Homebrew campaign, and I'm taking over GMing (one of the other players and I trade off every level) soon.
The party is currently woefully underequipped, which I will be (hopefully) rectifying, but the hand-over situation means that the party will be on the move when I pick up the campaign.
They are 10th level (but equipped like 8th), and will be travelling on foot/horseback across a grassland region, heading towards the coast. There is a war on, too, with hordes of Hobgoblins, Orcs and some custom races in the area.
I want them to have a reasonable encounter on their way to their destination, but I don't want (perhaps ridiculously) to include anything related to the war, which removes most humanoids and giants from the list of viable foes.
So, the advice I'm after is, what would you pick for CR 9/10 encounter with those restrictions?
You'll want to run a few easier encounters first to see where they actually are on the power scale. I have a feeling they're not as weak as you say they are. I'm assuming 3/4 party members, right?
I'd try 1 alpha male rhinoceros (same stats as CR 6 woolly rhinoceros) + 6 regular rhinos as a CR 10. Spread them out on the plains (at least 30 ft apart) and have them all charge at once at the party from different angles/directions *if* the PCs get too close to a rhino (I'd say within charge range).
Party is actually quite large (6 players), and I don't have any real concern about their ability to survive encounters. They're missing some specialist equipment to give them a severe edge, but the spread of abilities in the party means there's not a lot they have to worry about.
I love the rhino idea, really, but I have a soft spot in my heart for Bulettes, so that's quite likely to win me over.
Anyone else want to weigh in? I'm certainly up for interesting combinations of creatures, but all my creative juices seem to have been funnelled into what happens when they get there, and everything I come up with myself for a random encounter on the way just seems flat and dull.
Gnolls on hyenodons are a staple of the steppe-like areas on my world. They travel in pack/tribes and prey on anything that moves. the males and Hyenodons engage the party and the females and young stay with the pack train.
It's an interesting dynamic as there is some RP possibility there with the gnolls retreating and/or the women and children needing care if the party massacres the men...