Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Trouble With Magic

Whether you call it witchcraft or sorcery, one of the big problems of being a spellcaster in Oz is the fact that it's illegal. Argue with the details if you like, but it's proven itself to be a good policy.

But what if one of your players wants to have a magic-using character? While it's fairly easy to say no (I even sort of recommend it in the rulebook), let's take some time to look at the ways to say yes to magic.

Ignore it: Simply that. If your player wants a magic-using character, let them do it. If you're concerned with continuity, make it a "historical" game. From the time of the Four Witches Era through the Scarecrow's Reign and early into the Rule of Princess Ozma, magic was unregulated.

Avoid it: Allow a magic-using character, but keep them out of the Emerald City or any other place where their magical talent could get them into trouble. Or maybe set up your game so that the party is on the run, being pursued across Oz by the Soldier with the Green Whiskers, just like Richard Kimble was chased by Lieutenant Gerard or David Banner was on the run trying to avoid Jack McGee. (JFGI)

Skirt the law: While the law may prohibit the practice of magic, there is nothing wrong with being magical. Many of the queer and unusual inhabitants of Oz have some bit of magic in their background. Unicorns live in the Forest of Gugu and other magical creatures may certainly be found in various corners of Oz.

Register: This may be the climax (or at least major turn) of a pursuit campaign, or it may be a background event in a newly launched Sorcerer character. In my playtest campaign, we decided that our Sorcerer was an apprentice of the Good Witch of the North in order to avoid any potential issues. Exactly what registration entails is pretty vague. Some writers prefer treat it as a simple matter of paperwork, while others may enjoy a little Ozzy courtroom drama before handing out Wizard Licenses.

I actually like the idea of a trial for this scenario. Because I think Princess Ozma is going to want to make sure that any licensed spellcaster is going to use their ability for the benefit of Oz as a whole. This can either make the trial a fun scene as the players recall all of the people they've helped in their adventures, or an adventure hook itself, as the spellcasting character is asked to prove their intentions by going on a special mission.

1 comment:

David Mayeux said...

I suppose you could also have stories set in one of the surrounding kingdoms: Ix, Ev the Nome Kingdom, etc. Magic use would have to be a temporary affair if the characters ever entered Oz, leading to one of your proposed scenarios, but one could definitely have a whole book's worth of adventures before coming to Oz and dealing with the issue of illicit use.

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