A strange question that pop’ed into my browser unprovoked when I published another blogpost – it’s something that WordPress does to inspire more posts. Who would have guessed that the WP guys are huge RP geeks – their silly question was:
What would you do with a magic wand?
I’m not sure if the question is meant to be innocuous or not, but its something that seems well related to an rpg blog.
Well firstly I’d do everything I could to self indulge. There is no way I’d let a device with such potential for mischief just be squandered by a lack of time, or by a lack of opportunity. In fact it is just the type of device that could derail all my best plans in a strange direction.
Start with a few new tech toys and a mammoth bundle of money, then add some interesting low maintenance housing in each popular city in the world, pop in a measure of cosmetic adjustment (no more treadmill for me), and close out the initial wish session with some assurance for posterity, like some blackmail material on some influential people. That puts me on square one with a solid foundation.
In a rpg campaign the players might also wish for similar items, as human indulgence is very much the same. A rpg toon might also take action to see if they could break something significant. They might not hesitate to end the lives of a city, or bankrupt an enemy noble, or some other slightly nefarious deed. In real life you’d probably not take risks like this, as the ramifications might be too much guilt to handle.
In both reality and rpg finding out what the wand’s limitations is very important early too. Is this an unlimited power but short use (ala 20 charges), a ring of three wishes (limited wish x3), a harry potter silly phrase toy (useless unless the plot calls for it), or a you-want-you-get deal?
What about making sure that nobody else has a similar device, and if they do – remove them. No point being a being of substantive magical power if another person can just wish it all away (maybe that explains the lack of high level wizards in D&D games – they get to level 15 and somebody removes them). Perhaps that is a reason to keep the benefits low key so you stay below the radar of the other powerful folks. Don’t become an overnight billionaire, but instead manufacturer a lifestyle which is independently maintained and very subtle.
Imagine too the potential to actually do good. Doing a short walk through a hospital could garner some seriously good kudos if you use the device well, and hints to doing good as a positive force, rather than correcting a great injustice by killing a foe.
Again the rpg resolution is different and more direct. In most game you have a great evil, and neutralising that evil (usually though violence) is a standard plot theme. I don’t know what the real life “big bad” is but I can think that it is more based upon perspective than a fixed alignment. What if a game was created where the real driver for fundamental success was through the healing and kindness to mankind? Would anyone actually play that?
I’d aim to make a solid lifestyle, which is not maintained by the wand itself. Build social and capital infrastructure so that even if the wand is gone, you have something to fall back upon. Its something that PCs in rpg games almost never do – they look for a way to end the plot elements, not lock in prosperity. To the player’s credit they probably know the GM will take it all away again though.
I’d also create some really neat toys, as back-up tools.
- a ring of invulnerability and teleportation,
- a never ending bottle of fine wine,
- a wallet which always has at least a $100 in it,
- a watch that stops and starts time,
- a handkerchief that cures illness,
Too much? I don’t think so.
There is of course the potential for the wand to be a destructive and subversive force in my life. Like a Twilight Zone episode where the protagonist gets all that they wished for, but also creates unwittingly their own demise and potentially the demise of all around them. Now putting that into an RPG as a campaign closer might be cool – have the PCs struggling to acquire the device thinking it can save the world, but the wand itself is the short term benefactor and long term destructor of the kingdom.
Almost everything on my list above can be “reversed” by a sinister GM to undo the good, and lead the protagonist into a downward spiral.
Sounds kind of fun actually.