Ramenos the Great Frog

One of my favorite tactics as a DM is to surprise players with creatures that are normally weak and pretty much push-overs, like kobolds, by tossing in some that have classes or skills the PCs aren’t used to seeing. However, you can only use kobolds so many times before the PCs begin to expect it.  So you need to mix it up, and this latest entry to my Monster Mythology update project allows just that, with bullywugs.  I had a lot of fun creating the spells for Ramenos’s priests, and it gave me an opportunity to cite one of my favorite monsters. If anyone uses the specialty priest in this write-up, let me know!  I’d like to hear about the PCs’ reaction.  :D

It’s a lot of fun dropping in Spelljammer references and adventure hooks, too.

Ramenos (PDF Version)
(The Great Frog, the Sleeping Frog, the Intoxicated One)
Lesser Power of the Abyss, CE

Portfolio:  Somnolence, intoxication, pleasure, decay
Aliases:  None
Domain Name:  74th Layer of the Abyss/Smaragd
Superior:  None
Allies:  Merrshaulk
Foes:  None
Symbol:  Crouching frog
Wor. Align.:  N, CN, NE, CE

Ramenos (RAH-men-os) is the ancient frog god of the bullywugs. The Great Frog is in a slow decline, spending much of his time in a blissful, intoxicated slumber in the Abyssal realm he shares with Merrshaulk, god of the yuan-ti. In times long past, he was an active deity, worshipped by ancient amphibian humanoids who have long since gone extinct. It may be that the bullywugs are all that remains of this ancient and powerful race, now degenerated into barbarism.

There has been a slight change in his demeanor in recent years, however. He was jolted awake during the Godswar in Realmspace, and realized he had to make some changes to his following in order to continue his somnolent bliss without fading to nothingness. It was at this time that he instructed a few far flung tribes of his bullywugs on the means of creating and maintaining an actual priesthood; his goal being to create a stronger, self-sustaining following so he can continue his existence for perpetuity.

If Ramenos was ever a part of any pantheon, no evidence of it remains. The ruins of his temples shed little light on the subject, either, as no idols to any other gods have been discovered within their confines. His only true ally is Merrshaulk, who is in a similar state of sleep and decline in Smaragd. The similarity of their current states and nearness of their divine essences has lead many a sage to speculate they are somehow related; the couatl, who know much about the various primordial deities, scoff at this idea, however. Even when roused, the Intoxicated One shows no great desire for combat or conquest, and has no outright enemies besides those who oppose evil powers on principle. He does not seem to have taken any notice yet of the Oerthian demipower Wastri, the Suloise god of amphibians, who has become the patron of many of that world’s bullywugs. However, with his outlook, it is entirely possible he is simply ignoring the situationHis inaction on the matter could just be due to his intoxicated slumber, however.

Bullywug mythology has little to say about their bizarre patron. Even their simplistic creation stories do not mention him. Sages have often speculated about this oddity, with many believing the bullywugs adopted Ramenos sometime after they first appeared due to their similar natures. Others point out that ancient humanoid amphibians worshipped him, so it only makes sense their degenerate kin would as well. The only known myths involving the Great Frog use him as a prime example of what to strive for; that slumbering intoxicated bliss is the ideal state all bullywugs should wish to achieve for themselves.

In his current state, Ramenos is unlikely to send an avatar to the Prime Material. Only specific rituals performed at one of his ancient temples or one containing a gate is likely to rouse him enough to send one out.

Ramenos’s Avatar (Fighter 26, Wizard 16, Priest 16)
Ramenos appears as a huge, bloated, olive green frog with a 10-foot wide mouth. He exclusively uses wizard spells from the invocation/evocation school and priest spells from the spheres of all, animal, combat, divination, elemental air, elemental earth, elemental water, healing, plant, summoning, sun, and weather.

AC 2; MV 9; HP 159; THAC0 −5; #AT 1 (2)
Dmg 2d10 (bite)
MR 45%; SZ H (20 feet)
Str 16, Dex 10, Con 16, Int 12, Wis 16, Cha 18
Spells P: 9/9/7/6/4/3/1, W: 5/5/5/5/5/3/2/1
Saves PPDM 3; RSW 5; PP 4; BW 4; Sp 6

Special Att/Def: Ramenos attacks once per round by biting. This attack causes 2d10 points of damage, and he can swallow whole a creature of up to size M on a successful hit roll of 16+. Any creature swallowed suffers 3d4 points of acid damage each round from digestion. The Great Frog’s internal AC is 4, and only piercing weapons can be used against the inner wall of his stomach. Once every other round, he can leap forward 15 feet, gaining a +2 bonus on all to hit rolls; when he does so, he can squash up to three size M or one size L opponent within a 15-foot radius for 4d6 points of damage. Once per turn, the Great Frog can belch out a 20-foot-radius cloud of intoxicant gas, to a range of 50 feet. Those within the cloud lose 4 points each from Strength and Wisdom for 1d10 + 10 rounds unless they successfully make a save versus poison.

Ramenos is immune to illusion/phantasm spells, and can only be hit by magical weapons.

Other Manifestations
Ramenos almost never manifests to his priests in any way; he considers the granting of spells and powers to be more than enough. Only through great rituals or magical gates is he ever likely to manifest or send an avatar.

Ramenos is served by amphi dragons, blindheims, bullywugs, catoblepas, froghemoths, grippli, grung, hezrou tanar’ri, hydroloths, and slaadi of all kinds. His few followers and servitor creatures tend to stay near him, feeding sacrifices of plant alkaloids and creatures who wander into his realm into his great, gaping maw.

The Church
Clergy:                      Clerics, specialty priests, shamans
Clergy’s Align.:      CN, NE, CE
Turn Undead:           C: No, SP: No, Sha: No
Cmnd. Undead:         C: No, SP: No, Sha: No

All clerics (including multiclassed fighter/clerics), specialty priests, and shamans of Ramenos receive religion (Ramenos) as a bonus nonweapon proficiency.

The Great Frog’s church is generally scorned by most non-amphibious creatures, although he is not well known to those with little contact with bullywugs. Those outsiders who do know of him consider him a disgusting beast of a god, although relatively inoffensive when compared to those evil gods that seek to expand their influence. The greatest threat his church poses is to the environment around his followers, as they show little respect for other creatures or the balance of nature and frequently overhunt their territories.

No new temples dedicated to Ramenos have been built in hundreds or thousands of years. Modern followers of the Great Frog utilize the great ruined temples built by more advanced amphibian ancestors or simple shrines of their own creation. Ancient temple ruins are always large, sprawling affairs made of stone, and usually located in very remote places, particularly in swamps, jungles, and high plateaus. They are dominated by a great idol to Ramenos in the shape of a giant, bloated frog with an open, gaping mouth, ready to receive sacrifices. Any bullywug tribe that discovers such a temple will quickly move in and set up permanent residence. There is also a fair likelihood that such an old temple site will contain a gate to Smaragd, openable with certain long-lost rituals; queries to the Intoxicated One have, on occasion, revealed what such rites entail. Tribal shrines to the Sleeping Frog are simplistic affairs, decorated with crude idols and offerings.

As the organized priesthood of Ramenos is relatively new and still very small, there are no specific terms for novices and full priests. There is no hierarchy amongst the priests either, as tribes of advanced bullywugs have so little contact with each other, there has been no need. Specialty priests are known as intoxicants. The vast majority of the Great Frog’s clergy are standard bullywugs (75%), which never become anything other than shamans. The rest of the clergy is composed of advanced bullywugs (20%), grippli (2%), grung (2%), and other amphibian and reptilian races, such as advanced blindheims and firenewts (1%). Females are virtually never allowed into the clergy, so it would be exceptionally rare to encounter one. Shamans make up the overwhelming majority of the clergy (92%), with clerics (6%) and intoxicants (2%) being very new developments amongst the Great Frog’s following.

Dogma: The bliss of an intoxicated slumber is the highest state of being. Make others do your work for you, so you can spend more time in intoxicated bliss.

Day-to-Day Activities: Shamans of the Sleeping Frog do not have a great deal of power amongst their people, and are only slightly better off than the warriors of the tribe. They act as advisors to the chieftains, who they are often related to them. They do the bidding of the chief, and are expected to fight as well as any other member of the tribe. Clerics and intoxicants are somewhat better off, having greater power and influence amongst the tribe, but they are still subservient to the chieftain and expected to fight well. All priests must regularly become intoxicated on plant and fungal alkaloids, such as opiates and those found in morning glories and fly agaric mushrooms. These alkaloids are either ingested raw or brewed or fermented into a tea or simple spirit. The pleasurable intoxicating effects are a required component of many rites and ceremonies of Ramenos.

Important Ceremonies/Holy Days: Whatever ancient ceremonies and holy days were celebrated by the ancestors of the bullywugs have been long forgotten. Today, no two bullywug tribes share holy days or major ceremonies; in fact, most have no specific recurring ceremonies at all. Feasts dedicated to their god are usually thrown to celebrate a great victory over a rival tribe of bullywugs or lizard men, and such events are almost always performed at the whim of the tribal chieftain rather than the shaman. Tribes of advanced bullywugs with clerics or intoxicants have recently started celebrating the revelation that led to more advanced priesthoods, however. These events take place on the summer solstice and consist of great feasting and ingesting of alkaloid intoxicating agents, culminating with the sacrifice of as many prisoners as they can capture beforehand.

Major Centers of Worship: Known temples to Ramenos are few and far between, although many existed in times long past. One such temple was known to exist on the world of Borka in Greyspace before its destruction at the hands of the elves during the first Unhuman War; whether it survived intact and if any of the advanced bullywugs that made a home there still live is currently unknown. There are two known temple sites near the nation of Cormyr on the world of Toril. They are located within the Vast Swamp and the Farsea Marshes, although the latter no longer has bullywugs inhabiting it. The temple located deep within the Vast Swamp has a sizable population of advanced bullywugs, and is believed to be the location that Ramenos appeared at during the Godswar on Toril; it may also be that this tribe was the first to form a dedicated priesthood.

The tribe who used to live at the temple in the Farsea Marshes ambushed a lizard man Bloatfly spelljamming vessel that was landing to resupply; they now use the captured vessel to explore Realmspace and look for likely places to leave colony populations. They are likely to attempt to capture any other Bloatfly class vessels they find as well, since they make ideal wildspace-based breeding grounds. Whether any other bullywugs will move into the temple grounds they left behind is yet to be seen.

Affiliated Orders: There are currently no martial orders within the church of Ramenos, and the disposition of the bullywug race makes it unlikely any will appear in the future.

Priestly Vestments: Shamans of the Great Frog wear garish decorations and trophies taken from defeated enemies, and they tend to paint their faces with a type of mud-paint made of plant extracts mixed with especially thick, sticky mud. Also, if they can get them, they wear robes stolen from priests of other gods. Their holy symbols are either carved wood or stone, and in extremely rare cases, cast from copper that is stolen or traded for from outside merchants. These copper holy symbols are a very recent appearance, and closely associated with the advent of clerics and intoxicants.

Adventuring Garb: Priests and shamans, when joining battle or not performing a ceremony or ritual, are nearly indistinguishable from other bullywugs. The only real distinguishing feature is their holy symbol. They attempt to get any weapons and armor they can scavenge, preferring small shields, short swords, spears, and javelins, and will create makeshift body armor from scraps of metal, armor, and utensils made by more advanced civilizations.

Specialty Priests (Intoxicants)
Requirements:          Wisdom 9
Prime Req.:                Wisdom
Alignment:                CE
Weapons:                   Any
Armor:                       Any
Major Spheres:         All, animal, elemental earth, elemental water, healing, plant, summoning, sun, weather
Minor Spheres:         Combat, divination, elemental air
Magical Items:         Same as clerics
Req. Profs:                Drinking (PHBR10), eating (PHBR10), survival (swamp), or weather sense (pick one)
Bonus Profs:             Brewing

  • Intoxicants must be advanced bullywugs.
  • Intoxicants may not be multi-classed.
  • When casting any summoning spell, intoxicants summon 50% more creatures, but there is a 25% chance they will all be free willed.
  • When under the influence of a plant or fungal alkaloid, intoxicants gain a +1 bonus to hit, damage, initiative, and casting times (to a minimum of 1), but suffer a −2 penalty to AC and all saving throws.
  • Intoxicants can cast water sprint (as the 1st-level priest spell) once per day.
  • At 2nd level, intoxicants can cast entangle (as the 1st-level priest spell) once per day.
  • At 3rd level, intoxicants can cast poison tongue (as the 2nd-level priest spell) once per day.
  • At 5th level, intoxicants can cast monster summoning I (as the 3rd-level wizard spell) once per week.
  • At 7th level, intoxicants can pray for wizard spells from the school of Elemental Water, up to 3rd level, as if they were priest spells of the same level. They cast these spells as if they were a wizard of half their current level, rounded up.
  • At 11th level, intoxicants can cast call froghemoth (as the 7th level priest spell) once per month. They must abide by the casting time and material components of the spell, however.

Ramenosan Spells
In addition to the spells listed below, priests of the Frog God may cast the 1st-level priest spells precipitation, detailed in Faiths & Avatars in the entry for Istishia, and water sprint, detailed in Powers & Pantheons in the entry for Sebek, the 2nd-level priest spell disentangle, detailed in Demihuman Deities in the entry for Thard Harr, and the 4th-level priest spell animal sight, detailed in Faiths & Avatars in the entry for Malar.

2nd Level
Poison Tongue (Pr 2; Alteration, Necromancy)
Sphere:                    Combat, Necromantic
Range:                     0
Components:           V, S
Duration:                 Special
Casting Time:          5
Area of Effect:         1 creature
Saving Throw:        Neg.

This spell creates a flickering sickly green radiance around the caster’s tongue. Within 5 rounds of casting poison tongue, the priest must touch a chosen creature, or the magic fades and is wasted. A successful attack roll is required to touch the creature. Such a touch must be made to any part of a creature not protected by metallic armor; bullywugs and other frog-like amphibians are skilled enough to be able to make such an attack with no penalty unless the creature is wearing banded mail or better, or scale mail. If a creature is wearing one of those armor types, the attack is made with a −2 penalty. Once a touch is successfully made, the green light flashes once and is gone, and the creature must make a saving throw vs. spell.

The onset time of the poison is 1d4 rounds. If the saving throw succeeds, the creature suffers 1d4 points of damage and must spend one round vomiting and retching, after which they may function normally. If the saving throw fails, the creature suffers 3d4 points of damage and falls into a death-like coma for 2d6 turns. Only upon a close examination by someone with the healing or similar proficiency will reveal that they are in fact alive. At the expiration of the effects, the creature will revive, but be very groggy and disoriented for one turn; they will suffer a −4 on any attack rolls or skill checks, lose any dexterity bonuses, and move at half their movement rate.

Until the spell has been discharged, the caster speaks with a noticeable slur and all casting times for spells with vocal components are increased by 2. A priest cannot cast a spell with a vocal component in the same round as discharging the poison tongue, but can cast a spell that does not contain a vocal component or make a normal attack.

Priests of Ramenos typically use this spell to incapacitate creatures they wish to take prisoner, usually as a sacrifice to their god.

4th Level
Twigs to Toads (Pr 4; Alteration)
Sphere:                    Animal, Plant
Range:                     30 yds.
Components:           V, S, M
Duration:                 2 rds./level
Casting Time:          7
Area of Effect:         1d4 object + 1 object/level in a 10-ft. cube
Saving Throw:        None

This spell’s name is something of a misnomer, as it can create either frogs or toads, and the objects it changes are actually stones or chunks of wood, rather than twigs or sticks. The caster can change 1d4 objects, plus one stick or stone per experience level, into large frogs or toads; thus a 9th-level priest can change 10-13 objects into an equal number of amphibians. These frogs and toads attack as commanded by the priest. The stone or wood objects that can be turned into toads must be no larger than one cubic foot and no smaller than the size of a fist, and they must be unworked. Objects held by creatures are allowed a save vs. polymorph equal to that of the possessor.

The types of frogs and toads created varies, but a typical specimen has 1−1 Hit Die, Armor Class 8, a movement rate of 6 (swim 12, hop 12), and bites for 1d2 points of damage. There is a 10% chance per caster level (to a maximum of 80% at 8th level) that any individual amphibian will be mildly poisonous (type K), and a 2% chance per caster level that they will be deadly poisonous (type F). For example, at 7th level, any result between 1 and 14 indicates it is a deadly poisonous amphibian and a result between 15 and 70 indicates it is mildly poisonous. The spell lasts for two rounds for each level of the spellcaster; at the end of the duration, all living and dead frogs and toads revert to their original form.

The material components of the spell are a small pebble, a bit of bark, and a frog leg.

Call Marshland Beings (Pr 4; Conjuration/Summoning)
Sphere:                    Animal
Range:                     100 yds./level
Components:           V, S, M
Duration:                 Special
Casting Time:          Special
Area of Effect:         Special
Saving Throw:        Neg.

By means of this spell, the caster is able to summon certain creatures native to swamps and marshes to his location. Naturally, this spell works only outdoors, but not necessarily only in swampland. The caster begins the incantation and continues uninterrupted until some called creature appears or two turns have elapsed. (The verbalization and somatic gesturing are easy, so this is not particularly exhausting to the spellcaster.) Only one type of the following sorts of beings can be summoned by the spell. They come only if they are within range of the call.

The caster can call three times, for a different type each time. Once a call is successful, no other type can be called without another casting of the spell. (The DM consults his outdoor map or bases the chance of any such creature being within spell range upon the nature of the area the caster is in at the time of spellcasting.)

The creature(s) called by the spell are allowed a saving throw vs. spell with a −4 penalty to avoid the summons. Any marshland beings answering the call are favorably disposed to the spellcaster and give whatever aid they can. However, if the caller or members of the caller’s party are of good alignment, the creatures are allowed another saving throw vs. spell, this time with a +4 bonus, when they come within 10 yards of the caster or a good individual with him. These beings immediately seek to escape if their saving throws are successful. In any event, if the caster requests that the summoned creatures engage in combat on his behalf, they are required to roll a loyalty reaction check based on the caster’s Charisma and whatever dealings he has had with them.

This spell works with respect to neutral or evil marsh creatures, as determined by the DM. Thus the DM can freely add to or alter the list as he sees fit.

If the caster personally knows a certain individual marshland being, that being can be summoned at double the normal range. If this is done, no other marshland creatures are affected.

If a percentage chance is given in the accompanying table, bullywugs and lizard men add 1% per caster level. These chances can be used if no other campaign information on the area is available.

The material components of this spell are three scales or legs from three different reptilian, amphibian, or piscine species.

Creature

Type of Marshland

Type Called

Light

Moderate

Dense

3d8 muckdwellers

30%

20%

10%

2d6 bullywugs or grung

20%

30%

5%

2d4 lizard men

20%

30%

5%

1d4 meazels

5%

10%

5%

1d2 trolls

15%

10%

5%

1 shambling mound

1%

10%

20%

1 marl

0%

1%

5%

1 fog giant

0%

5%

10%

1 black dragon (age
category 1d4+2)

10%

20%

7th Level
Call Froghemoth (Pr 7; Conjuration/Summoning)
Sphere:                    Animal, Summoning
Range:                     10 yds.
Components:           V, S, M
Duration:                 1 rd./3 levels
Casting Time:          1 rd.
Area of Effect:         Special
Saving Throw:        None

This spell allows a caster to summon the swamp terror known as a froghemoth to aid them in battle. The caster must start the casting of the spell by hurling 3 pounds of fresh meat (the material component) into a deep pool of water, which is the spot from which the froghemoth will appear. Any sort of meat from any creature will do, as the froghemoth is an indiscriminate eater. It will appear on the round following the completion of the casting.

Upon arrival, the caster can direct the froghemoth to attack a target or targets of his choice. The froghemoth will continue to attack those creatures at the exclusion of all others until they are dead or the caster indicates new targets. If the caster does not indicate any targets, or if the froghemoth slays all of its current targets and is not given new ones, it will begin attacking anything near it indiscriminately. At the expiration of the spell, the beast stays in the area, but no longer accepts directives from the caster and will attack anything alive nearby. As such, this spell is typically used as a diversionary tactic to allow the caster and his party to flee the area.

If this spell has been cast in the area within a ten mile area within the last month, there is a cumulative 10% chance per casting that the froghemoth will be able to resist the call.

 Froghemoth: AC 4 (tentacles 2, tongue 6); MV 4, Sw 8; HD 16; #AT 1 or 4; THAC0 5; Dmg 5d10 (bite), 4 × 1d4+4 (tentacles); SA swallow (on natural 19 or 20 when attacking with tongue, 4d4 dmg/rd. in stomach), constriction (tentacles); SD immune to fire, 1hp/die from electricity (slows for 1 rd.), half damage from blunt weapons; AL N; SZ H (18′ tall); ML 19; XP 21,000; MC Annual Vol.II, p.59.

One Response to Ramenos the Great Frog

  1. lensman says:

    Here is what was told to a player by a Bullywug when asked to ” Tell me more of Ramenos, so I can hunt properly in his glory,”

    The answer was inspired by all the material above and a minor idea from one other site.

    “You know the World was Drowned, in the Beginning. Not but the sweet Waters of Creation. Upon the Waters grew the Great Lilypads and the Flowers of Night.

    All was Still until the First Tide. The First Tide deposited the Bullywug upon the Lilypad and it uttered the Croaking. The Bullywug multiplied and fed upon the Flowers of Night and from the First Stool, Behold, Phyllospadix grew and Zostera .

    Soon all Hibiscus moscheutos bloomed and from them sprung the Dragonfly, that shook its wings and birthed Flies, Gnats, Gits and Grig.

    Bullywug cared for the World until the Receding. The Waters were separated and Mud and Clay bubbled up, forming the Great Clotting. From the Mud Ggorulluzg. The First Brood soon hatched, from it came Froghemoths, Grippli, Grung, Hezrou tanar’ri, Hydroloths. All Bathed in the Waters and ate of the Lily, until….

    The blistering Flame came and with it the end of the First Night, we Bullywug mourn the ending of the night and celebrate the coming of Night, to this day.

    The Peace, the Still, the Beauty that was, is Ramenos, Keeper of Bliss, Euphoria First God of the Waters. Praise Be to the Sleeping Frog.”

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