Sunday, July 3, 2011

Demons and Wizards

A friend of mine and fellow gamer recently went to a Uriah Heep show.  He sent me the set list, and it triggered loads of memories.  The list included 'Easy Livin', 'Rainbow Demon, and 'The Wizard'.

What is not to love about the Demons and Wizards album?  This was Uriah Heep's 4th album, released and went gold in 1972.  Great artwork by Roger Dean on the cover followed by solid rockin' with loads of fantasy lyrics.

Easy Livin', arguably the Uriah Heep's most well known song in the U.S., is a catchy, hook laden pop-rock song.  Even though it is a bit shallow, I still like it after all these years.

The Wizard is a soulful and altruistic ballad worthy of bard entertaining a noble audience.  The tale of a chance meeting with a wizard to a thousand kings, wearing his cloak of gold, flashing his eyes of fire, and living far off in a mountain somewhere. 

Rainbow Demon is an ominous tune, almost dirge like in places, with lots of imagery.  Electric guitars, organ, & drums all pounding out a classic rock archetype ripe for planting seeds of adventures in the heads of scheming game masters.

And in this game master that seed found fertile soil.  Probably some ten years after the albums release I took those fledgling ideas and turned them into a campaign.  The bad guys were going to summon a demon to lead an army to crush the good people of the island and subjugate them forever under tyranny and general foulness.  The named demon, know colloquially to the evil summoner's as the Rainbow Demon, was foretold in a prophesy by a long deceased mad hermit.  The party had some evidence which gave a certain credence to the hermit's pronouncements and thus the campaign began.  They had to search out a number magical items which if the somewhat ambiguous prophecy was to be believed, could be used in a proper sequence to defeat the demon.  These items included the Mace of Khanhazbee, the Ring of Azraq, the Wand of Belatan, the Dagger of Glass, and the Gnomon of the Fates.  The prophesy also indicated who needed to wield the items, again in somewhat cryptic language - The Dagger of Glass thrown by half a man, The Ring of Azraq worn by one from under land.

This was only a few years into our gaming experience, and was easily the most ambitious campaign I had yet devised and optimistically hoped to execute.  Unbeknownst to the players, the language was both cryptic and ambiguous to allow some versatility in execution.  The demon was designed to be a foe the players could not hope to defeat without special help.  And yet, I had to leave some room for error.  They failed in their quest to gain the last item - the Gnomon of Fates for example.  The prophecy stated the timing of fighting the demon was known by no man; later they determine it was a translation problem and set out to find the Gnomon.  Without this last item, they found another solution in the high priestess casting divination to determine the correct time.  The ring absorbed a limited amount of fire damage and ideally was to be worn by a dwarven fighter who had the best saves against the demons flaming whip.  The dagger of glass would temporarily turn whoever was struck by it into living glass, and susceptible to being shattered by a burgeoning instrument of great power which is where the mace came in.   The wand was a mass teleport device which allowed the party to get past the army of ogres, orcs and goblins and right to the demon at their full strength.

In the end, even though the halfling with his high dexterity missed the demon with his first throw and had to recover and throw again, even though cleric didn't hit on his first attack, even though the dwarf was nearly out of hit points after using up the ring and with him gone the party would have quickly succumbed to the demon, the demon's worldly form was shattered sending her back to the pits and saving the island from unspeakable torment.  After all, the dice never lie.

It all starts from a little seed.  The more colorful and imaginative the seed the better.  And today is only yesterday's tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. I used to trip out on the Roger Dean album covers, especially for groups like Yes. So awesome!


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