Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Wizard's Mask by Ed Greenwood (Gaming Notes Edition)

The Wizard's MaskWritten by Ed Greenwood
400 b & w pages
High Fantasy
Pathfinder Tales

Below will be some things that ticked in my brain when reading The Wizard's Mask in terms of gaming inspiration. There will be spoilers so if you don't want any spoilers, read no further.

Named Items: I actually mentioned this in the book review portion but named items tend to have more personality. When you make the items actually intelligent like The Whispering Blade, a blade that speaks to its victims and informs them of how sweet it's razor sharp touch feels, well, then it gets more interesting.

This doesn't always click though as, on the cover, the "Masked" is holding up a gauntlet, a specific magic gauntlet, and it has what I'd consider a boring name: The Fearsome Gauntlet. Mind you, if the Gauntlet didn't throw around numerous force effects and instead actually did 'Fearsome' things, I might have a different opinion on it.

And here's the thing, names are personal taste. Some people might be going, "Man, Joe, you're crazy! The Whispering Blade is so lame and the Fearsome Gauntlet, now that's awesome!" You'll have to wing it on your own names but if I may add one suggestion. Give them a 'real' name and then the generic moniker. Tarakul, the Fearsome Gauntlet for example.

Limited Charge Items: Turns out that the Fearsome Gauntlet wasn't that fearsome. After an epic battle, the gauntlet's magic simply runs out and it falls apart. In addition, during the course of the novel, the duo manage to drink numerous potions.

If you want your players to hit above their weight level on a temporary basis, throw them some cool magic items that only work for a limited time. Or even some 'mundane' items that they might need to overcome an specific enemy that only work for a set number of times. Creature needs a +4 magic item to effect? A wand that grants items a cumulative plus for 10 rounds at a time can help that out and be drained quickly.

But keep in mind that by hitting above their weight level, the characters are going to be gaining more experience and access to things that they might not normally have.

Cursed Items: One of the heroes, The Masked, is known so because he stole a cursed magical mask. It is slowly eating away his face. If the mask suffers damage, he suffers damage. Note that this last bit isn't necessarily that rare even for non-cursed powerful items.

For example, after Marvel comics killed off Thor in the Avengers Disassembled storyline, when they eventually brought him back in Michael Straczynski's run, his hammer was damaged. With the help of Doctor Strange, the hammer was repaired and bound to Thor's life force. If the hammer was damaged, Thor could die as a result.

Inherent Goof: Consider this a near off topic ramble. During the story, Tantaera, the short halfling, loses her hand thanks to the kiss of the Whispering Blade. Remember how I mentioned that the Fearsome Gauntlet simply ran out of juice? It turns out that after spending a great deal of money, Tantaera was able to replace her hand with the Gauntlet which will still probably retain some powers that she's unaware of in this novel but may come into play in future novels.

I call it a goof because when you have specific magic items that people are looking to chop their own limbs off and replace them with, having the option to have one of your own limbs replaced with a magical item seems like it'd be MORE expensive than having a spell to replace the actual limb cast.

But that's why I call it an inherent goof. You see similar things in comics all the time. "I'm a bad ass cyborg!" or "I'm just going to run around WITHOUT an eye because I look cooler with a patch!" And usually, it's part of the torture porn you see in comics.

For example, Wolverine has a healing factor and despite being a 'great fighter', gets tore up all the time. Vision and Red Tornado? Poor bastards. Machines so they get destroyed all the time.

 Even Cyborg whose FACE is still human gets put into situations where you're like, "Uh, why wouldn't you always have a faceplate on dude? You're not an actor, you're a guy in the comic. We don't need to see your face." But they rarely go for that instead destroying an arm or leg or something.

Just keep it in mind when you're putting the players in a goofy situation that's dedicated in part by the rules that the players will go with those rules.

The Wizard's Mask is high fantasy and high action with some focus on rogues that tends to be rare in a world where every series is about a farmboy destined to save the world.