This is a dragon that vomits wasps.
Let me say that again.
This is a DRAGON that VOMITS WASPS.
I feel the need to emphasize how awesome the korir-kokembe is because the monster’s entry does not do it any favors. (I try to keep this blog pretty positive, so let’s just say that the korir-kokembe’s art, while technically correct, could work harder to inspire.) What’s missing is the sense of just how magical and creepy this thing is.
The korir-kokembe lives deep in the jungle amid the rivers and marshes, forming a symbiotic relationship with the vermin there. The insects actually nest in the dragon’s gullet, poisoning its bite and serving as its breath weapon. That’s amazing! As someone who still can't shake the images of botflies nesting inside human flesh from my college Biology in the Tropics class, I find the image of a dragon allowing a whole wasp colony to congregate in its gullet just beyond cool and creepy. Add to that several nasty insect swarm-related spell-like abilities, and some pretty savage claw/rake/grab/constrict combos, and you have a hell of a mid-level monster.
And that’s perfect for the unexplored regions where korir-kokembe live! Going into the jungle should mean going into a place where the normal rules don't apply (particularly if your campaign is the default faux-Europe of most RPGs). In the jungle, you don’t eat the fish; the fish eat you. In the jungle, the crabs are in the trees and the snakes swim in the water. In the jungle, the clean disciplines of arcane and divine magic are blurred by shamans, oracles, and witches. And the dragons? Damn right they vomit they vomit insects.
A powerful worm that walks defies every attempt to destroy it. Adventurers discover that they can weaken the abomination’s magic via a ritual anchored by spell components sympathetic to the worm that walks’s own energies. To that end, the adventurers must retrieve the wasp nest from the gullet of a korir-kokembe—which means carving it out of the dragon.
In the Khanderhai Jungle, the vaulting trees form networks that stretch kilometers into the air, with elves in the canopies, gnomes in the dusk layer, and drow on the permanently shrouded forest floor. The drow feel a kinship with the spider-spitting korir-kokembe, and bring them prisoners as sacrifices so that the drow may ply the rivers without fear.
Fire ravages the Tukari lowlands, spurred on by rogue elementals and summoned fiends. Out of options, the Tukari locals beg adventurers to help them breach the Palisade, an ancient natural dam located some miles upriver, so that they can flood their burning fields. Only the Palisade is not natural at all—it was constructed by a family of ancient korir-kokembe, and the insect-riddled dragons are furious at seeing their carefully constructed swamp disturbed.
—Inner Sea Bestiary 23
Reader comments! I was rightly called out for not mentioning (A)D&D’s crabman/yurians when we covered karkinoi. (No excuses; I was just short on time that day.) A couple of you have kitsune stories. Also, lots of you weighed in on Korada and especially on trials for upper-level monks. I think most of you are where I’m at—a nice idea if used sparingly and if it’s tied to role-playing, not mechanics (especially level loss), except for mythic trials, where that kind of encounter is already built in. Check out the whole thread, and thanks for commenting everyone!