Okay, it wasn't really a challenge per se. Today's entry over at Lawful Indifferent did have a line that gave me pause, though.
Well now, that sounds like RMA material to me!
"...[Chimeras are] one of the coolest mythological creatures that doesn't get any love. Sure, people f*king love elves and dragons and stuff, or even goblins or orcs, but never chimeras."
At first I didn't agree about them not getting enough love. I had just used one in my now-complete Night's Dark Terror game, so they felt well-represented. Truth be told though, it had been a long time since one had shown up in my games before that. So maybe Mr. Wright is on to something.
Let's take a look at the stats, shall we?
Chimera (from Cook)
No. App: 1-2 (1-4)
Move: 120' (40')/180' (60') Fly
Att: 5* (2 claws/3 heads)
*Breath Weapon: Fire (cone, 50'L, 10'W). 3d6, 3 times/day.
I typically play chimeras as vicious predators, but not particularly intelligent. Their mediocre morale would seem to indicate a more animal-like mentality. I find the Chaotic alignment amusing given that there are three heads to compete with each other in any decision making.
Like other mythological beasties, chimeras seem to be in most versions of the game and yet fairly infrequent encounters. Looking at the random encounter charts, as a dragon subtype they are at least possible as wandering monsters in every terrain type (except cities), and they appear on the dungeon level 8+ wandering monster chart. So why are they held back?
Well, one possibility is that they are a relatively complicated monster to run. They fly and they get a crazy number of attacks per round (five!) plus a breath weapon!
Of course, all this should lead any GM worth his screen to now be saying, "Hmm!"
The amount of damage for the claws and heads aren't huge (d3s and d4s), but one good round can nickel and dime even a mid-to-high level PC into the Land of Hurt. Add in a blast of fire for good measure and you could see even a 9th level fighter type with typical hit points CON bonuses go down in a round or two! NB: The dragon head bites or breathes flame, not both in one round.
While it's not in the write-up, like raptors, I can easily imagine a chimera picking up a PC into the sky and dropping him. Maybe not a fighter in plate mail, but certainly a small or unarmored person.
Nine hit dice means it's hitting often and can take some punishment before going down (or fleeing), and AC 4 is respectable enough. What I find terrifying is the idea that you can run up against TWO of them in a random encounter! Never mind in the lair.
Speaking of lairs, the typical haul for a chimera's loot is ≈5K, so that should get the PCs attention.