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Oozes, space oozes, an intelligent and benevolent civilization of otherwordly oozes, a technologically advanced, benevolent civilization of oozes that is ancient and consists of countless other species who have given up their solid forms to blend with the collective? Sound like fun? Well that is what we are exploring today as I delve, finally, into the Creature Codex by Kobold Press and we examine the unique form of life which is the Shoth.
Technically, the Shoth, though they fit most of the criteria of being oozes, are actually aberrations, though that is just because they have a very alien form and their presence can have a highly disruptive influence on the environment.
They are, or were for the most part, once humanoid creatures, who willingly gave up their previous physical form to dissolve into a gelatinous state and become one with the Shoth collective. I think these creatures are absolutely ideal for a spelljammer or planescape campaign encounter, and they are a brilliant fit for a civilization that exists on a demiplane or border elemental plane of ooze and even, with very slight modification, a dimension of cheese, but lets take a look at how they are described in the Creature Codex, and the various forms of the Shoth you can encounter.
And I quote "The shoth are an aberrant race of oozing humanoids from outside the known planes." Well... Outside the known planes I guess would either be the Far Realm, or a Parallel Dimension, which I think is more likely, or, from the Prime Material plane, but from a distant part of it, anyway, to continue. " Their leader, and namesake, is a creature with god-like powers whose gelatinous body floats like a star in a distant galaxy." Again, pretty vague, could be a distant sphere, could be floating in the Phlogiston somewhere, could be a pocket dimension, a paraelemental inner plane or it's own divine realm. I think the general idea is, we are not supposed to ever encounter the actual Shoth. Moving on "The shoth have no home world; instead, they wander the universe inside massive oozing vessels capable of interplanar travel." The internal structure is most likely quite weird and would be very restrictive to solid beings who are incapable of moving through one inch gaps to get from one section of the ship to another, we do know that the ships are constructed of a metallic substance that exudes slime. Carrying on "The largest of these vessels, the Dripping Palace, contains an avatar of Shoth itself. The singular purpose of Shoth, and therefore all the shoth, is to dissolve willing, sentient life in great bubbling pools called zolvs." As we learn shortly after, the Zolvs can only be created by the elder form of the Shoth's called a Droth, and the process is physically and mentally exhausting for them.
To continue "Far from being war-like and dominating, the shoth instead form close relationships with creatures, assisting those creatures in whatever way they can. The shoth provide assistance, wisdom, riches, and guidance until the object of their attention accepts the greatest offer the shoth can make—absolute co-mingling. In this way, the shoth increase both their knowledge and their numbers. They have been known to work for a millennia or more before making the offer of the zolv." Now this raises a number of questions, such as, given the choice between humans, elves and dwarves compared to Dragons and Mindflayers, would it not make more sense for the Shoth to try and merge with the species they can gain the most knowledge and power from? Or are they more motivated by sharing a similar moral and ethical outlook?
We learn that "The process of dissolving oneself in a zolv is not painful or unpleasant. The creature wades into the thick protein bath and is flooded with calm and peaceful emotions. Slowly, the creature submerges itself, and its body is dissolved, rising again as a vaguely-humanoid ooze." And the listings that follow demonstrate that their civilization is divided up naturally by the length of time a creature has existed as a gelatinous convert of the Shoth. They also all share some common traits and abilities.
"The shoth follow a strict code of laws recorded in magical spheres called zoms. Each shoth carries its own zom, to which it telepathically refers often. Only the shoth can fully understand the zom’s sigils and sounds, though magic such as the comprehend languages spell gives the caster some measure of understanding. The laws of Shoth are actually the collected wisdom of all the disparate sentient species who have been dissolved over the aeons." So it is both a communication tool, an archive of philosophy and knowledge, as well as a direct connection to the collective, and to Shoth itself. It is their Smart phone, and their holy relic, their core possession, and an important catalyst for some of their shared biological traits.
"The shoth divide themselves into different castes according to their age. Newly dissolved shoth are called soozes and are divided into warrior and worker types, while shoth who have persisted a century or more earn the title oth, being either arcanists or Paladins of divine Shoth. These elders serve as generals in the shoth armies or as scholarly wizards who pursue magical knowledge to add to the collective. The few who live for 500 years or more become droths. These massive piles of ooze no longer appear humanoid, instead looking like smaller versions of Shoth itself. Droths are required for the creation of zolvs and, therefore, are usually the last to arrive to a world." they are also the most heavily protected. Speaking of which, the Shoth all share certain common abilities that it pays to keep in mind.
Obviously, they are all amorphous, they can move freely through a space as narrow as one inch wide, there is no reduction in the speed of the creatures when they do this, so, they can actually dash through a sewer pipe, for instance, and what's more, they can carry their own special equipment with them, which shares this amorphous quality with them. Something to keep in mind when designing any custom alien technology the Shoth use, and this includes the remarkable Zom spheres inside of them.
They are all quite strong, certainly a lot stronger than an average human, and they can all perform basic oozing slam or crush attacks, also, their internal fluids are acidic, so killing them will usually result in a temporary puddle of acid left behind.
All Shoth can perform the act of merging, A shoth with less than half its maximum hit points can merge with any other shoth creature within 10 feet, adding its remaining hit points to that creature’s hit points. The hit points gained this way can exceed the normal maximum of that creature. A shoth can accept one such merger every 24 hours. This means the lesser shoth will merge with greater and older shoth who are in danger of being killed, particularly if an elder Droth is under attack. This is an important tactical advantage they have which can provide quite a significant boost to the creatures in the middle of combat, on top of which, they are just as able as any other creature to make use of divine healing, which the Oth paladins can provide, channeling power directly from Shoth itself.
Finally, they are all resistant to acid, fire and cold damage, they can communicate with telepathy to any creature with a language within 100 feet and they all have at least 60 foot vibration sense, which is called Blind Sight in D&D.
So, lets talk about what happens when a humanoid creature accepts the Shoth offer and submerges into the dissolving Zolv pool, blissing out on exotic narcotics and psychic good vibes, they are thoroughly transformed by this process, losing a lot of their former self as the collective absorbs their mind, memories and talents, what eventually, reluctantly rises out of the Zolv is a fresh new Sooze, probably of the worker cast until they can master their new form, then recieving further sharings of martial memories and talents from the collective, to become warriors.
"The sooze make up the bulk of the shoth’s armed forces. It appears vaguely humanoid with two or three appendages capable of holding weapons or tools. Its zom sits inside its head, where the strange sphere is visible through its translucent flesh." which is a bit creepy, because that is where a humanoids brain would normally be, they don't always display any sort of facial features and they may have tints of many different colors to their slime body, or be more of a uniform shade of blue, green or transparent pink. While the image depicting a Sooze warrior shows them carrying a longsword and a metal shield, they normally would have a shield made up of many metal fragments of metal spheres of the same type of metal found in their space vessels. They can move around freely and when they need the shield and weapon, they just assemble the fragments into a deflective surface or bladed, slashing edge. Otherwise, there is no way they could freely slip into a one inch space with that sort of gear. I imagine they would have a variety of funky and squishy globs that perform all sorts of normal and exotic tasks, such as, instead of carrying a big spool of rope, they might have some sort of ooze polyp that can squirt a line of chemicals that react with the air or water to solidify into silk rope. Anyone have some ideas for ooze items for the comment section?
Even the freshly reborn Sooze has a rubbery armor class of 12 and up to 88 hit points with a speed of 30 feet and climb speed of 10 feet per round, they do tend to have a much higher charisma than you might expect, but there is another quality of the Shoth I'll talk about in just a minute. Sooze laborers are tireless, they are immune to exhaustion and can draw on that energy to dash as a bonus action up to three times per day. Immunity to exhaustion is actually a potent ability to have in many circumstances, for example, fighting against energy draining undead. The Warriors have that increased armor class bonus of +2 thanks to their equipment and they have advantage on attack rolls if they have an active ally within 5 feet of their target. Sooze are +4 to hit, either with a slam that does 1d4+2 bludgeoning and an extra 1d4 acid damage, or with their warrior blade, equivalent to a longsword, that does 1d8+2 or 1d10+2 slashing damage, as a versatile weapon. The sooze follow the instructions of the oth and droths without hesitation. They retain some of the personality traits of their former selves, but they are eager to prove themselves and embrace their status as freshly dissolved. They are still fizzing with the glorious belonging to this ancient and benevolent civilization, every day discovering new wonders, revealed to them by their study of the mystical Zom.
After a Sooze has served faithfully, and survived for over a century, they become one of the Oth. The oth command the soozes and pilot the strange oozing ships which carry the shoth from world to world. Oths take their orders from somewhat dreamy droths and negotiate with the creatures of a world. Oths are charismatic and friendly creatures, despite their oozing appearance. They have excellent senses of humor and can get along with nearly everyone. They do really sincerely want what is in the best interests of their allies. However, they work tirelessly to move their allies towards being dissolved since they see it as the best way of achieving ultimate kinship for all living creatures, they see no down sides to this greater union with as many other intelligent species as they can. Their magic and natural charm help them to lead a creature, people, or species to the zolvs. Oths are large humanoids with four appendages, and they wear hooded cloaks. Their zoms are stored inside their chest and pulse rhythmically like a mortal heart. Their union with the Zom relflects their decades of study and dedication to the great and guiding intelligence of Shoth. Oths fall into two different roles, on the one side there are the diplomatic and strategic Dripping Arcanists and on the other, the more martial and physical Paladins of Shoth. The Dripping arcanists have an armor class of 15 and Paladins have that shield bonus of +2 to their AC. Both have from 52 to 182 hit points and they are able to release an acid spray, a rechargable ability, it jets out in a 30 foot cone with each creature in that area needing to succeed on a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw, taking 5d8 acid damage on a fail, and half that damage if they make it.
The Oth are very persuasive, they have a charisma of 18 and +7 to their persuasion skill checks. The Dripping arcanists have innate spellcasting abilities, charisma based with a spell save DC of 15 and +7 to hit. They may cast fire bolt (2d10), light and Thaumaturgy at will, they can cast command, mage armor and magic missile three times each per day, Augury and detect thoughts twice each per day and fireball once per day. The Paladins of Shoth shine with a brilliant scarlet and white light emanating from their Zom, the power of Shoth itself. A non-shoth creature that starts its turn within 5 feet of the oth must succeed on a DC 15 Charisma saving throw or be blinded by the light of Shoth until the end of its turn. The Paladins make use of a Greatsword, which has a 10 foot reach, is +6 to hit and does 4d6+3 slashing damage, both types of Oth can also make a slam attack, +6 to hit and doing 2d10+3 bludgeoning and 1d4 acid damage. Their acid spray recharges on a roll of 6 of a d6 at the start of each round.
Next up the ranking are the Droth, their role in Shoth society is very important, as they have lived at least a few centuries, often much, much longer, and they are the only shoth who can physically produce a Zolv pool, so without the Droth, there would be drastically fewer new Shoth. While the Oth are large, the Droth are huge, looking more like a body of water with a rippling surface most of the time, they travel from world to world, usually appearing only once a safe location has been established and the there are a number of creatures who are wanting to undertake their transformation into Shoth. Droth have a different sense of time than other shoth and communicating simple messages with them can take days or weeks. Droth are revered by the sooze and the oth, as they resemble almighty Shoth itself. Droth, in turn, bolster the abilities of the lesser shoth mostly through the soothing Aura they emanate within 20 feet of themselves, any creature hostile to the droth that starts its turn within 20 feet of the droth must succeed on a DC 17 Wisdom saving throw or have disadvantage on all attack rolls until the end of its next turn. Creatures with Intelligence 3 or lower automatically fail the saving throw. Their whole body can potentially be a weapon, they have an ability that recharges on a roll of 5 or 6 at the start of a round called an Acid Wave. The droth rises up and crashes down, releasing a 20-foot-radius wave of acidic ooze. Each creature in the area must make a DC 17 Dexterity saving throw. On a failure, a creature takes 10d8 acid damage and is knocked prone. On a success, a creature takes half the damage and isn’t knocked prone. The Droth also has much longer tentacles and has a 15 foot reach attack, +8 to hit, that inflicts 4d12+4 bludgeoning damage and an extra 2d6 acid damage. Droth are always, always heavily guarded, plus, they are dreamy, philosophical and poetic with rich personality and while they are not exactly geniuses, they are wise, extremely charismatic and very sooooothing. They also have 60 foot truesight and have a special ability related to their power to create the zolv pond. Three times per day, the Droth can absorb some of the essence of a creature they physically attack. As a bonus action, it can recreate any action available to a creature it damaged within the last minute. This includes spells and actions with limited uses or with a recharge. This recreated action is resolved using the droth’s statistics where applicable. Despite their initial appearance, the Droth can move fairly well, they have a speed of 20 feet per round, and still have that 10 foot per round climb speed.
Finally, a very rare encounter, such as when a Shoth space or dimensional vessel arrives for a very large scale Zolving event, one could discover an actual avatar of Shoth. The avatar of Shoth is a gargantuan, oozing pile connected to two droths by viscous appendages. A massive pulsing zom sits in the center of its body, and it is from there that the laws and edicts of Shoth emanate. The avatar’s zom is a powerful magical artifact, which stores, creates, and disseminates the rules and tenets of the shoth across the planes of existence. Through this zom, the avatar can communicate telepathically with any shoth over any distance and across any plane. The zom magically returns to Shoth if the avatar is slain.
The avatar of Shoth is often called to worlds where the shoth have been unsuccessful in convincing a populace to dissolve with them. Though the shoth possess infinite patience, in certain circumstances Shoth determines it is no longer necessary to pursue a certain form of life. Alternatively, Shoth may decide to take extreme measures to encourage willingness to step into a zolv. On numerous occasions, Shoth has sent its avatar to destroy all other life on a world to force the reluctant race’s hand. The Shoth are always reluctant to do this though, but nobody really has a full understanding of just how much of the multiverse Shoth is psychically aware of, how many dimensions it has spread its influence to, or any other long term plans it has. It could be that the Shoth simply require all dragonborn to join them on the planet of Abeir, for instance, or Shoth has willingly allowed a rebellious sect of Oth and a Droth who have become obsessed with the Mindflayer Cult of Thoon to break off and form a dangerous and somewhat deranged faction. The intellect of Shoth is somewhat off the charts.
The Dripping Place is an enormous vessel that houses the avatar of Shoth itself. The massive ship is made from slime-exuding metal plates and is powered by mysterious, magical energy. The avatar pilots the ship from its central chamber. The Dripping Palace only arrives on worlds where the shoth have met extreme opposition. Wherever the palace goes, a force of oth paladins goes with it. The Avatar is a challenge rating 21 legendary creature, I won't reveal all the details of it, as you really need to get your hands on the creature codex. I can say that it has every trick of all the other Shoth at its disposal, plus some legendary and lair actions that make for a very tricky and frustrating fight for the player characters, if it comes down to that.
I think the Shoth are very interesting, they have loads of different applications, slot perfectly well into lots of different campaign settings and also serve as a great template for a very weird, alien species.
If you have a favorite creature from the Creature Codex or Tome of Beasts from Kobold Press that you want me to discuss in a video, let me know in the comments down below.