A hook horror (also known as a vulture beak, hacker, cave dweller[3]) is a large, bipedal subterranean monstrosity that looks like a vulture-like humanoid with bony hooks in place of hands. It is an invertebrate arthropod.[3]


A hook horror stands about nine feet (2.7m) tall and weighs around 400 pounds (181kg), with a head like a vulture, a neck of crested feathers,[3] and the body of a beetle, whose mottled gray[4], chitinous[3] exoskeleton is extremely thick and dense and covered with sharp studs.[2] The exoskeleton can be removed from a hook horror and transformed into tough armor.[3] Instead of hands, paws or claws, its front limbs end in 12 inch (30cm) razor-sharp, blade-like gray metallic hooks, surrounded by red feathers.[3] These hooks are the hook horror's primary method of combat. Its legs are similar to those of a bird, and its head is shaped like that of a vulture, including the hooked beak. Its eyes are multifaceted like that of an insect.[citation needed]


Hook horrors prefer to ambush their prey from above. They will work together as a group, and if necessary, retreat using their ability to climb. In a fight, a hook horror will use its clawed arms to trip its opponents.[2]


It is thought that the hook horror is distantly related to the cockroach, despite its bird-like qualities.[citation needed]


Hook horrors like to live as families (no more than a dozen[3]) in subterranean caverns, led by the eldest male, and catch their food by hunting these areas. They sleep around half of the time, moving sluggishly when not under threat, meaning that they can survive on relatively little food for their size. Despite this, when food is scarce, hook horrors will migrate to another subterranean area. There exist a small number of hook horror colonies that are able to cultivate their own food. Only when they are desperately hungry will hook horrors turn to foods such as phycomids, shriekers, violet fungi, and zygoms to stay alive. Although this food is poisonous to most humanoids, a gland in the hook horror's abdomen produces a special enzyme that renders it immune to such effects.[3]

Hook horrors reproduce by laying eggs in a closely guarded central location.[2] The eggs look like rocks, 3 inches (8cm) in diameter and they are spread among actual rocks in the horrors' cavern, for camouflage. They will hatch after six months, producing a 1' (30cm) tall hook horror baby. After a year, it will reach 5' (1.5m) in height, and will reach its full size after 17 years. It remains with its parents for the first year of life, spends the second becoming more and more independent, before finally no longer needing its parents by the third year. It will seek out a mate of its own from the age of six.[3]

The hook horror is especially susceptible to diseases and parasites. They have a life expectancy of less than forty years.[3]

Hook horrors have their own language, communicating in a series of clicks and clacks made with their own exoskeletons,[4] but they can also speak Undercommon.[2] In their own language, communication is soft and gentle when "speaking" about friendship, but loud and frenzied when discussing food.[3]

Hook horrors do not see well at all, but their hearing is extremely acute,[4] said in Exile to be the keenest of all the creatures in the Underdark. Additionally, they have a keen sense of smell.[3] In a cave, hook horrors can produce a high-pitched sound that cannot be heard by most other creatures. It enables them to use echolocation, much like the sonar of a bat, to "see" nearby objects and environments without the need for light. Hook horrors are sensitive to bright light.[2]

They are omnivorous, but they prefer the meat of whatever creatures they can catch. They will resort to fungi or lichens if they cannot obtain meat. It is rumored that they particularly enjoy eating drow.[2]

Hook horrors must molt to shed their hard exoskeletons after growth occurs. During a period of two days, the old exoskeleton drops off in flakes, and a new one is forming underneath the whole time. For a period of a few days after the old exoskeleton has been completely shed, the hook horror's new one is soft and it is much more susceptible to damage.[3]

Where possible, hook horrors will collect and eat silver or electrum items. These pass through their digestive systems, and remain unchanged, although with a slight odor, when deposited.[3]

Notable hook horrorsEdit




Further ReadingEdit


The "Ecology of the Hook Horror" article appearing in Dragon magazine issue 131 states that "hook horrors are herbivores" but this is contradicted by the Monster Manual II which states that "hook horrors are omnivores". The more recent source, Monster Manual II, is taken as canon.


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