When used correctly, the bulette can provide some Jaws-like terror to your games. Since it can burrow and run faster than the average person there’s no escaping it. Bulettes can make for very tense encounters, whether or not the players fight it head on. How can you, as a dungeon master, use the bulette to their fullest potential? Let’s delve deeper and find out.
The Bulette, commonly known as a “land shark”, is a hulking beast of unending hunger. Its appearance resembles a giant armadillo with a shark’s head. It has long powerful claws that can tear through stone as easily as flesh. It burrows around in constant search for food. The bulette kills indiscriminately. If something moves, the bulette will strike at it, even if it’s an unfavorable meal like a dwarf or elf. They’ve even been known to eat other bulettes! If you’re anywhere within a bulette’s thirty mile hunting radius, you may find yourself on the menu.
The creation theory of these monsters is debated, but most believe that bullettes are an arcane design. They believe that bulettes were initially created by an insane wizard’s attempt at fusing a snapping turtle and armadillo together, using demon blood as the glue. Their procreation remains a myth, as young bulettes are almost never seen. Their numbers dwindle to near extinction before randomly popping back up. It’s suspected that there are secret nests for bulettes to give birth in.
So how do we make an interesting encounter out of these brutes? Well you can live out all the nightmares you’ve had from watching Jaws. Give your players a horse drawn wagon, then set the bulette on them for a high speed chase. It would be fun to see how players handle the hit and run nature of the bulette. When the time is right, you can have the bulette take down the horse and leave them immobile, upping the tension. Nothing spells dread more than seeing the equivalent of a shark fin tearing through the ground your way.
Another possible encounter can be underground. By setting your players underground against a burrowing monster, you set up a unique three dimensional encounter. It’s not often that you get to design an encounter that can be looked at from all angles, so relish in it. This can present some problems for the players to solve. Do they anticipate the bulette’s arrival? Do they follow it? Perhaps they set up a trap for it? Also ask yourself how cunning you think the bulette is. It may attempt to burrow on top of the party, using its weight for added damage. It could jump from underneath, giving the party little time to react. It could even circle around the tunnel, keeping the players guessing. This is an example of an encounter that is simple on paper, but holds so many opportunities.
The bulette is one of those monsters whose design is simple, but its concept opens up so many possibilities. How will you use this monster? Do you have any memorable encounters with bulettes? I’d love to know! What monster would you like to see next? Let me know down below. And as always, keep those dice rolling high!
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