


Good

With how often mimics are described as having perfect mimicry, it’s a pleasant surprise to see a mandated Spot check to notice something off about this one.


Salvageable

For all that the intro builds mimics up as being “not only cunning, but smart as well”, setting an ambush behind a closed door in a “dusty corner of the dungeon” sounds more likely to just end in starvation for the would-be predator. Not that I’m advocating for calorie-counting dungeon ecology, but the encounter should be someplace with at least somewhat regular traffic (even if that’s just vermin which wouldn’t constitute an encounter for the PCs).


Having a bevy of real weapons sounds clever, but the ones chosen are an odd mix by 3E’s rules. Default mimics are large-size creatures with 10’ reach, so I think the net’s 10’ range is meaningless and the reach property of the guisarme/longspear is negated by them being medium-size weapons. Thus, the mimic ends up with two weapons that let it take an attack roll penalty for no advantage over its normal attack (even the damage is almost the same: 1d8 longspear or 2d4 guisarme vs 1d8 slam) and a third that lets it take an attack roll penalty and give up dealing damage in order to change the condition its attack inflicts from grappled to restrained. That all said, I appreciate the intent here and would be on board with leaning into it in a less rigorous game system.


The coins piled beneath the mimic warrant mentioning as part of the room’s description, unless we’re to assume the mimic was blocking them from view.


Bad

(none)


HOME IMPROVEMENTS

Premise

A mimic uses its ability to speak to act like magical furniture.


Good

The intelligence and speech capabilities of standard mimics has long been one of the curious quirks of Dungeons & Dragons, so it’s nice to have some ideas for how to make use of them.


Salvageable

While the idea to have the mimic ambush sleeping PCs might sound good, it could also make players think everyone and everything they come across is going to try killing them. Use with caution.


Bad

Any actual roleplay advice is replaced by a scale of lie detection skill checks.


MIMIC MOUTH

Premise

A mimic acts like a speaking wooden panel to lure visitors into an ambush.


Good

Intelligent monsters making use of traps to increase the threat they pose is almost always a welcome sight.


Having both the mimic and its victim roll saving throws to see who’s on the bottom if they fall into the pit together is a nice resolution mechanic idea.


Salvageable

(none)


Bad

A wooden panel in a random wall calling out that it holds some great treasure isn’t going to make anyone believe it, not even in a funhouse dungeon.


MIMIC MIRRORS

Premise

Two mimics work in tandem to set an ambush with a magic mirror.


Good

It’s amazing to have a mirror in a Dungeons & Dragons encounter that’s actually just a normal mirror. I wouldn’t even mind making both of them regular mirrors.


Having the mimics abuse their melee reach to flank targets while staying on the walls is clever.


The gems being real gems, even if low-value, is a nice surprise.


Salvageable

The boxed text was almost decent, until the last sentence about the gem reflections being more numerous and beautiful than the stars in the heavens dumped a brick of cheese on it. Get rid of that.


Bad

The other problem with the boxed text is that a viewer wouldn’t really see the endless series of mirror reflections unless they looked at it from a shallow angle, which would likely mean seeing their own reflection and thus triggering the effect.


Overall

I’m not normally a fan of monsters that don’t make much sense unless they’re getting a steady supply of adventurers to eat, nor am I normally a fan of monsters that just pretend to be a common object until they attack, but all of these were actually interesting ideas. I wouldn’t expect to use any of them in any given game, but they’re a definite step up from the stereotypical “the treasure chest is really a mimic!” use.


All in all, while this wasn’t suited to my general tastes, these are all on the good end of the mimic encounters I’ve seen.

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