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Flotsam ooze - too much?


Savage Tide Adventure Path


I just started the encounter with the flotsam ooze in my game session last night. We got through one round with the beasty, and it seems awfully deadly to me to be a side encounter. Our monk was hit in the first round of combat by the thing's slam and it knocked her to essentially half her hit points. Now she's stuck to it with no real way to get unstuck, and by the rules it gets a free slam every round until the ooze is dead. That will equal a dead monk and a very pouty player.

I think I'm going to add a strength check to break free of the adhesive - seems reasonable since you can pull stuck objects free. Did anyone else have a problem with this encounter being too deadly? Any suggestions on balancing it?


Essentially, the issue points lie in two "design factors" of this encounter.

1: Flotsam Oozes are just aquatic mimics. Same role, "sneaky monster you don't notice till its too late", same attack gimmick, "stick to enemies and weapons to be annoying and make one person's hp become timer on a race against the clock".

2: Advanced monsters go up in HD and Size, which increases strength. Therefore, advanced monsters get DOUBLE JEPOARDY on attack bonuses. What most advancing monsters don't get? AC. Because they go up sizes, they lose dexterity, and the natural armor bonus they get barely exceeds those penalties, if ever.

Now, the issues come up for two reasons. First, its an Ooze, a non-advancing AC is not an issue, its not supposed to have a good AC to begin with, it relies on HP from massive Con and HD. But going up a size category raised its con, and its HD.... Hmmm.

The stick to enemies and pound on them gimmick is okay on paper, but it relies on the likely-targeted enemy AC being fairly robust, or the attack bonus and damage fairly weak. A PC is irritated and concerned by a mimic, but on average a Mimic's attack bonus and damage output is not significant enough to worry the fighter or paladin or even barbarian in the group. Its mostly a "you guys beat on it before it gets around to killing me". The flotsam ooze has awesome attack bonus and damage output, and will quickly turn the stick gimmick into "holy pelor, you have 2 rounds before i'm a greasy smear!".

Here's another problem. The adhesive makes you auto stuck, but unless I forget my grapple rules, you can't grapple it back, because its 2 sizes larger. So you can't even attempt to bear hug off peices of it. Gotta go for that dagger or short sword. Which, even with the -4 to hit, shouldn't be that hard to hit. But yeah.

I can see why you get a strength check to pull a weapon free, but not to get free of the grapple, because with the weapon you have your own body as leverage to free the stuck item, but in the other, your body is the stuck item. Maybe give others the ability to pull you off, and you can try to aid for a +2? Sounds reasonable.

POSSIBLE HELP: Have crewmembers help. With its AC, even sailors can hit it with thrown buckets and such. Skald can shoot it, as could Amelia with a crossbow. 15 sailors firing crossbows into it is probably going to be an average of 15d8 damage each round. That can help out a bunch.


I'm going to second the "use the crewmembers" suggestion. Skald and Lirith in particular can both make decent ranged attacks.

The flotsam ooze was pretty close to a TPK in our group. It helps if the ooze acts unintelligently and provokes lots of AoOs.
-blarg

Andoran

I think it's also a late-stage 3.5 issue. In the campaigns I ran using just the SRD, the flotsam ooze would have been a TPK. Using splatbooks + Spell and Magic Item Compendiums, the players have lots of options for teleporting (in my game, the duskblade used benign transposition to get himself in the ooze & the sorceror out) and distance healing to buy another round before a trapped PC becomes jelly.

If you know your players don't have those capabilities, I'd be open to OD&D-style improvisation. In A2: Secret of the Slaver's Stockade, there's a puzzle where you find barrels of vinegar and then encounter a giant sundew: pouring the vinegar onto it dissolves its glue & frees a trapped PC. Since you left it on a cliffhanger, your players have had plenty of time to get desperately creative! To maintain tension, I wouldn't have whatever outside-the-lines solution work right away: instead I'd give them an encouraging description at first, and only let it work 100 percent when it'd be most dramatically last-minute.

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

I'll be running this encounter in the near future too, so I'm thinking of options. One is that the wizard (or anyone with alchemy, or else Urol) suggests dissolving the glue with alcohol.

Oh dear - what do we save, the fighter or the barrel of rum?


carborundum wrote:


Oh dear - what do we save, the fighter or the barrel of rum?

The rum!! Life is cheap - sugar, is not!

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Best thing is - the fighter's character BOUGHT the rum. He'll be screaming for help, but the player will be saying "I can last a few more rounds, I'll be alright, just keep shooting it, don't waste my RUUUMMMMMM!!!!"


tav_behemoth wrote:

I think it's also a late-stage 3.5 issue. In the campaigns I ran using just the SRD, the flotsam ooze would have been a TPK. Using splatbooks + Spell and Magic Item Compendiums, the players have lots of options for teleporting (in my game, the duskblade used benign transposition to get himself in the ooze & the sorceror out) and distance healing to buy another round before a trapped PC becomes jelly.

If you know your players don't have those capabilities, I'd be open to OD&D-style improvisation. In A2: Secret of the Slaver's Stockade, there's a puzzle where you find barrels of vinegar and then encounter a giant sundew: pouring the vinegar onto it dissolves its glue & frees a trapped PC. Since you left it on a cliffhanger, your players have had plenty of time to get desperately creative! To maintain tension, I wouldn't have whatever outside-the-lines solution work right away: instead I'd give them an encouraging description at first, and only let it work 100 percent when it'd be most dramatically last-minute.

Even SRD only players should be carrying around at least one dose of Universal Solvent - at 50 gp its a steal.


Just don't do what I did, and allow the characters to actually do anything at all without the entire party present. I had the ooze attack while the barbartian was on watch, the rogue was below decks playing cards with Avner, and the other two PCs asleep (waiting their turns on watch). Barbarian grappled, unable to run below for reinforcements = dead barbarian (I fudged, and had the ooze release him when the others scurried up, so that he was -7 hp instead of totally dissolved). Rogue wakes up others, they hustle out; with the primary damage-dealer and meat-shield already dead, 3 more dead PCs would have been the result, if I hadn't made the ooze flee after being damaged by spells.

From then on, the players insisted that all four PCs slept in the same bunk, showered together, and used the latrine en masse.

Sczarni

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

funny enough, this was almost an un-encounter for my group

of course, they like them their high-damage output, but still

ooze grabs the ranger/dervish, he shreds it with his scimitars, takes a bunch of damage

monk grabs the ranger, rolls high (using action points too) and yanks him free

ranger/ranger/cleric/rogue all shoot/throw/hit it, killing it almost outright in their 1st round

monk goes back, whacks the heck out of it, dervish hits it again, dead ooze.

of course, i have a large party, but i use sneaky tactics like splitting them up and the like all the time (here, it was dervish and monk on deck, cleric was captaining at the time)

-the hamster

Cheliax

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
tav_behemoth wrote:

I think it's also a late-stage 3.5 issue. In the campaigns I ran using just the SRD, the flotsam ooze would have been a TPK. Using splatbooks + Spell and Magic Item Compendiums, the players have lots of options for teleporting (in my game, the duskblade used benign transposition to get himself in the ooze & the sorceror out) and distance healing to buy another round before a trapped PC becomes jelly.

If you know your players don't have those capabilities, I'd be open to OD&D-style improvisation. In A2: Secret of the Slaver's Stockade, there's a puzzle where you find barrels of vinegar and then encounter a giant sundew: pouring the vinegar onto it dissolves its glue & frees a trapped PC. Since you left it on a cliffhanger, your players have had plenty of time to get desperately creative! To maintain tension, I wouldn't have whatever outside-the-lines solution work right away: instead I'd give them an encouraging description at first, and only let it work 100 percent when it'd be most dramatically last-minute.

Even SRD only players should be carrying around at least one dose of Universal Solvent - at 50 gp its a steal.

Strangely most parties dont think to have this until its to late.Mostly because its the rare creature that has this ability.


The Flotsam ooze does seem really deadly. It shredded a PC and an NPC in my game before being killed. I think it would be a better creature for its CR if it did less damage and had a lower grapple modifier.

Ken


I forgot the int bonus to a swashbuckler's damage does not apply to oozes so they killed this much sooner than they should have. Still had two grappled and one unconcious. The druid went below decks to shape wood and create a sort of arrow slit, which was a good strategy, but it hurt the druid when the ooze reached through the slit, grappled him and tried to pull him back through the small opening. *grin* Overall one of the more memorable encounters in SWW.


I played the adventure today (after participating as a player long time ago). The monster would be ok, if it wasn't also invisible with 50% miss chance, this sucks up even more damage! You should allow (as the monster gets virtually a bonus attack for each character it hit before) that its grappling does not prevent normal melee attacks and spells from "glued" characters. Then they have at least a chance to kill the thing within the 2 rounds they have until killed by it themselves. Otherwise, if played as written, no 4 player 5th level group stands any chance at all.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

It's been a while... but I believe the fact that the flotsam ooze in this encounter attacks the PCs when they have a LOT of NPC helpers is part of the reason it's a tough encounter; it assumes a lot of NPCs will be helping to fight the monster (and to take up attacks that otherwise would have been directed at PCs).


James Jacobs wrote:
It's been a while... but I believe the fact that the flotsam ooze in this encounter attacks the PCs when they have a LOT of NPC helpers is part of the reason it's a tough encounter; it assumes a lot of NPCs will be helping to fight the monster (and to take up attacks that otherwise would have been directed at PCs).

My PC's had built up a camaraderie with their crew. So I used the ooze to highlight just how deadly the journey was by having some of their favourite crew die in the most gruesome way possible. It also helped that the NPCs were there to soak up the crits (I directed all the outright killing hits towards the NPCs (roll first and then announce who got hit), so while battered and close to death the PCs managed to put it down.

The Ooze and the Hydra were two of the most memorable battles that the party had because they were protecting their own ship, crew and passengers.

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