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Frog Jumping

This weekend marks a very special holiday that's important to many of us* - National Frog Jumping Day! While one might argue that the holiday started in 1865 with the publication of Mark Twain’s famous short story "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," , it wasn’t until 1893 that the tradition of an annual Frog Jubilee complete with frog jumping competition started. Held every May 13th, it's a tradition that continues today, with the record high frog jump still standing from 1986 at 21 feet and 5 ¾ inches. While neither of us here at Never Say Dice had heard of Frog Jumping Day, the jubilee or the record before this week (that we can recall), at the very least we're familiar with the works of Mark Twain, and it got us thinking about some very important frogs from other media. Specifically though, the frog that came to mind this week is none other than the amphibian hero of Frogger (apologies to fellow Marylander Kermit).

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?

Obviously, there is 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:

Frogger - our little buddy

  • (4) Acrobatic Car Dodger
  • (3) Log Roller
  • (3) Speed jumper
Even if you don’t celebrate Frog Jumping Day, we hope you were able to take a moment with this post and find some tabletop inspiration. It isn’t easy being green. Remember that our tabletop worlds are dangerous for reasons other than their denizens. Timers are a useful tool, if used sparingly. Failing both those things, don’t forget you can have some froggy fun with Risus. Until the next random holiday post, enjoy your tables and break some dice! 

- A 

*(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.)

Send comments and questions to neversaydice20@gmail.com or Tweet them @neversaydice2 before Twitter finally gets bulldozed, racecar'd, and/or alligatored.


 

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