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Puddings are a common strain of monsters that run amok on my fantasy world of Algernon. These slug-like creatures are about the size of a human head. Each species of pudding has a vibrant colour and scent. There are pea soup puddings, licorice puddings and vanilla puddings.

All species of puddings are born through Hydrogenesis, forming magically in pools of water that fulfill certain conditions. In this question I asked about perhaps the most dangerous species of Pudding, the Vanilla Pudding, which is off-white, has six tentacles, and is a lot more octopus-like than other Puddings.

Vanilla puddings are born from water where some creature has drowned. The pudding is born shaped like that creature. For example if a deer drowned in the pond, the pudding will have four longer tentacles, corresponding to the legs, and one shorter tentacle, corresponding to the head.

Unlike the deer, however, the pudding is squishy and has no bones. It can make the tentacles thinner or thicker, roll them up, and similar to the famous mimic octopus, contort itself into a variety of forms to confound predators and prey alike.

This mimicry is not perfect. If the pudding stretches itself out, it might form a believable silhouette of a human being if viewed in the distance at nightfall. But once the sun rises you will realise that is no person. It is a whitish mollusk with tentacles positioned similarly to a human's arms and legs.

To make up for its limited mimicry, the pudding is intelligent. Intelligent enough to cover itself in mud or wear a cloak or use some method of disguising itself. This will make it hard to pick out from a crowd of people.

The puddings were bred by their masters the Formorians to hunt humans. They will attack any humans they encounter, alone or in societies. The pudding has no supernatural weapons, but is strong enough to overpower and strangle a single human.

So I want to hear from you: what’s the best way for medieval people to defend themselves from Vanilla Puddings? The best answer must be the most effective, universally applicable, and resource-efficient strategy to kill these mimicking mollusk monsters that fits within the technology constraints of the Middle Ages. And I’m not asking for a specific city’s way to defend against one specific Vanilla Pudding attack. I’m asking for one or several strategies that work against Vanilla Puddings in almost any scenario.

Additional information about Vanilla Puddings:

  • They do not organize in any groups, unlike their fellows.
  • The form a Vanilla Pudding resembles cannot be altered. It will always look like the creature that died in the water where it was born.
  • Vanilla Puddings are certainly the most carnivorous of all Puddings, eating any kind of meat, but also enjoying a snack of fungi when available.
  • They gain no actual benefits to their abilities based on the form they mimic, just a deceptive shape.
  • Vanilla Puddings have all the same weaknesses as regular octopodes, but have fairly thicker skin that a regular octopus.
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    $\begingroup$ VTC:Needs More Details. You're required to define the word "best," which is subjective and circumstantial. Are the puddings defending against individuals, groups, or armies? Are they attacking caravans, villages, towns, or castles? What are the puddings' weaknesses and strengths (must be brought forward from other question, if there)? Are they defending in daylight or night? Near water? cliffs? sand? In the rain? snow? sunshine? There is NOT one best solution. Thus, you must define (specifically and in detail) "best." $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Mar 18, 2023 at 13:48
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    $\begingroup$ Some form of Weaponized Chocolate sauce? $\endgroup$ Mar 18, 2023 at 19:47
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    $\begingroup$ I would just walk around with a fork, and when the Vanilla Pudding attacks me, I say "Thank god for this meal" and stab it. (Hunter becomes hunted?) Not that that is an answer . . . $\endgroup$ Mar 19, 2023 at 0:50
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    $\begingroup$ In addition to my VTC, -1 for failing to bring necessary information about your creature forward from the linked post. Never assume anyone can or will read the post you link to. Questions are expected to be self-contained, with links providing verification of stated facts. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Mar 19, 2023 at 1:01
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    $\begingroup$ Needs more details on their shapeshifting powers. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Mar 19, 2023 at 11:04

8 Answers 8

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Outlawing hoods

Due to numerous attacks by cloaked vanilla puddings most local rulers have put laws into place that ban wearing anything that disguises your face or silouette. Places near swamps or the coast have much strikter laws since vanilla puddings will be more frequent there. What could be a reasonable cloak against rainy weather in one place might get you shot without warning in another place. Guards that have lost relatives to vanilla pudding attacks are especially trigger-happy with their crossbow.

Fear of the dark

Durin night and thick fog it is really hard to see whether the sheep over there is really a sheep or a vanilla pudding. Going out during night is practically asking for a vanilla pudding attack. If you have to go out at night you will keep away from everything because it might either be a vanilla pudding or someone thinking you are one. Again this applies mostly to coast and swampy regions but also in other places once a vanilla pudding sighting has been reported.

Death watch

When anyone (or an animal) dies in water, some villages have created a new ritual: A death watch stays by the place for a few days to kill the newly born vanilla pudding. But sometimes relatives, get really emotional and beyond all reason think that the vanilla pudding is their lost one reborn and try to prevent the death watch. Since the death watch takes some effort and blocks a few guards from their regular work this is made mostly in places where water related fatalities aren't frequent.

News spreading

Sunken ships are a tragedy but also instill fear in the people living near the coast. But it is important to be warned. News of sunken ships take priority to be spread to nearby villages so that the people can prepare for a wave of human-shaped vanilla puddings.

Vanilla pudding as a weapon

Rumor has it that once a general ordered a herd of cattle (in some versions even prisioners) to be drowned in a lake close to the enemy town in preparation to attack the town once it was weakened by a vanilla pudding epidemic.

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Marketing

While the monsters are called Vanilla Puddings, nonchalance will reign.

Villagers will not warn strangers about a vanilla pudding. Swordsmiths will not be able to sell swords with "for Vanilla Puddings" on them.

Occasional deaths will simply be accepted as an occupational hazard of being a Not-A-Pudding. People will cope. Medieval peasant humour will be its usual direct self. "Oh, your brother died of Vanilla Pudding? How many fatties like him can fit in purgatory? HAHAHA!"

Obviously the city guard will do their best but there won't be the sustained dedicated measures needed to wipe these things out.

If death rates are actually unacceptable, there may be either pogroms against, or bribery of bakers.

To change this state of affairs, a sustained demonisation campaign will need to be waged. Only when they are known as Death's Kinsmen, or Belialites, or Roaming Frenchmen, then militias will be formed and dispatched to deal with the problem, as well as draining swamps and pools.

Associating them with the Turks or local equivalent thereof will ensure peasants pay levies willingly; calling them Roaming Frenchmen will result in mass volunteering.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for Roaming Frenchmen alone $\endgroup$ Mar 27, 2023 at 4:13
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Proof of humanity

The easy thing is to get proof when meeting someone new. Everywhere they have a simple needle. One prick, a drop of blood, proof. Vanilla puddings do not bleed or will have a tough time getting a blood like substance. You might be asked to be pricked in different places as well.

No blood avoid them or kill/incapacitate them.

Invent any number of such proofs, preferably able to orchestrate them from a distance, like leaving the needle on a rock, and youre golden. Anyone not proofed needs to be avoided. Assuming everyone knows about the puddings you can have the rational "no proof, I kill you if you get close" dynamic. No rational person will come close until the proof ritual is completed.

A mace or other bashing weapon seems most appropriate. It'll go straight through everything, damaging huge parts of any organism.

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    $\begingroup$ Remove a hair from your head and watch how it does not Turn into vanilla flavour slime. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Mar 19, 2023 at 11:06
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Easily

The vanilla pudding is less dangerous than a person with a knife. It can kill a single person if it catches them by surprise. But you can see the pudding coming from a mile off.

The pudding can mimic the crude outline of a person. Two arms and two legs and heavy clothing should let it to avoid detection. Except for one thing. The human face.

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Human beans are super good at telling real faces from things that just look like faces. Even if the pudding mimics the correct number of eye, nose, and ear holes, the peasants will know the difference. They will run. Or they will fight back.

The pudding counters by wearing a cowl as well as a black cloak. Now you have a black cowled stranger, hobbling about the countryside, trying to murder people.

Word gets around. The local magistrate decides covering the face is now illegal. Anyone with a covered face is attacked on sight. No dice for the pudding.

The pudding responds by trying to hide in a crowd of people. It is hard to pick out one individual from a crowd -- right? Unfortunately the smell of the crowd drives the pudding into a frenzy.

The puddings were bred by their masters the Formorians to hunt humans. They will attack any humans they encounter, alone or in societies. . .

This means the pudding cannot hide in a crowd without trying to slaughter them all. The pudding is not stealthy.

Ultimately the pudding is no more sneaky than a person and only slightly better at killing things.

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They will develop superstitions.

That's how medieval people did in fact deal with a number of water-dwelling monsters, some of which were mimicking other beings, including humans. They did not try to eradicate them, but to avoid them. Your local folklore will describe these superstitions in detail, but the one thing they had in common is that they were quite good at preventing people from entering dangerous waters.

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    $\begingroup$ Not mentioned by the OP unless you click the previous question link and read about the VP, it can travel via land and water. I like the basic idea, but in the case of a creature that can attack you on any surface or in any medium, what "superstition" translates to is "nomadic lifestyle." I'm not sure that's what the OP had in mind. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Mar 18, 2023 at 19:59
  • $\begingroup$ JBH, thank you. You really should give medieval people more credit. They would have observed drowned animals and over time would acquire a fairly good idea of what conditions are required for a vanilla pudding to form, and then develop a superstition that disturbs these conditions. I'm fairly sure the superstition would have a side effect of reducing the number of drownings, thus nipping the problem in the bud. And then they would keep a settled lifestyle because switching to nomadism was never a practical option in the first place, as I'm sure you realise. $\endgroup$
    – ihaveideas
    Mar 19, 2023 at 0:07
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    $\begingroup$ Drownings? Who said anything about drownings? Please take the time to click the link in the OP's post (JOBAH! Are you listening? This is why you can't expect people to click the links.) and read about the VP. It can travel on all surfaces and through all mediums. Who cares about drowning when it's outside your front door? As for giving the medieval people credit... it's not they who need to come up with a practical solution, nor even the OP, it's you. This is your answer. Now that you know drowning is irrelevant... how do you think superstition will work? $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Mar 19, 2023 at 0:13
  • $\begingroup$ JBH, thank you. I did, and it says right there: "if your beloved cat Geoffrey drowns trying to catch a bream, a Vanilla Pudding shaped like a cat might emerge from the pool". (Emphasis mine.) You may calm down now. $\endgroup$
    – ihaveideas
    Mar 19, 2023 at 0:25
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    $\begingroup$ The Vanilla Pudding is very different from its fellows. Whereas the Peasouper emits corrosive acid and dwells in the forests, the Licorice Pudding can electrocute its foes and dwells by the sea, and the Farm Slime can camouflage itself and dwells in the mountains, the Vanilla Pudding can be everywhere. -1 for failing to read the OP's post and failing to posit a reasonable answer. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Mar 19, 2023 at 0:59
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Bait Humans

A lonely cowled monk goes wandering around at night. A vanilla pudding creeps up from behind and grabs him only to find the cowl covers a hunter wearing protective armour. The neck and chest guard prevents strangulation and the hundreds of small poisoned spikes pierce the skin of the pudding.

The pudding immediately lets go and starts flopping around on the ground before dying painfully.

The hunter drags it back to the village so he can claim his payment from the village elders.

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A town watch, and living like most medieval peasants would.

These creatures only have an advantage in the dark. In the light, people can recognize them, and a guy with a spear or sword should be able to finish them off.

So, towns are built with walls, possibly with downward pointing stakes to stop climbers. Fires might be lit outside the walls, and an area outside will be cleared

Towns will typically be sealed from dusk till dawn. Any people entering will be made to show their faces, but once you're inside, you can do what you like.

This, honestly, isn't that different to typical life in a medieval town. Gate guards, gates locking at night, checks on travellers, etc were all pretty common. The same defenses you'd use to look for outlaws and criminals coming in would work against these creatures.

Out on farms, it might be different - you'd shut the place up overnight, and be careful to avoid suspicious objects in daylight. Most people would have a bow or spear for protection, but it's not very different from everyday medieval life.

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Let's start by assuming that regular weapons work on the vanilla pudding and that they follow the rules that other animals do when it comes to injures: i.e. extensive wounds are fatal, minors ones cause injury but are survivable. Then, there are two points of view for defense: standard self-defense and attack.

To start, how would a city keep the vanilla pudding out of its premises? According to your information, vanilla puddings can change their shape but not any detailed features. Therefore, any guards to a city should check the faces of each person who enters in order to make sure they are human. This will prevent the vanilla puddings from sneaking in. Populated areas should have walls built around them because in most shapes the vanilla pudding will take on (for example, a deer like you said), the pudding will have trouble climbing the walls. However, walls are expensive, so setting up a border patrol around an area instead can prevent puddings from getting in.

Of course, preventing them from entering your city is one thing, but you are still in a war against the vanilla puddings. They will not stop hunting humans until they are irradicated. So, that poses the question, how to irradicate them? Simple. Lets say your city has an army. They can be armed with bows, swords, knives, etc., just let the weapons be those for fighting one-on-one rather than for fighting armies as vanilla puddings do not work together. Then have your city send out hunting parties made of perhaps even as few as ten people. Ten people will greatly overpower any vanilla pudding, so sending out parties across nearby land that is in need of protection will get rid of all old puddings, leaving only newly created ones.

In order to prevent vanilla puddings from taking on a human shape, a final suggestion is to change water ways in cities. For instance, use water pumps and wells instead of having open sources of water. That way vanilla puddings won't form in any cities.

And if push comes to shove and none of those suggestions work, just tell citizens to sharpen their kitchen knives. The people must always be prepared to face vanilla puddings.

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