Tactics and Tips
Know Your Enemy (Part 1)
By Eric Cagle

Lore for Beholders, Blink Dogs, Bulettes, and Cloakers

If you've been reading the recent supplements for the D&D game, you've probably noticed that a new bit of formatting has become the norm when new monsters are provided: the Lore sidebar. This handy item takes the guesswork out of what a character (as opposed to the player) knows about a given creature and rewards those characters with ranks in the appropriate Knowledge skill. Over the course of the next few installments, we'll provide Knowledge check results for a variety of monsters, starting with some of the most iconic that lack this sidebar in the Monster Manual.

Since there are dozens of such creatures, we'll take the easy path and go alphabetically. First up: the dread beholder, the infuriating blink dog, the ravenous bulette, and the creepy and alien cloaker.

Beholder Lore

Beholders are deadly, intelligent foes with lots of special abilities -- adventurers would be wise to learn as much as possible about them before having to face an eye tyrant.

A Peek Behind the Rules Curtain

So how do designers determine the Difficulty Class for Knowledge checks about creatures? The following is excerpted from Monster Manual IV:

The description of the Knowledge skill indicates that in general, the baseline DC of checks to identify monsters and remember one bit of useful information about their special powers or vulnerabilities is equal to 10 + the monster's HD. Every 5 points by which the check result exceeds the DC yields another useful piece of information (PH 78).

As a general rule of thumb, a DC 15 check or higher will reveal all of the base creature's type and subtype traits as defined in the glossary. This often includes information about energy resistance or various immunities. For instance, a DC 15 Knowledge (arcana) check reveals that dragons have high hit points (12-sided HD), all good saves, and have darkvision out to 60 feet and low-light vision. They eat, sleep, and breathe.

Information specific to the creature, such as its type of damage resistance, spell-like abilities, or immunities come with the high DC check results.

Knowledge (Arcana)

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (arcana) can learn more about beholders. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs.

DC Result

11 This creature is a beholder, also known as an "eye tyrant." This reveals all aberration traits.

16 Beholders possess all-around vision, can see in darkness, and are naturally buoyant, which allows them to fly.

21 Beholders are highly intelligent creatures, though extremely paranoid and xenophobic. There are numerous subspecies of beholders, each of which consider themselves superior to all others, including other beholders.

26 Each of a beholder's ten eyestalks can fire a ray that mimics one of the following spells: charm monster, charm person, disintegrate, fear, finger of death, flesh to stone, inflict moderate wounds, sleep, slow, and telekinesis. The large central eye continually produces a cone that mimics the effects of antimagic field.

Blink Dog Lore

Although lawful good and unlikely to be the opponent of most adventuring groups, blink dogs can still be territorial, and thus, dangerous. Knowing the ins and outs of these hard-to-pin-down canines can also help smooth diplomacy when encountered.

Knowledge (Nature)

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (nature) can learn more about blink dogs. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs.

DC Result

14 This creature is a blink dog, named for their natural ability to use blink, as the spell. This reveals all magical beast traits.

19 Blink dogs are intelligent, but cannot speak except in their own language. They can be convinced to make excellent companions.

24 Blink dogs are capable of producing dimension door once per round.

29 Blink dogs and displacer beasts are natural enemies and attack each other on sight.

Bulette Lore

Bulettes are enormous, terrifying predators who consume just about anything (or anyone) that they encounter. While not the brightest of creatures, bulette's still have a few tricks up their stubby, armor-hard sleeves that adventurers should know. Regardless of the check DC result, bulettes are well known for their insatiable appetites.

Knowledge (Nature)

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (nature) can learn more about bulettes. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs.

DC Result

14 This creature is a bulette, commonly known as the "landshark." It is a voracious predator that is universally shunned by all other creatures. This reveals all magical beast traits.

19 Bulettes can and do eat anything -- except elves. It dislikes the taste of dwarves and avoids them in favor of other prey. Bulettes can detect the presence of creatures by the subtle vibrations they make on the ground.

24 Despite their massive bulk, bulettes can leap into the air, which allows it to attack with all four of its claws at the same time.

Cloaker Lore

Cloakers are bizarre and devious creatures that lurk in the tunnels and warrens beneath the earth. They are intelligent, yet cruel beings with a distinctly alien mindset. Humanoids have yet to comprehend their mysterious goals.

Knowledge (Dungeoneering) or Knowledge (Nature)

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (dungeoneering) or Knowledge (nature) can learn more about cloakers. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs.

DC Result

11 This creature is a cloaker, a foul creature that prowls the vast caverns beneath the earth. It reveals all aberration traits.

16 When at rest cloakers closely resemble large black cloaks, which aids their disguise. They can fly, and they can also unfurl and completely engulf a Medium creature.

21 Cloakers can produce a dangerous subsonic moan that causes shakiness, fear, nausea, or stupor in its victims.

26 A cloaker can manipulate the shadows, producing several effects that mimic the following spells -- obscure vision, dancing images, and silent image.

Game Resources: To use the material in this article to its fullest, check out the following resources: Dungeon Master's Guide, Monster Manual, and Player's Handbook.

About the Author

Eric Cagle cut his teeth at Wizards of the Coast but now lives the extravagant freelancer lifestyle. Look for his name on D&D, d20 Modern, and Star Wars books. Recent credits include d20 Apocalypse, Races of Destiny, and Monster Manual III. He is also a contributor to the Game Mechanics, Green Ronin Publishing, Dragon Magazine, and this lovely website. Eric lives in Seattle, where the coffee is dark and bitter like his goddesses.


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