The Nature of Oz

         The nature of Oz changes during the course of the original books. The later books emphasize that it is a fairyland where no one suffers or dies. This is not so in the earlier books, where aging and death were assumed to occur as normal. The real reason for the shift is that the author made the books more palatable to small children, with whom they were enormously popular. L. Frank Baum received tons of fan letters and broke continuity to accomodate what his fans wanted. For example, the Wizard of Oz in the first two books was more unscrupulous, having stolen the throne and sold off the heir. But since readers liked him anyway, this was retro-actively changed in later books to make him a more positive character.

         However, in most roleplaying games continuity needs to be tighter than in books, because there are multiple "authors" who need to get their assumptions straight. Any given Oz campaign should decide what approach they are taking. I will outline three broad possibilities for the nature of Oz:

Light Oz
This follows the continuity of the later books as written. Oz is a magical fairyland where no one dies and most everyone is happy. There are those with troubles, but that is mostly because they live in isolated pockets and do not contact Ozma.
 
Grey Oz
This follow the continuity of the first few books. Oz is still a strange and wonderful land where the citizens are mainly good-hearted, but people still grow old and die.
 
Changing Oz
This explains away the nature of Oz as changing over time. i.e. People used to die more normally in Oz, but with the restoration of Ozma to the throne miraculous changes have happened. Magic which was unknown for many ages has been reawakened.

 


John H. Kim <jhkim-at-darkshire-dot-net>
Last modified: Tue Mar 21 17:19:13 2006