Monster Analysis: Black Pudding and Hook Horrors

In our attempt to finally catch up on analyzing all encounters in the history of the show, today we’re going to roll back to when the party was level 9!

Black Pudding

  • First Appearance: 05 The Trick About Falling
  • Armor Class 7
  • Speed 20 ft, climb 20 ft
  • Blindsight 60 ft, Passive 11
  • Immune to acid, cold, lightning, and slashing damage
  • Reaction: splits into two with half health if receives slashing or lightning damage
  • Immune to blind, charmed, deafened, exhaustion, fright, and prone
  • Suggested Average, Max HP: 85, 130
  • 360 damage received across all puddings

The chatroom selected the ooze as one of several creatures presented by Matt to throw at the party. Black puddings are the most corrosive and dangerous of the ooze family. Like all oozes, they hunt for organic meals with regard for their appetite over their safety. The ooze in this case appears to have had some part in K'Varn's experiments. The poor ogres charged with transporting it were merely catalysts for this battle, allowing the party to "open Pandora's box."

The pudding was the most threatening entity in this encounter. Enhanced from a CR 4 creature to one that provided a significant threat to a large level 9 party, the sheer amount of acid damage it dealt (28 per strike) was enough to knock out Grog from full health, who, as of episode 5, had a total HP less than or equal to 115. Although this was before the barbarian gained the Belt of Dwarvenkind for the increased Constitution bonus and before he invested in his Tough feat, this is still the barbarian we’re talking about. The amount of splash acid damage was also overwhelming, causing a terrifying amount even when it was under attack (10 per strike). This acid also destroys any nonmagical weapons or equipment with which it makes contact.

Additionally, the pudding’s ability to multiply whenever it took slashing or lightning damage offered it more attacks per round. Each half took half of the larger pudding’s health with it, and doubled the number of attacks the creature could deal without lessening the damage dealt per attack.

The most remarkable bit about the black pudding was how avoidable it could have been. The ogres transporting the ooze were surprised by the party and quickly dispatched. Had Vex not used her newly-constructed exploding arrow, the glass container may have remained sealed.

Hook Horrors

  • First Appearance: 05 The Trick About Falling
  • Armor Class 15
  • Speed 30 ft, Climbing 30 ft
  • Blindsight 60 ft, Darkvision 10 ft, Passive 13
  • Suggested average, max HP: 75, 120
  • HH1: 67+unknown damage taken, unknown finishing blow by Clarota
  • HH2: 75 damage taken, 8 HDYWTDT by Keyleth

Hook horrors are vulture-headed, beetle-bodied monstrosities with powerful hooks for hands and wicked talons. They climb through the tunnels of the Underdark, seeking prey in packs via their echolocation by a series of clicks and clacks understood only by other hook horrors. They are extremely territorial, and will ambush weakened or unexpecting prey from above.

The hook horrors made their appearance in the second round, shortly after the ogres’ demise. While it’s possible that they were present to release the pudding should the arrow have not done the job, their presence in this encounter was more for added intimidation than actual damage.

Environment

This battle was a great example of player agency changing the difficulty of the battle. Conveniently, Percy granted Vex exploding arrows in this episode, and Vex excitedly wished to use them right away. A wayward fireball or a raging hook horror (or a strong enough strike from within) could have just as easily shattered the glass, of course, but the black pudding had to have been released in order to enter the fray. Had the party had time to inspect the unshattered container, it's possible that they would have had to fight only the ogres and hook horrors.

This battle was also a great example of how the environment can change the course of battle. Even with their untimely arrival, the hook horrors in particular had a rough time against the party with the lava pool in play. Add the damage taken from getting slapped with ooze, and the hook horrors didn't hold as much of a threat as they could have. The ogre’s corpses also added to the terrain, keeping the oozes on the other size of the lava. The lava provided a convenient means of destroying the ooze and both hook horrors before Keyleth's HDYWTDT resulted in a hook horror corpse embedded in cooling rock.