Chuul Variants for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition

Despite being a lifelong fan of Dungeons and Dragons, for whatever reason, aboleths are stuck in a blind spot on my D&D nerd-dar. If you aren’t familiar with aboleths, they’re basically giant, Lovecraftian, psychic fish monsters that can turn humanoids into thin-skinned, water-breathing servants. Pretty ick all the way around.

But this article isn’t about aboleths. It’s about their man-on-land, the chuul. Aboleths created chuuls so it could put its eyes and ears on land. According to the Fifth edition Monster Manual, chuuls were built tough, too, capable of evolving to survive time.

When the Gods said, “Okay, aboleths, that’s enough outta you!” and destroyed their empire, the chuul went full ronin. But their love for their old bosses stayed strong. Now, any time a chuul comes into contact with an aboleth, it jumps right back into its old, obedient role.

How do chuuls fight in Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition?

Fortunately, Keith Ammann of The Monsters Know What They’re Doing already broke down chuul tactics. Really, there’s not a whole lot going on with these guys since they’re contoured as brutes. Their job is to sniff out the biggest magic user of the group, beat it up, grab it in its claws, and split. Other than its desire to find magic, it smooshes with its pincers and tentacles in an optimal succession (as Keith points out in his blog post).

They’re dumb, but they have a reasonable sense of self-preservation. So if things get too bad for them, they’ll find the nearest body of water and high tail it out of there.

What variants for chuuls are needed in Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition?

The chuul is weird. It’s an aberration, but it’s not a smart aberration. In fact, it has more in common with an ogre than it does other aberrations. Both are dumb, slow, and ugly, and are employed by smarter creatures to do their beat-up work for ’em. The chuul, of course, is a little tougher, with higher armor, higher damage, and immunities to poison (more for fluff reasons than anything, I’m sure).

Therefore, my thought with these guys and their variants would be do something similar to the ogre collection found in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes: specialist chuuls. Fundamentally, these chuul variants are the same as their Monster Manual counterpart, but capable of controlling the battlefield a little better.

Smart aboleths know that if they want their chuuls to get the good stuff– high-level magic stuff–they need to arm their chuuls accordingly.

3 Chuul Variants for Fifth Edition Dungeons & Dragons

It’s probably safe to say that beholders and aboleths don’t get along. “This underground cavern complex ain’t big enough for the both of us!” However, aboleths aren’t afraid to admit that they can learn quite a bit from the eye tyrants. Case in point: beholder central eyes and their anti-magic cones. After poking around with the genetics of their crawfishy underlings, the aboleths came up with something similar they dubbed chuul nullifiers. Chull nullifiers have similar anti-magic abilities, albeit not as powerful as the beholders’.

Chuul screechers work as a chuul coterie’s crowd control. These chuul emit a high-pitched squeal that temporarily disables troublesome combatants that would otherwise keep the chuul from their goals of wiz-napping.

Much to the disgust of anyone that’s ever come across one, a chuul incubator hosts and oozes thousands of amphibious spawn of an unknown origin. Interestingly (or horribly), it is not known by naturalists whether or not the spawn are actually chuul spawn as chuul are thought to be asexual and incapable of procreation.  Yet, if they come from something else, what that something else has not yet been seen in its mature form. Typically, the spawn never lives for more than a few minutes at a time.

 

chuul-incubator

Chuul Nullifier

Large aberration, chaotic evil


Armor Class 17 (natural armor)

Hit Points 127 (15d10 + 45)

Speed 30 ft., swim 30 ft.


Abilities Str 21 (+5), Dex 10 (+0), Con 16 (+3), Int 6 (-2), Wis 12 (+1), Cha 5 (-3)


Skills Perception +7

Damage Immunities poison

Condition Immunities poisoned

Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 17

Languages Deep Speech

Challenge 6 (2,300 XP)


Amphibious. The chuul can breathe air and water.

Antimagic Aura. The chuul creates an aura of antimagic within 10 feet of it at will. This trait otherwise works like the antimagic field spell but isn’t itself magical.

Sense Magic. The chuul senses magic within 120 feet of it at will. This trait otherwise works like the detect magic spell but isn’t itself magical.


Actions

Multiattack. The chuul makes a pincer attack. If the chuul is grappling a creature, the chuul can also use its tentacles once.

Pincer. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (2d6 + 5) bludgeoning damage. The target is grappled (escape DC 15) if it is a Large or smaller creature and the chuul doesn’t have two other creatures grappled.

Tentacles. One creature grappled by the chuul must succeed on a DC 14 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned for 1 minute. Until this poison ends, the target is paralyzed. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.

 

chuul-screecher

Chuul Screecher

Large aberration, chaotic evil


Armor Class 16 (natural armor)

Hit Points 93 (11d10 + 33)

Speed 30 ft., swim 30 ft.


Abilities Str 19 (+4), Dex 10 (+0), Con 16 (+3), Int 5 (-1), Wis 11 (+0), Cha 6 (-2)


Skills Perception +4

Damage Resistances thunder

Damage Immunities poison

Condition Immunities poisoned

Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 14

Languages understands Deep Speech but can’t speak

Challenge 4 (1,100 XP)


Amphibious. The chuul can breathe air and water.

Sense Magic. The chuul senses magic within 120 feet of it at will. This trait otherwise works like the detect magic spell but isn’t itself magical.


Actions

Multiattack. The chuul makes two pincer attacks. If the chuul is grappling a creature, the chuul can also use its tentacles once.

Pincer. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6 + 4) bludgeoning damage. The target is grappled (escape DC 14) if it is a Large or smaller creature and the chuul doesn’t have two other creatures grappled.

Screech (Recharge 5-6). The chuul emits a high pitched scream in a 90-foot cone. Each creature in that area must make a DC 13 Constitution saving throw, taking 9 (2d8) thunder damage on a failed save and is stunned until the end of its turn, or half as much damage on a success and isn’t stunned.

Tentacles. One creature grappled by the chuul must succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned for 1 minute. Until this poison ends, the target is paralyzed. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.

 

chuul

Chuul Incubator

Large aberration, chaotic evil


Armor Class 14 (natural armor)

Hit Points 93 (11d10 + 33)

Speed 20 ft., swim 30 ft.


Abilities Str 19 (+4), Dex 7 (-2), Con 16 (+3), Int 5 (-1), Wis 11 (+0), Cha 5 (-3)


Skills Perception +4

Damage Resistances thunder

Damage Immunities poison

Condition Immunities poisoned

Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 14

Languages understands Deep Speech but can’t speak

Challenge 3 (700 XP)


Amphibious. The chuul can breathe air and water.

Sense Magic. The chuul senses magic within 120 feet of it at will. This trait otherwise works like the detect magic spell but isn’t itself magical.


Actions

Multiattack. The chuul makes a pincer attack. If the chuul is grappling a creature, the chuul can also use its tentacles once.

Pincer. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6 + 4) bludgeoning damage. The target is grappled (escape DC 14) if it is a Large or smaller creature and the chuul doesn’t have two other creatures grappled.

Tentacles. One creature grappled by the chuul must succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned for 1 minute. Until this poison ends, the target is paralyzed. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.

Expel Spawn (1/Day). The chuul ejects slimy, amphibious spawn into an unoccupied space within 5 feet of it. The spawn has the same statistics as a swarm of poisonous snakes except that it has the same amphibious and sense magic traits as the chuul. The spawn lasts for 1 minute and then dissolves into a puddle of acrid, black goo.

 

Shout out to one of my favorite D&D 5e bloggers!

If you’re a dungeon master and you aren’t already reading Keith Ammann’s stuff, I highly recommend you do. The Monsters Know What They’re Doing is always a fantastic read, and lately, the guy’s been cranking out a ton of tactics, all of them fantastic.

Keith’s super experienced, having been in the game even longer than I have (I think he’s an old first edition grognard).

This isn’t a paid advertisement. In fact, I’ve never even personally spoken to the guy. I just think every DM should be reading his material.

Anyways, see you next time when I do cloaker variants.

Art by Wizards of the Coast and Paizo Publishing.

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