A hook horror (also known as a vulture beak, hacker, cave dweller[5]) 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.[5]


A hook horror stood about nine feet (2.7m) tall and weighed around 400 pounds (181kg), with a head like a vulture, a neck of crested feathers,[5] and the body of a beetle, whose mottled gray[6], chitinous[5] exoskeleton was extremely thick and dense and covered with sharp studs.[2] The exoskeleton could be removed from a hook horror and transformed into tough armor.[5] Instead of hands, paws or claws, its front limbs ended in 12 inch (30cm) razor-sharp, blade-like gray metallic hooks, surrounded by red feathers.[5] These hooks were the hook horror's primary method of combat. Its legs were similar to those of a bird, and its head was shaped like that of a vulture, including the hooked beak. Its eyes were multifaceted like that of an insect.[1]



A dwarf in combat with a hook horror.

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


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


Hook horrors liked to live as families (no more than a dozen[5]) in subterranean caverns, led by the eldest male, and caught their food by hunting those areas. They slept around half of the time, moving sluggishly when not under threat, meaning that they could survive on relatively little food for their size. Despite this, when food was scarce, hook horrors would migrate to another subterranean area. There existed a small number of hook horror colonies that were able to cultivate their own food. Only when they were desperately hungry would hook horrors turn to foods such as phycomids, shriekers, violet fungi, and zygoms to stay alive. Although such food was poisonous to most humanoids, a gland in the hook horror's abdomen produced a special enzyme that rendered it immune to such effects.[5]

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

The hook horror was especially susceptible to diseases and parasites. They had a life expectancy of less than forty years.[5]

Hook horrors had their own language, communicating in a series of clicks and clacks made with their own exoskeletons,[6] but they could also speak Undercommon.[2] In their own language, communication was soft and gentle when "speaking" about friendship, but loud and frenzied when discussing food.[5]

Hook horrors did not see well at all, but their hearing was extremely acute,[6] said in Exile to be the keenest of all the creatures in the Underdark. Additionally, they had a keen sense of smell.[5] In a cave, hook horrors could produce a high-pitched sound that could not be heard by most other creatures. It enabled them to use echolocation, much like the sonar of a bat, to "see" nearby objects and environments without the need for light. Hook horrors were sensitive to bright light.[2]

They were omnivorous, but they preferred the meat of whatever creatures they could catch. They would resort to fungi or lichens if they cannot obtain meat. It is rumored that they particularly enjoyed eating drow.[2]

Hook horrors needed to in order molt to shed their hard exoskeletons after growth occurred. During a period of two days, the old exoskeleton would drop off in flakes, and a new one was forming underneath the whole time. For a period of a few days after the old exoskeleton had been completely shed, the hook horror's new one was soft and it was much more susceptible to damage.[5]

Where possible, hook horrors would collect and eat silver or electrum items. Those would pass through their digestive systems, and remain unchanged, although with a slight odor, when deposited.[5]

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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