Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (WKQ News): A tourist today was admitted to Canberra Hospital with severe injuries to his head and back. Officials report that the tourist, whose name is being withheld pending notification of his family, was attacked while exploring the outback. They suspect the animal in the attack was a dingo, and completely dismiss the stories being circulated that the animal was actually a drop bear. [More…]
Michael waited his entire life to explore Australia, and now his dream was coming true. As he prepared to head off into the wilderness, locals repeatedly warned him to be on the lookout for a drop bear – a larger, more vicious form of the koala. Michael just smiled; back home in New Jersey, they regularly warned visitors of the Jersey Devil. He was familiar with the routine, and this “drop bear” thing was clearly a ruse designed to put tourists on the lookout for an imaginary creature. “Just like snipe hunting in Boy Scouts,” he thought to himself. Michael ignored all the advice to place a bit of vegemite behind his ears.
Michael hoisted his backpack into place and set off. He wasn’t sure what he would see on this excursion. On his previous hike, he saw a koala hanging out at the top of a eucalyptus tree. Earlier in the week, he saw a pack of kangaroos. Or maybe they were wallabies; Michael still couldn’t tell the two apart.
As he walked, Michael enjoyed the sunshine and fresh air. Both were a pleasant switch from back home. He watched the birds and small mammals as he hiked, taking in the sights. Michael was oblivious to the ferocious creature lurking in the tree up ahead. As he walked under the tree, the drop bear pounced! Before Michael could react, the drop bear crushed him under its weight as it wrapped its arms around his midsection. As he lost consciousness, the ridiculousness of the situation was the last thing through Michael’s mind.
On first glance, a drop bear resembles a large koala. A closer inspection, however, reveals a few differences other than size. A drop bear’s long, sharp teeth are clearly designed for ripping flesh. Its claws are longer and sharper than a koala’s, and its face displays a constant sneer, in contrast to the mellow appearance common on a normal koala.
Drop Bear in Fiction
In the Discworld novel The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett, drop bears attack the wizard Rincewind as he travels through the Australia-like continent of Fourecks. The wizard’s stereotypical pointy hat saves him, because instead of being stunned by the drop bear’s attack, the pointy hat turns the tables and stun the drop instead. As other drop bears witness this bizarre turn of events, they too fall from the trees. Later, as Rincewind relays the tale to the locals, they insist drop bears don’t really exist.
In Your Game
Drop bears make an interesting low-level challenge for characters, either in a modern setting or a more traditional fantasy milieu. They make excellent cryptids – creatures that are purported to exist but no actual evidence is found. If you prefer a modern-themed game without supernatural beings, you can easily re-position the drop bear as a mutated koala, perhaps one infected with rabies. If the supernatural exists, you can use drop bears as a rare breed of marsupial that few have actually seen.
Drop Bear CR 2
N Large Magical Beast
Init +1; Senses Darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Listen +3, Spot +3
Defense 14, touch 10, flat-footed 13 (–1 size, +1 Dex, +4 natural)
hp 22 (3d10+6)
Massive Damage 15
Fort +5, Ref +4, Will +2
Spd 40 ft., Climb 20 ft.
Melee 2 claws +7 (1d8+5) and bite +2 (1d6+2)
Space 10 ft. by 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Special Attacks Constrict (1d6+5), crush (1d8+5, DC 12), improved grab
Before Combat A drop bear in a eucalyptus tree will attempt to Hide in the foliage when it spots a target. It patiently waits until its intended victim is under the tree before plunging down on it.
During Combat Drop bears are fiercely territorial. It prefers to initiate combat by dropping on its target, using its Jump and Tumble skills to potentially reduce its falling damage while crushing the victim. Once a drop bear is in combat, it attempts to grab its opponent and crush it to death.
Morale Drop bears extend a fight as long as possible, but won’t fight to the death except to protect their young. If a drop bear is reduced to fewer than 10 hit points, it attempts to flee.
Str 21, Dex 13, Con 15, Int 7, Wis 12, Cha 6
Base Atk +3; Grp +12
AP 0; Rep 0
Feats Acrobatic, Dodge
Skills Balance +5, Hide –3*, Jump +15, Listen +3, Spot +3, Tumble +9
Constrict (Ex): A drop bear who successfully grapples a target inflicts 1d6+5 constrict damage.
Crush (Ex): Drop bears who land on a target after dropping at least 20 feet crushes the victim under its massive weight. Victims who are aware of the drop bear’s presence may attempt a DC 12 Reflex save to avoid the attack. Those who fail their save suffer 1d8+5 damage and are pinned. The save DC is Dexterity-based.
Improved Grab (Ex): If a drop bear hits a Medium or smaller creature with both claw attacks in the same round, it may attempt to start a grapple as a free action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity. If it successfully grapples its target, a drop bear automatically inflicts constrict damage.
Skills: Drop bears gain a +4 species bonus on Balance, Jump and Tumble. In addition, they receive a +8 species bonus to Hide when concealed by the leaves of a eucalyptus tree.
Environment Australian outback
Organization Solitary, pair, or pack (3-6)
Advancement 4–15 HD (Large), 16–30 (Huge)
Level Adjustment —
Are drop bears a fun low-level encounter, or goofy Ozzie myths? Tell us in the Forum!