Help with Gelatinous Cube encounter

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I’m making an encounter with a Gelatinous Cube chase/evasion scheme.  I hope you guys can help confirm the GC’s capabilities in regards to movement and environmental interaction as well as help me understand tremor sense.  The encounter is designed for a level 1 party (5 players) with the understanding that the GC is not an enemy they want to fight but rather evade/escape from.  Any advice on tweaking the encounter to make it easier/harder/better as well as Exp rewards would be much appreciated.


The GC moves fairly slow (speed 3(using MM 1)) so I have come up with something to slow down the adventurers as well, not enough to get them engulfed by the Cube but enough to put a bit of fear and anxiety into the situation.  The first part of the encounter involves the party running down a narrow hall way, it’s just big enough to house the GC.   This will funnel the party into a larger room where the real challenge awaits!  I have placed visible pit fall hazards in a uniform/staggered manner in the adventurer’s path.  They form a pattern that will force them to either try jumping the pit falls or use double move actions/sprint in order to get around them.  The pit falls are shallow enough to get out of by using acrobatics or athletics, an ally could also assist the dice roll.  They are just there to slow them down a bit and do not require a DC to see.


The pit falls are about 7-8 feet deep (so one could easily extend their arms over head, jump strait up and pull them self out (the shorter races might require a bit harder DC) and they all take up 1 square on the battle matt in width from the point of starting a jump, across to the other side of the pit fall.  They are set up in a staggered formation down a 2 square width hall way.  The first pit fall starts on the right side of the hall with space to land on the other side if one desired to jump across. The next pit fall would be on the left side of the hall and the pit falls continue all the way down the hall staggering from right to left until the adventurers make it to the larger chamber (Which I will talk about in a sec).


So this brings me to my first questions: 

1.  A GC is a large creature so it takes up 4 squares (2x2).  At any given time ¼ of its body will be moving over a pit fall.  Does a GC have the ability to do this?  Would it get stuck with the corner of its Cube moving over the pit fall getting wedged below ground level?  Does it have to remain in a Cube shape the entire time? Could it say, suck a portion of its body in limiting the amount of surface it has exposed to “no ground” beneath it?  If it can move with portions of it’s under belly off of solid ground what do you think the limit would be?


 2.  Finally, say a party member fell down a pit fall and could not get up before the cube was over top of him.  Could the GC even reach down the 8-7 feet to engulf a person lying prone at the bottom of the pit?  Basically how much freedom does a GC have when changing its body form, if any?


Ok the next part of the encounter involves the party conducting a skill challenge in a large square room.  There is a pedestal in the center of the room which holds the means to their escape (will require a few DC’s to unlock/smash/figure out).  The room is very large and open and contains many more pit falls (again in a manner to slow the group’s movement).  I have also added the “Spear Gauntlet Trap” from the DM guide (It’s basically 5 pressure plates with spears that fly up when stepped on scattered about the room).  The idea is that some of the party works on the pedestal while the rest of the group try’s to keep the GC occupied, as well they could attempt to disarm the control panel for the spear gauntlet trap at the same time.


So my question:



  1. I know the GC lacks intelligence but would its tremor sense alert it to the spear traps?  If so would it be able to control its body in a way that as it moved over the trap it would suck in it’s under side so no portion of the GC set off the pressure plate?

  2. If the GC does not realize the trap is there and sets it off what would happen?  Would it become stuck on the spear or would the spear lower as normal and just pop up every turn until the cube moves off the pressure plate? Would the spear receive the GC acid damage?


 


Break down: Gelatinous cube & traps (standard - 525xp): x1 gelatinous cube (400xp), x1 spear gauntlet (125xp)


 I can’t figure out what amount of Exp if any, should be added for all of the pit falls.  The encounters Exp amount only equates to an easy encounter so I was thinking of maybe dropping a few Stireges from the ceilings or adding another GC.  The item they are trying to retrieve is part of a key to unlock the exit to the dungeon.  I was thinking of giving Exp for retrieving it but I’m not sure of how much.


 Does this encounter sound too hard for a new adventuring party of 5 players that have never played before?  It is actually an encounter that’s part of a larger dungeon I have designed so it won’t be their “Very First” encounter, more like their third or fourth one. 


How would you describe a GC in a way that made all of the party members understand that they don’t want to mess with it and their best course of action is to run!?  My biggest concern with this encounter is that they will charge the GC and get killed.


Finally, the description for the GC in the MM isn’t very descriptive.  I was thinking of ways to describe it and the sound a GC makes when it moves and I figured it probably sounds like a wet mop moving along the surface of a dirty floor.  What does every one ells think?

I'm not quite versed on the anatomy and details of an ooze's physiology, but as for making your players understand they should run, narrative would likely be the trick. 

"A great wall of acidic slime begins a steady crawl towards you, blocking the tunnel completely. You're sure you could outrun it, but to face it head on would be certain death." 

Something to that effect should give a clue to the players that you want them to escape. If they ignore said clue and just try to murder the ooze, just let them play a few rounds of trying to hack it, nuke it, whatever, and play up the ooze's DR.

"Despite your best efforts, the ooze is too voluminous, your attacks seem not to phase it. It continues to creep across the dungeon floor toward you, growing ever closer."

Narrative is great for giving clues, while not explicitly telling your players how to play it.  
Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon. The little dog laughed to see such sport, And the Dish ran away with the Spoon. He ran from conviction, and fed his addiction as the Dish heated the Spoon... The Spoon begged to go, but the Dish shouted : "NO!!" "The heroin will be ready soon!" "Any time doing the right thing is funny as hell, it's probably Chaotic Good." IMAGE(http://i46.tinypic.com/2jcu9fs.png)

Thank you very much.  Making encounters seems to be the easy part of this game.  Narrating like you just did is what kind of scares me.

You don't have to super cheese it up, like I described. I'm often way more casual when telling my players ingame detail. "It looks way too strong to fight" is a fine way to tell your players they should run.
Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon. The little dog laughed to see such sport, And the Dish ran away with the Spoon. He ran from conviction, and fed his addiction as the Dish heated the Spoon... The Spoon begged to go, but the Dish shouted : "NO!!" "The heroin will be ready soon!" "Any time doing the right thing is funny as hell, it's probably Chaotic Good." IMAGE(http://i46.tinypic.com/2jcu9fs.png)
Creatures with only part of their space over a pit do not fall into it. You're welcome to describe it however you want, but the bottom line is that hanging over a pit should not inconvenience the cube at all.

I don't see the XP for the skill challenge in there. That would bump it up.

You're allowed to simply decide that the cube either does not set off the traps or is not damaged by them, nor they by the cube. If the cube is a denizen of the area, the traps were either designed with it in mind, or it's gotten used to them.

There are no laws of physics at work here. Decide how you need the encounter to work and justify it from that perspective.

Be prepared for the PCs to have passive resistances that reveal the pits to them, or at least to argue that they should. My advice would be to forget about a map and play it all abstractly. High perception can get them successes, but not figure out the whole thing. On the other hand, since they're not exactly at their ease, it can be argued that they can't rely on passive checks or take 10 in this scenario.

Finally, I'd like to commend you for combining multiple activities in one encounter. This is what I try to do, and I believe it's much more interesting that combat or skill challenges entirely on their own. Good luck.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

Really, it's up to you:  whatever makes sense in your world, and seems like the most fun for your players.  When in doubt, aim for a sense of consistency:  what did I do the last time a similar situation came up?  (If nothing like it has ever come up before, you are free to set a precedent, and to break precedent later if it makes for a more interesting story.)

If it helps, you can choose to think of the Gelatious Cube as being a variation on the title monster from the classic horror movie (and remakes), The Blob:  it can flow into, over, and around pits or obstacles as needed, and gunshots and their fantasy equivalent do not do critical hit damage to it.  If you wish, the GC might flow into a sufficiently large or deep pit and have trouble getting back out of it, or it might flow around or over the pit; it might take damage from traps it manages to set off and recoil, pause or retreat, or it might flow over and around triggers without setting off the traps, or it might take damage but still flow through the trap without slowing.  Whatever tells the sort of story you want to tell
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