... now with 35% more arrogance!

Friday, October 18, 2013


While I ponder a follow-up to the niche protection rant, I thought I might ramble a bit about a monster topic. For the past week or so, on one forum, there's a thread on popular monsters you think are stupid. I misread the intent as "monsters you think are stupid, but love anyways." Which fits perfectly with another thread that's been running for a week or so on another forum. There, the topic is the gelatinous cube, which qualifies as a possibly stupid monster that I still love.

I went back to Greyhawk and looked at the Cube. Oddly, it's not immune to missile weapons like I thought. I figured slings and arrows would just pass straight through. I think I will run them that way, anyways. Also, though, I thought the Cube was practically transparent, as it may indeed be in AD&D. But Greyhawk says it's only semitransparent. I read that as light -- and shadow -- pass through, but not visual details.

I'm imagining the Cube encounter underground as looking more like a damp stone wall than a block of Jell-o. An apparent dead end. Realizing that it's not a wall is about the same as detecting a secret door: very difficult. When it moves, though, the party would realize it's not a (normal) wall. The same applies if there's a light source on the other side, since the wall will appear to glow. The party can outrun the Cube, because it is slow, but they may run into it (literally) later, at a really bad time, like during an escape.

I really think the Gelatinous Cube is a good opportunity to play up the weird, almost Lovecraftian aspects of dungeon crawls. Which is probably why I love 'em.


  1. That last time I ran into a gelatinous cube, the gm really played up its transparency by having the skeleton and armor of a dwarf floating in the middle of it. Along with the hissing of the cubes acids on the walls and floor, we thought we were fighting some kind of super strong and terrifying undead. It wasn't until several sling stones and bolts were stuck floating in it did we realize what it was.

    1. I think I saw your story in the thread on RPGNet. I thought it was cool, but now I'd probably restrict that to unique Gelatinous Cube encounters, and go with the weird oozing translucent wall description for most of the others.

    2. Was your GM running Rise of the Kobold King? I was about to mention the same example. Although it wasn't long before one my players was engulfed and the rest figured out what was up.

  2. I've always seen 'cubes used as something of a trap. Greedy players might rush in to get those shiny swords or jewel encrusted (magic?) sword. Smart players note the suspended skeleton. I guess that only works the first time, though (or it'd get old if there's a skeleton everytime, anyways). Your wall idea would continue to be useful. I may just have to steal that :D

  3. I've never seen one used in a game, or used one myself... which is kinda strange because I generally like them as a sort of Shoggoth creature.
    I think I'd make them vary in translucency/transparency depending on what/when they most recently absorbed. Also, it seems like something that can dissolve flesh like that should put out a powerful smell that would serve as a warning to anyone who'd previously encountered one.