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.

        


The Books

         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 the way.
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 Nome King.
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 Krewl.
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 island.

         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.


Known Facts

         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 oddities reside.

 


John H. Kim <jhkim-at-darkshire-dot-net>
Last modified: Tue Mar 21 16:59:03 2006