The Grung are a species of humanoid amphibians that resemble large frogs. Introduced into 5th edition through Volo’s Guide to Monsters, they were brought to life as playable characters at the Stream of Annihilation in 2017.
Thanks to D&D product manager, and popular DM, Chris Lindsay, these frog people have hopped out of obscurity and into the hearts of players across the world.
While these creatures are amphibious, and as such, require being immersed in water for at least one hour a day, they do live in tree-top villages. They prefer to be in shade, and their societies often exist where plenty of cool water can be found.
Normally, we would save talks about what the race looks like for the appearance section, but in order to talk about the grung at all, we have to start discussing what they look like right off the bat.
Grung come in six colors, green, blue, purple, red, orange, and gold.
Biologically, these colors determine certain attributes of the poison which each grung secretes from their skin. What makes things weird is that the color of a grung’s skin also determines their place in the grung society. That’s right folks, we’re talking about racist frogs today.
So, grung society is built on a caste system, with green grung sitting at the lowest rung, and gold grung assuming the position of leader. The roles of each color in the caste are as follows:
- Green – Warriors, hunters, and general laborers. Green is the lowest caste, and gets most of the worst tasks in a grung society.
- Blue – Artisans, traders, and any other domestic roles that require a bit of skill.
- Purple – Essentially middle management, purple grung oversee the two castes below them. Higher castes will not even be bothered to interact with green or blue grung, so the responsibility of keeping the lower castes happy and in check falls to them.
- Red – Tribe scholars and magic users, these grung are treated with respect by all, even the tribe leaders.
- Orange – Orange are the elite grungs. They fill places as the mighty warriors of a tribe, high leadership roles, and are the most sophisticated, these grung are second only to the gold grung.
- Gold – As the highest caste, there are very few gold grung. The leader of the clan is always a gold grung, holding the highest level of authority.
Now, technically speaking, there’s another part of this caste system, except they’re not a color of grung. No, the truly lowest portion of this caste is slaves, because grung just love having someone to boss around.
They keep their slaves drugged up, or mildly poisoned, so that they’re lethargic and follow orders well.
Other than that, the grung are sweet people, loving and caring to a fault. Sike! This whole caste thing is a perfect representation of their entire culture. From birth, or hatching, since grungs are born from eggs, the grung are split up.
Each color has their own hatching pool, and even though grung tadpole all start of a dull greenish-grey, they are raised separately.
By adulthood they have fully assumed their roles in society, and ambition to rise above your status level is rare for a grung. However, there are instances where a grung could be risen to the next caste level as a result of performing great deeds.
Grung who ascend undergo a ritual involving magic and herbs to have their color changed. Even their descendants will be a part of the new caste. It’s basically flatland rules for any of you squares out there.
Maintaining the caste system is so important to grung, that if a chief dies with no gold grung to take their place, the tribe must choose an orange grung for ascension or be assimilated into another tribe.
Grung Racial Abilities and Traits: What Characterizes the Grung Race
- Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2 and your Constitution score increases by 1.
- Age. Grungs mature to adulthood in a single year, but have been known to live up to 50 years.
- Alignment. Most grungs are lawful, having been raised in a strict caste system. They tend toward evil as well, coming from a culture where social advancement occurs rarely, and most often because another member of your army has died and there is no one else of that caste to fill the vacancy.
- Arboreal Alertness. You have proficiency in the Perception skill.
- Size. Grungs stand between 2 ½ and 3 ½ feet tall and average about 30 pounds. Your size is Small.
- Speed. You have a walking speed of 25 feet. Your sticky finger and toe pads give you a climb speed of 25 feet.
- Amphibious. You can breathe air and water.
- Poison Immunity. You are immune to poison damage and the poisoned condition.
- Poisonous Skin. Any creature that grapples you or otherwise comes into direct contact with your skin must succeed on a DC 12 Constitution saving throw or become poisoned for 1 minute. A poisoned creature no longer in direct contact with you can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.
- You can also apply this poison to any piercing weapon as part of an attack with that weapon, though when you hit the poison reacts differently. The target must succeed on a DC 12 Constitution saving throw or take 2d4 poison damage.
- Standing Leap. Your long jump is up to 25 feet and your high jump is up to 15 feet, with or without a running start.
- Water Dependency. If you fail to immerse yourself in water for at least 1 hour during a day, you suffer 1 level of exhaustion at the end of that day. You can recover from this exhaustion only through magic or by immersing yourself in water for at least 1 hour.
- Languages. You can speak, read, and write Grung.
Grung have an excellent set of abilities. Luckily, the stats for the playable race carry over a lot of what makes the monstrous version we find in Volo’s guide so memorable.
On top of a healthy list of racial features, they have a solid set of immunities, proficiencies, and ability score increases to create some really standout characters.
As always, we’ll look at that ability score increase to kick things off. With a +2 to dexterity and a +1 to constitution, we’re looking at some good synergy. We use dexterity for AC, dexterity-based weapons, and the various skills that use our dexterity modifiers, and constitution just generally defines how healthy we are.
With this combo, we can end up with a character who can stay standing in a fight for a long time, and someone who isn’t afraid to tip-toe around when necessary.
Next up we get proficiency in perception, thanks to our time spent in the trees, watching for any oncoming predators. Another gift of our arboreal adaptations, we gain a climbing speed of 25 feet. This means we can climb just as fast as we can walk, instead of taking double our speed to climb like a normal playable race.
The frog-like abilities don’t stop there. Hopefully surprising no one, grung can also jump! Jumping is normally determined by your strength, with your long jump equaling your strength score, or half that without a running start, and your high jump only equaling 3 feet + your strength modifier, or half that without a running start.
So that you understand how impressive the jump abilities of grung are, let me do the math for you. Normally, a standing long jump of 25 feet would require you to have a strength score of 50 and a standing high jump of 15 would require you to have a strength score of 67. I don’t care what optimized build you’ve got, no one is getting the jump on a grung.
As an amphibious race, they do get the ability to breathe both air and water, but that also comes with water dependency. So long as you make sure to travel near water, or have some sort of magical solution, like a druid using Create or Destroy Water when you find yourself in arid climates, you should be fine.
It’s important to keep track of though, because unlike most exhaustion, you can’t just sleep these levels off. You have to use magical means, or submerge yourself in water to stop yourself from building up 6 levels of exhaustion and dying.
Hopefully, you don’t find yourself imprisoned for a week.
For such a silly race, it’s impressive that there are so many abilities associated with them, and we’ve made it to the most exciting one, poison. Naturally, since you yourself secrete poison, you are immune to both the condition and the damage type, a really nice bonus to have.
Your poison is really powerful, poisoning someone for up to a minute. Plus, you can poison your weapon as part of your attack action. For such a powerful ability, it is absolutely insane that there are no limiting factors other than a saving throw on this poisoned weapon part of your ability.
Most, and I mean like 95%, of other damage-dealing racial abilities are restricted to a bonus action, or by some amount of uses that must be regenerated on a long rest. However, you’re just leaking poison.
As if the grung’s poison ability wasn’t enough, which it totally is, there are also variant poison abilities tied to the color of your grung. These abilities are additional abilities that occur on top of the poisoned condition, not in combination with a weapon attack. The ability for each color is as follows.
- Green. The poisoned creature can’t move except to climb or make standing jumps. If the creature is flying, it can’t take any actions or reactions unless it lands.
- Blue. The poisoned creature must shout loudly or otherwise make a loud noise at the start and end of its turn.
- Purple. The poisoned creature feels a desperate need to soak itself in liquid or mud. It can’t take actions or move except to do so or to reach a body of liquid or mud.
- Red. The poisoned creature must use its action to eat if food is within reach.
- Orange. The poisoned creature is frightened of its allies.
- Gold. The poisoned creature is charmed and can speak Grung.
While not specifically mentioned in the “One Grung Above” pdf where the stats for the playable race can be found, these traits are generally considered to be universal whether a grung is an npc or a playable character. Each of these traits are exciting but aren’t entirely overpowered for a player’s use.
What Classes are well suited to Grung
Grung are particularly well suited for any martial class that utilizes dexterity for it’s combat. Monk, ranger, and rogue are all excellent choices, and even dexterity based fighters can be a good option for a grung PC.
Monk – Monk’s focus on dexterity plays excellently into grung ability score increases. The ability to make plenty of unarmed strikes and wear no armor will have plenty of people coming into contact with your skin. Also, Timeless Body at level 10 technically says that you no longer need food or water, not that you no longer need to eat food or drink water. It could be argued that this feature nullifies water dependency, but you’ll have to consult with your DM on that one.
Ranger – Rangers do want some wisdom for spellcasting, but you can always put a high roll in that statistic when it comes to character building. Since grung can easily get up into trees or other high places, they make an excellent choice for stereotypical rangers who utilize archery.
Rogue – Poison weapons, high dexterity, and the ability to hide away in water or up in a tree; what more can a roque ask for? How about being small, and thus being able to pick up squat nimbleness for easy slipping away and exciting acrobatic maneuvers? That’s right, all this and more can be ours for the low price of joining a caste based society; which, now that I think about it, still sounds like a rogue background.
Fighter – Any fighter built with grung will just be trying to be one of these other classes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go for it anyways. A dextrous fighter who can jump around the battlefield and poison their weapons at will is still a force to be reckoned with.
Surprisingly, grung don’t have a standard naming convention we can use. Instead, we can look at existing grung in WotC media. Specifically, One Grung Above and Tomb of Annihilation have named grung for us to use as examples.
B’Ang’r’ang, D’Ahten’khan, B’Leep, B’Lahp, B’Lip, B’Loop, Groak, Krr’ook, and Roark are all names that we can use to figure out how to name our grung character.
First off, gender doesn’t matter, so we can move right along. Then we notice that most of these are either silly puns and/or names that are broken up by apostrophes.
Taking a sound or word and turning it into a grung name becomes simple enough. T’Ode, F’Rah’g’Err, K’Err’mitt, and P’Lop are a few I’ve come up with off the top of my head, using toad, Frogger, Kermit, and plop as my inspirations. It’s not rocket science.
If you want more examples, or don’t want to butcher your own words with apostrophes galore, go check out the grung name generator on fantasynamegenerators.com for more options.
Having disappeared for a while after making a splash in the Greyhawk setting back in 2nd edition, the grung race has returned to D&D in a big way. The playable race is a really exciting and fun option for any player to consider. Pick a color, flesh out your character, and jump into the next story you and your friends create.
If you’re looking to learn more about the grung, go watch some D&D celebrities play an adventure as a full D&D party here.
As always, hoppy adventuring!