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|First appearance||Monster Manual, 1st Edition (1977)|
A gelatinous cube is a fictional monster from the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game. It is described as a ten-foot cube of transparent gelatinous ooze, which is able to absorb and digest organic matter.
The gelatinous cube is an invention of Gary Gygax, and first appeared in the Monster Manual (1977), rather than being lifted from outside sources and adapted to a roleplaying setting, as were many mythological monsters like the minotaur and dryad.
Being a cube that is a perfect ten feet on each side, it is specifically and perfectly "adapted" to its native environment, the standard, 10-foot (3.0 m) by 10-foot (3.0 m) dungeon corridors which were ubiquitous in the earliest Dungeons & Dragons modules.
The gelatinous cube appeared in first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in the original Monster Manual (1977). The creature was further developed in Dragon #124 (August 1987). Published first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons adventures which included gelatinous cubes as adversaries that the player characters encounter included "The Ruins of Andril", published in Dragon #81.
Under the ooze entry, the gelatinous cube appears in the third edition Monster Manual (2000), the 3.5 revised Monster Manual (2003), the fourth edition Monster Manual (2008), and the Monster Vault (2010).
A gelatinous cube looks like a transparent ooze of mindless, gelatinous matter in the shape of a cube. It slides through dungeon corridors, absorbing everything in its path, digesting everything organic and secreting non-digestible matter in its wake. David M. Ewalt, in his book Of Dice and Men, describes the gelatinous cube as "a dungeon scavenger, a living mound of transparent jelly".
Contact with its exterior can result in a paralyzing electric shock, after which the cube will proceed to slowly digest its stunned and helpless prey.
Reproduction is through a form of asexual "budding", in which a smaller, stub cube is left behind in a side corridor to grow into a full-sized cube, although these stub cubes run the risk of being absorbed by their own parent on its next trip down the corridor.
Gelatinous cubes typically live underground.
Gelatinous cubes, being mindless, are always neutral.
Tyler Linn of Cracked.com identified the gelatinous cube as one of "15 Idiotic Dungeons and Dragons Monsters" in 2009, stating: "Unless an encounter plays out exactly like the steamroller scene in Austin Powers, we fail to see how the Gelatinous Cube ever kills anybody who's not either glued to the floor or fast asleep. In fact, we're pretty sure the Dungeon Master's Guide reads: The first player to ask "Can't I just get out of the way?" automatically defeats the Gelatinous Cube."
Chris Sims of the on-line magazine Comics Alliance stated of the gelatinous cube that "there can be no question of what is the greatest monster" in D&D, calling the gelatinous cube "amazing".
- "Monster Manual".
- Gygax, Gary, and Dave Arneson. Dungeons & Dragons (3-Volume Set) (TSR, 1974)
- Gygax, Gary and Robert Kuntz. Supplement I: Greyhawk (TSR, 1975)
- Allston, Aaron, Steven E. Schend, Jon Pickens, and Dori Watry. Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia (TSR, 1991)
- Gygax, Gary. Monster Manual (TSR, 1977)
- Greenwood, Ed. "The Ecology of the Gelatinous Cube." Dragon Magazine #124 (TSR, 1987)
- Melluish, Ian (January 1984). "The Ruins of Andril: An AD&D adventure for 4-8 characters, levels 8-11". Dragon. TSR. 8 (7): 41–56.
- Cook, David "Zeb", et al. Monstrous Compendium Volume One (TSR, 1989)
- Stewart, Doug, ed. Monstrous Manual (TSR, 1994)
- Williams, Skip, Jonathan Tweet, and Monte Cook. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2000)
- Cook, Monte, Jonathan Tweet, and Skip Williams. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2003)
- Mearls, Mike, Stephen Schubert, and James Wyatt. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2008)
- Thompson, Rodney, Bonner Logan, and Sernett, Matthew. Monster Vault (Wizards of the Coast, 2010)
- Clinton Boomer, Jason Bulmahn, Joshua J. Frost, Nicolas Logue, Robert McCreary, Jason Nelson, Richard Pett, Sean K Reynolds, James L. Sutter, and Greg A. Vaughan. Dungeon Denizens Revisited (Paizo, 2009)
- Ewalt, David M. (2013). Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It. Scribner. p. 138. ISBN 978-1-4516-4052-6.
- "15 Idiotic Dungeons and Dragons Monsters". Cracked.com.
- Bricken, Rob (September 16, 2013). "The 10 Most Memorable Dungeons & Dragons Monsters". io9. Retrieved January 20, 2016.
- Sims, Chris (October 19, 2012). "Ask Chris #125: The Greatest Monsters in 'Dungeons & Dragons'". Comics Alliance. Archived from the original on October 21, 2012. Retrieved November 10, 2012.