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Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Weird Wizards

½ of #30 wizards VERSION ZIRO from Lost Pages is something of an oddity. Alright, so saying that about almost any book from Lost Pages is a bit of a given, but with ½ of #30 wizards VERSION ZIRO it is more so. A sixteen-page booklet without a cover, it presents some fifteen wizards—and often weird wizards at that. Yet there are also subtle wizards, charming wizards, gonzo wizards, menacing wizards, whimsical wizards, and more. Written for use with the retroclone of your choice, ½ of #30 wizards VERSION ZIRO is an Old School Renaissance supplement that will inject a mix of menace, whimsy, and wackiness into almost any Game Master’s fantasy campaign.

Each Wizard occupies a single page. Their base information includes Hit Dice, Armour Class, and Attack, each accompanied by a simple descriptor. One quarter of the page includes some background and some of the magical items and spells they wield, whilst the other suggests motivations, interactions, and possibly adventure ideas. So Spitz the Pointed is HD 1d4 (‘doesn’t do dice’), Armour Class 10 (‘paper and money’), and Atk 1d4×1d4 (‘compound interest’) and “Strokes Frog the familiar legless toad of wise inflation as matters of financial dark magic are discussed…” He is a wizard of Council of the Mathic Wizards—a position of weight, heft, and buffet lunches, accompanied by economically minded Frog the Legless Toad who attacks with Inflation, Deflation, and Depression. Spitz the Pointed knows the spell Create Imaginary Money and possesses the Scarf of Limitless Growth. He also promises , “You stroke my toad and I’ll stroke your back…” There is further detail beyond this of course, this sort of illustrates the not so serious tone of the supplement whose pages include such NPCs as Baron Baron, the hat trick, top hat wearing wizard and summoner of the Rabbits of Arrgh; Lord Bunny Ears, the gory burrowmaster; Aragosta Blumenkraft, the Herbalist Florimancer praised by the Cockle Queen and gloried by the Crab King; and the Squidmaster, with his ‘slippy slappy always happy’ tentacular attack and many bodily extensions, including a bio-prosthetic Heart of Darkness, bionic transplant Mouthbeak, and organic transplant Squirrely facial tentacles.

What really stands out about ½ of #30 wizards VERSION ZIRO is not so much the content as the artwork. Each wizard is delightfully illustrated in black and white, pen and ink—with the occasional splash of colour—and there is some surprising subtley to these illustrations. So Kromo Reza the Sword at first appears to be a big, hulking barbarian with a teeny tiny almost robot head who is wielding a huge hulking sword. Yet look closer and the barbarian seems not so much to be wielding the sword, but guarding it and that because the barbarian is Littlehead Metalknees, a thrall of Kromo Reza the Sword and the actual wizard! The glorious ruler, Soft Cloud, gently rests, smoking the Pipe of Djinn, on the Throne of the Little Three-Eyed Thralls, and yes, the illustration really does depict the throne being held up by Little Three-Eyed Thralls!

Physically, ½ of #30 wizards VERSION ZIRO is cleanly and tidely presented. The only real issue is the lack of cover, which means that the supplement is not really very sturdy.

Written and designed by Luka Rejec of wizardthieffighter.com, ½ of #30 wizards VERSION ZIRO is not really a supplement whose contents are going to make into most Gamer Master’s campaigns. Its NPC wizards are too weird, too bonkers, too mad to bring to the average fantasy game, but in a weirder, more gonzo setting, they can bring mystery and magic to a game. Even in the average fantasy setting, if used with care, they can be introduced to inject a sense of the weird and a sense of the other. Of course, its title suggests that ½ of #30 wizards VERSION ZIRO is only one half of series, so will there be The other ½ of #30 wizards VERSION ZIRO? Or perhaps, ½ of #30 fighters VERSION ZIRO? Or even, a ½ of #30 Myths & Magic VERSION ZIRO campaign setting? Lord Bunny Ears demands that you tell him or he will bring down a rabbit ruin upon you!

Well, what ½ of #30 wizards VERSION ZIRO really is, is a taster. It is a taster for a combined character generator and pre-generated NPC supplement designed to provide both interesting player characters quickly easily and a ready supply of interesting NPCs. The aim is not just to focus on wizards, but also fighters and thieves—hence wizardthieffighter.com. Whilst we wait for the full supplement from Lost Pages, ½ of #30 wizards VERSION ZIRO is an appetising taster.