I love thought experiments that involve roleplaying games, and I love them even more if they produce a practical and usable end result. The product we’re looking at today is, effectively, the answer to the question, “can anything new be done with oozes in a d20 system,” so let’s take a look.
The product in question is Demonic Excretions. If you can’t tell from the title, it is the latest of Rob Schwalb’s Max Press line of 5e OGL products (which I’m glad still has some life left in it, especially with a major Shadow of the Demon Lord release recently, and the Kickstarter for PunkApocalyptic going on).
Oozing Off the Pages
As with many of the Shadow of the Demon Lord and Max Press products, this is a relatively short PDF, this one clocking in at 9 pages counting the final OGL statement at the end. The product has the same high-quality formatting that other Max Press and Shadow of the Demon Lord products possess, with three pieces of art, depicting the Jellied Thrall, The Chromatic Goo, and the Mirror Mist.
The descriptions of the Death Jelly and the effects on the Jellied Thralls, as well as the Disorder Brute are fairly graphic, and definitely veer into body horror territory, so if that isn’t your thing, you may want to skip this product.
The meta concept of the product is that adventurers get familiar with more common types of oozes, and it’s nice to have something that can provide some surprises. The internal concept is that these are oozes that have been conceived by the Faceless Lord, a “not appearing in this product” evil cosmic entity that D&D players may be familiar with, to continue the arms race of deadly and dangerous oozes.
The product contains the following monsters (and one hazard):
- Death Jelly (Hazard, with a Jellied Thrall template that accompanies it)
- Blob (CR 13)
- Chromatic Goo (CR 3)
- Creeping Gum (CR 6)
- Disorder Brute (CR 15)
- Mirror Mist (CR 2)
- Nightcreeper (CR 2)
- Shuddering Tar (CR 5)
While all of these creatures are some variation on ooze or slime, the mechanics that the monsters play with are varied, and push into some interesting design territory for D&D 5e monsters.
The Death Jelly can infect creatures and turn them into Jellied Thralls. The thralls, if pierced with weapons for enough damage, then spray death jelly on their attackers, thus spreading the blight of the death jelly.
The Blob has a similar mechanic, where slashing weapons that do a certain amount of damage cause the ooze to spray acid onto an attacker. They also envelop enemies, and have a very conductive structure, meaning that electricity used against it is going to hurt anyone enveloped. It’s also a big sack of hit points that can act as an ooze that is still a threat at higher levels.
The Chromatic Goo has a whole host of damage resistances. Whenever it takes damage to which it has resistance, it shifts colors, becomes immune to that damage for a while, and lets out a damaging pulse that hits anyone near it.
Creeping Gum solves the problem of “why would we go near the ooze.” In this case, the Creeping Gum has a pleasant smell that entices victims to come near. In addition to its normal attacks, it has an acidic aura that harms anyone nearby.
The Disorder Brute is an ooze made of organs (perhaps the most on-brand monster in the product for the company, and I mean that in the nicest way). Whenever the disorder brute hits an opponent, there is a chance they destabilize, become stunned, and shift into a mound of organs for a while.
The Mirror Mist is a swarm of tiny, floating, silver oozes that hang in a mist. When a victim comes near, they all coalesce on to the victim and start dissolving them with acid.
The Nightcreeper is an ooze that sucks the light and heat from an area. It generates an aura of darkness, as well as an aura of cold, as it saps energy from the environment.
The Shuddering Tar is an adhesive ooze that sticks to its victims. Additionally, its both vulnerable to fire, and also very flammable, meaning that anyone stuck to the tar is going to share its pain as the fire burns the creature. As a side note, who hasn’t set fire to a party member for the greater good when oozes or swarms are involved? Just me?
Warm Fuzzy Feelings
I love how varied the oozes are, not just in description, but in the mechanics that they utilize. There are so many good ideas that subvert the common logic about oozes, but yet don’t seem out of place. I enjoy the concept of the Creeping Gum beckoning adventurers closer. I love that the Mirror Mist is an ooze that is hard to discern as an ooze at first. I love the auras, and playing with shifting resistances to immunities, as well as damage that is triggered when combat conditions change.
In concept, my favorite is probably the Mirror Mist, but in terms of mechanical shenanigans, I really like the Chromatic Goo and the Nightcreeper.
Cold, Oozing Feelings
The monsters in this supplement are well-realized, but unless you have managed to pull off that rare ongoing ooze themed campaign, you probably aren’t going to get to use all of these creatures in close proximity to one another. While I like the slashing damage mechanic, the blob feels the most like a traditional ooze and is probably the least exciting of the bunch.
Recommended--If the product fits in your broad area of gaming interests, you are likely to be happy with this purchase.
If this were just a product with eight pages of well-described new oozes, I probably wouldn’t recommend this quite as highly, but I think if you are the kind of 5e player that has an interest in how the mechanics of the game can be utilized to tell different stories and do novel things with triggers, this product will be of additional interest to you.