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Monkey Goblins Attack!


Round 5 - Top 6: Design an Encounter

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Paizo Employee Senior Developer

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Into the Jungle

With the Cerulean Sisterhood hot on their trail, the PCs’ next step is to get the fugitive sorceress Praneeta out of Jhansi. If the PCs met Madame Kumuda at the House of Forty-Seven Doors, they should now have enough information to find the elven village of Sundagar, hidden in the jungles east of Jhansi. The trade road to Sadhrakand, which enters the Viridian Jungle a few miles east of the city, is the best route to take. Fifty miles from Jhansi, about two days’ travel on foot, an overgrown trail branches off the road to the south, leading into the trackless depths of the jungle. This path, according to Madame Kumuda’s information, leads to Sundagar. There the PCs can seek out an agent for the Order of the Resplendent Serpent who will help them cross the Erm Hyar (thereby avoiding the Ossuary Barrens and the Crimson Legion) and take Praneeta to an Order safehouse in Almudin.

Jungle Features: The Viridian Jungle is considered dense forest. Travel on the trail is 18 miles per day (for a speed of 30 feet); off the trail, movement is reduced to 6 miles per day. As daytime temperatures in the jungle reach well over 90° F, heat becomes a danger while traveling. Characters in these conditions must make Fortitude saves each hour (DC 15, +1 for each previous check) or take 1d4 points of nonlethal damage. Characters wearing heavy clothing or armor of any sort take a -4 penalty on their saves. A character who takes any nonlethal damage from heat exposure now suffers from heatstroke and is fatigued. See Wilderness Adventures: Forest Terrain (DMG p. 87) and The Environment: Heat Dangers (DMG p. 303) for more details.

A unique feature of the Viridian Jungle are the monumental vriksha trees, massive living towers that soar hundreds of feet in the air. These ancient trees have trunks 20 feet or more in diameter, and immense flat leaves up to 50 feet long and 20 feet wide. Arboreal creatures like monkey goblins frequently make their homes or camps on the surface of these broad leaves high above the forest floor, leaping or swinging on vines to travel from leaf to leaf.

They’re in the trees! (EL 4)

After the PCs have traveled for one day along the trail to Sundagar, read or paraphrase the following:

For three days you’ve marched through the jungle, constantly sweating in the sweltering heat. You’ve hacked through vines and creepers and clambered over deadfalls, trying to follow a trail that seems to disappear into the undergrowth all too often. It’s been a constant battle between collapsing from heatstroke under your clothes or armor, or exposing your skin to the ever-present hordes of biting insects. Sunlight filters down through the high canopy, tinting everything green in the dim light. Or maybe it’s because of the mold that’s growing on every piece of your equipment in the pervasive damp. Around you, the sounds of birds and monkeys fill the air. But gradually, through the incessant background chatter, you hear what sounds like a trickling brook ahead, promising fresh, cool water and some relief from the day’s oppressive heat.

Unfortunately for the PCs, the path also leads straight into the middle of an ambush. A raiding party of savage monkey goblins from the Thundering Lizard tribe, under the leadership of a barbarian named Aghar, has recently set up camp in the towering vriksha trees beside the trail in order to waylay passing travelers. They have already captured one such traveler (see Development), but are eager for more victims.

The monkey goblins are hiding on the wide vriksha leaves overhanging the trail (areas 1, 2, 3A, and 3B on the map). It is a DC 25 Spot check to detect the goblins before the ambush, as they have taken 10 on their Hide checks and the huge leaves provide them with improved cover (+10 to Hide checks) as well as concealment.

Trap: The monkey goblins have camouflaged three snares in the middle of the trail (the squares marked “T” on the map). Anyone stepping into these squares must make a DC 18 Reflex save or take 1d6 points of nonlethal damage as he is swept off his feet and suspended upside down 20 feet above the trail. Praneeta automatically triggers one of the snares and fails her save, leaving two of the snares for the PCs to encounter. A suspended victim can, as a full-round action, make a DC 20 Escape Artist check to get free or a DC 23 Strength check to break the rope without assistance, but will take 2d6 points of damage as he falls 20 feet to the ground below. The rope has AC 7, hardness 0, and 2 hit points.

Snare Trap (3) CR 1/2

Spoiler:
Type mechanical
Search DC 20; Disable Device DC 15
AC 7 (-5 Dex, -2 object, +4 size)
hp 2; Hardness 0; Break DC 23

Effects
Trigger touch; Reset repair DC 20
Effect DC 18 Reflex save avoids (1d6 nonlethal damage plus suspended 20 feet in the air, snare); DC 20 Escape Artist

Creatures: Once the snares have been triggered, four monkey goblins (2 each from areas 1 and 3A, marked “G” on the map) swing down from their vriksha leaves on vines, kukris held in their teeth, to attack any PCs still standing on the trail. To successfully swing, the goblins must make DC 5 Strength checks. They make a double move (up to 80 feet on a swinging vine) and attack at the end of their swing with their kukris, gaining the benefits of a charge (+2 to attack rolls, -2 to AC) and attacking from higher ground (+1 to attack rolls). These bonuses are not included in the stats below. Allow PCs to make Listen checks (DC 16) to recognize the sound of swinging goblins swooping silently out of the trees. Those failing their Listen checks are surprised.

As the surprise round begins, Aghar blows his war horn as a free action, and all the goblins begin an ululating war cry. Read or paraphrase the following to the players:

A fearsome noise, like the roar of a dinosaur crossed with the squeal of a freshly skewered boar, rings through the trees. For a split second, the jungle goes silent, then a wild ululation fills the air as green-skinned monkey goblins, bedecked in body paint and bone and feather ornaments, swoop down from the trees on long vines, kukris clutched in grinning yellow teeth.

Meanwhile, the monkey goblin snipers (marked “S” on the map) pull any ensnared captives the remaining 30 feet up to area 2, 50 feet in the air (the goblins must make a Strength check as a full-round action; the result is the number of feet the captive is raised that round). Once up on the leaf, the goblins disarm prisoners and put them in the wooden cage in area 2 (see Development). When the prisoners are dealt with, the snipers join the combat with ranged attacks, as does Aghar (marked “A” on the map) from area 3B. Keep in mind some PCs may not be wearing their armor due to the dangerous heat. Praneeta, as an untrained 1st-level sorcerer, will not contribute to the combat in any way.

Monkey Goblin Raiders (4) CR 1/3

Spoiler:
Jungle goblin (variant) warrior 1
NE Small humanoid (goblinoid)
Init +1; Senses low-light vision; Listen +1, Spot +1

DEFENSE

AC 15, touch 12, flat-footed 14
(+2 armor, +1 Dex, +1 shield, +1 size)
hp 6 each (1d8+1)
Fort +3, Ref +1, Will -1

OFFENSE

Spd 30 ft., climb 20 ft.
Melee kukri +2 (1d3, 18-20/x2) or
shortspear +2 (1d4)
Ranged dart +3 (1d3 plus poison) or
shortspear +3 (1d4)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks Poison

TACTICS

During Combat After their initial swinging charge, the monkey goblins attempt to flank their opponents, attacking with their kukris.
If the combat moves into the treetops, the raiders first throw their darts at approaching PCs. Once in melee, they attack with their shortspears, using their climbing skills and mobility in the trees to make flanking attacks and attack from higher ground.
Morale Once an individual raider takes damage in the initial skirmish, it withdraws, making an accelerated climb up the nearest vine, then swinging back to area 2 or 3B to attack from range with its darts. If two raiders retreat or are killed, the rest withdraw in the same manner to regroup.
Once in the treetops, the monkey goblins fight to the death, fearing Aghar’s retribution if they were to run. If Aghar is slain, however, the rest of the gang panic and flee through the trees, climbing, jumping, or swinging on vines to escape.

STATISTICS

Str 11, Dex 13, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 9, Cha 6
Base Atk +1; Grp -3
Feats Alertness
Skills Balance +3, Climb +11, Hide +4, Jump +5, Listen +1, Spot +1
Languages Common, Goblin
Combat Gear 1d4 doses of Small centipede poison; Other Gear leather armor, buckler, kukri, shortspear, 4 darts

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Jungle Goblin This environmental racial variant has normal goblin racial traits, with the following additions and exceptions: a jungle goblin has a climb speed of 20 feet, and has low-light vision instead of darkvision. A jungle goblin has a +8 racial bonus on Climb checks and a +4 racial bonus on Jump checks, and loses the standard goblin racial bonuses to Move Silently and Ride checks. A jungle goblin’s favored class is barbarian.

Poison (Ex) Monkey goblins of the Thundering Lizard tribe usually coat their arrows or darts with Small centipede poison (Injury, Fortitude DC 11, initial and secondary damage 1d2 Dex). Note that monkey goblins have no special ability to apply poison without risking being poisoned themselves.

Skills A monkey goblin has a +8 racial bonus on Climb checks and can always choose to take 10 on Climb checks, even if rushed or threatened. If it chooses an accelerated climb, it moves at double its climb speed and makes a single Climb check at a -5 penalty. It cannot run while climbing. It retains its Dexterity bonus to Armor Class (if any) while climbing, and opponents get no special bonus on their attacks against a climbing jungle goblin. Also, a monkey goblin adds its Dexterity modifier to Climb checks instead of its Strength modifier.

Monkey Goblin Snipers (3) CR 1/3

Spoiler:
Jungle goblin (variant) warrior 1
hp 6 each; see above
Ranged shortbow +3 (1d4 plus poison, x3) or shortspear +3 (1d4)

TACTICS
During Combat The goblins concentrate first on hauling ensnared captives up to area 2 (one goblin per captive). Any not involved in this task fire their shortbows at opponents not engaged in melee. If no such targets exist, they fire into the melee (taking the –4 penalty to attack rolls). Their fellows join them once prisoners have been safely stashed in the wooden cage. Note that the monkey goblins on the leaves have cover with respect to the ground below, granting them a +4 bonus to AC and +2 to Reflex saves, as well as concealment (not included in the stats above.)
If the combat moves into the treetops, the snipers continue firing at approaching PCs. Once in melee, they attack with their shortspears, using their climbing skills and mobility in the trees to make flanking attacks and attack from higher ground.
Morale The monkey goblins fight to the death, fearing Aghar’s retribution if they were to run. If Aghar is slain, however, the rest of the gang panic and flee through the trees, climbing, jumping, or swinging on vines to escape.

Other Gear shortbow with 15 arrows (no darts)

Aghar CR 2

Spoiler:
Male jungle goblin (variant) barbarian 2
NE Small humanoid (goblinoid)
Init +2; Senses low-light vision; Listen +1, Spot +1

DEFENSE

AC 19, touch 15, flat-footed 19
(+3 armor, +2 Dex, +2 dodge, +1 shield, +1 size)
hp 17 (2d12+4)
Fort +5, Ref +4, Will -1
Defensive Abilities uncanny dodge

OFFENSE

Spd 40 ft., climb 20 ft.
Melee +1 morningstar +5/+5 (1d6+4) or
kukri +4/+4 (1d3+3, 18-20/x2)
Ranged javelin +3/+3 (1d4+3)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks whirling frenzy 1/day for 5 rds.

TACTICS

During Combat Aghar joins the battle by shouting commands at his warriors and hurling javelins and insults into the fray. He does not begin raging until the PCs have climbed into the treetops and melee combat is imminent. At that point he enters his whirling frenzy and attacks with his spiked ironwood club, focusing on the most obvious warriors in an attempt to prove his mettle in battle.
Morale Aghar fights until reduced to 4 hit points, or until his rage ends. He fights bravely, but he is not stupid. If the PCs have the upper hand, he surrenders, offering up the gang’s treasure in exchange for his freedom (the safety of his gang is of no concern to him at this point, only his own skin). He is unwilling to part with his own magical ironwood club or war horn, however. Should the PCs seem unwilling to parley or try to take away his personal items, Aghar flees into the jungle, abandoning his gang.
Base Statistics When Aghar isn’t in his whirling frenzy, his stats are as follows:

    AC 17, touch 13, flat-footed 17 (+3 armor, +2 Dex, +1 shield, +1 size)
    Ref +2
    Melee +1 morningstar ++5 (1d6+2) or kukri +4 (1d3+1, 18-20/x2)
    Ranged javelin +5 (1d4+1)
    Grp -1
    Str 13
    Jump +10

STATISTICS

Str 17, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 8, Cha 8
Base Atk +2; Grp +1
Feats Alertness
Skills Balance +2, Climb +15, Craft (trapmaking) +8, Intimidate +4, Hide +6, Jump +12, Listen +1, Spot +1, Survival +4
Languages Common, Goblin
SQ fast movement
Combat Gear 8 javelins; Other Gear masterwork studded dinosaur-skin leather, darkwood buckler, +1 spiked ironwood club (as morningstar), kukri, masterwork trapmaking tools, silver-inlaid war horn engraved with scenes of battle (150 gp)

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Jungle Goblin This environmental racial variant has normal goblin racial traits, with the following additions and exceptions: a jungle goblin has a climb speed of 20 feet, and has low-light vision instead of darkvision. A jungle goblin has a +8 racial bonus on Climb checks and a +4 racial bonus on Jump checks, and loses the standard goblin racial bonuses to Move Silently and Ride checks. A jungle goblin’s favored class is barbarian.

Whirling Frenzy (Ex) This rage variant grants a +4 bonus to Strength and a +2 dodge bonus to Armor Class and on Reflex saves. While in a whirling frenzy, Aghar may make one extra attack in a round at his highest base attack bonus, but this attack takes a -2 penalty, as does each other attack made that round. This penalty applies for 1 round, so it also affects attacks of opportunity the barbarian might make before his next action. Whirling frenzy is otherwise identical to the standard barbarian rage in all other ways.

Skills A monkey goblin has a +8 racial bonus on Climb checks and can always choose to take 10 on Climb checks, even if rushed or threatened. If it chooses an accelerated climb, it moves at double its climb speed and makes a single Climb check at a -5 penalty. It cannot run while climbing. It retains its Dexterity bonus to Armor Class (if any) while climbing, and opponents get no special bonus on their attacks against a climbing jungle goblin. Also, a monkey goblin adds its Dexterity modifier to Climb checks instead of its Strength modifier.

Terrain Features: The trail is bordered on either side by dense forest and light undergrowth. It costs 2 squares of movement to move into and provides concealment, but increases the DC of Tumble and Move Silently checks by 2. The light undergrowth changes to heavy undergrowth after 20 to 30 feet, which costs 4 squares of movement to move into, provides concealment with a 30% miss chance and grants a +5 circumstance bonus on Hide checks, but increases the DC of Tumble and Move Silently checks by 5. In the jungle, the maximum distance for Spot checks is 2d6x10 feet, and background noise increases the DC of Listen checks by 2 per 10 feet. Nearby trees can also grant bonuses to AC and Reflex saves. See Forest Terrain (DMG p. 87) for more details.

Into the Trees
At some point, the PCs will probably need to get up into the vriksha trees, either in pursuit of the monkey goblins or to rescue captured companions. Area 1 is 40 feet high, area 2 is 50 feet high, and areas 3A and 3B are 60 feet high. Below are some of the available methods for ascending to the monkey goblins’ camp.

    Climbing: The most obvious method is climbing a hanging vine or the vriksha trees themselves, either of which takes a DC 15 Climb check. The DC can be reduced if the party has enough rope and a way to fasten it at the top. The monkey goblins will certainly try to dislodge climbing characters with ranged attacks. Note that climbing characters lose Dexterity and shield bonuses to their AC.
    Spells: Levitate and spider climb, as 2nd-level spells, provide an easy way for one character to affix a rope for the rest of the party to use. Animate rope might also prove useful. Fly and gaseous form might be the easiest way to ascend, but are probably beyond the abilities of most parties at this level.

Swinging Through the Treetops

Moving and fighting on the large vriksha leaves has its own hazards. While the centers of the leaves are level and sturdy enough to support the weight of an adventuring party, their edges are flimsier and slope towards the ground. Moving or fighting near the edge of a leaf (the areas shaded a darker green on the map) requires a DC 10 Balance check each round. Failure means the character falls, unless he makes a DC 15 Reflex save to catch the edge of the leaf. The surrounding foliage provides concealment to targets of ranged attacks in the jungle canopy; melee attacks suffer no penalties.

Moving between leaves can be accomplished most easily by swinging on one of the many vines hanging down from the canopy above. To swing on a vine, a character must first make a DC 5 Strength check (DC 10 if carrying a medium load, DC 15 for a heavy load). He takes a –2 penalty if he swings with only one hand. A swinging rope has a speed of 40 feet.

Note, however, that the three vriksha trees on the map are at different elevations. A character swinging to a lower leaf may make a DC 15 Jump or Tumble check to jump down at the end of his swing and reduce falling damage. Swinging to a higher leaf, however, requires a swing of at least 20 horizontal feet per 5 vertical feet to be gained (so to swing from area 1 at 40 feet to area 2 at 50 feet requires at least a 40-ft. swing).

A character can also attack with a one-handed weapon at the end of a swing. Such an attack follows all the rules for a charge, with the associated bonuses and penalties. The Strength check for an attacking swing takes a –2 penalty for swinging one-handed, unless the character can draw a weapon without expending a move action, such as with the Quick Draw feat.

Characters can also get to neighboring leaves with a Jump check (DC based on distance jumped), keeping in mind the different elevations between trees. Spells such as feather fall or jump might also prove helpful in traveling between leaves or trees.

Development: Praneeta and any other characters ensnared by the monkey goblins are taken to the wooden cage in area 2. Once the goblins have been defeated, the PCs are free to rescue their companions. The cage is not locked per se, but is cunningly latched, requiring a DC 10 Disable Device check to open. The cage cannot be opened from the inside.

The PCs can find another captive imprisoned in a similar cage in area 3B. This is Gurvinder (LE male hobgoblin fighter 2), a hussar of the Crimson Legion. Gurvinder was recently on a scouting mission in Sundagar, ferreting out connections to the Order of the Resplendent Serpent. Having found a cell of the Order in the village, he was returning to Bonemaw with the information he had gathered when the Thundering Lizards ambushed him two days ago. Caught in a snare and pummeled into unconsciousness, Gurvinder was stripped of his gear and thrown into the cage while Aghar tried to decide what to do with him. After eating the last of Gurvinder’s horse this morning, the rest of the Thundering Lizards were strongly lobbying for hobgoblin stew this evening. Currently, Gurvinder languishes in the cage, half-conscious and badly wounded with only 1 hit point (out of 15).

Gurvinder’s presence should be a moral quandary for the PCs. On the one hand, he is an innocent (and severely injured) prisoner of the savage monkey goblins. One the other hand, he is an officer of the Crimson Legion, and the PCs are harboring a fugitive from Iskandria’s justice. If the PCs attempt to talk with him, Gurvinder’s initial attitude is unfriendly. The PCs can make a Diplomacy check to change his attitude. Releasing him and offering him healing grants them a +5 bonus on this check. If Gurvinder becomes friendly, he tells the PCs about the agent for the Order of the Resplendent Serpent he uncovered in Sundagar, a half-elf named Satya Pramod. Unsure if he will survive the journey himself, Gurvinder asks the PCs to take this information to his superiors in Bonemaw as soon as possible.

Wooden Cages
hp 20; Hardness 5
Break DC 23, Disable Device DC 10

Treasure: The monkey goblins have stashed their loot inside a large knothole in the tree trunk 10 feet above area 3A (DC 15 Spot check to notice). It consists of 20 lbs. of cinnamon (20 gp), 5 lbs. of salt (25 gp), a bolt of silk (100 gp), a silver tankard with a malachite lid (140 gp), a carved lapis lazuli statuette of a shapely woman in hooded robes (65 gp), a climber’s kit, a small mahogany box containing 3 thunderstones, oil of bless weapon in a hollow gourd, 140 sp, and 41 gp, collected in several hide sacks.

Gurvinder’s equipment is also here: a muddy crimson cloak with black trim, a red and black-enameled breastplate (bearing the arms of the Crimson Legion), a masterwork longsword, and a lance. Hidden in a secret pocket of the cloak (DC 15 Search check to find) are Gurvinder’s dispatches to Bonemaw, detailing the Order of the Resplendent Serpent’s activities in Sundagar, as well as the name and location of its principal contact in the village, the half-elf Satya Pramod.

Ad Hoc Experience Award: If the PCs help Gurvinder and find out about Satya Pramod and the Order of the Resplendent Serpent from him, award them XP as if they had defeated him in combat (CR 2). They gain no additional experience for killing Gurvinder (as he is hardly a threat in his current condition) or finding the information on their own.

Qadira Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

I like Monkeys Goblins, so of course I read this encounter early.

And it works from the start: "With the Cerulean Sisterhood hot on their trail, the PCs’ next step is to get the fugitive sorceress Praneeta out of Jhansi." Bang, you've just set the context for me, and I know what the PC goal is.

Good game design always gives you a goal, so bravo right there.

There's some lame naming (aka, Viridian Jungle), but there's also useful DM Tips and references on jungle heat -- plus you set the stage with cool trees to make the landscape memorable and you provide a fairly tame first readaloud that still sets the scene. The players will know what's going on before the minis hit the mat. Again, good work.

The fight, though. I like the way you move the NPC off the fight stage right away with the trap. Other things are less appealing: forcing monkeys to make Strength checks? It's just extra work for the DM, and if they fail... There's also the weird way you've structured this, with the readaloud of the attack coming after the first set of combat information (which should probably be in the Tactics section in any case).

The readaloud itself suffers from overwriting. "Ululation" and "bedecked" are perfectly fine words, but jam too many of those 2-bit words into one sentence and it starts to sound forced and phony when read aloud. By itself, a big vocabulary is not impressive.

But overall, I think the encounter will work. You've taken a goblin variant and given it appropriate terrain and provided just enough rules support for "Swinging through the Tress". The whole thing is crafted to give PCs a chance to use Climb and ranged attacks against a prepared foe. I can see this one as a lot of fun.

My faith in monkey goblins seems to have been well-placed. Recommended.

Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games, RPG Superstar Judge

Encounter Concept (name/title, is it actually an encounter?, design choices, usability?, conflict and interaction?, is it memorable?, part of a larger adventure?, monster choices?): A+

The Good: OK, you had me at “Monkey Goblins,” but taking it to “Monkey Goblins Attack!” with the exclamation point really, really killed me. How can I not recommend this? It’s impossible not to love an encounter called “Monkey Goblins Attack!” Plus I love how your first bit of text makes it clear this is part of a larger adventure, as if you had just cut and pasted this from an actual manuscript submission. That is EXACTLY what I was looking for. Memorable, usable, full of conflict and good monster choices. In particular I applaud you for actually using an encounter that is not even close to a boss encounter. Christine and Boomer both submitted things that weren’t boss encounters, but were pretty close to the end kind of encounters. This one is not, and it still shines. Amazing work. Sets up as a real interesting and tactically challenging encounter.

The Bad: Needs more monkey goblins! More, more, more!

Map (well done?, legible?, encounter keyed to the map?, exciting and memorable location?, well integrated?, all necessary info for cartographer?): A-

The Good: Nicely done. Look, a map that marks traps! Excellent space for an encounter.

The Bad: But are there more leaves on the tree than the ones shown? If so, where are they and how do they come into play?

Crunch (mandatory content such as EL, XP, reward, appropriate read aloud text, format choices and organization, stat blocks, monster selections, tactics, etc.): B

Well done, but I echo Wolfgang’s concerns.

Writing (quality of read aloud text, publishable quality?, over/under-written?, quality of description): B

The Good: Well written, publishable, not overdone, good description. Not the best of our bunch, but certainly the equal of what you would find in a published adventure.

The Bad: Oops. A big boo boo. You presume character reaction in your read aloud text that many players would object to—“It’s been a constant battle between collapsing from heatstroke under your clothes or armor, or exposing your skin to the ever-present hordes of biting insects.” I appreciate what you are doing, but there are many players who would say, “hey, Darkron the Deadly doesn’t get heatstroke! He is the mightiest fighter ever to roam the Forgettable Realms! And he scoffs at puny insects!” You need to be careful putting specific character reactions into read aloud text. This is a common mistake and I have done it myself. Someone once pointed it out to me and I have to agree it was a great lesson learned.

Tilt (did it grab me?, is it unique and cool?, do I like it?): A

The Good: Monkey goblins rule.

Overall: A-

Very well done low level encounter. Rob, this is strong stuff. Nice work.

RECOMMENDED for Top 4.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

Right off the bat I appreciate you including a summary of "the story so far' so that I know what the PCs are doing by the time they get to this encounter. This is the first submission of the four I've read so far to do this, and it instantly puts you at an advantage over your fellow competitors.

I'm going on a bit of Proper Noun Overload in the beginning there, but your names are generally excellent and ooze with potential and evocative quality.

I also appreciate the brief recap of the heat and movement rules in the jungle, as I do not usually adventure there and do not have this stuff memorized. Likewise I appreciate how you have demarcated the various terrain types on the map, which is of high quality all around. I certainly wouldn't publish a basic computer-generated map like this, but the sharpness has the benefit of making what you want depicted clear to the cartographer, who will do really nice work with a turnover like this.

I also appreciate that you remembered to present the trap in the form of a stat block. Other competitors didn't quite figure that out this round, which again gives you a leg up on the competition.

Time and again your reference to conditional rules ("remember that climbing characters lose their Dex bonus to AC") reinforces my impression that you have a strong grasp of the rules, which is always something publishers are looking for.

This is a great encounter. You are one of my strong favorites to win this whole thing. I'd plan on keeping your freelancing schedule clear for the next few months, were I you. One way or another, I suspect you're going to be getting some work.

I STRONGLY recommend Rob McCreary for advancement into the final round of RPG Superstar.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013 aka Core

Well written? Yes

Is it an encounter? Yes

Would I use it? Yes

3/3

The name had me concerned when I first opened the link but I was quickly pleased with the entry. Good encounter and this was the sort of thing I hoped to read. Memorable and one of the top 2 here, along with Chase on Charred Ground. Clear, easy to read, well edited, decent map, good encounter - pretty much this is the real deal.

The only thing that bothers me is that it is a bit too much like the Phanatons from the Isle of Dread for my taste.

Shadow Lodge

This is an excellent encounter and certainly will be a strong contender for my vote. It has a "published encounter feel" to it that I can't describe but it just oozes inventiveness and quality. Since I am a lowly DM and not an editor, I didn't mind most of negatives the pro's pointed out, though I have to admit they are right on all accounts. The only thing I find lacking is...more Monkey Goblins!

Great job!


Monkey Goblins!!

SOLD.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014 aka Darkjoy

Very well done. This can be run almost immediately.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

Monkey Goblins!!! nuf said

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

This reminds me of an old tasloi encounter in Dungeon Issue #33 Mad Gyogi by Collin Sullivan.

That was fun, but this one looks better!

I liked the detail on the map. I really liked the addition of heat rules. I love the fight in the trees!

Good job, Rob!

gets my vote.

Osirion RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

Nice work, Rob!

Reading your first paragraph here, I can see that I apparently misunderstood the round 5 instructions or perhaps just took them too literally, but the way you've done it here seems just right - just because the instructions said we could jump right into describing the encounter setup without intro or explanation of things outside the encounter itself or how it fit into the larger adventure didn't necessarily mean that we should do it that way. Very good job of connecting the encounter to 'what has gone before.'

And hey, the rest of the encounter is fun too. Goblins swinging on vines and using snare traps - what's not to like?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Sheyd

I went right to this one, 'Monkey Goblins Attack' The only way you could have snagged me quicker was making it Ninja Monkey Goblins or Pirate Ninja Monkey Goblins but that'd have caused my brain to overload from the monkey-goblin goodness!


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Nice map!

The attack of the proper names turned me off a bit on first read-through. It's like describing the reason the PCs are there, but with pieces of explanation hidden behind weird names.

The combat itself is fun. Loads of fun things to happen. I call it a B+! Alas, this makes it my third favorite, but it's good.

Andoran Star Voter 2014

I'm really glad you incorporated so much from your Iskandria entry. Your encounter and your country compliment each other very well. So many people wanted to see what a monkey goblin is - now we know! Well done.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Spar

We finally got MONKEY GOBLINS. And a low EL. Stolen. Voted. Gonna use tomorrow night.


Monkey Goblins Attack!

Cool title.

Your full color map is…not appealing. I found it odd to look at and would have preferred black and white. (Yes, personal preference I know.) My main problem is the size and the color shadings. That said, it accurately depicts the encounter and have everything I need, so it doesn’t detract.

Intro is good. Short and sweet and to the point. Good point on including the Jungle Features. You don’t tell us what level this is for. I can infer from the EL 4 below that it’s probably for 1st-3rd level PCs. The snares are a big Gotcha for the encounter. It’s good that one of them will catch the NPC (except that it’s a mild metagame assumption that the PCs won’t have her doing something special to protect her). However, I think if the traps snare two PCs, which is likely at this level of encounter, that they will be pretty frustrated hanging in air for many rounds. I think a small group could be in deep trouble with this one. I do happen to like tough, frustrating encounters, but not everyone does. This one is potentially quite lethal as PCs in the trees falling 50 feet may well die due to the falling damage. Tempering the forest ground into something soft and spongy to change some of the falling damage dice to subdual dice would be helpful.

Good variant goblins. Nice use of vertical terrain in addition to just horizontal terrain. I really like the idea of encouraging players to swing from tree to tree. That’s cool. You rounded it out with an interesting step along the plot and treasure, so that’s good. Sticking to a fun, low level encounter was good, and this one is creative. I think it has a few issues that can be fixed. This will require some prep to learn and careful attention to detail due to the many conditions and special rules that apply, yet you put them all into the encounter so that's a very positive thing.

For purposes of this review, I did not read other’s comments.


I love just about everything here except the map, specifically the trees.

Surely they don't grow only huge leaves at perfectly perpendicular angles? A clear case of letting the graph paper control the map rather than simply overlaying it. A more complicated arrangement including branches and the ability to climb between multiple levels at different heights, possibly all contained within a single tree rather than three of them, would have really added a lot of tactical possibilities.


nice little classic encounter. Low-level encounters tend to be one-dimensional, but this seems to play out quite interesting. Good work


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

This is the best formatted, best written and best concieved of all the encounters I have read this week.

I read Age of worms this week.

Not only do you have my vote, I am going to google your name every few months to see what you are writing.

You have a fan.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka SmiloDan

I'm running a swashbuckling campaign, and I could use this encounter.

I think encounters with lots of unusual movement types are fun, especially over a varied geography.


I suppose Vriksha trees are a special kind of tree with 4 huge/gargantuan rigid leaves in an orthogonal pattern. Not terribly realistic perhaps, but not much less realistic than Monkey Goblins.

The neat part of the encounter is that you can replace the Monkey Goblins with almost any bipedal Small creature you want (fiendish monkeys, kobolds, phanatons, or whatever) and it still works.

OFF-TOPIC EDIT: It seems I've been demoted from "Charter Subscriber" to plain old "Subscriber". Why is that?


This is a good entry and I like it a lot. That it is a lower level encounter makes it all the more useful. I do find it interesting that some of the better encounters this round used goblins and orcs.

That said the competition this round is tough. I already have given out one vote, and I need to decide where to put my second vote. You're right up there. Even if I put my vote elsewhere I hope you move on.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014 aka Ezekiel Shanoax, the Stormchild

This encounter looks like a LOT of fun. The swinging on vines, snare traps yanking people upwards, and the joy of saying 'monkey goblins'... great stuff.

The title is hilarious and grabbed me, but then the first paragraph full of proper names immediately turned me off - I guess the issue is whether you were writing this as an encounter as part of some presumed campaign world (that we don't know about) instead of as a pull-outta-a-magazine immediate playable. But past that, the guts are quality.

Nice map and explanation of the leaves. Unique, and memorable.

Also, good use of non-lethal damage. For a low-level party, that seems to me like a good way to make the encounter challenging without making it too deadly. Although one fall...

Lots of fun - this gets a vote.

Taldor

And then, "Monkey Goblins ATTACK Again!" Look out heroes, these aren't your run of the mill goblins. I like it, and think this will have the heroes looking up in the trees for the rest of the adventure.

Andoran RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka JoelF847

Great encounter. There's lots goign on, and lots for the PCs to choose to do (fight the vine swinging goblins, rescue those caught in the snares, climb up to fight the snipers, etc.) I'm trying to think of something to comment on, and having a hard time, since you did everything right this round. Loved the use of Iskandria, loved the inclusion of how to handle the unusual terrian by common options the PCs can use, and monkey goblins are just ten times cooler than average run of the mill goblins.

You've got my vote. Next round with only 1 vote is going to be HARD.

Osirion RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

JoelF847 wrote:

Great encounter. There's lots goign on, and lots for the PCs to choose to do (fight the vine swinging goblins, rescue those caught in the snares, climb up to fight the snipers, etc.) I'm trying to think of something to comment on, and having a hard time, since you did everything right this round. Loved the use of Iskandria, loved the inclusion of how to handle the unusual terrian by common options the PCs can use, and monkey goblins are just ten times cooler than average run of the mill goblins.

You've got my vote. Next round with only 1 vote is going to be HARD.

That's for sure. It can't just be "I really like this," it has to be "This is my A #1 favorite - winner take all"

It'll be rough.


Check.

Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

Well done.

My only issue with this one was the (in my mind) blatant use of monkeys, knowing full well that everyone would be like "ooh! Monkeys!"

Fortunately, it lived up to its promise.

But I can see it now - next year every item will be something like "Farghan's Monkey Suit" (grants alter self into monkey form 3 times per day, including speaking with monkeys), "Perlan's Prehensile Tail" (gives an additional limb and use of the Multiattack feat for 10 rounds per day plus a +10 on Climb checks), "Arms of the Ape" (grants +2 to strength (arms only) and use of the Improved Unarmed Strike feat, but horribly hairy arms and a -5 on Charisma-based checks).

:-)

Andoran RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka JoelF847

gbonehead wrote:

Well done.

My only issue with this one was the (in my mind) blatant use of monkeys, knowing full well that everyone would be like "ooh! Monkeys!"

Fortunately, it lived up to its promise.

But I can see it now - next year every item will be something like "Farghan's Monkey Suit" (grants alter self into monkey form 3 times per day, including speaking with monkeys), "Perlan's Prehensile Tail" (gives an additional limb and use of the Multiattack feat for 10 rounds per day plus a +10 on Climb checks), "Arms of the Ape" (grants +2 to strength (arms only) and use of the Improved Unarmed Strike feat, but horribly hairy arms and a -5 on Charisma-based checks).

:-)

And don't forget the dreaded Barrel full of Monkeys!


Wolfgang Baur wrote:
My faith in monkey goblins seems to have been well-placed. Recommended.
Clark Peterson wrote:

Overall: A-

Very well done low level encounter. Rob, this is strong stuff. Nice work.
RECOMMENDED for Top 4.
Erik Mona wrote:

This is a great encounter. You are one of my strong favorites to win this whole thing. I'd plan on keeping your freelancing schedule clear for the next few months, were I you. One way or another, I suspect you're going to be getting some work.

I STRONGLY recommend Rob McCreary for advancement into the final round of RPG Superstar.

Go-o-o-o Rob!

<shakes purple pom-poms>

:-j(enni)


Taliesin Hoyle wrote:

Not only do you have my vote, I am going to google your name every few months to see what you are writing.

You have a fan.

Welcome to the club!

Here's a complimentary purple pom-pom to shake at the rally.

Give me an R! {R!}
Give me an O! {O!}
Give me a B! {B!}
What does it spell? {Rob!}
Say it again! {Rob!}
I can't heeaarr you! {ROB!}
Ya-a-a-a-yyy Rob!

:-j(enni)

Grand Lodge Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Very much like the jungle environmental conditions and the description throughout. The setup of the ambush makes good sense as well as providing an exciting scene. The hobgoblin prisoner is a nice touch as a problematic development.

Andoran

Ezekiel Shanoax, the Stormchild wrote:
Also, good use of non-lethal damage. For a low-level party, that seems to me like a good way to make the encounter challenging without making it too deadly. Although one fall...

If it comes down to it, you can use plant life as a saving grace. Hitting several smaller branches or trees (that cannot support a character's weight) on the way down could turn lethal falling damage into non-lethal. *whap-whap-whap-whap-THUD!-groan* The fall can take them out of the fight without killing them, but they could easily become prisoners while unconscious. Heck, make it X hp non-lethal per branch and have the player roll 3d4 or 2d6+2 or something for the number of impacts on the way down. For each 5 hp of non-lethal they take, subtract 1d6 from the lethal falling damage.... or something like that.

Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Arelian wrote:
If it comes down to it, you can use plant life as a saving grace. Hitting several smaller branches or trees (that cannot support a character's weight) on the way down could turn lethal falling damage into non-lethal. *whap-whap-whap-whap-THUD!-groan* The fall can take them out of the fight without killing them, but they could easily become prisoners while unconscious. Heck, make it X hp non-lethal per branch and have the player roll 3d4 or 2d6+2 or something for the number of impacts on the way down. For each 5 hp of non-lethal they take, subtract 1d6 from the lethal falling damage.... or something like that.

That is AWESOME. What a great way to turn something that would be instantly fatal for a low-level party (falling off a tree from 60+ feet in the air) into just a major inconvenience.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013 aka Core

gbonehead wrote:

Well done.

My only issue with this one was the (in my mind) blatant use of monkeys, knowing full well that everyone would be like "ooh! Monkeys!"

Think of it this way, if it was not pulled off well the theme would have come off as terrible. Luckily the implementation was excellent and it came off really well.


I love this encounter. Great way to use low level creatures to good effect. I love that even though it is low level, the DM still has plenty of options available to keep him interested, but doesn't get bogged down by a stack of abilities they need to remember and track. Good work on hitting that balance.

I would have liked a bit more detail about these massive trees (great idea by the way). Especially what about the rest oft heir leaves? Surely they don't only have the 2 or 3 each? What impact do they have on the combat?

But apart from that, great work.

Cheliax

Way to go Targ :D

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka SmiloDan

gbonehead wrote:
Arelian wrote:
If it comes down to it, you can use plant life as a saving grace. Hitting several smaller branches or trees (that cannot support a character's weight) on the way down could turn lethal falling damage into non-lethal. *whap-whap-whap-whap-THUD!-groan* The fall can take them out of the fight without killing them, but they could easily become prisoners while unconscious. Heck, make it X hp non-lethal per branch and have the player roll 3d4 or 2d6+2 or something for the number of impacts on the way down. For each 5 hp of non-lethal they take, subtract 1d6 from the lethal falling damage.... or something like that.

That is AWESOME. What a great way to turn something that would be instantly fatal for a low-level party (falling off a tree from 60+ feet in the air) into just a major inconvenience.

Maybe have the PC just roll 1d6 per 10 feet fallen, and they can convert that amount of lethal falling damage into non-lethal falling damage.

Or maybe the Light and Heavy brush areas are really tall, and Light reduces falling damage by 2d6, and Heavy by 4d6, or something. Kind of like Solid Fog?


Mactaka wrote:

This reminds me of an old tasloi encounter in Dungeon Issue #33 Mad Gyogi by Collin Sullivan.

That was fun, but this one looks better!

I liked the detail on the map. I really liked the addition of heat rules. I love the fight in the trees!

Good job, Rob!

gets my vote.

What do you mean, you like his better?! I was proud of that tasloi ambush!!! ;-)

It's the funniest thing- I clicked this because it said "monkey goblins," and right before I saw Rob's map I thought of the tasloi...

Of course, my treetop trap was a giant spiky log swinging through the trail (which I stole from Ewoks in Return of the Jedi.) I like Rob's good ol' fashioned noose-around-the-legs-hanging-upside-down trap version even better! Gets my vote!

Thanks for remembering my adventure, Mactaka. It's nice to know I made an impression way back when. (Check "takeshima mikawa" on Google Images for the island in that adventure.)


Wow, great job. My one problem: how can someone swing from one leaf to a higher leaf? Doesn't conservation of energy kinda rule that out? All your entry states is that they need to swing for a certain distance. Shouldn't they need some sort of running start (so they can start out with some extra kinetic energy that will transfer into potential energy)? Otherwise, they will never get any higher than they started.


LOL

I just read your profile, Rob. I'm an English teacher in China for years and I've been running a D&D game for almost a year now. It's composed of college students who like computer RPGs and need a chance to improve their English. Just a thought, dude.

Oh yeah, and the monkey goblins are a riot.

As you were guys...


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I teach science in English in Taiwan. No way would any of my students be able to play D&D though.

Osirion

This was the only one I *had* to vote for. The second vote was harder.

I'm running a Freeport game (on the edge of a big jungle), and using Throne of the Gorilla King, among other things, so this encounter seems like it was designed just for me.

Very considerate, thanks!


Taliesin Hoyle wrote:
I teach science in English in Taiwan. No way would any of my students be able to play D&D though.

Why not?

Osirion RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014 aka Steven T. Helt

My post got eaten, I think. I'll wait a minute and see if it shows up.


I was immediately turned off by the name. With all the talk of monkeys on these boards it just seemed to be pandering to both the judges and the voters. So I went into this with a bad attitude. The opening paragraph was kind of like "Who? What? Where? Oh never mind they're in the jungle got it."

I like barbarian goblin, I think that's a cool combination. It doesn't seem to make much sense to setup an ambush point on an unmarked trail, but I'm assuming that monkey goblins are not that intelligent so no biggie. I like the swinging thing and the sidebars with rules recaps are great. Tight work but I'm really not that inspired.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
varianor wrote:
Taliesin Hoyle wrote:
I teach science in English in Taiwan. No way would any of my students be able to play D&D though.
Why not?

There have some problem the English.

Qadira

Good stuff. One vote from me to you. The memorable name draws you in, you have to read the encounter and its a fun fight.

Osirion RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014 aka Steven T. Helt

Okay...I will try to be succinct. I suck at that, you know.

I am voting for monkey goblins attack. There are some minor flaws:

There are rules for brachiation, although I think it requires a feat. I prefer a Climb check or Strength check, but that makes the feat obsolete. Maybe a good compromise is to require anyone without the feat to make Strength checks, and let the monkey goblins take 10 on vineswinging since they have a climb speed.

In general, I worry a little about EL 4 (?) encounters where characters have a good chance of falling 40 feet. Asking a 4th level wizard for a climb check 40 feet up is kind of sadistic (this from a man with 5 TPKs in a year).

Why is climb a class skill for bards, but not for druids? Anyone?

I appreciate the help you give the DM reading your adventure: pointing out rules for the environment or natural hazards helps shape DMs into masters of their encounter. Bravo.

I think combat is more descriptive and dynamic in three dimensions. It is also a challenge for DMs, so when you plan a 3D encounter, offer tips for describing or representing the battlefield. In the DND Open this last year, one of the rounds started with a 3D encounter, which threw off some judges and slowed down action and limited fun.

Removing the NPC from combat, the 3D element, having strong plot elements (the prisoner NPC is brilliant, and makes the encounter look as if you pulled it from a complete adventure), all earn you one of my votes.

So..you want to be the guy to run Iskandria for some of us? You couldn't have a better group of players than the DMs that hang out here. : }


Setting up an ambush on a trail close to a stream where thirsty travellers may be looking forward to a drink seems to make sense to me. Evidently there is some travel on this trail, since the monkey-goblins have already bagged themselves a hobgoblin.
I would have liked some additional explanation about vriksha trees however with regards to how/why their enormous leaves in this particular area grow pointing in ordinal compass point directions; yes I know that there are druids out there capable of shaping plants to suit their own needs, but unless they shape sufficient trees in this jungle for these three not to be sfficiently out of the ordinary to be noticeable, I would have given PCs approaching the ambush a chance to recognise something 'unusual' about the foliage arrangement of some of the trees ahead.
Whilst I agree with Wolfgang's observation that having the NPC out of the way might be useful, and I'm guessing might motivate the PCs to fight harder to get her back, I dislike the assumption that it will be automatically her who triggers the trap. Given that the PCs are supposed to be getting her to some kind of safety, she might be in the middle or rear of the march order, in which case several PCs may have walked over a *touch* trigger trap without setting them off some groups may even have animal companions ranging ahead on 'point'. I would have rather had a 'touch attack' trap triggered by a monkey goblin tugging a vine or something, and a reason that they enjoy picking off females first (experience of dangerous Cerulean Sisterhood sorceresses?) for Janeeta to be specifically targeted, but I'm being picky here.

Congratulations on a very well written and presented encounter. I've only found a couple of minor points that I don't like.

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