The Mountains of Me'chuan hold many strange creatures, but few are as plentiful as the karst gemfrogs that dwell on the vast limestone outcrops overlooking the Ixan Jungle. Everywhere you look, you can always spot at least one or two frogs on the rocks nearby. Many of them are hidden, frozen in place and camouflaged against the rocks during the day while they wait for the evening showers that often roll in through the coast. Your own gemfrog companion sits patiently in your pocket until you reach the entrance of one of the many beautiful caves that dot the landscape. Once you are in close proximity to an area with gemstones, the frog climbs to the edge of your pocket and you allow it to crawl onto your hand and jump onto the nearest stalagmite thrusting out of the ground. Despite their weight, the frogs are excellent jumpers and can use specialized pads on their feet to climb along the cave walls. On a hot day, hundreds of frogs may seek the cool, damp shade of the caves, searching for crystals and gemstones to consume. As a Keep creature, your own frog doesn't wander far, but people who have visited this region once brought back frogs by the thousands to use in the search for precious gems. As good as they may be at finding these gems, though, early cave-divers looking to get rich quick soon found that the frogs are likely to quickly consume whatever stones they can find and unearth.
Karst gemfrogs are named for the rocky environments in which they live, and for the rare stones they like to eat. Unlike most frogs, which have a semi-permeable skin membrane to allow them to breathe, gemfrogs have an extra layer made up of tiny crystals that forms a sort of exoskeleton. This exoskeleton is made up of tiny crystals of calcite, which fuse with other materials to become limestone as the frogs age. Other stones and crystals that the frogs consume may get added and develop into intricate forms and patterns used in mating displays. As long as the inner membrane below the hard covering is kept wet, the frogs can move about freely, but should they start to dry out, the grains tighten and form a stiff casing that encapsulates the frog. The gemfrogs have developed ways to use this feature to their advantage, as they can allow themselves to dry out and become indistinguishable from the rock around them. This can be a defence against predators or drought, as the frogs can remain like this for months and even years. When the rains return, the frogs become saturated and can move around once more. Because of their exoskeleton's composition, these frogs are highly vulnerable to strong acids.
Sprite art: Tekla | Description: PKGriffin