This encounter is designed specifically to function as a “mini-boss” fight, with the party thrown up against a lower-level solo creature and a higher-level elite enemy. I built “Ragnotti, Troll Lurker” as an 11th-level solo lurker, and I built the “Shadow of Ragnotti” as a 14th-level elite brute (if I remember correctly, I’m not positive about the monster role). Ragnotti is built to continue the menacing-stalker theme from the preceding skill challenge, and a lot of his attacks attack will and do psychic damage.

Ragnotti’s Shadow is actually a separate monster, smaller than Ragnotti himself, but nearly equal in power — with the insubstantial trait, it effectively had almost as many hit points as the 11th-level solo — 398 to Ragnotti’s 453 — combined with regeneration, both foes take a long time to beat down. Following some advice from Sly Flourish, I gave the shadow the power to sacrifice its own health to perform a “death burst” once per round.

I designed both the monsters and the map with the intent to keep the characters moving around and have a dynamic battle: there were three interconnected rooms for Ragnotti to chase the party through, the troll had powers that allowed him to push or slide characters around, and favored attacking characters who weren’t adjacent to any of their allies, and the shadow had the power to glide across several pits I’d scattered around the map.

If the characters were to fall into any of the pits, they’d be stuck spending their turn climbing back out, appearing at one of several random exits, and in the meantime, they’d take damage for each round they spent in the clawing darkness. All in all, an encounter with a couple of memorable monsters designed to horrifically scar the characters and (hopefully) traumatize the players, just a bit. >:D