Tactics of Saltmarsh: Bullywug Croakers and Royals

This is the start of a series of articles where I’ll analyze the tactics used by monsters in the Dungeons and Dragons adventure Ghosts of Saltmarsh. Today, we will get started by analyzing the bullywug variants: the croaker and the royal.

Bullywugs in Ghosts of Saltmarsh appear only in random encounter tables and an ambush in Danger at Dunwater that isn’t really relevant to the plot. In general, these bullywugs will follow the same strategy as described in the Bullywug Tactics article on themonstersknow.com: waiting in ambush to gain a surprise round, then fleeing when reduced to 4hp. This article will focus on how Croakers and Royals fit in with this overall strategy, so if you want more detail on how ordinary bullywugs will act, I suggest checking out themonstersknow.com’s article.

Bullywug Croakers are the bullywug equivalent of bards or tribal shamans. They don’t have multiattack like ordinary bullywugs, but have three times as many hit points as well as magical songs.

Rooooo-glog gives 10 temporary hitpoints to every bullywug within 30 feet of the Croaker, which almost doubles the staying power of an ordinary bullywug. Since Rooooo-glog has no listed duration, these temporary hitpoints could potentially last until the end of each bullywug’s next long rest. Due to this long duration, it makes the most tactical sense for a croaker to sing this song before the bullywugs set their ambush so they all have temporary hitpoints the moment combat starts. The one exception to this rule is if there’s competition between the bullywugs, like in the Danger at Dunwater ambush. In that case, the Croaker will wait until its rivals have been defeated to avoid giving them extra help (In the Danger at Dunwater ambush, this translates to singing Rooooo-glog between the first and second waves).

Glaaar-pat deals psychic damage to all enemies within 30 feet of the Croaker. Based on the area of effect table on page 249 of the DM’s Guide, you can expect this song to affect about 6 creatures. The Croaker will sing Glaaar-pat when it can affect 6 (or all) of its enemies. On the rounds a Croaker isn’t singing a song, it will attack enemies with its spear.

A bullywug force lead by a Croaker still prefers to only attack when they outnumber their enemies, preferably by at least 50% (The Danger at Dunwater ambush is an exception because their King is right there egging them on). In general, a Croaker-lead force will retreat when they and their enemies have equal numbers. Croakers flee when reduced to 13 hit points (40% of their hit point maximum)

Bullywug Royals lead bullywug raiding parties. They have nearly 5 times as many hit points as a regular bullywug and deal significantly more damage with their spear. On top of that, a Royal mounted on a giant toad has advantage on all its attacks!

Based on the Bullywug flavor text in the Monster Manual, Bullywug leaders such as Royals tend to have inferiority complexes. Because of this, they’ll attack at the head of their forces and go for the toughest looking enemy to try and show how powerful they are. If possible, they’ll land within melee range of TWO enemies, ordering their toad to eat the weaker one while they take on the stronger.

The last unique feature that Bullywug Royals have is Croaked Decree, which gives each of its bullywug allies advantage on its next attack roll. In order to make this action worth it, giving other bullywugs advantage needs to increase their expected damage by more than the Royal would deal with a multiattack. Because of this, a Royal will only use this action when it has at least 8 bullywug allies (this calculation assumes that the Royal’s allies use the ordinary bullywug statblock and are fighting opponents with AC 15).

When lead by a Royal, bullywugs will attack any enemy that doesn’t outnumber them. They’ll flee either when the Royal is reduced to 20hp(40% of its hit point maximum), the Royal’s toad dies, or half their forces have been defeated (In situations like the Danger at Dunwater ambush where bullywugs are watching their Royal fight, they’ll jump in if its reduced to 20hp or its toad dies).

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