Slaad

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Slaad
Slaad.JPG
Characteristics
Alignment Chaotic neutral
Type Outsider
Image Wizards.com image

In the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, slaad (pluralized as slaadi, or in 4th edition as slaads) are a fictional race of Outsiders that resemble giant humanoid toads of various colors.

Publication history[edit]

Development and licensing[edit]

The slaadi were created by Charles Stross for the Fiend Factory column in White Dwarf magazine.[1] It was later compiled (along with many other monsters submitted to the magazine) into the TSR UK book, Fiend Folio Tome of Creatures Malevolent and Benign (1981). Stross said of their creation,

Well, the fact that I was running a fever when I came up with the Slaadi is probably not going to surprise anyone — think of ‘em as my independent exploration of Lovecraftiana. (I didn’t discover H. P. Lovecraft until a couple of years later.)... Think “Lovecraft mythos”, as invented by someone who hasn’t read Lovecraft (or heard of him). The Slaadi were going to be basically representatives of, and devotees of, total chaos — with an added warped sense of humour.[1]

For much of their existence, the slaadi were the subject of jokes by D&D players due to their distinctly frog-like appearance, which was overemphasized in early artistic depictions of the monsters. With the advent of the Planescape campaign setting, TSR, Inc. made an effort to create a more appropriately fearsome image of the slaadi, with their toad qualities toned down in favor of showing their more frightening aspects as beings of pure chaos. This Planescape envisioning of the slaadi carried forth into the 3rd Edition of the D&D game and has persisted ever since.[2]

Because they were created by a D&D player (and their copyrights transferred to TSR and, subsequently, Wizards of the Coast), slaadi are one of only a handful of D&D monsters considered "Product Identity" by Wizards of the Coast and, as such, are not released under its Open Gaming License.[3]

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition (1977-1988)[edit]

The blue slaad, death slaad (the lesser masters), the green slaad, the grey slaad (the executioners), and the red slaad appear in the first edition Fiend Folio (1981), along with Ssendam, Lord of the Insane, and Ygorl, Lord of Entropy.[4] Ed Greenwood, in his review of the Fiend Folio for Dragon magazine, considered the slaad "worthy additions to any campaign".[5]

The slaadi and their role in the planes are detailed in this edition's Manual of the Planes (1987).[6]

Another slaad lord, Wartle, appeared in the adventure anthology, Tales of the Outer Planes (1988).

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989-1999)[edit]

The blue slaad, death slaad, the gray slaad, the green slaad, and the red slaad appear first in the Monstrous Compendium Outer Planes Appendix (1991),[7] and are reprinted in the Monstrous Manual (1993).[8] The same set of slaadi appear for the Planescape campaign setting in the first Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix (1994).[9]

Ygorl and Ssendam appear in Dragon #221 (September 1995) in the "Dragon's Bestiary" column; the same article also introduced two new slaad lords: Chourst, Lord of Randomness, and Rennbuu, Lord of Colors.[10]

The baby red slaad and the young red slaad appear in Dungeon #77 (November 1999).

Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 edition (2000-2002)[edit]

The blue slaad, death slaad, the gray slaad, the green slaad, and the red slaad appear in the Monster Manual for this edition (2000).[11]

The slaadi and their role in the planes are detailed in this edition's Manual of the Planes (2001).[12] The black slaad and the white slaad appeared in the Epic Level Handbook (2002).

The gormeel appeared in Dragon #306 (April 2003).[13]

The mud slaad appears in the Fiend Folio (2003) for this edition.[14]

Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition (2003-2007)[edit]

The blue slaad, death slaad, the gray slaad, the green slaad, and the red slaad appear in the revised Monster Manual for this edition (2003).

Another new slaad lord, Bazim-Gorag the Firebringer, first appeared in Dungeon #101 (August 2003). Bazim-Gorag later appeared in the Forgotten Realms book, Champions of Ruin (2005).[15]

Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition (2008-)[edit]

The slaadi, pluralised as slaads, appear in the Monster Manual for this edition (2008).[16]

Cultural impact[edit]

The word "slaad" has been used to describe frog-like monsters in the Yamara comic,[17][non-primary source needed] and the webcomic Shadowgirls, which uses the word "slaad"[18][non-primary source needed] to describe a race of monsters.[19] In Rich Burlew's Order of the Stick, a Chaotic Evil character expresses surprise at only two shoulder devils instead of one devil and one angel appearing; as he has no Good or Lawful sides whatsoever, the devils explain that the character has only them and the slaad.[20][non-primary source needed] A single red slaad appears in Planescape Survival Guide[21] upon a main character arriving in Limbo. Later, he returns with reinforcements.[22][non-primary source needed]

Slaadi have appeared in 3rd-party game sourcebooks such as the Tome of Horrors from Necromancer Games. It was parodied in the HackMaster Hacklopedia of Beasts, published by Kenzer & Company. The plot of the Downer series of graphic novels by Kyle Stanley Hunter, published by Paizo Publishing,[23][24][non-primary source needed]revolves around a slaad-created artifact.

Depiction[edit]

In the D&D game slaadi are native to the Outer Plane of Limbo. As such they are of the outsider type, being composed of the essence of their home plane. Encountered on most other planes they also receive the extraplanar subtype. Slaadi are almost always chaotic neutral except for the death slaadi, which are usually chaotic evil and the gormeel slaadi, which are usually lawful neutral.

In the various D&D products in which they are presented, slaadi are described as frog or toad-like humanoids. Within that rough characterization they have a wide range of forms depending on subtype, and often corresponding to their rank in society. Size also varies between the different subtypes, from human sized to several feet taller than human sized.

Society[edit]

In various editions of D&D the slaadi have been depicted as having a complex social system bound up in the relationship and reproductive cycles of the various subtypes. Some subtypes dominate others, though as slaadi are creatures of chaos, such domination occurs not through a regimented hierarchy, but by brute force. In earlier D&D editions a symbol of power was embedded in each slaad's forehead, and non-magical tattoos on the forehead represented achievements and status.[25] The latter physical characteristics do not appear in 3rd and later editions of D&D. In earlier editions of D&D the slaad were divided only into red, blue, green, gray and death subtypes. 3rd Edition D&D added the mud, and epic level white and black subtypes. In all editions the slaad have been dominated by the Slaad Lords, Ssendam and Ygorl.

Red and blue slaadi reproduce by infecting living hosts. The red do so by implanting eggs beneath their victim's skin which grow into a baby blue slaad that eats the host from within. The blue infect the host with a lycanthropy-like disease that slowly transforms them into a red slaad. Despite being the means of producing the other slaad type, reds and blues despise one another. If either a red slaad or blue slaad infects an arcane spellcaster, the host will spawn a green slaad, superior to its parent in that it may cast spells. A green slaad, upon reaching its hundredth year of life, will retreat into isolation for the duration of about a year. Upon its return it has transformed into a smaller, but more powerful grey slaad, which focus more on spell-casting than most other slaadi. Some grey slaadi undergo an unnamed, mysterious ritual, which transforms them into death slaadi. Death slaadi possess amazing magical and physical might, but eschew focusing on the former, as the greys do, being bent more on perpetuating slaughter and death. As such, death slaad tend more towards an evil alignment than do most other slaadi. If the death slaad survives a century, it turns into the white slaad.[26] And if the white slaad survives a century, it turns into a black slaad in the manner of its preceding transformations. The black slaad is the most powerful slaad, excluding the slaad lords.[27] The reproductive cycle of mud slaadi is not detailed.[28]

The Spawning Stone is the primordial home of the slaadi, located in "a realm of their greatest dominion", and drifting about Limbo. The passage of the stone generates currents in the raw chaos-stuff of the plane, and slaadi are able to follow these currents "upstream" to the Stone's location. In the mating season, each race of slaad converges on the Spawning Stone, wresting the Stone away from the previous group, so that they may fertilize each other's internal egg sacs, and carry away the seed-like fertilized eggs for later implantation into host bodies. Sometimes, however, young slaadi are produced right there at the stone because the slaadi implant each other in their mating frenzy. Thus, dead adult slaadi routinely float about the stone until destroyed by the chaos of Limbo. True slaadi are described as beings of ultimate chaos who have no set form. Only the Slaad Lords Ssendam and Ygorl are representative of this type. Somehow they affected the 'Spawning Stone' to prevent the emergence of slaadi more powerful than them, which keeps the slaadi within the aforementioned groups. Although anomalies do slip through in the chaos, they have less variety, and less chance of being more powerful than the Slaad Lords.[29] One such anomaly is the Gormeel Slaad, which is a subtype introduced in an article in Dragon (magazine)[30] as a large, mutant variety "born from the Spawning Stone", and escaping the notice of Ygorl and Ssendam. They are lawful in alignment, serving as allies and sometimes mounts of the githzerai against other slaadi.

Slaad Lords[edit]

Slaad Lords are the defacto rulers of the Slaadi race. Though true to their chaotic nature they often do not appear anything like other Slaadi. Known slaad lords include Ygorl, Lord of Entropy; Ssendam, Lord of Madness;[31] Chourst, Lord of Randomness; Rennbuu, Lord of Colors; and Wartle.

Famous Slaadi[edit]

Forgotten Realms, The Erevis Cale trilogy[edit]

In Paul S. Kemp's early trilogy, the main antagonist known as the Sojourner has 4 slaadi henchmen that he refers to as his "children" named Azriim, Dolgan, Eleura and Serrin. In the books they appear to be bound to the Sojourner, and serve as a constant foe to Erevis Cale and his companions as they try to thwart the Sojourner. They are all green slaadi and have been granted various powers by the Sojourner. They can cast magic, shapeshift, heal at a very fast rate, and have telepathy. They all tend to choose a human form that suits their taste and only transform back into their slaad forms at certain occasions, mostly when they feed or fight. Azriim (the leader) chooses a half-drow form with 2 different color eyes, Dolgan chooses a Cormyrean warrior (basically a big human) and is the dumb brute of the gang, Serrin is dark and assassin-like and chooses a slender human. Their true slaad forms are green, very large, scaled reptiles, with powerful legs, long claws, and sharp teeth. During the series the Sojourner, with the power to destroy worlds at a whim, transforms Dolgan and Azriim into gray slaadi as a reward. They are portrayed as a mix between a moth and reptile, and have the ability to fly. They are later transformed into death slaadi, which are portrayed as their original reptilian slaad form, with slightly altered physical features. Their most notable trait is that they appear almost see-through and have much stronger abilities. The slaadi in this trilogy are intelligent, most probably from the Sojourner's tampering with them while they were in their eggs.

Xanxost[edit]

Xanxost is a blue slaad with a penchant for exploring the planes, explaining their secrets to everyone interested, and eating whatever he can catch, particularly mephits. He appears as a character in the Planescape accessories Faces of Evil: The Fiends and The Inner Planes. Both of these books are written as if they were created by someone within the Planescape setting, and within that writing style, both books have an 'editor' who collected the investigations and opinions of various planar creatures on the topic at hand. Xanxost is one such character. "Though his mannerisms are often odd, his information is always reliable".[32]

In Faces of Evil he is one of the 'authors' of the section on tanar'ri, and in The Inner Planes he 'wrote' the section on the Quasielemental Plane of Steam. (The editor of the latter book claims that he was recruited to pen the chapter because feedback to his commentary in the former book was overwhelmingly positive.) Xanxost seems less chaotic than other slaadi in that he can write a mostly coherent piece of text, though his nature still shows through in his writing style, with many wanderings off-topic (mostly to the subject of food), repetitions of earlier remarks, and a seeming inability to count. He also refers to himself in third person. He also admits that his conflicts with tanar'ri have edged him slightly from pure Chaos towards the side of Good, at least for the time being. Xanxost is referred to as "it" in Faces of Evil, which makes some sense given the unusual nature of slaadi reproduction, but as "he" in The Inner Planes.

Zgotar[edit]

Zgotar, a death slaad, appears in Scott Bennie's "Threshold of Evil" adventure in Dungeon Magazine #10. The primary villain of that adventure, Azurax Silverhawk, has been officially placed in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting.[33] However, Zgotar also appeared in Castle Greyhawk (1987) in an adventure scenario also written by Scott Bennie. In addition, Azurax is called a "plane-wandering archmage"[33] and Old Empires said he has only recently purchased his property in the Hills of Maerth.

Slaadi in other media[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Charles Stross Interview, SevenDead.com. Retrieved January 28, 2008.
  2. ^ Rausch, Allen. [1] -The History of Dungeons & Dragons, Part V, GameSpy.com, August 19, 2004. Retrieved January 28, 2008.
  3. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". D20srd.org. Retrieved 2007-02-23. 
  4. ^ Turnbull, Don, ed. Fiend Folio (TSR, 1981)
  5. ^ Greenwood, Ed (November 1981). "Flat taste didn't go away". Dragon (review) (TSR) (55): 6–7, 9. 
  6. ^ Grubb, Jeff. Manual of the Planes (TSR, 1987)
  7. ^ LaFountain, J. Paul. Monstrous Compendium Outer Planes Appendix. (TSR, 1991)
  8. ^ Stewart, Doug, ed. Monstrous Manual (TSR, 1993)
  9. ^ Varney, Allen, ed. Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix (TSR, 1994)
  10. ^ Bonny, Edward. "The Dragon's Bestiary: Lords of Chaos." Dragon #221 (TSR, 1995)
  11. ^ Cook, Monte, Jonathan Tweet, and Skip Williams. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2000)
  12. ^ Grubb, Jeff, David Noonan, and Bruce Cordell. Manual of the Planes (Wizards of the Coast, 2001)
  13. ^ Thomasson, Chris. "Killing Cousins." Dragon #306 (Paizo Publishing, 2003)
  14. ^ Cagle, Eric, Jesse Decker, James Jacobs, Erik Mona, Matt Sernett, Chris Thomasson, and James Wyatt. Fiend Folio (Wizards of the Coast, 2003)
  15. ^ Boyd, Eric L, Jeff Crook, and Wil Upchurch. Champions of Ruin (Wizards of the Coast, 2005)
  16. ^ Mearls, Mike, Stephen Schubert, and James Wyatt. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2008)
  17. ^ http://www.yamara.com/yamaraclassic/index.php?date=2005-08-08
  18. ^ http://shadowgirlscomic.com/?p=139
  19. ^ http://shadowgirlscomic.com/?p=145
  20. ^ http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0435.html
  21. ^ http://planescapecomic.com/197.html
  22. ^ http://planescapecomic.com/202.html
  23. ^ Hunter, Kyle (September 1, 2007). Downer - Volume 1: Wandering Monster. Diamond Comic Distributors, Incorporated. ISBN 1-60125-022-3. 
  24. ^ Hunter, Kyle (February 1, 2008). Downer - Volume 2: Fool's Errand. Diamond Comic Distributors, Incorporated. ISBN 1-60125-106-8. 
  25. ^ Varney, Allen (1994). Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, Inc. pp. 88–91. ISBN 1-56076-862-2. 
  26. ^ Collins, Andy; Cordell, Bruce (2002). Epic Level Handbook. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast. p. 218. ISBN 0-7869-2658-9. 
  27. ^ Collins, Andy; Cordell, Bruce (2002). Epic Level Handbook. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast. p. 219. ISBN 0-7869-2658-9. 
  28. ^ Cagle, Eric; Decker, Jesse; Jacobs, James; Mona, Erik; Sernett, Matthew; Thomasson, Chris; Wyatt, James (2003). Fiend Folio. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast. p. 157. ISBN 0-7869-2780-1. 
  29. ^ Grubb, Jeff; Noonan, David; Cordell, Bruce (2001). Manual of the Planes. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast. p. 96. ISBN 0-7869-1850-0. 
  30. ^ Thomasson, Chris (April 2003). "Killing Cousins: Githzerai Hit Squads". Dragon (Bellvue, WA: Paizo Publishing, LLC) (306): 52–58. 
  31. ^ Greene, Scott; Peterson, Clark (2002). Tome of Horrors. Necromancer Games. p. 328. ISBN 1-58846-112-2. 
  32. ^ The Inner Planes (ISBN 0-7869-0736-3) p. 104
  33. ^ a b Bennie, Scott. Old Empires (TSR, 1990)
  34. ^ Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone Gets Hollywood Talent, IGN.com, May 24, 2004. Retrieved January 28, 2008.
  35. ^ Ryan Davis, "Review of Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone," GameSpot (December 13, 2004).

Additional reading[edit]

  • Hunter, Kyle. Downer: Fool's Errand. (Diamond Comic Distributors, 2008).
  • Pozas, Claudio, and Ryan Nock, James Bell, Michael Johnstone. Counter Collection II. (Fiery Dragon Production, 2002).