If a bear (of any type) hits with both paws on the same victim in one round of combat, the bear has hugged its victim and will cause 2-16 (2d8) additional points of damage in the same round as the attack.Okay, let’s get something straight right now: bears don’t hug.
They just don’t; look it up. There’s no known documentation of a bear ever hugging someone as a form of attack. It is a pretty silly idea.
A “bear hug” is a move in Greco-Roman wrestling in which the arms are wrapped around an opponent, the hands are locked, and the opponent is held tightly to the chest. It is also something I give my wife when she’s been out of town for a few days and I’m meeting her at the airport.
The only way in which the term “bear hug” has ANYthing at all to do with bears is that it has the word “bear” in its title. It is not something bears do when fighting…neither to humans, nor each other.
And yet it’s been such a part of D&D lore that every edition (with the exception of Holmes) features some form of bear “hugging attack.” The first mention of “hugs” I can find is in Supplement I in which it is noted both werebears and owl bears may “hug” for an additional 2D8 damage. By the 3rd edition Monster Manual, this has morphed into something called an “improved grab” attack. As with most things in D20, it’s ridiculously complex.
[you know, I was actually thinking of taking a stab at running a D20/Pathfinder game the other day? Yeah, really. But then I remembered what a PAIN IN THE ASS it is to DM the game due to the bullshit stat blocks of monsters and quickly came to my senses!]
Now to me, a bear is a dangerous animal. While I can buy the heroic fantasy of a knight in magic armor and a flaming sword besting one in combat, bears should be capable of killing your average two to three warriors on foot, plate mail or no. The hug attack has been a great way to model the sheer destructive force of a 1700 pound beast (both brown and polar bears are capable of that size, by the way, though the polar bears ON AVERAGE are the larger of the two). In wrestling, the bear hug is a “take down” move, designed to bring a foe to the ground. While bears don't hug opponents, they are plenty strong enough to overbear opponents (from which vantage point they can readily maul the poor target). It is not, then, my goal here to remove the "extra damage" attack from the game of D&D.
I just want to clean it up a bit.
Here's how I'd re-work the bear hug for B/X:
If a bear (of any type) hits with the same opponent with both paw attacks in a single combat round, the beast bears its opponent to the ground and inflicts an additional 2-16 (2d8) damage as it mauls its victim.
It would, of course, be assumed that any character surviving such an attack would scramble away and regain its feet for the following round. If the victim does NOT survive the attack, well...it might be time for the rest of the party to sneak away and leave the animal to its meal.
Werebears would have the same mauling ability (when in bear form)...owl bears have a "tear and rend attack" that works much the same way should they get their talons on an opponent.
But let's leave the hugging out of the mix, huh?