Not necessarily the Dauphin, a Frog Prince is any character, male or female (but usually male) who starts the story transformed into a humbler and/or less appealing form than that which is theirs by right (like a frog). Traditionally they are the love interest for the central character, but they may be a mentor figure instead … some action by the central character (like kissing the frog) breaks whatever spell had transformed them and returns them to their normal form. In some cases removing the curse also restores the Frog Prince's goods and chattels.
When this story plays backwards it's called Glamour failure.
Typical examples - besides the unavoidable frog - would include the Beast from Beauty and the Beast. The most obvious example of a mentor figure in a frog prince role would be Raziel from Willow, but most mythopiea have at least one traditional equivalent.
The plot of the Steeleye Span song King Henry gives an unusual gender-reversed version.
Game and Story Use
- Many frog prince narratives in myth tend to be either a redemption narrative in which the cursed one is forced to expiate some previous sin or allegories - Beauty and the Beast being an obvious one concerning the alleged 'taming' effect of a 'good woman' on a wild bachelor, and more generally about young girls ceasing to regard maleness as bestial and frightening and coming to find it attractive. Cynical analysis might suggest the gender reversed version presented in King Henry above has a lot to do with women's tendency to cut men off from their friends and hobbies in return for a relationship.
- The transformed mentor, by contrast is often about looking beyond first impressions, the need to look for wisdom in unusual places, or the need to be kind and compassionate to everyone and everything - since in the last case the hero has usually done a good turn for the creature before realising that there is anything special about it.
- To avoid railroading PCs into unecessary romance plots or other character developement, the transformed mentor is probably the most viable use of a frog prince in a game.