Sunday, March 21, 2010
Dungeons of Oz
For years I looked down on Oz as candy coated kiddy fare. But I recently read the original Wizard of Oz for the first time. If you've only seen the movie, then you haven't experienced this wonderful, magical place created by L. Frank Baum.
The famous 1939 movie only covers a very edited version of the first half of the book. I found that once the Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, and Scarecrow got their heart, courage, and mind that the book really gets good! The rest of the book is spent in adventures showing what they did with their gifts. And it all struck me as being very much like a good D&D campaign with dark forests, powerful, terrifying and evil creatures, and of course the Wicked Witch of the West.
I could easily see Oz as a great fantasy world for an old-school campaign. It's got all the ingredients for epic fantasy adventures with villains, strange inhabitants, fantastic locations, magic, and deadly creatures. It is a much darker, scarier place than the colorful musical version would ever lead you to believe.
In my excitement for Oz I rented the 1985 movie Return to Oz, and enjoyed it more than the famous 1939 musical. Much more.
Disney advertised it as a sequel:
But really it was nothing like that. It is much darker and more fantastic with no singing, it was more like this:
One of the best characters in Return to Oz is the sorceress Mombi. An evil witch who collects heads, which she switches by taking her head off and putting a new one on. What a great villain! She delivers one of the best lines to Dorothy in the movie:
Mombi: Not beautiful you understand, but you have a certain prettiness, different from my other heads. I believe I'll lock you in the tower for a few years until your head is ready. And then I'll take it.
Dorothy: I believe you will NOT!
I'm collecting the other Baum Oz books on my eReader (currently my iPhone, but quite possibly for the iPad when it comes out) and am looking forward to experiencing more of the wonderful world of Oz.