Gelatinous Cube, Glacial
In honor of the Winter Is Coming Blog Carnival, I’ve decided to try to a)post more often (hah!), and, b)post winter/cold/ice related stuff, as my fancy is struck. No promises on either frequency or content; been there, done that. For all you guys know, this could be my last post ever. We’ll see. (Note: I wrote that first paragraph on 11/04/2012. What day was this posted?)
So, for starters, let’s take one of the classic monsters, the gelatinous cube, and try some frozen variants. This is going to be a bit of an exercise in extemporanea, wherein I will “think out loud” on the page, as I try to work out what to do with this concept. This allows you to peer into the mind of the artist. Gaze not into the abyss, yadda yadda.
So. Cold gelatinous cube. “Ice Cube”, but that’s too obvious, even for me. Hm. Here’s problem one: The thing about cold, the thing is, about cold, is that it’s cold. Frozen. Stiff. Pretty much the antithesis of “gelatinous”. Sure, you can postulate the freezing point of Cube is much lower than that of water, and we might go with that, but as I ponder it… can a non-gelatinous gelatinous cube be interesting? Hmm…
Cold. Solid cube. Ice cube. Can’t absorb things, except very slowly. Like licking a street sign. Except it’s a street sign that wants to eat you. It can absorb on contact, slowly. Warmth of bodies thaws its outer surface. You get stuck, then drawn in as your own body heat softens the cube so it can feed. Hm. What else does ice do? Shatter. Hitting it causes smaller fragments or shards to fly off. Form their own monster. Hmmm. Clear. Gelatinous cubes are already clear, but arctic thoughts. Sun. Light. Refractions. Snowblindness. Cube shimmer in the sun, blinding aura, dazzling, hard to look at.
OK, that’s enough traits to work with.
Let’s see. Let’s do an “across the ages” thing here. I’ve done it for spells. Why not for monsters?
AD&D First Edition
GELATINOUS CUBE, GLACIAL
NO. APPEARING: I
ARMOR CLASS: 5
HIT DICE: 6
% IN LAIR: Nil
TREASURE TYPE: See below
NO. OF ATTACKS: 1
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 2-8+1-4 Cold
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Paralyzation, refraction, surprise on a 1-4
SPECIAL DEFENSES: See below
MAGIC RESISTANCE: See below
SIZE: L (10’ cube)
PSlONlC ABILITY: Nil
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil
Glacial Gelatinous Cubes are found only in the frozen regions of the planet, or in dungeons which are kept magically super-cold. They are much more solid than their oozier brethren. Due to this, when they hit an adventurer and paralyze him, damage begins on the first turn following the attack, as it takes time for the stricken victim to be drawn inwards.
Glacial cubes are even harder to spot than others of their kind, as they blend perfectly with the semi-transparent ice of their home regions. If encountered in daylight, the cube may instinctively make a refractive attack instead of its normal attack, causing all within 20 feet to make a saving throw against breath weapon or be blinded for 1d4 turns. It may do this only once per day.
Glacial cubes have the same treasure types as other gelatinous cubes.
Glacial gelatinous cubes can be hit by all forms of weapons, but bladed weapons do only half damage. Blunt weapons do normal damage, but on each hit, there is a 25% chance that a shard of the cube will be knocked free. This shard makes an immediate attack as a 3HD monster on a random character within 10 feet of the cube. If the attack hits, the target takes 1d6 damage and must make a saving throw vs. paralysis or be paralyzed for 1d4 turns, during which time the embedded shard will do a further 1d6 damage per turn unless it is somehow removed. Anyone killed in this fashion will become a glacial cube within 2d6 rounds after death, having but 1/4 the hit points of a standard glacial cube, but otherwise identical.
Glacial gelatinous cubes take normal damage from fire, and cold attacks heal them for half the damage they would otherwise do. Electricity, fear, holds, paralyzation, polymorph, and sleep based attacks have no effect on glacial gelatinous cubes.
It is rumored that white dragons of the smarter sort will sometimes (10% chance) keep glacial cubes as guardians, scattering them around their lairs to ward off intruders.
(For those who care, which is to say, no one, I am using PF instead of D&D 3.x because my monster spreadsheet has been rewritten for PF.)
|Large Ooze (Cold)|
|Hit Dice: 6d10+48 (96 Hit Points)|
|Initiative: -5 Dex|
|Speed: 15 feet (3 squares)|
|Armor Class: 14(-1 Size -5 Dex+10 Natural) touch 4; flat-footed 14|
|Base Attack/Grapple: +4/+10|
|Attack: Slam +6 (1d6+1d6 cold)|
|Space/Reach: 10 ft./10 ft.|
|Special Attacks: Engulf, Paralysis, Refraction, Shards|
|Special Qualities: Transparent|
|Immunities: Electricity, Cold, Ooze Traits|
|Saves: Fort +10,Ref -3,Will -3|
|Abilities: Str 14, Dex 1, Con 26, Int 0, Wis 1 ,Cha 1|
|Environment: Any Cold|
|Challenge Rating: 4|
The glacial cube is a cousin of the more common underground gelatinous cube, one which has adapted itself to life under conditions of extreme cold. It is much more solid than the normal gelatinous cube, which provides it with some measure of increased defense, reflected in both its Armor Class and its Hit Points. It also has several other distinctive traits which can catch unwary adventurers by surprise. Unless noted, it is otherwise identical to the gelatinous cube.
Acid (Ex): The glacial cube’s acid does not harm metal, stone, or ice.
Engulf(Ex): The glacial cube has a solid surface, and cannot easily engulf moving prey. However, the body heat of paralyzed victims melts its outer surface, at which point, it can ingest them. As a full round action, it can engulf a single Medium or small creature which is adjacent to it and paralyzed. There is no save. Engulfed creatures are subject to the cube’s paralysis and acid, gain the pinned condition, are in danger of suffocating, and are trapped within its body until they are no longer pinned. This ability does not affect creatures with the cold subtype.
Paralysis (Ex): A glacial gelatinous cube secretes an anesthetizing slime. A target hit by a cube’s melee or engulf attack must succeed on a DC 21 Fortitude save or be paralyzed for 3d6 rounds. The cube can automatically engulf a paralyzed opponent. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Refraction (Ex): As a standard action, a glacial cube exposed to sunlight or bright light can instinctively form its internal substance into crystalline patterns that emit a blinding light. All those within a 30′ radius burst centered on the cube must make a Reflex save (DC 21) or be dazzled for 2d6 rounds. This save is Constitution based.
Shards (Ex): When the glacial cube is struck by a weapon which does crushing damage, it sends for small shards of its frozen substance. If it is critically hit by such a weapon, it produces 1d4+1 shard. Each shard makes an attack on a random creature within 10′ of the cube, at a +6 attack bonus. If it hits, it does 1d8 piercing damage, and it will do 1d6 cold and acid damage for the next 1d4+1 rounds (A DC 15 Heal check will remove the shard). Any creature killed while the shard is in place will reform in 2d6 rounds as a small glacial cube (apply the “young” template to the glacial cube)
Transparent (Ex): The glacial cube is even harder to spot than its dungeon-dwelling kin. A DC 20 Perception check is needed to notice one when in its natural habitat among ice cliffs and snowdrifts. Anyone more than 15 feet away has a 50% miss chance for aimed spells or attacks. Faerie fire, glitterdust, and similar spells render this effect moot, but invisibility purgeor the like do not, for the same reason they don’t make glass windows opaque.
Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition
Ah, 4e. The easiest version to design monsters for, hitting a good balance between the “finger in the wind” 1e/2e rules and the “IRS Tax Auditors Give Up” 3.x/PF rules. Well, it would be nice if there were more formal support for non-combat abilities or integration with the rules for PCs, but, you can’t have everything.
Because 4e makes it so easy to run simple monsters on the fly, the shard effect for the 4e version produces minions, which makes it tactically more interesting, in my opinion.
Level 7 Elite Brute
|Large natural beast (ooze, cold)||
|HP 194; Bloodied 97
AC 21; Fortitude 20; Reflex 17; Will 18
Immune gaze, cold; Resist 10 acid
Saving Throws +2; Action Points 1
|A glacial cube is invisible until seen (Perception DC 25) or until it attacks. Creatures that fail to notice the glacial cube might walk into it. if this occurs, the cube attacks (+13 vs. Fortitude; Hit: Target is immobilized, save ends.)|
|m Slam • At-Will|
|Attack: +12 vs. Fortitude|
|Hit: 2d6 + 3 damage, and the target is immobilized (save ends).|
|M Engulf (acid, cold) • At-Will|
|Effect: The gelatinous cube engulfs one or two Medium or smaller targets who are immobilized and adjacent to it.; The target is grabbed and pulled into the cube’s space; the target is dazed and takes ongoing 10 acid and cold damage until it escapes the grab. A creature that escapes the grab shifts to a square of its choosing adjacent to the cube. The cube can move normally while creatures are engulfed within it.|
|C Refractive Burst (radiant) • Encounter|
|Requirements: Must be in sunlight or in bright light.|
|Attack: Close Burst 5 (All sighted creatures in burst.); +8 vs. Reflex|
|Hit: 1d10 + 7 radiant damage, and target is blinded (save ends).|
|Shardspawn • Recharge 4 5 6|
|Trigger: The cube is struck by a blunt weapon, such as a mace, club, or hammer.|
|Effect (Immediate Reaction): The cube creates a cubeshard within any adjacent square. This does not grant extra XP. No more than two cubeshards can exist at any one time.|
|Skills Stealth +10|
|Str 15 (+5)||Dex 15 (+5)||Wis 14 (+5)|
|Con 17 (+6)||Int 2 (–1)||Cha 2 (–1)|
|Alignment unaligned Languages —|
Level 6 Minion
|Small natural beast (ooze, cold)||
|HP 1; a missed attack never damages a minion
AC 20; Fortitude 18; Reflex 19; Will 17
|Glacial shards are small and easy to miss against ice and snow. If in such an environment, they have +2 to all defenses against ranged attacks originating more than 2 squares away, unless the attacker is not relying on normal vision.|
|m Shard Slash (acid, cold) • At-Will|
|Attack: +11 vs. AC|
|Hit: 5 cold and acid damage.|
|M Embedding Shard (acid, cold) • Encounter|
|Attack: +11 vs. AC|
|Hit: 5 cold and acid damage, and the glacial shard is destroyed. The target takes 5 ongoing cold and acid damage (save ends). If this kills the target, it dissolves and becomes a glacial shard, which will attempt to flee the area.|
|Skills Stealth +11|
|Str 4 (+0)||Dex 16 (+6)||Wis 10 (+3)|
|Con 12 (+4)||Int 1 (–2)||Cha 10 (+3)|
|Alignment unaligned Languages —|
I could add some more author’s notes here, but the fact is, I had this whole thing done EXCEPT for the shard minion, and that took me over two weeks to get around to doing (and only about an hour to do it, including fighting with Adventure Tools because it corrupted my saved monster file), and I don’t want to procrastinate any more.