I was reading about comb jellies, actual sea creatures, not closely related to the other jellies commonly known as jellyfish. They sound pretty cool and some of the information got me to thinking about gelatinous cubes, so here are a few notes and ideas for "spicing" up those iconic dungeon beasties.
Comb jellies come in a good variety of species. Some kinds have long tentacle-like extensions that they use to grab prey and pull it into the jellies to be eaten. Some chase down their prey. Some glow. Some light up with an electric blue color when they are startled. If they are cut in half the two halves can each regenerate over time into 2 individuals. They don't have eyes, but they can detect light.
Some of this already applies to gelatinous cubes (and their amorphous cousins, "blobs"?) in various rpg bestiaries, I believe. But one could "enhance" the gelatinous cubes and blobs by giving some of them tentacles, maybe spread out into a room or hallway to grab unwary beings and try to pull them in to be consumed. Some types could glow, lighting up a room. Some could light up with blue (or other colors) when some danger is near; maybe to be taken as a warning by savvy party members and/or dungeon denizens. Gelatinous critters could target prey that is carrying light (or be led astray by a magic user sending floating lights in a different direction, for example). I didn't see if comb jellies use any kind of toxins, but some of the other jellies do; so maybe some gelatinous cubes/blobs use toxins to put prey to sleep or to stun, paralyze, kill, etc., to make their prey easier to deal with.
How do adventurers deal with gelatinous blobs? Cutting weapons may only split them into 2 monsters, but might be useful against tentacles. Stabbing and piercing weapons, like daggers, arrows, spears, etc, likely would have little effect if any. Smashing weapons might be one of the few non-magical weapons that could harm them. Other things, like fire, freezing, maybe lots of salt, magic spells and magic weapons, could be the weapons of choice. Like the wonderful old game, Awful Green Things From Outer Space, maybe the things that affect particular types of gelatinous blobs varies and you may not know which ones will work until you try them, unless you have prior experience or specific knowledge (Shmucker's Big Book of Jellies, Gelatinous Cubes, Blobs, and Their Kin?).
So, that's a little look at being inspired by nature.
Going off in that direction I also thought, how about something along the lines of sea sponges? Terrestrial or amphibious cave sponges? These could be large less mobile creatures, known to lie in wait at the bottom of pits, for example. Anyone who falls down the pit will have their fall cushioned, only to find they are being swallowed by some big soft sponge creature. Toxins or soporifics could also be part of the sponge's arsenal.
Food for thought, eh?
Happy Winter Solstice!
6 months ago