Friday, May 8, 2020

Random Encounter: The Oil Pits

Random Encounter: The Oil Pits

Random Encounters is where I will share encounters that I have designed over the years and would like to share.

"Squirming Mass" by Ron Spencer
© 1991 Wizards of the Coast 
The Oil Pits was originally a part of my conversion of The Temple of Elemental Evil for Dungeons and Dragons 5e. It was an encounter I designed to fill Area F 35. Oval Room of the Fire Node.

The inspiration for the encounter was a Magic the Gatehring card entitled "Squirming Mass". The colouration of the ooze depicted on the image suggested a animated blob of oil to me.

This was intended as a jump scare encounter for characters levelled between 8 and 10. The fight itself would be fast and furious, with the players trying desperately to rescue a surprised ally before they are boiled alive.

To keep up with the challenge rating system, I was forced to make a monster that would be hard to make good use of in other circumstances in D&D5e. The Oil Beast presented below for an OSR system is significantly toned down to make it generally more useful.

This encounter could easily be plugged into a cavern or ruin in a desert or volcanic environment.

You can download a PDF version of this encounter here.

 The Oil Pits

HotSlippery FloorChemical SmellSuffocating
Tiny Open FlamesPools  of Bubbling LiquidSoot on RoofBright

  • 1d3 Oil Beasts lurk in the oil pools.
  • Pools of boiling oil line the chamber. Characters may take as much lamp oil as they can contain from this location, but will be splashed with oil  if they don't take measures to protect their hands while doing so.
  • A character splashed with oil takes 2d6 damage, and may make a saving throw vs. Dragon Breath to take only half damage.
  • A character immersed in the oil takes 5d6 damage every round they are in the oil. They may make a saving throw vs. Dragon Breath to take only half damage.  Anyone rescuing the immersed character gets splashed. Immersed characters  also begin to drown
  • The oil is cloudy, allowing oil beasts to hide in the pits unseen until they choose to act.
  • Tiny flames sit on the surface of some pools providing light. 
  • The floor is slippery. Anyone moving at more than half encounter speed on the floor must make a Dexterity check or fall down.
Note: This encounter is designed to be fast and tense. When a player approaches an inhabited pool they are splashed with oil as an Oil Beast attacks with surprise, coiling around a hapless adventurer. The party will have about a round or possibly two to kill the oil beast before it drags the character into boiling oil. From there, rescue will cause harm to everybody involved.

If there is more than 1 oil beast, the players will probably have only a round of reprieve before other oil beasts are in range to grab and start constricting the would-be rescuers.

Oil Beast

Armour Class: 11
Hit Dice: 4** (L)
Move: 15' (5')
     Swimming:  90 (30')
Attack: 1 pseudopod or 1 coil
Damage: 1d6 or 1d8
No. Appearing: 1-3 (0)
Save As: F3
Morale: 9
Treasure Type: Nil
Intelligence: 0
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value: 425

Monster Type: Lowlife (Rare)

An oil beast is a translucent ooze that lurks in hot springs, geysers, and natural pools of paraffin.  It cannot be hurt by heat or fire, and breathes equally well in air, water, and oil.

Oil Beasts ambush foes from pools of scalding liquid, attacking with a pseudopod  that has a 10' reach and dealing 1d6 damage. If the attack hits, the Oil Beast may choose to coil around the oponent, dealing 1d8 automatic points of constriction damage each round.  An Oil Beast can coil around a creature of large size or smaller. Any creature immune to fire damage takes only half damage from the oil beast's attacks.

A coiled creature cannot attack, move or concentrate, and is dragged toward the Oil Beast's body. If the oil beast moves, a coiled creature moves with it. On its turn a coiled creature may make a saving throw vs, Parlysis or Turn to stone to break free of the coil and move 10ft. away.

Oil Beasts often drag prey into their pools or geysers to boil them alive. The only treasure in their lair are the possessions of previous victims, which are likely found at the bottom of pools of steaming liquid.

Terrain: Caverns, Mountains, Ruins

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. By Brian C. Rideout. And is done under the Open Game License 1.0a. Except the "Squirming Mass " image whic is Copyright © 1991 Wizards of the Coast Inc., and may not be reproduced with this document.

 Below is the version from my original TOEE notes:

Area F 35. Oval Room

This extremely hot passage includes several pits of boiling paraffin oil; the source of lamp oil for the goblins of area A 16.

These wells of oil are cloudy and much deeper than they appear. The paraffin oil is boiling hot. Characters splashed with the oil must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw, taking 11 (3d6) fire damage on a failed save, or half that on a successful one. Characters submerged in the oil take 33 (9d6) fire damage per round and are at risk of suffocation.

Oil is much harder to swim in than water, and requires a DC 15 Strength (Atlhetics) test to move in. The boiling oil is home to a unique creature, a multi-tenacled slick-bodied beast with no name.

 The Creature lurks in the oil, occasionally grabbing creatures that come close to the edge to devour. 

Treasure: Lamp oil – as much as the PCs can contain

Oil Beast

Large Ooze, Chaotic Evil

Armour Class 16 (natural armour)
Hit Points 120 (16d10 +32)
Speed 5ft., Swim 30ft.

18 (+4)16 (+3)14 (+2)4 (-3)9 (-1)5 (-3)

Damage Resistance: Radiant, Poison
Damage Immunites: Fire
Condition Immunities: Exhaustion, Grappled, Prone, Restrained, Suffocation
Senses: Blindsense 20ft. (can't see beyond this radius), Passive Perception 9
Languages: -
Challenge Challenge Rating 7 (2,900 xp)

Heated Body: A creature that touches the Oil Beast or hits it with a melee attack while within 5ft, of it takes 3 (1d6) fire damage.

Oil Borne: This creature can breath equally well in air, water, and in oil.

Translucent: The Oil beast is invisible when completely immersed in oil.


Multiattack: The oil beast makes two tentacle attacks per turn.

Tentacle. Melee weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 15ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d8+4) bludgeoning damage and 11 (3d6) fire damage. The target is also grappled (Escape DC 15). If the target is small or smaller it is also restrained until the grapple ends.Targets hit with this attack count as oil soaked and take an additional 5 points of damage from any other source of fire damage.

Boil: As a bonus action at the beginning of its turn, the Oil beast may attempt to pull one creature it has grappled into the boiling oil.

This horrid creature is a spawn of Tharizdun, a blazing hot mass of slithering, oily tentacles.  It waits in a pool of boiling oil to drag creatures to their deaths.

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