Tables for Creating Low-Level Wizards & Other Fools who Would Tamper With the Skeins of Fate (LotFP/D&D).

Harry Clarke - The Snow Queen

Harry Clarke – The Snow Queen

In addition to my generators on Last Gasp (Wizardly Schools and First level Spells for LotFP wizards), I’ve been working on a full NPC speed-generator for mages, to go with a more general NPC supplement I’m writing. I used it last week for generating a couple towns and their conflicting magical populations. I’m retaining copyright on this one, mostly because I’m hoping to publish – but with a creative-commons attribution non-commercial license if ya want to use it.

Here’s the current draft document:
So, if you don’t know if this town is the kind of place that attracts Reality Warpers, roll on the first table. If you already know who’s there, or you’re just generating an NPC, skip the first table. If you don’t know their level, roll 1d6 at the end, adding mentor/school modifiers

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Is there a wizard?
  (Roll 1d8, +2 if in a thaumocracy, +1 if inside a city (5000+ citizens). Note that these modifiers are cumulative. In a large city, roll once  for each major ward or district)
———————————

  1. No
  2. No
  3. Hedge-mage/shaman/goodwife of power
  4. Hedge-mage &c.
  5. A Magic-user
  6. A Magic-user
  7. A Wizard (see “Seclusium of Orphone” and “Isle of the Unknown” for more information on the distinction between Wizards and Magic-users. Loosely, “Magic-users” use magic, “Wizards” ARE magic)
  8. Several of them (1d3 to 1d6, at your discretion)

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Are they part of a cabal?
———————————

  1. Yes. Several of them. Someone’s going to be in trouble soon… (roll twice on the table, taking both results. Keep rolling if you keep getting ones..)
  2. Yes, and the cabal has powerful rivals; they’re in an active turf war
  3. A secular secret society, not limited to Magi
  4. Yes, and it’s (roll 1d6): 1-3 – riven by internal conflict, 4-6 – stable – for now. Magi being what they are, of course, they’re still jockeying quietly for advantage.
  5. Yes, and this mage is in charge (+1 level, may have missions for or claims upon a PC mage)
  6. No, but they have a rival with whom they are as friendly as wizards get.
  7. No, and they have a rival who’s a powerful enemy
  8. No, and they’ve pissed off a cabal or society
  9. No, and they’re at war with another independent
  10. No, and they were cast out of one
  11. No, and they’re in a position of public power (secular or religious)
  12. No, and they’re hiding from one (other than the Church)

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How did they learn their skills?

———————————
(Roll 1d10 for Magi in rural or heavily chaos-tainted areas, roll 1d20 for cities or larger, add +1 if there’s a major thaumocracy or city in the area. Roll 1d6+2 for Wizards.)

  1. Raised in a local tradition (themed spell list, little ambition, but unlikely to be set afire. Roll 1d6 – on a 1-4, ignore the “why aren’t they on fire” table, and treat as “locals approve” )
  2. Local Tradition (as 1, above)
  3. They’re self-taught (all spells rolled randomly, seeks magical information and knowledge more aggressively, lower a level)
  4. Self-taught, (As 3, above. If a wizard, he was created by an Item of Power)
  5. Pacts and Infernal contracts (Must bargain a thing of supernatural value to learn further spells. Constantly looking for ways to pay that don’t hurt themselves.)
  6. Feyblooded (no iron in their home, despises gulls, gets a +2 on all rolls to learn spells, but can’t roll again. Ever.)
  7. Possessed (Uses demonic abilities, cannot learn new spells. Turning has a chance of removing the demon)
  8. Plasmically conceived (Learns spells instinctively; cut research times in half, but gains no benefit from a library.)
  9. They had a mentor (roll on the Mentor table, gains some free magical nexus or trinket as a gift)
  10. As 9, above
  11. They killed their mentor (roll on mentor table, gains 1d3 nexii/trinkets, add a level)
  12. Their mentor was killed by a rival (gains an enemy)
  13. They escaped their mentor (may be hunted – roll on Relationship table)
  14. They mentor another wizard (+2 levels. Roll another wizard, skipping this table, of level 1d3; roll for the student on “mentor” and “mentor relationship” tables)
  15. As 14, above
  16. Poached from their mentor by another wizard or school
  17. Tutored in a school or cabal, and they were expelled
  18. School/Cabal, still in tutelage (-1d3 levels)
  19. School/Cabal, still in tutelage (-1d3 levels)
  20. School/Cabal, graduate
  21. School/Cabal, graduate
  22. Yes, and they’re in charge (+1d3 levels)

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Mentor sub-table
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  1. Mentor was kind, but incompetent (-1 level, minor magical trinket or tool)
  2. Mentor was kind and competent (+1 level, minor trinket/tool)
  3. Mentor grew bored and cast them out (-1 level)
  4. Mentor was ruthless and cruel, but competent (+1 level, gain a spell of cursing)
  5. Mentor was ruthless and cruel, but incompetent (-1 level)
  6. Still under tutelage (-1 level)
  7. Actively plotting to kill or usurp mentor. May attempt to enlist PC aid.
  8. Tried to kill, but failed (Under a curse, seeking to lift)

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Relationship with mentor?
———————————

  1. Respect, genuine
  2. Respect, grudging
  3. Raw hatred
  4. Subtle hatred
  5. Resentment
  6. Fear (even if he’s dead. ESPECIALLY if he’s dead)
  7. Lovers, or similar physical/metaphysical desires. (Roll again on the table to find the mentor’s opinion on the matter..)
  8. Fondness
  9. Condescension
  10. Apathy
  11. Curiosity (“where are they?”, “are there secrets they didn’t teach me?”, etc.)
  12. Mentor or student is unwillingly enspelled (Roll 1d6: 1-4 – student, 5-6, mentor)

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Why isn’t the mage on fire?

———————————
(In a Thaumocracy, roll 1d12 – this is how they’re maintaining their own power against their rivals.)

  1. Political favors/blackmail (to include providing black magic services, enchantments, or implicating the “patron” in their own crimes)
  2. Stealth and concealment of powers
  3. Vulgar displays of power (raw fear. This wizard probably isn’t long for the Mortal Coil)
  4. Subtle displays of power (targeted curses, illusionary omens, &c)
  5. Has ensorcelled locals (strategic charm spells, keeps them under threat of a death-curse, etc)
  6. Has ensorcelled major official or patron
  7. Wizard is laying low, hiding from a warrant, rival, or lynch mob in a nearby place
  8. Kills all inquisitors and challengers, subtly
  9. Kills inquisitors and challengers, extremely unsubtly
  10. Powerful magical defenses (Sanctum, magical traps, summoned creatures, extradimensional bolthole, etc.)
  11. Powerful mundane defenses (Bodyguards, army, traps, fortified home)
  12. Political power (Wizard uses an official position as cover, or is shielded by a powerful patron)
  13. Owns or provides an indispensable service (widespread blackmail, providing protection against a greater threat than himself)
  14. Stealth and concealment of powers
  15. Locals know there’s a wizard, and they’re trying to find him (Adventure hook!)
  16. Locals don’t care, government cares (this can change rather abruptly depending on the wizard’s behavior or omens, plagues &c.)
  17. Locals disapprove, government doesn’t give a damn  – and is suppressing witch-hunts (Locals may attempt to hire PCs to assassinate)
  18. Local citizens are down with witchcraft, government does not approve (Locals will be actively obstructive)
  19. Citizens and government approve of witchcraft (Possibly on the way to a thaumocracy?)
  20. Lies (roll again on this table)
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On Pact Magic. Also, Pokemon.

I was musing on Rumplestiltskin earlier and had a realization – it makes an enormous amount of sense if demons and/or devils can only work magic at the behest of others.
I mean, usually it’s already assumed that any bargains they make are for their “own benefit”. Why are the wishes perverted? Not just because they have their own fury and eternities of repression to work out. It’s also steps toward the long-term goal. And no matter how many mortals you fuck over, there’s always another wizard who thinks he’s clever.. or thinks the wishes he has rattling around in his head are his own doing.

John_William_Waterhouse_-_Magic_Circle

John William Waterhouse – depicting a mortal about to do something incredibly stupid.

One of the reasons I’ve been so quiet the last week is that I finally started that Platinum Nuzlocke run. I’m using a modified ruleset (but doesn’t everyone?).
• Can only save at the end of a play session.
• Release any fainted pokemon, and can’t use HM’s on a fainted one.
• Only the first ‘Mon on any route can be captured, although trades, breeding, and gifts are okay.
• Can’t use items in combat. Can only use items picked up from the ground, no buying. Berries can be grown and held.
• Can’t leave an instance to heal until it’s completed.
So far it’s been a hell of a lot of fun, although I had to restart twice before the first gym after my starter got killed by crits in the rival duel >.>. It’s interesting being forced to use utter crap, and having severe weaknesses in my team because of the dual-types I’m rocking (grass/poison, fire/fight, normal/fly, normal/water, and rock/ground).

Of Shares and Silver (Historical Inspiration)

With the capture of the pirate ship last session, one of those old DMing issues cropped up again. See, treasure’s always been a problem in D&D – hell, most of the verbiage that’s not tables in the 1e DMG’s section is about developing discretion with it, and making up “appropriate” treasures. It’s one of those areas where Gary’s personal experiences and historical knowledge made certain types of adjucation easy.. but he kinda forgot to mention it to all the newbies out there.

"Pandora" by John William Waterhouse. Public domain.

This is what rolling on the 1e Treasure tables feels like, half the time.

The topic of treasure sizes has been hashed over enough that I’m not addressing it today. There’s another, more pressing problem – what do you do once it’s rolled up? Division seems easy enough, but it can be a Hell of a headache for a GM and the players, especially with the big stuff.

That Class “A” treasure for knocking down a band of Men in the Monster Manual seems huge for PCs, but it isn’t a reward to the players for taking out the camp or ship.

It’s for paying the army it takes.

Think about it – most of the entries in 1e were scaled for stocking hexes or domain level play, not random encounters on the road. To take them out, you usually need an army or at least a band of retainers. Now, most heartbreakers and the main D&D rules vary wildly in their opinions of plunder. But IRL it’s been a thing since the days when an “army” was your cousins and the booty was a couple cows. The historical salaried pay for soldiers was much lower than their actual rates. Plunder was an expected part of their pay. I mean, seriously, would you go to war for the equivalent of about $20 a week? That’s a recipe for desertion and murder. Yes, they were endemic, but knowing that sacking that city over there would pay out in pants, meat, and enough cash to start your own farmstead was a Hell of a motivator. In fact, plunder was so normal, contemporary histories will often extensively remark on “no looting” orders in battles, along with the punishments offered and the general success of the order.

Unfortunately, with widening the scope of booty awards comes the necessity of figuring out who gets what. Now, there are a lot of traditional sharing mechanisms. They were especially important (and handled in much more detail in the literature..) among pirates, but every armed force used them.
Now, I should note that Lamentations already has a booty system, but a) not everyone plays it, and b) I’m a relentless tinkerer.
Here are a few historical examples, which I hope will make fiddling with your game a little easier, and inspire said tweaks.

-Smash and Grab
Can you carry it off? It’s yours. This is what your average rioting civvie is doing, and it’s popular among levied armies or other semi-organized mobs.
Problem is, this doesn’t work in a more structured society. Historically, it led to a lot of murdering and infighting post-battle, so more legalistic/”fair” options popped up almost immediately (either for the division or for the murdering..). If you have to wake up in the morning with the people you’re screwing you tend to treat them a little better in the act, as it were.

-Share and Share Alike
This was a simple split (popular among the more egalitarian revolutionaries and pirates)  and the one most DM’s use – it’s easiest to run with a group of alleged equals. Every man gets a share of equal value, and anything that can’t be split is converted to cash or “bought” with parts of your share. This is implied in the DMG, but contradicted elsewhere. It’s very easy to assign partial shares, however, and the general math is very easy.

-The Thieves’ Bargain, AKA The Pitcairn/Bounty split
A quartermaster is appointed or elected. He divides the booty into shares, then leaves the area, so he can’t see who takes what. He receives what shares are left at the end. A common variation allows each man in order (selected by lots) to take a share, with the quartermaster going last, then anyone entitled to a second share draws lots again for order until all shares are distributed (This means that whomever pulls the most shares also gets the last share left). Another common variation

In the Thieves’ Bargain, everyone gets a number of “whole” shares, rather than half-shares, so the individual shares tend to be smaller. It seems “fairer” to PCs, and offloads some of the work from the GM, plus it tends to increase player investment in the treasures. It does make it harder to “split up” magic items, or other high-value items; historically, they were often diced for – see the description of the Seamless Tunic from the Bible.

-Navy and Military shares
Most militaries had very specific policies, but there were some customary systems. Most of my knowledge is based on the early American and British Naval systems, along with medieval mercenaries and the Roman army; I encourage you to do some more research on your own. Even fishing boats still use a very similar system to the old US Navy divvy.
As with the Thieves’ Bargain, the unit or ship would have a Quartermaster or Paymaster. His primary job would be to issue goods like boots and weaponry, which were usually bought locally with an allowance from the Crown. He would also divide any plunder, but traditionally was not allowed to select the first share. The position was very, very frequently abused, with the QM buying shitty goods (or none at all) and pocketing the allowances, for example. Most armies tried to combat this by instituting particularly brutal penalties for abusive QMs.
There were also issues with lower ranks stealing and hiding loot; the usual penalty was forfeiture of all loot, with flogging, or even death.

In the Navy, prized (captured) ships were sold when they returned to port, or if they still had military value, commissioned and set under the command of the ship’s Lieutenant (necessitating multiple field commissions – 2 new Lieutenants, a Lieutenant of Marines, a new Doctor if possible, a Quartermaster and of course the brevetting to Captain of the old Lieutenant). Cargoes were usually sold and the cash divvied, with the crew having first shot at buying any special items. Prisoners were often enslaved, with any left after replacements (you always lost some in combat and from disease, especially at sea) sold off to middlemen.

The traditional splits varied: usually it was some variation on the following.
Captain/field commander: 3-5 shares, and often pick of the litter.
Lieutenants/officers: 2-3 shares.
Skilled junior officers, such as Doctors or Sailmasters, and non-commisioned officers: 2 shares.
Infantry, Men-at-arms, marines, or any other active combatants: 1 share
Non-combatants: 1/4 to 1/2 shares.
Camp followers, levied Serfs and slaves: nothing.

In a number of cases, you could also be awarded an extra full or partial share.
0 The first man over the wall/on deck in an assault was usually awarded an extra full share (or, more likely, his widow/descendants were). Sometimes this was given to the first survivor over the wall, or to the entire Forlorn  Hope (a slang term for the poor bastards who went through a breach in gates or walls). Used to encourage aggression.
0 Trophies – Bringing back the heads of enemy officers or other leaders. Rewards varied, but the practice was so common that Samurai ettiquette manuals included entire sections on how to clean yourself up, in case your head got taken. After all, it’s your last major social event, gotta be pretty, right? Used to minimize lower-class casualties (kill the officers and you break the army, not the people. Plus it makes it a lot easier to take over). If you just want to encourage slaughter, offer rewards for right ears, thumbs, noses, &c.
0 Pick of the litter – people with multiple shares were often allowed to sacrifice one to jump to the head of the line; if not, the leader of the force traditionally had the right to demand any one share of the loot. This caused some serious friction during the siege of Troy – Agamemnon demanded a specific slave-girl that Achilles had taken, which precipitates the entire last half of the Iliad (and the death of Achilles).
0 The Captain’s Take – In naval battles, the ship’s Captain, Leftenant of Marines, and the Quartermaster were each traditionally awarded the pick of one of the weapons taken before the remaining gear was shared out.
0 Ransom – Defeating a knight and accepting his surrender granted you rights to his arms and horse, which did not count as a share. Often, you had the obligation to take any reasonable offer for their return. In addition, you had the right to keep the Knight prisoner and demand a ransom for his person, or for his body (usually somewhat smaller..) from his fief.
0 Equites – A mounted man was often awarded an additional share for his horse.
0 Sundries – It was common to exempt clothing, food, and other trifles from treasure sharing; you could keep all you could carry, but any weapons or precious items had to be surrendered to the QMs

Literary/Historical Inspiration: Herodotus, #1

So, there have been a lot of dudes who were hugely influential to fantasy, well beyond “Appendix N”. I’ve talked about William Morris before (who was one of Tolkein’s foundations – much of the Good Professor’s work was lifted, based on, or adapted from Morris’, in the tradition of all good storytellers). Another enormous influence was Lord Dunsany, who laid the cornerstone of Weird Fiction for Clark Ashton Smith and HP Lovecraft. Vance was the first to make “wizards” squabbling murderers hunting each other’s spells (although calling D&D-style magic “Vancian” is at best a bit blinkered. Perhaps I’ll touch on that later).

But there’s another figure towering behind them all. Because he worked in the “real” historical field, it’s not as easy to recognize Herodotus’ contribution to the RPG hobby. For example, the first Monster books and Manuals owe him a tremendous debt. Most were compiled from historical sources, especially Medieval bestiaries – which were, in turn, copied from the Histories. Herodotus remained one of the most widely-traveled, literate human beings on the bloody planet until the Crusades, and his work was literally seminal for every other historian and travelogue author down to the present day. He reported not just the things he saw, but the tales he was told, and it is to him we owe the surviving accounts of everything from Griffins to the Bonnacon.

In addition, unlike most other sources, the Father of History hasn’t really been mined nearly as extensively as, say, HPL by the OSR. He describes everything from atmospheric sculptures and rumors to adventure seeds, and is tremendously funny to boot. Even if the translators are shitty writers. Since it’s out of copyright, it’s available for free or very cheaply in complete editions; I have a B&N Classics edition of the Macaulay/Latenier translation, which cost me less than $10, and free versions are available all over the ‘net.
I’ve been through about 3/4ths of the Histories thus far (it is a bit dense..), and every time I find a tasty tidbit I highlight it for future reference. I’ve got far, far too many for my own campaigns, so I’ll be sharing particularly tasty tid-bits with you all. All quotes are referenced by Book: verse, to the aforementioned Macaulay/Latenier translation.

They say that [Queen Nitocris], desiring to take vengeance for her brother, who the Egyptians had slain when he was their king and then had given his kingdom to her, she destroyed by trickery many Egyptians. For she caused to be constructed a very large chamber underground, and making as though to inaugurate it but in her mind devising other things, she invited those Egyptians whom she knew to be guiltiest of the murder, and gave a great banquet. Then while they were feasting, she let in the river upon them by a large secret conduit. They told no more than this of her, except that when this had been accomplished, she threw herself into a room full of embers to escape vengeance.
II: 100 (Adventure/Plot seed)

Fun with magic:

..Immediately upon [cursing the river-god], Pheros suffered a disease of his eyes and became blind. For ten years thereafter, he was blind. In the eleventh year, there came to him an oracle from the city of Buto saying that the period of his punishment had expired, and he should see again when he washed his eyes in the urine of a woman who had had sex only with her own husband and none other.
Book II: 111 (Lulzy oracles: check!)

(His wife failed. So did the wives of most of the leaders of Egypt. After he got his sight back, he took all the ones who failed to another city, and burned them to death. Then burned down the city. Because Egyptians.)

Hand’s still bugging me, so done for now. More later.

Artistic Inspiration: Early Fantasy Illustrations 1

Had guests over, and the hand’s still not at 100%, so I’m going to be lazy and post a few turn-of-the-century illustrations from fairytale and fantasy books.

Welcome to my wandering monster tables. These are the >friendly< ones.

Welcome to my wandering monster tables. These are the >friendly< ones.

Can't find the source for this one - too many Walkers. Nonetheless, it's out of copyright and quite a nice wizard.

Can’t find the source for this one – too many Walkers. Nonetheless, it’s out of copyright and quite a nice wizard.

This is why gods should never have fucking stats.

This is why gods should never have fucking stats.

Magic Items: Stygian Mirrors

The Stygian Mirror
Not truly a mirror, but a thin layer of the jet-black waters of the river Styx pressed into a hollow lens of glass. Legend ascribes many marvelous powers to the mirrors, but the magic on most has faded as the water stagnates and loses its connection with the River. Even the most debased of the Stygian Mirrors retain a most singular power; when light passes through it, one who has – or should have – crossed the Styx is afflicted with illusionary stigmata in the sight of all. These have included water pooling at the feet, pennies on the eyes (only on those dead but a short time), winding-sheets and other paraphernalia of the grave, or the sudden appearance of lethal wounds. 072

Heathen Clerics and pagans treasure the waters of the Styx for another reason; if even a drop touches the most accursed undead, they say, it will summon forth the Ferryman to take back what is his. But leave the Devil’s works to his own..

Literary Inspiration: Dumas Knows Adventurers All Too Well..

(Taken from the final, 3rd French edition, and using several translations for guidance – including my own)

On the first Monday of the month of April, in the year 1625, the village of Meung (in which the author of “Roman de la Rose” was born) was in such an uproar, it seemed as though the Huguenots had come to turn it into another La Rochelle* of it. Many a citizen, seeing the women flying down the main street, hearing children crying at open doors, hastened to don his cuirass, and, supporting his (somewhat uncertain) courage with musket or a polearm, directed his steps to the hostelry of the Jolly Miller, before which was gathered a compact and rapidly-increasing group both vociferous and curious.     In those days panics were common; few days passed without some city or another recording an event of this kind. There were the nobles, who made war with one another; the King, who made war with the Cardinal; and Spain, who made war with the King. In addition to these wars – concealed or open, private or public – there were brigands, adventurers+, wolves, and Huguenots, who made war upon everyone. The citizens always took up arms against the brigands, wolves and adventurers; often against the nobles and Huguenots; sometimes even against the king – but never against the Cardinal or Spain. The result of their habits, therefore, on this first Monday of April 1625, was that the citizens (hearing the clamor and seeing neither the red and gold of Spain, nor the crimson and white of the Duc de Richelieu++) rushed toward the hostelry of the Jolly Miller..

(The clamor? It was an adventurer being a dick. There follows a lot of D’Artagnan-directed exposition. Another useful passage after the footnotes.)

*La Rochelle had been the site of several major Protestant/Catholic battles already. It was in fact in open revolt against the crown in April 1625, and had been for about 2-3 months depending on who you ask. The Huguenots wouldn’t be “dealt with” by the Crown until August. They were also known as the Rohan Rebellions, after  Duc Rohan de Soubise. Duke Buckingham would, in 1627, provide mercenary and other assistance to the rebellion – Rochelle had historically been a Plantagenet possession through most of the Hundred Years’ War, and staying Protestant and “independent” would give the English a solid foothold. Interestingly, the core plot incidents recorded in Three Musketeers actually happened closer to 1650, but Dumas put them in a more interesting time period. Food for thought for you DMs out there running a historical campaign, because most of Dumas’ readers over the years have literally never known the difference.
+ I’ve translated “mendicants and thieves” here as “adventurers”. It fits. Really well.
++ Interesting how he emphasizes the noble role of His (Red) Eminence Armand Cardinal du Plessis here, where “the Cardinal” was fine for the rest of the intro. I suspect he’s subtly showing the temporal power of the Cardinal independent of both his official title (Prime Minister) and spiritual role – and quietly lumping him in with the “nobles”.

…The same day, the young man set out on his journey, provided with his parental gifts. They consisted, as we said, of fifteen Crowns* the horse+, and the letter to [the commandant of the King’s Musketeers]**…

(note that he also got a sword, which he broke in a duel and had rebladed in Paris; carried a single change of clothes; and got the recipe for a “certain Balsam, which [your mother] got from a Gypsy, and which has the power of curing all wounds that do not reach the heart”. He uses it a lot over the next few weeks, because he’s a teenager++.)

Tell me that doesn’t sound like an adventurer’s gear.

* Probably large silver pieces. He spends most of them on lodging and weapons repair over the course of the next few days.
+ A very, very bad horse, which still gets good time on the road; it starts at least one duel for our young Gascon, and he sells it against his father’s advice literally the instant he hits Paris – for three Crowns more.
** Stolen, by the Big Bad – because our hero is, wait for it, kind of a big-mouthed dickhead.
++As an herbalist, the healing ointment – insofar as they describe it – is mostly a disinfectant. It’d also keep you smelling fresh and clean. Would probably be an abortifacent if you gave it to a pregnant woman.

So, to sum up; we are presented with a fairly compelling vision of a young Fighter starting his career. He is poor, but pretty geared-up, especially with that healing salve. He dumps his sword on a “shall be splintered” roll (now there’s a thought. Letting a player “splinter” a weapon voluntarily to exploit his opponent’s honor and end a fight with a minimum of lost face)  and repairs it once he gets to town. The entire countryside is in an ideal condition for adventurers. War is everywhere, patrons seek out brave and/or stupid men to do their dirty work, and all manner of bastards exploit the timult to rob etc. The rest of the party is already established, if partially wounded, and he joins them by insulting all three of them by mistake or design (Porthos was totally on purpose, and mostly D’Artagnan being a dick) before having their (illegal) duels interrupted by a “random” encounter. He constantly wrecks or loses his shit, and what little he has rapidly becomes a motivator for the character. The DM, meanwhile, has merrily re-edited the source material to make the campaign more fun for the players, and is playing pretty damned fast and loose with continuity.

Literary Inspiration: Oz is Weird, and you should like it.

So, Oz was my first fandom. It’s always been an influence on my roleplaying, and it’s why (in large part) I’m into the Weird. I’d read all of Baum (archival link) before I had ever even heard of Lovecraft (archive)Dunsany (archive), or Smith. (archive)
I want to do a write-up for Oz as a background for Weird role-playing, and I will one day play a game there again (I ran an Oz game with Holmes as a teenager, but haven’t returned since). At the least, I’m working on an essay about its Weirdness, and how you can use its influence in-game

Below the break, as an example, I present the first chapter of The Road to Oz, one of the later books. Read it through. If this isn’t an amazing random encounter with a wizard/fae, I’m a monkey’s uncle. And my sisters don’t go for simians.
It makes for an excellent adventure hook, and the Shaggy Man is a perfect example of a random encounter that isn’t dangerous. It could be – that’s part of what makes Oz what it is. The Love Magnet is a terrifying, horrible thing, and in the wrong hands.. *shudder*. But as it is, the Shaggy Man is a good being (if Chaotic as all Hell), and Dorothy is a Good Girl of the kind that traipses through Faery without fear.
(more…)