The bulette is a large and dangerous burrowing creature nicknamed the landshark.[1] According to Tim Kask, who created the creature, "bulette" is pronounced "boo-lay".[2]

Appearance and personality[edit | edit source]

The bulette is a massive predatory creature, extremely violent and utterly fearless.[1] The largest of their kind can grow to truly gargantuan proportions,[3] with some growing as tall as eleven feet from ground to shoulder.[4] Exceptionally large examples of the species are known as the dire bulette.[5].

The bulette's head is blue-brown and pointed in shape, reminiscent of a shark, with deadly dull ivory teeth. Its eyes are yellowish with dark green pupils and surrounded by brown-black skin. Its torso is covered in thick plates ranging from gray-blue to blue-green.[4] It can open its mouth almost ninety degrees when it attacks.[6]

Its armored plates continue to the tip of its thick, muscular tail, which it uses to propel itself through the earth while burrowing. It has four thick legs which support its body on land and end with sharp claws. It can raise the carapace on its back to form a fin-like crest, which can be seen when it burrows just beneath the surface.[6]

Bulettes have been variously mistaken as creatures made of stone or metal, and their tough armor hide often gives the illusion that they are invulnerable.[7]

Abilities and traits[edit | edit source]

The bulette can chase its prey faster than a man can run, and burrow through the dirt at the same rate. A bulette underground can detect potential prey above him to a distance of sixty feet by sensing vibrations.[1] While burrowing, its body is believed to exude a slime which dissolves hard dirt into mud and allows exceptionally fast travel through the ground.[6]

A bulette has exceptional physical strength and can kill a warhorse in a single bite. It can make a standing leap as far as fifteen feet, or thirty with a running start.[1]

Weaknesses[edit | edit source]

After its small eyes,[2] a bulette's weak point is beneath the raised "fin" on its back, where its armor plating is thinnest.[4] It is unintelligent and speaks no language. It is predictable and can be tricked easily, and people have been known to lure a bulette toward enemy encampments.[7]

History[edit | edit source]

Origins[edit | edit source]

The creation of the bulette is uncertain, but the most widely accepted theory is that they were created by a mad wizard by crossbreeding snapping turtles and armadillos and infusing it with demon blood.[1]

Recent history[edit | edit source]

The bulette has become rare in civilized lands, and on more than one occasion its species has been inaccurately believed to be extinct.[6]

Ecology[edit | edit source]

Environment[edit | edit source]

The bulette prefers temperate lands. A single bulette may claim a territory as wide as thirty miles, moving on only when the area has been exhausted of all animal and humanoid life.

Bulettes rarely take a lair, and will spend their time roaming the land for food or resting beneath the ground.[3]

Life cycle[edit | edit source]

Bulettes are solitary creatures and are almost always encountered alone. They meet others of their kind only to mate, and do not stay together long. The female usually slaughters and consumes the male after mating.[1]

The bulette is warm-blooded and is thought to bear live young like a mammal, although it is also conjectured that they lay eggs. Nests of their young have never been seen, and it as presumed that they are buried deep in the earth for safety.[6]

Diet[edit | edit source]

A bulette is carnivorous, and will eat anything and everything that moves, including weaker bulettes. It is always hungry.[4]

A bulette's favorite foods are halfling and horse.[2] They dislike the taste of dwarf and especially elf.[4] A rumor says that a bulette will actively refuse to eat an elf,[3] but this is thought to be an old wives' tale.[7] They have even been known to digest wood and metal, and will gleefully consume a humanoid victim along with all of their clothing, equipment, and even sacks of coins.[3]

Enemies and allies[edit | edit source]

All creatures shun the landshark. It has no friends.

It is exceptionally difficult to tame or control the bulette. Psionically powerful creatures like mind flayers have been able to control them with mental domination, while humanoids including hobgoblins and yuan-ti have been able to control them by years of torture and the cost of many trainers' lives.[7]

Treasure[edit | edit source]

A bulette carries no treasure.[6] However, the plates behind its head are particularly prized as a material for crafting exceptional shields.[4] Its teeth are also valuable.[2]

Notable bulettes[edit | edit source]

The natives of Morn spoke of an exceptionally large bulette named Mobh Idich, meaning the Great White One. It was eventually slain with a single poisoned crossbow bolt by A'ahb the Hunter, who took its hide as a trophy.[6]

Gareshona is a uniquely colossal bulette of deific strength who guards the island of Tsujoku. It has natural armor resembling thick steel plates, and the ability to strike opponents with lightning.

Related creatures[edit | edit source]

This section is incomplete. Please complete this section and remove this {{secstub}} notice.

The gohlbrorn is smaller, more intelligent cousin of the bulette native to the Underdark.[8]

The wizard Shivnar created a mutated bulette with venom glands granting in the ability to breathe fire. This bulette-mutation can interbreed with regular bulettes and pass on its ability to some of its offspring.[9]

The Karrnathi bulette is a carrion-eating offshoot of the species.

Publication history[edit | edit source]

Original D&D[edit | edit source]

The bulette originally appeared in Dragon #1 (Jun 1976), p.19.

AD&D 1st edition[edit | edit source]

The bulette appeared in the Monster Manual (1e) (1977), p.12, with an additional larger piece of artwork on page 1. The Ecology of the Bulette, Dragon #74 (Jun 1983), further detailed the creature.

AD&D 2nd edition[edit | edit source]

The bulette returned in Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (1989) and reappeared in the Monstrous Manual (1993), p.33.

The gohlbrorn variant appeared in Dragon Annual 2 (1997), p.36, and was reprinted in Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume Four (1998), p.13. The White Boar of Kilfay, Dungeon #37 (Sep/Oct 1992) included a mutated bulette with the ability to breathe fire.

D&D 3rd edition[edit | edit source]

The bulette appeared in the Monster Manual (3.0) (2000) and Monster Manual (3.5) (2003), p.30.

Variants include the kaiju bulette Gareshona in Thunder and Fire: The World of the Kaiju, Dragon #289 (Nov 2001), p.66-75, the axiomatic bulette in Manual of the Planes (3e) (2001), p.197-198. The carrion-eating Karrnathi bulette was introduced for the Eberron setting in Five Nations (2005), p.122-123.

D&D 4th edition[edit | edit source]

The bulette and dire bulette appeared in the Monster Manual (4e) (2008), p.38. The D&D Essentials Monster Vault (2010), p.28-31 reprinted these and added the young bulette. The scarred bulette appeared in Dungeon #166 (May 2009) and was reprinted in Dungeon Magazine Annual (2010). The Sword Collector, Dungeon #204 (Jul 2012), p.4 introduces the truly ancient deep bulette.

D&D 5th edition[edit | edit source]

The Monster Manual (5e) (2014), p.34 describes the bulette for Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition.

Creative origins[edit | edit source]

Gabora, a monster from Japanese television believed to have ultimately inspired the bulette

The bulette was created by Tim Kask, an early TSR employee for whom the Sword of Kas is named. Unlike many of D&D's iconic creatures, Wizards of the Coast does not own copyright on the bulette, which is instead claimed by Kask. In a Q&A session at Gary Con 2016, Tim explained how it was created.[10]

The bulette was inspired by a cheap plastic toy which Gary Gygax acquired in a bag of toy creatures. Other iconic early D&D creatures which share this origin include the rust monster and owlbear.[11] Blogger DMDavid describes these toys as based on kaiju from Japanese television, with the bulette's inspiration in particular based on the monster Gabora from Ultraman episode 9.[12]

Gary had nicknamed it the "bullet", which Kask mockingly pronounced in a French accent as "boo-lay". In 2018, Kask joked that the pronunciation "boo-lay", which is not accurate French, is actually from Makandarin, the language of his homebrew campaign setting.[13]

A Saturday Night Live skit inspired by the 1975 movie Jaws used the phrase "land shark"[14], which in turn inspired the bulette's nickname and its ability to tunnel underground.

The bulette's love of horse meat was an intentional counter to a perceived overuse of dwarven pack horses capable of carrying a lot of equipment and treasure. Similarly, its preference for chasing hobbits was a reaction to the popularity of that race.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Monster Manual (5e) (2014), p.34.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Dragon #1 (Jun 1976), p.19.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Monster Manual (3.5) (2003), p.30.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Monster Manual (1e) (1977), p.12.
  5. Monster Manual (4e) (2008), p.38.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 Dragon #74 (Jun 1983), p.26.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Monster Vault (2010), p.28-31.
  8. Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume One (1994), p.13.
  9. The White Boar of Kilfay, Dungeon #37 (Sep/Oct 1992), p.47.
  10. Tim Kask On TSR #11: Two-Hour Un-cut Q&A, Youtube, from 00:13:52 to 00:17:06.
  11. Owlbears, Rust Monsters and Bulettes, Oh My!
  12. The Stories (and 3 Mysteries) Behind D&D’s Iconic Monsters
  13. The Curmudgeon in the Cellar 110, 25'18".
  14. Land Shark, Youtube
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