Dungeons & Dragons: Bugbears May Just Seem Like Big Fool Trolls
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Dungeons & Dragons: Bugbears May Just Seem Like Big Fool Trolls

Players familiar with Dungeons &Dragons’ famous owlbear might hear “bugbear” and think that this is some horrifying combination of a bear and some sort of insect. However, a bugbear is actually a large hairy goblin-like humanoid. The surprises don’t stop there. Despite their hulking appearance, bugbears are actually a lot better at certain skills than many players would think. Players who are looking for a powerful and unique race to use for their next player character should strongly consider the bugbear.

For players looking for the most updated abilities of a bugbear, this playable race was just updated last spring in Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse. This sourcebook has a lot of different options players can choose from, and is a good resource for any D&D fan looking for a unique race to play. While the game presents a lot of fun options, here’s why bugbears stand head and shoulders above the rest.

Bugbears are somewhat of a contradiction. Despite their massive hulking frame, bugbears originally resided in small hidden spaces of the Feywild. They came to the Material Plane at the behest of the conquering god, Maglubiyet. However, since their original arrival, many bugbears used their unexpected talent for stealth to evade the god and his intentions for them. Bugbears can be recognized by their coarse hair, long limbs, and large pointed ears.

Some of the bugbears’ best abilities come from their origins in the Feywild. Like all creatures with Fey Ancestry, bugbears are harder to magically charm and have advantage on any checks to resist or end the Charmed condition. Bugbears also have the magical ability to fit through areas only Small creatures could usually fit into. They also get free proficiency in Stealth, thanks to their ability to hide in the shadows and tiny spaces. This also gives them their Surprise Attack ability, which does extra damage to any creature that has yet to take a turn in each combat.

In contrast to their stealthier side, bugbears also get abilities based on their size. Even though a player’s bugbear is a Medium creature, they count as a Large creature when carrying, lifting, pushing, or dragging items. Bugbears’ long limbs also afford them an additional five feet of range with any melee attack, allowing them to hit enemies from further away. Apart from their unique traits, bugbears also have Darkvision, which is always helpful for sneaking around without needing to use a light source. Thanks to D&D’s new philosophy surrounding race and ability scores, players can increase any one ability score by two points and any other by one. They can also increase three separate ability scores by one.

Bugbears don’t have the same naming guides the way more popular races like humans and elves do. However, looking at D&D lore and other adventures can help players come up with their names. According to the lore, bugbear names come from a dialect of the goblin language, which largely uses guttural noises. In the D&D 5e Starter Set quest, The Lost Mines of Phandelver, players meet a bugbear named Klarg, giving some idea as to how exactly these creatures are typically named. Players should pick a name for their bugbear which is a single and simple syllable. Most bugbears also don’t have last names, though some adopt a second name to show their devotion to a group or gang.

Bugbears have pretty useful abilities for several different classes. Their proficiency in Stealth and ability to hide in unexpected spaces make them great candidates for the Rogue class. Players can tuck themselves away in a hiding spot, then surprise an enemy, benefitting from both the Rogue’s Sneak Attack damage and the bugbear’s Surprise Attack damage. Players will also have extra range on any melee attack ambush thanks to the bugbear’s long limbs.

Bugbears are also great defensive fighters. Pairing their additional attack range with a reach weapon, bugbears can start doing damage before enemies get too close. Once players have leveled up enough to take both the Sentinel and Polearm Master feats, they can hit incoming enemies from 15 feet away with a reaction and reduce their movement to zero. This can be a great way to keep enemies from getting closer to squishy party members like mage classes. Players who may have dismissed bugbears for their large clumsy appearance should definitely reconsider playing one as their next character.

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