An Introduction to Oz
This is a sourcebook about role-playing in the land of Oz, by
L. Frank Baum. Starting with The Wizard of Oz in 1900,
Baum wrote 14 original Oz books until his death in 1919. The books
were enormously popular at the time and spawned many further books as
well as numerous stage and screen adaptations. However, most people
know Oz only through the 1939 MGM movie musical.
This sourcebook is based on the original series of books. While the
MGM musical is a fine movie, the limited amount of material makes it
less suitable for basing games on. Among Oz fans, there are 26 other
books after Baum's original series which are considered central.
However, these books are more difficult to acquire these days. Thus,
I settled on only Baum's original series.
In order, the original Baum books are:
- The Wizard of Oz
- In which Dorothy is whisked from Kansas to the magical land of
Oz where -- with a Scarecrow, a Tin Woodman, and a Cowardly
Lion -- she sets off to find the illusive Wizard.
- The Land of Oz
- In which young Tip runs away from his guardian, the evil witch
Mombi, taking with him Jack Pumpkinhead and the wooden
Saw-Horse, and flees to the Emerald City where they discover the
lost princess Ozma in the most unlikely of places...
- Ozma of Oz
- In which Dorothy and Billina the Yellow Hen are lost in a storm,
and end up helping Princess Ozma to rescue the royal family of Ev
from the evil King of the Nomes.
- Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz
- In which Dorothy and the Wizard fall through an earthquake crack
to the center of the Earth, and -- together with Dorothy's cousin
Zeb, Jim the cab-horse, and Eureka the kitten -- they make their
way back to Oz.
- The Road to Oz
- In which Dorothy and the Shaggy Man inexplicably find themselves
in lands near Oz where they meet Polychrome, the lost daughter of
the Rainbow, the continually-lost boy Button-Bright, and a host
of others on their way to Ozma's lavish birthday party.
- The Emerald City of Oz
- In which Ozma brings Dorothy's Uncle Henry and Aunt Em to Oz,
while meanwhile the wicked Nome King plots to invade and
conquer Oz with the help of monstrous allies.
- The Patchwork Girl of Oz
- In which Scraps the Patchwork Girl and the Glass Cat are brought
to life and join the Munchkin boy Ojo in his quest to find a magical
cure for his Unc Nunkie who was accidentally turned into a marble
statue -- meeting the Woozy and other strange characters along
- Tik-Tok of Oz
- In which Betsy Bobbin and Hank the Mule are shipwrecked on the
coast near Oz, meet up with the invading army of Queen Ann of
Oogaboo, and help the Shaggy Man rescue his brother from the evil
- The Scarecrow of Oz
- In which Trot and Cap'n Bill are caught in a whirlpool, and in
finding their way out meet the flying Ork and Button-Bright
(who's lost again), and rescue the Scarecrow from cruel King
- Rinkitink in Oz
- In which the island of Pingaree is invaded, and young Prince Inga
of Pingaree -- aided by the plump King Rinkitink and Bilbil the
goat -- goes to rescue his parents, first from the invaders and
then from the Nome King.
- The Lost Princess of Oz
- In which Ozma is lost -- as are all the great magical instruments
of Oz -- and how the search party of Dorothy, the Wizard, and
other loyal friends are joined by the Frogman and the Lavender
Bear in trying to find her.
- The Tin Woodman of Oz
- In which Woot the Wanderer and the Scarecrow help the Tin Woodman
find his old love, Nimmie Amee, while suffering the ignominious
enchantments of Mrs. Yoop's yookoohoo magic along the way.
- The Magic of Oz
- In which the ex-Nome King Ruggedo and Kiki Aru -- a Munchkin boy
with a magical secret -- bring mayhem to the Emerald City when
its illustrious inhabitants are transformed into strange beasts.
- Glinda of Oz
- In which Ozma and Dorothy travel to a remote corner of Oz to
prevent an impending war between the Skeezer and the Flatheads,
and discover the magical secrets of the Skeezer's submerging
After Baum's death, the publishers hired Ruth Plumly Thompson to
continue the series, with his widow's permission. She wrote 19 Oz
books in 19 years until her death in 1939. Then, John R. Neill (who
was illustrator for all of the Oz books after the first) wrote and
illustrated 3 more Oz books. Four more Oz books were eventually
published by the original publisher between 1946 and 1963.
In 1956 the copyright on The Wizard of Oz expired, and since
that time many authors have tried their hand at writing Oz stories of
various sorts, mostly as fan works rather than for profit.
There are a few definite things known about the Land of Oz. Oz is
a small country which is roughly square and takes maybe a week or two
to walk from one edge to the other. It is divided into four kingdoms:
the Munchkins to the East (blue), the Quadlings to the South (red),
the Winkies to the West (yellow), and the Gillikins to the North
(purple). At the center of these is the Emerald City and its
environs, where the ruler resides.
Outside of the Emerald City, the countryside is generally rural.
The people raise various grains and vegetables, along with some
domestic animals (cows, sheep, and chickens, it would seem). Horses
and dogs are unknown. More importantly, there are hordes of bizarre
hidden areas scattered about where magical creatures and other
John H. Kim <jhkim-at-darkshire-dot-net>
Last modified: Tue Mar 21 16:59:03 2006