One of the nice things about Pathfinder is that the game takes its monsters seriously. Each one has a place in the world and makes sense in its ecology, even if that ecology exists on another plane. There are no roving maulers or nilbogs here. The Pathfinder authors even managed, in Misfit Monsters Redeemed, to rehabilitate some of the most notorious duds to ever escape the Fiend Folio. Even Pathfinder Module monsters are tight—off the top of my head, the mask golem is the only entry I can immediately think of that I wish had been left on the cutting room floor.
Given that my job is to make you fall a little in love with every single monster in the Bestiaries, I appreciate Pathfinder’s diligence and quality control.
So the deathtrap ooze...
The deathtrap ooze is…
*Shuts the laptop. Walks away from the computer.*
*Is dragged back by hobgoblin jailers, shouting the whole way.* No, I already did the goblin snake. I did the blood golem. I even did the flumph! You can't make me… *There are some bludgeoning sounds.*
Okay, so the deathtrap ooze is an essentially an ochre jelly that emulates the deadly traps it has come across in its wanderings.
*Tries to run away. Is retrieved by goblin dogs.*
The main virtue of the deathtrap ooze is that it is a trap that springs yet another trap. As they get to higher and higher levels, PCs become very adept at avoiding traps or shrugging off their effects…but a “trap” that responds to defeat by forming an acidic pseudopod and attacking is a suitably nasty riposte on the GM’s part.
Since the deathtrap ooze is both unintelligent and apparently ageless, arcane experimentation is pretty much a given in terms of the ooze’s origin story. Nevertheless, here are some adventure seeds that try to go beyond that default setup…
*More shouting.* I did the ascomoid! I didn't even have any readers yet! It was just me on an empty loveseat writing to myself about a bouncing fungus! I— *Hobgoblins pummel Patch into silence.*
Bathed in ambient transmutation energy, a mimic’s spawn is rendered unintelligent and formless. It is unable to cohere into the complicated shapes of its kind, nor share in their strange obsessions. Over time though, it spends enough time feasting on the dungeon’s blood-spattered traps to “learn” to emulate their forms. The other mimics in the complex are disturbed by their warped cousin, and if induced to talk may offer garbled warnings about “the silent one.”
Deathtrap oozes may be unintelligent—but half-fiend deathtrap oozes are not. Bred by stewing scores of lemures and jellies together in appalling vats, these living traps are common in the dungeons and city sewer systems of the Nine Hells. Their animal cunning allows them to choose the most opportune moments to attack their prey, and if rebuffed they will flee to set up another ambush at a more opportune time.
The folk of the City of the Golem are particularly pious, and the thieves there are no exception. Their divine patron has rewarded their temple’s reliable offerings with a sentinel: a deathtrap ooze. Typically the ooze guards the temple’s postern door, but acolytes are warned that the ooze has been known to ambush thieves who hold back from their handlers…even while on jobs in the ghetto districts two miles away.
—Pathfinder Bestiary 3 64
Um, sorry about that. I feel better now. Deathtrap oozes are great. And I’m not just saying that because of the hobgoblins. The scary, scary hobgoblins.
Reader comments! Regarding taint, filbypott wrote:
Savage Coast’s mechanic wasn’t about spiritual taint so much as physical mutation. The Red Curse affected good people as well as bad, not to mention simple beasts.
Indeed! Which is actually why I specifically included it. Taint indicates a corruption of some sort, but that corruption isn’t always evil and being good won't necessarily save you from it. Death dogs would fit right into the Savage Coast and similarly challenging environs.
In other news, what’s the only thing better than someone who’s really smart and a great interviewee annotating Lovecraft?
This RPGGeek history of Bargle the Infamous!
(If you have good RPGGeek articles you’d recommend, send me a link! I imagine RPGGeek and BoardGameGeek are full of amazing tidbits, but their site design is so staggeringly impenetrable I’ve never gotten very far.)