Tactics and Tips
Know Your Enemy (Part 6)
By Eric Cagle

Lore for Stirges, Treants, Umber Hulks, and Wights

Monster Manual IV introduced a sidebar that has since become the norm when new monsters are provided: the Knowledge check. 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 this installment, we look at wide variety of creatures: the stirge, treant, umber hulk, and wight.

Stirge Lore

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.

Considered a nuisance individually, stirges travel in large flocks that can quickly drain the blood from an adventuring party. A staple monster at low-levels, this tiny beast presents a danger that player characters should not easily dismiss.

Knowledge (Arcana) or Knowledge (Nature)

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

DC Result

10 This strange flying creature is a stirge. This result reveals all magical beast traits.

15 Stirges are little threats singly, but they travel in large colonies. The long proboscis of the stirge allows it to attach to its victim, making it extremely difficult to remove. Stirges drain blood from their victims.

20 If a victim dies before a stirge is satiated, it detaches and seeks a new target.

Treant Lore

Treants protect ancient, verdant forests from evil creatures and fire. Although usually neutral good and relatively uncaring about the plight of other creatures, treants are terrifying opponents when roused from their slumber and they turn the nearby forest into a virtual army to smash interlopers.

Knowledge (Nature)

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

DC Result

17 This sentient treelike creature is a treant. This result reveals all plant traits.

22 Treants are capable of animating other trees to fight on their behalf. If a treant sits immobile, it's nearly indistinguishable from a regular tree. Treants are vulnerable to fire and can trample creatures into the dirt.

27 Treants deal massive damage to inanimate objects or structures and can quickly reduce a hut to rubble. If treated with respect, treants can sometimes be convinced to reveal information about their forest.

32 Treants speak Common and Sylvan, along with a few phrases of other humanoid languages, typically to warn creatures away from their forest homes.

Umber Hulk Lore

Powerful and extremely tough, umber hulks have been terrorizing adventuring parties since the early days of D&D. They often prowl the same tunnels and dungeons that most adventurers find so enticing. As if its size, strength, and thick carapace weren't enough to worry about, the umber hulk's signature confusing gaze is just icing on the cake, throwing the best-laid plans of adventurers into disarray.

Knowledge (Arcana) or Knowledge (Dungeoneering)

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

DC Result

18 This bizarre, powerfully built creature is an umber hulk. This result reveals all aberration traits.

23 The gaze of an umber hulk causes confusion, as the spell. They can sense creatures by the vibrations they produce in the ground.

28 Despite their bulk, umber hulks are surprisingly intelligent and cunning opponents. They can burrow through solid rock, often choosing not to leave a usable tunnel behind it.

Wight Lore

Wights are fierce and terrifying undead sure to strike fear in the hearts of adventurers. Most players cringe when their PCs face these creatures, knowing that if one of their number falls under the claws of a wight, their former comrade will rise soon after to cause even more mayhem.

Knowledge (Religion)

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

DC Result

15 This walking corpse with malevolently burning eyes is a wight. This result reveals all undead traits.

20 The mere touch of a wight drains energy from living creatures. A humanoid slain by a wight becomes one themselves soon after, enslaved to the wight that spawned it. Wights are incredibly stealthy and easily can sneak up on most creatures.

25 Although undead, wights are intelligent and can even speak.

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