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An abominable horror from deep beneath the earth, an umber hulk burrows into cave complexes, dungeons, or Underdark settlements in search of food. Those lucky enough to survive an attack often remember precious little of the incident, thanks to the umber hulk’s mind-scrambling gaze.
From the Monster Manual
Burrowing into the wall of a cavern or passageway, an umber hulk lies in wait for creatures to pass by on the other side, its hair-like feelers sensing any movement around it. When it explodes out in a shower of earth and rock, its unsuspecting quarry turns to face the oncoming threat—and is entranced by the umber hulk’s bewildering eyes, forced to stand helpless as its mandibles snap shut.
Cory Trego-Erdner created the art for the Monster Manual’s umber hulk (as well as another of the book’s monstrosities, the bulette). More of his work can be found on his website.
A Brief Look Back
Umber hulks first appeared in the Original Edition’s Supplement I: Greyhawk, where they were described:
“Of shape somewhat similar to human, an Umber Hulk can be mistaken in the dark for something less deadly than it really is. Typically they are 8' tall, 5' wide, with heads resembling bushel baskets, and gaping maws flanked by pairs of exceedingly sharp mandibles…. They prize highly human flesh.”
By the 1st Edition Monster Manual, umber hulks had expanded their diet to include young purple worms and ankhegs, but still preferred humankind. And by 3rd Edition onward, their appearance had become noticeably more insectoid, described as a cross between an ape and a beetle—a rough characterization that has carried over into its latest inception.
As far as their taste for human flesh, we can presume this now includes adventurers of all sorts (while those in Baldur’s Gate 2 expressed a strong preference for dog stew).
The Monster Manual
The Monster Manual (releasing September 30) presents a horde of classic Dungeons & Dragons creatures, including dragons, giants, mind flayers, and beholders—a monstrous feast for Dungeon Masters ready to challenge their players and populate their adventures.