Pages on RJD20

12 July 2021

Slaadi in Dungeons and Dragons Part 2: Batrachian Beasts From Beyond

Novel ideas for slaadi in our Dungeons and Dragons settings and games are seldom seen. The second piece done on slaadi on RJD20, this article strives to innovate a creature I dearly treasure in my own setting, providing ample opportunity for all of you to steal ideas and craft cooler slaadi for your D&D settings, one-shots, and campaigns. TSR and now Wizards of the Coast molded a firm foundation with slaadi, we must reinforce and build atop it.

Read on to darken your worlds with and add color to the multifarious monsters of chaos known as the slaadi.

Batrachian Beasts From Beyond


Horrifying outsiders often invade our D&D worlds. They pillage green earth, gather frightened prisoners, and spread corruption far and wide, slaughtering, not rankling. Planar denizens run rampant as villains in plenty of TTRPG systems: devils, demons, and elementals among countless others. One outsider entity in particular haunts far fewer D&D adventures than it should: slaadi.

Normally, slaadi are batrachian terrors who stalk the plane of chaos, Limbo, hopping from chunks of swirling stone into pits of churning tar. Their abilities are deadly and their minds alien, but their narrative presence lacks interest or depth. 

Why are slaadi rare foes? 

It is because they are relatively uninteresting villains, nothing greater than frog-like beasts from beyond who abhor order and inspire chaos. However, in our worlds, this need not be true.

Let's begin the slaadi's reinvention.

Alternative Slaadi Origins


Presently the origins of slaadi inspire boredom. 

Typical D&D canon recounts a time eons ago when Primus, the master of law on Mechanus, forged a magical gem called the Spawning Stone. With this artifact, he dared try and tame the unfettered madness and whirling soup of Limbo. Amidst the chaos he placed the Spawning Stone.

It allowed creatures of law, such as modrons and githzerai to build settlements amidst the Plane of Chaos, and build they did. The lawful denizens transformed many locales of Limbo into thriving communities, excavating valuable resources from the tumultuous terrain.

Alas, in unforeseen consequence, the geometric gem repurposed the absorbed chaos and created slaadi. Rapidly, slaadi rolled across Limbo and annihilated modron cities, githzerai enclaves, and any other semblance of civilization they could smell out.
The Slaad's Planar Portal, 2018 Michele Giorgi
Fortunately, we can radically alter their origins in our own realms, or re-flavor their current origin. Canon in our worlds as we've learned, is what we make it. Bolden these bipedal beasts with one of the following appalling origins, or mix and match them all.
  1. Spawn of the First Ones. Slaadi emerged from the pools of conception, leftover matter from the creation of the progenitor species. They are primordial accidents.
  2. Purposeful Horrors. A maddened archmage named Slag Distas permanently transformed a giant toad into a mixture of man and amphibian with an epic spell, then spewed it into the plane of chaos. Slaadi are its descendants and all of the batrachian beasts carry pieces of Slag Distas's insanity within them.
  3. From Past the Stars. Slaadi arrived from a starless void on the edge of the known universe. Alongside appeared a prophecy detailing the sun’s imminent doom. Tales from beyond this verse frequent slaadi lips, and those interested in what lies outside the verse oft converse with slaadi sages.
  4. Demonic God Born. The brackish demon lord Atod’grof birthed slaadi in the trenches of the Abyss after consuming a god of chaos. Sparked with a shred of the eaten god, the slaadi voyaged to the realm of chaos and claimed it as their birthright. Atod'grof still leads his froggish manifestations in this soupy realm, though the aleatory path of his spawn's future remains uncertain.
  5. The Law Bringer's Mistake. Primus placed the Spawning Stone into Limbo, but it was destroyed by the realm's unbounded insanity. Its explosion created slaadi. Ever since, Primus and his modrons have tried to fix the Law Bringer's massive mistake.
  6. The Law Bringer's Mad Genius. Primus purposely placed the Spawning Stone into Limbo, with the intent of it creating slaadi. The gems in their heads are part of an intricate plan to control these creatures and, eventually, enforce order across the verse. Only Primus and the highest ranked modron commanders know this truth.

Slag Distas


Who might this maddened archmage who made the slaadi be in your world? Let's take a look by exploring her in my D&D setting, Eldar.

As a fan of roll tables, I'm using a variety of resources to inspire the formation of Archmage Slag Distas, including the villain tables from Villain Backgrounds Volume I, the this is my life tables from Xanathar's Guide to Everything, and, due to her aberrant origins, the beholder tables from Volo's Guide to Monsters

The results, carefully carved by my hand, form the potential creator of slaadi in your world, for in my Eldar, the slaadi's origins are far more shrouded in strata of mystery and horror. 

In Eldar, she is a pillar of corrupted aberratology: the study of aberrations, and one of the creators of a despised faction.

Born to an aasimar and human parent during a time of great strife, Slag Distas used to be called Dislaga Nexaeus. Her father a commander, her mother a priest, she never stayed in one place for long, constantly moving from battlefield to battlefield, her parents unwilling to send her away to a guarded temple or isolated academy. As a result, Slag's early memories are littered with echoes of death cries, battered corpses, and thrilling shouts of victory. Her best friends were a quintet of frogs she found in a necessary swamp stop to a distant battleground. Alongside these amphibians, the road, death, and victory were all she knew.
Aasimar Warlock, 2018 Kevin Furr
Her father's lieutenants kept her trained and safe most of her early life, but her first true friend was a high elf who joined House Nexaeus with a goal in mind. An aberrationist posing as a planarologist, the high elf named Fynir Jaslogos wove strands of aberrant thinking into the young Slag alongside her lessons on the planes of existence. Limbo was a chaotic realm of great change and greater possibility, littered with batrachian beasts. Celestia was an unchanging paradise where only the good, wealthy...fortunate...resided. Most mortals, the high elf taught, could be greatened with pieces of other creatures: the mind of an aboleth, the arms of a slaad, the all-seeing eyes of a beholder. Of all the aberrations she learned of, slaadi fascinated her the most, reminding her of her frog pets she fancied as a child on the road of destruction.

Fynir's lessons shaped Slag's psychology as she grew more and more distant from her others teachers and her parents as their war path lengthened. Eventually, prodded by the high elf, she realized her greater purpose. The aasimar abandoned her family and left with Fynir, swept up as the latest novice of the Neverwild Cabal, a secretive organization of aberrationists and other scholars. All novices encouraged to pick a particular field of study or thesis project at the outset, Slag officially chose the origins of slaadi as her premier project. She changed her name to Slag Distas. She dyed her hair the five colors of her five frogs. She immersed herself in slaadi lore for decades, trying for their inception.

And the result was madness.

Slag Distas, a prodigy deliberately discovered by Fynir, could not finish her first fascination. She scavenged hidden libraries, interviewed captured slaadi, studied the opening moments of creation, observed creatures from beyond the stars, traced the path of slaadi from world to world, and concluded nothing. Fynir pleased, Slag Distas descended into madness and blamed the institution who helped her for her failures. Alongside other novices and a few higher-ranked members, Slag staged a revolt against the Neverwild Cabal, testing the organization.

The revolters sparred the loyal members of the cabal, in their flying archive in Xoriat, in their hidden library in the Astral Plane, above the undulating seas of the Plane of Water. Rapidly, the revolt was quashed but many of the revolters lived. They retreated to distant planes and remote locales, keeping in contact, plotting their next move. Concurrently, greater powers noticed this schism, contacted Slag Distas. At the end of it all alongside a figment of pure chaos, the aasimar formed a rival faction to the Neverwild Cabal called the Entropic Enclave. Forevermore, Slag Distas would lead the battle against the aberrationists, her former mentor silently smiling and plotting in the background of the Neverwild Cabal. The motives of those who study aberrations are ever in flux and clouded in the unknown and misunderstood...

Her parent's war path long ended, Slag Distas and her batrachian companions began a crusade that would continue for centuries and further contribute to the echoes of death the aasimar heard in her stormy mind.

Chaotic Slaadi Motives


As bland as slaadi canon origins are their motives. Terror? Okay. Reproduction? Understandable. Destruction? Of course. The most defined exultation of slaadi is the systematic hunting and annihilating of modrons and other minions of Primus, canonically. 

Presently, each of these motives is simple which contributes to their intended use as horrifying monsters from a weird world. However, as is the case with many villains and sentient monsters in D&D nowadays, imbuing them with glorious or terrible purpose usually enhances our games.

Like a tadpole undergoes metamorphosis and becomes a frog, slaadi motivations must change from inducing chaos to more varied goals. In the previous section, we altered and upgraded slaadi origins, the same can be done for their motives.
Limbo, Manual of the Planes, 2008 Wizards of the Coast
Here are six ideas for interesting slaadi motives.
  1. Scouring for Divinity. The vessel for the first slaad god lurks in a mortal body. Slaadi scour the world for it, spawning hundreds of their kind in the process. Roiling rumors say the slaad who spawn's the deity will become its avatar and most powerful servant.
  2. Raid to Survive. Resources grow scarce in the realm of chaos. Slaadi invade mortal lands not for blood or chaos, but survival. After eons of chaos and terror incited by slaadi, mortals find this hard to fathom.
  3. Refugee Crisis. Deadly horrors chase slaadi from their soupy world. They seek refuge in a world other than their own. The batrachian beasts hop from realm to realm, from the Plane of Fire and the Nine Hells of Baator to the Seven Heavens of Mount Celestia and the Elemental Chaos.
  4. Humble Prescience. Slaadi prophets foresee the destruction of their world and the mortal one. The batrachian beings need a new home outside this verse and are willing to ally with others to find it. Elf astrologists forecast the same fate of the verse and fight to welcome the slaadi to their realm.
  5. Destructive Variants. The arrival of a new breed of slaadi...from a different timeline...shatters the balance of already-chaotic slaadi society. Its leaders wish to destroy the latest evolution, but many have fled to the mortal world and rapidly spread. Prescient slaadi think the only one who can help them is Primus.
  6. Allies of Necessity. A powerful devil duke captures and enslaves a clutch of slaadi. They will do anything to be free of his sinister command. Yet the devil has no intentions of allowing them freedom, keen on meshing their peculiar powers with the precision and axioms of the infernal legions.

Do any of these motivations stand above the rest? Let me know in the comments below.

Variant Slaadi Abilities


Deepened with original geneses and unique motivations, our slaadi are more interesting foes to build a story around. 

Instead of chaotic creatures accidentally created by Primus who only yearn for madness and reproduction, they might be travelers from beyond the stars who arrived in your verse as harbingers of doom. 

Or they might be purposeful creations of Primus he wishes to one day wield as perplexing weapons of law, though many have been captured by a devil duke and presently become more and more infernal by the minute.

What if we went a step further and enhanced them with variant abilities? Most slaadi already possess unique abilities, from the blue slaad's Chaos Phage to the red slaad's Tadpole Injection, both inflicted via their Claw attacks, yet more abilities are never frowned upon.

The following abilities may be added to any type of slaadi your characters encounter, from the ones encountered in the Monster Manual (red, blue, green, grey, death) to the many types from old editions (black, gold, et cetera), some found in this prior article.
All Slaadi, Monster Manual, 2008 Wizards of the Coast
See the six abilities below. When your characters encounter a slaad, roll a d6. The slaad gains the ability attached to the number you rolled. Certain formidable slaad may boast two of these abilities.
  1. Tongue Wrap. As an action, the slaad’s sticky tongue is immense and can be used to Grapple a target. When a target is Grappled (escape DC 13) this way, they are Restrained and take 1d4 acid damage at the beginning of their turn.
  2. Force Chaos. With chaos energy, the slaad can radically alter the appearance of creatures, objects, and the environment around it. The slaad can cast the spells disguise self and polymorph at will, the former has unlimited uses, the latter has three per day. Both are actions.
  3. Void Leap. As an action, the slaad can teleport up to 60’ away in a burst of chaotic magic. If the slaad teleports to an occupied space, the creature in the space must make a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw. On a failure, they take 2d6 force damage.
  4. Metamorphosis. As a bonus action, the slaad can evolve to grow twice its size, gain a tail, a set of wings, and another clawed arm. All the slaad's damage rolls gain an extra damage die, it gains advantage on all Dexterity saving throws, a flying speed of 30 feet, and another claw attack. This form lasts for 1 minute and can be used once per day. Every time the slaad uses Metamorphosis, there is a 5% chance it stays in this form until it dies. Roll this result as the transformation is about to end.
  5. Slime Spit. As an action, the slaad spits a ball of gooey slime that slows and corrodes its target. The target must make a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw. On a failure, the slime wraps around their body. Their movement speed is halved and they take 3d4 points of acid damage at the beginning of their turns. The target may use an action to remove the slime from their body.
  6. Chaotic Croak. Immediately when the slaad reaches half life (is Bloodied), it lets out a great croak, drawing 1d4 other slaadi from the realm of chaos to its side. You may choose the type of slaadi summoned.
Gray, Red, and Green Slaadi, Monster Manual, 2003 Wizards of the Coast
Armed with these variant abilities, your slaadi are sure to threaten any party they face. Try them out and let me know what you think of them in the comments below.

A Slaad Villain: Scurtalag the Revived


It is fast-becoming tradition to include a villain in almost every article on RJD20. Further building upon this little legacy, meet Scurtalag the Revived, written in the style of the Yum DM's MAP (Motivation, Appearance, Personality) method, a depiction of NPC's that requires its own article.

Scurtalag the Revived (Slaad Male Chaotic Neutral; Motivation: Survival, Appearance: Abominable, Personality: Driven) is a permanently metamorphosed slaad whose close-knit clutch scattered after losing a battle against a plane-shifting dragon. 

Alongside six other slaadi, he walks the mortal world polymorphed into a human, desperately seeking a new home and a chance to avenge his slain batrachian companions, not because he cared for his aberrants, but because without them he can no longer pursue his ultimate goal of seizing control of the slaadi population in the wasted "city" of Yumdakanapla in Limbo. 

Whispers in his mind urge him to find the dragon who killed his companions, incapacitate it, and implant a tadpole into the dragon's dying body, creating the first slaad dragon. Scurtalag dismisses the voice as madness for now. But as the croons grow louder, it's possible the slaad will crumble and submit to whatever lurks inside him.
Blue and Death Slaadi, Monster Manual, 2003 Wizards of the Coast
Use the death slaad stat block from page 278 of the Monster Manual for Scurtalag, with the following edits.

  • Sturdy. Scurtalag is beefy, he starts with max death slaad hit points: 240.
  • Chaos Master. Scurtalag is an especially powerful slaad. He boasts two of the new slaadi abilities, in addition to being permanently metamorphosed: Void Leap and Slime Spit
  • Legendary Foe. Scurtalag has three Legendary Actions, one of which is taking a regular claw attack (1 action), one is Disengage (1 action), the other is Void Leap (2 actions).
  • Rebirth. Scurtalag has a second wind. When he drops to 0 hit points, he sheds his metamorphosed form and stands again as a normal death slaad with the normal stat block, slightly maddened and intent on implanting a slaad tadpole inside his dragon nemesis.

Actionable Advice

  • Amalgamated, these ideas expand slaadi in our worlds, creatures who can pose a formidable threat and help tell a wacky story. 
  • No longer are slaadi creatures with boring origins, combining a few of the ideas presented or simply expanding on one compounds on their worldly impact.
  • Gone are the days of slaadi incurring chaos and only yearning to implant mortals with their spawn, your slaadi now have motives and unique reasons to interact with the Material Plane and other realms. 
  • With their enhanced story elements as foundational pillars, our slaadi gain interesting abilities. Surely, our players will be perplexed and engaged against these interesting foes.

Implant a few of these ideas into your world the next time you run slaadi in your world, you will not regret it. Is this the last we'll see of the slaadi? Considering they are one of the primary villains of Caught in Galen, I doubt it.

Until the next encounter, stay creative!

First time reading RJD20? Begin here, subscribe to the RJD20 newsletter, and explore RJD20 videos on YouTube.

Check out my first released supplement, Villain Backgrounds Volume I.

Provide any feedback or inquiries to @rjd20writes on Twitter or rjd20writes@gmail.com.

Art in Order of Appearance

  • Slaadi Set, The Plane Below: Secrets of the Elemental Chaos, 2009 Wizards of the Coast
  • The Slaad's Planar Portal, 2018 Michele Giorgi
  • Aasimar Warlock, 2018 Kevin Furr
  • Limbo, Manual of the Planes, 2008 Wizards of the Coast
  • All Slaadi, Monster Manual, 2008 Wizards of the Coast
  • Grey, Red, and Green Slaadi, Monster Manual, 2008 Wizards of the Coast
  • Blue and Death Slaadi, Monster Manual, 2003 Wizards of the Coast

No comments:

Post a Comment

Most Popular Articles