Wandering Monsters — Forest Ruins, Part 1

It’s a new year and a new year brings new opportunities. For me, that means a new blog! Fridays are now entirely my domain and I’m choosing to make them Fightin’ Fridays. Every Friday I will provide GMs something for their PCs to fight. Monstrous Physique will continue as always every other Friday and trade off with this new blog: Wandering Monsters.

The monsters (read: PCs) get set on the loose and find themselves in new locations with every entry. The purpose of Wandering Monsters is to provide a new set of encounters for GMs to throw in to their game, providing a map, a simple setup, and all of the information required to run a decent sized encounter. (Also, it gives me a chance to flex some encounter and map design muscles.) Each map will have a trio of encounters to cover a small range of CRs to provide some variety. Additionally, every map is intentionally designed to fit on a flip-mat, so GMs who make use of that product will hopefully have an easy time adding it in to their game.

A good number of these maps make use of the Pyromancers Dungeon Painter tool which is found here. I think it’s a great little resource to make your own maps with relative ease, so go check it out! So, without further ado, I present our first entry in Wandering Monsters!

Approaching the Forest Ruins

The surrounding brush opens to reveal a clearing. Dilapidated stone columns flank a simple gravel path leading to a small stone structure. A stone staircase descends into the darkness of the structure.



The PCs are expected to arrive from a nearby forest, most commonly from the path. All encounters are assumed to take place during the day, but there are very little issues with running any of them at night. A successful DC 5 Perception or Survival check is enough to notice recent footprints leading to the ruins, warning the PCs that there may be someone else already at the ruins.

1. Path

The gravel path here leads from a nearby forest to the ruins. The remaining columns are relatively sound. If you choose, one of these columns could be a trap set to collapse on those walking through the path. The orc guards are the most likely to use such a tactic.

2. Collapsed Column

This column has collapsed, creating difficult terrain. As a free action, a creature can duck behind the structure to gain cover.

3. Glade

This open area shows signs of obvious travel and wear. The grass is worn away from repeated treading and camping. The likes of the goblins and the orcs make camp in the glade and there is a 20% chance that creatures normally found here are in the nearby woods hunting and foraging. In this situation, a successful DC 12 Survival check locates tracks leading into the forest.

4. Barricade

This simple barricade is made from simple planks of wood. Climbing over the walls of the barricade requires a successful DC 5 Climb check. All of the enemies in the encounters have enough experience with moving in and out of the barricade that they can do so without a check. The encounter’s treasure is found here among a small cache of supplies and food.


The following encounters can take place here.


Challenge Rating



Goblin Hideout CR 4 2 Goblin SneaksMC, 3 Goblin WarriorsB1 12gp, medium mwk chain shirt, dust of tracelessness,  
Orc Guards CR 5 Orc MysticMC, Orc SergeantMC, 3 Orc WarriorsB1 43gp, silversheen, wand of magic weapon (23 charges)
Hidden Cult CR 6 3 AcolytesGMG, Battle MageGMG 26gp, phylactery of faithfulness, potion of cure light wounds, scroll of comprehend language
This week’s Wandering Monsters makes use of Bestiary 1, Gamemastery Guide, and Monster Codex.

Goblin Hideout (CR 4)

A small tribe of goblins call the ruins their home. Intent on keeping their home safe, a handful of goblins are tasked with guarding the entrance. A single goblin sneak lazily patrols the path. A pair of goblin warriors rest against the collapsed column. There is a 50% chance that either of these goblins are asleep. The final goblin sneak and goblin warrior sit around a small dirt mound betting on insect fights. During the night, these goblins sit around a small fire, cooking a rabbit.

When the PCs approach, the goblins in the glade rush to meet with the sneak on the path. The two sneaks do their best to flank enemies for a sneak attack. If awake, the goblins at the column crouch behind the structure, firing their shortbows at the attackers. If either of the sneaks dies, the remaining goblins retreat behind the barricade, sounding the alarm down into the ruins to the rest of their tribe.

Orc Guards (CR 5)

A rival group of adventurer’s reach the ruins before the PCs. The group has hired a small band of orc mercenaries to watch the entrance while they explore. The trio of warriors stand on the path. Two of these warriors are sparring and there is a 30% chance that both of them have taken 1 point of damage each. The third warrior stands vigilantly. The orc mystic sits in prayer in the glade. The orc sergeant is crouched behind the barricade, counting coin and planning how best to betray the adventuring group.

When the PCs approach, the warriors rush the party while the mystic cast spells on himself and the sergeant. Once the mystic and sergeant receive their beneficial spells, the mystic charges in, eager and bloodthirsty. The sergeant lobs javelins from the safety of the barricade until two of the warriors fall. At this point, the sergeant runs out to join the fracas. A successful DC 20 Diplomacy or DC 16 Intimidate check is enough to convince the sergeant to parley. A bribe of at least 50 gp is enough to convince the orcs to join the PCs, but the sergeant will betray the group at the best opportunity.

Hidden Cult (CR 6)

This ancient temple is a holy site to the small cult of an evil god. The majority of the cultists are within the ruins, leaving this small group to study the structures outside. The trio of acolytes pace the path, studying the carvings on the columns. The mage sits in meditation on the collapsed column. The cultists are deeply fanatical and the visit to the site is marked with many sleepless nights of study and prayer. There is a 20% chance that a given cultist is fatigued. A fatigued cultist has a further 20% chance to be exhausted instead. However, due to their fanaticism, a fatigued or exhausted cultist gains the benefits of the Diehard feat as they are desperate to keep the site safe.

When the PCs arrive, the cultists are quick to attack, but keep their distance, slinging spells and ranged attacks. When low on hit points, a cultist will enter a crazed state and run in to attack in melee. If a cultist is the last one standing, the cultist attempts to return to the barricade to grab any holy items before rushing into the ruins.

And so ends the inaugural entry to Wandering Monsters! Please let me know your thoughts on the format.  If you have any request for a future Wandering Monsters, please drop me a line at KnowDirection@hotmail.com.

Luis Loza

Luis Loza is a developer at Paizo, working on the Pathfinder Lost Omens line and formerly on Campaign Setting and Player Companion lines. He's done freelance for Paizo Inc, Legendary Games, Rogue Genius Games, and more third-party publishers. His hobbies include gaming both tabletop and video, making jokes, obsessing over time travel, taking naps with Nova his cat, and walks with his wife. He is eternally plagued with a hunger for tacos. Consider checking his material on his Patreon at patreon.com/luisloza