First off, NPCs went so far as to follow the monster upgrade pattern. So now we have 1d3 15th level hobgob fighters, and, bizarrely enough, the 15th level kobold sorcerer teamed up with the werewolf lord for an entry on the 18th level chart. The awesome gnoll ranger with 3 invisible servants and a greater shadow have been 'upgraded' into 1d3+1 level 15 gnoll rangers.
We got various 'greaterester whatever golems' and 'd3' golems, which I suppose can be giant superrobot sentries watching over the dragon breeding grounds. Rather than being monsters, we can say they're like loot and a genre change, and after slogging through this crap who wouldn't want a genre change?
We've got 1d4+2 ropers as an encounter, which seems amazingly out of place but maybe they're dragon-predators that lurk in tunnels and pull down young ones to eat.
An Aboleth Mage, because giving a giant mind control squid monster spells is definitely a way to make it scarier and not just a stupid jumble of arbitrary abilities that will ironically be MORE familiar to players than innate monster powers would be.
And a mind flayer sorcerer because it's a regular sized mind control squidmonster so that's totally different. Whatever, tentacles, let's have another Pit of No Return here.
1d4+2 beholders. I'm pretty sure beholders are supposed to be solitary so clearly this is just one really big beholder with like 40 eyeballs like some disco ball of death
Frost Giant Jarl. His only excuse for being here is being the rider of the Very old white dragon, so there you go, a dynamic duo of chilliness.
A Nightcrawler, which we'll say is a massive Itava parasite. There's a Nightwalker too and I'll use that as an excuse to link to this post
and say the Nightwalker is a giant despair, perhaps related to that big spooky skull from earlier.
2d4+5 Abyssal Basilisks. We'll say they have a nest of petrified dragons because that sounds badass and we'll ignore that they're a numerical upgrade encounter.
And then, for the rest of 5 encounter charts, everything is demons, dragons, or angels. And mostly dragons. Very old white, old brass, mature adult bronze, it just goes on and on and on. The final chart is just Balor, Pit Fiend, Wyrm Black Dragon, Old Dragon (red or silver) Ancient Brass dragon, very old copper dragon.
|I have to reveal my inner 12 year old and admit this could be a really "cool" mental image tho|
If I had the inclination, I probably would have saved levels 9 and 10 by reducing the total numbers of dragons to 2, and then had the whole Underest conflict be a religious war over whose dragon was better, and made it weird by having angel fighting angel and demon fighting demon because they had opposing dragon-alignments. Each side could have undead, each side could have heroes and villains, etc etc, and it would be a bizarre and hopefully memorable affair that the players could interact with.
But if I'm going to do something as in-depth as that, I'm not gonna do it with the ball and chain of "1d3+1 level 15 gnoll rangers" attached to my creative process.