Many memorable monsters have appeared in Dungeons and Dragons over the years, but one that always puts a smile on my face is the Gelatinous Cube. Just the idea of a huge 10ft x 10ft translucent ooze that lurks in dungeons eating all who dare enter, just tickles me to no end. Honestly, it’s a dungeon roomba. Invented by Gary Gygax himself back in 1977, the Gelatinous Cube appeared in the first Monster Manual for D&D. Later being described as an “Amorphous creature that lives only to eat”, I never felt more connected to an imaginary monster. There is also powerful imagery in a large blob like creature slowly pulling you in until you are completely engulfed inside. …And because it’s translucent, your party can watch as you scream for help from the inside. It’s just fun for everyone. Whenever we get a new edition, I am excited to read the entries for the Cube. I remember, in a later edition, when it was described that Gelatinous Cube’s reproduce asexually. This means two things:
1) You can have little oozes morph out of the cube during a battle to add to the encounter.
2) Somewhere in an office there was a meeting in which Gelatinous Cube sex was discussed.
We live in a wondrous time were D&D is part of the cultural zeitgeist, but that also means even the casual fan will understand to stay away from this jell-o monstrosity. This means you may have to get inventive with your pudding of doom to strike proper fear in the hearts of your players. One of my favorite tricks is to set up the encounter in a dark underground dungeon and have the party battle a few smaller oozes along the way. I make these quick and easy so the players are overconfident going through the dungeon. (always build the party up before you kick them in the proverbial nether region) I will mention, that when attacked by an ooze, the players are slowed or stuck briefly with a reasonable DC to escape. Nothing bad happens if they are stuck as the oozes are no threat, but we are setting the scene my friends. I then describe 3-4 of these oozes along the main hallway in front of a chest. Add in a few bones of adventures that have tried but failed to obtain the prize to set the mood. Really play it up here! Describe a small side hallway, but allow the player’s focus to be on the oozes and possible treasure. I mean, a party faced with a threat, and the promise of loot, would not notice a translucent cube? Once the party commits to attacking the oozes, the Gelatinous Cube emerges from the side hallway and rounds the corner. You know there will be a Wizard or Bard sitting in the back, so feel free snack on them first. If the party does get away from the cube, you can have the oozes attempt to surround one player or slow them as they pass. This adds a sense of dread as the cube closes in, and can make for a fun encounter. Even better if your party has to go back to save that Wizard.. though, they may leave the Bard.