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Jordan Peacock

Frog Attack! (#2684, #92683, #92681, #92682)

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Not familiar with the a frog princess tale. I am familiar with the grimm brother's almost nonsensicle frog prince tale. I May need to look the Russian one up for some good folk tale game inspiration. Love the job you did with these. The "princess" is nice and gross looking. ^_^

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Not familiar with the a frog princess tale. I am familiar with the grimm brother's almost nonsensicle frog prince tale. I May need to look the Russian one up for some good folk tale game inspiration. Love the job you did with these. The "princess" is nice and gross looking. ^_^

 

The Russian frog-princess fairy tale is very similar to another tale I recall from when I was a kid, though the first version of it I recall featured a pretty cat instead of a frog.  I had a few big tome-like illustrated books of fairy tales, and there were a lot of recurring themes: things happening in threes, people being turned into animals and the curses usually requiring something stronger than a kiss to lift them (such as the paws and head of the animal having to be chopped off and thrown into the fire by the human protagonist who has grown fond of the creature, YET HE DOES IT ANYWAY when asked), and lots of things involving people shedding or losing their skins, wicked people (or mildly naughty children) losing their feet or other limbs, and other such pleasant details.  I vaguely recall that when I was old enough to read the tales for myself, they didn't go quite the same as I remembered Mom and Dad reading them to me (especially the dismemberment, immolation, etc.).

 

The Russian frog-princess fairy tale I am "familiar" with (that is, I looked it up via Google to fill in the details) involved a commonly recurring trope of there being a Tzar who has three sons, and because he has nothing better to do, he sets some weird task to them to fulfill.  The two elder sons are there just to fail and give us a bit of "The eldest son did this, then the second son did that," and of course the protagonist is the youngest son, invariably named Ivan (seemingly the Russian counterpart to "Jack" in many western fairy-tales). 

 

In this particular one, the Tzar tasks his sons each with firing an arrow, and wherever it lands ... well, that is how you'll find your bride!  Son #1 fires, the arrow lands in a nobleman's garden, the nobleman's daughter finds it, mission accomplished.  Son #2 fires, the arrow lands in a merchant's garden, the merchant's daughter finds it, so they're going to be hitched, too.  Son #3 fires, and the arrow goes so far it lands in the local swamp/forest, and is found by a frog.  It's a TALKING frog, incidentally, but nobody is terribly surprised or impressed by this, because ... it's a fairy tale, and these things happen.  Young Tzarevitch Ivan has misgivings about marrying a frog but, oh well, it's what Daddy commanded!  So he picks up the froggy and heads home.

 

The Tzar, not quite done with being strange, proposes that there will be a contest to see which of the maidens is the BEST bride-to-be.  (No particular motivation is given for this, and it reminds me a bit of variations on the "Vasilisa" legends where our protagonist is given three tasks, and she has to rely on magical helpers -- friendly talking animals, a magical doll, etc. -- to assist her.)  Task #1 involves sewing up a robe or shirt or some-such for the Tzar.  Bride #1 does this, Bride #2 does that, but Bride #3 (the froggy) closes the doors to her room at night, sheds her froggy skin and becomes a beautiful woman, claps her hands, and her magical servants (did we not mention she had magical servants? pity that oversight!) show up and set to work making a glorious shirt/robe/whatever that ... insert extravagant description here.  The Tzar sees each shirt in turn, has disparaging things to say about them, but is floored by the froggy's work (and she's a froggy again, come sunrise, by the way).

 

Task #2 is to bake bread.  The two other brides are jealous and curious, so they try to spy on the froggy.  She is so wise she knows this is going to happen, so she makes a show of not noticing them, and dumping some dough straight into the oven.  The brides shrug and do likewise, and of course their bread comes out burnt, ashen messes the next day, but once they're no longer spying on her, the froggy princess sheds her skin, transforms, claps her hands, summons her magic servants, and has them make an extravagant bread that looks like a walled city with palaces and etc., etc.  Of course, the Tzar is crazy over it.

 

Task #3 is that there shall be a DANCE.  Ivan is fretful over this -- however shall he dance with a frog? -- but his froggy bride tells him not to worry.  When it comes time for the dance, there is much snickering at the late froggy princess, but when she does arrive, there's a carriage that rolls up, with footmen and attendants, and she steps out, human and gorgeous, stunning everyone.  And of course she's the best dancer of all.

 

The western version (with the cat) I recall skipped all the "shed your skin at night" stuff, and had an army of cats as the helpers, but the twist is that to complete the third task, the cat asks the prince to chop off her head and paws and toss them into the fire, without giving any explanation as to how the heck this is supposed to help.  He does so, she transforms to a gorgeous human, wins the contest, he's married, they live happy ever after, hurrah.

 

The frog version throws in a bit where Ivan discovers the froggy skin that his bride has been secretly shedding each night to do her tasks, and he comes to the conclusion that he should burn it so she can't change back.  HOWEVER, when she learns of this, she sadly tells him that if only he'd been a little more patient, she would have stayed human after this night, but now that he's done this, she has to flee, cursed forever, never to be his.

 

One version after this has her turning into various animals and fleeing, and Ivan has to get the help of Baba Yaga -- though he keeps messing up her instructions and failing the first and second time, until he finally wises up and captures his bride-to-be the third time, and she transforms no more.

 

Another version has it that Koschei the Deathless is her captor and/or father, and cursed her, and so Ivan has to go to Koschei's castle and defeat him.  Koschei is essentially a lich, whose life is bound to a needle that is inside an egg that is inside a duck that is inside a rabbit that's inside a ... great big magical turducken, or something like that.  And then the story basically mashes up with variations on the "Koschei" tale, with the froggy princess as the prize, and her finally turning human once her father is either slain, or subdued (whomever holds the needle can force him to comply).

 

Another spin on this whole tale reverses genders, and has Vasilisa (a popular female protagonist name, it seems) as a princess who has a golden ball that gets lost in a swamp, a froggy finds it, and somehow or another the froggy ends up being a prince with magical servants, secretly helping Vasilisa in three impossible tasks, and finally being revealed as a prince, they get married, hurrah.

 

...

 

Anyway, in my version, Tzarevitch Ivan is on one of these crazy "the Tzar sent his three sons on a quest" journeys -- this one based off the tale of Prince Ivan and the Firebird, with the PCs filling the role of the helpful Grey Wolf (and Ivan being just as stupid and likely to not really follow their directions as in the fairy tale), and the two elder sons basically serving as an incentive for the PCs to keep moving along to the next dungeon in search of the firebird rather than tarrying for too long.  Ivan has been raised with fairy tales and has certain peculiar ideas about how things ought to work (even more peculiar than how things ACTUALLY work in a world where magic is real).  He also has a bit of a reputation for being "Ivan the Fool."

 

So, my premise for this whole gag was that a relatively shrewd old Croak Shaman had heard that Ivan and his entourage were passing through, and knew of Ivan's penchant for fairy-tales (and imagining himself a hero), so the Croak, upon encountering the heroes, made up some bogus bits about a "prophecy" that involved Ivan marrying a "beautiful" Frog Princess.  His hope was to insinuate to the prince that marrying the "Princess" was the heroic thing to do, and that she might transform into a magical, beautiful (human!) princess.  Privately, his convoluted plan would be that one of the princess's "handmaidens" (what human is going to be able to tell a male from a female Croak anyway?) would actually do the honors of seeing to it that the princess's eggs would turn into little tadpoles, and they could claim that they're Ivan's children and thus legitimate heirs.

 

It's a plan that would never work, of course, because back home there were too many people not as dumb as Ivan, but that's why I call the old Croak Shaman only relatively shrewd.

 

A couple of the PCs had appropriate Lore skills to know something of the fairy-tales the shaman was trying to rip off, and thus were able to meddle in things to try to twist them to their advantage (or amusement).  They pointed out that the prophecy didn't specifically say that it would be THIS particular princess that the prince would be marrying at this location, and that in most of the tales, there is some sort of contest, and some contestants (things coming in threes being particularly fortuitous).  With all the hubbub they caused, they attracted the attention of a nearby gatorman tribe, and a gatorman shamaness decided that if the croaks were going to go for something this ridiculous, she might as well toss her hat (to to speak) into the ring.

 

And then, just to make it even more bizarre, the PCs, rather than pushing for one of the maids traveling with their company to try to compete for Ivan's hand ... ended up putting forth an undead swamp troll as contestant #3.  (One of the PCs happily picked up a cursed Orgoth relic from an Orgoth tomb/temple that allowed the wielder to raise a creature personally slain by the wearer as an undead servant.  The owner hasn't yet run afoul of the "fine print" in the arrangement, and the rest of the PCs have been amazingly tolerant of a smelly undead FEMALE troll in their midst.  It's ... a weird campaign.)

 

Anyway, the tests chosen by the Croak shaman were designed to heavily favor an amphibian such as the Frog Princess.  Task #1 was a river race to fetch a golden ball (and return with it) in carnivorous-fish-infested waters.  Task #2 involved catching the largest, juiciest bug, and then cooking it and preparing it for the prince.  Task #3 involved progressively harder leaping tests (and somehow the Frog Princess never, ever had to jump first) until ... any competition was eliminated and we were down to just one winner.  Through PC shenanigans, the PCs helped the troll win at #1 and #2, and engineered things so that the other contestants were wise to bow out rather than to attempt task #3 (as the winner ... would most certainly only win the prince's hand POSTHUMOUSLY).

 

Ivan ended up getting thoroughly drunk around the time it came for the bug dinner taste test, and doesn't remember most of what transpired.  The PCs seem to be competing with each other to come up with the most horrible story imaginable to tell Ivan about what "really" happened that he can't remember.  I imagine that at the start of the next game, he's going to be bribing everyone in the group to NEVER SPEAK OF THIS FIASCO AGAIN.

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I like the frogs, esp the pretty gruesome Frog Princess...  Love the story too.

 

But tell me, what is the terrain you're using there?  That all looks great too, and your camera work is well done too.  The angle suits the scene perfectly!

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I like the frogs, esp the pretty gruesome Frog Princess...  Love the story too.

 

But tell me, what is the terrain you're using there?  That all looks great too, and your camera work is well done too.  The angle suits the scene perfectly!

 

"Swampy water" -- a puddle of mixed liquid elastomer that accidentally spilled on the floor ages ago, which I peeled off when it solidified, and decided to keep because it looked so puddle-like (and clumps of sand stuck to the bottom give it an interesting mottled effect).  I sometimes slap it onto the table for a quick "water hazard" indicator.

 

Foreground detail: Secret Weapons Miniatures 120mm ellipse "Mystic Base" decorative resin base, given a really sloppy grey wash and some green and bronze detailing.  I got it on sale, and thought it might make an interesting decorative element -- I used it to represent the ruined site of a Circle Orboros Fulcrum.

 

Background: Bones "Dragons Don't Share" ruin pieces.  Yay!

 

 

 

 

I approve.

 

 

HUZZAH!  =D

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FANTASTIC!The miniatures & their setting are WONDERFULLY imaginative & BEAUTIFULLY painted. I love the Faerie Tale & how you've woven the story & the miniatures together...it's one of those things I try to do myself. VERY WELL DONE!

When I first viewed the minis sans narrative, I imagined them storming the biology lab or a French restaurant seeking revenge...the Frog Princess is a better story line.

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