Name: Hook Horror
From: Dungeons & Dragons (1975)
Classification: A deadly creature that hunts adventures that are trapped in dungeons.
First appearing in White Dwarf magazine in 1979, the Hook Horror has been hunting and haunting dungeons for over 30 years. Comprised of traits from an insect and a vulture, the Hook Horror stands at 9 feet tall. This large creature has the armored exoskeleton of an insect while it also has the head of a skeletal vulture with multifaceted insect eyes and bird-like legs. Its humanoid arms end in 12-inch bladed hooks that are sharp and deadly.
The Hook Horror’s primary tactic for hunting is to ambush its prey by dropping from the ceiling of a large tunnel. It is an omnivore that lives in a family unit of up to 12 members, lead by the eldest male of the family. When they grow the Hook Horror will shed its armor like that of a Tarantula or snake. When they reproduce, Hook Horror females will lay 3 eggs that look identical to rocks, roughly 1′ in diameter. Hook Horrors communicate with clicks and clanks produced by their exoskeleton. They also have a form of echolocation that they use to hunt their prey in the darkest of dungeons.
In the first illustrations of the Hook Horror, the sense of how deadly the hooks are is lost in the simple drawings. This look of “stubby” hooks was a mainstay for the Hook Horror through out the ’80s and the LJN toy and its appearance in the Dungeons and Dragons Saturday morning cartoon didn’t help matters.
I always loved the Hook Horror and never minded the more bulky and hooky original version. It wasn’t until the 2nd Editions Monster Manual where the Hook Horror started to get a more insect-like makeover. This version looks like something you could envision living in a subterranean tunnel or cave. Again, the hooks still don’t have the bladed look that was described back in 1979. But they look like something that could be used for climbing cavern walls and ceilings.
Some time later when 3rd Edition Dungeons and Dragons was released, Wizards of the Coast doubled down on the “hook hand” debate. With another brand new design, there was no questioning the severity of the Hook Horror’s killer hook blades. The return of the more bulky and bird-like Hook Horror is also ushered back in.
Since 3rd Edition not much has changed in the lore or appearance of the Hook Horror. Slight artistic touches have been made but the large hook trait has remained.
A mainstay of the Dungeons and Dragons universe, the Hook Horror has remained a constant adversary for would-be adventurers for over 30 years. It was always a joy to encounter these monsters during a gaming night because they were some of the original beasts of gaming forefathers fought. Over the years so much has changed with D&D, it’s great that some of the original foes have remained and still go bump in the night.