Are oozes overpowered for their levels due to the Engulf ability?


Early in my campaign, there was a combat encounter where three level 2 PCs fought a single gelatinous cube. The cube was the standard level 3, and there were no special outside circumstances such as difficult terrain. As per the XP reward and XP budget rules, the cube was worth 60 XP, a Moderate threat encounter for a party of three. The cube proceeded to kill a character and another character’s animal companion.

This week, much later into the campaign, three vaultbreaker oozes (level 6) engaged with a party of four PCs (three 7th level, one 6th level). The PCs were at full health, had no afflictions, and had nearly all of their spells available as this was the beginning of the dungeon. Again, no difficult terrain or extraneous circumstances. Based on the XP reward and budget rules, the encounter would have been worth about 90 XP, a high-moderate to low-severe threat encounter. The oozes caused a total party kill.

The Apparent Cause: Engulf

It seems to me that both of these deadly results were the direct result of the Engulf ability. All deaths occurring from the two aforementioned encounters were the result of accumulated damage from acid and suffocation resulting from the oozes’ Engulf usage.

Some things to note about Engulf:

  • The ability is unlimited in use. There is no cooldown. An ooze can use it every round (and it seems likely that oozes would, based on my interpretation of oozes’ main goal of mindless consumption).
  • The ability only costs two actions and is not itself a Strike, which means a Strike can be used before or after Engulf at no multiple attack penalty.
  • The ability doesn’t require the ooze to move in a straight line — it merely states that the monster Strides up to double its Speed, meaning that it can turn and twist during its movement, allowing it to effectively "roomba" up a large area by sweeping itself around.
  • I don’t see a limit to how many creatures can be Engulfed by a single ooze, but to me it seems reasonable that a large creature like a gelatinous cube or vaultbreaker ooze would be able to engulf up to four medium-sized creatures, since they’d all fit in its area.
  • Engulfed creatures are pulled into the ooze’s body and are grabbed, which I interpret as meaning that they remain in the ooze’s body as it moves, including the continuation of the Engulf’s double Stride.
  • Though the Engulfed creature can attempt to escape, it is Slowed 1 by the Engulf, leaving it only two actions to do something that may be quite difficult for physically weaker characters.
  • Engulfed creatures are subject to suffocation rules.
  • I’m not sure on the rules for this, but it’s possible that non-Engulfed casters are unable to target Engulfed characters with healing abilities, even if the ooze is translucent or transparent. I’ve asked a separate question about this here.

Some things to note about oozes:

  • They often have large HP pools, meaning it’s tough to kill one quickly if it’s Engulfed your ally.
  • They are immune to critical hits, so double damage isn’t applied even though crits happen often with oozes’ typically low AC.
  • They are mindless feeders, so it’s hard for a GM to come up with a reason that they wouldn’t finish a PC or party off — assuming the PC or party hasn’t been engulfed before or after the PC or party was defeated, which probably would be the case.

How It Happens

  1. The PC is Engulfed.
  2. The PC takes acid damage from the Engulf at the end of their turn, every turn.
  3. The PC can’t breathe and is subject to suffocation.
  4. The PC eventually hits Dying 1. At this point, the PC can no longer hold their breath since they are unconscious, and therefore become subject to suffocation damage if they weren’t out of breath already.
  5. The PC’s next turn ends, at which point the PC hits Dying 2 as a result of the acid damage, and possibly Dying 3 in the same turn if the PC fails their fortitude save against suffocation.
  6. The PC saves against death, possibly dying.
  7. If the PC survives, they can gain another 2 points of Dying easily next turn due to the acid and possible suffocation damage.
  8. And so on.

As you can see, the combined effects of Engulf can quickly kill. Suffocation is pretty deadly as is, but Engulf takes it to a whole other level.

Are oozes improperly balanced, or am I doing something(s) wrong?

It seems to me that oozes’ threat is far too high for their given levels. Am I running oozes wrong, or is this a balance issue with the system?

ADDENDUM: As a wise commenter pointed out, the third option is that my players are simply suffering the results of not treating oozes as the special case/danger they are, and should have taken special precautions against them (especially since my players have 15+ years of gaming experience and knew the dangers of oozes in both Pathfinder 2e and other systems). This is a definite possibility, and I’m happy to receive answers related to this.

Non-product invoice items

I am having difficulty representing additional charges in an invoice. I understand how to represent the association between an invoice and individual items in that invoice with the use of a invoice_item table, however, there are charges that I want to include to an invoice which are not orders or products. For example, I might want to include an ad-hoc licence fee or an additional administration fees or similar.

What I have so far looks like this:

 invoice ============ PK uid FK cust_id date_created status ...  invoice_line ============ FK invoice_id FK order_id ...  order ============ PK uid FK cust_id date_created status  order_line ============ FK order_id FK product_id actual_price quantity  product ============ PK uid name desc  

Now, the above mentioned additional charges cannot really be represented as products here, nor are they associated to any specific order. It should be on a level similar to order, in the sense that there might be a number of those additional charges connected to each invoice, there might in fact be such charges even in cases where there were no orders placed whatsoever within the invoice time period.

What is the recommended way to represent such additional charges in my invoice/invoice_item table?

Can Engulfed creatures be targeted with non-area spells without hitting the transparent or translucent Engulfing creature?

Oozes like gelatinous cubes can use the Engulf ability. If a caster can see an Engulfed creature since the ooze is transparent or translucent, can the caster target the Engulfed creature with a non-area spell without hitting the ooze?

My inclination would be that any area-based spells such as those with bursts or lines would hit the Engulfing creature (and possibly the Engulfed creature, as well). But spells like Heal simply allow the caster to select a target.

So could a caster target an Engulfed ally with a Heal spell without healing the Engulfing creature, assuming the caster could see (or otherwise perfectly sense) the target?

Pass equations into shaders to define graphics – HLSL or other shaders

Is it possible with HLSL (or other popular shader languages) to pass instead of an image, an equation that would define the pixel color / position output by the shader? This would allow for more dynamic drawing of smooth shapes that could be sampled with infinite detail. They would also by able to change and morph in real time.

Not sure how this is possible without passing a string with the eq to the shader and having it parse it. Seems like that might lose all the performance gained by putting it onto the GPU.

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I’m setting up a new Centos 7 server to run some legacy sites on PHP 5.6.40 through PHP-FPM with Nginx.

However, I’m running into a problem that all files are appearing to be read only.

PHP is running under the nginx user, the site directory is owned by nginx, and I’ve tried verious file permissions through chown, including "777".

I created a simple program to illustrate:

<?php $  fileList = glob('*');  //Loop through the array that glob returned. foreach($  fileList as $  filename){    //Simply print them out onto the screen.    echo $  filename;    if (is_writable($  filename))       echo ' - Yes!';    else       echo ' - No.';    echo '<br>'; } 

This will output the files in the site directory, with "No" next to each filename.

Any tips on what might be causing this, or how I might be able to debug would be greatly appreciated.

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Combination of Block and With – Unexpected results

I’m trying to use Block to prevent a function from executing. In this example, the function I’m trying to block will simply be Plus. My code has an inner With clause inside the Block. The With clause performs some operations itself, and also receives an expression passed-in as a function parameter. In the below example, I emulate that with an outer With clause.

Unexpectedly, for a simple two-operand Plus, Block is only blocking Plus for the expression passed-in to the inner With clause, not the Plus operation hard-coded into the With clause. For a three-operand Plus, it blocks everything.

A canonical code sample which produces this behavior is shown below. Any ideas? I may switch to using Inactivate for my real problem, though I have to think it through a bit more. Thanks!

With[{a := 1 + 2},  Block[   {Plus},   SetAttributes[{Plus}, HoldAllComplete];   With[{x := a + 3 + 4, y := a + 3 + (4 + 5)},    Hold[#] &@{x, Unevaluated@x, Hold[#] &@x, y, Unevaluated@y,       Hold[#] &@y}    ]]] 


Hold[7+(1+2)] Hold[Unevaluated[(1+2)+3+4]] Hold[Hold[7+(1+2)]] Hold[3+(1+2)+(4+5)] Hold[Unevaluated[(1+2)+3+(4+5)]] Hold[Hold[3+(1+2)+(4+5)]] 

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My wizard has a Staff of the Magi one and is itching to break it over his knee. But he values his life and wants to maximize his chance of survival. If he casts Contingency with Dimension Door – specifying a location far enough away from the blast – there is an argument that the spell goes off before the explosion or possible Plane Shift. How would you rule?

Can hags still cast when members of their coven die?

My last D&D session included a fight against a coven of sea hags. Hags have some interesting and a bit ambiguous rules about how the coven works. One of the rules was this:

Shared Spellcasting (Coven Only)

While all three members of a hag coven are within 30 feet of one another, they can each cast the following spells from the wizard’s spell list but must share the spell slots among themselves[…]

The question is do the hags have to be alive for this to still work. The party focused attacks on a single hag to reduce the threat, but would killing one member of a coven have stopped the spellcasting? Would killing two have stopped the last member from being considered a coven and being able to cast?