Guide to the Bullywug D&D 5e
I think one of my favorite aspects of D&D is the many creatures that roam the land. We’re not just talking about fantasy beasts, dragons, and monstrous creations though. There are also loads of humanoid species that you can interact with. For me, that’s a level of immersion that takes D&D to the next level.
With a creature, you might get an interesting design and some fun bits about its ecology, but with a humanoid, you get an actual culture to learn about. More than that, you can get history, politics, allies, rivals, gods, and so much more, all on top of unique design and a formidable stat block.
One of my favorite types of humanoid is the simple, yet effective, anthropomorphizing of an animal. Rabbitfolk, leonins, minotaurs (to an extent), or whatever you can think of. It’s just fun to take the characteristics of a creature you’re familiar with and see it developed into a sentient humanoid species with an entire civilization.
Today, we’re talking about one of the most classic animal folk creatures in 5e, the bullywug. We’ll be covering the original 5e stat block from the monster manual along with adaptations and a bit of information for creating a fleshed-out bullywug character. On top of that, we’ll naturally be looking at the culture of these creatures and anything else that needs to be covered.
What are we waiting for? Let’s hop in.
Medium humanoid (bullywug), neutral evil
- AC: 15 (hide armor, shield)
- Hit Points: 11 (2d8 + 2)
- Speed: 20 ft., swim 40 ft.
- STR 12(+1), DEX 12(+1), CON 13(+1), INT 7(-2), WIS 10(+0), CHA 7(-2)
- Skills: Stealth +3
- Senses: Passive Perception 10
- Languages: Bullywug
- Challenge Rating: ¼ (50 XP)
Amphibious. The bullywug can breathe air and water.
Speak with Frogs and Toads. The bullywug can communicate simple concepts to frogs and toads when it speaks in Bullywug.
Swamp Camouflage. The bullywug has advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks made to hide in swampy terrain.
Standing Leap. The bullywug’s long jump is up to 20 feet, and its high jump is up to 10 feet with or without a running start.
Multiattack. The bullywug makes two melee attacks: one with its bite and one with its spear.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 3 (1d4 + 1) bludgeoning damage.
Spear. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d6 + 1) piercing damage, or 5 (1d8+1) piercing damage if used with two hands to make a melee attack.
What Is a Bullywug?
Bullywugs are frog people, amphibious humanoids that live in damp climates. They have stout humanoid figures with a frog’s head and skin that ranges anywhere from green to a muddied yellow. While they aren’t significantly advanced, their ability to overwhelm foes with numbers and crude weapons makes them quite a threat.
Traditionally, bullywugs aren’t a very civilized race in Dungeons and Dragons. They are presented as tribal savages that are universally evil, but that’s really open to interpretation. I like to think of most information on humanoid races as suggestions, taking what works and leaving behind things that oversimplify.
Really, there are two schools of thought here. There are those who just want to have fun killing monsters and dealing with problems as they come up, and there are those who want a bit of moral intrigue brought into their games. Obviously, both of these viewpoints can be taken too far. You shouldn’t be slaughtering villages, nor should DMs make you suffer every time you kill anyone because “they had a kid.”
At the end of the day, it’s a game. Hopefully, you know your table and can decide whether to run bullywugs as generally evil or as more complex.
Either way, we can still talk about some traits that bullywugs exhibit and what kind of culture they have.
Since they mostly live in swamps or swamp-adjacent locales, they tend to be a bit removed from the “more civilized” cultures that might be nearby. They are territorial creatures and will take great pride in capturing anyone who trespasses on their land.
The reason they often capture rather than just kill is so that they can bring a gift to their muck lord, the bullywug that rules as king or queen. These pompous, bloated rulers love gifts, and they love showing off what they have. Rather than seek to punish their captives, they’ll probably just focus on showing off all the trinkets they have, and they might be easily bribed by a bit of gold.
This right here is really the core of bullywug personality and why they’re characterized as evil. Bullywugs are generally greedy, always looking to get an upper hand or that next shiny trinket. For them, it’s all about achieving status.
I mean, this is why most bullywugs send out raiding parties or traps for caravans passing by. Those seeking to achieve a higher rank in society will often do so by bringing the spoils of their raids to their superiors.
Of course, you can always kill your superiors if that’s what floats your boat. This isn’t necessarily the most common since bullywug law frowns on murder. However, it only frowns on unclever murder. If you can devise a contrived scheme to off your boss, go for it.
Therein lies the bullywug cycle. Raid and kidnap to find more trinkets, increase your standing in your tribe, and hope you don’t get murdered along the way. Eventually, you may end up the muck lord yourself and get to enjoy all the splendors of everyone else’s hard work.
Bullywugs probably only really care about one thing, and that’s other frogs. Even then, it isn’t anything near empathy or compassion. Typically, they just seek to gain whatever they can from other amphibious creatures, often enslaving everything from ordinary toads to froghemoths.
This mock compassion just comes from the fact that they can communicate with these creatures. A bit of ribbiting can convince a giant frog that it’s in its best interest to fight alongside a group of bullywugs. It takes significantly more to do the same with a froghemoth, but the concept is the same.
Beyond that, bullywugs will absolutely destroy everything around them. They either aren’t smart enough or don’t care enough, but either way, they completely ignore the effects they have on the environment around them.
Beasts are hunted to extinction, plants are harvested and none are regrown, and any resources are stripped dry. This behavior also lends itself to the general savagery and behavior of this species. The raiding is built just as much on necessity as it is on greed.
Bullywugs in Combat
Bullywugs benefit from two chief assets in combat. The first is their ability to camouflage, allowing them to sneak up on all but the most attentive travelers. The second is numbers with which they can overwhelm just about any force.
Besides those two, bullywugs are basically pushovers. Of course, that’s to be expected with a CR ¼ creature. I mean, for such a low CR, they do at least have a multiattack. That’s not bad at all, and it means that a lucky bullywug can deal close to 20 damage in a turn.
We really need to rely on bullywug numbers to make them anywhere near a threat. If enough of them can overpower their enemies one by one, then they actually have a chance at capturing them and not being mercilessly slaughtered. Basically, our characters’ levels tell us how many bullywugs to throw out per character.
Bullywugs can also use traps though, and that’s when things get actually exciting. They won’t be creating any golems or anything, but they can certainly lay out a few spike pits and net traps to ensnare their foes and dish out a bit of damage.
More than likely, their forces will also be supplemented by some dumb beast they’ve managed to enlist. Giant toads and giant frogs add a bit of diversity to the side of the bullywugs and can even swallow characters whole if they’re not lucky.
As characters grow in level, bullywugs become much less of a threat until such a point that you can throw a froghemoth into the mix and completely rejuvenate the whole idea.
It’s actually a really good setup for a small side adventure. Our heroes might return to a town that they helped by defeating a tribe of bullywugs only to find the frog people have more control now than ever. After a bit of research, they learn that the bullywugs found or raised a froghemoth and are now a legitimate threat.
These creatures certainly aren’t going to be the center of a campaign, but they can make for an exciting introductory questline to get your players acquainted with the ruleset.
The bullywug stat block is about as representative of bullywugs as the peasant stat block is of humans. It’s a simple block for the masses, but bullywugs are 100% capable of becoming more. Their ambitions may lie in the same greed as the rest of their kind, or they may seek greatness in some other way. Regardless, you can definitely make an interesting bullywug in 5e.
This is possible for any race, but it’s made easy for us because bullywugs are an actual playable race in 5e. If you can make a PC bullywug into any class, then you can definitely do the same for an NPC. Beyond that, you can theme most any humanoid villain creature (lich, vampire, etc.) as a bullywug if you’re interested in comedy as much as you’re interested in storytelling.
When building a bullywug with actual character depth, we have to think of their backstory and motivation in the same way we would if we were building a character for ourselves to play.
I’ll stick to a general idea, but remember that you can venture off as much as you want. Everything from a standard bullywug to ones raised by dragons is possible.
If you grew up in a swamp around greedy, savage creatures but had the capacity to grow beyond your birthright, it’s probably pretty likely that your class would at least be connected in some way to those roots.
The classes that I believe work best here are clerics, druids, barbarians, and warlocks.
Clerics are the most prominent, although they are referred to as shamans. We even have an example from 5e in Tyranny of Dragons. Pharblex Spattergoo was a bullywug shaman and the chief of his tribe, and he served the Cult of the Dragon as a sort of allied faction.
Bullywugs only really have one god they can call their own, and he isn’t universally worshiped by every tribe either. Sure, some may worship Ramenos the primordial, but most bullywugs will just worship any chaotic, evil, or water-based deity they can learn about.
The gods they worship work nicely into druidcraft, although it should definitely be a point of interest that most bullywugs have little to no care for the environment. Our bullywug druid can either exemplify or oppose that, with either making for a rather interesting character.
Barbarians are a natural jump, speaking to the tribal aspect of the race. Specifically, the path of the totem warrior is rather fitting, and I would naturally make a set of frog or toad totems (toadems) that fit thematically.
Lastly, we have warlock. Really, this is just a divergent way of creating a shaman. Instead of gaining their powers through worship, they gain them through a contract and service.
From there, it’s as simple as building the character. Remember that in addition to motivation and backstory, DMs need to plan for an NPC’s goals. Their “bond” is much more of a primary focus than it often becomes for PCs.
I hope you enjoy this species of starter foes as much as I do. Much like goblins or kobolds, the room to turn these into something more than their basic stat block is immensely exciting to me, and I believe it can be for you as well. As always, happy adventuring.