Quick Look: Massive Gelatinous Monster Manual
Author’s: Justin Sirois, George Holland
Artists: Justin Sirois
Publisher: Severed Books
Year Published: 2021
Dungeons & Dragons
Old-School Revival (OSR)
A brutal system-neutral monster manual for the growing line of Massive Gelatinous and Spawn Cubes.
The first time I played Dungeons & Dragons, I was the DM and using the Introduction to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Game box set. Before writing this, I googled a bit to remind myself of everything that was in that set, and the search brought back a flood of fun memories, but there was one memory that stood out even before research. It was a particular battle that ended up moving through multiple rooms and corridors, one that went against the players badly at first but that they were able to turn around using some creativity. It was a fight against a Gelatinous Cube, and it was my first real D&D war story, the first story of my own adventure that I would tell people.
The Gelatinous Cube is one of those truly iconic monsters from D&D, yet like a lot of those iconic monsters (like Beholders or Mindflayers), it seems to be more known than it is actually fought. That being said the appearance of one is normally a big moment in an early dungeon, and I use the word big literally. At CR of 2 in 5e, it is often one of the earliest large enemies that can be fought. Its design fills up every corner of a corridor, communicating that this is not something you can get around. You must fight it to move forward, and this is often low enough level so it happens with a party who are used to goblins.
But again, that’s if the party fights one. We often start our campaigns at level 3, or even if we don’t, our first level dungeon doesn’t thematically fit with one of these monsters.
I had the pleasure of digging through Massive Gelatinous Cube Monster Manual, which was provided to me for the purpose of this review. This book is connected to Massive Gelatinous Cube made by Severed Books, a series of d6 dice that are scaled and designed to double as miniatures for Gelatinous Cube, and this monster manual is designed to give ideas on how to use them.
Having the dice themselves isn’t required to get good use out of this product, though if you do have some, you are probably anxiously looking for an opportunity to use them in battle.
The main point is that we have a very cool mini for a very iconic but kind of bland monster, and what are we going to do with them? Well obviously, we are going to have the players fight some Cubes, but first we are going to spice them up a little bit to make this fight even more memorable.
The main part of this book is to provide a monster manual for Gelatinous Cubes. There are various types offered here, each tied to the color and style of the physical dice. These types will primarily give some variation to the theme by changing some of the features of their abilities or create different dangers based on the type of Gelatinous Cube you are encountering.
Each variation has its own abilities and particular dangers, whether it be a molten cube that leaves behind a fiery trail behind itself or one that has a magnetic pull to it. That one is interesting because it means you might actually get to use the coolest part of a Gelatinous Cube that nearly no adventure has ever fallen for (since you can just step out of its way) – the ability to absorb the adventurer inside itself. The armor-clad fighter is going to have a rough day with this one.
The second part of the book provides some ideas for encounters and arrangement of cubes, and in this part you can really see what the goal is here. The point is to make a low-level enemy into a high level and possibly deadly encounter. While the individual layouts are not as worthwhile as the actual stats, these maps actually helped me to stop thinking of these monsters as single monster encounters and instead as a group that attacks together.
This book isn’t needed for everyone, but considering it is “pay what you wish,” it is very worthwhile if you want to throw a wrench into your party’s encounter or (perhaps more fun) lead them into a cave filled with a whole clan of Cubes. This book is going to give you some options to make these creatures different from each other and requiring different approaches.
The first part of the book, with different ideas and abilities for individual Cube types, is more helpful than map layouts for battles. If I were using this in a 5e game, I think having a room filled with organized Cubes gives them a little too much credit in the strategy department, considering their intelligence stat is literally 1. I would approach it more like a wild melee of ooze and fire and swords. That being said, this does little to dampen the fun of the overall idea.
In the right circumstances, this book and bring a lot to something that is already an iconic moment in an adventurer’s career. It should be grabbed by a DM who has a Gelatinous Cube encounter upcoming or just wants to get ideas of their potential in a campaign.
review, if this sounds like a manual for you at the time of this posting the Massive Gelatinous Monster Manual is available as a PDF (Pay What You Want) on drivethrurpg.com check it out and get it HERE.
Find out more at DRIVETHRURPG.