It’s time for another Exotic Encounters featuring an exciting low-level threat to throw at players right at the beginning of the game. In this case, the culprit is an ooze which lurks in cauldrons and barrels, stewing with magical potential. As is often my approach when creating a low-level monster, the cauldron gel is a monster which might be a threat to an inexperienced party, but which has a little something extra to make it more relevant throughout the game. In this case, the cauldron gel is useful in the creation of magical potions. So enjoy this boiling terror inspired by the mysteries of a witch’s brew.
What at first appeared to be a bubbling concoction seems to come alive, boiling over the brim of an iron cauldron with the deliberation of a cautious but relentless hunter. The green-brown mass of liquid continues to slowly bubble, with translucent globs of the mucky liquid rising regularly to the surface, leaving a faint scent of sulfur behind as they burst.
CAULDRON GEL CR 1
N Small ooze
Init -1; Senses blindsight 60 ft.; Perception +0
AC 10, touch 10, flat-footed 10 (–1 Dex, +1 size)
hp 22 (3d8+9)
Fort +3, Ref +0, Will +1
Defensive Abilities ooze traits; Resist acid 5, fire 5
Weaknesses arrest body
Speed 20 ft., climb 20 ft., swim 10 ft.
Melee slam +3 (1d4-1)
Special Attack boil, bubbling gunk
Str 8, Dex 9, Con 14, Int 1, Wis 10, Cha 12
Base Atk +2; CMB +0; CMD 9 (can’t be tripped)
Feats Toughness, Weapon Focus (slam)
Skills Climb +8, Stealth +1 (+21 in cauldrons or similar containers); Racial Modifiers +8 Climb, +20 Stealth in cauldrons or similar containers
Languages Common, Giant (can’t speak)
SQ admixture, reagent
Admixture (Ex): A cauldron gel can be used to combine the effects of magical potions or extracts within its body, potentially creating a solution with the benefits of both potions. While it is bubbling, an adjacent character can attempt to add a potion or extract to the cauldron gel as a standard action that provokes attacks of opportunity. Placing a single potion or extract in the ooze has no effect, but if 2 potions or extracts are placed within the ooze within 1 round of each other, a reaction begins within the boiling cauldron gel. There is a 75% chance that the potions or extracts combine into a single solution, which can be harvested from ooze after it has stopped boiling. If the ooze is still alive, this extraction requires a successful DC 15 Craft (alchemy) check. The new solution has the effects of each of the two potions or extracts combined in the cauldron gel.
The other 25% of the time, the substances are merely absorbed by the cauldron gel, and the components are lost.
Arrest Body (Ex): A cauldron gel that suffers at least 1 point of cold damage becomes dazed for a number of rounds equal to the number of points of cold damage it sustained.
Boil (Ex): A cauldron gel that is exposed to heat begins to boil with intensity. Whenever the cauldron gel resists at least 1 point of fire damage, it begins to boil, causing it bubble visibly quicker, and granting it an additional slam attack when it makes a full-attack action, as well as causing all of its natural attacks to deal an additional 2 points of fire damage on a successful hit. This effect lasts for a number of rounds equal to the number of points of fire damage the cauldron gel resisted. A cauldron gel exposed to continual heat, such as from being in a cauldron or pot, has this benefit as long as it remains heated and for 1d4 rounds after it leaves the heat source.
Bubbling Gunk (Ex): A cauldron gel’s body is composed of sticky bubbling gunk, which adheres to creatures it strikes. Any creature hit by a cauldron gel’s slam attack must succeed on a DC 13 Reflex save or be covered in the bubbling gunk. A character covered in the gunk suffers a –2 penalty to AC and attack rolls, and suffers an additional 2 points of fire damage whenever it would suffer fire damage. The gunk can be scraped off by succeeding on a DC 13 Reflex save made as a standard action; using a move action to drop prone and roll grants a +8 bonus on this saving throw. The muck can be easily washed off with water and lasts only 1 round when exposed to rain or a similar amount of water. Otherwise, the muck remains for 1 minute before it ceases to bubble and cling, sloughing off harmlessly towards the ground.
Reagent (Ex): A cauldron gel is exceptionally reactive and can be used to make powerful potions. A character with the Brew Potion feat can use a cauldron containing a live and boiling cauldron gel in place of an alchemist’s laboratory for crafting potions and alchemical items. Additionally, by expending twice the normal amount of raw components, a character creating a potion in this way can add the cauldron gel’s total Hit Dice to the caster level of the created potion. Extra caster levels gained in this way ignore the usual cap on a potion's numerical abilities based on caster level, effectively raising the maximum caster level at which progressive values are capped by an amount equal to the cauldron gel’s Hit Dice. For example, a cure light wounds potion created in this way by a 10th-level cleric would restore 1d8+8 hit points.
The creation of hags and mortal witches, cauldron gels are creatures created for the purpose of making more potent and powerful elixirs. Though originally mindless, the creatures had a bad tendency to turn upon their masters or simply escape the confines of their cauldrons out of a desire for food. As such, limited intellects were bestowed upon the creatures in the hope that they would stay put upon realizing that they were being provided a steady supply of food. While this plan has proved generally effective, the occasional cauldron gel still attacks its master or escapes if it feels it’s being mistreated or disturbed too often. The creatures are not terribly successful in the wild, however, and fare best when in the care of another creature, a fact many seem to learn early in their explorations.
About the size of a human child, the cauldron gel was designed to comfortably fit inside a standard witch’s cauldron, and this is most often where they are encountered. Usually kept pliant by a steady stream of dead sparrows, or similar small prey animals, and a warm habitat, a cauldron gel is a fairly passive creature unless agitated or provoked. Typically cauldron gels imprint on whatever creature is feeding it, and if anyone else should disturb it for more than a moment, without the customary offering of food the gel is liable to attack. Occasionally these gels are found in the wild, typically finding shelter in stumps or logs with hollows in them to ambush small animals. In urban areas these creatures are occasionally found in crates, vats, and barrels.