Monday, April 15, 2013

Plasma Ooze

The plasma ooze should be boring.  But it’s not.  In fact, it could make for a fantastic campaign-ending climax.  Here’s why.

Actually, let’s get the basics out of the way first.  Plasma oozes are “extraterrestrial beings made of superheated electromagnetic sludge,” according to the Bestiary 3—not quite elementals, but something more basic.  They live deep in the Plane of Fire (one assumes where it borders the Positive Energy Plane) and in the stars themselves.  So if you’ve got a planet-hopping campaign and your players want to visit the sun, you’ve got a ready made-hazard waiting for them.

Back to oozes.  Oozes (excepting the Lovecraftian shoggoths and gibbering mouthers, which we’ll excuse from this conversation) are either terrifying and boring.  They don’t exactly converse much, they don’t have deep psyches, and either you have the tools to fight them, or you don’t and you (hopefully) run from them.  Pretty much all the interest they generate at the game table involves the above: 1) Did the ooze surprise the party?  2) Can the party fight the ooze?  3) Can the party escape the ooze?  And 4) what obstacles has the GM thrown the party’s way to make #2 and #3 more difficult?  No matter how big and scary you make a black pudding, that dynamic doesn’t change.

What makes the plasma ooze different?  The magnetic pulse.

Here’s that link again, in case you want to see what it does.

Great, you say, it’s an ooze with a tractor beam.  Who cares?

But here’s what the plasma ooze made me do.  It made me think back to anime.  There was a period where basically every anime movie or series ended with a gigantic blast.  (Not surprising, given Japan’s history with such things).  Whether nuclear, magical, or whatever, the screen would go white.  The sound would drop out.  And then there would be the aftermath, for good or ill. 

Now picture this.  You’re a decently high level: 14, 15, 16.  You’re about to finish the campaign.  You’re facing off against the Big Bad Guy. Maybe you’ve struck the killing blow.  Or maybe you haven’t sealed the deal in time.  Either way, something goes wrong.  A spell is cast.  A rite is finished.  A reactor boils over.  A gate opens.  And a plasma ooze pops out.

This is your anime climax moment.  It’s that silent white nuclear explosion, Gargantuan in size, and 20 ft. across.  Worse yet, it fights back—lashing out with slam attacks and plasma rays.  You are battered and bruised already down on resources.  Your potions are consumed, your spell slots long spent.  Electricity and fire attacks you’d ordinarily shrug off suddenly become real threats.  It’s a battle.

And then, as if that weren’t enough, it pulses…and draws you toward itself…thanks to the very weapons and armor you meant to fight it with!

That’s a hell of a set piece.  That’s a reason to bust out the minis, even if you’re not a big fan—just to see the tug of war between PC and ooze, player and GM. 

And you have to stop it, because otherwise, it will grow, consuming every living thing in its path…and it will be your fault.  At the right level, in the right circumstances, the plasma ooze is the Horrendous Space Kablooie—and stopping it (or dying trying) will be the most important thing your characters do.

The next time you end a campaign and your friends ask you about the final battle, tell them you fought an ooze.  And if they look at you funny, send them here.  We’ll straighten them out.

On a year-long quest to return a phoenix to her home in the sun, spacefaring adventurers face two challenges: finding a ship that will get them there, and escaping the plasma oozes that refuse to let them leave.

An efreeti malik of surpassing power has a palace that includes a fantastic dome—part pleasure palace, part museum, and part treasure vault.  Central to the structure is a bound plasma ooze that serves as the dome’s dynamo and its penultimate guardian (the electricity damage meant as a nasty surprise for the efreeti’s mostly fire-immune enemies).  Interestingly, the malik stole the ooze from a lich (now a demilich) who wants the insult answered.

In the last battle against the Ardeth Technomancy, the elven admiral pulled his Spear Hawks from the sky.  Lacking the firepower to go on alone, the Aeronavy of Lyon was forced to let the Technomancy’s Dreadnaughts flee—for which the humans have never forgiven the elves.  When adventurers rupture a rogue Dreadnaught power core, they find out why the elves held back as a plasma ooze bursts forth.

Pathfinder Bestiary 3 220

Or, to but it another way: Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.

Koboldbard asked (not surprisingly):

Do you have anything about kobolds?

Heck yeah.  But to save you the trouble of scrolling all the way back to October 2012, here it is.

Music!  Since about 25 of you are new here in the last week alone, let me fill you in: On Saturdays I take a break from being a monster nerd so I can be an indie rock nerd instead.  That means on Mondays you get a radio show from me that you can listen to the whole week long or download and keep forever.  Highlights from this week’s show include some Coachella tracks and a Sean Nelson set.  Enjoy!

(Sometimes the feed skips, so for best results let the file load in Firefox or Chrome, Save As an mp3, and enjoy in iTunes. Link good till Friday, 4/19, at midnight.)

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