The Chumtoad is a small, purple creature resembling a toad. It was originally cut from Half-Life, but later resurrected in Opposing Force and Blue Shift. It is only seen once on Xen, and twice in the Black Mesa Research Facility.
Chumtoads are small, amphibious creatures found on Xen. Similar in morphology to Earth's toads, they are very low on the Xen food chain – serving as the favorite prey of many Xen creatures. The name is a compound of "chum" (i.e. shark bait) and "toad", in reference to these traits. Chumtoads are notable for their bright purple skin, their single red, catlike eye, their spiked backs, and their long, blue tongues.
Unlike most Xen creatures, Chumtoads are not inherently dangerous to humans. They tend to lounge on rocks until threatened, at which point they have the natural ability to teleport – vanishing in a puff of purple energy. Chumtoads are the only known Xen aliens whose teleportation particles are not green.
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. Chumtoads may sometimes feign death by rolling over onto their backs and twitching violently, most likely to confuse their predators. Additionally, they are capable of croaking, but Chumtoads were not given any sounds in Half-Life, and are sometimes confused with the background noises of Xen.
Habitat / Chumtoad's Lair
One Chumtoad location can be found in the chapter Focal Point of Half-Life: Blue Shift. Very soon after arriving on Xen, the player enters a series of cramped, narrow tunnels full of Headcrabs. Nearing the exit of this maze, the player passes through a large cavern with an extremely deep pool at its center.
At the very bottom of this pool, between a boulder and three Xen plants, a small crack in the wall of the cave can be seen emitting bubbles of air. After widening this hole, the player can enter a small air pocket in a cave where the title "Chumtoad's Lair" appears on the screen. In the lair, three Chumtoads sit amongst Xen plants and Snark nests, illuminated by Xen crystals. The creatures later vanish when approached. It is unknown whether these water-filled caverns are a typical Chumtoad habitat or merely one type of lair.
Chumtoads are not fearful by nature. They seem to be content sitting on rocks and basking in the glow of Xen crystals. They also have no fear of Xen's carnivorous plants, which will not attack the Chumtoads for some unknown reason. Chumtoads also seem to have no fear of vicious Snarks, and will bask near a Snark nest.
Chumtoads seem to have a habit of raising one of their front feet every now and then, and occasionally sticking out their blue tongue, perhaps displaying contentment.
When attacked by small arms, the Chumtoads escape any injury. However, when attacked by explosive arms, the Chumtoad will vanish in a puff of purple teleportation energy which seems to be their main (and extremely effective) defense.
There seems to be some kind of structured hierarchy to the Chumtoad community. In the so-called lair, three Chumtoads can be found basking; two in the front and one further back. The two in front will ignore the player and continue basking. However, approaching the third will cause all three to vanish. This could hint that the third was the leader, as only when it reacted did the other two. It also indicates that Chumtoads (except for the leader) do not see humans as a threat.
Due to its extensively hidden and random nature, the Chumtoad's Lair is considered an Easter egg.
The Chumtoad appears in Half-Life: Opposing Force at the start of the chapter "We Are Not Alone". If the player shoots a ventilation grille opposite the big blast doors leading to the Lambda portal room, (when the player turns around) 25 times (using any weapon), another ventilation grille at a 90 degree angle to it will break and a Chumtoad will drop out if it, sometimes landing on the player's head, hanging in the air when the player moves away.
In Half-Life: Blue Shift, a Chumtoad is found during the chapter "Insecurity" in an unlabeled cardboard box in Barney's locker. If the box is shot 68 times with the Glock 17 (using all of the ammo that can possibly be acquired by the player at this point), it will break and reveal a single Chumtoad.
Behind the scenes
- As Jones puts it: "We're trying to think of 101 ways to abuse the chum toad." They're the lowest form of alien life and lots of the other aliens stave off hunger pangs by munching chum toads, which, by the way, have tongues that roll out and wiggle when they die. You'll likely find the toads useful - throw them across a room with a gun turret and you can direct the turret's fire at it instead of yourself. Or throw it to a monster that's more interested in eating than killing and a chum toad may just save your life.
- The original role of the Chumtoad in Half-Life was to be bait that a player could use to lure or distract enemy aliens. The bait idea was reincarnated in Half-Life 2 as the pheropod. The unused model, however, was included in the game's files and fully coded as an item. Instead of bait, this version served as a weapon. Normally docile until picked up, the Chumtoad would begin attacking anything that strayed too close – including the player or allied NPCs if no other targets were available. This AI was implemented in the final game as the behavior for Snarks.
- Before settling on the name "Chumtoad", various other names were considered including "Chubtoad".
- The source files for the Chumtoad are included in the Half-Life SDK, where it is referred to as a "Chubtoad". According to the textures provided, the Chumtoad was once planned to have six eyes instead of one (similar to the Fast Walker), and would have had green, orange, and blue-colored variations.
- As the (mostly) unused Chumtoad exists in the game files, it is frequently appropriated by various unofficial Half-Life modifications. In Sven Co-op, a fan-made Half-Life mod, a heroic Chumtoad (dubbed "Chubby the Chumtoad") appears in various maps, and, in the 4.07 patch, donators can get their own Chumtoad, which attacks by releasing a cloud of poisonous gas. In Poke646, another mod, the Chumtoad is called the "explod-a-toad". It secretes a purple pool, marking its territory. If the player, or anything else, wanders into the purple fluid, the toad will explode. Also of note, in the mods Point Of View and Azure Sheep (both of which borrowed enemies, weapons etc. from each other) the Chumtoad is used as a replacement for the Snark.
- In several other Half-Life modifications, the Chumtoad made an appearance. In the USS Darkstar mod, after the explosion when the player wanders back to where a scientist and a guard were studying two airborne creatures (Boids), the Chumtoad is seen on top of one of the lights. In Heart of Evil, a Chumtoad navigates the player throughout a maze.
List of appearances
- Half-Life (First appearance) (Game files only) (Non-canonical appearance)
- Half-Life: Opposing Force
- Half-Life: Blue Shift
- Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar