Black bears are highly dexterous, being capable of pulling the lids from jars or opening doors. They can climb large trees. They have great physical strength, being able to turn over objects up to their own weight with a single foreleg. They are able to lope at an action point cost of 1/5th of a point per combat hex. Black bears weighing up to 900 lbs. have been encountered.
A black bear will focus its claw attacks on a single defender, but may attack a separate person with its bite. If both the claws hit a defender, this will indicate that the bear has gotten a hold of the defender and will now maul for 2-12 additional points of damage. Following the mauling, the bear will release the defender, but may attack that individual again the following round.
The fur is soft and dense, and is not shaggy like that of brown bears. Albino black bears are found, but rarely. Bears have been hunted for their skins and for meat. Among some humanoid tribes in the New World, the black bear is treated as an animistic spirit.
Encounters#1 (foraging): single bears, usually male, will seek berries and other fruit, fish or whatever else it can find in the landscape, from May until November. Unless food is scarce due to a fire or blight, usually bears at this time will be standoffish and encountered at a distance of 6-18 hexes. However, if the bear is encountered it will take advantage of whatever food it can find in a party's camp, approaching from a place furthest from the party members - if shouted at, there is only a 35% that it will simply move off. If attacked, it will defend itself, but move off if stunned and allowed to recover.
#2 (hibernating): if encountered in a subterranean setting, this will always be within a hundred yards or so of the surface and the bear will always be hibernating. In December there is a 50% chance that the bear is awake; between January and April, this chance lowers to 10%. If encountered in its den and disturbed (rustling armor will be enough), the bear will wake up easily and will behave aggressively. If interlopers do not flee immediately, the bear will attack until driving them off or the bear is killed. Black bears at this time will attack with +1 to hit and +1 to all damage rolls.
#3 (rearing young): from May to July, mother black bears will travel with their young, meaning there will be 2-4 in number. The bear is extremely dangerous at this time, for if the party finds themselves between mother and cubs, the mother bear will rush to fight to the death against the perceived threat. When attacking, the bear will mercilessly attack with +2 to hit and +3 damage until the threat is dead.
#4 (territorial): black bears can live in close proximity to humanoids, but they will become aggressive and territorial at times. At such times it will make it's presence known at a distance of 9-16 hexes, often roaring or standing to indicate that others should move off and leave the animal alone. If approached within 2-8 hexes the bear will attack, continuing until it is stunned (if it is allowed to recover, it will then run off). Usually this behaviour involves a mated pair.