Sunday, February 3, 2013

Expanding the Clean-Up Crew

(I'm still thinking through the standard monster format I want to pursue - I have to figure out some things.)

The monster categories I looked at in the last post (again, hat tip to Dave aka Sham), included the "clean-up crew": the things that exist in the dungeon and act as non-sentient hazards. These further split between the ochre jelly, black pudding and gray ooze - which are things reminiscent of the Blob from the movie of the same name - and the green slime and yellow mold, which are non-mobile but provoke immediate reactions from experienced dungeon delvers.

In the Monster Manual, as commenter Paride Papadia noted, a type of monster based on the dungeon environment comes up - the lurker above, mimic, trapper, piercer, roper and rot grub. All of these are added in the MM. Three others came earlier, in Supplement I: Greyhawk, the carrion crawler, gelatinous cube, and giant slug. I see the latter three as extending the "cleanup crew," particularly with the gelatinous cube being similar to the blob types. The carrion crawler explicitly competes with the others, while the gelatinous cube picks up much of the non-organic junk in a dungeon, making it a rich source of treasure.

It seems to me that there is a plethora of blob- and worm-type monsters, but relatively few extensions of the oddballs: the green slime and yellow mold types, which are more "pure hazards" than even unintelligent scavengers. One of the concepts I have for a monster expansion is to take this and align it against each of the "core" classes specifically; that is, dungeon hazards which make life difficult for separate classes.

The first of these is something I am calling dweomer moss. This is a moss which is normally quite harmless to humans and human-like creatures, but whose spores stick to the flesh and clothing of those who touch it or are in a 10' radius around it when it is touched. The spores, if not thoroughly cleansed, react violently when magic-user spells are cast, and cause damage and/or disrupt or change spells, sometimes quite spectacularly.

There will be similar things to make problems for other classes, including clerics, fighters and thieves. I'd love to hear how other folks are expanding the clean-up crew and other threats of life in the dungeon.


  1. Well, the black pudding is already a bane versus fighters, since it splits into two opponents if attacked with a blade.

    You might have a ochre jelly variant, the "chaos jelly," that amplifies and reflects blows from blunt objects back upon its attacker while itself taking only half-damage. Thus, clerics bashing the thing with a mace would get d6+1 damage back ... and an additional +1 for each +1 magical bonus.

  2. One thing that I'm not finding in all this are analogs of real beasts in a situation like a dungeon: carrion and scarab beetles. A four to six foot long beetle with a hard shell, nasty pincers, and very fast legs? Say 3 HD, AC 2, and Move 16?

    1. That's interesting, because one thing I was thinking of was an insect that secretes an oil that messes with thief skills and other fine dexterity actions... could be a good combination.

  3. Don't forget ear seekers and throat leeches! We have to keep those players on their toes.

  4. Gas Spore from MM. Seems to be an immoble beholder, very tempting target for a thief's backstab, explodes when hit
    Rust monster. The classic armour destroyer for Fighters and Clerics.
    Executioner's Hood (MM2). It hides in dark niches to attack prey, so hiding in shadow thieves are an excellent target.
    Obliviax (MM2). Memory stealing moss, also steals memorized spells.

  5. Interestingly, In The Labyrinth from TFT had numerous slimes- Green, Red, Brown, and Silver. All with their own little twist. Not to mention Goo- a giant amoeba like creature closely akin to Black Pudding.

  6. Fungus that erupts into luminescent spores to coat a sneaking Thief,

    Spiny dungeon burrs that grow from spores on armor, encrusting it and requiring cleaning,

    Gross oil from mushrooms that when you walk through it you smell so bad monsters smell you coming (preventing sneak / surprise),

    And I second ear seekers for unwary Hear Noise users and Throat Leeches for people who drink directly from contaminated wineskins / pools. Also rot grubs for people digging through crap for loot.

    In general, there are ways around these last three. Use a mesh-covered listening cone, bring your own water or purify it magically, dig through offal with a tool like a shovel or something.

  7. I like your dweomer moss, Wayne, and will definitely do some riffing on that. Creating more members of the clean-up crew is a fun prospect, but also insuring that we're leveraging the existing ones is important too (I hadn't thought about including the giant slug in my clean-up crew WM charts, for example).

    There are quite a few additional monsters in the cleanup crew potentials list that haven't been mentioned yet:

    - shriekers, violent fungi, and other fungus-type creatures
    - plant monsters like shambling mound, yellow musk creepers/zombies, and some of the oddball creatures from S3 that later made it into the MM2
    - trash eaters like otyughs and neo-otyughs
    - other puddings (white, dun, etc.), slimes, and oozes, stun jelly, etc.
    - rot grubs


  8. An undead-symbiot would be interesting. Perhaps an undead mold or lichen that interferes with clerical turning by occurring as large numbers of small hit die instances (since turning usually affects the weakest first).

    1. Funny, that's exactly where I was going with that - and corpse lichen will be in the bestiary.


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