Combat rating 7
1 Bulette (CR 5)
2-3 Perytons (CR 2)
Combat rating 8
1 Bulette (CR 5)
1 Shambling mound (CR 5)
Combat rating 9
1 Bulette (CR 5)
3 Elephants* (CR 4)
* Bulette created stampede
Combat rating 11
1 Bulette (CR 5)
1 Helmed horror (CR 4)
5 Minotaur skeletons (CR 2)
1 Wraith (CR 5)
How to Use – Plot Ideas
I don’t normally give plot advice as I feel that there is already enough of that online and that most monsters don’t need it, but since the bulette seems designed to only be usable for random encounters and quests where farmers hire the PCs to kill a bulette that is threatening their livestock (both extremely boring,) I felt that it was time to make an exception.
These plot ideas aren’t ideas for a plot that centers around the bulette, but rather ideas for how to bring the bulette into your game in some capacity besides random encounter or boring sidequest.
- The enemy lures the PCs into an area where a bulette happens to be, in the hope of getting rid of the PCs. The enemy might also send in troops, both to help draw in the PCs and to help with the fight. Creatures without flesh (constructs, elementals, oozes, plants, and many undead) and creatures that fly can be sent into the bulette’s lands without worry, or you can rely on the trope that evil villains don’t exactly value the lives of their minions.
- If they have an item that they need to hide, or a portal entrance to a lair, they might well put it inside lands that a bulette frequents. It will add a layer of security. I already gave a list of monsters that the bulette probably won’t attack and can be used to guard, and it shouldn’t be hard to make a spell that will attract the bulette when it’s triggered. I would think something that thumps the ground in the right way should do it. Either that, or bury the item and trust that digging it up will surely attract the bulette
- Since bulette’s were created by a wizard, it seems logical that the wizard should have left himself some way to control them. Perhaps your adversary found that way, either through finding the creator’s notes or through his own experimentation on a bulette. Or he found a different way to control them (In Princes of Apocalypse, bulettes serve the earth elemental cultists, so there is precedent.) Some form of suggestion should also work, provided he only needs to use the bulette once.
- In an alternative to hunting it down for the sake of farmers/villagers, the enemy could have tied or attached the item needed to the bulette, or they could need pieces of the bulette as an ingredient in a potion. (My last combat encounter idea below will deal with hunting a bulette.)
Combat encounters (difficulty 7)
A few ways to use the bulette
- The first and foremost way is for the bulette to arrive on the scene in the middle of a battle. The bulette will be drawn by the vibrations caused by the fighting and the smell of blood, and its nature is to arrive unexpectedly. It can and will use its jump action on its first turn to send several PCs sprawling. This can affect the battle all on its own, as the PCs need to move to defend the ones who won’t stand up until after the enemy’s turn [and are vulnerable in the meantime]. Also, being knocked prone means a 50% movement reduction on the next turn, very crucial when the battle has just changed completely around. And if the battle is going to much against the PCs due to the bulette’s arrival, it’s possible that the bulette will attack them also. Even if they aren’t edible, the bulette is stupid and gets excited in combat. (I wouldn’t have the bulette attack the enemy for more than one turn, however. Victory should be achieved by the players.)
- If the players have a halfling in their number, this gives you another option. If they’re in the middle of battle, instead of adjusting to a crazy monster who bounces around and keeps knocking them down, they’ve got a crazy monster who is relentlessly chasing the same player. If they’re not in a battle, I would suggest that the bulette spend its first action to grapple the halfling player in its jaws and then jump away that same turn (jumping is only an action if the bulette is using it as its special attack.) You’ll have the halfling player dodging around, trying to escape, the bulette jumping around after him/her, and the rest of the party trying to catch up. Add some elevated terrain (hills) which the bulette will jump between and everybody else will be stuck going down and up, several thick thornbushes which the bulette can ignore with its thick armor plating, plus the trees it will keep knocking over and the small landslides it will cause (and catch PCs in,) and you’ll have quite a battle on your hands. I will also mention that with +2 DEX as its primary stat bonus, the halfling PC is probably a monk, ranger, or rogue. The best classes for a scenario that involves escaping a monster that’s on their heels. (This can all be done without a halfling as well. The bulette will just get into its head that it wants that particular player, for some reason.)
- This encounter is built around the idea that the players are after the bulette for some reason (see my final entry in plots, above.) As is always the case, when you actually want the monster to be there is when you’re not going to find it. (I would suggest preparing a small number of minor encounters and minor travel challenges* that they’ll run into while looking.) The bulette will show up from time to time, but will also be prone to running away after a few rounds of battle. Either they figure out a way to keep the bulette from fleeing, or they can go to some area where the bulette is known to be found. Getting there will involve a few random encounters and a few skirmishes with the bulette, in which it flees after a round or two.
* Examples: A river to cross and the stones poking out of the river are slippery; a ravine with a fallen tree that could be used to cross it, except that it isn’t anchored firmly and can’t be anchored with risk of falling in while anchoring it; a displacer beast lurking among a grove of dead trees, if they use spells too carelessly, they’ll start bring the trees down on them, and so forth.