What exactly is Frogger? It'd be pretty surprising if you haven’t heard of it. While not as popular a figure as Mario, Frogger, like the Never Say Dice founders, has been around since 1981. (Psst, Frogger’s 42nd birthday is coming up later this year! Send a few flies and birthday wishes in celebration.) and has spawned more than 35 sequels, remakes, and spin-offs, as well as inspiring copycat games up to the present day, such as the recently popular mobile game Crossy Road. The original classic Frogger though, if you haven’t played it, is a simple arcade action game where you must guide a series of jumping frogs through a busy multi-lane highway (Racetrack? Construction zone? Most versions feature tractor trailers, Formula One racecars, and bulldozers, so you explain it.) and a fast-flowing river to land finally in their individual homes. It might be most famous for being one of the first games to have a significant number of ways for your character to die. That includes being hit by a vehicle, jumping into the river, running into snakes, otters, or alligator jaws, trying to ride a diving turtle too long, riding the river off the side of the screen, jumping into an already occupied frog home, or missing that final jump and slamming into a bush as thick as a brick wall. Of course, we mustn't forget, your timer can run out. How can this amphibian nightmare commute inspire us in our tabletop games?
some similarity between Frogger and tabletop RPGs. Okay, maybe not obviously, but certainly both offer tons of ways to die... at least traditionally. It's good to use Frogger as a reminder that those TTRPG deaths don't necessarily need to come from combat. Challenges and puzzles with dire consequences are an important part of our games that we sometimes neglect. Likewise, there's the ever-present timer. While it shouldn’t be overused in any game, a timer can give players a sense of urgency and forces action. While the consequences don’t need to be dire, make sure that there are at least some consequences if they don’t complete whatever journey they're undertaking within the set parameters. Finally, remember that the worlds at our tabletops are full of hazards. Travel from one town, or space port, to another, doesn’t have to be halted by brigands or space banditos. Horses may turn their ankles on rocks, transports barreling down the lane (or space lane) may crash into you, and space debris can clog your engine intakes. Travel is complicated!
It'd be a lost opportunity for the blog to talk about a video game without including it in our Risus conversion menagerie, so let's do Frogger. As mentioned previously, there are a ton of games under that banner we could draw our details from, but most of what we’re likely to find will be present in the original, not to mention all the typical frog traits, so that's where we’ll take our inspiration. First, and foremost, Frogger (star of Frogger) is an Acrobatic Car Dodger - he may not always make it across the river, but he won't even get there without successfully traversing the busy street. For his next trait, we’ll give our little buddy something that seems more at home with a lumberjack, Log Roller. While Frogger can use other things to make it across the river, logs seem to be the primary safe spot and something we aren't likely use as another character - unlike diving turtles, gators or otters. You don’t always need four traits for a Risus character, and with this one, I think we’ll stick with three, the last being Speed Jumper. While you don’t need to have a record-setting jump distance, you do have to be fast if you want to survive in Frogger’s world. So that gives us:
- (4) Acrobatic Car Dodger
- (3) Log Roller
- (3) Speed jumper
*(Okay, it's also Mother’s Day, which is way more important. Thank you to all of the moms out there, but especially to the Moms in the lives of the Never Say Dice duo.)
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