Bulette: The Tank of the Earth (Best of the Bestiary)

These guys are literally described as ‘land sharks’. That’s metal as fuck!

Bulettes are a decently powerful and fun monster to work with. They have a really cool and fun design, as well as some cool abilities. Unfortunately, their lore isn’t exactly the deepest thing in the world. They have a decent amount of flavor, but they’re about as deep as a puddle that curses whoever steps into it with wet socks.

Lore: The Lonely Hunters of the Underground

A Bulette is a simple monster. They live without fear with one purpose: to devour. It doesn’t matter how outmatched or outnumbered they are. They will fight regardless.

They mindlessly dig through the earth with their claws, uprooting trees, leaving sinkholes and causing landslides as they pass. They’re alerted by vibrations on the surface above, and they’ll leap up and attack. They are simply predators. Though they dislike the taste of dwarfs or elves.

They wander across the lands, preying on almost anything it comes across. But they especially love halfling meat, and can often be found hunting them. In fact, they seem to find some sick pleasure in it.

A Bulette wanders freely, without a lair to call its own. However, they are strongly shunned by all other creatures in the world. In fact, much like Beholders, Bulettes even despise each other. They will only gather to mate, resulting in a bloody disaster that often ends with one mate’s death.

Rumor has it that the Bulettes were created by a mad wizard. It is said that they were born via experimentation with crossbreeding, combining snapping turtles, armadillos, and demon ichor (which I’m sure is exactly how they were made in the Wizards of the Coast pitch meeting). They are often confused for extinct, but they will inevitably reappear eventually. As the young are never seen, sages believe that there are secret nests beneath the ground. From there, the young shall grow into adults and attack the world.

There’s plenty to do with the Bulettes. They’re perfect side-quest or simple random encounter fodder. But if you want to spin them off into a whole campaign, then you’re going to be disappointed. They serve a basic function and they serve it well.

But in fairness: they do look fucking awesome!

Design: A Living Tank That is Also a Shark

How else would you describe this thing?

There is something so disturbing about the jaw…

This does exactly what a great design needs to do. It instantly tells you what this monster is all about without having to read any of the lore. You can take one look at it and immediately think: “Yeah, that’s an underground shark-tank monster!”

No, I’m not letting go of the ‘shark-tank’ thing.

These guys look really fucking cool! Their design is super effective and fun. In terms of land-faring monsters, the Bulette is one of my favorites in terms of appearance. They are incredibly effective.

Stats: Don’t Fuck With This Thing

At least not if you’re lower than the fifth level.

You’d think that a Bulette would dig through the ground to attack or something like that. But no. Rather, they will do a fucking standing leap like a god damn Olympic athlete! If that isn’t terrifying, then I don’t know what the hell is!

They don’t do a whole lot. Their bite attack does a fair amount of damage, and their leap attacks are capable of knocking you prone. They can make for a fairly interesting and dangerous encounter. They are balanced, challenging, and fun to fight.

Just try not to send them against one at first level. Unless you’re that kind of monster.


Bulettes may not have the deepest or most engaging lore. But that’s made up for thanks to their awesome design and simple but effective combat abilities. They aren’t the deepest monster in the book, but they’re certainly cool.

So, where are they on the Best of the Bestiary?

  1. Beholder
  2. Death Tyrant
  3. Behir
  4. Aboleth
  5. Ankheg
  6. Aarackocra
  7. Azer
  8. Spectator
  9. Animated Armor
  10. Banshee
  11. Basilisk
  12. Bulette <—–
  13. Planetar
  14. Rug of Smothering
  15. Bugbear Chief
  16. Bugbear
  17. Vine Blight
  18. Twig Blight
  19. Needle Blight
  20. Solar
  21. Deva
  22. Flying Sword

If monsters 1-11 weren’t so cool, these guys would definitely be higher. Unfortunately, their lore is only just cooler than any of the angels, and their design isn’t quite enough to put them above where they are.

But considering how many of these monsters are in this book, as well as the other two, a momentary twelfth place ain’t bad.

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