Okay! Enough of the overview planning and such. Let me tackle a couple of the 20 adventures in this adventure path (one level's worth of encounters) to see what that takes. I'll pick, semi-randomly, Level 3 and Level 16. This gives both a low and a high level, and both levels work fine in isolation--that is, I'm far enough away from the Level 1 start of the adventure path and the Level 20 conclusion of the adventure path that I don't need to worry quite so much about the details of the meta-plot.

Today, let's look at Level 3 specifically. 

Looking at Monsters
I'm going to plan out 12 encounters: 10 at Moderate difficulty and 2 at Severe difficulty. I have the Bestiary open to see what monsters are in the Level 1 to Level 5 range, as those make the best fits for a Level 3 adventure. In fact, a single Level 6 monster makes for a great Severe encounter and perhaps a final villain, so I'll look at that, too.

As I'm reviewing these monsters, I see a couple of themes.

First, redcaps! These really fit the "evil fey" theme I've got, and make good monsters at this level. At Level 5, I can't have the heroes go up against more than one, but that makes them powerful, scary foes. Redcaps are in.

Second, cats! There are a lot of cats at these levels; not just tigers and lion and leopards, but catfolk as well. Perhaps I should do something with these catfolk and cats. The catfolk pouncer provided in the Bestiary is basically a fighter-type. Their alignment is chaotic good, but it's easy enough to say "this one is neutral or evil instead, but use the same stats." I like the thought of the catfolk and their cats being a single force. But rather than the heroes going up against them, maybe they take the fight to the heroes? Perhaps they're assaulting a village and the heroes need to defend it.

Loose Adventure Plotting
Why are the catfolk assaulting the village? It's probably the redcaps' fault. Let's say the redcaps stole something from the catfolk, and framed the village for the theft. For now, let's call that something the magical paw amulet, and work on a better name later. The catfolk are now super mad, and they assault the village looking to get the paw amulet back, even though the village doesn't have it. The heroes must defend the village, learn why the catfolk are so angry, realize the redcaps have the paw amulet, and go get it back.

So this adventure has 3 phases: defend the village from cat and catfolk attacks, fight back against the catfolk, then go to wherever the redcaps are lairing and get the something back. With all that in mind, let me list out the 12 encounters and put them in "buckets" of Part 1, Part 2, or Part 3.

The Severe Encounters
First, let me think about the 2 Severe encounters. These are probably the most important fights in my adventure. Each would be a fight against a single Level 6 foe. I'd really like a Level 6 catfolk leader and a Level 6 redcap leader for my 2 Severe encounters. But those don't exist; I'll have to improvise.

I see that a smilodon is a Level 6 creature, perfect for fighting by itself. Perhaps it's a powerful guard for something? No, wait, maybe the smilodon is actually the leader; it was subject to an awaken animal ritual, and it's smart and can talk. Hmm. But I remember I don't actually *want* the heroes to fight the leader of the catfolk, because they need the information to go fetch the paw amulet. Maybe the catfolk leader isn't statted at all, but the heroes nevertheless need to fight the smilodon (which, I suppose, might still be intelligent and perhaps urging the vicious attacks) to get to talk to the catfolk leader. That works for me. I'll name the intelligent smilodon Redfang for now. No, wait, the other foes are redcaps and that might be confusing. Let's say he's got one irregular tooth and we'll call him Crookfang. Good kitty.

For the redcap leader, I'm almost there. Redcaps are Level 5; if I pair it with a Level 3 creature, that's a good Severe encounter. But that doesn't have to be a creature; it can instead be a complex hazard. Redcaps are sneaky and like leading people into traps, so that works. The Level 3 complex hazard in the Core Rulebook is a drowning pit, which seems great. Redcap plus drowning pit makes a Severe encounter. This sneaky redcap leader needs a name; let's call her Rinda Rustboots.

Making Moderate Encounters
Most of the encounters will be Moderate encounters. I can make Moderate encounters from:

* A single Level 5 creature (like a redcap!) 
* A single Level 3 creature and two Level 1 creatures (like a lion and 2 catfolk pouncers!)
* Two Level 3 creatures (like 2 cockatrices)
* Three Level 2 creatures (like 3 leopards)
* Four Level 1 creatures (like 4 catfolk pouncers)

Encounter List
Here are my 12 encounters, and the parts they can go in:

* Moderate: 3 leopards (Part 1, probably)
* Moderate: 1 redcap (Part 3, probably)
* Moderate: 1 redcap (Part 3, probably)
* Moderate: 2 lions (Part 1)
* Moderate: 1 lion and 2 catfolk pouncers (Part 2)
* Moderate: 4 catfolk pouncers (Part 2)
* Moderate: 1 tiger and 1 catfolk pouncer (Part 1)
* Moderate: 1 tiger and 1 leopard (Part 1)
* Moderate: 2 cockatrices (Part 3; redcaps use them as guards)
* Moderate: 2 animated statues (Part 3, probably)
* Severe: 1 smilodon (Part 2)
* Severe: 1 redcap and 1 drowning pit (Part 3)

This would be more useful organized by parts, which also lets me think about which encounter goes where. Let me break it down this way.

Part 1: Assault on the Village
Strange cat attacks! In different parts of the village, the heroes must save villagers from:
* Moderate: 3 leopards
* Moderate: 2 lions
* Moderate: 1 tiger and 1 leopard 
* Moderate: 1 tiger and 1 catfolk pouncer

With this, there's only 1 catfolk pouncer, and that person should have the clue leading to Part 2 to answer "what the heck is going on?"

Part 2: Forest Base of the Catfolk
* Moderate: 1 lion and 2 catfolk pouncers
* Moderate: 4 catfolk pouncers
* Severe: 1 smilodon

That seems straightforward; most of the catfolk are here. But when the heroes learn that the catfolk are seeking an item in the village, they have to go learn it isn't in the village at all, but in the hands of the redcaps. How do they learn this? Maybe there's a redcap in town, planting more disinformation. So there's kind of an "in-between" encounter, not quite in Part 2 or Part 3, that involves a fight with a redcap back in town. Maybe this properly goes in Part 3, right at the start of it. That leads the heroes to the redcap village, either with a clue on the redcap or by helpful villagers providing information ("ya, we seen creatures like that lil' 'un out near Rust Gorge.")

Part 3: The Redcap Thieves
* Moderate: 1 redcap (the one in town)
* Moderate: 2 animated statues (at the entrance to the gorge)
* Moderate: 2 cockatrices (Rinda Rustboots looses them to stop intruders)
* Moderate: 1 redcap
* Severe: 1 redcap and 1 drowning pit (Part 3)

Okay! That puts a whole adventure together. We'll tie it to the meta-plot by having some clues about Treerazer in Rinda Rustboots' lair that leads into the next adventure, whatever that ends up being.

What should this adventure be called? It might be good to name it after the magic item that's causing all the trouble, but that means I now need a better name for it than the paw amulet. Maybe the cat's-paw amulet is good enough, and the adventure is called the Cat's-Paw Deception. I like the double meaning of "cat's-paw" as both the paw of a cat, as well as someone that's a dupe (in this case, the village). 

That's enough for today; next time, I'll work on treasure for the Cat's-Paw Deception.