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Bugbear (Dungeons & Dragons)

From EverybodyWiki Bios & Wiki

First appearanceGreyhawk (1975)
Based onBugbear
AlignmentUsually Chaotic Evil

The bugbear is a type of fictional monster in the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game.

A bugbear is depicted as a massive humanoid distantly related to goblins and hobgoblins. Named for the bugbear of legend, the bugbears of Dungeons & Dragons are goblinoid creatures, larger and stronger than hobgoblins.

Gary Gygax adapted the bugbear, and introduced the creature to the game in the 1975 Greyhawk supplement; the creature has since appeared in every subsequent edition of the game, including the game's first edition, second edition, third edition, fourth edition, and fifth edition.

Publication history[edit]

A bugbear, also called a "boogerbear", is a legendary creature comparable to the bogeyman, bogey, bugaboo, hobgoblin and other creatures of folklore, all of which were historically used in some cultures to frighten disobedient children. In medieval England, for instance, the Bugbear was a creepy and gigantic bear that lurked in the woods; children were warned not to stray too far from home or misbehave, for "the Bugbear will get you". In a modern context, the term bugbear serves as a metaphor for something which is annoying or irritating.

According to Webster's Dictionary, a bugbear is "an imaginary goblin or spectre used to excite fear", "an object or source of dread", or "a continuing source of irritation".

Dungeons & Dragons (1974–1976)[edit]

The bugbear as it exists in the D&D game was created by Gary Gygax and was introduced to the game in its first supplement, Greyhawk (1975). They are described as great hairy goblin-giants.[1]

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition (1977–1988)[edit]

The bugbear appears in the first edition Monster Manual (1977), where it is described as a larger cousin of the goblin.[2]

Dungeons & Dragons (1977–1999)[edit]

This edition of the D&D game included its own version of the bugbear, in the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (1977, 1981, 1983).[3][4][5] The bugbear was featured as a player character race in the gazetteer The Orcs of Thar (1989). Bugbears were also later featured in the Dungeons & Dragons Game set (1991), the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia (1991),[6] the Classic Dungeons & Dragons Game set (1994), the Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Game set (1999),[7] and the Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Game set (2000).

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989–1999)[edit]

The bugbear appears first in the Monstrous Compendium Volume One (1989),[8] and is reprinted in the Monstrous Manual (1993).[9]

The bugbear of the Dragonlance campaign setting appeared in the Tales of the Lance boxed set, in the "World Book of Ansalon" booklet (1992).[10]

The bugbear is detailed as a playable character race in The Complete Book of Humanoids (1993).[11] The bugbear is later presented as a playable character race again in Player's Option: Skills & Powers (1995).[12]

Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 edition (2000–2002)[edit]

The bugbear appears in the Monster Manual for this edition (2000).[13]

The reptilian bugbear appeared in Savage Species (2003).[14]

Races of Faerûn (2003) presented the bugbear as a player character race for the Forgotten Realms campaign setting.[15] The chameleon bugbear appears in Underdark (2003).[16]

Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition (2003–2007)[edit]

The bugbear appears in the revised Monster Manual for this edition (2003).

The bugbear overseer and bugbear stonejack goblinoids appeared in Drow of the Underdark (2007).

Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition (2008–2014)[edit]

The bugbear appears in the Monster Manual for this edition (2008), under the goblin entry, including the bugbear warrior and the bugbear strangler.[17] The first recorded death of a player character in 4th edition was against a Bugbear Strangler during the D&D XP Convention in February 2008.[18] Wizards of the Coast's online character builder also includes rules for creating a bugbear as a player character, although it notes that most of the rule material is still in the monster manual instead of the player races section of the base book.[citation needed]

Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition (2014–)[edit]

The bugbear appears in the Monster Manual for this edition alongside the more powerful bugbear chief (2014).[19] The bugbear was released as a monstrous playable race in Volo's Guide to Monsters (2016) which also goes into more detail about bugbear society and their relationship with other goblinoids.


Bugbears live a life based around survival, often becoming rogues. Bugbears also make excellent barbarians. They tend to be sound military tacticians, and individuals can be highly intelligent. Bugbears are less fertile than other goblinoids, however, and have a smaller population. They have to compete with races their smaller cousins don't, such as giants and giant-kin.

Individual bugbears will sometimes work as mercenaries with other sorts of goblin-kin, acting as front-line muscle or even assuming leadership positions in hobgoblin tribes. They assume mastery over goblins whenever it suits them. Goblins are always quick on their toes when bugbears are around, for the unwary are liable to end up in a bugbear stew-pot.

Bugbears are carnivores who survive primarily by hunting. They will eat anything they can kill, including sentient beings. Intruders are considered a valuable source of food, so bugbears rarely bother to negotiate with them. They have a fondness for glittery, shiny objects and weapons, however, so they will sometimes parley if they think they can get something exceptional. Bugbears also enjoy strong wine and ale, sometimes to excess. Rarely, they will take slaves.

Unlike their smaller cousins, bugbears operate equally well in daylight and great darkness. A bugbear is considered mature by the age of 11. They live for approximately 75 years.

Typical physical characteristics[edit]

Bugbears resemble hairy, feral goblins standing seven feet tall. They take their name from their noses and claws, which are similar to those of bears. Bugbears often armor and arm themselves with a variety of gear purloined from fallen enemies. Most often, this gear is second-rate and in poor repair.

Bugbear eyes are greenish white with red pupils, and their wedge-shaped ears rise from the tops of their heads. Most bugbears have hides ranging from light yellow to yellow brown and their thick, coarse hair ranges from brown to brick red. The bugbears of the Land of Black Ice are known to have blue fur.

Bugbears have exceptional senses of smell, sight and hearing, able to see in pitch darkness. They move with amazing stealth.


Bugbears are usually chaotic evil.


Bugbears live in loose bands. Bands of 24 or more will be led by a chief and a sub-chief. Females are not given the same opportunities as males. Bugbears are less preoccupied with mass battles than most goblinoids, partially because they can't as easily afford the losses, and partially because their chaotic nature makes organizing them in armies difficult.


Bugbears have their own pantheon, led by Hruggek. Other members of the bugbear pantheon include Grankhul and Skiggaret. Other entities worshiped by bugbears include Erythnul, Geryon, Iuz, and Meriadar often receives the worship of those bugbears who have forsaken evil. The bugbear gods are martial, but more diverse than those of the goblins and orcs. Local bugbear pantheons also have minor deities of fertility, earth, and death; sometimes, the bugbears treat the demigod Stalker as their darkness/death god. Many bugbears of a more orderly bent serve Baalzebul.

Bugbear priests and shamans tend to be more inventive in both their magic use and their myths than most goblinoids, as befits their chaotic nature (in the flexible/creative sense) and higher intelligence. Even so, their creator god Hruggek sits in a cave in Pandemonium surrounded by severed heads, so there's little question of the fundamental bugbear attitude. Bugbears tend to be more subtle than other goblinoids, however. They are always watchful for omens from the gods, particularly in the form of lightning or violent weather changes. They seek to stay on the good side of Skiggaret, their god of fear, who sends omens in the form of sudden chills, the rising of hackles, and magical pools of darkness.


Bugbears speak the Goblin tongue. As spoken by bugbears, it is a foul-sounding mix of grunts, snarls, and gestures that causes many outsiders to underestimate their intelligence.

In Greyhawk[edit]

Averse as they are to mass combat, bugbears, or buchveer, have seldom taken any great role in the evil humanoid armies that have occasionally ravaged Oerik. There have been times when bugbears have made the difference in military engagements, however, such as the recent occasion when a phalanx of 40 bugbears decisively overwhelmed the grugach of Varnifane.


Bugbears are found throughout the Flanaess, from the Land of Black Ice to Hepmonaland. They are relatively common in the Bone March, the Pomarj, the Thillonrian Peninsula, and the Dreadwood. Bugbears prefer caves and other underground locations.

In other media[edit]

File:Bugbear Dark Alliance.jpg
A Bugbear from Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance.

Bugbears were one of the monsters in Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance, Temple of Elemental Evil, Icewind Dale, Icewind Dale 2, Neverwinter Nights as well as in Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone.

There are several Bugbears in D&D Miniatures, appearing in the following expansions: Dragoneye (Bugbear), Giants of Legend (Bugbear Footpad), Angelfire (Bugbear Champion of Erythnul), War Drums (Blood Ghost Berserker), Unhallowed (Bugbear Gang Leader), Dungeons of Dread (Bugbear Headreaver), Against the Giants (bugbear Lancebreaker), and Demonweb (Bugbear Warrior, Bugbear Strangler).

Bugbears are a goblinoid race in The Order of the Stick webcomic.[20]

Other publishers[edit]

The bugbear appeared in Paizo Publishing's book Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary (2009), on page 38.[21] The bugbear is fully detailed in Paizo Publishing's book Classic Monsters Revisited (2008), on pages 4–9.[22]


  1. Gygax, Gary and Robert Kuntz. Supplement I: Greyhawk (TSR, 1975)
  2. Gygax, Gary. Monster Manual (TSR, 1977)
  3. Gygax, Gary, and Dave Arneson [1974], edited by J. Eric Holmes. Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (TSR, 1977)
  4. Gygax, Gary, and Dave Arneson [1974], edited by Tom Moldvay. Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (TSR, 1981)
  5. Gygax, Gary, and Dave Arneson [1974], edited by Frank Mentzer. Dungeons & Dragons Set 1: Basic Rules (TSR, 1983)
  6. Allston, Aaron, Steven E. Schend, Jon Pickens, and Dori Watry. Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia (TSR, 1991)
  7. Slavicsek, Bill. Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Game (TSR, 1999)
  8. Cook, David, et al. Monstrous Compendium Volume One (TSR, 1989)
  9. Stewart, Doug, ed. Monstrous Manual (TSR, 1993)
  10. Johnson, Harold, John Terra, J. Robert King, Wolfgang Baur, Colin McComb, Jean Rabe, Norm Ritchie, Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman, Jeff Grubb, Doug Niles, and Michael Williams. Tales of the Lance (TSR, 1992)
  11. Slavicsek, Bill. The Complete Book of Humanoids (TSR, 1993)
  12. Niles, Douglas and Dale Donovan. Player's Option: Skills & Powers (TSR, 1995)
  13. Cook, Monte, Jonathan Tweet, and Skip Williams. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2000)
  14. Eckelberry, David, Rich Redman, and Jennifer Clarke Wilkes. Savage Species (Wizards of the Coast, 2003)
  15. Reynolds, Sean K., Forbeck, Matt, Jacobs, James, Boyd, Eric L. Races of Faerûn (Wizards of the Coast, 2003)
  16. Cordell, Bruce R, Gwendolyn FM Kestrel, and Jeff Quick. Underdark (Wizards of the Coast, 2003)
  17. Mearls, Mike, Stephen Schubert, and James Wyatt. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2008)
  18. "D&D XP Seminar". 28 February 2008.
  19. Mearls, Mike, Jeremy Crawford. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2014)
  20. "Giant In the Playground Games". www.giantitp.com.
  21. Bulmahn, Jason (lead designer). Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary (Paizo Publishing, 2009)
  22. Baur, Wolfgang, Jason Bulmahn, Joshua J. Frost, James Jacobs, Nicolas Logue, Mike McArtor, James L. Sutter, Greg A. Vaughan, Jeremy Walker. Classic Monsters Revisited (Paizo, 2008)

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