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Origins and Etymology
Based in medieval English folklore, Bugbears are typically described as a strange, bear-like creature that lurks in forests to scare children.
Etymology-wise, a bugbear is anything that is disliked or hated, used synonymously with "pet peeve." Like "gremlin" or "boogeyman", it is used as a nondescript term for something hated or feared.
Dungeons and Dragons
The Bugbear has a long history with the Dungeons and Dragons franchise of role-playing games, and was included in the 1st Edition Monster Manual. In Dungeons and Dragons, Bugbears are a relative of Goblins and Hobgoblins with the three races collectively referred to as "Goblinkin" or "Goblinoids". The most recent 4th Edition Monster Manual in fact puts combat statistics for all three species under the general category of "Goblin".
Bugbears are typically described as standing around seven feet tall, hairy, and possessing bear-like claws and facial features. Bugbears are the strongest and most brutish of Goblinoids, though Hobgoblins are more intelligent and organized.