Chumtoads are small, amphibious creatures found on Xen similar in morphology to Earth's toads. They're notable for their bright purple skin, their single red, catlike eye, their spiked backs, and their long, blue tongues. Chumtoads maneuver with short, quick hops similar to that of a terrestrial toad. They also have the ability to swim and to leap to great heights when startled. They may sometimes feign death by rolling over onto their backs and twitching violently, most likely to deceive their predators.
Their appearance in the games are primarily relegated to Easter egg occurrences. A Chumtoad appears in Half-Life: Opposing Force at the start of the chapter We Are Not Alone (map
of3a1). If the player shoots a vent cover opposite the blast doors leading to the Lambda Complex's portal room 25 times using any weapon, an adjacent vent will break and drop one of the creatures.
They are also seen in Half-Life: Blue Shift twice. A Chumtoad can be found during the chapter Insecurity (map
ba_security2) hidden in a cardboard box in Barney Calhoun's locker. If the box is shot 68 times with the 9mm Pistol (using all of the ammo that can possibly be acquired by the player at this point), it will break and reveal a Chumtoad. In the chapter Focal Point (map
ba_xen2), there is an extremely deep pool in Xen that leads to a small cave. When the player enters this area, the title "Chumtoad's Lair" appears on the screen. In the lair, three Chumtoads sit amongst Xen Trees and Snark nests, illuminated by Xen crystals. The creatures teleport away when approached.
Behind the scenes
Chumtoads were originally developed as a bait weapon. They were described as being very low on the Xen food chain, serving as the favorite prey of many Xen creatures. In reference to these traits, their name is a compound of "chum" (i.e. shark bait) and "toad." In particular, Chumtoads have been said to be among the preferred diets of Bullsquids and specifically Alien Grunts. In the latter case, Alien Grunts were described as subsisting almost entirely on them. Hence, prior to the arrival of the Alien Grunts in foreign worlds, Chumtoads would be first seeded into these locations as an ongoing edible resource as they were capable of reaching parasitic proportions in any environment they entered. Vortigaunts, however, in keeping with their subservient nature, would not dine on Chumtoads, instead always offering the fare to their Alien Grunt masters.
In the game, the player was intended to pick up and use Chumtoads as bait by dropping them like Snarks to lure hungry monsters away or distract other enemies such as turrets, diverting gunfire elsewhere. When the player held a Chumtoad, it had the possibility of croaking which would alert nearby enemies to their presence. This bait gameplay aspect was ultimately never developed.
Before settling on the name "Chumtoad", various other names were considered including "Chubtoad" and "Choad". The source files for the Chumtoad are included in the Half-Life SDK where it is referred to as a "Chubtoad". Present in these files are a number of different texture variations for the creature including a version with six eyes in varying skin colors.
- In USS Darkstar, when the player returns after the disaster to the room where a scientist and guard were studying two airborne creatures (Boids), a Chumtoad is seen standing on top of one of the light fixtures.
- In Sven Co-op, a heroic Chumtoad (dubbed "Chubby the Chumtoad") appears in various maps. The 4.07 patch added the ability for donators to acquire their own Chumtoad helper which attacks by releasing a cloud of poisonous gas.
- In Poke646, the Chumtoad is called the "explod-a-toad". It secretes a purple pool, marking its territory. If the player, or anything else, wanders into this fluid, the toad will explode.
- In Point of View and Azure Sheep, both of which share resources, the Chumtoad is used as a replacement for the Snark.
- In Heart of Evil, a Chumtoad navigates the player through a maze.
The Chumtoad with a rat in a zoo map.
The vent hiding a Chumtoad in the Lambda Complex.
List of appearances
- Half-Life (First appearance) (Game files only) (Non-canonical appearance)
- Half-Life: Opposing Force
- Half-Life: Blue Shift
- Chuck Jones' personal website
- Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar, page 24
- Half-Life Preview on GameSpot (October 1997) (archived)
- Half-Life - Monster of the Week: Bullsquid on OGR.com (1997) (archived)
- Half-Life - Monster of the Week: Alien Grunt on OGR.com (1997) (archived)
- Half-Life Preview on Hyper@ctive 2.0 (June 23, 1998) (archived)
- Half-Life - Monster of the Week: Alien Slave on OGR.com (1997) (archived)