This week’s Monster has a bit of a deceiving name. Unsuspecting players imagine a terrifying, insectoid-bear creature when in reality it’s just an equally terrifying bear creature! That’s right kids, today I will be teaching you about the cantankerous Bugbear!
Bugbears are a massive humanoid race distantly related to our dear Goblins. Like the Goblins, they speak Goblin and Common. Everyone seems to agree that the “Bear” portion of their name comes from their bear-like noses and claws, and you can find a few different explanations for the “Bug” prefix, but they all link back to the fact they’re scary and creepy looking.
A different sort of Monster…
Bugbears can be found in tribes alongside Goblins and Hobgoblins, where they are known to be the bullies of the group. Something that sets them apart from other Monsters is their own pantheon, led by the God Hruggek. The Bugbears kill to honor Hruggek and also Grankhul, the deity of hunting, senses, stealth and surprise.
Bugbears are not known for their intelligence, but they are known to ambush adventurers in stealthy attacks. Their claws are not long or sharp enough to be used as weapons, so you’ll often see them armored and carrying weapons. They have enough intelligence and battle strategy to retreat from a fight that is not in their favor, even leaving tribe members behind; But beware, they will return once healed with additional allies.
DMs! Bugbears are a great lower-level challenge. A CR 1 rating, with a higher than usual AC, but lower HP for balance. In Xanathar’s Thieves’ Guild, Bugbears can be found serving as guards and living in the Undermountain.
Want to DM outside of the box?
In Volo’s Guide to Monsters you will find features to make this a playable character! Why fight the Bugbear when they could become your players’ favorite NPC? Some unique features of this PC include “Long Limbed” which gives you an extra 5’ of reach and “Powerful Build” which counts for one size larger when it comes to carrying capacity and weight limits.
They might not be the insectoid-bears you may or may not have imagined, but they are a great, versatile Monster to include in your games! See you next week!
Check out last week’s Monster of the Week, the Gelatinous Cube!