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MM3 Umber Hulks are in a similar situation to a lot of other monsters in the book. The Monster Vault would soon be released with an updated selection of basic models, and so this one features a trio of more niche variants.
As usual, the basic lore remains the same, but this entry adds some interesting new details.
The first new bit is that umber hulks are one of the oldest species in the world! The creatures are already mentioned in certain ancient records from before the Dawn War, which makes some sages think they emerged from the raw stuff of the world before the primordials had finished creating it.
The second is that their role as the world builders of the Underdark has a dark side. Their tunnels may end up linking places that were best left isolated, like two mutually hostile settlements. This is one of the reasons why underdark civilizations tend to hunt them down. Some dwarves are also fond of chasing umber hulks as they tunnel through the earth, for they commonly pass near veins of precious metals.
Finally, these creatures are not a middle world exclusive! In ages past, small populations of them found and walked through subterranean planar portals and spread to places such as the Astral Sea or even the Abyss, and proceeded to adapt to these new environments.
Umber Hulks are Magical Beasts and have a ground speed of 5 and a burrow speed of 2 with Tunneling, which means their digging creates stable tunnels. They have Darkvision and Tremorsense 5 as usual.
This is a smaller and weaker relative of the basic umber hulk, so named because it’s Medium and so it’s not technically a “hulk”. They wander closer to the surface and are likely to be the first variant found by PCs who are not yet powerful enough to brave the true Underdark.
The ravager is a Level 7 Brute with 95 HP. It can attack with a claw that does light physical damage, and can be used in a claw flurry that allows it to make two attack with a single action. Its most basic psionic power is a Crushing Gaze (close blast 3 vs. Will) that deals light psychic damage and knocks targets prone. Less often it can use a Disarming Gaze (ranged 3 vs. Will, recharge 6+) as a minor action that deals no damage but causes stun (save ends).
Umber Ravagers hunt in packs, so you might see encounter groups featuring several of them. Each one will target a different PC with its Disarming Gaze as an opening move, and then focus its attacks on the stunned target. Yikes!
This hulk’s ancestors managed to dig their way to the Abyss, and then suffered mutations that allowed to survive there. Its bodily secretions became acidic, and its psionic powers changed to be more madness-themed. It’s also smarter and more consciously malevolent, with a Chaotic Evil alignment.
Abyssal Hulks are Level 15 Controllers with 152 HP. They fight up close with Reach 2 claws, and with a Gaze of Chaos (close blast 3 vs. Will) that deals light psychic damage and slides the targets 3 squares on a hit. After sliding, the targets make a melee basic attack against a target of the monster’s choice. It can also spray forth some Acidic Spew (close blast 5 vs. Fort) to inflict 10 ongoing acid damage (save ends) on those it hits.
As a minor action, the abyssal hulk can use a Gaze of Crushed Will (close blast 5 vs. Will) to slide targets 3 squares and inflict a -5 penalty on any saves they roll during this movement. You know when you roll a save during forced movement? When someone uses it to push you off a cliff.
So yeah, this cruel mutated almost-demon wants to alternate pushing people off cliffs with making them stab each other while singing “stop hitting yourselves!”.
Despite going to the realm of shiny light, Astral Hulks aren’t any less unpleasant than their abyssal counterparts. There are signs that they may have been engineered on purpose by some primordial for use as a weapon, because they just love to dig into astral domains and tear them up until they become free-floating debris fields. Several such domains were destroyed by astral hulks, and the people of the Astral Sea are always on watch against astral hulk infestations. Their gaze causes a pronounced lethargy on victims, and lures them closer so the creature can use its natural weapons on them.
Astral Hulks are Level 17 Soldiers with 167 HP. Their Claws damage and mark for a turn on a hit. If a marked enemy shifts, the hulk can use Entrapping Mandibles on them as an interrupt, grabbing them on a hit. Their Gaze of Lassitude (close blast 5 vs. Fortitude) deals untyped damage, pulls 4 squares, and slows (save ends). Their Gaze of Annihilation (close blast 5 vs. Fortitude) is an encounter power that does untyped damage, half on a hit, and marks everyone it hits for a turn.
If you like umber hulks, you’ll find a use for these. I like that they’re all very focused in their design intent. There’s one to introduce your players to the monster earlier, and two to make them despair after they thought they had left these things behind when they moved out of the middle world.