The black pudding is a mainstay of D&D and no dungeon master should be without one in reserve. Or two. Or six.
It depends on how many times the party’s tenacious fighter slices into one before they wise up.
These slimy monsters are easy to build yourself using stuff you already have on your workbench.
What exactly is a black pudding?
Where is it from, and why is it slurping around this side of the veil? Maybe it’s the larval stage of a mimic, or a single-celled organism that acts as the antibody of the universe, slowly cleansing it of the plague of sentient existence. Or, it might simply be the divine excrement of Zuggtmoy, the Demon Queen of Fungi.
Some kind of magic garbage disposal, useful for cave-dwelling nasties to keep the place tidy? A voodoo haggis?
Let’s visit the source.
“My concept was that both [grey oozes and gelatinous cubes] were accidental creations of careless wizard alchemists that dumped various failed magical and alchemical experiments down the drain or into some cesspit. These admixtures affected single-celled life forms, thus eventually engendering the various jellies (and a gelatinous cube is one of those), oozes, puddings. The slimes were generated in similar fashion, the waste affecting normal slime.” (Gary Gygax, October 1, 2006, EN World Q&A XII)1.
Black pudding first slithered into dungeons in 1974 with the arrival of the original Dungeons & Dragons system. It lingered along ceilings and in crevasses alongside the less-mobile but ubiquitous gelatinous cube, slowly dissolving adventurers and their non-magical weapons until, in 1983, the Monster Manual II officially grouped all gooey creatures.
True to form, more bubbled up in following years and taxonomic classification was applied: Oozes/Slimes/Jellies (Monstrous Compendium Volume One, 1989). Third Edition D&D made “Ooze” an official monster type.
Thousands of enterprising adventurers have met their painful end as a meal for a black pudding. They are difficult to see in the dark, and can squirt through cracks and fissures no bigger than a single inch. When the vanguard of a party manages to differentiate a pudding from just another pool of shadow, and leaps to attack, her blade does little more than split the pudding into two puddings, each equally as powerful as the original. That’s a conundrum: puddings gargle metal like a mouthful of Cabernet. Magic users don’t get much of a break, either. Black pudding is immune to acid, cold, and lightning, and can’t be blinded, charmed, deafened, exhausted, or frightened.
And they don’t need eyes to find you.
How to build a black pudding miniature
Here’s what you’ll need to make your own black pudding minis. You probably have this stuff lying about:
1. Hot glue gun
2. Hot glue sticks
4. Cutters or scissors
5. A spare base, 30-50mm
6. Bowl of ice water
7. Paint brush
8. Washes: Citadel Nuln Oil, Coelia Greenshade
9. Gloss varnish (spray or brush-on)
If you’ve got extra bases handy, it’s simple to “scale up” this build by creating multiple black pudding miniatures at a time. After all, you’re already heating up your glue gun.
Before you begin: a note on sculpting with hot glue
The magic of this project comes from rapidly cooling hot (very hot) glue. This is achieved by dunking the glue into ice water as you work. Work slowly but deliberately. This goes for both low and high-temp glue guns. Safety first!
Since the max temperature of most standard hot glue guns is 248° F (120° C), the liquefied glue will quickly spread and settle, making it nearly impossible to control or shape. By cooling the glue as it rolls, beads, and drips, you can create interesting organic shapes. Skipping the ice water step will net you a shapeless mound of semi-translucent plastic.
Unless that’s the look of the miniature you’re after (a dead black pudding, maybe), working directly above your ice water is essential. You’ll be immersing your miniature many, many times as you bring your black pudding miniature to life. Keep the bowl right in front of you while you sculpt. Pat dry before you add more hot glue and work in stages.
(And don’t worry about the water affecting the glue’s adhesive property or clouding the resulting form. It doesn’t.)
Step 1: Base
You’ll need a 30-50mm base with a lip. Find it in your bits box. Begin shaping the pudding by applying beads of hot glue to the base and then cooling them in ice water.
Black puddings are oozes, constantly reshaping and shifting, so being a little freeform during this step is good. Don’t fret over perfection. One of the fun parts of this project is discovering what shapes your puddings take on their own.
Experiment with different amounts of hot glue, as well as turning the base upside down and sideways so the glue can move around. You’re aiming to create a solid base layer of glue with some peaks and valleys, and you’ll build the rest of the miniature in later steps. Work directly above your ice water, and once the glue finds its way into the shape you want, dunk it.
Step 2: Armatures
Next you’ll create toothpick armatures. These give support to the sculpt and provide a frame around which you can more easily create tall or long shapes with the hot glue in order to shape the “body” of your pudding.
Apply the heated glue to one end of a toothpick that you’ve cut to size and press it into the dried glue on the base. The heat will allow you to firmly embed the armature, and once it’s in place, dunk it in your ice water.
You’ll need armatures for any extended areas on your mini, 2-3 at most. Continue to sculpt glue around the toothpicks until you’re satisfied or just slightly nauseous.
Step 3: Pseudopods
To create the pseudopods – the “tentacles” of the black pudding – apply a heavy bead of glue and allow it to cool for a few seconds, which will help it become slightly more firm.
Then use a toothpick to gently pull the end of the bead outwards, twirling slightly to keep the end of the pseudopod round. The still-warm glue will naturally form into an “arm” behind the bead of glue at the end of your toothpick. You can turn the miniature in different ways to direct the flow of the plastic.
Dunk it when you like the look. If the toothpick sticks, just twist it gently until it pops free. If you don’t like the result, just use your clippers to snip the dried glue away and try again.
To create movement and drama in the miniature’s pose, try to shape your pseudopods in the same general direction, as if the pudding is lunging toward an adventurer. A monster that’s just standing there isn’t very terrifying at all.
Once you’re finished sculpting, submerge the entire black pudding miniature in the ice water for five or ten minutes to firm up. Let it dry completely. Then you’re ready to turn your blank pudding into a black pudding.
A note on hot glue strings
By this stage of the build you’ll be annoyed with the miles of hot glue strings that you’ve been plucking away as your black pudding manifests. Incorporate them into your design.
Draw the strands around your pudding; drape them between its tumorous masses and around the pseudopods; and wind them around areas that look a little flat. Once you begin to apply washes to the miniature, the tiniest of strands will create visual interest and motion.
Step 4: Washes
Using washes instead of paints allows some of the translucency of the plastic to remain, perfect for an ooze. Painting your carefully sculpted ooze a solid matte black is easier, sure, but much less interesting. The key is to use only enough wash to create contrast and tint the miniature – too much wash and your pudding will appear flat and uninteresting.
Less is more. You can fine-tune as you like after the initial two washes are complete. First, apply a thin wash of Nuln Oil and let it dry.
Next, brush on a coat of Coelia Nightshade, which will tint the lighter areas blue-green.
The final wash is another coat of Nuln Oil. This layer will darken the miniature to a more “black” color, while allowing the blue-green underpainting to peek through when the light strikes the model’s surface.
It’s that easy. Let it all dry while you wash your hands and ice your fingers.
Step 5: Gloss varnish
Black puddings are slimy, and slime is shiny! Finish your black pudding miniature by applying one or two final coats of high gloss varnish. Remember: varnishing your mini will protect the colors you laid down with washes, so this step gives you a double benefit.
When you’re finished, you’ll have your own unique versions of miniatures like these:
Another DIY build for your tabletop
Black puddings need a dungeon to slurp around inside, so use our tutorial for building DIY dungeon tiles on the cheap.
Want to share your black pudding build with us? Tweet us a photo @MasterDaDungeon!
1 “Q&A with Gary Gygax.” EN World RPG News Reviews RSS. EN World., 29 Aug. 2002. Web. 24 Jan. 2017.
About the Author
Jay Pike is a writer and artist living in Chicago. You can find him on Twitter, IG, and in any MMORPG at @snuuurch.