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Black puddings have this rather unique split power:

Split (Ex)

Slashing and piercing weapons deal no damage to a black pudding. Instead the creature splits into two identical puddings, each with half of the original’s current hit points (round down). A pudding with 10 hit points or less cannot be further split and dies if reduced to 0 hit points.

When a pudding with 10 HP is hit with a slashing or piercing weapon, what does happen?

  • Deal no damage. Says right in the tin, Slashing and piercing weapons deal no damage to a black pudding. it is a very small black pudding, but still is a black pudding. Won't split.

  • Deal damage as normal. Since it cannot split, it takes damage from slashing and piercing weapons now.

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The way they put it is indeed very confusing.

Since any other source of information is unknown to me, oddly, I'll answer based on Dungeons and Dragons Online (DDO), a 3.5e official game by wizards (Which i consider a bad source).

Small puddings split into less than 10hp will be normally damaged by slashing/pierce weapons, meaning you need to cut them a LOT of times, but you could kill them with slashing or piercing damage.

The game itself was not a source of core rules evidently, which is why I don't like using it as a basis for a tabletop D&D argument, but some of the descriptions of monsters were kept surprisingly loyal to monster manual descriptions, so if that is the best source we have...

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It takes the damage

According to d20srd.org, split is a special quality. It is an extraordinary action. The result of this action is to be immune to slash and pierce damage. However, a black pudding with 10HP or less can not take this action.

If slashing and piercing DR were inherent to a black pudding, it would be listed directly as a special quality. There would be no need to define it as a special case within split.

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The other way I've seen the issue resolved is to have the 10 HP puddings remain immune to S/P damage, but when struck and split in half, the resulting 5 HP pieces expend an immediate free action to re-merge rather than fighting independently.

I believe this solution spun off from a debate about why black puddings don't cover the entire surface of the campaign world, given how virtually nothing they'd encounter in nature can kill them, only make them split over and over. The theory that we settled on was that, after a battle, a black pudding's surviving chunks attempt to re-join rather than remain separated: only when it's grown to maximum HP and splits itself deliberately would such an ooze divide permanently.

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