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Black Shuck

Black Dog, a supernatural dog that appears as an omen of great change. Date 2008 Author Liza Phoenix, Black Shuck
Black Dog, a supernatural dog that appears as an omen of great change. Date 2008 Author Liza Phoenix

This is a big black  dog, as dark as midnight. Its eyes gleam with an unnatural green light.

Shuck is the name given to a ghostly black dog which is said to roam the Norfolk, Essex and Suffolk coastline. Black Shuck is sometimes referred to as the Doom Dog.

The legend

For centuries, inhabitants of England have told tales of a large black dog with malevolent flaming eyes  that are red or alternatively green. They are described as being ‘like saucers’. According to reports, the beast varies in size and stature from that of simply a large dog to being the size of a horse.

Black Shuck is the inspiration for the Sherlock Holmes novel The Hound of the Baskervilles.

It is said that his appearance bodes ill to the beholder, although not always. More often than not, stories tell of Black Shuck terrifying his victims, but leaving them alone to continue living normal lives; in some cases it has supposedly happened before close relatives to the observer die or become ill. In other tales he’s regarded to be relatively benign and said to accompany women on their way home in the role of protector rather than a portent of ill omen.

The spectre often haunts graveyards, sideroads, crossroads, near bodies of water and dark forests. Black Shuck is also said to haunt the coast road between West Runton and Overstrand.

D&D 5E Epic Monsters: Black Shuck (5E)


D&D 5E – Epic Monsters: Black Shuck (5E) | EN World | Dungeons & Dragons | Tabletop Roleplaying Games

Black Shuck is an interesting dog if nothing else. Legends about this canine go back to 1127 and range from it being Satan to a poor fellow’s lonely companion haunting the spot of his death to a terrifying monster that liked to bust into churches to wreck havoc. One thing is for certain: Black Shuck is a great example of localized folklore really taking root. Like the Jersey Devil but much, much older, and also like the Jersey Devil it’s still being spotted here and there.

Black Shuck
Large fey, chaotic neutral

Armor Class 16 (natural armor)
Hit Points 76 (8d10+32)
Speed 55 ft.

18 (+4)​17 (+3)​19 (+4)​6 (-2)​18 (+4)​14 (+2)​

Skills Athletics +7, Insight +7, Perception +7, Stealth +16
Damage Resistances cold
Condition Immunities frightened
Senses darkvision 90 ft., passive Perception 17
Languages Common; telepathy 100 ft. (images of death omens only)
Challenge 5 (1,800 XP)

Innate Spellcasting. Black Shuck’s innate spellcasting ability is Wisdom (spell save DC 15). It can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:

Constant: pass without trace
At will: divination (indefinite timespan; death omens only)
3/day: fog cloud, hellish rebuke, hunter’s mark
Keen Hearing and Smell. Black Shuck has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing or smell.

Magic Resistance. Black Shuck has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Terrifying Howl. Black Shuck can use a bonus action to unleash a terrifying howl. Each creature of its choice within 120 feet of Black Shuck that is able to both see and hear it must succeed on a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or become frightened for 1 minute. A creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. If a creature’s saving throw is successful or the effect ends for it, the creature is immune to Black Shuck’s Frightful Howl for the next 24 hours.

Multiattack. Black Shuck attacks twice.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d8+4) magical piercing damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 15 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.

Black Shuck

By Abraham Fleming -, Public Domain,
By Abraham Fleming – http://peacecollegewriting.
black-dogs/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.

Black shucks are normally dismissed as folklore or peasant tales, but the eerie creatures have been encountered by adventurers in the oddest of places.

Monster Encyclopaedia I: Ravagers of the Realms
Author August Hahn, Gareth Hanrahan, Lizard
Series Monster Encyclopaedia
Publisher Mongoose Publishing
Publish date 2004

Physically, they appear to be ordinary dogs such as pit bulls or wolfhounds, but their eyes glow slightly green in the darkness. Black shucks are associated with treasure troves, haunted sights, dungeons, ruins and druidic groves, leading some to believe that they are wardens of such dangerous places. They have been known to hunt down and kill travellers, but the locals tend to think ill of anyone killed by a black shuck. The general sentiment is that the fearsome hounds are beneficent in some fashion and anyone killed by one probably had it coming.

Attempts to capture black shucks are always fruitless, thanks to their ability to shadow walk. They may sometimes accompany a ranger or druid for a time, but are not true companions and only work towards their own cryptic ends. There is an unexplained enmity between black shucks and shadow mastiffs; travellers have sometimes come across the bodies of black dogs with their jaws locked on each other’s throats and watched in alarm as one body vanishes as daylight strikes it.

Black Shuck
Medium magical beast
Hit Dice5d10+10 (37 hp)
Speed40 ft. (8 squares)
Armour Class16 (+1 Dexterity, +5 natural), touch 11, flat-footed 14
Base Attack/Grapple+5/+8
AttackBite +8 melee (1d8+4 plus trip)
Full AttackBite +8 melee (1d8+4 plus trip)
Space/Reach5 ft./5 ft.
Special AttacksTrip, savage
Special QualitiesFast healing 1, Low-Light Vision, Scent, shadow walk
SavesFort +6, Ref +5, Will +3
AbilitiesStrength 16, Dexterity 12, Constitution 15, Intelligence 2, Wisdom 14, Charisma 13
SkillsHide +5, Listen +4, Move Silently +6, Spot +4, Survival +9*
FeatsAlertness, Stealthy, TrackB
EnvironmentTemperate forests and plains
Challenge Rating4
AlignmentUsually neutral
Advancement6-12 HD (Medium)
Level Adjustment


A black shuck prefers fighting opponents one at a time and so uses its shadow walk ability to divide and confuse foes, before pulling one down and tearing out his throat.

Fast Healing (Su): A black shuck automatically heals one hit point every round.

shadow walk (Su): A black shuck can shadow walk, as the spell, at will. It may walk for a maximum of ten minutes per day, so this ability is often used just to move from one random area to another rather than for actual travel. The travel must begin and end in an area of darkness or shadowy illumination.

Savage (Ex): A black shuck who is attacking a prone enemy may make a grapple attack on that target. This grapple attack requires a touch attack, but does not draw an attack of opportunity. The black shuck gains a +4 bonus to this grapple check. If the check succeeds, the victim is shaken for 2d6 points of damage and must make a Fortitude check (DC 15) to avoid being stunned for one round. The save DC is Strength-based.

Trip (Ex): A black shuck that hits its opponent with its bite attack can attempt to trip him as a free action (+3 bonus) without making a touch attack or drawing an attack of opportunity. If the attempt fails, the opponent cannot react to trip the black shuck.

Skills: A black shuck has a +4 racial bonus to Survival checks when tracking by Scent.

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