Hobby Inspiration: Faust

Or, perhaps more specifically, this statue, entitled Mephistopheles and Margaretta, A Double Statue.

Carved in the early 1800s from a single sycamore log, it’s artist is sadly lost to time. I was infatuated with it the first time I came across it, and knew I had to make some reference to it in a game.

I had a d&d session to plan, and a cruel, paranoid wizard to flesh out. Some old piece of half remembered Tzneetch lore fired through my brain and I had my hook.

The statue would represent two former apprentices to the evil wizard, who, finding them lacking, fused them together as a spite to their magical prowess. Perhaps, he taunted, together they would show some potential.

They are largely forgotten in his cells, until the party discovers them. One face mutters theoretical spell after theoretical spell, the hands of his counterpart scribble them down. They stand, gibbering, needing neither food or drink or sleep. The scrolls each containing a hypothesis that could shake the arcane foundations of the world, fall out of their hands unheeded.

Their presence can nicely complicate things. Though unable to harness it the bonded pair have more power at their disposal than their former master. So what if the party was unaware of the wizards appearance and happens upon the very obviously magical apprentices? Would the party attempt to parley, and what would they do when the only answer the apprentices can give is the vocal components of spells?

Another wrinkle: though initially imagined as throwaways, I ran my joined apprentices as appearing in a dungeon. I decided the day of the game that the wizard surely would have noticed their growing magical aura and decided he’d best keep an eye on them, whenever he had one spare. Put the guards in the room, or leave them off stage to shake the party that decides to puzzle out just what to do. As a final little twist, I placed a ghost in the same room, deciding that surely one of the relatives of the apprentices would have made an attempt to rescue them. And possession is always fun.

I’d love feedback on this idea! If you think you’d use it, let me know how. I go back and forth on the apprentices being able to randomly generate useable spell scrolls for a party who successfully saves them.

By thegoodground

Endless movie fan, old warhammer 40k artwork, grad student, vegetarian gourmand

4 comments

  1. That sounds pretty awesome, Tom. Especially the ghost part. Having the ghost possess a PC so the party can learn the backstory behind the statues, then sort of take a back seat (i.e. allowing the PC control of their actions) as long as it thinks the party is working towards freeing the apprentices (and itself) from eternal torment with the promise of reward…might be a good carrot AND stick. The trick would be doing it without making your players feel too railroaded.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Actually, maybe having the ghost haunt the party and generally be a nuisance until it gets its way or gets exorcised might be better. That way you don’t actually possess the PC.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I ran it I had it try to possess the characters, and when one took, I texted them instructions on what to do for a while. The others in the group were baffled. It was interesting.

      Like

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