Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Cardinal Witch Project

Now that I've gotten a certain amount of baggage off my chest, I think I'm ready to say something constructive about Witches.

In my last post, I mentioned the "Cardinal Witch Theory" and how I didn't care for it. The main reason I dislike it is that it is mostly used as an excuse to bring back the Wicked Witch of the West so that the writer can recreate that particular Oz story dynamic in their own work. Unfortunately, over the years it has become a cliche of groan-worthy proportions.

What can be done to rescue this tired, worn out plot device? Let's take it to its logical conclusion. And rather than using it to tell the same tired story, let's use it to open up new story options.

If the Cardinal Witch Theory were true, then the Mantles of the East and the West would both need new hosts after Dorothy's first adventure. Who are these replacements? There's no guarantee that the replacements would be Wicked. Both the North and South had Wicked Witches that wound up being replaced with Good Witches, so it's not a sure thing.

Here's an idea that would make for an interesting roleplaying scenario: Your party has discovered the next Witch of the West wandering around the Winkie Country. But she (or he!) is new to the power and hasn't decided if they are a Good Witch or a Wicked Witch. So the things your characters do and teach her will influence which side she eventually settles on. If a player wants to have a Sorcerer character and is interested in a roleplaying challenge, this could be a fun role for them.

And what about the North and South? We've met both the Good Witch and the (deposed) Wicked Witch of the North, so death or destruction is not necessary to pass on the Mantle of a Cardinal Witch. What circumstances are required to cause the power to move from one person to another? Can it be triggered deliberately? Or does the Mantle itself make the decision for reasons only it knows?

What if Glinda stopped being the Witch of the South? Would she still be able to use magic? Would she still be allowed to rule the Quadlngs? Why did she lose the Mantle? Who is her successor?

All of these questions can fuel several stories, whether you choose to write them down or play them out.


Timothy Brannan said...

I like this idea to be honest. It seems to run counter to what we have seen in Oz in the books, but the idea for a game seems pretty solid. I want to think about this one a little more.

F. Douglas Wall said...

Yeah. That's actually one of the things that kept Witches out of this blog for so long. The fact that the Four Witches Era very quickly became history as the series continued. But what you do with Oz in your game is up to you. If you want Cardinal Witches, you may certainly have them.

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