An umber hulk, pictured in the original Monster Manual
|First appearance||Greyhawk (1975)|
An umber hulk is a fictional creature in the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game. They are large, bipedal, insect-like aberrations with an ape-like build. The creature has the ability to confuse any creature that sees all four of its eyes at once. They are often found in the Underdark, where they are sometimes captured and enslaved by other races, such as illithids. Despite their bestial appearance, umber hulks possess a significant intelligence and language of their own.
The umber hulk was one of the earliest creatures introduced in the D&D game.
Dungeons & Dragons (1974–1976)
The umber hulk was introduced to the game in its first supplement, Greyhawk (1975). It is described as a human-shaped creature with gaping maws flanked by pairs of exceedingly sharp mandibles.
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition (1977–1988)
The umber hulk appears in the first edition Monster Manual (1977), where it is described as a subterranean predator with iron-like claws that enable it to burrow through solid stone, and it eyes cause a dangerous confusion in opponents.
Dungeons & Dragons (1977–1999)
This edition of the D&D game included its own version of the umber hulk, although in this edition it was a "hook beast", known as a hulker. The hulker first appeared in Creature Catalogue (1986), and then appeared in the module City of the Gods (1987) for the Blackmoor setting, and later in the revised Creature Catalog (1993).
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989–1999)
The umber hulk was detailed in Dragon #152 (December 1989), in the "Ecology of the Umber Hulk".
The undead hulk for the Spelljammer campaign setting appeared in Dragon #184 (August 1992).
Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 edition (2000–2002)
The umber hulk appears in the Monster Manual for this edition (2000).
Savage Species (2003) presented the umber hulk as a player character race.
Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition (2003–2007)
The umber hulk appears in the revised Monster Manual for this edition (2003), along with the truly horrid umber hulk.
The dark umber hulk was introduced in the Tome of Magic (2006). The psi-hulk appeared in Expedition to Undermountain for the Forgotten Realms (2007).
Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition (2008–2014)
The umber hulk appears in the Monster Manual for this edition (2008), along with the shadow hulk.
Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition (2014–)
The Umber Hulk appears in the Monster Manual for this edition (2014).
The umber hulk is considered a "Product Identity" by Wizards of the Coast and as such is not released under its Open Gaming License.
Spelljammer campaign setting
Each neogi individual is guarded by his personal umber hulk slave. In the Spelljammer campaign setting, the starfaring race of neogi were seldom seen without at least one umber hulk slave, the enslavement of which was considered a rite of passage in their savage society.
A Vodyanoi, pictured in the original Fiend Folio
The vodyanoi (named for a Russian water spirit) are freshwater aquatic versions of the umber hulk. They lack the confusion ability of umber hulks due to only having one pair of eyes, but can summon electric eels once per day. They have slimy green skin that coats a thick, knobby hide and their claws are webbed. Saltwater vodyanoi are twice the size of their freshwater brethren.
The vodyanoi were first published in the original first edition Fiend Folio (1981). The marine variety vodyanoi appeared in Dragon #68 (December 1982).
The vodyanoi appeared in second edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in Monstrous Compendium Volume One (1989), and reprinted in the Monstrous Manual (1993). The saltwater vodyanoi appeared in Dungeon #79 (March 2000).
Vodyanoi was also used as the name for an unrelated monster species from the 3.5-edition book Frostburn (2004).
The Stranger writer Cienna Madrid described the Umber Hulk as one of D&D's "ghastly fiends".
In a Maximum PC magazine review of Neverwinter Nights, knowing what an Umber Hulk is was one way to identify if a person was a "geek".
The umber hulk was ranked seventh among the ten best mid-level monsters by the authors of Dungeons & Dragons For Dummies. The authors contend that the umber hulk "is an iconic Dungeons & Dragons monster" that was "invented specifically for the game, something that doesn't really stem from real-world myth or legend" and that "the umber hulk teaches players a set of rules and tactics to overcome a monster that is dangerous to even look at".
In other media
In the "Born to Run" episode of the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles television series, character John Henry is playing D&D, and kills an umber hulk with a vorpal long sword by rolling a 20.
The Umber hulk appears as an enemy in the Baldur's Gate series, and in other video games inspired by Dungeons & Dragons.
The Umber hulk is the first kill of Krag the Barbarian, in the American comedy web series Walking in Circles. He commemorates this by wearing a claw of the umber hulk around his neck.
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- Gygax, Gary. Monster Manual (TSR, 1977)
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- Carroll, Crystal (April 17, 2009). "Review: Sarah Connor, 2.22, Born to Run". Firefox News. Retrieved 2009-08-27.
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