Monday, February 18, 2013

Hansel and Gretel, from a RPG Prespective

Out of sheer ennui, a buddy and I saw Hansel & Gretel the other night. As a film it was like watching the imbecilic younger siblings of Van Helsing running headlong at each other with buckets on their heads.  
ever wonder what happened next?
Neither did anyone else. Ever. 

As a D&D campaign it kind of works, once again proving that internal logic and consistency aren't crucial to a decent campaign.

The plot involves Hansel and Gretel attempting to stop the Bad Witches from creating a potion that makes all witches immune to fire. They can fly, fling object around with a flick of their wand, deflect bullets, take over the minds of mortals (and animals), shapechange, withstand superhuman damage and there are hundreds, if not thousands of them; but apparently being burned at the stake is the biggest impediment to them taking over the world.

Tweaking this slightly to remove the stoopid, and you then have the classic 'stop the ritual' campaign. Make the blood moon ritual an attempt to boost their magic, or give them all ruby slippers or to free their dark lord. There is the faintest whiff of brimstone to the witches in H&G, but otherwise they are given no motivation beyond 'are you a Good Witch, or a Bad Witch?'

Now the official symbol that you are
watching a shitty movie.
So then there are the gadgets. This is set in a 'late-fantasy' setting with black powder weapons and printing presses. I'm not exactly sure what Hansel's gun does besides shoot big bullets, but sometimes I suppose that is enough. Gretel's crossbow is the classic, 'double repeater with build-in unlimited clip' common to a lot of movie heroes. She actually has the nerve to make fun of a hunter who uses a shotgun, and then proceeds to hit absolutely nothing with the hundreds of quarrels she fires across the room at the slightest provocation. It also splits in half which has to be really useful for those many occasions that two enemies are sneaking up on you at an exact ninety degree angles. In addition, there are three shot pistol thingies, a rifle with a folding barrel (just think about how stupid that is for a moment), and a hand-cranked taser thingie that double as a defibulator. Speaking of which, please excuse me a moment….

A plea to all screen writers: DEFIBULATORS DO NOT WORK LIKE THAT. They are not 'magic bring back the dead' machines. Also, jump starting a guy's heart just after he fell off a cliff might not be a good idea. He probably didn't die of a heart attack.  

We were all thinking it.
... thank you. Again, removing the stupid you're left with black powder weapons which work against mages. Then again, the witches seem able to deflect most projectiles and are superhumanly resistant to damage, so most of the time H&G give up and wail on these things with hands, feet, shovels and tree limbs. The only start doing any real damage after they remember that, oh yeah, we also have a Gatling gun! Please note how many of the witches have so far died in a fire.

Okay, in this D&D campaign, pretend that there are black powder weapons that do damage to mages/witches and sorcerers. Gnomes made them! As to where H&G get them from? Like everything else in the film, they don't even bother to try.

As for H&G themselves, there is something to work with here. Imagine a kind of bounty-hunter who specializes in magic users. Someone with an innate magical ability, turned inwards so that they can no longer cast spells, but are now superhumanly resistant to spells and magic damage.

So there you have it; distilled down to maybe a halfway decent adventure module with a new character class and a few neat gadgets (NOT the crossbow).

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