Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Flightless Bird, Giant Frog, Frogfolk, Violet Fungi/Shriekers

 AD&D Flightless Bird- This entry refers to beasties like the ostirich, emu, dodo and similar, rather than the monstrous axebeak of more prehistoric or fantastical form. There is nothing particularly noteworthy about these creatures, and probably should have been a footnote in the axebeak entry. For all the thought given to selling other baby animals, I am surprised no 'market value' for ostriches is included.

AD&D Giant Frog
Giant frogs are mechanically interesting due to being probably the lowest HD monster that utilizes 'swallow whole' rules. They also are tactically distinct from many other monsters due to their unusual attack pattern, which is rather convoluted but I will attempt to summarize here.
1- Frog attacks with sticky tongue at +4 to hit but no damage
2- Those struck get an opportunity(though not a free attack I believe) to strike the tongue, which if struck, withdraws, and the frog will not expose its tongue to that target again.
3- If not struck, the tongued target is pulled to the frog and automatically takes maximum damage, assuming the weight is appropriate.

With regards to the load-bearing capacity of frog-tongues, the frogs come in 3 sizes- small 50 pounders dealing 1d3 damage, 150 pounders dealing 1d6, and big fat frogs dealing 2d4, with HD scaling up from 1-3 as weight increases
If you weigh more than the frog, the tongue-drawing in takes 3 rounds, giving an extra chance on round 2 to strike the tongue, and only taking the max-bite on round 3. If you weigh over twice the frog, you will not be dragged at all, and the frog will give up on the 3rd round.

The frogs also leap shorter horizontal distances (losing ~10% their normally twice-human movespeed leap) per 50 pounds of weight over 50lbs, and are terribly slow outside of their typical leaping. Seeing as how the frogs show up in numbers of 5d8, tracking all this seems like lunacy, but suffice it to say that if you flee from 5-40 giant frogs you will likely be unable to escape the smaller 1HD ones if they can hop, possibly able to escape the 2HD ones if you are unarmored/unburdened/unhindered by terrain, and probably able to flee the 3HD frogs if not too burdened once you realize they can't hop more than 45 degrees left or right without having to adjust their facing (this is true for all the frogs, but the smaller one's long jumps make them more difficult to evade).

Curiously, they can all hop an astounding 30 feet straight up regardless of weight, making them pretty good monsters to lurk in watery pits and moats to devour those who would cross.

As for the swallowing whole, they swallow small humans, elves, halflings, and similarly sized targets whole on a nat 20. I believe the frogs can bite without going through the tongue routine and so instantly gobble someone up, but it is unclear if this should be expanded to include nat20 tongue hits resulting in swallowing rather than biting. Those swallowed have 3 chances (Which I believe, given the wording of the tongue effect is 3 rounds) to cut themselves out with a sharp edged weapon and an attack roll of 18+, after which it is unclear if they are dead or simply unable to free themselves due to suffocation or crushing stomach muscles (as no mention of damage is made here but it is mentioned for creatures such as the purple worm, I would assume rescue from outside sources remains possible for a few minutes).
However, attempts to slay the frog that swallowed your friend menaces said friend, as attacks against such a frog have a 1/3 chance to harm the character within as well as the frog.

They are said to fear giant fish, turtles, snakes, and fire, and retreat when wounded.

Though admittedly the AD&D rules are rather convoluted and could be simplified, I think giant frogs having special rules makes them likely to be a memorable and interesting encounter compared to other 'beast' encounters with all the breaking tongue grapples, outmaneuvering hops, and occasionally maybe rescuing Frodo from a frog-stomach, and multiple ways to frighten them off are given as well.

There are also 'killer frogs' which are just small frogs with a weak claw-claw-bite routine and 1HD, and poison frogs which have poison skin secretions and bite with a +4 to the save. These variants are not as interesting and do not have much uniqueness going for them, alas.

AD&D Violet Fungi-
I find it interesting that D&D has a fair few monsters that resemble other monsters. Mimicry in nature is common enough, but it can sometimes feel a bit like a 'gotcha' moment in a fictitious play-space. However, for the most part I think it shakes things up and keeps the players from being too complacent upon encountering something they think they know, provided cautious players can ascertain the threat with investigation somehow.

More to the point, Violet Fungi are mimics of Shriekers found 75% of the time with these companions, which are slow, ambulatory giant fungus that shriek when disturbed by light or movement. As this makes them, essentially, living alarms for dungeon environments, players frequently may wish to disable Shriekers if they deem the risk of noise now is worth removing the risk of noise later, but rushing in to chop them up will expose one to the Violet Fungi. Violet Fungi flail with 1-4 tentacles that rot flesh upon hit (requiring Cure Disease or a save vs poison to resist) and so, while easily dispatched with range, are a menace in melee. (Though unclear what 'rot flesh' actually means, it mentions this occurs in a single round, and since the other mentions of Rot in AD&D refer to Mummy Rot or the Periapt of Foul Rotting, both of which are lethal eventually, I believe this is intended to be a 'save or die' effect)

A mildly interesting note is that 3.5 makes shriekers stationary, and only violet fungi ambulatory.

Sunset Realm Flightless Birds
- Birds that have wings but do not fly are exempt from the pecking order hierarchy of the other birds. Legends have it that they descended from a mighty ancestor bird who flew into the night sky to steal the stars, but upon discovering what they were, learned fear and humility and returned to earth and swore never to challenge the high howling darkness again. In Saresaren court politics, someone who is willfully blind to opportunities to further ambition is sometimes called an ostrich, a creature apart from the game of lion and gazelle.

Sunset Realm Giant Frogs
Basically anything can grow to giant size for various reasons, and frogs are no exception. Frogs lost the war against snakes in ancient times, but survived complete extermination by developing their legless tadpole stage to hide from the leg-detecting servants of Yg until they had grown into size and experience. This metamorphosis came with a cost, however, their mutable forms becoming steeped with the powers of Chaos and their god Zaba becoming known as a demon-god instead of simply an animal god due to developing strange and unnatural powers that some wizards who do not mind becoming froggy use for their own ends.

Now that the Serpent Empire is no more, frogs need not hide from all the world, and they grow fat and greedy and think themselves mighty once more and, though snakes are notorious gluttons, frogs are known for biting off more than they can chew.

Zaba, lord of frogs, was lounging in the swamp when one of his children came to visit. "Lord Zaba, I have seen a creature even greater than you!"
"Impossible" replied Zaba. "I am the fattest in all the land. None can match my breadth, my depth, my girth. And if they try, I can do this." And Zaba sucked in air to make himself even larger than his already considerable bulk.
"No, Lord Zaba, the beast stood high on four legs, and higher still with two horns!"
Zaba was astonished, and blew himself up even huger. "Well, height isn't everything. You see I am surely broader than this beast now."
"No Lord Zaba, for the monster was wide and powerful enough to pull a cart!"
This alarmed Lord Zaba so he huffed and puffed and blew himself up till he more resembled a melon than frog. "How is this, then?"
"Alas, bigger, bigger still."
So Zaba gulped and inhaled air and swelled larger and larger, and finally said "I am sure I am the biggest now" at which point he exploded. Being a god, this was not the end of him, but as his children did not have the heart to tell him he was still smaller than an ox after all that, no lessons were learned.
-Rewriting of the Aesop's fable The Frog and the Ox

Thanks to Doctor Ogudugu's 10 step training program I went from 'frog on a log' to 'hog of the bog' in just 2 weeks! Click now to find out how


Sunset Realm Frog Folk
No doubt due to an excess of princes turned into frogs by bog witches, there are anthropomorphic frog-people in the Bog of the Canal, and have been for at least 3 solar ages. They are not well loved by Our Lady of Gardens, for she would turn them into humans, nor by Lord Zaba, who would turn them into frogs, but the Lord of Calamities, Murulu, has a liking for the hybrid froggy folk and as such they are always untouched by the marching mutant armies of the Calamitous Lord that must cross the Bog of the Canal to menace the Tripartite realm, and indeed the frogfolk sometimes join up to see the world beyond the bog.

While most of the frog folk are content to swim in the swamp, play catgut banjos, and live simple lives in their reed huts, they do have a higher organization of sorts born of the terror of intersolar periods- the Order of the Lantern. This order developed outfits to help keep their skin moist when traveling beyond the swamp and train their bodies and minds to battle against monsters that threaten the livelihood of the froggy bogfolk.

The Order of the Lantern enjoys the communal access to resources the frog-folk swear by and can expect to always have clothing, room and board, and travelling gear at least, but sometimes greater wealth is required, mainly to deal with the economies of humans. As such, the Order of the Lantern also has experience delving for treasure in the ancient Frog Kingdom ruins that have sunk into the swamp over centuries, dealing with ancient basilisks, demon-toads, frog-bog mummies, Zaba cultists and all manner of lingering and fresh horrors that enjoy the soggy ruins. As such, the occupation of 'adventurer' is not uncommon among the otherwise placid and prosaic bog folk.

Frog Folk must consume extra rations of water (up to 5 times normal) to keep themselves hydrated even with a wet suit (a hooded cloak and bandages wrapped around most their body) and feel a little fragile out of warm wetlands, whether it be too hot or too cold.

They cannot breathe water, but are powerful swimmers thanks to their webbed feet and hands, and assuming they grew up in the bog of the canal, a lifetime of swimming experience. Apart from that, they are largely identical to humans, just with a tendency to develop musculature more in the legs than the upper body and of course, green, spotted skin similar to a leopard frog. Some have very long tongues capable of catching flies, chicken drumsticks, etc, and all manner of similar froggish features (like the children being tadpole like, or poison skin) can be found in individual families thanks to the lingering chaos within all frog-kind.

Sunset Realm Violet Fungi
While I'm all for shriekers having hidden threats, I'm just not thrilled about 'tentacled flesh-rotting mushroom.' Something just doesn't click with me about that idea.. So here's a quick table of 'alternate threats to spice up shrieker encounters' in similar ways that Violet Fungi do.

1- Conquerer Worms- These brain parasite grubs hide in the whistling holes shriekers blow air through to shriek, and leap out to steal the bodies of those who come too close, and creatures drawn to the noise are likely being controlled by other worms.
2- Giant Centipedes- These poisonous vermin eat anything remotely edible, and scavenge those fallen in battles caused by the alarming shriekers, and protect the shriekers themselves in a territorial display that benefits both.
3- Cordyceps Shrieker- This subspecies of shrieker blows out spores along with its whistling that infest the living (or the undead, I suppose) and create fungal zombies who start out as living but diseased and deranged, but end up as corpses puppeted by shriekers bursting from the skull, until the corpse falls apart and the killer mushrooms wander off to start the cycle anew. Again, random encounters drawn by the noise are likely to be the infected.
4-Boomers- This subspecies of shrieker stops shrieking, closes off its whistle-pores, and bloats and swells with spores and gas until struck, at which point it detonates mightily. Exploding mushrooms are a D&D classic and it seems a more appropriate mushroomy threat.
5- Slimers- Some species of ooze could live inside a shrieker and flow out in a bubbling mess when the shrieker is disturbed.  Infested shriekers would look melty, wet, and be incapable of whistling, and grey oozes, green slime, or smaller ochre jellies could all be appropriate.
6- Mushroom Men- Appearing as just another giant mushroom wobblign around, upon getting nearer they reveal themselves to be the guardians of the shriekers, like a farmer to cattle, and they may strike with debilitating spores and poisoned weapons

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