The Slayer's Guide to Bugbears


The Slayer's Guide to Bugbears

Author: Matthew Sprange
Publisher: Mongoose Publishing
Publish Date: 2001
ISBN: 1-903980-20-8
Pages: 32
Rating: 9 out of 10
Retail Price: $9.95


Bugbears. They’re bigger and stronger than the other goblinoid races, yet in adventure after adventure, they’re constantly found acting as little more than muscle for their cousins. In the average 1st-level adventure about goblins, there will one bugbear in the mix, meant to be encountered on its own by the party to present a challenge without being a guaranteed party killer. However, what are bugbears beyond this stereotype? What are they like when encountered in a tribe of their own race? That’s what this book is for.

Like other Slayer’s Guides, this book opens with a discussion about the physiology of bugbears. Aside from being larger, how do they differ from other goblinoids? What do they eat? How long do the females remain pregnant and how long until the young reach maturity? These questions and others are answered nicely. Afterwards, bugbear habitat is touched on, including the basics of why bugbear tribes lair in one place over another.

The largest section of this book dealt with bugbear society, proving that bugbears are much more than lone muscle for the other goblinoid races. A new bugbear prestige class, the dark ranger, is introduced. Additionally, information about bugbear religion, which is surprisingly more complex than one might think, is given. What struck me as the most useful information in this chapter, though, was a discussion about how the different seasons of the year affect bugbears, and how this in turn affects how active they are in hunting or raiding as well as how well-defended their lairs are.

Methods of warfare is an important chapter in this book, given that bugbears, while not as militant or organized as their hobgoblin cousins, are an extremely violent race. Information about various tactics and ambushes is given. It bears mentioning that the random bits of story that are found throughout the book synch up exceptionally well with the information in this chapter, most of it dealing with adventurers being surprised by bugbears fleeing a battle, only to lead pursuing enemies into cleverly-laid ambushes. After this, a handful of plot hooks is given to bring bugbears into a game, one of which revolves around the collection of various pieces of a bugbear artifact that might unite the entire race under a single banner, which should be a scary thought for any civilized nation.

As in other Slayer’s Guides, the last section is a fully-detailed lair. A map is given and information and stat blocks on each of the various bugbears in the lair is also given. Impressively, this section also incorporates the information about differing seasons from an earlier chapter, giving the DM changes to the number and tactics of the bugbears included within. The most impressive thing about this lair is that it could be a challenge for PCs of just about any level and requires some serious tactical thinking to clear out. If the PCs just go charging in, they’re likely to find their task much more difficult, especially since if the lair’s occupants are alerted, some areas of the lair can become EL15 challenges.

All in all, this is a very solid book, despite its small size. It does much to dispel the lone bugbear enforcer stereotype and makes bugbears a challenge that can be presented at all levels of play. It requires a bit of work to update to v3.5 standard, but little more than that should be needed to make this book a very useful resource. As it stands, this is probably my favorite Slayer’s Guide, and considering that I own and have read over 2 dozen of them, I think that’s saying a lot.