Whether it is a boggy marsh, the leaky deck of a log raft, or a humid jungle teeming with life, the open air calls to grippli; they long for a life unfettered by the bonds and boundaries of civilization.

Damp and Colorful

As a species, grippli look like nothing so much as bipedal frogs in humanoid form. Grippli’s skin showcases a wide variety of hues based largely on their subtype. Bog born grippli tend to have varying shades of green on their back and head, often with small black or brown speckles or spots, with chests and abdomens of lighter green or brown. Lake strider males often have blue skin with large black patches on their back and head, and light grey chests and abdomens; females of this subtype tend to have more uniform green skins though their tint ranges from emerald to olive. Patternback grippli have the widest variety in coloration; their skin is often brilliantly tinted in crimson, orange, yellow, cerulean, or violet and the different color patches form near symmetrical patterns on their head and back with a uniform color on their chest and abdomen.

Grippli fashion is practical and form-fitting so as to not get in the way should quickness and accuracy be necessary. They favor pockets, belt pouches and bandoliers, which allow them to keep small necessary items and prized trinkets close to hand.

Hard Working, Fun-loving

On the whole, grippli are full of positivity. In their day to day lives, they relish friendly competition, often turning their chores into games and awarding the best or fastest member with small prizes such as carved wooden animals, colorful stones, or pretty bits of eroded glass.

Industriousness is expected in grippli tribes. Families pass along the secrets and methods of their various trades to their young, though children who show no aptitude for their parents’ craft are not forced into a role they are unsuited to; rather the child will be schooled by other families in other trades until a suitable profession is discovered.

Grippli are not territorial; they relish coming into contact with other tribes and delight in sharing prime camping locations where tales can be shared over meals. The instance of three or more tribes of grippli encountering each other is truly cause for celebration; the tribes will spend a week or more together engaging in athletic competitions, feasting, taletelling, and reveling. These impromptu celebrations are often the catalyst for young grippli to break away from their birth tribes and form a new tribe with a young female who has come of age as the matriarch.

Nomadic Hunters

Grippli are a nomadic people, traveling from place to place in small family-oriented tribes of 25 to 40 individuals; they rarely spend more than a season in a location before moving on to see what lies ahead. Portability is paramount to these traveling folk, so they bring nothing with them that cannot be carried on their backs.

Open And Accommodating

Grippli have a reputation as being affable, and indeed they are generally honest and respectful to those they encounter. Other races say this is because of their small stature and rather alien appearance; the grippli themselves say that it is due to their ancient wisdom, as their lore states that the first amphibians dragged themselves from the primordial waters eons before the first mammals appeared.

  • Gnomes. “You need to be careful around gnomes. They mean well, but they are tricksome folk who sometimes ignore common sense in order to get a big response from their audience. Make no mistake though, they are the finest tinkers in any land. I once saw a pair of them that had built a boat that could row itself!”
  • Halflings. “Halflings are as close to a grippli as a mammal can get. Do you remember the jamboree we had when we came together with the Everstump and West Barrow tribes? And then the halfling peddlers showed up! We had never had a five week long celebration before that and haven’t had one since!”
  • Humans. “Humans can be ruthless, but their ability to build civilization, seemingly in any place, is to be respected, though why anyone would want to live in one place is beyond me. I find that if you treat fairly with them, they will do the same to you. But do not, under any circumstance allow them to snicker at you or to call you Frogface or Mister Toad.”

Bog born encampments are comprised of low wigwams made of woven marsh grasses laid over a frame of light yet sturdy wooden poles. Each residence can comfortably sleep up to eight grippli, or triple that number in times of emergency.

Lake striders ply the rivers and lakes constantly; they often find work poling barges of trade goods through the waterways.

It is not uncommon to see trains of barges, rafts, and canoes being guided up and downstream by entire tribes of the frog-like folk. Regardless of inclement weather, lake striders prefer to bunk in the open air, on the deck of their watercraft, or in the soft grass or sand along the riverbank.

Patternback grippli reside in hot, humid climes, often creating temporary tree-top villages out of the living canopy and the cured skins of the reptiles they hunt. In regions with particularly fierce predators, patternbacks team up with other nearby tribes to eliminate the danger to the benefit of all.

Over the Next Horizon

As nomads, grippli possess a natural wanderlust. While it is rare for a grippli to break away from the ways of her people entirely, newly formed tribes often range far and wide to increase their knowledge of the world.

On occasion, a young grippli can’t find a role suited to her abilities. When this occurs, the youngster often abandons her people and their ways and forms a new tribe of a sort. Grippli adventurers tend to maintain the wanderlust that is a hallmark of their people and rarely like to spend more than a few nights sleeping in the same place.


Grippli are named by their parents at the time they make the transition from tadpole to young grippli, called gripplets. The names of notable grippli heroes and legends are favored for their young, though different grippli with the same name will often stress different syllables, making each version sound distinct. Grippli take their family names from prominent features they demonstrate.

With the passage of time family names can be altered substantially, and new grippli matriarchs will often change their family name completely when they break off to form a new tribe. Grippli who turn away from the ways of their people often forgo their family name entirely, preferring to go by their given name alone.

Male Names: Bors, Jome, Kappo, Krebbit, Pol, Reb, Ropo, Trev, Wakka

Female Names: Breat, Dian, Kurran, Leef, Renn, Roppa, Tova

Family Names: Fastclimber, Finesight, Greenback, Longswimmer, Smoothhands, Softbreath, Toughweb

Racial Traits

Though they have adapted to their respective environments, grippli as a species share a number of natural abilities.

  • Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2.
  • Age. By the time grippli reach adulthood, around age 15, they have completed dozens if not hundreds of hours training in their chosen role.
  • Alignment. While grippli love the open road and are driven to see what lies beyond the next hill, their tribal lifestyle requires that individual members know and perform their roles; as such they tend to be lawful. Their friendly personalities lead them to be good more often than not.
  • Size. Grippli are short and lean with wiry, muscular physiques. Adult males generally stand just under 3 feet tall and weigh around 30 pounds; at 6 to 12 inches taller and approximately 10 pounds heavier, females are markedly larger than their male counterparts. Your size is small.
  • Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
  • Amphibious. You can breathe normally on land and underwater.
  • Keen-Eyed Hunter. You have proficiency in Perception and Survival.
  • Leaping Stride. Grippli have developed the ability to make amazing leaps from a standing position. You can long jump a number of feet equal to double your Strength score and are always treated as if you moved at least 10 feet on foot beforehand. You can high jump a number of feet equal to 6 + your Strength modifier without moving beforehand. Grippli cannot jump farther than their remaining movement would allow.
  • Languages. You speak, read, and write Common and Grippli. Grippli is comprised of long croaking vowels and short chirping consonant sounds.
  • Subrace. Through their long evolution, grippli have adapted to live in varied environments. Choose one of the three main subraces: bog born, lake strider, or patternback. There are rumors of other subraces of grippli adapted to harsher environments which exist in small isolated tribes.

Bog Born

Wandering the marshes and wetlands of the world, bog born grippli are rarely encountered in highly populated areas. This subtype has evolved in a manner more in line with their ancestors and retains more of the abilities of their forebears than other types of grippli.

The bog born compete for hunting grounds with bullywugs, for whom their usually good natures evaporate to be replaced with bitter enmity. Skirmishes between tribes of the two peoples are brutal, often leaving entire communities of both in ruin. Currently the matriarchs of seven bog born tribes are conspiring, hoping to attract more tribes to unite together to expunge the loathsome bullywugs from the face of the world entirely.

  • Ability Score Increase. Your Charisma score increases by 1.
  • Darkvision. The grippli forebears were a nocturnal people. You have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
  • Prehensile Tongue. Bog born use their tongues as though they are an extra appendage. As a bonus action you may extend your tongue up to 25 feet to manipulate an object, open an unlocked door or container, stow or retrieve an item from an open container, or pour the contents out of a vial. You may not use your tongue to attack, activate magic items, or carry more than 5 pounds.

Lake Strider

Living and working in and along the waterways of the world, lake striders are the most commonly seen variety of grippli. Like their cousins, these amphibious folk are honest and industrious; merchants and traders that send cargo by river and stream often hire them on as laborers or guides, trusting their expertise will get their cargoes delivered on time.

Lake strider lore tells that, in ages past, the grippli were all one people who resided in an aquatic metropolis located on the floor of one of the world’s great lakes until a Shadow from Within broke the people apart and sent them scattering to the worlds surface to live as nomadic wanderers.

The truth of this is unknown as the tribes of lake striders cannot agree even on the name of their former city or where its ruins lie.

  • Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 1.
  • Superior Swimmer. A lifetime living on the water has made lake striders excellent swimmers. You have a swim speed of 30 feet.
  • Natural Navigator. You always instinctively know which direction is north.
  • Sailor’s Legs. Lake striders are accustomed to moving on and about bobbing watercraft. You have advantage on Dexterity checks and Dexterity saving throws to maintain your footing in adverse conditions.


Patternback grippli are most commonly found traversing the tree cover in lush jungles and tropical rain forests. Having adapted for climbing, the patternbacks spend most of their time traveling in the high branches and can often be found racing the other members of their tribes through the arboreal wonderland.

Though they are generally welcoming and good-natured like most grippli, patternbacks have a rough, almost mocking sense of humor which causes the other types of their species to think of them as savage and cruel. For their part, patternbacks have an abiding appreciation of their bog born kin and a deep respect for the lake striders’ ability to easily travel the worlds waterways.

As deeply spiritual beings, patternbacks venerate a wide variety of familial and nature spirits; most leave a daily offering of meat and fruit to thank their patrons for their protection and benevolence. It is said that some of the wisest patternback matriarchs can distill their own poisonous secretions into an elixir that allows them to speak directly to their patron spirits and question them about matters of concern to the tribe. The veracity of this rumor is unknown, though patternback grippli seem to rarely be beset by ill fortune.

  • Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 1.
  • Tree Climber. Patternbacks spend much of their time in the branches and canopy cover of the rain forest. You have a climb speed of 30 feet.
  • Curare Sweat. The skin of patternback grippli secretes a potent nerve toxin. As an action, you can rub a slashing or piercing weapon or up to three pieces of ammunition against your skin to coat it in poison. A creature hit by your poisoned weapon must make a Constitution saving throw with a DC equal to 8 + your Constitution modifier + your proficiency bonus or its speed is halved, and it is unable to take bonus actions or reactions for 1d4 rounds. The duration of the effect increases to 1d6 rounds at 6th level, 1d8 rounds at 11th level, and 1d10 rounds at 16th level. A creature affected by curare sweat can attempt a new saving throw at the end of each of its turns to end the effect. An application of curare sweat remains toxic for 1 minute or until you strike a creature with your poisoned weapon. A creature that swallows you whole must make the above Constitution saving throw at disadvantage or suffer the effect for double the duration listed above. You are immune to your own poisonous secretions. After using curare sweat, you can’t use it again until you complete a short or long rest.
Section 15: Copyright Notice

Grippli: Playable Amphibians. © 2016, Dire Rugrat Publishing; Authors: Ken Pawlik

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