FrogthulhuWhen I was a kid and just learning to read what my children now call “chapter books,” I spent a lot of time in my local library perusing books in the mythology section. Of particular interest to me were stories from various Native American tribes. This was something I had yet to encounter and I found them both fascinating and horrifying.
The one thing I vividly remember about these books was an illustration of the Spider Woman. Though not necessarily understood to be a monster, this illustration certainly made me think of her as one. Ironically, despite my fascination with this depiction of the Spider Woman, I have never been a big fan of D&D’s Spider Woman — Loth. This is, in part, because of her association with the drow, which I have always found . . . boring.
This is, in part, because my childhood imagination was better than a bunch of dark skinned elves. The Spider Woman (and by extension Loth) imply the horrifying notion that creatures of the insect and arachnid worlds not only look completely alien, they are alien. They are manifestations of forces in the universe intent on destroying humanity — Cthulhu in an exoskeleton, in other words.
I mention this because though there is a (short) list of creatures in the FF that hail from the lower planes, none of them invoke the hostile alien intelligence that my young mind saw in that illustration of the Spider Woman (and later in the writings of HPL). There is, however, one group that can — the grossly underutilized Slaad.
Though their alignment is technically Chaotic Neutral, not only have I argued in the past that there is so little difference between Chaotic Neutral and Chaotic Evil that they might as well be the same, who could argue that the Lord of Entropy and the Lord of the Insane (the Slaadi Lords Ssendam and Ygorl) could easily be seen as despots of the lower planes?
What sets the Slaad apart, however, is that they are basically all frogs. Slaadi do for amphibians what the Spider Woman does (and Loth ought to do) for insects and arachnids. They transform an entire classification of animals into an ancient alien menace determined to wipe out humanity.
This is reinforced by the fact that there are several monsters within the pages of the FF that could easily be qualified as amphibian (and therefore Slaadi minions):
One of the things I really like about this understanding of amphibians is the way it plays with classic tales like the Princess and the Frog. In fact, I do believe there is an adventure in there somewhere . . .