This Joint is Jumping

Frogs. Everywhere. Willow Rosenberg would probably yelp.

…Maybe. They’re very tiny frogs. As in perch on your pinkie nail, or thumbnail with plenty of room left over. Tiny little treefrogs, making their way out of whatever water spawned them into the wilds of hedges, basil plants, and the back porch. Yesterday I counted over a dozen clinging to various parts of the rain-soaked mosquito screen, then gave up on numbers, because the bushes were quite literally hopping with intruders. Not to mention the porch was mildly flooded, to the point one tiny frog swum across it.

Granted, the layer was so thin you probably couldn’t drown a housefly in it. It’s the principle of the thing.

Let me back up and explain.

Where I live backs onto a drainage ditch. It’s dry – most of the time. When it rains like there’s no tomorrow, however, as it did yesterday, said ditch is feet deep in water. Because the ditch leads to an ephemeral marsh, which is just this side of a hill of sand separating it from a pond big enough to support fish, turtles, and Muscovy ducks. The sand is usually high and dry; proof lying in the fact it supports a fair amount of Conradina plants, and they do not like their roots wet. Further proof lying in how many fire ant nests lair in that area. They don’t like their tunnels wet, either.

But since it’s sand, the pond doesn’t have to overflow during a heavy rain to fill the marsh, and then the ditch. Water can just seep through. And does.

Which is why the itty-bittiest of bitty treefrogs were fleeing.

Treefrogs are specialists. True frogs hang out in ponds and marshes and spend lots of time splashing in the water. Treefrogs, on the other hand, are the weird cousins of the family that decided to go exploit an ecological niche true frogs couldn’t, by swarming up rocks, plants (especially trees), and stray cars to hide in damp niches and eat unsuspecting insects who are always terribly, fatally surprised to find a frog way up here.

This exploitation is aided by the stickiest toes this side of a gecko, that can curl around branches, bits of concrete, and any other tiny ledge or crevice. The sticky toepads are important for this, but almost as important is having freely-moving digits to grab onto things. Like our own hands do.

Except. You can’t grab onto things well if your digits are webbed. So treefrog toes… mostly aren’t.

Treefrogs can and do swim. But they don’t swim as well as a true frog – and the tinier they are, the less they can fight currents and stay out of the gaping mouths of minnows, herons, and stray diving spiders. They like to be moist. They don’t like being submerged in several feet of water.

So hard rain leads to drainage ditch filling leads to frog invasion. At least at this time of year. Earlier this spring it led to the marsh filling up and a whole lot of frog calling at night, and even daytime. Which is of course why there are now hordes of tiny froglets.

Something to think about, if you’re considering hitting your characters with endless waves of monsters. If your monsters aren’t just hungry for human flesh, where are they really trying to get to? And what are they trying to get away from? The answers could be life or death for everyone!

7 thoughts on “This Joint is Jumping

  1. You could also come at it from the other direction.

    The heroes have defeated the Demon King, the volcano collapsed, the badlands are revitalized, the forest is safe, and the toilets are all swirling the correct direction.

    What happens to all the monsters and animals that that adapted to the situation?
    Even normal pests become a huge problem when major ecological shifts occur.

    “The Demon King is dead!”

    “Great! Now maybe you can help us with our next kingdom-destroying problem?”

    “Sure. What is it?”

    “Mice.”

    “Mice?”

    “Mice. Millions, and millions of mice.”

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Ah, I had a D&D campaign where I had a monster migration. It started with things like dire wolves and bears being pushed south. Then bigger things. Then orcs, because worse things were pushing THEM out. There was a portal to the Abyss cracking open up there that the party could have explored and found. I was planning on leaving it for end game/next campaign content unless they wanted to check it out (which they never thought to investigate) but I always tried to keep it relevant as long as they were in the country where the portal was located.

    Liked by 3 people

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