On Wednesday, I talked about books. My self-given challenge today? Find the dumbest possible monster in one of the 3.5 monster manuals. The kind of monster I would never ever use because it’s so ridiculously dumb. Then come up with an encounter for it. This is that encounter. Please note that for copyright reasons I cannot include statblocks for the wasps, so am thusly just writing out the flow of the encounter, not the actual combat statistics and details.
Howler Wasps (MMIV, p.74). I saw the picture of these guys and though “wtf”. These. Are. Dumb. Ok, time to get to work. The nice thing about the higher numbered monster manuals is that they don’t just give you statblocks. They give you some story to go with the creatures. To some DMs, this causes issues, as they believe from that point that everything has to stay true to what that book says. I prefer to simply look at it as inspiration.
The players have been sent to an ancient library, searching for a tome for some benefactor in order for that benefactor to advance the story for them. The enormous library had been worn apart by time ages ago, but no salvage operation had ever been made within its walls. Roots and rocks are cracking through the floors now, as the nearby forest expands back into the land man stole from it. A single great oak stands in the center of the library. Old books litter all the floors and walls, except for 900 foot radius circle around the oak. It is within that oak that a dryad lives, angry that all these books around her came from long-since-destroyed trees. Unfortunately, not even the forest feels sympathy for her, as it has been invaded by a swarm of Howler Wasps. Halfling sized insects that are only slightly smarter than normal animals. One such nest of these obnoxious beings has been placed inside the tree of the dryad, forcing the forest fey to tree walk into the tree and not leave, for fear of being attacked.
Sitting on top of the ancient oak, in a nest of old book pages, is the queen of the hive, nearly the size of an ogre. There are 16 howler wasps running back and forth grabbing more book pages, aiding their queen, and doing various other wasp like things. If the players time it right, they can ensure that they are only fighting 8 wasps plus the queen if they assault the hive itself, though each additional wasp will arrive in 1d10 rounds.
If the players attempt to catch the wasps individually while they’re doing their harvesting, the encounter can be made quite a bit easier.
Once the wasps are taken care of, the Dryad will exit its tree. The players will find the book they were sent to find has been made part of the wasp nest, and the Dryad will not want them to take it, as any use of a book would be exploiting the loss of her fellow trees. The players then have a whole new can of worms to deal with, as the dryad will defend the contents of that nest to the death, but killing a dryad is a distinctly evil action that may have some fairly dire consequences down the road.