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AlignmentChaotic Evil
Publication history
Source booksFiend Folio, Monstrous Compendium Volume Two, Monstrous Compendium: Monsters of Faerûn
First appearanceFiend Folio (1st Edition)
Mythological originsNone

In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy roleplaying game, the bullywug is a type of fictional monster. The bullywugs are portrayed as a violent race of marsh-dwelling frog-like humanoids. The bullywug was introduced in the first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game's original Fiend Folio sourcebook, created by Gary Gygax and his son Luke. The bullywugs subsequently appeared as antagonists in two first edition adventure modules, Dwellers of the Forbidden City (1981) and Needle (1987), and then continued to appear in the game's second edition, third edition, fourth edition, and fifth edition.

Publication history[edit]

Bullywugs first appeared in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game's first edition Fiend Folio[1] and served as antagonists in the module Dwellers of the Forbidden City,[2] and have since gone on to appear in other editions[3] of the Dungeons & Dragons game and Dungeons & Dragons cartoon.

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

The bullywug made its first appearance in the original Fiend Folio (1981); the index at the back of the book credits Luke Gygax and Gary Gygax as the contributors who created the creature.[1] This book described bullywugs as "a batrachian race of bipedal monsters which inhabit wet places – rainy forests, marshes, damp caves or virtually any other place which is shady or dark and has water nearby, for bullywugs need to dampen their skins from time to time." Bullywugs are described as chaotic evil in alignment. The book states that bullywugs are rapid swimmers, and have an attack routine that combines a hopping charge with an impaling weapon to deal extra damage to opponents. They also have the chameleon-like power to alter their skin coloration to different shades of grey, green, and brown, so that they can hide and attack by surprise.

The book states that bullywugs form organised bands led by at least one large individual, and sometimes a tribal shaman or great chief. Bullywugs readily serve chaotic evil masters of other races. Some bullywugs are more intelligent than others, and that these groups use armour, shields, and weapons, and tend to dwell in caves or deserted human habitations; the less advanced bullywugs hate these groups and make war on them. The book notes that sahuagin hold bullywugs in disdain, and may raid a bullywug lair for sport or out of sheer malice, eating captives alive.[1]

Bullywugs appear as one of the three main factions of the eponymous "Forbidden City" in the adventure module, Dwellers of the Forbidden City (1981), along with the mongrelmen, and a third faction composed of the yuan-ti and their allies, the bugbears and tasloi. A full set of statistics for bullywugs does not appear in this module, as the module notes that bullywugs appear in the Fiend Folio Tome. The bullywugs in this adventure settled in the ruins around the swamp near the city, having migrated here many years ago after being driven from other lands. These tribal creatures brought with them a small "god-egg", and are attempting to rebuild their race so that one day they may be strong enough to drive the other creatures from the city. The player characters first encounter a group of bullywugs who have set a fiery ambush for them at a waterfall on the way into the Forbidden City. Once inside the city, the characters may encounter a small community of brutish bullywugs that will attack the characters. The characters may also discover the bullywugs' "god-egg" at the bottom of a pool; this is actually a dragon egg guarded by an invisible stalker that will track down anyone taking the egg. The characters may also explore the bullywugs' swamp, presided over by the self-styled "king" Groak; in the dark waters of the swamp lake is their "god", which is in reality a dragon of the same type as the "god-egg" found earlier in the adventure.[2]

The March 1983 issue of Games Workshop's White Dwarf magazine (#39) presented the demigod Ggorulluzg, whom bullywugs revere as "the chief amongst a number of monsters." The article describes Ggorulluzg as chaotic evil in alignment, native to the Negative Material plane, and worshipped by bullywugs and degenerate humans. This "dreadful lurker in shadow" is described as resembling "a breeding of octopus and giant frog; its body is much as the latter, but its head is bulbous and misshapen, with a soft beak, two great staring eyes, and six trailing tentacles." If engaged in combat, Ggorulluzg will "fix its loathsome gaze on a single individual", causing the victim to become paralysed with fear. The demigod attacks with claws and tentacles (sophisticated bullywugs claim the god bears an array of great iron axes), and non-edged weapons often bounce harmlessly off the soft flesh covering its skull. The article states that Ggorulluzg may be limited in acting personally on the Prime Material Plane by the power of a more powerful deity, so it sends giant slugs or leeches to intervene on its behalf.[4]

Bullywugs also appear in the adventure module Needle (1987), by Frank Mentzer. The adventure describes bullywugs as "physically very similar to the Grippli", with each race in the adventure referring to itself as the "good folk" and their enemies as the "bad folk," and both races factor prominently in the plot of the adventure.[5]

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

The bullywug first appeared for second edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in the second volume of the Monstrous Compendium series (1989). In this set, the creature is said to inhabit temperate to tropical swamps, and receives a detailed description: "Bullywugs are covered with smooth, mottled olive green hide that is reasonably tough... They can vary in size from smaller than the average human to about seven feet in height. Their faces resemble those of enormous frogs, with wide mouths and large, bulbous eyes; their feet and hands are webbed. Though they wear no clothing, all bullywugs use weapons, armor, and shields if they are available." The entry described that bullywugs live in somewhat-organized "socially fascist groups, cooperating for the purpose of hunting and survival ... adept hunters and fishermen, and skilled in the use and construction of snares and nets," and that in their savage society "Males are the dominant sex, and females exist only to lay eggs. Though females and young make up about one-half of any tribe, they count for little in the social order. The only signs of respect that bullywugs ever bestow are toward their leader and their bizarre frog god. The race is... totally lacking in any higher emotions or feelings." The entry notes that they do not deal with incursions into their loose territorial boundaries very efficiently, but do kill and eat interlopers. Members of the same group hardly ever fight each other, except when determining a new tribal leader, although the lesser bullywugs and the more intelligent ones do make war upon each other at every opportunity. This entry refers to the more intelligent breed of bullywug as advanced bullywugs, noting that these are larger and more intelligent than the others, and more aggressive as well.[6] The bullywug's entry is reprinted in the Monstrous Manual (1993).[7]

The book Monster Mythology (1992) by Carl Sargent introduces Ramenos, "the bizarre frog-god of the bullywugs." Ramenos is described as chaotic evil in alignment, a god of somnolence, intoxication, and decay. The book posits that Ramenos, like Laogzed of the troglodytes simply seems to endure its feeble existence for the sake of endurance alone: "Ramenos hibernates for much of the time, barely able even to sustain attention on its own fate; once active and strong, the wretched deity is clearly in a process of self-extinction." This book goes on to say that the bullywugs have no myth about Ramenos creating them, although the book calls bullywugs "the degenerate descendants of races of proto-amphibians, and much more powerful but now extinct humanoid/frog creatures that used revere their weird frog god." The book explains that periods of prolonged inactivity and taking refuge and pleasure in intoxication have reduced Ramenos to a lesser god, and that he will likely decline to demigod status in a few centuries and eventually extinction. Evidence of his old power and influence can be found in ruins of lost jungle temples where huge statues of the god dominate the plazas and open areas. He no longer sends his avatars forth from his home plane of the Abyss, nor does he send omens to his shamans. His shamans are primitive and weak and serve their tribal leaders, and must regularly become intoxicated with plant alkaloids.[8]

The bullywug is presented as a playable character race in The Complete Book of Humanoids (1993), by Bill Slavicsek. This book notes that bullywug player characters can be of the fighter, shaman, or thief character classes. The book assumes that bullywug PCs are of the larger, more intelligent "advanced bullywug" type, which ranges in height from 6 to 7 feet . The book states that it is often female bullywugs who take up the life of an adventurer, due to their extremely limited opportunities in bullywug society. Also, most other humanoid races fear and detest bullywugs, making adventuring life dangerous, and most adventuring bullywug shamans will take up service to a new god as they are likely fleeing from the wrath of their race's deity.[9] The advanced bullywug is later presented as a playable character race again in Player's Option: Skills & Powers (1995). According to this book, "A player character bullywug is actually a member of an advanced variety of this species, since most bullywugs are savages and marauders of the worst sort. Common bullywugs are scarcely able to wield a stone spear or club, but advanced bullywugs are able to wear armor and use most human weapons with little trouble."[10]

Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition (2000–2007)[edit]

The bullywug appears in Monstrous Compendium: Monsters of Faerûn (2001) for the game's third edition. In this edition, the bullywug is given the humanoid creature type. This book describes bullywugs as being able to move freely in marshes or ponds, and that bullywugs sometimes gain levels as barbarians. There are also many bullywug clerics, even though they are more limited than other races in the types of spells they can cast; however, their powerful but unpredictable summoning abilities allow bullywug clerics to summon additional monsters when using spells that summon monsters, although the cleric is less likely to be able to control the monster summoned. The book also described the role of bullywugs in the Forgotten Realms setting: in the marshes of Chelimber, the bullywugs fight a never ending-territory war against the sivs which the bullywugs don't realize they have already lost.[11]

Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition (2008–2013)[edit]

The bullywugs appear in the game's fourth edition in Monster Manual 2 (2009).

Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition (2014–)[edit]

The bullywug appears as a monster in the 5th Edition Monster Manual (2014).[12]

In Greyhawk[edit]

In the World of Greyhawk campaign setting, bullywugs are known to exist in the Hool Marshes, the Mistmarsh, and the Vast Swamp. A number of bullywug tribes have forsaken the worship of Ramenos for Wastri.

Other media[edit]

Bullywugs were often featured as a common antagonist to the main characters in the Dungeons & Dragons animated series.[13]

The Bullywug Thug appeared in the D&D Miniatures: Deathknell set #48 (2005).

See also[edit]

  • Slaad, a toad-like D&D race


  1. ^ a b c Turnbull, Don (1981). Fiend Folio. TSR. p. 128. ISBN 0-935696-21-0.
  2. ^ a b Cook, David. Dwellers of the Forbidden City (TSR, 1981)
  3. ^ Stewart, Doug (1994). Monstrous Manual. TSR. p. 384. ISBN 978-1-56076-619-3.
  4. ^ Masters, Phil. "Fiend Factory: Inhuman Gods, Deities for Non-Human Races: Part I" White Dwarf #39 (Games Workshop, 1983)
  5. ^ Mentzer, Frank. Needle (TSR, 1987)
  6. ^ Cook, David "Zeb", Jon Pickens, Steve Winter, et al. Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (TSR, 1989)
  7. ^ Stewart, Doug, ed. Monstrous Manual (TSR, 1993)
  8. ^ Sargent, Carl. Monster Mythology (TSR, 1992)
  9. ^ Slavicsek, Bill. The Complete Book of Humanoids (TSR, 1993)
  10. ^ Niles, Douglas and Dale A. Donovan. Player's Option: Skills & Powers (TSR, 1995)
  11. ^ Wyatt, James and Rob Heinsoo. Monstrous Compendium: Monsters of Faerûn (Wizards of the Coast, 2001)
  12. ^ Mearls, Mike, Jeremy Crawford. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2014)
  13. ^ Dungeons & Dragons (TV-Series). USA: Marvel Productions. 1983.
  • Living Greyhawk Journal #2 (2000) (Bullywug Savant)