18
Nov
09

Zolobachai’s Wagon and Azagar’s Book of Rituals

Going to Limbo and breaking the dimensional barrier can have strange effects. For James’ PC Arnold Littleworth to be transported from the White Sandbox to Glantri is a giant step for a man, to be sure. But from the perspective of the gods who dice with the lives of such mortals, the distance between two campaigns run in the same city with the same extended group of players using editions published seven years apart is not so huge.

With the impending publication of Goodman Games’ Azagar’s Book of Rituals, however, Arnold has accomplished the transition to an edition published twenty-seven years later, where his legend (or at least that of his alias, Zolobachai of the Nine Visions) will spread through those gaming groups all over the world who have the discernment and modest financial means necessary to acquire this mighty grimoire of rituals and include one of them, Zolobachai’s Wagon, in their campaign. Or, as James put it:

OMG OMG OMG
First I breach the dimensions into Glantri, then I breach the dimensions into the real world!!!
I have to retire the character now. It would all just be downhill from here. (I suppose I need to cast my newly researched spell first, just to be able to boast about it. But then: retirement.)

Some thoughts:
1) James is rightly stoked, as am I. I remember well how awesome it was when I first discovered that names like Melf and Mordenkainen weren’t just evocative color added to the descriptions of AD&D spells, but actual players in Gygax and Kuntz’s Greyhawk campaign. I am pleased to be able to create such connections between the bones of D&D’s published ephemera and the actual play that is its beating heart.

2) Such connections are all too rare. I’m currently working on my eleventh professional D&D writing assignment, and this is the first time that I’ve been able to draw direct inspiration from a campaign I’ve been part of. There are many pressures that push what happens in RPG writing away from what happens at the table, which I’ll perhaps enumerate in a later post; this one is to celebrate that those pressures can be overcome. Or at least partially, for:

3) The transition from play to print distorts. In the game so far, Zolobachai’s wagon is not a magical conveyance of spectral force but a mundane (if gaudily painted) wooden cart. The most memorable appearance of the wagon in play was heroic but decidedly un-magical: Arnold drove it into the swamp of the Lost City so that he could creep through its interior and gain the element of surprise when he emerged to brain a lizardman with a frying pan. And while Arnold has in fact been researching a new spell during his carouse in Limbo, he should rightly be considered the creator of Zolobachai’s Impertinent Invitation; the wagon-creating ritual is a piece of fakery at worst or flattery at best by another would-be wonder-worker who has seen fit to adopt the mighty name of Zolobachai. It might be that this is always the way of things – at GaryCon II I will be sure to ask Melf whether he did in fact invest game time in inventing a spell to hurl an acid arrow at his foes.

I’d love to be able to include Zolobachai’s Impertinent Invitation, as well as the many other inventions of my fellow players that are worthy of game-book immortality, in a future Azagar’s Second Book of Rituals. To help make that happen, rush out and buy the first one and tell your game-store owners and Joseph Goodman that you want more like it!


4 Responses to “Zolobachai’s Wagon and Azagar’s Book of Rituals”


  1. November 19, 2009 at 3:39 am

    You have no idea how happy this makes me, but assuming money ends up in your pocket I imagine it makes you happy as well. Kudos, Tavis!

  2. November 19, 2009 at 4:36 am

    I don’t get paid any more for writing stuff that comes from our campaigns than I do stuff that comes straight out of my butt, and in both cases I could make more by spending an equivalent amount of time collecting bottles and returning them for the deposit. So my happiness is economically irrational!

    I should note that I’ve never gotten paid on a royalties arrangement, so for me to shill my work is also economically irrational and driven by actual play; I want people to pick up something I’ve written and use it at the table. I specifically want there to be another Book of Rituals because few assignments give me as much latitude to find ways to work in Red Box inspirations as “write 25 rituals that have something to do with travel”. Also, in its own quiet way Goodman Games is arguably the #1 old-school publisher around today and a true heir to the Judges’ Guild legacy, run by [someone who’s studied the business lore of editions past] as monkishly as we have its other arcana.


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