I somehow ended up deep in the archives of my email today and stumbled on an exchange I’d had with an artist friend about a project we were going to collaborate on. It was a story game inspired by The Wizard of Oz and a variety of favourite pop-culture imagery, such as post-apocalypse adventure and westerns. It was tentatively titled The O.Z. and presented a post-apocalypse mid-west circa 1901. The idea was that when Dorothy returned home from Oz the act not only returned her, but ripped open some terrible magical rift that smashed both realities together. Both worlds were ruined and everything changed for the worse. The Scarecrow became a power-mad tyrant desperate to repair the damage. Dorothy and the Tinman tried to stop his evil machinations, falling in love along the way, only to have the Scarecrow defeat them and kill the Tinman. There’s more; Munchkin prospectors with shotguns; the Lion channeling Che Guevara as he liberates the animals of Kansas; Pumpkinhead reimagined as a cowboy riding a rocking horse. That sort of thing.
I have a bunch of stories I would love to tell in this setting. Until then, I thought it would be fun to share some of the email exchange and offer a little insight into what I was thinking back in July 2010:
Sweet. I am totally excited about this project. The Straw King should be totally bat-shit crazy and a total psychopath; he hacked up one of his best friends to learn how he worked and imprisoned Dorothy. He is “the Joker” of the setting. He has crows for minions ’cause their all terrified of him (because he’s a scarecrow, right!) and an army of clockwork men. I don’t mind how nuts you go with him, one part of my thinks he should have brains totally bulging out of his hat/crown, but then I am not sure…
I want to share some of my inspiration / ideas to give you an idea of where I am coming from.
The time period is about 1901, but with lots of cowboy / old west influence. Drawing on the Oz movie is totally fine too. When Oz crashed into our world everything mashed together and people from both worlds are trying to work out their place. The Emerald City was seriously fucked over, with much of it shattering into tiny shards and flung across the country side like shrapnel – people hit by the shrapnel tend to get twisted, which is probably why the Straw King is so messed up.
Some types of characters might include;
- Patchwork people (like Raggedy Anne)
- Pumpkin head
- Wooden horses
- Clockwork people (the character TikTok from the Return to Oz movie)
- Talking and humanoid animals of all kinds
- Militant suffragettes
- The US army
- The Spanish army
- Winged monkeys
- Prospectors, cowboys and Chinamen
- Dwight Eisenhower (as a boy) on a mission from God
- Buffalo Bill
- Annie Oakley
- Balloon city – yes everything held aloft by balloons
Think the Wizard of Oz meets Clint Eastwood movies meets Tim Burton meets steampunk. Go whimsical over horribly dark, when you need to – this is a game of action, not horror. Drawing on other literature of the time is cool, as long as it doesn’t distract from the obvious Oz stuff – Alice in Wonderland, Jules Verne and H.G. Wells are possibilities.
Now I am going to need to get on with some rules. I am thinking of a d20 mod (stripped down to just the important parts). What do you and Marty think?
Here’s my main idea for Dorothy I’m guessing you’ll want at least 3 different Dorothy pics. I’ve fixed her legs so they’re the same length and will probably put in the garter belt (i like it). I was thinking maybe Pumpkin head should be a cowboy or like a western outlaw… thoughts?
Yeah, but his pumpkin should be cracked or broken, just a little bit! And he needs to ride a wooden horse!
By wooden horse are we talking rocking horse? or like on a platform with wheels?