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D&D Ideas — Frogs

Welcome once again to the weekly newsletter. This week’s topic is frogs, which we discussed in our weekly live chat. We hangout every Monday evening at 8 p.m. EST on Nerdarchy Live to talk about D&D, RPGs, gaming, life and whatever nerdy stuff comes up. Speaking of frogs in Scaling Up a tactical group of lizardfolk on unusual mounts and bolstered by a half-dragon ambush adventurers in the wilds. This gorgeously illustrated encounter and map leaps off the page and into your games along with 54 other dynamic scenarios in Out of the Box. Find out more about it here. You can get the Nerdarchy Newsletter delivered to your inbox each week, along with updates and info on how to game with Nerdarchy, by signing up here.

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Delving Dave’s Dungeon

This week’s topic is frogs. Nerdarchist Ted’s daughter is obsessed with them and plays in one of his fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons games so he works them into his campaign for her whenever he can. He’s taken it step further and invaded the Live Chat, monthly magic item card, videos and now the newsletter so here we go.

Fortunately the D&D multiverse has no shortage of frog content. Froghemoths and bullywugs happen to be a couple of my favorite monsters. Then there is the ice toad. Did you know the ice toad has it’s own language? There are even planar froglike creatures, the slaadi. There are so many more monsters. Too many to mention here.

Players can even play a froglike creature with the grung. Or if you are a wizard or warlock with a Pact of the Chain you can have a frog familiar. Beast Master rangers can even take a giant frog as their Beast Companion, which is also one of the beefiest choices for a Beast Companion with a whopping 18 hit points.

Let’s see, I’ve already mentioned seven different froglike creatures spanning arctic, jungle, swamp and even Limbo environments. This means we can keep adventurers hopping no matter where they go.

Nerdarchy has even infused a bit of frogginess into our games with Muckwuggle, The Frog God over at Nerdarchy the Store. It’s loaded with frog monsters, magic items, a pantheon and an adventure. And most recently Ted recently created the Croak Cloak magic item, which we talked about on YouTube here.

When we were filming the Croak Cloak video we discussed the encounter it was earned in. The encounter happens on a body of water with giant floating lily pads. It’s such a great idea for a dynamic encounter with low risk for failure. The enemy in the encounter wears the Croak Cloak, allowing them to leap from lily pad to lily pad easily. The adventurers are limited to the jumping rules.

Jumping

Your Strength determines how far you can jump.

Long Jump. When you make a long jump, you cover a number of feet up to your Strength score if you move at least 10 feet on foot immediately before the jump. When you make a standing long jump, you can leap only half that distance. Either way, each foot you clear on the jump costs a foot of movement.

This rule assumes that the height of your jump doesn’t matter, such as a jump across a stream or chasm. At your DM’s option, you must succeed on a DC 10 Strength (Athletics) check to clear a low obstacle (no taller than a quarter of the jump’s distance), such as a hedge or low wall. Otherwise, you hit it.

When you land in difficult terrain, you must succeed on a DC 10 Dexterity (Acrobatics) check to land on your feet. Otherwise, you land prone.

Just using these jumping rules from the 5E D&D Basic Rules I’d say every time a character lands on a lily pad they must succeed on a Dexterity (Acrobatics) check or fall prone on the lily pad, perhaps followed up by a Dexterity saving throw to avoid sliding off. I’d keep the DCs low (10 sounds about right) but there is still a chance to inconvenience a character.

Just like Ted did you can use an enemy who can navigate the lily pads easily. On top of this maybe the water contains another threat like a swarm of quippers. To make things a little more fun and dynamic you could give the enemy some kind of fire attack. As a reaction allow the adventurers to dive into the water to gain resistance to the fire damage. Failed Dexterity or Strength saving throws require a Dexterity (Acrobatics) check to avoid getting blasted into the water. Grung or bullywugs would make some great monsters for a lily pad encounter.

From Ted’s Head

We are supposed to talk about frogs so I guess I should just hop to it. It might not be widely known about all the ways you can use frogs in your D&D game but it is quite immense.

For humanoid species you have grung, grippli and bullywugs. You have toad demons, the Slaad, and who could forget the froghemoth? If you hold true to the typical alignment of these creatures in their lore, they are all super evil creatures. What does this mean? Does Wizards of the Coast think all frogs are evil? But with the general view that cultures can change, we can do whatever we like with our home games and alignment is trending out of D&D mechanics anyway.

If we step away from the usual lore you can have some fun with the game and make frogs a friendly ally or people in need. In one of my home games I used a village of grung and their guardian creature of a froghemoth. The party had to occupy the froghemoth while a ritual was conducted to cure it. It was fun to run a different style of encounter and test the limits of the players and their characters. When combat is not about taking out a pile of enemy hit points the strategy needs to be different.

Our friends over at Hero Forge now include a frogfolk species for your customized miniatures and there are loads of other froglike resources out there for RPGs if you want to go looking for them. We even have several of our own, which Nerdarchist Dave mentioned.

I know some people would jump at the chance to add more frog material to their game and campaign world. You can take an existing race and change their appearance to be froglike or as stated change the alignment for the ones we’ve already got. If you are feeling creative feel free to develop your own race with culture and lore. I worked with my daughter who love frogs to come up with the Pollywug playable race, which is over at Nerdarchy the Website here.

From the crafting side of things I just put a new piece into my project bin. The centerpiece of the game Mr. Mouth: Feed the Frog will wind up being the center of the Frog Shrine, which lies deep within the swamp. Too many years have passed and the shrine lies in the swamp untouched, unloved and unworshipped. The shrine holds power over the swamp itself and the physical abilities of the frogs: jumping, swimming and breathing underwater.

Passing within sight of the Frog Shrine and offering lip service through a successful DC 14 Intelligence (Arcana, History or Religion) check can pass by without the shrine summoning frogfolk aggressors. If you approach the shrine within 5 feet the mouth opens. If you offer insult or insouciance more aggressors pile out of the open maw of the shrine until invaders are driven off. But a donation of 5 gold pieces value or more disappears within and a blessing — literally the bless spell — is bestowed upon the creature who donates. A donation of 100 gold pieces value or more bestows one of the following boons instead:

Frog Shrine Boons

d4 result and effect
  1. Double all jump distances
  2. Ability to breathe underwater
  3. Gain a swim speed equal to your speed
  4. You can cast control water once a week (only works in a swamp or in murky water)

This is just a fun little location you can add to your game. You can use any of the frog stuff I mentioned above as well as take anything else you can reskin. These can all be used to make an adventure more fun. You might use this as a random encounter or build up the location to be something fun and unique in your world.

5E D&D slaad frog demons

From the Nerditor’s desk

Between the Croak Cloak, the live chat and all the content already on the website I was frankly shocked at how much frog related stuff we’ve got going on as well as how much I enjoy all of the froggy goodness for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons.

Now we’ve got two more components to the frog themed material with Dave and Ted’s newsletter portions and I’m inspired to contribute to the mix. Adventurers who discover the Frog Shrine might receive it’s blessings and boons or face aggressive frog creatures spawned by whatever planar power still resides in the ancient hallowed site. Meanwhile a champion of frogkind keeps their lair among the giant lily pads of a hidden lake or pond and wields froggy magic and artifacts.

This all sounds suspiciously slaadi to me.

The aggressive creatures spawned by the Frog Shrine can very easily be slaad tadpoles, nasty aberrations foreshadowing terrible things to come. The Croak Cloak adorned adversary could well be in possession of a Slaad Control Gem too. Acquiring such a magic item requires some tricky work. Powerful spells can separate these gems from within their slaadi hosts and a more mundane approach requires extremely skilled hands through a DC 20 Wisdom (Medicine) check.

To add drama to the lily pad adversary imagine the horror when a slaad tadpole bursts from their chest during the encounter or after the entity has been defeated. If there’s an opportunity for social interaction the frog champion might even share how they’ve been feeling unwell. The creature moves slower and suffers disadvantage on attack rolls, ability checks and saving throws. Or perhaps this frog champion is infected with chaos phage instead, unable to regain hit points while it’s maximum hit points degrade each day until it dies and transforms into a red or green slaad.

What I’ve enjoyed most about our explorations into frogs and froglike creatures and lore of D&D is how you can take any idea or concept and start creating such vibrant elements from them. A simple natural creature like a frog can inspire cultures, societies, faiths and so much more all the way up to extraplanar threats against reality.

You can take all these elements and sprinkle them throughout your setting not as a railroad for a grand frog themed campaign stretching from 1st to 20th level but rather as signposts giving players the choice to follow or not. Adventurers who come across the Frog Shrine on their way through the wilderness might think nothing more of it than a memorable event from their travels. Later on when they face the lily pad challenge they might curiously recall the Frog Shrine from earlier in their adventuring career (especially if slaad tadpoles spawned from the shrine and also burst from the chest of the lily pad adversary).

A strange gem in the lily pad creature’s possession could very well stump even the party’s most intelligent wizard and further research reveals it to be a Slaad Control Gem. Now the party is hooked and seeks more information, perhaps leading them to encounter Muckwuggle devotees and their slaadi allies (or minions?).

Part of the tremendous fun of D&D and other RPGs lies in scenarios like these, where the players take notice of disparate events they’ve experienced and begin to take initiative for their own epic story. This can sometimes be challenging for Game Masters who feel like the players are going off script — I’ll admit I’ve felt this way plenty of times myself. But if you look at a GM’s role as helping players tell the story of their characters you might discover a pretty amazing story emerge through their exploration into the deep lore of frogs in your world.

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