Oozes (Part 1): Lore and Design

*Quick note: this was originally going to be one article, but the Stats section is so dense that it could fit an article all on its own. So that’s what we’re going to do. I hate to split it up like this, but I don’t want this one BotB to end up being the length of a small novella.*

The dungeon’s floors were spotless. That should have been our first clue.

From the journal of Jaster Hollowquill, on his first exploration of Undermountain

Ah, the oozes. A dungeon master’s favorite tool. Provided the DM is the kind of guy to put a woopie cushion filled with sulfuric acid on your chair. Or that guy who thought it was the funniest thing ever when Jim put Dwight’s stapler in jello in the Office.

Lore: Mindless Predators

Flowing through the damp, dark places underground in the world, oozes are drawn by movement and warmth, seeking to devour anything that can be dissolved. While they prey on organic material, they are willing to survive off of grime or fungus to survive. Should a passageway be perfectly clean, any adventurer with half their wits about them should be cautious.

Victims of an ooze die slowly, as many of these monsters swallow their prey whole and take their time melting them down. The only positive to this slow, agonizing demise is the chance for rescue, as the victim’s companions have a chance to pull them free. Some oozes can’t melt materials like gold or armor, making certain oozes quite valuable to kill.

Oozes have no intelligence whatsoever, existing entirely to fulfill their instincts. Creatures smarter than them – most creatures – may manipulate it using those instincts to turn it into an unwitting servant. It can be trapped using heat, making it either a powerful guardian or a well-cowed prisoner.

The Demonomicon of Iggwilv, along with other sources, state that oozes are the offspring – or maybe scattered remnants – of the demon lord Juiblex. Supporting this theory is the fact that only the Faceless Lord can control them, giving them a faint modicum of intelligence, as well as malicious intent.

Oozes come in many forms. A Black Pudding is a mound of sticky sludge that consumes all but stone, appearing as nothing more than a shadow before striking. A Gelatinous Cube is a transparent being that moves through dark tunnels in a predictable pattern; only the remnants of their victims – armor, coins, bones and the like – give a hint to their presence before an attack. A Gray Ooze is stone made into liquid and moves like a snake. An Ochre Jelly is a yellow blob with some cunning, following its prey from a distance and waiting for its opportunity to strike; when it does, it devours naught bet the flesh it seeks.

Design: Worst. Dessert. Ever.

How are these some of the best designs we’ve seen so far? They’re just pudding! Evil, carnivorous pudding!

These designs are simple, yet effective. You can tell exactly what they’re about just by looking at them. The Black Pudding is an inescapable nightmare, the Gelatinous Cube is a block of death, the Gray Ooze is a wall turned murderer, and the Ochre Jelly is a mindless monster out of a 1950’s B horror movie. One look is all you need to figure them out.

Plus, they ooze (pun intended) creativity. Some mad genius at Wizards of the Coast managed to turn jello and pudding into a carniverous nightmare! They’re positively delightful!

They may not seem like much, but these designs are solid. So much so that they’ve become a favorite among Dungeon Masters! And that’s before we talk about their stats!

Speaking of which…

…I’ll see you all next week. Sorry, but we’ve got four monsters to talk about, and they’re all fairly different and complex. If I tried doing all of this at once, then we’d be here forever.

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