Copyright 2008 Wizards of the Coast

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Slaads show up in the AD&D 2nd Edition Monster Manual (though they might have appeared earlier in a supplement for 1e). In Fourth Edition, they are only on the Monster Manual.

The Lore

Slaads are froggy-looking monsters who inhabit the Elemental Chaos and whose psychology can be summed up as “LOL, so random”. Their grip on reality, both mental and physical, is very tenuous. Your typical Slaad makes the Mad Hatter look quite centered, and any relationship between what it says to you and what’s actually happening tends to be coincidental. Not that most people get a chance to talk to them - most of their interactions with other beings are violent.

The main reason everyone hates them, though, is that they reproduce by sinking their ovopositor claws into people and injecting them with eggs, which hatch explosively in a few days to produce a “tadpole” the size of a large dog. That tadpole, in turn, takes another handful of days to grow into an adult. In true slaad fashion, the sub-type of the new individual is random and has no relation to the sub-type of its parent. Having a slaad egg implanted in you is treated as a disease called Chaos Phage by the rules.

Slaads were Chaotic Neutral in the old alignment system and 3e in particular made a big deal out of saying they were an expression of “pure chaos untainted by morality”. The distinction between that and Chaotic Evil turned out to be largely academic, though, so in 4e’s alignment system all slaads are Chaotic Evil. They’re not out for omniversal destruction like demons are, but “fuck shit up for shits and giggles” fits both their usual MO and the description of Chaotic Evil.

There’s a bit in Secrets of the Plane Below about how slaads used to be both more protean and mentally stable back in Olden Times, but a couple of particularly powerful slaads broke their metaphysics to ensure they would remain at the top of the heap. That’s why they all look like humanoid frogs, and why they are color-coded for your convenience despite being “the most chaotic” creatures.

The Numbers

Most Slaads are Medium Elemental Humanoids. They have low-light vision, a land speed of 6, and a variable teleport speed. They’re also immune to Chaos Phage, just to underscore that they need to infect non-slaads to reproduce.

Every slaad has a basic claw attack that does damage as normal for the monster and triggers a secondary attack vs. Fortitude on a hit. If the secondary attack hits, the victim is infected with Chaos Phage. Other attacks and powers vary with the type of slaad.

Chaos Phage is a nasty level 16 disease, with an Improve DC of 25 and a Maintain DC of 20. Stage 1 has no visible symptoms, but there’s a slaad egg inside you now. Stage 2 inflicts a -2 penalty to Will and makes you go berserk while bloodied, forcing you to always attack the closest living creature (ally or enemy). Stage 3 is death as a slad tadpole rips you open and crawls out.

Slaad Tadpole

Tadpoles are Small, which means they’re the size of a large dog or a halfling. They’re Level 5 Lurkers with 44 HP, and are more interested in running and growing up than in fighting. They have a weak bite that makes them insubstantial for a turn when it hits, and they can shift 2 squares as an interrupt when attacked in melee.

Tadpoles are suitable for use in an heroic-tier adventure where the goal is to prevent them from growing into adult slaads.

Grey Slaad

Also known as Rift Slaads, these used to be among the most powerful in their ladder, but have been somewhat demoted. They’re Level 13 Skirmishers with 128 HP, a teleport speed of 4, and all common slaad traits.

Rift slaads mostly fight with their claws, and back them up with space-bending defensive powers. Once per encounter they can Induce Planar Instability (Close Burst 3 vs. Will), which does a little damage, slides the targets 3 squares, and knocks them prone. When they’re hit with an attack that causes a condition (like slowed, dazed, and so on), they can use Condition Transfer as an interrupt to make the condition affect someone else instead. This counts as a Ranged 5 attack vs. the Fortitude of the chosen target.

When they’re first bloodied, rift slaads cause a Planar Flux that teleports them 8 squares and turns them insubstantial for a turn.

Red Slaad

Also know as Blood Slaads, these are straightforward bruiser types. They’re Level 15 Soldiers with 146 HP and all common slaad traits. Their land speed is 8, and their teleport speed 4. They have a second basic attack in the form of a bite that does a bit more damage than the claws but doesn’t inject any eggs.

Their main special technique is the Leaping Pounce (recharge 5-6) which allows them to shift 4 squares and make two claw attacks against 1 or 2 enemies. If any of them hit, the target is marked for a turn. This is the only way they have to mark enemies.

Once per encounter a blood slaad can produce a Horrid Croak (close blast 5 vs. Fortitude) that does no damage but immobilizes its targets for a turn on a hit.

Blue Slaad

Also known as Talon Slaads, they’re notable for having Wolverine-like bone claws sprouting from their hands. Talon Slaads are Level 17 Brutes with 200 HP. Their teleport speed is 2.

Their big talons transmit the Chaos Phage as usual, and can also be used to fling victims willy-nilly. This is a bit weaker than the basic attack but slides the target 2 squares and knocks it prone on a hit.

Once it’s bloodied, the talon slaad gains access to Ravager’s Fury (close burst 2 vs. AC; encounter), an attack that gives it 20 temporary HP if it hits anyone.

Green Slaad

Also known as Curse Slaads, they’re the brains of the family with Int 15 where the others have 9 or 11. A curse slaad is a Level 18 Controller with 173 HP. It’s teleport speed is 6, equal to its normal movement, so it has no reason to walk anywhere.

Aside from the usual claws, they can shoot Chaos Bolts as a ranged basic attack vs. Will, which do untyped damage and daze for a turn. Occasionally they can use Transpose Target (Ranged 10 vs. Reflex; recharge 6) to do some damage and teleport a target 10 squares to somewhere it can see. And once per encounter it can use a Croak of Chaos (close burst 4 vs. Fortitude) to do damage over an area and slide the targets 4 squares, rearranging most of the battlefield.

Green Slaads were also the most “wizardly” of the bunch, so they could very well know all sorts of weird rituals and non-combat magic.

Black Slaads

When your run-of-the-chaotic-mill slaad gets infected by the energies of the Abyss, you get one of these. Also known as Void Slaads, they lose the ability to reproduce but gain all sorts of entropy-based powers and a more active malevolence than that of their lesser kin. A lot of their attacks are energy-based or infused, but since that energy is pure entropy their damage is untyped.

Void Slaads are Level 20 Skirmishers with 191 HP. They’re Large, immune to all disease (not just Chaos Phage) and insubstantial. They run at speed 6 and teleport at speed 3. They retain their standard low-light vision.

A void slaad’s Claws don’t lay eggs. Instead, in addition to their standard damage they do 10 ongoing damage (save ends). Each failed save eats a healing surge in addition to prolonging the damage! Perhaps they implant miniature black holes instead of eggs.

They attack at range with Rays of Entropy (ranged 20 vs. Reflex), which damage and surround the target with an entropic shroud (save ends). While the shroud is active, the target takes extra damage from all attacks that hit it!

When a void slaad dies, it explodes into a Zone of Obivion (close burst 2 vs. Reflex) that damages everything in its area. It persists until the end of the encounter, blocking line of sight and dealing the same damage as the initial attack to everything that enters it.

Sample Encounters and Final Impressions

Most slaad encounters are slaad-only, but sometimes they’ll ally themselves with other creatures for some mysterious reason. The sample MM encounters present two such situations:

  • Level 15: 2 gray slaads, 2 red slaads, and a destrachan far voice.

  • Level 19: 1 black slaad, 2 rockfire dreadnoughts, a fire giant forgecaller, and 2 firebred hellhounds.

I kinda like these guys, and I like that they’re Chaotic Evil in 4e. I never bought that story about how they’re some pure manifestation of Chaotic Neutral even though most of what they do is kill people and lay eggs in their chest cavities, not necessarily in that order.