Friday, February 27, 2009

Frog & Toad Are Fiends: An Amphibious Top 10

attack frog!






















When he wasn't pretending to pop out an eyeball and eat it, my dad used to recite, in tones of solemn gravitas belied by the glee in his eyes, the following poem:

Walkin' down the road
Saw a big fat toad
Guts layin' all over the tar
Musta been hit by a big ol' car
So if I grew up warped it was nurture, not nature.

10. Firetoad It's a giant toad that spits fireballs. Pedestrian.

9. Blindheim It's a man-toad with high beams. Peculiar.

8. Grippli Tree frog men, because D&D never tires of piling on more intelligent humanoids! I mix these guys up in my head with the fiddling grigs featured on the same page of the Monster Manual II, resulting in musical frogs whose piping song lulls and confuses travelers.

7. Muckdweller It's a salamander that squirts a blinding stream of muddy water. Pah-tooey! They are lawful evil, and sometimes consort with generally neutral lizard men. I imagine them as sinister tempters, encouraging the lizard men's hunger for human flesh...

6. Type II Demon (Hezrou) The toad demon is iconic to be sure, but it’s nowhere near as memorable as Types I and III-VI. It lacks pizazz.

5. Ice Toad I was ready to plunk these down at 9 or so: giant toad, blast of cold, OK, OK. But what’s this? "The ice toads have their own weird language?" Now I wonder what they’re up to, croaking and ribbiting in the eldritch glow of the northern lights...

4. Killer Frog Froggie went a killin’ and he did ride, hey hey. And, please note, they are "specially bred mutants. Only their cannibalistic habits keep them from becoming common and thus a real threat."

3. Bullywug It’s the name, really. Say it out loud three or four times and it’ll have you grinning. It’s like a novelty song from the 50s. At the same time, imagine the fracas a squad of these guys could cause, marching out of a bog in a frigging frog phalanx, with spearmen hopping over the shield wall to attack the party’s backline. Not the Hully Gully, not the Frug – good golly it’s the Bullywug!

2. Slaad The slaadi might make it onto my actual, not joking around top ten monster list. When I write that up maybe I’ll have something more intellectual to say. But honestly, one reason why I liked them so much as a kid? They’re freaky froggin’ bad asses! Spell abilities out the croakhole! Two-handed magic swords! One of them lays eggs in you! One of them has claws like Wolverine!

1. Froghemoth The slaadi might have the real ultimate power of the toad monster world, but the froghemoth has Zowie. Gygaxian naturalism is a beautiful thing, to be sure. But sometimes you have to tell naturalism of any stripe to take a flying leap into the phantasmagorical, as Gygax himself demonstrated with this beautiful monstrosity.

5 comments:

Jeff Rients said...

An excellent list. I had completely forgotten about the ice toads possessing language! Clearly they know secrets that only the most demented of sorcerers would seek.

Cole said...

The irony of the froghemoth is that it's so crazy because it comes from a "science fiction" background. Because that's what leads to the real weirdness...not the fundamental ability to alter reality on a whim (magic).

An early, and persistent irony of D&D.

Max said...

Jeff: I wonder if there's a cult of ice toads on Cinder, plotting to freeze the lava floes?

Cole: That's a good insight. Perhaps litera(rari)lly true as well, since the froghemoth seems quite likely to be inspired by the Godzilla-sized frogs in the post-apocalyptic novel Hiero's Journey.

Dave said...

Ooooooooooooooooooooooh...

What if the Ice Toads in The Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl know something is trapped under ice.

And the Froghemoth! Not on any of my random encounter tables, but a must have for any dungeon with a weird wilderness setting. May I should say the froghemoth isn't on any my "current" random encounter tables...

Great post Max!!!

Max said...

Thanks for the comment, Dave. By all means add the froghemoth to your encounter tables!