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  • All That Glitters – Onsen Monkey Encounter for D&D 5e
All That Glitters – Onsen Monkey Encounter for D&D 5e - Banner - Large

Monkey hot springs encounter for parties of 3rd-level or higher, with stat blocks for use in D&D 5e.

The Kinmeyama Onsen is an idyllic mountain getaway built on a set of natural hot springs beside a flowing river. It is a popular vacation spot for adventurers and travelers to retire and relax between journeys. Many even travel specifically to the mountains solely to recline in the onsens’ waters. This visit and its attached inn carry the expected entry fee, of course, though many patrons also incur unexpected costs at the hands of the mountains’ native residents.

A sprawling troop of local monkeys also makes use of the hot springs. These monkeys answer to the singular kinme no kami, a towering primate that matches a curious number of storied paintings and depictions of fables that are hung on the inn’s walls. It also has an uncontrollable addiction to all things shiny, glittering, or golden. And the many other monkeys in the troop are all dedicated to feeding this addiction.

The monkeys wait for the onsens’ customers to abandon their belongings and relax in the baths, when they then strike with an organized effort to relieve them of their valuables. Their distractions and thievery have worked on scores of previous patrons, amassing a veritable fortune in the troop’s home in the mountains. And a small portion is granted to the innkeeper for his part in the theft, of course.

Kinmeyama Onsen

The bubbling of a river washes through the forest, the sound carried between trees and over a cluster of hot springs pools that breathe steam into the crisp mountain air. Each set of springs is accompanied by a small wooden building and bridges to cross the river, while a far larger structure greets you at the end of your path. The multi-level building is capped with a slanted roof and glows with an inviting orange warmth, while banners and signs label it from every direction as the ‘Kinmeyama Onsen’.

The Kinmeyama Onsen is a popular holiday destination set on the forested slopes of snow-capped mountains. The onsen is built on a set of natural hot springs that surround a river, with a single building that acts as reception and an inn, and multiple minor shelters perched around the various pools. These warming pools and the restorative effects they have on weary bones and muscles are ample reasons for all manner of adventurers and travelers to make their way to the onsen.

Monkey murals. The interior of the onsen’s main building features several paintings, with clear differences in their ages and artists. The paintings all depict the hot springs, the surrounding landscape, and native monkeys. Roughly half of them also show a far larger figure that resembles the monkeys, though it is rotund in shape and adorned in gold and jewels. These paintings in particular also emphasize a bright gold color in the monkeys’ eyes.

Using the onsen. Patrons of the onsen are able to pay for rooms and food in the inn or simply visit for the day. They are offered basic smallclothes to wear in the hot springs and instructed to disrobe any other equipment and belongings in one of the many changing rooms nearer the pools. Nothing is to be carried into the water. The changing rooms themselves offer shelves and baskets for storage but none of it is secured.

A character that spends at least an hour resting in the pools and that spends Hit Dice to regain hit points regains an additional 1d6 hit points and gains 1d6 temporary hit points.

Burgled belongings. The local monkeys wait for patrons to use the onsens’ baths to steal from their stored belongings. Several snow monkeys and snow monkey glitterers move to distract anyone in the pools. They play the part of curious animals, edging closer and investigating the visitors, and acting cautiously playful if interacted with. Others stay back and keep watch in case the bathers grow suspicious. 

Meanwhile, other monkeys stealthily enter the nearest changing rooms and take any belongings that appear valuable. This includes anything with precious metals, gemstones or glass, or anything that looks intricate enough to attract their attention. The monkeys are also more than willing to take weapons and armor, having the stronger snow monkey bruisers carry larger items. They take their spoils and escape out of sight, returning to their hideaway further up the mountain.

Map & Asset Downloads

The layout of the Kinmeyama Onsen is based on our ‘Onsen Hot Springs’ map, which also has a set of stunning variants for autumnal leaves, snow, or even blooming cherry blossoms! We also have other maps that you might use for the monkeys’ hideout or to construct your own version of the onsen…

Saruta Tenga

(CN male human noble)

A wizened human man with thinning hair and a wide smile steps forward, his hands clasped behind his back, and gives a bow. He wears traditional layered robes that are carefully and presentably arranged. His smile widens as he looks back up, clapping his hands and motioning you forward.

Saruta Tenga is the current owner of Kinmeyama. He is a cunning businessman who wears the jovial mask of an unassuming innkeeper, treating his customers with a smile on his face and a skip in his step. This is all the cover of a ruthless merchant who has sacrificed years of his life, numerous relationships, and any shred of personal honor in pursuit of an eventual fortune. The onsen is his most recent and most successful enterprise, though this is not only due to his skills as a host.

What began as a small shrine to a local legend developed into a mutually beneficial agreement between Tenga and the monkeys of the mountain. He uses the monkeys as a novelty to attract customers, even leading to some groups trekking through dangerously thick snow just to glimpse the wildlife. The monkeys are happy to entertain the patrons by sitting beside the hot springs and accepting any scraps of food that are offered. In return, Tenga allows the monkeys to prey on his customers and steal their belongings while they bathe, Tenga himself hiding behind the excuse of the monkeys being wild animals and the stolen items being insufficiently secured. The monkeys then leave Tenga a small portion of what they steal and take the rest to their leader further up the mountain.

Kinme Monkeys

The kinme, or ‘golden eyes’, monkeys are something of a local curiosity and the source of many intriguing legends. Named for the distinctive amber sheen of their irises, the monkeys’ previously infrequent encounters with nearby people led to numerous rumors of their origins and exaggerated retellings of their behavior. The creation of the Kinmeyama Onsen and its access to the monkeys has largely dispelled the idea of them being anything more than mundane primates with a unique mutation.

Ironically, the truth is more complicated than anyone but Tenga realizes. The monkeys near the onsen are under the compulsion of a larger creature known as the kinme no kami. Their golden eyes are only one symptom of this magic. The other is their obsession with hoarding gold, trinkets, and anything else of visual quality. They steal these items and return them to hot springs further up the mountains, collecting them in piles as offerings to the kami.

When the party first encounters monkeys under the control of the kinme no kami, add the following to the end of their description:

The monkeys’ eyes also glitter with a sheen of gold in their irises, glimmering faintly against the shadows.

Enchanted eyes. The magic of the kinme no kami also grants the monkeys additional abilities. While they are under its influence, the monkeys all have 60 feet of darkvision and advantage on all skill checks made to locate valuable items, such as those they would attempt to steal.

Routing the compulsion. The kinme no kami’s magical influence is what binds the monkeys together as a troop. Should their leader die, the compulsion breaks. 

When the kami is killed, the gold in the other monkeys’ eyes fades away and they are released, falling into disarray. The majority scatter into nearby trees and flee from combat, only attacking if it is necessary for them to escape. The exception is any snow monkey hoarders, which first attempt to gather whatever valuables they can carry before fleeing.

The kami’s hoard. The kinme no kami has a hoard of gathered treasures piled in the waters of its hot springs. Though the kami eats any gold from the items brought to it and much more has weathered over time, many valuable trinkets, weapons, and jewels still remain in acceptable condition.

A character can spend 10 minutes and make a DC 13 Wisdom (Perception) or Intelligence (Investigation) check to search for anything of value in the treasure piles. On a success, they find 10d10 sp and the equivalent of 5d10 gp in trinkets and small gemstones.

In addition to the gold value of the hoard, it is also a great place to hide new magic items or anything else you want to give the party a chance at finding. Identifying these treasures might require another skill check or the kami may have placed its most valuable items in places of visual prominence. Though, if it did, the snow monkey hoarders are likely to try and escape with them.

Snow Monkey

CR 1/8

A monkey barely a foot in height scampers forward, its bright pink face widening in curiosity. Its fur forms a thick coat of brown and white, clearly designed to shield the monkey from the cold, and its tips are still wet from the creature’s last dip in the nearby pools.

An altogether mundane creature, the snow monkey is a primate native to frigid mountain forests. They are known for frequenting hot springs as a way of staving off the cold. Though this sometimes brings them into conflict with adventurers and other wildlife, the monkeys rarely incite violence and are always protected by traveling in numbers.

Snow Monkey Bruiser

CR 1/4

The monkey is slightly larger than the others, with a noticeably thicker frame and pronounced teeth that it bares in warning. You see its hands clench and flex, clearly preparing for the possibility of violence, though it makes no moves to attack.

The snow monkey bruiser is a larger and stronger variant of the monkeys. The bruiser is a protector of its troop-mates, named simply for the injuries it inflicts on those who stray too close to the more vulnerable members of the troop. Though still only a minor threat to experienced adventurers, the bruisers are known for the unrelenting fervor of their attacks, as well as their habit of appearing in great numbers when under threat.

Snow Monkey Hoarder

CR 1/4

A longer coat of fur covers the monkey’s body, matted and woven through scraps of metal to form makeshift plates of armor. Some glitter with faded gold, while others have been stripped from sets of leather and mail. The monkey’s fingers trace through clusters of smaller scraps affixed near its waist and midsection. Its eyes flit across your body, seeming to search for more pieces for its collection.

The compulsion to gather and hoard is strongest in the aptly named snow monkey hoarders. In addition to bringing valuables to their leader, the hoarders also affix other scraps to themselves as a form of both protection and decoration. They are also sure to carry additional, expendable scraps, which they pelt at their targets as a means of attacking from range.

Snow Monkey Glitterer

CR 1/4

Adorned in sections of jewelry and other shining metals that are woven into its fur, the monkey’s body glistens erratically in the light. It seems proud of this, puffing its chest out to show the many decorations it has affixed to itself and hopping to rotate its body and shift the angle of the light, each time giving a small yelp to draw attention back to itself.

Where the hoarders gather adornments for protection, snow monkey glitterers gather the shiniest of metals for intricate decoration and to charm their enemies. The glitterers share a small portion of the kinme no kami’s magic, allowing them to incite a similar element of greed in those who stare too closely at the glitterers’ treasures. This is most often used as a distraction technique, allowing other monkeys to strike the target or to escape with their ill-gotten gains.

Kinme no Kami

CR 3

A white-haired primate towers over you and the surrounding terrain. It resembles a snow monkey, yet is prodigiously large and has four thick arms extending from its rotund torso. The tips of its matted, slovenly fur glisten with shining gold that also appears embedded in its fingerprints and stained around its mouth, from which jagged and similarly colored teeth protrude. But the color is most intense in its eyes, which burn with irises like liquid gold.

The kinme no kami, or ‘golden-eyed god’, is a legend of the mountains. The stories tell of a hulking lord of the local monkeys that commands them from a hidden grove of hot springs, connecting the entire troop in a subservient hivemind that serves only the kami itself. But surely these fables are little more than exaggerated tales born from the monkeys’ golden eye color, rare sightings of larger beasts, and perhaps fey that once inhabited the mountains?

In reality, the stories are far truer than most expect. The kinme no kami is an enormous and powerful fey that has enchanted the monkeys to act as its servants, gathering what riches they can find to feed their master. The kami then consumes any gold and revels in the beauty of the other treasures they bring.

Though a fierce combatant, the kinme no kami is rarely forced to personally fight and so its first priority is self-preservation. It uses the shine of its fur to dazzle opponents and can exude rapidly cooling gold from its mouth to hold anything it bites in place. It is also more than willing to call on and sacrifice as many monkeys as it needs to kill its enemies while minimizing the damage that it itself takes. Perhaps the only thing the kami cares about as much as its own life is its hoard. Therein lies the kami’s weakness, as its avarice prevents it from giving up the treasure it has spent so long gathering.

Though labeled as a fey, the kinme no kami can be changed to whatever is most appropriate for your setting. The kami might instead be a forest spirit, an elemental, a demon of pure greed, or even some form of monstrosity. Though this is unlikely to make much difference, you may wish to keep it in mind in case your party has abilities or spells that specifically interact with certain types of creatures.

Balancing the Kinme Monkeys

The ideal starting point for balancing your use of the monkeys is to simply follow the encounter’s narrative. The monkeys that prey upon the onsens’ patrons have developed the safest method possible for carrying out their thievery. Part of this includes sending the minimum number of snow monkeys and snow monkey glitterers to distract anyone in the baths. These monkeys do not do anything to attract suspicion or to start combat.

If the party realizes what is happening and begins combat, the monkeys’ plan shifts. They screech loudly to both alert the thieving monkeys and to call in additional snow monkey bruisers and snow monkey hoarders. This means that their numbers slowly increase as the encounter progresses and they seek to overwhelm the characters. Fortunately, the monkeys’ objective is not to kill the party. They only fight as much as is necessary to escape with their stolen goods and return to the kinme no kami. This means that there is little risk of throwing too many of them at the characters and losing control of the encounter. If the monkeys gain the upper hand or even knock some of the party out of the fight, they simply use the opportunity to retreat more safely.

This changes if the characters pursue the monkeys to their home. Should the party attack the kami or attempt to steal from its hoard, the entire troop engages them alongside their leader. This encounter is where the CR value of the monkeys should be balanced against the party’s level, beginning with the kami itself as a base Challenge Rating of 3. Additional monkeys are also spread throughout the area, allowing you to have more enter the combat, answering the cries of those that are fighting, should the characters be finding it easier than you would like. The reverse is more difficult, as the monkeys are compelled to assist the kami and so will not flee as long as it lives. This means that you may wish to aim low for the starting CR and simply plan to have others join the fray in subsequent rounds.

Be sure to also consider that the death of the kinme no kami is likely to end almost all combat. The possibility that this cuts the encounter too short is somewhat mitigated by the other monkeys working to protect the kami, pressuring the party to deal with them before striking at the leader. It should still be factored in, however, especially if your characters tend to focus on larger targets first.

Here are some examples of creature choices you can use to achieve different CR values for the encounter with the kinme no kami:

CR 3 1/2: 1 kinme no kami, 1 snow monkey hoarder, 1 snow monkey glitterer.

CR 4: 1 kinme no kami, 1 snow monkey bruiser, 1 snow monkey hoarder, 1 snow monkey glitterer, 2 snow monkeys.

CR 5: 1 kinme no kami, 2 snow monkey bruisers, 2 snow monkey hoarders, 1 snow monkey glitterer, 6 snow monkeys.

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About the author

Troy McConnell

Part-time DM and author of 2-Minute Tabletop's encounters, map lore, and characters. Basically, I write about all the campaign ideas that I don't have time to run. All with the assistance of my feline familiar, Wink.

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