Forgotten Futures VIII
Fables...
A Role-Playing Source-book For Edith Nesbit's Victorian and Edwardian Children's Fantasy

by Marcus L. Rowland
Copyright © 2002, portions Copyright © 1993-2001



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Contents

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Introduction

PREVIOUS Forgotten Futures collections have dealt with a range of topics, from airship Utopias and Edwardian space flight to worlds of the strange, supernatural, and melodramatic. This collection ventures into the world of children's fantasy, as it appeared in Britain from the end of the nineteenth century onwards. While the aim is to cover the whole genre, for copyright reasons all of the source material included with this collection was written by Edith Nesbit (1858-1924), a prolific author who can still be read with pleasure by a modern audience. Most of the sources suggested for further reading are modern authors, since their books are much more readily available than period works.

Why children's fantasy? It's a field that has received relatively little coverage in RPGs, and requires a different style of role-playing. Characters aren't the combat monsters of most genres; even with the aid of magic a child is usually no match for a determined adult. Children also have different priorities to adults; rather than saving the world, typical goals for adventures might be to pacify angry parents, eat every flavour of ice cream sold in a particular cafe (with lashings of ginger beer), or recover a favourite toy from the school bully. Saving the world might be an unintended side effect of these plans (see, for example, Diane Duane's So You Want To Be A Wizard), but in period stories it is rarely the original intention of characters. Adventures in this genre can be immense fun, a refreshing change from RPGs where every action is a matter of life or death, or can be played entirely seriously.

Most of the stories originally appeared in the Strand Magazine, where they were illustrated by H. R. Millar, an influential artist who was even more prolific than Nesbit. His pictures accompanied most children's, historical and fantasy stories in the Strand for many years, and set a distinctive stamp on much of this fiction, a style which is instantly recognisable. Millar died in 1940, and due to the eccentricities of European law remains in copyright until 2010; all attempts to contact the copyright holders have failed, so it has not been possible to include his work. Instead the stories have been illustrated with edited artwork from a variety of copyright-expired sources. As a result some of the continuity of the artwork in the three novels has been lost, and the main characters sometimes change appearance from one picture to the next. Indiana University maintains a web site for Nesbit's work which includes several novels, stories, and poems, some with Millar's illustrations. See the appendix on Nesbit for more details of on-line resources.

This collection also includes one piece of non-fiction; My School Days, an account of Nesbit's childhood which was serialised in The Girl's Own Paper in 1896-7 and sheds some interesting light on the background to the fiction.

For convenience the following abbreviations are used for the fiction;

5CFive Children And It.
PCThe Phoenix and the Carpet.
AMThe Story of the Amulet.
7DThe Seven Dragons and Other Stories.
  1. The Book of Beasts
  2. The Purple Stranger
  3. The Deliverers of Their Country
  4. The Ice Dragon; or Do As You Are Told
  5. The Island of the Nine Whirlpools
  6. The Dragon Tamers
  7. The Fiery Dragon or The Heart of Stone and the Heart of Gold
  8. The Last of the Dragons
  9. Whereyouwantogoto or The Bouncible Ball
  10. Kind Little Edmund or The Caves and the Cockatrice
  11. The Cockatoucan: or Great Aunt Willoughby
MWThe Magic World.
  1. The Cat-Hood of Maurice
  2. The Mixed Mine
  3. Accidental Magic
  4. The Princess and the Hedge-Pig
  5. Septimus Septimusson
  6. The White Cat
  7. Belinda and Bellamant
  8. Justnowland
  9. The Related Muff
  10. The Aunt and Amabel
  11. Kenneth and the Carp
  12. The Magician's Heart

Usually these abbreviations are bracketed and followed by a chapter reference and function as links; for example, [5C 8] is a link to Five Children and It Chapter 8, [7D 3] links to The Deliverers of Their Country

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Language And Units

THE author of Forgotten Futures is British, as was E. Nesbit. American readers will occasionally notice that there are differences in spelling and use of language between our 'common' tongues. If that worries you, you are welcome to run documents through a spell checker, but please DON'T distribute modified versions. Please also note that the English of the fiction has some very minor Victorian idiosyncrasies, spellings and turns of phrase which have fallen out of common usage today. There is a glossary below.

The stories occasionally use Imperial measurements; feet and inches, ounces and pounds, miles and horsepower. To retain their flavour these units have been used in the worldbook and adventures. Readers who are unfamiliar with the British (and American) system of weights, or with pre-decimal British currency, will find the awful details in Appendix A of the Forgotten Futures rules.

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Playing Games

THIS collection is a source for game referees, and most sections contain notes for their use. A few sections are written primarily for games and will be of little interest to other readers. Statistics for the Forgotten Futures rules are included, but you are welcome to use the game of your choice and add game statistics to fit its rules. No one will complain, provided you don't distribute a modified version of these files, but if you like the game setting and adventures please register. Please note that mention of a game at any point below does NOT mean that this is an approved playing aid for the system concerned!

Changeling (White Wolf) is another RPG emphasising the theme of children and magic, although with a rather different background. It is most suitable for mature readers. Puppetland (Hogshead Publishing) is an RPG exploring the horrific elements of the traditional Punch and Judy puppet show, and is again recommended for mature readers. Once Upon A Time (Atlas Games) is an excellent card-based story telling game based on traditional fairy tale themes. Naturally many other RPGs include rules for magic etc., but generally the settings and atmosphere are less relevant to the themes of this collection. Games dealing with the world of children without magic include The Skool Rules by Phil Masters, which simulates life in an English boarding school (included with FF III) and Teenagers From Outer Space (R. Talsorian Games). Rumours of an RPG based on the Harry Potter books have been denied by Wizards of the Coast, but it's possible that one may eventually appear.

Three previous Forgotten Futures collections have dealt with magic, to a limited extent, or included material related to children:

Two of the novels and some of the stories are set in London. FF V: Goodbye Piccadilly is a source-book for adventures set in London, albeit the London of Victorian and Edwardian disaster stories. The information in this supplement may be useful if adventures are set in London. One of the adventures is a sequel (of sorts) to The Wages of Sin, an adventure in FF VI: Victorian Villainy.

This collection expands considerably on the existing rules for children in Forgotten Futures. Most of these additions are optional, but with the exception of the magic system can be used in any FF setting.

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Weird Science, Magic and the Supernatural

THIS worldbook barely mentions science, although an interest in science was of course expected of every schoolboy at the time. Generally speaking the stories with a British setting assume late Victorian technology without any unusual refinements; gas, candles and oil lamps are still used for lighting in most homes, messages are sent by penny post or telegraph rather than the telephone, except in wealthy homes, and transport is still largely dependent on horse power. While more advanced technology is in development it is very unlikely to fall into the hands of children. Fortunately, they may have magic instead...

In the stories magic is usually a property of magical objects (the Carpet, the Amulet, the Bouncible Ball, the Book of Beasts, the Brass Telescope), creatures (the Psammead, the Phoenix, the Cockatoucan and various dragons), supernatural entities (Nisroch), and occasional magicians (often named James) who generally turn out to be villainous. Children rarely create magic; they are usually its users, not its makers. Nevertheless they seem to be more "magic-prone" than adults. Although there are few examples of child magicians in Nesbit's stories, it is assumed that children may be more powerful than most adult magicians if they can learn how to use spells, but gradually lose this natural talent as they grow up. Adult magicians are comparatively rare, somehow retaining their childish talents or acquiring magical power by intense study. Referees are advised to think very carefully before allowing characters direct access to spells; magic in this setting can be extraordinarily powerful, and it may be best to provide it from an external source.

Alert readers will notice that this is apparently a universe in which conservation of mass and energy work sporadically, there are at least four physical dimensions, and time travel into the past and future is possible. Interestingly, Nesbit anticipates many later authors in making the past unchangeable (any influence exerted by the characters helps to ensure that history comes out as it should), the future a world of possibilities shaped by events in the present. The mechanics of this process are discussed in later sections.

Finally, the "supernatural" undoubtedly exists in this world, but exactly what this means may be open to interpretation. In the main sequence of novels magic undoubtedly works, and at least one god (Nisroch) appears, but there is little evidence for other forms of supernatural activity. Theosophy and mediumship are mentioned, but there is no proof that they work.

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Weird History

MOSTLY these stories ignore history; there may be wars going on in the background, but children are unlikely to participate, or even give them much thought, apart from worrying if their parents or other relatives are involved. The setting for the novels and several of the stories is the golden "now" of the late Victorian and Edwardian period, the heyday of the "Empire On Which The Sun Never Sets". It's a period of calm before the storm of the First World War.

The broader historical picture is mostly of interest in the third book of the Psammead sequence, The Story of the Amulet, which involves time travel to several historical periods and places. These include Babylon, pre-Roman Britain, Egypt in several periods, Atlantis, and a future London. Generally speaking the historical civilisations conform to the generally accepted view of history current in Nesbit's day; she had expert help from the British Museum's Dr. Wallace Budge, and made good use of it. At the time the existence of Atlantis seemed plausible; today it is much more dubious, but Nesbit's description of its destruction could apply to several of the historical catastrophes currently believed to be the source of the myth. A good overview of the myths and historical background to Atlantis can be found in GURPS Atlantis (Steve Jackson Games).

The future London Nesbit describes is obviously heavily influenced by Wells, and seems to fall into the broad class of socialist Utopia found in many books of the period. It could even be the world of The Angel of the Revolution (See FF VII: Tsar Wars) but a peaceful transition seems more likely.

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Technical notes

THESE documents were mostly typed using Borland's Sprint word processor, a DOS program so old that it would probably run on a Babbage engine if I owned one, or with NoteTab Pro, an excellent Windows text editor. HTML was hand coded to minimise size, and tested using Internet Explorer 4, 5 and 5.5, Opera 5 and 6, and Netscape Navigator. They do not attempt to change the default font or style for your browser, but a font that includes the UK pound "£", half "" and quarter "" signs will give best results.

The novels were scanned with an HP Scanjet 5P scanner, using Caere Omnipage Pro software for OCR. Micrografx Photomagic and Paintshop Pro were used for graphics editing. TrueSpace 2 was used for three-dimensional modelling.

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Acknowledgements

MANY friends and acquaintances helped with ideas and material for this collection. First and foremost was Alex Stewart, who suggested elements of the magic system. Arnold, Small God of Teddy Bears, previously appeared in a GURPS Diskworld scenario by Mike Cule published in Steve Jackson Games' Pyramid web-magazine, and is included by permission of the author and Steve Jackson Games. Louise Holden provided an expendable copy of most of the short stories for scanning, saving wear and tear on my Strand volumes. John Dallman provided a crucial insight into the future of characters from Nesbit's stories. Numerous users of the CIX conferencing service helped to find source material and identify places, products, etc. Some statistics are taken from What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool. Much of the material on working-class childhood derives from the (currently unpublished) memoirs of my aunt and other family accounts of life in the poorer areas of London in the early decades of the twentieth century. Several users of CIX and rec.arts.sf.fandom helped with proof-reading of Nesbit's biography and some of the fiction. Finally, the title was suggested by Megan C. Robertson.


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Glossary

NESBIT'S English is exceptionally clear, and modern readers rarely encounter problems with it. However, there are a few words and phrases that have fallen out of use, refer to things, persons, places and events that are now obscure, or may be unfamiliar to readers outside Britain. Some other terms that have different meanings in Britain and elsewhere are also covered below.

Acid-Drops
Sweets made with sugars, citric acid and tartaric acid to give a sour taste. Lemon drops are similar. [7D 2]
Allotment
A plot rented in a communal garden, usually used to grow vegetables. [PC 9]
Amen-Ra
Variant spelling of Amon-Ra, a fusion of the Theban father of the Gods with the Egyptian sun god. [AM 11]
Army and Navy Stores
Department store near Victoria Station, one of the largest in London [PC 2]
"As good fish in the sea"
From a 16th-century proverb, "There are as good fish in the sea as ever came out of it" [PC 3]
Mrs. Besant
See Theosophy.
Bathing Machine
Hut on wheels for changing from normal clothing into bathing dress. [7D 9]
Bazaar
Originally an Indian market, the term was later used to describe any charity sale which aspired to "higher" status than a jumble sale. [PC 4]
Bimeby
Slang: "by and by", U.S. Negro origin but used in Britain in the 19th century. [PC 8]
Bobs
Nickname, originally that of General Roberts, popularised by Kipling. [5C 7]
Bradshaw
Volume consolidating all railway timetables for the British Isles; the Continental Bradshaw dealt with the rest of Europe [AM 1]
The Brass Bottle
Novel by H.F. Anstey in which a young architect buys a bottle containing a genie, which wreaks havoc in 1890s London [5C 11]
Breaks
Large wagons. [7D 11]
Brougham carriage
Small one-horse closed carriage with two or four wheels for two or four occupants. [PC 3]
Camden Town
District of London, generally working to middle class in this period, althought there are more prosperous areas. [5C 1]
Charing Cross
London station near Trafalgar Square. [PC 11]
Conkers
Game played with horse chestnuts, usually by boys; the "conkers" are threaded on string, and players take turns to hit their opponent's conker. The first to break loses. The winner adds the number of conkers the opponent's conker has broken to his own; for example, a conker that has broken six others is a "sixer", if it breaks another sixer it becomes a "twelver". [AM 9]
Crystal Palace
Exhibition centre and pleasure gardens in South London. See the FF I adventure H.M.A. Pinafore for much more on this site. [7D 4]
Day month
Monthly pay day. [PC 3]
Emu brand birds
A reference to "Emu Brand" knitting wool; the company still exists and the logo can be viewed on-line. [5C 1]
Etons
Short black jacket with broad lapels, worn as part of a suit or over a skirt. [PC 11]
The Eyes of Light
Probably a juvenile novel - all attempts to trace it have failed. [PC 3]
Fag
Younger pupil at a boarding school, expected to act as a servant to senior pupils or prefects.
Fair Play
Novel by Emma D.E.N. Southworth, full title Fair Play: or the Test of the Lone Island. [PC 3]
Fly
Small wagon with one horse, usually designed for speed rather than capacity. [5C 1]
Garrick
Theatre in Charing Cross Road near Trafalgar Square; burned by the Phoenix but the damage was magically restored afterwards. [PC 11]
Grub
Schoolboy slang: food [5C 8]
Guy Fawkes Night
November 5th, celebration of Guy Fawkes' abortive attempt to destroy the Houses of Parliament. He is burned in effigy with fireworks etc. [PC 1] [7D 4]
Half-Sovereign
Gold coin, value ten shillings. [AM 1]
Haymarket
Probably the Theatre Royal in Haymarket, a street off Trafalgar Square. [PC 11]
Hippodrome
Theatre and music hall on Leicester Square (near Trafalgar Square). [AM 14]
Jaw
School slang: talk [5C 2]
Libertys
London department store famous for quality fabrics etc. [AM 6]
Lyndhurst
Hampshire village near Southampton. [PC 7]
Mansion House
Official residence of the Lord Mayor of London; it has a dining hall that can seat 400. [5C 8]
Maskelyne and Cook's "Egyptian Hall, England's Home of Mystery"
A famous magic show of the 19th and early 20th century. See this web page for full biographical details. [5C 1][AM 14]
Nicked
Slang: Stolen [PC 1]
Nimrod
Early Babylonian king. [AM 7]
Nisroch
Assyrian eagle-headed god. [AM 7]
Norfolk Jacket
A belted jacket with two box pleats in front and back. [5C 8]
Oil-cloth
Fabric prepared with oil to make it waterproof. [PC 1]
Ostler
Man who attends to horses at an inn etc. [5C 2]
Palkee
A palankin-coach, an Indian carriage. [PC 4]
Paraffin
Fuel for lamps, "oil" stoves, etc. (US kerosene) [PC 1]
Ploughed
Slang: failed examinations. "ploughed as thoroughly as any young man at Oxford". [7D 5]
Psychical Society
More properly the Psychical Research Society. See FF III for more on this organisation. [PC 10]
Relieving Officer
Officer appointed by the Union (q.v.) to administer the provision of relief to the poor. [AM 10]
Rochester
Kent town SE of London on the river Medway, which feeds into the Thames estuary. [5C 2]
Rosherville
Seaside resort on the Kent coast. It had a menagerie, pleasure gardens, etc. [AM 13]
Senna-tea
Medicinal tea made from senna-pods used as a laxative. [5C 6] [7D 10]
Sippets
Croutons [PC 12]
Sovereign
Gold coin, value one pound. [5C 2]
Tatcho
Trade name for a hair restorer. [PC 11]
Teetotum
A type of spinning top. [7D 2]
Theosophy
Religion founded by Madame Blatavsky which claimed that knowledge of God allowed believers to harness occult phenomena. An important British exponent was Mrs. Annie Besant. [AM 8]
Union
A consortium of parishes combined to provide accommodation etc. for the poor, mainly in workhouses. [AM 10]
Vesuvian fusees
Unusually hot match designed for lighting cigars, pipes, etc. [PC 1]
The Water Babies
Novel by Charles Kingsley in which a young chimney-sweep escaping a brutal employer drowns and is transformed into a magical "water baby", learning various moral lessons from creatures encountered in the river and sea. [PC 11]
Westward Ho!
Elizabethan novel by Charles Kingsley describing privateering adventures with Sir Francis Drake and visits to the Caribbean and other tropical regions. [PC 3]
Whacker
School slang: a lie [AM 8]
Whitesmith
Craftsman who polishes and otherwise modifies iron and other goods (as opposed to a blacksmith, who creates and forges them) [7D 6]
Workhouse
Hostel for unemployed homeless poor; able-bodied occupants are expected to work for their keep. Conditions are invariably grim, to deter casual homelessness and unemployment. [AM 10]


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Setting The Scene

"We come from the world where the sun never sets. And peace with honour is what we want. We are the great Anglo-Saxon or conquering race. Not that we want to conquer you" [AM 4]

THESE stories were written in, and mostly begin in, the "real" world of Britain around 1895-1910. It's a time when the British Empire is reaching its maximum size and starting to show signs of the stagnation and over-extension which will eventually lead to its collapse; the Boer War (1899-1902) is an early indication of things to come, as is Britain's unnecessary and ultimately abortive invasion of Tibet (1903 - see FF III). Britain is now primarily an industrial and commercial nation, and with the change from agriculture to industry needs imported food to survive. Steam and occasional motor cars are replacing horse and sail power, experimental aeroplanes and the first airships suggest the future of aviation, and the telegraph and telephone, and most recently radio, are revolutionising communications. Meanwhile political and economic tension in Europe is already escalating and will eventually lead to the First World War. However, very little of this is apparent to the average British child, who is almost always jingoistic to the point of parody.

Class and Adventurers
In most adventures it is preferable for all characters to have roughly the same social status, since none of the natural "units" in which children work together (such as families, gangs, and groups of school friends) cross class boundaries easily in this period. Players should be free to ignore this if they like - for example, it's possible to make up a background in which a young aristocrat joins forces with the children of the local doctor and a game-keeper's daughter - but parents and other interested parties are unlikely to welcome such associations, and there is a built-in assumption that the aristocrat will lead the group, which may cause problems. In fiction groups of this type are generally considered to be funny, typical examples being the British comic strip Lord Snooty And His Pals and the American Richie Rich (although the latter lacks the class implications of the British strip). Later sections deal with character generation, including social class.
The nineteenth century saw the rise of the British middle class, from a small and relatively insignificant portion of the population to effective control of the country and government. Now the non-hereditary titles, and some of the lesser hereditary peerages, are more an indication of wealth than of quality; while knighthoods are still awarded for bravery, it is more likely that they are "earned" by being mayor of a town during a royal visit, by donating money to party funds, for charitable work, for owning a newspaper supporting the government, or anything else that appealed to the ruling party. The old aristocracy still exists, but money is much more important in everyday life. Nevertheless the middle classes are slow to realise their power, and by aspiring to "higher" status have become the main supporters of the status quo. Children are acutely aware of social status; it's apparent that the family of the Psammead stories are "middle class", and the children relate to their social "inferiors" appropriately. This is most obvious in their encounters with gypsies [5C 3], servants [PC 3] and "working class" children [PC 5].

Home life in this period is best described as cluttered, although the worst excesses of Victorian over-ornamentation are past. Middle-class houses tend to be decorated with hundreds of mass-produced ornaments and pictures, small ornamental tables and shelves, huge plants, and elaborately embroidered fabrics; the house described in [AM 1] is less cluttered than most, but still boasts an impressive assortment of useless junk. In the last twenty years there has been a backlash against this style, and the smartest homes are comparatively free of unnecessary bric-a-brac, though still over-ornamented by modern standards, but most people aren't so fashionable. For children, the practical consequence is that in most homes it is difficult to play indoors without breaking something.

All middle- to upper-class homes employ servants; the minimum complement is a maid (and probably a cook-housekeeper), with more servants a necessary ingredient of any show of wealth. The family of the Psammead stories don't appear to be unusually prosperous; their home in Camden Town isn't particularly nice, and some furnishings are purchased second hand [PC 1]. Nevertheless they can afford to employ a succession of nursemaids, housemaids and cooks. With servants so common children spend much of their time under the care of a nursemaid, with well-to-do families employing a nanny and governess to teach the children until they are ready to go to boarding school. Only working class parents raise their own children and spend much time with them. Lucky middle-class children may be allowed a remarkable amount of freedom under these conditions (as in the Psammead stories), but restrictive supervision is more common [7D 9] [7D 11].

Domestic "conveniences" at this time usually include indoor lavatories and piped cold water; hot water plumbing is a new innovation and rarely works well. In typical homes hot water is still carried by hand, and wood, coal and paraffin stoves are generally used for cooking and heat. Nesbit mentions that "...more than three thousand children are burned to death every year." [AM 12]; the main causes are sparks and coals from open fires, scalds from water heated for washing clothing and bathing, and accidents with paraffin and other fuels [PC 1], combined with fabrics and bedding which have no fire retardant properties. In towns gas is the preferred form of lighting, and is relatively safe compared to most alternatives (usually: ...the gas which had not been allowed to be lighted since the day when Lionel made a swing by tying his skipping-rope to the gas-bracket. [7D 1]), but paraffin lamps and candles still cause many fires. Electric lighting is just starting to appear in public buildings and a few wealthy homes, as is the telephone, but both are only found in cities. Meanwhile children and fire are a dangerous combination: [PC 1], [MW 9]

Entertainment is almost always live; the phonograph is still more of a curiosity than a serious rival to live music, and moving pictures are a rare novelty. It's the heyday of the music hall, variety theatre, pantomime, and theatre; as seen in [PC] there are theatres and music halls all over London, especially in the "West End" around Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross Road, and Leicester Square, including such specialised shows as Maskelyne and Cooke's magic show, the Egyptian Hall, England's Home of Mystery [AM 14]. Home entertainments might include amateur dramatics [MW 11], recitals, and above all else music. Most middle-class families own musical instruments, with pianos and harmoniums very popular. Common hobbies for adults (and many children) include photography, various forms of collecting, handicrafts, gardening, and reading. There are also many amateur scientists, especially naturalists and fossil-hunters, and children are often involved in these activities, either as assistants to their parents or working alone. Amateur taxidermy and egg-collecting are widespread childhood hobbies in the country, bird watching and other forms of observational study are less popular. City children generally lack opportunity for these interests, but make up for it by access to "improving" attractions such as zoos and museums, and to theatres and the music hall.

Another common interest is spiritualism; reports of psychic phenomena swept across America in the 1850s and soon reached Europe, and, almost uniquely, attained the status of a religion and an area of scientific study simultaneously. To an extent the fashion waned as some of the most prominent American and European mediums were unmasked as fakes, but organisations such as the Psychic Research Society and the Spiritualist Church survive into the twentieth century. One reason for this interest is relatively high mortality amongst younger children; most childhood diseases can't be prevented, and it is usual to suffer measles, German measles, chicken pox and mumps in the first few years of life. Whooping cough, tuberculosis, polio and scarlet fever are less common but far from rare, and have high mortality. As a result most families have experienced death, and it is sometimes assumed that children are "attuned" to the psychic "powers". A mischievous child might learn to take advantage by faking psychic phenomena. There are numerous accounts of suspiciously playful poltergeists and spirits associated with the presence of a child medium. If real psychic phenomena exist, a child medium might be exposed to corrupting influences from beyond the grave, or forced to perform by unscrupulous parents (see The Land of Mists by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in FF III, for more on this). Alternatively, spirits may be useful as sources of information or more active forms of help.

Fashions for children tends to fall into two main categories; scaled down versions of adult clothing, and simple garments such as pinafores designed for utility rather than style. The Millar illustrations of the children of the Psammead stories show typical middle-class styles. Both girls wear pinafores indoors and in the country, and dresses in town. The latter usually have knee-length skirts, much shorter than adult styles, worn with stockings and buttoned boots. The boys generally wear Norfolk jackets with knee breeches (long "shorts" coming down to below the knee) and long wool stockings with boots, but Robert is shown wearing a sailor suit in most of the illustrations of the second novel, and Anthea sometimes wears a longer dress with a sailor-style collar in this story. Coats and scarfs are worn in winter, augmented by muffs (girls only) or gloves. All four of the older children wear sun hats in summer, caps (boys) or bonnets (girls) in the winter.

Education (in reading, writing, and arithmetic) to the age of 14 is theoretically universal in Britain; it became compulsory in 1870. In practice many working-class children avoid education, usually by connivance with their parents, and are expected to work. If they attend school at all they usually work during the holidays; the school year is geared to the needs of agriculture, and many families spend the summer holidays in the country as fruit pickers or farm labourers. Middle- and upper-class children naturally avoid these activities (which killed a few score labourers every year) and expect to spend the holidays with their families, or may be packed off to a resort or the country in the care of a servant. Parents do not usually take their children with them on foreign holidays or business trips [5C 1]; it is felt that they are safer with relatives, at home in the care of servants, or or left at boarding school (as in Nesbit's The Enchanted Castle) where they will not be exposed to "nasty foreign food", diseases and other risks. Schools are run by church parishes, charities, and other interested bodies (such as various guilds, e.g. the goldsmiths), or for profit. State schools are in their infancy, and mostly reserved for the working classes. Single-gender education is almost universal; even those schools which accept pupils of both sexes have separate classrooms for boys and girls. At fourteen a boy can leave school and take a job, become an apprentice, even join the army as a boy soldier or the navy as a cadet. With parental support it is possible to continue education and eventually go to university, but university education is extremely expensive with few scholarships and places are awarded more by class and connection than by ability. Girls have fewer career options; middle- and upper-class children were expected to go to a "finishing school" for training in the arts and social skills needed to attract a husband, working-class girls were mostly limited to marriage or work. There are a few university places for women, but a woman with a higher education is extraordinarily rare; see Dorothy L. Sayers' Gaudy Night for an example of the treatment of educated women.

Railways apart, private transport is mostly horse-drawn, with bicycles the most common alternative, and a few cars owned by the wealthy. Other forms of transportation include electric trams and petrol-engined buses, horse-drawn buses, and electric underground trains (in London). There are efficient telegraph, postal, pneumatic tube, and messenger services; in cities it is routine to send a letter and receive a reply before lunch, and it is possible for a Londoner to send a letter to Scotland and get a reply the following day. Rural children will find it difficult to get far from home, unless they are lucky enough to own a horse or a bicycle (or have some other form of transport), but the town child usually has enough pocket money for occasional journeys.

Although this period is in some ways the golden age of children's fiction, it should not be assumed that it was a golden age for children. Common themes of the more sensational forms of fiction included abduction (by tramps, gypsies, or criminals) for ransom or menial work, or as part of some more complex plot, cruel masters of apprentices, and abusive parents and guardians [MW 8].

"...I hope every boy in this room has in his heart the seeds of courage and heroism and self-sacrifice, and I wish that every one of you may grow up to be noble and brave and unselfish, worthy citizens of this great Empire for whom our soldiers have freely given their lives."

And, of course, this came true- which was a distinct score for Camden Town. [AM 14]

Is Ageing Necessary?
For the purposes of children's fiction, or an RPG based on it, it isn't essential for children to age; until comparatively recently most examples of the genre ignored ageing completely, allowing the author to keep writing stories indefinitely without having to think up new characters. Later sections discuss the rules implications of this choice, and their implications for the background and continuity of adventures.
This snapshot of the world of the child has glossed over one fact; children eventually grow up and become adults. For the Psammead stories, and the other Nesbit stories of the 1900s with a setting in the real world, the main characters would come of age around the outbreak of the first World War. It's easy to imagine Robert and Cyril as young men, perhaps volunteering at the start of the war and dying on the Somme, perhaps having the courage to see the war for the unnecessary slaughter it was and becoming conscientious objectors. Both girls would probably enlist in one of the women's auxiliary services, perhaps as nurses, or join civilian relief organisations. [AM 12] mentions that all four are living when the "learned gentleman" is an old man, but the date of this scene is unclear and may precede the war; it is also stated that the futures visited are possibilities, not certainties. Similarly, [5C 9] shows the Lamb as an adult, but it is obvious that this isn't his true future; he treats the other children as his younger brothers and sisters, whereas they would be his seniors if it were real. It's another possibility, not a certainty.

The last paragraph was deliberately misleading - guessing the future of the children is an interesting exercise, but the attempt to do so is based on our current perceptions of a tragic period. Nesbit and the other fantasy authors of the period had no way of knowing what was coming, neither did their characters, and most of the political and economic forces that would lead to WW1 are totally invisible to a child in 1901. The logical prediction, based on the perceived "truths" of the period, would be the continued spread of enlightened civilisation (typified, at least for British children, by the Empire) and the gradual eradication of poverty and disease. In Nesbit's case this would involve the spread of socialism and possibly some degree of mystical revelation; she was a socialist and former member of the Golden Dawn. A campaign using Nesbit's world as its background could take these ideas on board and run with them; the campaign would start in the 1901 we know, but over the course of years would gradually drift towards a socialist Utopia based on these premises. By 1914, far from being at war, the world might be in the process of forging a League of Nations to end war, aided by Higher Beings with an interest in perfecting the human race. This background will not be explored in detail in this collection; it's simply mentioned here as one of many alternative to a campaign based on historical fact. Later sections will explore various possibilities including entirely magical kingdoms, as in [7D 1], [MW 4], [MW 5], [MW 7], [MW 12] and [7D 2], worlds resembling our own in which magic is known to exist (as in [7D 3]), worlds which are apparently like our own but occasionally function by magical rules (The Psammead stories, [7D 4], [MW 1], [MW 2], [MW 3], [MW 11] and [7D 11]), and magical worlds which seem to link to ours but can only be entered by will or imagination ([MW 6], [MW 8], [MW 10], [7D 9], and [7D 11]).

The remainder of this section covers more of the real-world historical background - events and people that might be useful in setting the scene or act as a seed for adventure ideas - and a small selection of things for children to do with their pocket money.


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Timeline, 1890-1914

CHILDREN are usually self-centred and rarely have much interest in current events, unless they involve their own interests. The list that follows shows a few events that might relate to childhood hobbies, crop up in a child's reading, etc. Events which would only be of interest to adults have mostly been omitted, unless they are historically important.

1890
Forth Railway Bridge opened. Wounded Knee massacre (likely to be mentioned approvingly in "penny dreadful" magazines).
1891
The Picture of Dorian Gray. Attempt to assassinate Tsarevitch Nikolai, crown prince of Russia, in Japan (see FF VII).
1892
Borden family murdered in USA.
1893
Pearson's Weekly serialises The Angel of the Revolution and the first half of Olga Romanoff (see FF VII)
1894
Arrest of Dreyfus. Percival Lowell builds an observatory to study Martian canals (see FF II). Aubrey Beardsley illustrates Oscar Wilde's Salome (any child with access to a copy can probably make money showing it to his friends). Kipling's The Jungle Book.
1895
X rays. Motion pictures. The Importance of Being Earnest, A Bid For Fortune (the first Dr. Nikola novel, see FF VI), The Second Jungle Book.
1896
First modern Olympics.
1897
Pearson's Magazine serialises Captains Courageous (Kipling) and The War Of The Worlds (Wells).
1898
Spanish-American War. Britain leases Hong Kong from the Chinese. Boxer Uprising in China.
1899
Boer war. Siege of Mafeking. Boxer uprising (to 1901), Siege of Peking. The first Raffles stories by E. W. Hornung.
1900
Boer war becomes guerilla war. Pearson's Magazine serialises A Honeymoon In Space (FF II)
1901
Queen Victoria dies, succeeded by Edward VII. Marconi tests transatlantic radio transmission (see FF II). Frozen mammoth found in Russia (see FF III adventures). Kipling's Kim. Potter's The Tale of Peter Rabbit. First articles on Bartitsu, a westernised version of Ju-Jitsu, in Pearson's Magazine.
1902
Coronation of Edward VII. Boer war ends. Caruso makes his first phonographic recording. Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Melies produces A Trip to the Moon. The Hound of the Baskervilles.
1903
Britain invades Tibet (see FF III adventures). Emmeline Pankhurst founds the Women's Social and Political Union. Wright brothers fly (see FF II adventures). The Call of the Wild. Russo-Japanese War (see FF III adventures).
1904
Madame Butterfly. Peter Pan. First intelligence tests (children might be tested).
1905
Russian fleet destroyed by the Japanese. Sinn Fein (Irish nationalist movement) founded. Kipling's With The Night Mail (FF I)
1906
Dreyfus pardoned. H.M.S. Dreadnought launched. San Francisco earthquake kills 700. Kipling's Puck of Pook's Hill.
1907
Tungsten light bulbs.
1908
Earthquake kills 80,000 in Italy. Tunguska fireball. Model T Ford. Boy Scout movement. First newsreel. The Wind in the Willows.
1909
Peary reaches the North Pole. Bleriot flies the Channel.
1910
Edward VII dies, George V crowned. Anarchist crimes in London (FFV). Kipling's Rewards and Faries.
1911
Siege of Sidney Street (FFV). Tibet declares its independence from China. Admundsen reaches the South Pole ahead of Robert Scott. Seaplane. Chinese revolution. Mona Lisa stolen. Most of William Hope Hodgson's Carnacki stories (see FF IV) published in The Idler and other magazines.
1912
Scott reaches the South Pole. Titanic sinks. Continental drift proposed as a mechanism for earthquakes etc. Piltdown man discovered. Tarzan of the Apes. The Lost World serialised in The Strand Magazine (FF III).
1913
The Poison Belt serialised in The Strand Magazine (see FF III).
1914
Archduke Franz Ferdinand assassinated in Sarajevo; First World War (Known as the Great War until WW2) begins.


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World Leaders 1890-1914

MORE facts for any self-respecting child to forget... These details are mostly useful in scene-setting, but could conceivably lead to adventures.
Belgium
1865-1909 - Leopold II
1909-1934 - Albert
China
1875-1908 - Kuang-hsu (Emperor)
1908-1912 - Hsuan-T'ung
1912-1912 - Sun Yat-Sen (President)
1912-1916 - Yuan Shih-k'ai
Denmark
1863-1906 - Christian IX
1906-1912 - Frederick VIII
1912-1947 - Christian X
France - Presidents
1887-1894 - Marie Carnot (assassinated)
1894-1899 - Francois Faure
1899-1906 - Emile Loubet
1906-1913 - Armand Fallières
1913-1920 - Raymond Poincaré
Germany
1888-1918 - William II
Greece
1863-1913 - George I (of Denmark)
1913-1917 - Constantine I
Italy
1878-1900 - Humbert I
1900-1946 - Victor-Emanuel III
Japan
1867-1912 - Meiji
1912-1926 - Taisho
Luxembourg
1890-1905 - Adolf of Nassau
1905-1912 - William
1912-1919 - Marie-Adelaide
Netherlands
1890-1948 - Wilhelmina
Popes
1878-1903 - Leo XIII
1903-1914 - Pius X
Portugal
1889-1908 - Charles
1908-1910 - Manuel II (deposed; Portugal became a republic)
1910-1911 - Teofilo Braga (president)
1911-1915 - Manuel Jose de Arriaga
Russia
1881-1894 - Alexander III
1894-1917 - Nicholas II
Spain
1886-1931 - Alfonso XIII
United Kingdom - Monarchs
1837-1901 - Victoria
1901-1910 - Edward VII
1910-1936 - George V
United Kingdom - Prime Ministers
1886-1892 - Marquess of Salisbury (Con.)
1892-1894 - William Ewart Gladstone (Lib.)
1894-1895 - Earl of Rosebery (Lib.)
1895-1902 - Marquess of Salisbury (Con.)
1902-1905 - Arthur James Balfour (Con.)
1905-1908 - Henry Campbell-Bannerman (Lib.)
1908-1915 - Herbert Henry Asquith (Lib.)
United States of America
1889-1893 - Benjamin Harrison (Rep.)
1893-1897 - Grover Cleveland (Dem.)
1897-1901 - William McKinley (Rep.)
1901-1909 - Theodore Roosevelt (Rep)
1909-1913 - William Howard Taft (Rep.)
1913-1921 - Woodrow Wilson (Dem.)


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Pocket Money

'dying' baby toyTHIS section lists things that a child might buy circa 1900, with a few items that are more likely a little later. See previous Forgotten Futures collections for prices of most items for adults. Naturally there is considerable variation depending on the source (for example, Harrods or the Army and Navy Stores are usually a lot more expensive than the average street market, Gamages buy in bulk and sell cheap and have an unusually good selection of mechanical toys from Germany) and quality of goods. Some items were sold in multiple sizes or quality, and prices at the ends of the range are shown hyphenated; for example, 3d - 2s 6d may indicate several different models in this price range. Some items (especially pets) are mainly private sales, with quality and price very variable; the main avenues for such sales were private advertising in newspapers and periodicals such as Exchange and Mart. Wherever possible an average price is provided for such items. The primary sources for this section are:

Exchange And Mart: Selected Issues 1868-1948 - David and Charles 1970
Mr. Gamage's Great Toy Bazaar 1902-1906 - Ingram 1982
The What It Cost The Day Before Yesterday Book - Dr. Harold Priestly 1979
This book unfortunately converts prices to metric currency, which may cause some minor inaccuracies
Yesterday's Shopping: Gamages General Catalogue 1914 - Wordsworth 1994

Pocket money for the average middle-class child is rarely more than a shilling (12d) a week, often less. Working-class children will rarely see more than 2d or 3d. Children tend to spend money when they get it, and rarely save much. Accordingly the more expensive items below are most likely to be Christmas or birthday presents. Children of the rich might be assumed to get more pocket money, but in practice parents rarely trust them with huge amounts of cash; at boarding school they are often dependent on the good-will of relatives (see e.g. Frank Richards' Billy Bunter stories) rather than any predictable form of income.

Publications
Various comics - Comic Cuts, Chips, Larks, Comic Life, Jolly Bits, Halfpenny Comic, Dan Leno's Comic Journal (1898-99 only) all d.
Most cheap newspapers 1d.
The Girl's Own Paper ("improving" articles, fashion, etc. aimed mainly at teenagers and young adults) 1d.
The Boy's Own Paper (articles and fiction, aimed at schoolboys) 1d.
"Penny Dreadful" books containing serialised stories 1d.
Exchange and Mart 2d.
The Times 3d
Sheet music 7d.
Juggling Secrets, Conjuring for Amateurs, Thurston's Card Tricks all 1s.
Scott's Stamp Catalogue 2s 5d

Transport, Communications, and Activities
Ponies etc. are listed under animals, below
Bus or tram ride up to two miles, or an underground railway journey anywhere in London, 1d (adult fares are higher).
Postage for a letter anywhere in Britain 1d.
Telegram, up to 12 words 6d (extra words d per word).
Wooden 4-wheeled cart (17"x9") 3s 11d to 7s 11d (23"x14").
Scooter 7s 11d.
Pedal-driven toy car, for 3-6 year old £1 5s 9d; £4 19s 6d for 6-10 year old (1914)
Pedal-driven toy car, for two 3-6 year old children £11 9s 6d (1914)
Tricycle (ages 4-7) 15s - 19s 11d
Child's bicycle £6 10s (Note: This is a sale price circa 1889 and may not be typical of the period.)
Bicycle accessories: Three speed gear £1 5s, acetylene bicycle lamp 6s 9d, dynamo headlamp and rear lamp £1 8s (1914), celluloid gear wheel cover 2s, bell 1s 6d, pump 7s 6d, tool kit 5s, puncture outfit 9d.
Museum visits: free, or up to 2d per child, Kew Botanical Gardens: 1d per child, London Zoo: 3d per child.

The Importance of Eating Ice Cream
In some campaigns ice cream may be a stronger motivating force than magic or a quest to save the world. Here's an optional rule: all children regardless of their origin and background will do almost anything to get hold of the stuff; if there is some reason why this is a bad idea - for example, an evil witch is offering the ice cream or getting it will take all of the children's money and leave them stranded miles from home - they must roll their MIND versus their own BODY to resist temptation. This roll is made at -1 to MIND if the character suffers from the Greedy trait (see later sections).

In traditional dairy farming areas ice cream should be delicious (especially when accompanied by strawberries and "lashings of ginger beer"), but in towns most is fairly poor stuff; it's often made with lard and other non-dairy fats to cut costs. It's no coincidence that today Britain's largest ice cream manufacturer is also famous for its sausages and other meat products... The worst is probably ice cream sold by street vendors, nicknamed "Hokey-Pokey" (a corruption of "Hocus Pocus") which may be adulterated with chalk and other unusual substances. The most common flavours are vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate, all containing minimal amounts of the substance in question and substantial amounts of food colouring. Optionally rolls to resist ice cream have a bonus of +1 to MIND in urban areas.

Food and Drink
A piece of liquorice root d
A sherbet dab d
An orange or banana 1d.
Penny bun 1d (7 for 6d or 13 for 1s depending on the generosity of the baker).
Ice-cream cone 1d.
Bar of chocolate 2d.
Pint of lemonade or ginger beer 2d.
Eight chocolate eclairs 6d.
A pound of Dundee cake 9d.
Sweets, per pound: Everton toffee 5d, pear drops 5d, almonds 6d, acid drops 6d, barley sugar 10d, peppermint bullseyes 10d, peppermint rock 10d, chocolate 1s 2d, chocolate peppermint creams 1s 10d, chocolate almonds 2s 3d, Chocolate creams 2s 3d, Nougat 2s 11d

Toys and Games
Must you make that NOISE?
Wooden toy police rattle (similar to modern football rattle) 2d.
Rubber bagpipes 6d to 3s 6d depending on quality and number of drones.
Mandolin 6d, concertinas 6d and 1s, metal drum 6d, toy guitar 6d, toy cornet 6d, toy zither 6d, mouth organ with built-in drum and spring-loaded drumsticks 1s, vellum-topped toy drum 2s 6d, 10-key accordion 3s, accordion with 2 stops, treble bellows, 19 keys, 4 bass chords 15s 9d.
Singing top 6d - 10d, musical box 1s.

Serious Fun...
Rubber plate lifter joke 3d, scent bottle joke 3d, squinting eyeglass joke 4d, "crash bang" joke (sound of breaking glass) 5d, Invisible ink 6d, water spray ring 9d, hinged pencil 2d.
Sebackroscope (look behind and to one side while appearing to look forward) 6d.
"Yapper" rubber dog noise 6d, extra-strong rubber "dying" rubber baby 6d, twelve inflatable "dying" rubber toys 1s.
"Dribble" beer mug 2s 9d
Card tricks 6d - 1s 6d, conjuring set (7 tricks) 1s 9d.

The Armoury
Cap gun 1s 4d (100 caps 7d), Derringer cap gun 2s 11d, cannon firing caps and rubber shells 5s 11d, 6-shot revolver firing caps and rubber shells 6s 11d.
Air pistol with six darts 1s 10d (12 darts 6d, 1000 slugs 7d).
Daisy BB rifle 2s 11d (box BB shot 6d).
Catapult gun (catapult on rifle stock) 3s 6d.
Air rifle 13s 6d - £1 15s (1000 Slugs 8d, 12 darts 6d).

toy trainModels and Mechanical Marvels
Model soldiers sets, mostly 7 figures: British regiments 4d - 10d, Indian Army 10d, Indian cavalry (10 horses and riders) 1s 9d, full band of the Coldstream Guards (21 figures) 3s 3d, Camel corps (3 figures) 10d, Royal horse artillery (with firing gun, limber, 7 horses, 6 soldiers) 4s 11d, field gun 6d to 11d.
Gyroscope 6d - 1s 4d
Clockwork monkey, boy on hobby horse, baby, clowns, rabbit, duck, hen, automobile all 10d.
Model garage with two clockwork motor cars 1s (1914), 12" clockwork model motor bus 2s 11d.
O-gauge steam train set (locomotive, carriages, and track loop) 11s 6d - £2 5s, O-gauge clockwork train set with points, station, bridge, etc. £1 5s 6d - £6 10s, 28" 3-gauge steam locomotive model £4 17s 6d.
Steam motor car 12s 6d, steam engine and five working workshop tools 14s 6d, steam traction engine 15s - £1.
Steam torpedo boat 17s 6d, 27" clockwork or steam-driven model destroyer £1 3s 6d (39" model £1 19s 6d), 32" steam-driven model battleship £4 4s.
Rubber-band powered model monoplane 1s 6d (1914), Sopwith biplane, rubber band propulsion £1 1s (1914), Model monoplane, compressed air engine with pump and propeller 25 MPH £5 15s (biplane version £8 8s, both 1914).

Games and Pastimes
Cut-out toy theatre: monochrome 1d, coloured print 2d.
100 foreign stamps for collectors 5d.
Playing cards and other card games 9d.
skittles game (five sizes) 10d - 2s 4d.
Boy's cricket bat 15s, stumps 9d, cricket ball 4s 6d

Close Companions
Golliwog doll small 6d, large 1s
Dressed doll, wax head, 9" 8d, 13" 1s 11d
Undressed doll, china head, 12" 4s 11d, 16" 9s 6d, 28" £1 5s
Wooden doll small 4s 11d, large 9s 11d
Teddy bears, 4 sizes (yellow) 4s 3d - 18s 6d, (white) 3s 3d - 14s 6d.
Stuffed toys: Bear (realistic, 7 sizes) 2s 3d - 18s 6d, cat or Pomeranian dog (3 sizes) 2s - 5s 11d, donkey (4 sizes) 2s 6d - 7s 11d, Puss in Boots 6s 11d, monkey (green) 7s 6d, (red) 8s 11d, (brown) 12s 6d.
Elephant on wheels 10d - 16s 6d

Alternative lifestyles
Squinting eyeglasses ("make everyone laugh - mechanical movements") 4d
False beard 1s to 1s 4d (with real hair 5s 6d), false moustache 1s 4d.
Wigs 2s 9d to 4s 6d, Chinese pigtail wig 9d (better quality up to 21s), spirit gum 4d
Pocket grease paint kit 3s 4d
Red Indian costume 3s 11d (better quality up to 17s 6d).
5 ft. 3-pole wigwam 6s 11d, 8 ft. 5-pole waterproof wigwam £1 17s 6d

Pets and Other Animals
Goldfish 3d.
120 silkworms 7d.
Hedgehog 1s 6d
Rodents: Tame rats 5d, Guinea pig 7d, breeding pair of mice 7d.
Cats: Domestic kitten 3s 6d, Persian kitten 6s 6d, pedigree Persian kitten £1.
Ferrets 3s 6d
Birds: Tame British thrush 3s, pair doves 4s 6d, canaries cock 6s, hen 3s 6d, magpie 10s 6d, golden eagle £3 10s.
Puppies: Sheep dog 10s 6d, Fox-terrier 12s 6d, Spaniel 17s 6d, Great Dane £1, Retriever £1 5s, Bulldog £3, Borzoi £3
Rabbits etc.: Flemish Giant 5s, Belgian Hare 5s, Lops 5s, Angora pair 12s, Wild 15s dozen.
Reptiles: Lizards 9d pair, slow-worm (legless lizard) 1s, terrapin 1s 6d, grass snake 1s 6d.
Marmosets (wild caught) 15s 6d
Donkey with saddle etc. £3 10s.
Pony £8, with saddle £12, with small carriage and harness £15-20.

Miscellaneous
12 boxes of Lucifers (non-safety matches) 6d, safety matches 8d.
Banger [firecracker] 1d, Catherine wheel firework 8d.
A pound of candles 10d.
A cheap pocket knife with a glazer's diamond, two blades, a file, scissors, corkscrew, gimlet, and other tools 11d.
Opera glasses 5s.
Microscope (adult size) £1 15s, Microscope slides: 12 assorted specimens 2s 9d.


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Being Childish

THE Forgotten Futures rules include a section on child characters. This supplement expands it, adding a variety of options which should help to "flesh out" their backgrounds and personalities. Characters generated by this system are compatible with children produced by the rules in the basic game, but have traits (and possibly magic) which they will lack. This scheme is entirely optional; feel free to discard part or all if you don't like it. For convenience the existing rules for children have been incorporated below.

First select the child's social class (or roll 2D6 as follows):
RollClassSample parent professionsPointsTraitsPocket
Money
2-5WorkingArmy private, servant, labourer, cab driver, policeman.-1+21-3d
6-10MiddleArmy captain, journalist, Doctor, lawyer, clergyman, manager, businessman.-+16d-1s
11-12UpperGeneral, magistrate, squire, gentleman farmer, Admiral, MP, landed gentry.+1-6d-2s

If characters are to be members of the same family all will normally be of the same class, unless some very unusual circumstance arises (such as adoption, or the theft of a child). Generate children using a number of points equal to the character's age (it is strongly suggested that this should be at least five or six, old enough to read and go to school - if you have no preference roll 5+1D6), with the modifier for social class above. A child gets one trait (described below) for every two years of age (round UP), with the modifiers shown above - working class children get more because they are educated in the "school of life", upper class children get less because they are sheltered from some of life's harsh realities. Thus an eight year old middle-class child gets eight points and five traits, a working class child aged ten gets nine points and seven traits, and so forth.

Jobs
Working for parents: Usually unpaid, but may be reflected in an increase in pocket money (see main text)
Baby sitting: 3d per evening.
Milk / paper / bread round: 4d per day.
Chimney sweep: Illegal under the child labour laws, which are often ignored, pays 3d per chimney climbed.
Sabbath fire / gas lighting: Gentile children in Orthodox Jewish areas can earn 6d per house to light fires, kitchen ranges, and gas mantles (more if they have to build fires as well as light them). This work must be arranged in advance (doing business on the Sabbath isn't allowed), and is only available on Friday evenings and Saturdays. It is also seasonal; relatively few fires are needed in summer.
Shop boy: Delivering goods, sweeping the floor, etc. pays 6d an evening, 1s on Saturday, and may offer "perks" such as cheap and free goods. Any failure or theft may result in instant dismissal.
Farm work: Seasonal labour such as fruit and hop picking pays according to the weight of the produce harvested. Usually the payment structure, and the prices the farmer charges for food etc., only make this worthwhile if an entire family sleeps under canvas and works together.
The Points modifier for class is based on the fact that working class children generally have poorer health and education than others, upper class children usually receive better food and a more expensive education. Traits, described below, include abilities similar to skills but rather more limited in their scope, physical and/or mental qualities, habits, family circumstances, etc. Pocket money isn't a fixed sum; choose an amount within the range shown that seems right for the character's circumstances, which may be modified by parents in the event of unusually good or bad behaviour, birthdays, examination success (or failure), etc. Pocket money is usually given once a week. Additionally, each child begins with 4D6 week's pocket money as savings. Middle- and upper-class children may have additional wealth in the form of inheritances, trust funds, etc.; invariably this money is unavailable until the child is at least 21 (or until marriage in the case of many girls), or until a genuine emergency, such as serious illness, occurs. Working class boys may be encouraged to seek part-time employment - most other children won't be allowed to work, except possibly in a family business. With education compulsory jobs are usually early morning or evening and weekend and holiday work. Some examples of the jobs available are shown to the right. Remember that jobs occupy a substantial portion of a child's free time.

Example: Faith O'Donnell
Faith is the six-year-old daughter of Fergus O'Donnell, a private in the Indian Army and his Eurasian mistress, currently living with her parents in an encampment near Simla in India. She is working class, getting five points for characteristics and skills and five traits.

Example: Gordon Drood
Gordon is the son of a busy family doctor in London. He is nine, middle class, and gets nine points and six traits.

Example: Alaric Fitzroy
Alaric is the younger son of Sir Edmund Fitzroy, a gentleman farmer with several thousand acres in the Cotswolds. He is eight, upper class, and gets nine points and four traits.

None of these children have jobs

Points can be spent in the normal way, on characteristics and skills, except that a maximum of 2 points can be spent on any skill, and some skills are not available. Points may not be spent on the Wizardry skill described below. The Doctor skill is not normally available unless there is an extremely unusual rationale (for example, a character might be the child of a herbalist in a fantasy world where there are no formal medical qualifications), and referees are strongly advised to prohibit the Driving, Martial Arts, Military Arms, and Pilot skills, or at least demand an extremely good rationale for their acquisition (cadet corps training is one possibility for older children). One extra language is available to characters with the Linguist skill; Bosh is the speech of babies and very small children, normally unintelligable to anyone aged three or more. Optionally this language is available via the Child Minder trait below.

Unusually destructive use of skills should be discouraged; while real children with (for example) an extensive knowledge of chemistry may occasionally dream of blowing up their schools, very few actually do it. Optionally it may be useful to remember that a normal education doesn't instantly put every fact at a child's disposal; for example, Science [5] for a child aged 10 in a Victorian school implies a basic knowledge of natural history, with limited knowledge of chemistry and physics, whereas an adult would be assumed to have a broad general knowledge of all areas of science plus detailed knowledge of at least one specialised area. A successful Science roll for a child may mean that the child simply knows that he or she hasn't studied a particular topic yet!

While some children may have higher BODY than some adults, you should normally assume that any adult is more than a match for any child; high BODY is offset by smaller stature and poorer co-ordination.

Since the physical size of children is small, the Stealth skill begins at a higher value than BODY/2. For children, this is related to age. For a child aged eight or less, the base value of Stealth should be BODY. For a child aged 9-12 the base value of Stealth should be BODY -1, minimum 1. After this age assume that puberty cuts in, with a spurt in body size, and Stealth drops to normal levels.

Example: Faith O'Donnell
Faith is a tomboy, with characteristics BODY [2], MIND [1], SOUL [2] for 4 points. This leaves only one point for skills, taken as Linguist [3] (Urdu, Punjabi). Her characteristics automatically give her Brawling [2] and Stealth [2].

Example: Gordon Drood
Gordon runs more to brains than brawn, with BODY [1], MIND [3], SOUL [2] for five points. He wants to be a doctor eventually, and is heavily influenced by his mother, who is a spiritualist. His skills are First Aid [4], Medium [3], Scientist [4] plus the default Brawling [1], Stealth [1]

Example: Alaric Fitzroy
Alaric is a sturdy child who will one day be a "chinless wonder"; BODY [4], MIND [1], SOUL [1] cost 5 points, leaving 4 points for Athlete (cricket) [5], Brawling [5], Marksman [2], Riding [4] and the default Stealth [3]

Traits should be selected next. The list below contains a few possibilities, but referees and players should feel free to add more. Traits should not function as skills; they include abilities (including some physical attributes such as unusual beauty) that may come in useful or add colour to a character, family circumstances, and the like. A few are inconsistent with one or another class and should not be allowed inappropriately without a suitable rationale; for example, an upper-class child is unlikely to have Begging or Poaching as a trait. Some traits may seem negative in nature, although the results are sometimes useful; for example, Coward is a useful trait if you want to run or hide! Some have previously been described in FF VI in somewhat different form, or in the article Accidents of Birth (FF CD-ROM and Pyramid 26/5/2000). Most traits are lost as children grow up.

It's usually fun to choose your own Traits, but to select them randomly roll two dice, or one dice twice, with possible results shown in brackets at the start of each trait. For example, a roll of 1 then 2 is shown as [1,2] Beautiful:... below. With one or two exceptions any duplicates or obvious incompatibilities should be re-rolled. Optionally the Referee should reserve the right to decide one or more Trait for each character, and keep it secret until it becomes important in play. This is especially appropriate for Traits such as Long Lost Heir and Romantic Illegitimacy.

  • [1,1] Androgynous: If you are a boy, you are easy to disguise as a girl; if a girl, you can easily disguise yourself as a boy (it is generally assumed that boys will rarely pretend to be girls voluntarily and will need help to do so, while girls frequently want to disguise themselves as boys). Naturally suitable clothing must be available. This trait gives +1 to MIND or Acting in this one form of disguise. See e.g. Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn.
  • [1,2] Beautiful: You are a beautiful little girl or boy (a good example of the latter is Fotherington-Thomas ["...Hello trees, hello flowers..."] in Geoffrey Willans' Molesworth books) and tend to be treated more favourably than others by adults. Note that this may also make you more likely to be kidnapped by gypsies [5C 3], white slavers, and other undesirables, and more of a target for bullying etc. This trait is not incompatible with Androgynous, above; it's possible to be a beautiful child of indeterminate gender. In fantasy stories (and especially fantasy worlds) beauty is likely to attract curses and other problems ([MW 4], [MW 7], [MW 12]).
  • [1,3] Beggar: Given suitable clothing you can look so pathetic that adult strangers will give you money. Add +1 to Acting or Mind versus the Mind of the "victim".
  • [1,4] Best Friend: You have one friend who you trust absolutely, run as an NPC. Your trust may or may not be misplaced... The friend should be built on the same number of points as the character.
  • [1,5] Brave: You aren't easily scared, and if the choice is to fight or run you will usually choose to fight, especially if there is a coward around. This trait is often combined with Daredevil, below. The advantage of being brave is that you are never scared without good cause; while you can be scared, you aren't easily stampeded into a panic reaction. Accordingly, any die roll related to this is made with all relevant skills or characteristics at +1. The disadvantage is that if you're scared, everyone else will automatically assume there's good cause and panic!
  • [1,6] Bully: You are good at "persuading" others by less than gentle means. This is a +1 bonus to Brawling, Martial Arts, Melee Weapon or BODY when attacking a victim who has already been hurt; the referee may rule that it also requires a victim who has been immobilised, e.g. by friends of the bully. To compel a victim to do anything against their will, use bullying to overcome the victim's MIND.
  • [2,1] Charitable: You can't resist an opportunity to do good, if it seems at all appropriate to the situation. This may involve giving pennies to beggars, taking food to your sick grandmother (red cape and wolf are optional), or pulling thorns from the paws of lions. Usually charity has no immediate reward, but sooner or later the referee should ensure that it pays dividends, especially in worlds that function by fairy-tale rules. See [7D 4] for some excellent examples.
  • [2,2] Child Minder: You are good with younger children and babies and can keep them reasonably happy under most normal circumstances. This may lead to extra pocket money, but may also mean that some otherwise free time is taken up with such duties. Optionally this adds the ability to understand Bosh, the language of babies and very young children.
  • [2,3] Coward: You are terrified of pain and gain a +1 bonus to BODY or Athlete when running away from it, and a +1 bonus to Stealth when hiding from it. There is no reason why this should not be combined with Bully, above.
  • [2,4] Crippled: The "Tiny Tim" option; you suffer from a physical condition which leaves you disabled to some degree - for example, a withered leg (perhaps the result of polio) which means that you must always walk with crutches. You cannot have the Athlete skill, but sympathetic adults react unusually favourably to your suffering and you gain a +1 bonus to Acting or MIND when begging (this can be additional to the Beggar trait above). See also the Doomed trait below. Optionally this can be cured by improving BODY as described below twice; one improvement leaves the sufferer walking with a limp, two is a full recovery. This must be done before Athlete is improved.
  • [2,5] Daredevil: You will do almost anything if someone dares you, and gain +1 to all relevant characteristics and skills while doing so. The downside is that you must do almost anything if someone dares you, if it seems even remotely possible: "I dare you to take the gold crown from the heap that dragon is guarding..." It is not advisable to combine this trait with Coward, above.
  • [2,6] Doomed: A difficult one to bring off, but a lot of fun if handled correctly. You suffer from a long lingering illness (tuberculosis is VERY appropriate for a Victorian campaign), curse (see e.g. Sleeping Beauty and other fairy tales), or other handicap which will eventually cause your death or some other disaster, but otherwise has no adverse effects, apart from an occasional discreet cough or momentary incapacitating pain (usually at a point where it helps the plot). Note: Curses are discussed in more detail in the Magic sections below.
  • [3,1] Games: You are good at childhood games such as conkers, hopscotch, marbles, etc. and usually win. This doesn't actually gain you anything except a certain amount of moral superiority when dealing with other children.
  • [3,2] Greedy: Your idea of heaven is a nice bowl of strawberry ice cream with lashings of ginger beer. You are a sucker for gingerbread cottages, bottles labelled "drink me", and other food- and drink-related booby traps. A side effect is that regardless of BODY and/or Athlete skill you get winded easily and can't sustain really prolonged physical effort; all of that stodge has to go somewhere. This trait is often combined with Mercenary, below, and is also a common failure point for tests of character. See the sidebar on ice cream above for an example of the effect of this trait.
  • [3,3] Grubby: You seem to be perpetually covered in dirt and mud; adults tend to notice this before anything else, which can be useful if you are guilty of some other hideous offence against propriety or the law. They may even be reluctant to touch you, which can be useful if you are trying to evade capture for some unspeakable purpose (such as a bath). There is no reason why this shouldn't be combined with Beautiful, above; of course the dirt must be washed off before anyone notices... Nesbit's memoir suggests that she sometimes had this trait.
  • [3,4] Hobby: You have a hobby (such as train spotting, bird watching, bus ticket or stamp collecting, cricket statistic analysis) that consumes some of your free time. You are unusually knowledgeable about anything related to the hobby, gaining +1 to any MIND roll or related skill roll as appropriate, but will always be distracted by anything related to the hobby, even if you should be doing something much more important. This may be rolled more than once.
  • [3,5] Invisible Companion: You have an imaginary friend or other invisible companion (I.C.) which only you can see or feel; this may be purely a figment of your imagination, but could also be a supernatural or magical manifestation of some sort, such as a fairy godmother. Adults generally regard this behaviour as mischief. An I.C. may be associated with a toy of some sort (see e.g. the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, and Arnold, Small God of Teddy Bears in a later section); if so it will appear to be an otherwise normal toy [MW 6]. Most other I.C.s have no tangible form unless it becomes necessary for plot purposes.
  • [3,6] Liar: You wouldn't know the truth if it bit you - in any confrontation you must always use the lie that puts your case most favourably in preference to the truth, even if the truth would be more believable and less blameworthy. See e.g. the adventure Free Nessie (in FF III) for an example of an NPC with this trait.
  • [4,1] Loner: You don't readily join gangs or hang around with other children. This may be a serious disadvantage for an adventurer, unless circumstances force you to co-operate with other children.
  • [4,2] Long Lost Heir: You are the missing or unknown heir to a title, vast estate, or other inheritance. Usually nobody (including you) is aware of this until it becomes important for the inheritance to be claimed.
  • [4,3] Lucky: You are, or appear to be, unusually lucky. The referee should secretly decide how this will work, possibilities include re-rolling one dice roll per game session, giving the character 1D6/2 Bonus points per session which must be used to adjust rolls or lost, or adjusting the events of the game to reflect this luck without rolling dice at all.
  • [4,4] Mercenary: You will do almost anything for money, but if money isn't in the offing you must be convinced that it's worth your while to participate. You usually have something to sell or swap, or a complex barter deal in progress. If something unusual is needed you may know how to get it. The downside is that you may fail in spiritual or moral tests that depend on you resisting greed; see e.g. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis.
  • [4,5] Notorious: Everyone in your area has heard of you, making it difficult to get away with anything. You are the first natural suspect if a window is broken or apples are stolen. This might seem to be a disadvantage, but if you happen to be innocent for a change (and can prove it) you will be in a position of moral superiority. See e.g. Richmal Compton's William books.
  • [4,6] Pet: You have a pet of some description - a dog or a cat is most typical, but there are many other possibilities. Unless the referee decides otherwise the pet won't have any unusual capabilities, but unusualness can be relative; for example, a child from Rotundia [7D 2] might have a pocket-sized pet elephant.
  • [5,1] Poaching: You know how to catch fish, rabbits, and other animals, and the basics of preparing them for eating. You gain +1 to Stealth when trying to hide in the country.
  • [5,2] Prig: You are well known to be the sort of child who rarely misbehaves and reports bad behaviour in others. This gains you +1 on any attempt to mislead adults, since they will assume that you wouldn't be lying, but may make you a target for bullying etc. This cannot be combined with Notorious, above.
  • [5,3] Reborn: You are the reincarnation of an historic or mythical character; others may be aware of this fact and have plans for you... See e.g. the film The Golden Child.
  • [5,4] Romantic illegitimacy: You are descended from the nobility or royalty, but cannot be acknowledged for political or marital reasons. This may be an open secret - everyone (with the possible exception of you) knows the truth, although your heritage can never be officially confirmed - or may be almost completely forgotten. Curses often lead to variations on this problem, in which a true heir is disqualified from inheriting for one reason or another.
  • [5,5] Secret: You or your family have a secret which you think will cause problems or embarrassment; for example, one of your parents is in prison or an asylum, you are Jewish in a predominantly Christian area, you are illegitimate. Note that this last could be combined with Romantic Illegitimacy - even if you are the child of a celebrity, your mother's relationships may still be regarded as shameful.
  • [5,6] Separated At Birth: You have a twin brother or sister, but were somehow torn apart immediately after birth, or as very young children, and have lost contact. This might involve kidnapping, murder, a divorce, or a simple accident. Traditionally one child is wealthy and the other poor, one goes to a happy home while the other is abused, and so forth. You probably don't know that you have a twin.
  • [6,1] Sickly: You are often ill, suffering from one or another childhood ailment such as measles, mumps, chicken pox, etc. As a result you seem to spend quite a lot of time away from school but have more opportunities to get involved with adventures while convalescing. Friends may seek you out deliberately to catch your diseases and get time off school. A side effect is increased immunity to more serious diseases; if you are wounded or exposed to something really serious all rolls to avoid infection etc. are made at +1.
  • [6,2] Stoic: You are good at resisting pain and bullying, even if it results in injuries. This trait is a +1 bonus to MIND when resisting Bullying. This trait can't readily be combined with Coward.
  • [6,3] Streetwise: You know your local area (probably no more than a few blocks in a city, or a village and the surrounding farms in the country) well enough to find a hiding place in an emergency, and the neighbourhood knows you. There's a good chance that someone will help you if you are in trouble. There is an equally good chance that someone who knows who you are will notice if you cause trouble.
  • [6,4] Swapped At Birth: The character and another child were somehow swapped soon after birth; for example, a nurse might mix up two babies in a hospital, or a nanny might wheel away the wrong pram then cover up her mistake. In less modern settings a child might be swapped by gypsies; in a campaign with fantasy or horror elements supernatural creatures might substitute one of their offspring for a human child. See, for example, Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, or Doc Sidhe by Aaron Allston. You know that you are somehow out of place, but don't know why. This trait can be combined with Separated At Birth, producing two pairs of mismatched twins, but this may best suit a campaign with comedy elements. Another possibility is the exchange of three or more children; again, this may best suit a comic campaign.
  • [6,5] Toy: You own an unusual or unique toy of some sort. It may be grotesquely expensive for your age and class (e.g a Faberge egg, the Amulet), or have some unusual feature that makes it the envy of all other children. Optionally it is magical, if magic exists in the game world. The benefits granted by such a toy are naturally dependent on its nature. See also Invisible Companion, above.
  • [6,6] Wanted: You are on the run - from an oppressive guardian, the police, truancy officers and other school officials [MW 3] or sinister strangers.
  • Note that some traits, such as Long Lost Heir, are circumstances which the child may initially be unaware of; players will naturally know that the child has this trait, but won't know the details until it becomes important in play. See FF VI for more suggestions on methods of keeping the knowledge of players and characters separate.

    Example: Faith O'Donnell
    Faith often dresses as a boy. She is usually covered with dirt, and occasionally begs to get money for sweets and toys. She has been bullied occasionally and has learned to resist pain. The referee assigns her one secret trait. This is recorded as
    Traits: Androgynous, Beggar, Grubby, Stoic; the referee secretly notes that she is a Long Lost Heir, but isn't yet sure whose heir she is or how he will work this into the plot of adventures.

    Example: Gordon Drood
    Gordon is a well-behaved middle-class boy living in the county; he takes the traits Hobby (cricket statistic analysis), Hobby (insect collector), Loner, Pet (a dog, Tommy), and Prig, surprising the referee by adding Reborn. The referee decides that Gordon is Erasmus Darwin (Charles Darwin's grandfather) reincarnated; this won't immediately have any effect in the game, but sooner or later there might be some way to use the idea. He has a vague idea of using the Amulet, or something like it, to allow Gordon to visit his spiritual ancestor in the past.

    Example: Alaric Fitzroy
    Alaric's player has been reading the Flashman novels and wants to model the character on this "hero". Alaric spends much of his time at boarding school where he intends to be a bully (and secretly a coward). Liar seems a natural accompaniment; none of the others seem quite right, so he asks if the fourth can be "vain" - Alaric is proud of his (non-existent) good looks. The referee rules that this will make him more confident and add a certain amount of conviction to his lies (+1 in attacks against the MIND of the person he is lying to), but that he will always pause in front of mirrors to admire his appearance, even when it is unwise to do so.

    Magic is an important element of this genre. Most stories make it clear that children are especially attuned to magic, an ability that is usually lost with age:

    This supplement uses two measurements of magical ability; a new characteristic, MAGIC, and a new skill, Wizardry. It is planned that this system will be used for any future releases which involve magic, although the means by which the characteristic and skill are calculated may vary for different settings, and more magical skills might be available in some settings.

    A baby aged one or less always has MAGIC [10], but with Wizardry [0] there is no way to harness it consciously. Nevertheless it is obvious from Nesbit's stories that any babies in the vicinity of magic are unusually likely to be affected by it; in various stories the Lamb (aged approximately one year) is made unnaturally desirable, aged to an adult, and accidentally hijacks a flying carpet! He also seems to be able to see invisible objects.

    Magic is discussed in a later chapter - all relevant spells etc. are governed by the MAGIC characteristic and Wizardry, with occasional help from normal characteristics and skills, and can be ignored for now.

    Note: One previous Forgotten Futures collection dealt with magic. Referees who wish to apply this new system to existing FF IV characters should give them Wizardry at the same value as the old Scholar (Magic) skill, and MAGIC equal to half their Wizardry rating. They will still be relatively powerful magicians, but in the world of Ab-Natural forces that is probably a plus. Note that most spells described below won't work in the Carnacki universe, where the main uses for magic are protection and summoning of Ab-Natural entities.

    Example: Faith, Gordon, and Alaric
    Faith is 6 with SOUL [2]; she begins with MAGIC [6], Wizardry [0]
    Alaric is 8 with SOUL [1]; he begins with MAGIC [3], Wizardry [0]
    Gordon is 9 with SOUL [2]; he also begins with MAGIC [3], Wizardry [0]

    Optional Rule: Staying Awake
    Children need plenty of sleep. If the time (pm) exceeds a character's age, start to roll age versus time every hour; after midnight add 12 to the time (am) for this roll. If the roll is failed, the character falls asleep. If the roll is exactly what is needed for success, the character stays awake but starts to yawn frequently and loudly, and makes all subsequent rolls at -1 to age; because yawning is infectious, everyone else trying to stay awake should also roll at -1!

    Optional Rule: Attention Span
    Children have short attention spans; if they are waiting for something to happen, they may lose interest. One way to simulate this is to ask for an occasional roll of the child's MIND versus the number of hours that pass. If this is combined with the Staying Awake roll, above, it can be almost impossible to accomplish anything at night; referees are advised to use one or the other, but not both.

    A better way to use both options is for the referee to impose them by fiat, without rolling dice, when the adventurers seem to be badly off-track and are wasting time. For example:

    "I'm going to search every inch of the room for secret doors."
    "You find a really interesting stag beetle in the hearth, and go to look for a jar to keep it in."
    "What about searching the room?"
    "You vaguely remember as Nurse tucks you into bed. Maybe you can do something about it tomorrow."
    "No, I'm going to take a look tonight once nurse has gone."
    "When you wake the next morning you can smell kippers..."

    The remainder of this section covers parents and other relatives, the most loathed word in a child's vocabulary - school, final details of character design and ideas on how to run child characters, and notes on ageing children and converting the characters to adults.


    To contents
    All In The Family

    PLAYERS may have already described family circumstances while designing their characters, especially if they have chosen a trait that mentions them: Long-Lost Heir, Romantic Illegitimacy, Separated at Birth or Swapped at Birth are the obvious examples, but the status of parents may also be important in traits such as Reborn, Secret and Wanted. The tables that follow can be used to generate family details if they haven't already been decided, but their use is entirely optional, since players may prefer to leave their character's background vague or make up the details without rolling dice. The ramifications of some of these results are discussed in more detail after the table. Note the tables can't cover all possibilities without getting grotesquely complicated. For example, it is possible that a sibling of marriageable age could have children of his or her own, making the character an aunt or uncle. Parents (especially in upper class families) might be divorced, although this is extremely rare. Some religions allow multiple wives. And so on...

    While the broad circumstances of family background are left in the hands of players, the referee should feel free to invent plots that that use it. For example, if a character's father remarries the player may decide (or roll dice to decide) that the new stepmother treats the adventurer well. The referee may note the marriage but decide the stepmother is faking affection for her new family; maybe she simply doesn't like children very much, maybe she plans to make sure that they won't be around to inherit after father's "mysterious accident" next year... This is an extreme example, but the general principle should always be that players are free to choose whatever background they like, the referee is free to mess it up as creatively or cruelly as seems appropriate. A "riches to rags" plot, with the family initially wealthy but ending up in the gutter, the asylum, and the workhouse, might be fun if players can cope with it. See the freeware RPG Wuthering Heights for some ideas on this theme.

    It should be obvious that in games with multiple characters from the same family the background should usually be consistent; for convenience, use the table below to generate details for one of the characters then fit the others into the results, making changes as needed. For example, if the first character has three siblings and ten cousins it shouldn't be hard to slot the other adventurers in! Some details (such as a family Secret or Pet) may have to be common to all of the characters; for example, in Enid Blyton's Famous Five stories the dog Timmy seems to be owned in common by all of the other characters.


    Parents

    Roll 2D6, modifier +1 if upper class, -1 if working class
    3 or lessOrphan - both parents dead (roll 2D6, modifiers as above)
    2 or less
    3
    4-5

    6-9
    10+
    Sent out to work *
    Living in workhouse / orphanage *
    Living with unrelated guardian or adopted by unrelated parents *
    * Roll 2D6; on 2 or 12 the child is a foundling with unknown parents.
    Living with relatives (not adopted) **
    Adopted by relatives **
    ** (1-2) Uncle or aunt (3-4) Grandparents (5-6) More distant relative
    4One parent dead (roll 2D6, modifiers as above)
    2-5
    6-8
    9-10
    11+
    Mother dead, father widower
    Mother dead, father remarried
    Father dead, mother widow
    Father dead, mother remarried
    5-12Both parents alive (roll 2D6)
    2
    3-9
    10-12
    Separated from both parents (e.g. in workhouse)
    Both parents present
    One parent missing (in armed forces, imprisoned, asylum, etc.) *
    * Roll 1D6, (1-5) Father absent, (6) Mother absent

    Attitude of parents (Optional - Roll 2D6 separately for each parent or guardian, -1 if a step parent, guardian, or adoptive parent)
    3 or less
    4
    5-9
    10+
    Parent hostile to child (1-3) Abusive, (4-5) Violent, (6) Murderous rage
    Parent indifferent to child (1-3) Physical neglect, (4-6) No affection.
    Normal parent-child relationship and affection
    Stifling affection

    Siblings

    Roll 2D6, modifier -1 per parent dead, +1 if working class
    Note: This term is used loosely to include members of an adoptive family.
    2 or less
    3-4
    5-6
    7-8
    9
    10
    11
    12
    13+
    Only child
    One sibling
    Two siblings
    Three siblings
    Four siblings
    Five siblings
    Six siblings
    Seven siblings
    Eight siblings

    For each sibling roll 2D6 for relative age compared to the character:
    2 or 12
    3
    4
    5
    6-7
    8
    9
    10
    11
    The sibling is the character's twin, triplet, etc. *
    The sibling is 2D6 years younger than the character. **
    The sibling is 1D6 years younger than the character. **
    The sibling is 2 years younger than the character. **
    The sibling is a year younger than the character. **
    The sibling is a year older than the character.
    The sibling is 2 years older than the character.
    The sibling is 1D6 years older than the character.
    The sibling is 2D6 years older than the character.
    * For twins roll 1D6, on a roll of 1 the sibling is the character's identical twin (Identical twins must be the same gender as the character, so ignore the gender roll below). If multiple siblings are the same age they are triplets etc.
    ** If this result gives a sibling a negative age (for example, the sibling is nine years younger than a six-year-old character) it should be interpreted as the mother being pregnant or the child being newly born, at the referee's discretion. If this is combined with a dead mother the mother should be assumed to have died in childbirth.

    For each sibling (except identical twins) roll for gender (1-3) male, (4-6) female

    If either parent has remarried roll 1D6 for each child (other than twins):
    1
    2-3
    4-6
    Child of previous marriage - not a blood relative of the character
    Half-brother or half-sister
    Full brother or sister

    If adopted roll 1D6 for each child (other than twins):
    1-4
    5-6
    A member of the adopting family, not a blood relative of the character
    A brother or sister of the character

    Attitude of siblings (Roll 2D6 separately for each sibling, -1 for half-siblings, -2 if adopted)
    3 or less
    4-6
    7-12
    Sibling hostile
    Sibling indifferent
    Normal sibling affection

    Other
    Relatives

    For each character (or each family):
    Roll 1D6-2 for the number of living grandparents (to a maximum of four, of course), modifier -1 per parent dead, -1 if working class, +1 if upper class

    Roll 2D6-2 for the number of aunts and uncles in the family (determine their sexes randomly; includes aunts and uncles by marriage)

    Roll 1D6-1 for the number of cousins per pair of aunts and uncles.

    Finally, think of names for all of the above, jobs or professions for all adults, etc.!

    Referee's Note: Any uncle named James is practically guaranteed to be an evil magician; players should not be informed of this when choosing the names of their relatives!
    And when anyone is a magician, and is also an uncle, and is named James as well, you need not expect anything nice from him. He is a Three Fold Complete Bad - and he will come to no good. [7D 1]


    The Role of Parents

    "...don't send us to prison. Mother would be so vexed..." [5C 5]

    Parents are the everyday "gods" of a child-based campaign, appearing like unstoppable elemental forces to disrupt plans or set wrongs to right. Since they have immense power over children it is essential to use them with care; they must be controlled by the referee, not players, and mustn't be the answer to every problem. It's important to be consistent; a loving parent may be stern when a child misbehaves but won't suddenly become hostile to meet the needs of the plot, an indifferent or bad parent may grudgingly bail out a child in trouble but is unlikely to go beyond the minimum demanded by the situation.

    The ideal use of parents (and other adults left in charge of children) is as a friendly obstacle to the adventurers' plans. For example, a group of children may plan to spend several hours waiting for the Tooth Fairy to enter a carefully laid trap. Needless to say Mother won't want them to stay up late, and Father might intend to replace the tooth they are using as bait with a shiny shilling. Parents usually have an agenda which demands priority over the desires of the child, so if there's any need to slow a child down it's easy to think of a few "duties" such as tidying a bedroom and other housework, writing a "thank you" letter to a generous relative, homework, etc. Parents may also disrupt plans or precipitate the action of an adventure by treating children to unexpected outings, such as an expedition to the theatre [PC 11], or sending them on holiday with relatives (see e.g. Diane Duane's Wizardry Abroad or Free Nessie in FF III).

    Note that unless magic is part of everyday life in the campaign world, no normal parent is likely to believe that it exists, and the most likely response to any evidence is disbelief and misinterpretation of events:

    "Well, it was rather a rum thing. We heard the Garrick was on fire, and of course we went straight there," said father, briskly. "We couldn't find you, of course- and we couldn't get in- but the firemen told us every one was safely out. And then I heard a voice at my ear say, 'Cyril, Anthea, Robert, and Jane'- and something touched me on the shoulder. It was a great yellow pigeon, and it got in the way of my seeing who'd spoken. It fluttered off, and then some one said in the other ear, 'They're safe at home'; and when I turned again, to see who it was speaking, hanged if there wasn't that confounded pigeon on my other shoulder...." [PC 11]

    A secondary role for parents, and other adults who take parent-like roles, is as a refuge from trouble, albeit a refuge that can be nearly as bad as the trouble a child is trying to escape. If a child is accused of theft, vandalism, heresy, or any other offence against society a parent should be there in his or her defence. This doesn't mean that the child will escape unscathed - "just wait until I get you home!" can be a potent threat - but that matters will be handled by the family, not by strangers or the forces of law and order. Parents have immense power over children; in an 1890s/1900s campaign smacks and beatings are routine, and even approved by society. Nevertheless they (and their delegated representatives) are usually preferable to the alternatives:

    Martha behaved admirably. She refused to believe a word of the policeman's story, or of Mr. Peasemarsh's either, even when they made Robert turn out his pockets in an archway and show the guineas.

    "I don't see nothing," she said. "You've gone out of your senses, you two! There ain't any gold there- only the poor child's hands, all over crock and dirt, and like the very chimbley. Oh, that I should ever see the day!" [5C 2]

    Hostile parents are an unusual challenge, which is why the attitude of parents is optional on the table above. Hostile parents impose unreasonable demands on their children, or may treat them as unpaid servants or slaves. They make arbitrary unfair decisions, hold grudges, beat children for no readily apparent reason, or are strict to the point of paranoia (see e.g. the BBC's Ripping Yarns: The Curse of the Claw). Much more sinister motives are possible, especially in the case of step-parents in worlds that function by fairy-tale rules; hostile and evil parents may plan to murder their children for the insurance money, sacrifice them for riches or power, trade them to the fairies, and otherwise endanger their lives or souls.

    Given these circumstances, a child with a hostile parent or parents may be on the run or desperately seeking some way to escape from parental control, and doing so should be a major breakthrough in an ongoing campaign.

    If all of this sounds too complicated, one way to minimise parental involvement is to set up a campaign in which the children are "always" at school, or on holiday with relatives who allow them a lot of freedom (see e.g. Free Nessie in FF III) and the time between holidays is off-stage. Another answer is a campaign in which the children have run away from home or are in some other way separated from their parents (see The Tunnelling Terror in FF VI, the Borribles novels by Michael De Larrabeiti, and William Golding's Lord of the Flies). See the sections on campaign design and development below. Finally, it is possible to assume parents who allow their children a good deal of freedom (e.g. Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons etc.), either through indifference or because they are unusually trusting; this works best for older children, but even the children of Nesbit's novels, all of whom seem to be ten or less, have enough freedom to allow extensive adventures.

    Orphans and Foundlings

    "Oh, you're all right," the child repeated; "you ain't agoin' to the Union."

    "Can't we take you home?" said Anthea; and Jane added, "Where does your mother live?"

    "She don't live nowheres- she's dead- so now!" said the little girl fiercely, in tones of miserable triumph. Then she opened her swollen eyes widely, stamped her foot in fury, and ran away. She ran no further than to the next bench, flung herself down there and began to cry without even trying not to. [AM 10]

    The Workhouse
    Anyone who is poor and unable to support themselves is likely to end up in a workhouse (sometimes referred to as "the union". To discourage laziness they are expected to perform menial work (such as picking oakum, separating strands of old rope which were once required for ship-building but now have no real use) in exchange for food and minimal accommodation; husbands and wives are separated from each other and their children, nobody is allowed to use tobacco or play cards, and all are made to wear a drab uniform. The body of anyone who dies is given to anatomy students for dissection. Naturally most people attempt to avoid this fate, but orphans and children separated from their parents may be unable do so.

    Orphanages
    For all practical purposes orphanages are workhouses specialising in children. The regime may be a little less harsh, but children are still expected to work for their keep when they aren't in lessons or church.

    Orphans are a commonplace of Victorian fiction, especially in working class families, mainly because there really are many orphans, especially in cities. Families are large, and until late in the nineteenth century about 0.5% of pregnancies (in all classes) end in the death of the mother. The average age of death for working-class men is only 26 in the country, 19 in major cities. As a result roughly one working-class child in twelve is an orphan by the age of fifteen, and nearly a third of working-class children have lost one parent at that age. The proportions are a little better in the middle and upper classes, but there are still many more orphans than relatives willing to adopt them.

    Given these statistics, the overcrowding of most workhouses and orphanages, the small number of couples interested in adopting children in an era of large families, and relatively little interest in the rights of children, it is common for orphaned families, and even the children of living workhouse inmates, to be split by adoption, one rationale for the Separated at Birth trait. Really young children may never know that they have lost their real families, others may find it almost impossible to trace them.

    Foundlings are a special class of orphans, abandoned by their parents (almost always in the first few weeks after birth) and left somewhere to be found by the authorities. Usually they end up in the workhouse, but there is a tradition of leaving them on the doorsteps of wealthy childless squires and other notables, in hopes that they will be bought up as the heir of the family. Sometimes the identity of the real parents is an open secret, but for one reason or another nobody can acknowledge the truth. Sometimes it is a genuine mystery, so much so that all attempts to trace the parents fail; in a world where magic is known to exist this may conceivably mean that the child is a changeling, or is in some other way influenced by magic, so genuinely anonymous foundlings will usually be treated with suspicion.

    Fiona was used to being called a changeling in the course of any and every scolding, though in fact the local goblins were notoriously choosy. Several times, and with good reason, the peasantry had abandoned their ill-favoured son Dribble.. ..outside known goblin caves, and each time he had been politely returned
    David Langford: The Distressing Damsel
    Useful traits for foundlings are Secret, Separated at Birth, Swapped at Birth and Romantic Illegitimacy. The novel and film Tom Jones, though set rather early, is an excellent illustration of the role of the foundling in British literature. A later example is Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest.

    See the FF VI adventure The Wages Of Sin (and some additional plot elements in the article Accidents of Birth, on the FF CD-ROM) for an exploration of the theme of adoption and foundlings in melodrama; many of the ideas explored in that adventure are also relevant to children's fiction in general and this section in particular. One of the adventures in this collection revisits the events of The Wages Of Sin.

    Orphans (in fiction at least) have certain advantages as role playing characters; unless they are confined to a work house they may enjoy a little less adult supervision than most other children, there is a natural tendency for them to be loners, and they are often outsiders who will notice things that would otherwise be taken for granted. For example, a normal member of a family will look at a picture on the wall and think "That's uncle James" without really considering it. An orphan might ask questions and examine it more closely, and notice that the picture of "uncle James" was painted a hundred years ago, and shows him wearing an ankh amulet. Orphans who have to go out and earn a living have a good chance of hearing gossip and learning what is going on in the adult world, far more so than a child who spends most of his or her time at school.

    A Death in the Family

    A third of working-class children, and a sizeable proportion of the other classes, lose at least one parent by the age of fifteen. Widows and widowers are common, the most notable being Queen Victoria herself. What does it mean for a family if one of the parents dies?

    If the father dies, the most obvious effect is the immediate loss of most or all income. Very few women work, those who do earn much less than men, and many families have inadequate insurance or pension arrangements:

    Regardless of class, if mother goes husband-hunting or remarries there will probably be many changes in relationships, especially if a new husband doesn't like children or has children of his own. Overall, the end result is likely to be a prolonged period of disruption and permanent changes to the family's circumstances. These can be assumed as part of the character's background, as described above, or take place in the course of a campaign.

    If mother dies there is usually little effect on income, but children are likely to feel the emotional impact far more than they would the death of a father:

    Sibling Rivalry

    ANTHEA woke in the morning from a very real sort of dream, in which she was walking in the Zoological Gardens on a pouring wet day without any umbrella. The animals seemed desperately unhappy because of the rain, and were all growling gloomily. When she awoke, both the growling and the rain went on just the same. The growling was the heavy regular breathing of her sister Jane, who had a slight cold and was still asleep. The rain fell in slow drops on to Anthea's face from the wet corner of a bath-towel which her brother Robert was gently squeezing the water out of, to wake her up, as he now explained. [5C 2]

    While most brothers and sisters get on reasonably well, there is no reason to assume that they love each other. Different children have different personalities, and even members of the same family needn't necessarily have much else in common. Elder brothers and sisters may bully or baby a younger adventurer, younger siblings may be a perpetual nuisance, following adventurers wherever they go, or may do their best to stay clear of the rest of the family.

    In a campaign in which two or more adventurers are members of the same family, one or two NPC siblings are usually a good idea; they can do things for which the adventurers are blamed or take the rap for the adventurers misdeeds, they can disrupt plans or be essential pawns in them, they can take sides in family squabbles, and otherwise impede or advance the adventurers' plans. Some useful stereotypes (most of which are also applicable to cousins etc.) follow:

    Inventive referees should easily think of more ways to involve siblings in the activities of the adventurers. Referees may also want to bear in mind some of the traditions of fairy tales and myth; in many stories the youngest of three brothers may have unusual magical advantages, the seventh son of a seventh son is unusually lucky [MW 5], and so forth.
    Example: Faith O'Donnell
    Faith's initial description determines most of her family background; her parents are working class and living, so all that remains is to determine the attitude of her parents and the status of the rest of the family; her father (Gunner Kelly) is largely indifferent to her, her mother (Sherezade Kelly) shows her normal affection, and she has two younger sisters (Hope and Charity) aged respectively 4 and 2, too young to play much of a part in adventures. Since the player envisages the character as a loner, and can't see her having much contact with more distant relatives, it's decided that she knows nothing about them; all of them are either in Ireland or remote parts of India, and both parents were disowned by their respective families. She occasionally has to look after Hope and Charity, but isn't very good at keeping them under control.
    The referee notes this; it fits quite well with the Long lost heir trait he plans for Faith, and he tentatively decides that she'll eventually turn out to be the grandchild of an Indian maharaja. Of course her mother (who would otherwise inherit) will have to die first...

    Example: Gordon Drood
    Gordon's parents are alive, the rest is rolled on the tables. He ends up with normally affectionate parents, a sister (Hortense) aged 3 and brothers aged 2 (Nigel), 12 (Richard), and 18 (Matthew), and seven aunts and uncles plus twelve cousins whom he'll name if they ever become important.
    The referee is happy with this description, and doesn't see any need to change it immediately.

    Example: Alaric Fitzroy
    Alaric has been conceived as the younger son of a gentleman farmer; his father is obviously still alive, and he must have at least one older brother. But rolling dice makes him an orphan with no siblings or living relatives. This could be re-rolled, but the player decides to make the minimal changes needed for the character he envisages; Alaric's mother is dead, he has an elder brother named Bernard (17), who is already deeply involved in farm management (and the local farm girls) but no other siblings or close relatives.
    The referee agrees to this, with the mental reservation that Alaric's father may be considered an eligible widower by the ladies of the area. It's possible that he may come home one day to find that a stepmother is in the offing.


    To contents
    School

    EDUCATION is a necessary evil for most children; it's difficult to avoid, but may occasionally give them a useful skill or contact that will be helpful in a campaign.

    A school-based campaign is entirely possible, especially if the setting is a boarding school; see e.g. the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling and Diana Wynne Jones' Witch Week and Year of the Griffin. Campaigns are described in more detail in a later section; this section deals mainly with the organisation of schools and their effect on students.

    The British educational system at the end of the nineteenth century involves descrimination by class and gender; it's extraordinarily rare for a working class child or a woman to find a way into university, regardless of ability, and Oxford and Cambridge especially seem to be geared exclusively for upper-class male students. These attitudes will slowly change, but the basic system retains this bias until well into the twentieth century. Unless there are good reasons to choose otherwise, select education by class, ability and family circumstances as described below:

    Working Class children are educated in parish or borough schools (often named "National Schools", since there was a national campaign for universal education in the 1830s) from the age of five onwards. Primary schools (for pupils aged five to ten) concentrate on the "three Rs", religious instruction, and the fundamentals of history and geography. At ten the child goes to a National secondary school, which usually continues the basic education and adds training for an apprenticeship or trade, such as carpentry. Education ends at fourteen, and the search for work begins.

    Brighter children may win a scholarship to a fee-paying grammar school (boys) or high school (girls) at ten or eleven; these schools offer a somewhat better education than the National schools, with specialisation such as languages, sciences, the classics, etc. The goal of these schools is to win their scholars a university place at age 18. Very few working class children succeed, but their training generally helps them to find better jobs.

    National, Grammar, and High schools usually have three fourteen-week terms, each interrupted by a short (two days to a week) holiday, with longer holidays at Christmas, Easter, and from late July to early September. These terms are geared to the timing of spring planting and the harvest, when many working-class pupils will be unable to attend school.

    All of these schools are non-residential and segregated by gender, and parents are expected to provide all of the necessities (such as lunch) that a child may need. Some form of uniform is almost always compulsory. Typically middle-class boys wear knee breeches or full-length trousers, wool stockings or socks, a shirt and school tie, a blazer with the school crest, and a cap. Colours and styles are dictated by the school. Girls wear a long skirt, blouse and school tie, jacket, wool stockings, and hat or bonnet. Only working-class children can sometimes avoid a full school uniform; even they are usually expected to wear a cap or bonnet and tie.

    Public or Private?
    The distinction between the so-called public schools and other private schools is hazy but important. Briefly, the public schools began as grammar schools (see main text), but became so prestigious that in the eighteenth century most began to charge for accommodation and tuition. By 1864 abuses were so widespread that there was a government enquiry into the "accommodation, curriculum, and moral tone" of the nine principal schools; the 1868 Public Schools Act was enacted to control seven of the nine, the exceptions had reformed sufficiently to avoid the Act. Public schools are theoretically open to anyone who can pay the fees or earn a scholarship. They are generally considered the most prestigious schools in Britain, and are the most likely educational choice for wealthy middle- and upper-class parents. Public school students often wear unusually formal uniforms; for example, Eton pupils routinely wear a suit including a shirt with a stiff collar, top hat and tail coat.
    The main public schools:
    Winchester College, Winchester, Hampshire
    Eton College, Eton, Berkshire
    St. Paul's School, Hammersmith, London *
    Shrewsbury School, Shrewsbury, Shropshire
    Westminster School, London
    Merchant Taylors' School, London *
    Rugby School, Rugby, Warwickshire
    Harrow School, Harrow-on-the-Hill, near London
    Charterhouse School, Godalming, Surrey
    * Omitted from the 1868 Public Schools Act.
    The most prestigious in the popular mind and for sport (but not necessarily academically) are probably Winchester, Eton, Rugby, and Harrow. All of the above are boys' schools; girls' public schools were a late 19th century development, in 1900 only three exist:
    St Andrew's School, St. Andrews, Scotland
    Roedean, Brighton, Kent
    Wycombe Abbey, High Wyombe, Buckinghamshire

    Private schools are usually fee-paying establishments, generally run purely for profit, or may be run by charities which restrict their intake in some way; for example, there are schools for the children of members of various professions, the armed forces, freemasons, various religions and so forth. Generally they are smaller than the public schools and are usually considered to be inferior - at least by public school students. Uniform tends to be less extreme than that of the public schools.

    Middle Class children may follow a similar route, except that the parents can usually afford to pay school fees; this means that their children generally attend a better class of day school which provides meals and other facilities, and will eventually go to grammar or high school as fee-paying pupils, and if necessary attend university on this basis. It seems likely that the children of the Psammead trilogy attend one of these schools, since it is in or near Camden Town, and most boarding schools are further out from the city centre. The fund-raising bazaar shown is typical of such a school [PC 4].

    More ambitious parents will aim to get their children into the oddly-named "public" school system, either through scholarships or by paying extremely high fees. The first step is usually private tuition to the age of eight, after which boys are sent to a prep (preparatory) school for further education and coaching for public school entrance examinations at eleven to thirteen. Prep and public schools are mostly boarding schools, although most have some proportion of "day boys" (almost all scholarship winners) who are generally regarded as somehow inferior to the boarding pupils. Girls can attempt to enter one of the few women's public schools, such as Roedean.

    Pupils passing the public school entrance examinations may be allowed entry free of charge or at reduced fees; generally there is felt to be some stigma in being a "scholar". Boys leaving public school are almost guaranteed admission to university (if they can afford the fees, or gain a scholarship) and eventually to one of the professions; if they decide to enter the legal profession they skip university, going instead to become pupils at the chambers of a suitably eminent barrister. Until late in the nineteenth century women face fierce competition for the few university places that exist, but there are alternatives such as art colleges and the teaching profession. By 1900 the position is greatly improved, and several hundred scholarships are available for women in London alone, including traditionally male fields such as engineering.

    Upper class boys almost always follow the tutor - prep school - public school - university route, generally paying fees, although there are other possibilities, such as entry to one of the armed services. Girls are expected to undergo a private education to 14 or 15, then attend "finishing school" (often abroad) for a year or two before making their debut in polite society at formal debutante receptions; higher education is almost unknown.

    Life at most schools is generally strictly regulated by the teachers, usually assisted by older pupils acting as prefects or "teacher assistants". The National Schools have very large classes, as many as forty or fifty pupils to a single teacher. Teaching is almost entirely by rote, with a single teacher expected to cover all of the subjects of the syllabus. Class sizes are usually a little better at preparatory schools, but the public schools revert to relatively large classes, with smaller tutorial groups for some subjects, such as Latin and Greek. Corporal punishment is common, and can be administered by teachers, the non-teaching schoolkeepers (porter-handymen, usually former military NCOs, generally under the direction of a teacher), and prefects. Bullying is also common, especially at boarding schools.

    Boarding Schools
    Boarding school terms generally run from early January to a week or two before Easter, a week or two after Easter to mid-July, and mid-September to mid-December. There are usually several half-day holidays in these periods, with a relaxation of school bounds and no normal lessons, but there is no equivalent of the "half-term holiday" found in other schools. This is mainly because the terms were determined at a time when transport speeds meant that it could take several days for a student to travel home and return. What follows is mostly typical of boy's schools, but with some exceptions is applicable to girl's schools too. See
    Nesbit's biographical notes for more on life in girls' schools somewhat earlier in the nineteenth century.

    School Mutinies
    The authority of the teachers and headmaster at public schools didn't always go unchallenged. There were pupil mutinies at Rugby in 1797, following the expulsion of a popular pupil for firing pistols in public, and at Epsom College in 1882, after the Head Boy was expelled for running a betting "book". The Rugby incident, in particular, was notable for the use of firearms and explosives by the mutineers (they detonated a petard, a small mine, outside the headmaster's study), for the reading of the Riot Act, and for the eventual use of armed soldiers to storm the rioters and arrest them. Numerous beatings and expulsions followed. The Epsom incident was a somewhat less violent riot which lasted three days before order was restored. A fictional example is described in Kipling's Stalky and Co., another in the film If..., and Ronald Searle's St. Trinians stories show a school where mutiny is almost a way of life.

    Haunted Schools etc.
    "..the [college] in a fog - besieged by ghosts of dead boys, who hauled chaps out of their beds in the dormitory. All the names are quite real. You tell it in a whisper, you know - with the names. Orrin didn't like it one little bit. None of 'em have ever let me finish it. It gets just awful at the end."

    Stalky and Co.

    Since most boarding schools are based in isolated elderly buildings there is a natural tendency to assume that they might be haunted. Many pupils can tell stories of the school ghost (typically a "fag" - see main text - walled up by bullies, or a master who committed suicide, in Kipling's story former pupils who were killed in the Indian Mutiny and other wars). In a campaign with magical or supernatural elements there is no reason why these stories shouldn't be true... See the Harry Pottter books and Neil Gaiman's Sandman issue 25 (Vertigo comics) for more examples of haunted schools, one humorous and the other horrific.

    Eccentric Masters
    Another tradition of boarding school stories is that at least 50% of teachers are obvious eccentrics, the rest are probably just better at hiding their quirks, and at least 10% have dark secrets or links to organised crime. The most extreme examples are again the St. Trinians books - not the films, where this aspect is actually played down - and the novel Blonde Genius by J. T. Edson, which describes a school set up to cater for the daughters of Britain's premier crime families, offering courses in safe cracking and other useful topics. For some reason there appear to be no obvious male equivalents, although there are several tales of schools infiltrated (or even run) by criminals and/or spies. See in particular various 1940s film comedies starring Will Hay.

    Children attending boarding schools are generally expected to bring every item on a comprehensive list of clothing, sports equipment, text books, etc.; anything else is generally forbidden and liable for confiscation. Pets are almost always banned. Nevertheless pupils often seem to be able to obtain contraband of one sort or another; revolvers and other firearms (Stalky and Co., Rudyard Kipling), alcohol (Tom Brown's Schooldays, Thomas Hughes) and pornography (Cat Amongst The Pigeons, Agatha Christie) have all appeared in fiction. Older students, especially prefects, are allowed a wider range of possessions and activities; while the Filipino girls of Ripping Yarns: Tomkinson's Schooldays are somewhat unlikely, senior students are usually allowed to smoke. Prefects may be allowed dogs, permitted to stable horses at the school and (in the 20th century) to keep motor cycles or cars, and generally enjoy other privileges unknown to lesser mortals. One such privilege is a relaxation of "bounds", the area in which students are allowed to travel without permission; while younger pupils are usually limited to a small range around the school, prefects and other senior pupils are typically allowed to visit the nearest village or town. All privileges are liable to withdrawal without notice at the whim of a housemaster or the headmaster of a school.

    First year boys at boarding schools have no privileges whatever, and are usually expected to act as "fags", unpaid servants assigned to senior pupils. Outside lesson time any pupil who isn't already busy is expected to respond to the cry of "fag!" and carry out whatever orders are given. The "fagging" system is often abused, giving older bullies access to relatively defenceless victims. See e.g. Tom Brown's Schooldays, which describes the system in detail, and Stalky and Co. for some of its abuses. Girls schools have no equivalent.

    Usually the larger schools are split into houses for accommodation and board, each house headed by a housemaster (a senior teacher) responsible for the administration and finances of the house, with two or three other teachers as his deputies, and its own domestic staff who attend to cooking, housework, and the other necessities of life. Classes are generally held in a separate building; outside lesson times private study takes place in a large communal hall (for younger pupils), with senior pupils and prefects allocated three- and four-pupil studies. Houses compete in sports, typically including cricket, athletics and Rugby football. Other common athletic contests include rowing, soccer, and cross-country running, there are also competitive debates etc. Most of these games are also played against other schools.

    Pupils are almost always expected to sleep in communal dormitories, typically accommodating eight or more pupils and patrolled by teachers several times a night. Evading this supervision is a matter of split-second timing and considerable luck, and may involve elaborate deceptions such as the use of dummies to disguise the absence of a child.

    Food at boarding schools is rarely considered good; it simply isn't possible to cater to several hundred children and give everyone a culinary treat. The house system reduces some of these problems by giving each kitchen a smaller workload, but they never disappear entirely. At best the food will be an adequate filling meal; at worse it can be inedible slop, especially in a house where the housemaster is trying to cut corners. One result is the tradition of dormitory feasts, usually discouraged by teachers and housemasters, in which all the pupils in a given dormitory club together to get food and drink for a midnight meal. In fiction these feasts are often accompanied by story telling, pillow fights, raids by prefects (who generally confiscate the food for their own consumption), or the abrupt arrival of teachers. In this game dormitory life should reflect these stereotypes.

    Quality of Education
    The ethos and standards of schools of all types can vary enormously; while there is a system of inspection for the National schools and some church schools, and most of the "big nine" public schools are required to meet high minimal standards by law, most private schools receive very little oversight. The table that follows is optional, and can be used to prepare a "profile" of the school, a rough guide to its quality, reputation, and treatment of pupils.


    Academic Quality

    Roll 2D6 (1D6+7 if public school), -1 if National school or equivalent.
    4 or lessClasses 38+2D6 pupils, unqualified teachers, rote learning, no individual attention, poor resources.
    5-6Classes 28+2D6 pupils, poorly qualified teachers, mostly rote learning, little individual attention, limited resources.
    7-9Classes 18+2D6 pupils, qualified teachers, mixed rote learning and study, attention paid to needs of pupils, adequate resources.
    10+Classes 8+2D6 pupils, highly qualified teachers, all teaching methods used, individual tuition if needed, good resources.

    Reputation

    Use the Quality number above, +1 if public school.
    5 or lessNotorious - "That ghastly dump?" - e.g. St. Trinian's
    6-7Indifferent - "Never heard of the place."
    8-9Favourable - "Quite good, I suppose."
    10+Excellent - "How on earth did you get in there?" - e.g. Winchester.

    Sports

    Roll 2D6, +2 if public school or reputation Excellent, +1 if reputation favourable, -1 if reputation indifferent or National school or equivalent, -2 if Notorious.
    5 or lessPoor - teams never get past the first round.
    6-7Mediocre - teams rarely reach the quarter-finals.
    8-9Good - teams usually reach the semi-finals, sometimes win.
    10+Excellent - teams always reach the semi-finals, often win.

    Discipline

    Roll 2D6, -1 if public school, +1 if National school or equivalent.
    4 or lessHarsh and arbitrary punishment for minor infractions.
    5-10Discipline firm but reasonably fair.
    11 or moreDiscipline lax.

    Bullying

    Roll 2D6, +2 if public school or Notorious, -1 if National school or equivalent.
    4 or lessBullying rare and strongly discouraged.
    5-8Bullying common but discouraged.
    9+Bullying common, institutionalised (e.g. in "prefects' courts" and the "fagging" system).

    Example: Faith O'Donnell
    Faith's background determines her education; she's working class, and given her situation will be educated at the local mission school, which the referee decides is similar to a National school. A few dice rolls show that the school is poor (she is in a class of 35 pupils, mostly learning by rote) has no reputation and a mediocre sporting record, that bullying is common although discouraged, and that discipline is harsh and arbitrary.
    Given this, the player decides that Faith often plays truant, and is as frequently punished for it. The referee secretly decides that the headmaster of the school is an alcoholic bully, Faith's teacher (his wife) is his main victim, but he occasionally picks on pupils.

    Example: Gordon Drood
    Gordon is nine and middle-classed; he's currently attending preparatory school, his parents hoping to get him into Harrow eventually. The player wants the school to be strong academically but isn't bothered about other factors. The referee decides that if the school is in the first rank academically its quality number is 11, then uses this quality or rolls dice for the other factors. Although its reputation is excellent, its sporting prowess is mediocre. Discipline is firm but fair, bullying is strongly discouraged. In other words, Gordon's school is probably progressive, with more attention paid to academic success and the welfare of the pupils than sporting prowess.
    The referee decides that it's a new establishment run on experimental lines with a young idealistic staff and some unusually progressive educational theories - the school is co-educational (boys and girls use dormitories in separate houses, of course), there is no corporal punishment (just hours of detention), all meals are vegetarian, and the school doctor is a disciple of Dr. Freud.
    (A similar school is the setting for one of the adventures)

    Example: Alaric Fitzroy
    Alaric wants to be Flashman when he grows up, but is currently too young to attend public school; he could be taught by a tutor, but the player prefers preparatory school, and also stipulates that the school must be good at sports and give him plenty of opportunities for bullying. The referee agrees, rating the school as "excellent" for sports and institutionalising bullying as a tradition of hazing and prefects' courts. The school's academic quality is rolled as "adequate", its reputation as "good".
    Although Alaric is in the right environment for "plenty of opportunities for bullying", you should be careful what you wish for; he's at the bottom of the pecking order as a new pupil, and won't be a prefect for several years! Meanwhile he needs to keep his head down, since the prefects regard the systematic torture of the "lower orders" as their special privilege and will resent anyone usurping their prerogative.

    Escaping Education
    Almost all exceptions to these educational schemes are available only to boys. Working-class boys can attempt to join the Army as drummer-boys, buglers, etc. at fourteen (and often younger if a boy can fake it); middle- and upper-class boys can join the Army or Navy as officer cadets at this age. Working-class boys (and in some cases girls) may also be allowed to leave school early to take an apprenticeship, provided that the minimum period of apprenticeship ends after the fourteenth birthday. The working children described in
    [PC 5] are apprenticed to the printing and binding trades in this way. Otherwise there are fewer options for girls, with the possible exception of marriage (allowed - but uncommon - at the age of twelve), and of course private tuition within the family which avoids school altogether. Really enterprising girls may consider disguising themselves as boys to enter one of these careers - there was a long tradition of runaway girls disguised as cabin boys or drummer boys in Victorian fiction, to some extent based on fact - but there are many practical problems. At a minimum the Androgynous trait and Actor skill are needed for success.


    To contents
    Finishing Touches

    BY now we know a lot about the characters. There are still some blanks to be filled in, but most of the ground work has been done.

    One detail that's needed is a list of personal possessions, additional to anything that has been taken as a trait. They should be limited to what is plausible and realistic for a child in the era under consideration; for instance, in 1900 a pair of roller skates, a china doll or a cricket ball is a plausible possession, but a car, a Barbie doll or a Game-Boy is not. In Britain children should find it almost impossible to obtain firearms before a campaign begins; farm children and the aristocracy might occasionally be allowed to use shotguns or small-calibre rifles, under strict adult supervision, but they certainly won't be permitted to carry them in public. Air rifles are more plausible, but still illegal near any public area. Whatever arguments players may use, the referee should ALWAYS refuse to allow access to firearms, explosives, alcohol, or anything else that isn't usually available to children, unless the adventurers can justify getting hold of it in the course of play. Even then most adults will confiscate such items if they find them.

    The most useful piece of equipment that's readily available to middle- and upper-class children is a bicycle; use BODY, or the Athlete or Riding skills, whichever is best, to ride one. Other useful possessions might include penknives, camping equipment, watches, and electric torches, candles, or lamps. A maximum of 4D6 weeks of saved pocket money is a good starting point for personal wealth; even if a child is the heir to a fortune, sensible parents won't dole out vast amounts of money.

    Example: Faith O'Donnell
    Faith has somehow saved twenty weeks pocket money at 2d a week - unfortunately that's still only 3s 4d! As a tom-boy she carries a jack-knife, four revolver cartridges of various calibres and two empty shell-cases, a few yards of strong string, and a box of matches. She also conceals a small doll (well, she is a girl). Her father has given her a small silver crucifix, which she wears on a chain around her neck. For school she wears a dress, but she has ragged boys' clothes hidden nearby. At home she has more clothing and two more dolls.

    Example: Gordon Drood
    Gordon has eight week's pocket money at 8d a week, 5s 4d. He routinely carries a small magnifying glass, a pocket watch, a pocket dissecting kit (tweezers, a scalpel, pins, and sharp scissors), and an ether jar for collecting insects. Fortunately he attends a progressive school and is allowed to have his dog Tommy with him. He also owns a bicycle. He keeps a large insect collection at school.

    Example: Alaric Fitzroy
    Alaric has obviously just received a postal order - he has ten weeks' pocket money at 2s a week, a whole pound! His school is strict about personal belongings, so he has nothing apart from his clothes, some sports equipment, a few books, and a pocket watch. Alaric immediately applies to join the school cadet force, which he imagines will eventually let him get hold of firearms, and plans to make a powerful catapult if he can just get hold of some elastic.

    The next step is to decide how the characters come to be working together as a team. Sometimes it's easy, sometimes not - it may be easier to ignore the matter completely! Sometimes this will be implicit in the campaign background which is discussed in more depth in later sections, but some examples follow:

    Example: Faith, Gordon, and Alaric
    The referee has decided that magic will bring the adventurers together. He has also decided that the children come from different worlds (although this won't be obvious until they compare notes): Faith is in an India where the Thugs still exist and are secretly magicians, in 1887; Gordon is in the Professor Challenger world (
    FF III) in 1913; Alaric is in a high-tech 1907 (based on FF II). Magic will work in all three worlds. Each child finds a mysterious key - when they open any door with it they see an opening filled with swirling grey mist, if they step through they'll come out in whichever of the worlds of the campaign best fills the needs of the referee - they always seem to arrive at the same place at more or less the same time, even if only a few hours have passed for one of them, a few weeks for another. They never lose the keys - even if they want to - and there isn't necessarily a door handy for a quick getaway...
    Eventually they'll learn how to control their travel, but that will be later in the campaign.


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    Growing Up

    UNLESS your campaign ignores the passage of time, characters are eventually going to get older; there are implications in terms of their characteristics, skills, etc.

    Growing Up in a Hurry
    Here's a "fast and dirty" way to convert an experienced child into an adult character without the slow aging and improvement described in the main text:
    • Use Bonus points to improve or buy skills, as per the usual rules for children - any points that cannot be spent are saved but cannot be used in the remainder of this process.
    • Subtract the character's age from 21; the result is the number of points available for character generation. They may be spent on characteristics or skills as though producing a new adult character. For example, to change BODY 2 (cost 2) to BODY 5 (cost 7) costs 7-2=5 points.
    • MAGIC drops to zero unless points are spent to buy it again. For this purpose MAGIC [1] costs 1 point, higher ratings are priced as any other characteristic.
    • Wizardry can only be improved if MAGIC is kept above zero.
    • If characteristics change, all related skills change accordingly, as described in the main text.
    • Points can be spent on improving skills and new skills as seems appropriate. Do this as though creating a new character.
    Assuming that characters are allowed to age, players should be allowed to spend Bonus points to improve characteristics (to a maximum of 6, the normal limit of human performance - to 7 if the referee allows it) - although characteristic improvements aren't normally allowed for adult characters, they can be justified in the case of children. These improvements are assumed to be the result of normal growth, and referees may prefer to allow only one improved characteristic per year of game time.

    Each attempted improvement costs as much as the base cost of the characteristic; for example, BODY [4] normally costs 5 points, so an improvement from 3 to 4 would cost 5 points.

    To try to improve a characteristic use the OLD characteristic to attack the points cost of the new characteristic; for example, use BODY [3] versus the cost, 5 points, in the example above.

    The table following shows the points cost and 2D6 roll needed to improve characteristics:


    Characteristic1 to 2to 3to 4to 5to 6to 7
    Points cost23571014
    2D6 roll needed665542or less

    When a characteristic is improved all skills related to it should be improved if the skill base value changes. For example, if BODY rises from 3 to 4 all skills based on BODY only are improved; skills based on BODY/2 are not improved, since the skill base stays at 2. Skills based on an average of BODY and another characteristic will be improved if the base changed; for example, a skill based on the average of BODY [3] and SOUL [2] (skill base 3+2/2 = 2.5, rounded to 3) would not change if BODY rose to 4, since the skill base would still be 3.

    The MAGIC characteristic is handled differently. The ability to cast spells is in part based on ignorance - if you don't know that magic is impossible, then perhaps it isn't. Even in worlds where magic is common most people know that it is unreliable, and gradually doubt their ability to use it safely; this doubt slowly destroys the ability to cast spells. Knowledge of Wizardry can delay this process. Accordingly, for every year that passes the player should roll the character's MAGIC plus Wizardry versus their age:

    Optionally this roll should also be made after any incident in which a child denies that magic exists, or refuses to believe in its effects, but any result that improves MAGIC should be ignored.

    MAGIC may sometimes be improved as a result of exposure to powerful spells or training, but Wizardry is more likely to be improved by these means. Wizardry may not be improved just by spending points; any improvements must occur as a result of events in the game.
    Optionally Wizardry starts to decline rapidly if MAGIC drops to zero, unless the character has some magical device to keep the skill active.

    The normal rules for improving all other skills and adding new skills should also be used, with the limitations for children noted earlier.


    To contents
    Magic!

    MAGIC is the core of fantasy; how does it work, and what can we do with it? Given the nature of RPGs it's likely that some players will want their characters to cast spells and learn the secrets of ultimate power. Of course things are never quite that simple, especially when a child is trying to master the arcane secrets of the universe and the instruction manual is less than clear... Such junior wizards should be run (or perhaps the correct term is persecuted...) via the spell-casting and training rules in the first section below. They're also useful for NPC wizards, and as the basis for the powers of magical creatures and devices. Much of this section was suggested by Alex Stewart, who has allowed me to base these magic rules on notes for his own campaign, but any problems are entirely my fault. This section ends with a few examples of NPC magicians, which may be useful as a basis for your campaign.

    In most period fantasies the source of magic is external, a magical device or creature that has the power to alter reality. Examples in Nesbit's tales alone include the Psammead, the Phoenix, the Carpet, the Amulet, the Book of Beasts, the Brass Telescope, etc. Other examples are legion; Anstey's brass bottle and the genie it contains, Aladdin's lamp and ring, the monkey's paw, and so on. It's entirely possible to run a campaign in which this is the only magic available to players, and there are several advantages; most notably, since control largely rests with the referee it's easy to run and doesn't need many rules. The second section below deals with these gadgets, which can be run by the magic rules or by the referee's whim.

    Finally, there's a bestiary of some of the weird and wonderful creatures likely to turn up in a magical campaign.

    Most of the material in this chapter gives the referee the option to load the dice in various ways. Nevertheless it still puts numbers onto magic, which by its very nature should be wild and unpredictable. I suspect that Nesbit would be horrified! Referees should feel free to ignore the numbers and go with their feelings if players seem to be trying to work the odds or treat magic as just another weapon or tool.


    To contents
    Spelling Lessons

    The next morning Uncle James put on his best coat and hat and the waistcoat with the gold snakes on it - he was a magician, and he had a bright taste in waistcoats. [7D 2]

    He put his hand into his waistcoat and pulled out his heart. It was fat and pink, and the Princess did not like the look of it. [MW 12]

    MAGICIANS and Witches are suspect in Nesbit's eyes. They are all at least eccentric, capable of squandering a fortune on magical books [7D 1], and are often actively evil, making deals with dragons and other monsters to get rid of inconvenient princesses [7D 2] [7D 5], turning up to curse someone at a christening [MW 4] [MW 5] [MW 12], and otherwise making a nuisance of themselves. They are usually flamboyant, wearing bright clothing and flying in carriages pulled by thunderbolts. They take out their hearts to keep them safe or offer them to princesses but inevitably lose them or have them fall into the wrong hands. They usually come to sticky ends. Nevertheless, it is possible that children may want to pursue this career and master the arcane arts of magic. Referees may also want to create NPC magicians as allies or opponents of the adventurers.

    Beginning Magic
    For children magic usually "just happens" at first, without much in the way of control. It's usually triggered by an encounter with someone else's magic; an object with obvious magical powers, or a creature such as the Psammad or the Phoenix, but might be the spontaneous result of some strong emotion (Matilda by Roald Dahl, [MW 11]). First-hand experience of real magic is enough to give any child the Wizardry [1] skill, with fairy stories and legend combining to suggest some of the basics of the art, but very little about safe technique. This is incredibly dangerous, of course, and the spells adult magicians learn are mainly aimed at bringing magic under full conscious control. This is safer, but reduces possibilities. Children often accomplish major feats of magic by spurious logic; "birds fly and they have feathers, so if I hold a feather I should be able to fly" will work if you believe and have enough MAGIC, especially if several children are doing it together and can see it working! Future skill improvements will be much harder. See e.g. The Books of Magic, Vertigo Comics.

    Example: Faith, Gordon, and Alaric
    As a result of their first trips with their magic keys the children become convinced that magic exists; they now have Wizardry [1] but don't know it.

    Optionally campaigns could begin with the characters already in training as magicians; they would only have Wizardry [1] but would know enough to avoid "wild" magic. It's a much safer path to power but limits the chances of spectacular success (or failure), and is probably most suitable for a school-based campaign where magic is on the curriculum, or a fantasy world campaign where characters are apprenticed to a magician.

    Wizardry skill can only be improved by in-game training and experience; that is to say, by encounters with practitioners of magic, and the successful (and hopefully creative) use of spells. It shouldn't be purchased with Bonus points.

    Magical Basics
    In game terms the basic process of magic is simple; each spell attacks its target using the magician's Wizardry skill, with Effect equivalent to the magician's MAGIC. The target might be BODY (especially if the magician wants to harm or transform something), MIND (to create an illusion), SOUL (for hypnosis etc., or to convert something alive to an inanimate object) or MAGIC (to overcome another spell or magical power, or to cast a spell on another magician). Often two or more characteristics are attacked, if so they should be added together. Sometimes the magician can add additional characteristics to the attack; for example, for telepathy SOUL might be added to to MAGIC. Sometimes MAGIC is used to boost another characteristic, such as BODY, or a skill such as Athlete.

    Optionally, if the roll to attack is a 12 something bad happens; the spell backfires in some way, hits the wrong target, or otherwise malfunctions.

    Extra MAGIC
    Magicians often need much more MAGIC than they have; in particular, many adult magicians have relatively little left. There are several possible sources, all with disadvantages:

    Wands and other magical talismans add to MAGIC, and may even reduce the time needed to cast complex spells, but often have an agenda of their own. Most can only be used by the magician that created them, or by someone with a similar personality, but a minority rebel against their makers and can only be used by someone who is opposed to the creator's goals. Some just exist to cause trouble. They may be usable as often as the magician wants to cast a spell, or have some limitation such as a maximum number of uses, or some unwelcome side effect. This is the only way that a magician with MAGIC [0] can still cast spells. See the main text and later sections for more on these devices. Common forms include rings, daggers and other weapons, amulets, pointy hats, and of course staffs with a knob on the end. Some places also seem to have this effect, adding to the MAGIC of spells; ancient stone circles, tombs, temples and fairy rings are particularly likely to have this property. Wizards may go to great lengths to find such places, especially if they plan powerful permanent spells or magical defences. This is usually not good news for the neighbours...

    Other Magicians can join in a spell; this lets them add their MAGIC together but increases the time needed to cast a spell. There is also no guarantee that one of them won't try to hijack the spell, using their MAGIC to overcome the nominal leader of the ceremony and change the nature or target of the spell. Witches are especially likely to work this way, especially in trios. The magician leading the spell should usually be the most powerful. Some evil magicians may be able to tap the MAGIC of an unwilling victim; this usually has bad side effects.

    Familiars are used by witches, sometimes by other magicians. They can lend their MAGIC to a spell, and can be used as a "communications relay" for the magician, reducing the Difficulty of spells cast at a distance. The most common familiars are cats and ravens, but many other species are possible.

    Worshippers are a useful source for religious magicians, using spells which draw on the SOUL of the worshippers. The magician adds 1 MAGIC per worshipper present, regardless of their SOUL or MAGIC, but the power goes as soon as the ceremony ends, time is again prolonged, and the worshippers are usually exhausted after the ceremony.

    Human or animal Sacrifice lets the magician add a victim's MAGIC (or SOUL/2) to his own MAGIC. The duration is usually a day or two. The magician needs MAGIC [1] or better, or an external source of MAGIC, to make this work. Magicians who specialise in this type of spell are usually called Necromancers, and are feared and shunned.

    All spells should have a basic duration; the spell-casters MAGIC in days (or in hours or minutes for unusually spectacular feats); for unusual duration add Difficulty as follows:

    Normal DurationRequired Duration Difficulty
    MinutesHours+1
    HoursDays+1
    DaysYears+1
    YearsCenturies+1
    CenturiesPermanent+1


    For example, the conversion of a prince to a frog would normally last a few days. With +3 Difficulty the spell will be permanent, and most evil wizards and witches prefer to make the effort. In this context "permanent" always has some sort of loophole; the spell's antidote may be as simple as being touched by cold iron or kissed by a princess, or require some elaborate quest for the ingredients, but there is always a way out.

    If magic almost always ends at the same time (e.g., after exactly 24 hours, at sunset [5C], at dawn) this table should be ignored. Instead, increase Difficulty considerably to get past this limitation.

    Difficulty may also increase if the magician wants to cast the spell at a distance, if the spell is complex or will be unusually difficult to break, if the target is moving or hidden, or if it is to affect several people or a large area.

    Difficulty can be reduced if a spell is cast on someone who wants it to work, if several magicians pool their MAGIC, if the duration of the spell is reduced, or if it is broken down into sections. This last may need some explanation; for example, to turn a prince into a frog, then turn the frog into a silver frog statue, then make the spell permanent might use three separate spells; there is less chance of any given stage going wrong, but the total effort requires three spells, any one of which still has a chance of failure, and is likely to be exhausting and time-consuming.

    Optionally there should be a limit on the number of spells cast in a day; this number should be based on the magician's MAGIC characteristic. That many spells can be cast as easily as possible, any more add +1 Difficulty per spell cast. This is reset by a good night's sleep. Note that it may still be possible to cast several spells a day by this rule, and end up with an inordinate amount of trouble, but that's part of the fun of this type of campaign.

    The time taken to cast a spell can vary from seconds to hours. Use whatever time is most dramatically appropriate: from a few seconds for the sudden appearance of an evil fairy, a curse, and her vanishing, to a few hours for an elaborate magical ceremony to create rain. There isn't necessarily any relationship between the time to cast a spell and its power or complexity; one wizard may spend a week creating a single perfect rose, another ten seconds creating a slightly slipshod magical palace or an equally slipshod curse. Optionally extra-long rituals can reduce the Difficulty of a spell or increase the quality of the result at the referee's discretion.

    Most spells seem to work without much in the way of visible or audible effects; gold silently appears, people suddenly realise that they have been turned into animals or walked into another world. Optionally any spell can have dramatic (but harmless) special effects added; they don't add to Difficulty, but when the spell is used the player must describe the effect in the style of a children's story. For example: ...and on that he vanished in a puff of red smoke with a smell like the Fifth of November... [MW 12]. Suitable special effects include sparkling lights, thunder, smoke, pungent smells, and crackles of electricity.

    Beyond these guidelines each magician, and each work of magic, is unique.

    Magical Techniques
    Spell books and training schools apart, there is no such thing as a "standard" spell or magician; everyone has their own path to power, and often it may be very different to the magician next door. One magician might turn a prince into a frog by an elaborate ritual, another by clicking his heels. What follow is very much a do-it-yourself system, and referees should be ready to make up most of the details as they go along; some examples of the most common spells follow, with some modifiers that might be useful. Everything in this section is optional.

    Communication seems to be the easiest magical power; anyone with any trace of magical talent talks to foreigners, animals, plants, and inanimate objects, and gets useful answers. This generally seems so easy that it's pointless putting numbers here, but if you want to make people roll for it, use MAGIC with the following Difficulty:

    LanguageDifficulty
    Any other human language regardless of origin, most supernatural creatures, pets2
    Any domesticated animal (cows, horses, chickens etc.)3
    Wild animals including birds, fish, etc., toys and other favourite objects.4
    Insects and other invertebrates, plants, railway engines and other man-made objects5
    Rocks, clouds, the wind, the sea, bacteria, etc.6
    If used at all these numbers should only be guidelines, and may be modified if (for example) the creature or object is making an effort to talk to the magician. All sources seem to agree that practice improves this ability, to the point at which your enjoyment of a nice scone may be spoiled by involuntarily hearing the death-agonies of the yeast organisms as they cook. See e.g. Diane Duane's So You Want To Be A Wizard and sequels.
    Note: Seventh sons of seventh sons need never roll for this, they can automatically talk to anything and understand the answer [MW 5].

    Add to the Difficulty if communication would normally be prevented or takes place at a distance. For example, if the magician is bound and gagged but wants to use telepathy to contact a friend and ask for rescue, the referee might make the Difficulty 3 for communication under impossible circumstances plus 2 for distance (use the distance modifiers listed for clairvoyance below), total Difficulty 5. Optionally SOUL can be added to MAGIC for attempts at telepathy, to a maximum of 10.

    Many non-human intelligent creatures can communicate without the use of magic, by the normal Linguist skill or by having a human language as their native tongue; for example, any magical creature resident in Britain probably speaks some variation of English (or Scots, Welsh, Cornish, Old English, etc.) The Psammead undoubtedly speaks all of the British languages and all of their ancestors back to the stone age.

    Example: Faith, Gordon, and Alaric
    While out hunting butterflies in Faith's version of India, Gordon (MAGIC [3]) accidentally snares a small fairy. He wants to apologise, and the fairy wants to be let free; although they don't usually have a language in common both are anxious to communicate so the Difficulty, normally 2, drops to 1. On a roll of 4 they are soon chatting.

    Clairvoyance is the ability to know what's going on at a distance (no, we're not differentiating between sight, hearing, etc., and characters will usually experience these effects as visions or dreams), in a place that can't be seen by other means, or in the past or future. Difficulty is based on distance and time; as a rough guide:

    DistanceDifficultyTimeDifficulty
    10 miles1A day in the future *2
    100 miles2Two days in the future *4
    1000 miles3Three days in the future *8 etc.
    Anywhere in the world4A year in the past1
    The moon5Ten years in the past2
    Anywhere in the solar system8A century in the past3 etc.
    Another universe10Dark / underwater / underground+2
    * Seeing the future is much more difficult than seeing the past, since there is an observer effect which means that viewing the future often changes it; see the notes on time travel below.

    Difficulty rises if the power is being opposed by another magician's MAGIC, falls if the target wants to be observed and adds MAGIC to the spell.

    Example: Faith, Gordon, and Alaric
    All three children agree that it would be useful to know what's happening before they enter each other's worlds. They want to be able to look through the doors they open before going through. This ought to be Difficulty 10, but the dimensional door already exists, it's just necessary to find a way to see through it. Alaric eventually hits on the idea of poking a toy telescope into the doorway first; it works. All three children think that this is because telescopes let you see things but in fact it's an unconscious Clairvoyance spell, Difficulty 2 (although the distance involved is only a few inches, the referee decides to make things a little more Difficult because the magic of the doors gets in the way).

    A common magical feat is materialisation of an object (such as an ice-cream cone or a pair of billiard balls) from thin air. Ignoring Einstein, who would say that this requires ridiculously large amounts of energy, the basic Difficulty is the BODY of the object to be materialised, plus its MIND, SOUL and MAGIC (if any), multiplied by the number of objects to be created. Calculating this can be tricky; for example, creating two billiard balls (BODY [1], no MIND, SOUL or MAGIC) would be Difficulty 2, since the balls are two distinct objects, but the whole set of balls in their frame can be visualised as a single whole object with BODY [1], and thus created with Difficulty 1! Some more examples:

    Example: Faith, Gordon, and Alaric
    Just lately Faith seems to have an uncanny knack of finding small change. Although she doesn't know it, she's creating coins unconsciously and spending them before they vanish. Already the sweet vendor in the bazaar is tearing out his hair because the books never balance; soon he will suspect magic, and ask the local hedge-wizard (who is secretly a Thug) to investigate. If this spell ever malfunctions Faith will
    lose a coin from her purse or money box; it disappears to whatever strange realm magically materialised objects come from.

    Materialisation can be worked in reverse, to destroy something - the Difficulty is again the total of all characteristics - and especially gifted magicians can cast a short-duration destructive spell on themselves (or anyone or anything else) to vanish in one place and reappear in another: and on that he vanished in a puff of red smoke with a smell like the Fifth of November... [MW 12]. The Difficulty is the total of all characteristics plus modifiers for duration and distance as above. Obviously the results of a fumble are likely to be fairly horrible - think "transporter accident" plus The Fly...

    Just as common is transformation, changing objects from one form to another; lead into gold, a prince into a frog or a hedgehog [MW 4], wood into fire, a cat into a statuette [MW 6]. It is also used to make objects larger or smaller (and thus change BODY) without otherwise affecting them [5C 4], [MW 2]. Ignoring Einstein again, the basic Difficulty is the sum of the change in each of the characteristics, plus the original BODY of the object. For example:

    Optionally, magicians who transform themselves into animal forms must beware of a subtle danger; the risk that they will come to believe that they are the creature whose form has been assumed, and subconsciously prolong the spell (see e.g. Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea). If this happens the spell may become permanent, and gradually erase the magician's personality. Roll MIND plus SOUL against the number of days since the spell was cast: If there is a failure 1 MIND or 1 SOUL is lost, on a roll of twelve 1D6/2 MIND or SOUL is lost. Repeat until there is nothing left that isn't natural to the animal. The only thing that reveals the truth is the trace of MAGIC that keeps the spell working. If the spell is reversed MIND and SOUL slowly return; roll every day, on a 2 one point is recovered. A full cure may take months. Note that this doesn't apply to people who have been changed into animal form by someone else's spell; the duration and effects of the spell are set when it is cast.

    If any characteristic is changed to zero it is usually a temporary effect, and will be revert when the spell is undone. Exactly what happens to MIND and SOUL during this process isn't clear; since they are usually restored they presumably exist in some form, but no thought or feelings should be experienced until the transformation ends.

    Optionally people or creatures turned into inanimate objects might retain their MIND, SOUL, and even MAGIC, which can be detected by someone with the Medium skill or MAGIC. If this option is used the Difficulty of the transformation should be unchanged because it will still be necessary to bind these characteristics to the will of the magician. This could be one of the ways that evil magicians create some of the magical objects described in the next section. If the object is destroyed before the spell can be reversed the SOUL is released and the victim dies.

    Example: Faith, Gordon, and Alaric
    Gupta, a Thug magician with MAGIC [3], Wizardry [4], has identified Faith as the source of magically created coins. The Thugs guard their near-monopoly of magic jealously, and he plans to eliminate her by turning a small venomous snake into a silver necklace, then planting it where Faith will find it. It will turn back into a snake after three days, but to be sure she is bitten he will cast a counter-spell when he sees her wearing it. The snake has BODY [1], MIND [1], SOUL [1], MAGIC [0]. The referee decides that this isn't particularly complex for Gupta, who has been trained in this trick by his superior in the religion.

    To cast the spell he must use his Wizardry [4] to change the form of the snake's BODY and remove its MIND and SOUL temporarily; this makes the total Difficulty 3, so he needs 8 or less to succeed. On a 7 he has successfully overcome the snake's resistance, but now his MAGIC [3] must carry out the actual transformation. The referee decides that this particular spell, which is supposed to temporarily turn a living creature into an inanimate object, can have three possible consequences:

    1. The snake is permanently killed but doesn't transform
    2. The snake is transformed into an ugly necklace
    3. The snake is transformed into a beautiful necklace
    Gupta needs to roll 7 or less to get the ugly necklace, 4 for beauty. On a 5 the necklace is garishly crude, but the referee charitably decides that a child won't be too concerned about aesthetics.

    If either roll had been a 12 the spell would have backfired; in this case the referee decided that the most likely result for the Wizardry roll would be the temporary transformation of Gupta into a silver statue, the most likely result for the MAGIC roll would be apparent success with the snake coming back to life as soon as Gupta touched it.

    To reverse the spell Gupta expects to use Wizardry against the same Difficulty, but the referee decides that since the spell will harm Faith, it must first overcome her MAGIC [6], for a total Difficulty of 9, raised to 10 because it is acting at a distance! However, the actual transformation remains at Difficulty 3, once Gupta has got past Faith's defences. Gupta needs a 2 to cast the spell successfully (skill 4 versus Difficulty 10), but once it is cast he uses MAGIC [3] against Difficulty 3 to produce the result. This time the referee has decided that the possible results if he succeeds are:

    1. The necklace transforms into a dead snake
    2. The necklace transforms into the living snake but it will be sleepy for several rounds before attacking
    3. The necklace transforms into an active deadly snake
    On 2 then 5 the snake reanimates but is comatose; Faith shrieks and throws it away before it recovers enough to bite her. If either roll had been a 12 the snake would have been permanently transformed into a much nicer necklace. If Gupta had known just a little more he could have cast the original spell with a cancelling "trigger" built in, which would bypass the need for a separate counter-spell; in that case the trigger would have only had to get past Faith's MAGIC, not the additional Difficulty of a separate spell.

    Gupta has failed, but having experienced Faith's resistance to his spell he will change his tactics considerably for his next attempt, and may resort to non-magical means or a more subtle spell.

    Some magicians seem to be able to hurl bolts of lightning, fire, ice, small stones and other physical attacks at their foes. While it looks spectacular, this is essentially an attack of Wizardry versus the target's BODY (and MAGIC if any) plus or minus a modifier to Difficulty as below, with the magician's MAGIC as the Effect. Children probably won't be very accurate with this type of attack, but may do a lot of damage when they connect. Some examples:

    Attack typeABCNotes
    LightningB/F  F+KOI+KOInjuries are burns, Difficulty +3
    FireBFIInjuries are burns, Difficulty +2
    Ice * / coldBFF/IInjuries are frostbite
    Stones *BFI/I+KOInjuries are bruises and/or cuts
    Water / Small frogs / fish *-BBVictim suffers embarassment or discomfort, Difficulty -1
    * These attacks involve the momentary materialisation and destruction of physical objects, but leave no physical evidence apart from cold, dampness, slime, a smell of fish, etc.

    Example: Faith, Gordon, and Alaric
    While swimming Alaric and Gordon start a playful water fight. As Gordon throws a handful of water it somehow turns into a huge gusher, knocking Alaric onto his back. Both are surprised but unhurt; when Alaric tries to hit back he produces a rain of frogs, but on a 12 most of them end up in his own hair.

    Another common trick is the use of magic to improve other characteristics or skills. Here the Difficulty is simply the change; for example, to boost your strength and lift a boulder you might need to boost BODY from 2 to 6 - the Difficulty would be 4. This power only works while the character is concentrating on it - for example, by thinking "I must be strong" - and actually using the characteristic. It wears off as soon as the character relaxes. Only one characteristic (BODY, MIND, or SOUL) can be boosted, related skills are not boosted. The characteristic is used normally in all respects once this change has been made. Changing BODY in this way does not change a character's size; that requires transformation as above. Skills may be improved in the same way.

    Example: Faith, Gordon, and Alaric
    Alaric has BODY [4], MAGIC [3], Athlete [5] but now he's competing against much bigger boys in the school sports and isn't really a match for them. He wants to run extra fast in the long-distance race, and thinks that the magic he is beginning to learn may help - to improve to Athlete [7] is only Difficulty 2, but since it's a very long race the referee also asks him to make a roll for stamina based on BODY, which he fails. As a result he becomes winded and loses his concentration during the race, and has to make another Athlete roll (now at Athlete [5]) versus the best of the runners to stay ahead; eventually, after more rolls, he comes in second.

    Healing is the one type of magic that usually seems to be permanent; if a rationale is needed, say that curing an injury is like undoing a spell and restoring the patient's body to normal. The Difficulty of the spell is the recovery Difficulty, as in the Forgotten Futures rules. Usually the patient recovers immediately, and since the spell restores the pre-injury condition there is no mark left. The means by which a cure is administered can be childishly simple - "I'll kiss it better" can work if you don't know better - or an adjunct to more conventional medical treatment. Optionally there should be the same chance of a magical cure going wrong as any other type of healing; if the spell fails, the wound will take longer than usual to heal.

    Example: Faith, Gordon, and Alaric
    Alaric tries to leap from a pony and cuts his leg (a flesh wound); Gordon applies a bandage, using the normal first aid rules but also unconsciously casting a healing spell. On a 4 his MAGIC [3] overcomes the Difficulty of the injury, as does his First Aid. When the bandage is removed there will be no sign of injury, apart from some blood on the bandage.

    Illusions seem to be part of most magicians' repertoire. The magician's MIND and MAGIC attack the observer's MIND (and MAGIC if any). Illusions normally end in a few minutes as the victim notices inconsistencies, but with extra Difficulty they can be made to last longer. They can also be cast on a place or object as a temporary or permanent effect, "attacking" the MIND and MAGIC of anyone who looks at it, but this also adds to Difficulty. Normally illusions only target sight, add +1 Difficulty per sense to target hearing, smell, etc. The magician can't see the illusion, but must imagine it in all its detail. Usually an illusion won't affect a camera, the spell is targeted specifically at the mind. Whether mirrors are any defence is a matter for the referee.

    Invisibility is one example of an illusion, usually affecting sight only. Generally evidence of the presence of an invisible person is not concealed; footmarks and other tracks are left behind, there may also be a scent trail that can be followed, fingerprints, etc. Invisibility and other illusions generated by an object (such as a cloak) usually only apply to the object itself; for example, someone who is made invisible by a cloak or a ring (see e.g. The Hobbit) may still have a visible shadow. Such objects usually have power equivalent to the MAGIC and Wizardry of the person who cast the spell on them.

    Example: Faith, Gordon, and Alaric
    Gupta follows Faith through a dimensional doorway to Gordon's world, where the three children are staying in Gordon's London home. It's the first time Gupta has seen the portal, and he's too startled to attack Faith before she goes into the house. Gupta is at a disadvantage in London - he's dressed for an Indian summer and it's a winter evening - but resolves to break into the house, kill Faith, and steal the key to return home. As a Thug he's naturally trained to move through the shadows unseen, and has a shrouding cloak prepared with this spell. Anyone seeing it will be attacked by his MAGIC [3], Wizardry [4], if the spell's attack is successful they won't see him.

    While the spell works on the housemaid and the children, it doesn't affect the dog Tommy's nose. He leaps at the strange smell and pulls part of the cloak off, revealing Gupta to the children. Thinking quickly, Faith uses her key to open a cupboard door, and the other children and Tommy push the entangled Gupta through the opening. He falls back into his own world, and Faith quickly slams the door closed and pulls the key out to stop him from coming back.

    To fly the magician has to overcome his own BODY to hover, with Difficulty +1 per 10 MPH. The spell normally lasts a few minutes, with difficulty rising for longer durations as above. For example, if Gordon (BODY [1]) tried to fly at 50 MPH he'd need to overcome Difficulty 6; Alaric would need to overcome Difficulty 8. To make an unwilling victim fly he would need to overcome that person's BODY and MAGIC, if any. If a willing subject wanted to fly their MAGIC would be subtracted from the Difficulty, not added. Possible results for a success are:

    1. Flight at 2/3 the desired speed
    2. Flight at desired speed
    3. Flight at 1 times the desired speed

    Another way to fly is to be transformed to a winged human form [5C 4] then fly naturally. Even with wings some magical help is needed - human bodies simply aren't built for flight - but the Difficulty of flying can be halved. See also Transformation into animals, above.

    Example: Faith, Gordon, and Alaric
    A magic door malfunction lands the children in the Kingdom of the Birds, a highly magical world where humans don't exist. After some misunderstandings they befriend the King of the Eagles, who kindly gives them wings, which will be permanent until they can find their way home. The wings halve the Difficulty of flying, and will let them glide to a safe landing, but they still need to use MAGIC to take off and fly at any speed. Gordon wants to fly at 100 MPH; this would be Difficulty 11 normally, but with wings the Difficulty drops to 6. On an 8 he tries to leap into the air but can't get off the ground. When he tries for a more modest 20 MPH the Difficulty drops to 3, and on a 4 then 3 he gets into the air and is soon speeding along at 30 MPH.

    The final power to be discussed here, and in many ways the most sinister, is mind control. Many magicians and some magical devices are capable of influencing the thoughts of others, causing personality changes or taking control of thoughts. Illusions are a limited version of this power, and relatively harmless; mind control can be much more dangerous. However, it must usually be accomplished gradually, much like hypnosis; use MIND plus Wizardry against the MIND plus MAGIC of the target - if the roll is made successfully for a number of rounds equivalent to the MIND of the target, the victim's mind can be controlled. The degree of success is determined by a roll of the magician's MIND plus MAGIC against the victim's MIND plus MAGIC.

    1. Limited success: the victim must be led to believe that there is a rational reason to do whatever the magician wishes, and will not perform any act which would seriously conflict with normal behaviour (e.g. someone who wouldn't normally steal or use violence still won't).
    2. Success: the victim will do anything required, provided that it does not involve suicide or a major conflict with normal behaviour (e.g. someone who wouldn't normally steal or use violence will steal, but probably won't use violence)
    3. Total Success: the victim will do absolutely anything, up to and including suicide.
    With appropriate Difficulty modifiers (and more time) this spell can be used at a distance, by telepathy, and across species barriers. The magician can make things easier by aiming to trigger an emotion, such as greed or anger, rather than precisely controlling behaviour. This is especially common when dealing with cursed objects made of gold and other precious materials.
    Example: Faith, Gordon, and Alaric
    The way home from the Kingdom of the Birds takes the children to the Land of Evil Witches, a version of 18th century Europe straight out of Grimm's Fairy Tales. While trying to find another door with a lock for the next stage of the journey, they stumble across a gingerbread cottage. All three know what this means, but for some unaccountable reason they gradually find themselves feeling ravenously hungry; the cottage itself radiates a mind control spell cast with the equivalent of Wizardry[6], MAGIC [4]. All three succumb, eat the drugged gingerbread, and wake several hours later to find themselves in cages in the witch's kitchen. Fortunately she hasn't taken the keys, and the children use them to open their cages and finally step back into their own worlds.

    Curses use combinations of spells, often adding time delays and unlikely cancellation conditions. In many cases it seems possible that these conditions are actually predictions, things that are going to happen anyway if given a little nudge by magic. For example, in [MW 4] a curse says that a Princess will be deposed, but her throne will be saved if she is served by "...a thousand spears devoted to her and to her alone.", a prophecy fulfilled when the hero is turned into a hedgehog. The initial curse is probably fulfilled by a little mind control of the subjects of the kingdom and the usurping king and queen, while the hedgehog spell is created by the Queen of the Fairies, who is aware of the conditions of the original curse. Things work out as the curse predicts. Player characters should not usually be allowed to use curses; if they insist, make it clear that they have to do all the hard work of ensuring that they have the desired effect.

    Many other spells can be imagined or have appeared in fiction. Hopefully these examples will help referees to develop more of their own as the need arises.

    Magicians, Witches, Wizards, and Fairy Godmothers
    Here are a few examples of magical personalities from Nesbit's short stories who might be useful for a campaign. All will need some fleshing out for prolonged use. They may possess more skills than are noted below, but it seems likely that they have devoted so much of their lives to magic that there is little room for other activities.

    Professor Taykin [MW 12]
    BODY [3], MIND [4], SOUL [3], MAGIC [6], Actor (melodramatic curses) [6], Business [5], Wizardry [8]
    Spells: Various transformations, curses, vanishing, mind control.
    Equipment: Removable heart (see boxed text below)
    Quote: "Little Aura may be all that, but I say she shall be the ugliest princess in all the world."
    Notes: Professor Taykin is a consulting Wicked Magician, who "by economy and strict attention to customers had worked up a very good business of his own" casting (and removing) spells and curses to order. He has an unwholesome liking for christenings, where he likes to curse the baby. For most of the story he is under a spell which prevents him vanishing and limits his spells to the tower where he is imprisoned. Eventually his apprentice uses his magic books to cast a spell on him which removes all his evil; the remnant left is a small child.

    I Left My Heart...
    "He put his hand into his waistcoat and pulled out his heart. It was fat and pink, and the Princess did not like the look of it." [MW 12]
    Why do magicians take their hearts out? The usual story is that they can't be killed unless the heart is destroyed, but that doesn't explain why. One answer might be that it stores the magician's MIND, SOUL, and MAGIC, with the body essentially a remote-controlled zombie and thus easy to transform into a dragon, a raging fire, or whatever else the magician needs. Powerful spells keep the body and heart alive while separated, and repair damage to the body; if the body is destroyed the heart creates a new one from whatever raw materials happen to be around, possibly going through several stages before ending up with a good human body. It then spends a while getting used to it, casting the spells needed to prepare it for remote controlled operation, and building a new headquarters, recruiting henchmen, etc. This takes a good deal of time, which is why evil magicians often seem to be destroyed and vanish for months or years before coming back to wreak their horrible revenge. See e.g. Ming The Merciless (Flash Gordon), Chaotica (Star Trek: Voyager) and numerous other examples. Grand Viziers of Oriental monarchs seem to be especially prone to this sort of behaviour, it's presumably a form of job security.

    This doesn't explain why they are so careless with their hearts. The best explanation is probably that they are so drunk with power, and so eager to show it off, that they don't think of the consequences of their indiscretion. Note, for example, that many wizards have carnivorous familiars which might be tempted by a heart if they found it.

    Note: One of the adventures includes another version of heart removal for different reasons.

    Uncle James, Rotundian Usurper [7D 2]
    BODY [3], MIND [4], SOUL [2], MAGIC [2], Actor (oratory, smile and be a villain) [5], Business (politics) [5], Wizardry [4]
    Spells: Speaks Dragon and other magical languages, mind control (via oratory) (?)
    Equipment: Waistcoat with gold embroidered snakes.
    Quote: "...Your readiness to give up your Princess will only show how generous you are."
    Notes: Uncle James is described as a wicked magician - it isn't quite clear how powerful a magician he is, since he doesn't overtly cast any spells in the story, but there is one instance of amazingly succeessful oratory which may actually be the use of a mind control spell. He is certainly wicked, eager to use a dragon to dispose of his niece and anyone else who gets in his way. He comes to a sticky end, reduced to tiny size and eaten by an equally tiny dragon.

    The King (an enchanter "at the top of his profession") [7D 5]
    BODY [5], MIND [4], SOUL [3], MAGIC [4], Wizardry [8]
    Spells: Speaks Dragon and Griffon, materialisation, transformation, curse of immortality (presumably a form of transformation), flight.
    Equipment: Magic chariot drawn by thunderbolts, Raven (familiar?)
    Quote: "I'm not going to punish her for that, I'm only going to teach her to respect her father"
    Notes: The King (no other name is given) wanted a son but gets a daughter, who he curses to immortality and exile in an island tower guarded by nine whirlpools, a dragon, and a griffon (which he makes by transforming a lion and an eagle into a single animal). He dies of old age many years before the Princess is rescued.

    The Witch (Good witch and friend of the Queen) [7D 5]
    BODY [3], MIND [5], SOUL [4], MAGIC [6], Wizardry [6]
    Spells: Speaks to snakes, can make babies to order, flight, transformation into a statue, mind control.
    Equipment: Magic chariot drawn by sunbeams.
    Quote: "Now, drink up your medicine, there's a dear, and run along home."
    Notes: The Witch (no other name is given) makes a child for the Queen, but annoys the King by making a girl rather than a boy. After the Princess is exiled the Queen asks the Witch to help; the Witch takes her to the island where the princess is imprisoned, where her spells prevent the Princess from feeling the passage of time, and turn the Witch and the Queen into statues. They return to human form when the Princess is rescued, but the Witch loses her powers in the process.

    Malevola (a wicked fairy) [MW 4],[MW 7]
    BODY [2], MIND [3], SOUL [1], MAGIC [6], Wizardry [6]
    Spells: Transformation, curses, flying
    Equipment: -
    Quote: "Be quiet, you silly cuckoo, or I'll give you a christening present too."
    Notes: Malevola is an evil fairy, another fan of christening curses. She sentences a Princess to have her Kingdom stolen, and a prince to be ugly on Sundays. She occasionally gets things wrong; when cursing the princess she pauses for half a second, which lets a good fairy specify the escape clause which will eventually recover her kingdom. Similar characteristics and skills should be used for all evil fairies. Note that all fairies, evil or good, can transform themselves to tiny sizes, animal forms, etc.

    Benevola (Queen of the Fairies) [MW 4]
    BODY [2], MIND [4], SOUL [6], MAGIC [5], Wizardry [8]
    Spells: Transformation, healing (power transferrable to others), wishes (see next section), flying.
    Equipment: -
    Quote: "I'll do what I can, but I'm afraid it'll be a disappointment to you both."
    Notes: Benevola rules the fairies, but seems to have very little control over occasional dissidents such as Malevola. She is resourceful in finding ways around curses; for example, she saves the life of a hero who has been shot with a thousand arrows by transforming him into a hedgehog, "..the only nice person who can live comfortably with a thousand spikes sticking out of him..", which makes him the ideal candidate to help a cursed princess whose salvation is "...a thousand spears devoted to her and to her alone.", having made sure that the princess's kisses will heal the arrow wounds when he is turned back into a human. Similar characteristics and skills should be used for any other good fairies.


    To contents
    It's A Kind Of Magic

    EXTERNAL magic sources are common in fairy tales and children's fantasy, and have advantages for the referee. Since their powers are defined by the referee players can rarely be sure of their capabilities or limitations, and if necessary the referee can "bend" them to meet the needs of the scenario. It's rarely necessary to use special rules to describe their effects.

    Some of the creatures and objects described below have powers which simplify or seem to be at odds with the magic rules above. This is to stop players who know the magic rules from feeling complacent...

    External magic sources generally fall into one or more of four broad categories; wishing machines, a term borrowed from an "article" by the late John Brunner, Galactic Consumer Reports: Twin Tube Wishing Machines, transport systems such as the Carpet and the Amulet, both of which also have some "wishing machine" functions, "gadgets" such as enchanted swords that have limited functions, and magical beings which can either use magic or are innately magical. For the purposes of this section the first three terms often include creatures that can use these powers; for example, the Psammead and the Cockatoucan [7D 11] are living wishing machines, a pet Hippogriff is a living transport system. There are many other possibilities, of course - for instance, the Phoenix is a magical being which doesn't quite fit any of the first three categories - but they are by far the most common.

    The Psammead, last of the Sand-Fairies
    BODY [2], MIND [4], SOUL [3], MAGIC [8], Brawling (Bite effect 5) [4], Linguist (all languages) [7], Scholar (ancient civilisations, artifacts, life-forms) [8], Wizardry [9], Stealth [6]
    Wounds: B [] F [] I [] I [] I [] C [] C[]
    Immune to disease. Immortal barring two critical injuries. However, any contact with water is a critical injury!
    Quote: "...it won't do you much good, that's one comfort,... ...How much do you want, and will you have it in gold or notes?" [5C 2]
    Notes: With the exception of its vulnerability to water, the Psammead is much tougher than it looks. However, it isn't omnipotent; it's captured and sold as a pet [AM 1] and frequently seems to be an utter coward. It can't grant its own wishes, and must persuade (or trick) others into making wishes for it.
    The Cockatoucan [7D 11]
    BODY [1], MIND [3], SOUL [1], MAGIC [10] Brawling [3] peck (Effect 4), Wizardry [7]
    The Cockatoucan can grant any wish, preferably malicious, if it is made to laugh. It can't grant its own wishes. The only way to undo all its wishes is to make it laugh "on the other side of its face."
    Wishing machines always have some degree of intelligence, even if they are inanimate objects. They can alter reality, usually on receipt of a command prefaced by the words "I wish" (also, if you're feeling extra mean, "I want" and other alternatives). It really is that simple; when a child says "I wish I had a million billion ice creams." the whole world will be hip-deep in the stuff - imagine the child buried under megatons of ice cream, the pollution, and the smell as it goes rancid a couple of days later... Fortunately there are usually loopholes to stop global dairy deluges and other catastrophes, most typically some of the following limits, some of which can also be applied to other magical devices and beings:

    For example, the Psammead's main limitations are a limit of one spell per day (two if one of them is very small), a high limit on complexity and/or bulk, a time limit (spells always end at sunset), and its own bloody-mindedness. An early wish adds a permanent qualifier - that the family's servants will never notice the effects of wishes.

    In [5C 6] Robert is sent out to get a wish from the Psammead, and makes a serious mistake: he wishes that the children can make their wish at home, without warning the other children first. As a result Cedric wishes for something that's potentially very dangerous, unaware that the wish will be granted. But suppose Cedric had said "I wish I was dead!" or "I wish you'd shut up!" to Jane? How would this be handled in game terms? The answer is that there is no real need to make use of the game rules at all; in both of these examples the parameters of the Psammead's magic are known and reasonably easy to use without rolling dice.

    Children should find it very difficult to avoid saying "I wish" and wishing irresponsibly; to simulate this with adult players, who may be trying to avoid the phrase, the referee should encourage players to talk in character, listen for anything that's said which might be construed as a wish then ask the player to roll MIND versus Difficulty 6 - if the result is a failure the words "I wish" were used. Of course it's best if the words "I wish" are actually used by players, and if they are really getting into their roles as children they will probably say it eventually without rolling dice.

    Referees should be alert for any use of the word "wish", even out of context, including phrases along the lines of "what if I wish for..." or "Suppose we wish..." - assume that the wishing machine uses the word "wish..." as an activation phrase and will then start to 'parse' the words that follow!

    Players may try to beat the system by setting up elaborate logic traps and conditions for wishes. Discourage this by making the results worst than a straightforward wish, or by wilful stupidity on the behalf of the wishing machine. For example:

    "...and that the aforesaid children will not be harmed in any way by receiving this wish, subject to the terms and conditions previously mentioned, and that the wish will commence upon my saying `I so wish'. I so wish!" concluded Cedric triumphantly.

    A hundred gallons of ice cream cascaded down onto his head. "Was that all right?," asked the Psammead "I think I lost track somewhere in the second subclause."

    If you want to put numbers to this (the author prefers vindictiveness and abuse of power by the referee) assume that the wishing machine must use its MIND to overcome a Difficulty number of the referee's choosing - 4+2 for each clause, "however", or other qualifier in the wish seems about right.

    Similarly, the referee may wish to limit the maximum size or complexity of the item wished for; use the materialisation rules above, or your own discretion. NEVER let the players know what factors are used to decide the results!

    When granting wishes referees should always be alert for the implications of the wish, as well as the actual request. As an extreme example, children wishing for a few days off school may be horrified to find that the only way that this can happen is if the King or Queen dies and the school is closed for a period of mourning, or if one of their classmates develops diphtheria and they are all put into quarantine.

    Normally there is no way to resist the power of a wish; if for any reason the referee wants to allow this - for example, if the wish is being made by an enemy and will cause physical or mental harm - the referee should roll the MAGIC behind the spell versus the MAGIC of each character. On a failure the wish doesn't work on that particular character. Wishes that affect the world as a whole can't be resisted in this way.

    The Amulet, Magical Time Machine
    BODY [3/15], MIND [3], SOUL [-], MAGIC [10], Linguist (understands all languages, cannot speak) [7], Scholar (History, Geography, etc.) [8], Wizardry [10]
    Wounds: The Amulet is made of some form of granite-hard rock, so is difficult to damage (the two BODY ratings given are for its normal size and its form as a stone archway). Nevertheless a determined attack with a hammer could destroy it in its small form; in its larger form explosives are probably needed.
    Notes: The Amulet is primarily a transport device, but can only take travellers to a place or time where they might be able to find its missing half. Since its existence spans several thousand years this allows plenty of scope, but once complete it loses this ability. When activated (by holding it in the direction of the rising sun and reciting the name inscribed on it, "Ur Hekau Setcheh") the Amulet grows to archway size, allowing travellers to walk to the past or future. They must state a destination (such as Atlantis) and time then pass through in order of age, the eldest first; the Amulet vanishes and reappears in the hand of the youngest traveller once they have all passed through [AM 3]. Users of the Amulet are able to understand and speak the language of any place it takes them. No time passes in the present while they are in the past or future. Once complete and perfect the Amulet will only allow perfect souls to pass through its arch, and they will not be able to travel through time. This power is used only once, to strip evil from two souls and unite them in one body [AM 14].
    The Carpet
    BODY [3], MIND [2], SOUL [-], MAGIC [6], Wizardry [6]
    Wounds: The carpet is made of enchanted silk, but is as vulnerable to damage as any non-magical carpet. A Flesh Wound or worse damages the Carpet to some extent; a Critical injury means it is torn so badly it won't support riders without repairs. Fire will destroy it if it isn't quickly extinguished. See below.
    Linguist (understands all languages including Bosh, cannot speak, can read) [5].
    Notes: The Carpet can teleport anywhere on Earth and fly at the speed of an express, about 60 MPH. If it is asked to go somewhere or find something it seems to be able to interpret the command, using some magical sense to find its destination. It will obey three orders per day. When damaged anyone standing on the damaged section and transported by teleportation may be split between their real body - which is left behind - and a semi-transparent apparition. In this state the apparition simultaneously sees, feels, and hears everything that the real body experiences, and everything happening to the apparition. [PC 9] This is extremely disorientating; imaginative travellers can move around fairly freely in this form, but others may find that their movements are limited if there is an obstacle to either body; for example, the apparition may be unable go past a particular point because the real body has walked into a wall! This doesn't seem to occur if the carpet is flying, but it is possible to fall off through rips etc. The carpet seems to adapt itself to circumstances; for example, it can change size to fit a particular opening [PC 2]. It can make itself and its riders invisible [PC 4]. It may be able to travel through walls etc. without teleporting, but this isn't entirely clear.
    Transport Systems range from flying carpets to brooms to wings to sophisticated magical time machines. Some are operated like wishing machines; the user states a destination, and the transport system does its best to interpret their meaning, sometimes with mixed success. Others are steered by their riders, who must direct their travels. Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages.

    "Wish" travel is inflexible but requires little skill. All of the limitations indicated for wishing machines above can apply, the most important being that there may be limits on the system's ability to understand complex or vague orders. The best examples occur in [PC 7] and subsequent chapters, where a vaguely worded order leads to a series of comic accidents and the temporary imprisonment of an unlucky (and much-abused) burglar. In other words, the users are passengers, not drivers, and may be at the mercy of their transport. "Steered" travel is more flexible, but may require the Riding or Driving skill and some knowledge of geography for navigation. Sometimes these skills may be part of the mode of travel:

    ...They all spread out their wings and rose in the air. Of course you all know what flying feels like, because everyone has dreamed about flying, and it seems so beautifully easy- only, you can never remember how you did it; and as a rule you have to do it without wings, in your dreams, which is more clever and uncommon, but not so easy to remember the rule for. Now the four children rose flapping from the ground, and you can't think how good the air felt running against their faces. Their wings were tremendously wide when they were spread out, and they had to fly quite a long way apart so as not to get in each other's way. But little things like this are easily learned. [5C 4]

    There's no guarantee that all magical transport will be as easy to use, of course; it may require special skills (e.g. a broomstick rider might need Riding and Athlete to control the broom and stay on) or status (e.g. some obvious qualifications are needed to ride a unicorn).

    The main types of travel that appear in fantasy are teleportation through space (e.g. the Carpet) and/or time (the Amulet), flight (again the Carpet, also the wings granted by the Psammead), and fast land travel (the ice slide of [7D 4], most riding animals or creatures, and most traditional versions of seven league boots etc.)

    Teleportation is usually an instantaneous transition from one place to another, almost always achieved by a wish or command which could potentially go wrong (as described under materialisation, in the previous section). There generally seems to be some form of protection to ensure that travellers have room to materialise, and aren't in deadly danger the second they arrive. To keep teleportation from becoming too powerful a tool, referees may want to impose some moderately obvious limits. Some or all of the following should suffice:

    A common variant on teleportation is a portal through space, time, or to other worlds and dimensions; the Amulet is the most obvious example, there are many others, such as the wardrobes of [MW 10] and Lewis' Narnia stories and the openings of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. All of the limitations above can be applied; additionally, some of the following may be useful

    The "model" for time travel used by Nesbit is rather more coherently than the few other period fantasies that mention the idea, and can best be summed up as "fixed past, potential future".

    "Very likely," said Cyril, worriedly. "I say, I do wish you'd give up this idea of conquering Britain. It's not worth while, really it isn't!"

    "On the contrary," said Csar, "what you've told me has decided me to go, if it's only to find out what Britain is really like. Guards, detain these children." [AM 10]

    Nothing that you do can make major changes to the past, and in many cases what you do is the fundamental cause of history as you know it. There are no time paradoxes, and you can't affect your personal past. Minor changes can be made, such as saving the life of someone relatiovely obscure who is supposed to have died (the change might manifest as a previously-unnoticed page of errata in a local history, a changed or missing gravestone in a cemetary, or a pained letter to The Times from the grandson of someone who allegedly died in infancy), but it is impossible to change the broad sweep of past history. Any changes you make will have "always" been that way, so far as the rest of the world is concerned. An excellent modern example of this style of time travel can be found in the film Twelve Monkeys.

    There's an important exception; some magic includes a "reset" button, the ability to wish that it had never happened (as in Anstey's The Brass Bottle and [5C 10]). Here there seems to be a "branch" in history at the moment the spell was cast, with two possible futures depending on whether or not the spell is cancelled. Usually the duration of the split seems to be from a few hours to a few days, but there seems no reason why this situation should be resolved so quickly. Generally only the person who cancels the spell can remember the previous state of affairs. An oddly relevant SF story is the novel Replay by Ken Grimwood.

    "There will be a future," said Cyril... "there will be a time after we've found it. Let's go into that time - and then we shall remember how we found it. And then we can go back and do the finding really." [AM 12]
    The future is full of potential; anything is possible, and if children make the right choices they may personally be able to improve things. The socialist Utopia described in [AM 12] is an excellent example; it could happen, if things go right, but it's very far from certain. You are creating the future as you live, a fraction of a second at a time, and anything you bring back to the present is simply a "...prophetic vision. And you remember dreams, don't you? So why not visions?..., not a certainty or anything like it. It's a startling intuitive anticipation of the uncertainty we take for granted today.

    Again, there is an exception; while knowledge bought back by time travel can be as inaccurate as any other vision, there are occasional prophecies and curses that seem to be inescapable. Generally speaking these seem to take place only in highly magical "fairy-tale" worlds, not the more "mundane" worlds of the Psammead stories and much of Nesbit's other fiction. It's a much earlier version of time and predestination, as seen in stories from the Arabian Nights to the Brothers Grimm. While it can be fun to involve adventurers in resolving these situations, it isn't usually a good idea to make them the subjects of the prediction, players tend to be much better than fairy-tale characters at resolving them!

    Flight is usually controllable, using the Riding or Driving skill as seems appropriate for animals and vehicles, or suddenly-acquired instincts if given wings [5C 4], transformed into birds, etc. The main advantages are the ability to fly over obstacles and away from danger, and the sheer fun of it. The main disadvantage is the risk of something going wrong, especially when the means of flight is wholly magical; it can be a LONG way down...

    Any of the means of flight discussed in the previous section can be granted by magical devices, wishes, etc.; if so, the performance is usually derived from the devices' characteristics, or those of the source of the spell, not the user. Top speed for most magical flying devices should be their Wizardry x 10 MPH, the maximum extra load carried is their MAGIC minus the rider's BODY (or BODY 1 if the rider's BODY is the same or greater than the device's MAGIC).

    There are many other forms of travel, of course, on land and water, underground, and everywhere else that can readily be imagined. Often the form of transport functions both as a means of transport and (in stories beginning in the "real" world) as a means of getting to magic kingdoms and other strange places, and may be able to go into the past or future:

    Magical Gadgets almost always have one main function; sometimes this is obvious from their nature - for example, a magic sword is most likely going to be enchanted in a way that makes it a better sword - otherwise some experimentation may be needed. Since their functions tend to be limited they aren't usually intelligent, although there are always exceptions. Intelligent gadgets have at least some of the capabilities and limitations of wishing machines and transport systems, their behaviour should be handled accordingly.

    There are relatively few "gadgets" in the Nesbit stories accompanying this collection. They are listed below, with some of the standard items that might find themselves in a fantasy campaign:

    As with the spells in the previous section, these are simply examples showing a relatively small range of possibilities. A few more appear in the adventures. Referees are strongly advised to develop alternatives, preferably ones that won't be familiar from endless fantasy novels or other RPGs. Magic should contain infinite variety, not the same gizmos over and over again.


    To contents
    The Book of Beasts

    MAGICAL creatures range from the incredibly powerful "wishing machines" described above to tiny pixies, fairies, and kittens. What follows is very far from an exhaustive list, and deals only with the creatures that are mentioned in Nesbit's stories, or seem likely to play a major part in a campaign.

    In the descriptions that follow any characteristic which exists but is negligable compared to the normal [1] is shown as [-]. These creatures sometimes have capabilities that are not explained satisfactorily by the magic rules above; if so, that's a limitation of the magic rules, not the creature in question. Creatures described elsewhere in this worldbook are not detailed here.

    Bears, Polar [7D4]
    BODY [8], MIND [2], SOUL [1], MAGIC [0], Brawling (claws, bite) [10], Linguist [3].
    Wounds: B [ ] F [ ] I [ ] I [ ] C [ ]
    Quote: ..made for the convenience of the Polar bears, who, during the winter months, get their food from the Army and Navy Stores..
    Equipment: Purse, money (pounds, of course), shopping basket.
    Notes: Bears are extremely dangerous in the wild. Fortunately they are on their best behaviour when they visit London by ice slide, and buy their food in the Army and Navy Departmental Stores instead of ripping it limb from limb.

    Butterfly [7D 1]
    BODY [see below], MIND [-], SOUL [-], MAGIC [0]
    Wounds: Any wound kills.
    Quote: ...there was a beautiful Butterfly all red, and brown, and yellow, and blue.
    Notes: Pretty, and a frequent product of spells, several hundred butterflies have BODY [1], no skills, and negligible MIND or SOUL. While they usually have no MAGIC of their own, they might be used as a "carrier" for spells, and are often associated with fairies.

    Blue Bird of Paradise [7D 1]
    BODY [1], MIND [1], SOUL [2], MAGIC [1], Artist (singing) [4]
    Wounds: B [ ] F [ ] C [ ]
    Quote: while the King gazed enchanted at the charming picture the Blue Bird fluttered his wings on the yellow page and spread them and flew out of the book
    Originally kept as one of the "pictures" in The Book of Beasts, the Blue Bird of Paradise is simply a beautiful blue bird with a pretty song. It doesn't appear to have any magical powers of its own.

    Cats [PC 7], [MW 1], [MW 6]
    BODY [1], MIND [1], SOUL [1], MAGIC [1], Brawling (claws, bite) [3], Wizardry [1]
    or
    BODY [1], MIND [4], SOUL [4], MAGIC [6], Brawling (claws, bite) [3], Linguist (human, dog, rodent) [5], Wizardry [6]
    Wounds: B [ ] F [ ] C [ ] any Injury is Critical
    Quote: ..the cats rose and stretched, and spread and overflowed from the carpet to the floor, and in an instant the floor was a sea of moving, mewing pussishness... [PC 7]
    "If you think cats have such a jolly time.. ..why not be a cat?" [MW 1]
    "I belong to you now, so I can speak to you. I couldn't before. It wouldn't have been manners." [MW 6]
    Notes: Two sets of characteristics are given because cats seem to fall into two categories in these stories; ordinary household cats, and intensely magical cats. There doesn't seem to be any gradation, it's an all-or-nothing choice. Even ordinary cats seem to have some innate magic, hence their use as familiars by witches and magicians. The truth may be that all cats have magical powers, but most go to great lengths to hide their abilities. The question then arises; why are they hiding? One answer is that if people knew that cats had these powers they would force them to perform magic for humans, and cats are just too lazy to want to do so much work. This unfortunately means that they must put up with a certain amount of cruelty (although they use their magic to minimise its effects and take subtle revenge on their tormenters). Occasionally a cat gives in to stress and decides to teach a human a lesson [MW 1] or feels so sorry for a human that it does some magical favours as in [MW 6], Dick Whittington, and many other stories.
     Another possibility is that cats have the nine lives of legend; in the first few lives they aren't particularly intelligent or powerful, but somewhere along the line they start to remember their previous lives and accumulate magic. Typical spells for magical cats include transformation (of themselves and of others), communicating with humans and other animal species, disappearing and materialisation (see e.g. The Cat Who Walks Through Walls by Robert A Heinlein and Terry Pratchett's The Unadulterated Cat), and invisibility. Some also appear to be able to levitate in moments of crisis, and use telekinesis on food (see The Book of Light With Moon, Diane Duane).
     An appendix describes the use of cats as player characters.

    The Cockatoucan - See Above

    Cockatrice [7D 10]
    BODY [4], MIND [5], SOUL [3], MAGIC [3], Brawling [5], Linguist (human, dragon) [7], Wizardry [4]
    Wounds: B [ ] F [ ] I [ ] I [ ] C [ ]
    Quote: "Cock-a-trice-a-doodle-doo!"
    Notes: A Cockatrice has a man's face and a griffin's body, big, feathery wings, and a snake's tail, and a cock's comb and neckfeathers. It lives in a stone bowl in an underground cave, and eats fire. It doesn't seem to have any other needs, or do anything very exciting with its life apart from giving advice to people who help it keep its fire alive.

    Dragons [7D]
    There seem to be many different species of dragon, some able to breathe fire, most possessing some degree of magical power. Most of them can fly, apparently by a combination of muscle power and magic. Beyond this they seem to have a wide range of powers, characteristics, and attitudes to life. Dragons which can breathe fire generally seem to use it only on close targets, as a form of brawling, damage is A: F, B:F/I, C:C/K Unless stated otherwise all dragons have armour, -2 Effect to all attacks.

    These are far from being the only possible types of dragons, and more appear in the adventures.

    Dwarfs, Sealskin [7D4]
    BODY [2], MIND [2], SOUL [1], MAGIC [0], Linguist (human languages) [2], Brawling (punch, bite) [3]
    Wounds: B [ ] F [ ] I [ ] C [ ]
    Quote: "Now the dragon will get warm, and when he gets warm he will wake, and when he wakes he will be hungry, and when he is hungry he will begin to eat, and the first thing he will eat will be you."
    Notes: The sealskin dwarfs were probably made out of sealskin by an evil magician, although they do not appear to be aware of this. They like to attack and torture humans, especially those wearing anything made of sealskin. Most if not all were eaten by the Great Arctic Moths.

    Fairies - See above

    Giant [7D6]
    BODY [8], MIND [2], SOUL [2], MAGIC [0], Brawling (fists) [9], Linguist (human languages) [3], Melee weapon (club, Effect 8) [4]
    Wounds: B [ ] B [ ] B [ ] F [ ] F [ ] I [ ] I [ ] I [ ] C [ ]
    Quote: ..the giant banged on the dragon with his club as if he were banging an iron foundry..
    Note: This giant isn't described in much detail. He isn't a match for the Hermit Dragon (above), but that may be because he is lame. He appears to be stupid and lack magical powers.

    Griffin [7D5]
    BODY [8], MIND [2], SOUL [2], MAGIC [0], Linguist (human languages) [2], Brawling (claws, bite) [9]
    Wounds: B [ ] F [ ] F [ ] I [ ] I [ ] I [ ] C [ ]
    Quote: ..the griffin, waking suddenly from his dreams, twisted his large neck round to look for the lion, and saw a lion's flank, and fastened its eagle beak in it...
    Notes: The Griffin is a magical construct, made by joining an eagle's head to the body of a lion. It's an uneasy alliance, and the two halves can be tricked into fighting each other if handled correctly.

    Grouse, White [7D4]
    BODY [1], MIND [3], SOUL [5], MAGIC [3], Athlete (flying) [4], Linguist (English) [4], Wizardry [3]
    Wounds: B [ ] F [ ] C [ ]
    Quote: "I am only too grateful for this opportunity of showing my sense of your manly conduct about the firework!"
    Notes: This strange bird dwells near the North Pole. It has at least one magical power; it can quickly produce huge amounts of warm feathers, probably by materialisation, at will. It uses this trick to rescue two children who are about to freeze. It appears to have no combat capabilities, unless it encounters someone with a feather allergy...

    Hippogriff [7D 1]
    BODY [8], MIND [2], SOUL [3], MAGIC [6], Athlete (flying) [8], Wizardry [6]
    Wounds: B [ ] F [ ] I [ ] I [ ] I [ ] C [ ]
    Quote: ...there was a fluttering of great wings and a stamping of hoofs, and a sweet, soft, friendly neighing; and there came out of the book a beautiful white horse with a long, long, white mane and a long, long, white tail, and he had great wings like swan's wings, and the softest, kindest eyes in the world.
    Notes: A Hippogriff is a winged horse, seeming to fly partly by muscle power and partly by magic, but seems to have no other magical powers. It can out-fly and out-manoeuvre a dragon, and will allow humans to ride it.

    Manticore [7D 1]
    BODY [8], MIND [1], SOUL [1], MAGIC [0], Brawling (claws) [9]
    Wounds: B [ ] F [ ] I [ ] I [ ] I [ ] C [ ]
    Quote: It seemed very stupid, and when Lionel gave it a push and said, "Go along and fight the Dragon, do," it put its tail between its legs and fairly ran away.
    Notes: Supposedly a sworn foe of dragons, the Manticore (or Manticora) is unfortunately a coward which prefers to eat cats and steal milk from doorsteps. It is eventually eaten by a dragon, but escapes when the Dragon is forced to take refuge in the Book of Beasts.

    Mermaid
    BODY [2-4], MIND [2-4], SOUL [3], MAGIC [6], Wizardry [6], Actor (Singing, Musician) [5]
    Wounds: B [ ] F [ ] I [ ] I [ ] C [ ]
    Spells: Transformation (of themselves to human form or others to mermaid form), possibly mind control, other forms of transformation, materialisation, healing, illusions.
    Equipment: Harp, mirror, make-up kit.
    Quote: "La la la! La la la la laaaaaaaaaa!"
    Notes: Mermaids usually stay well out to sea, but occasionally they are caught in rock pools at low tide or washed ashore by a storm, and need a few hours to recover before heading out to sea again. They are scared of adults, but are vain and will occasionally stay to talk to (and sometimes befriend) children who admire them. Although most can transform into human form, they need to return to the sea (or at least take a long bath) at least once a day. There may also be mer-men, mer-babies, etc. Traditionally they are nomadic, but they could have an underwater city somewhere, possibly Atlantis. See Nesbit's Wet Magic and H.G. Wells' The Sea Lady for more about mermaids.
     An alternative version of the mermaid legend portrays them as soulless capricious monsters with no pity or remorse, dedicated to drowning sailors and anyone else (including children) who crosses their path. Their human appearance is an illusion, hiding hideous features. Such creatures will not be able to transform into human shape, and probably won't speak human languages.

    Moth, Great Arctic [7D4]
    BODY [1], MIND [2], SOUL [3], MAGIC [1], Athlete (flying) [2], Brawling (bite) [2], Linguist (English) [3], Wizardry [1]
    Wounds: B [ ] I [ ] C [ ] All wounds injure.
    Quote: "We should be a poor set of fellows if we couldn't over-eat ourselves for once in a way - to oblige a friend."
    Notes: These moths live near the North Pole and have a voracious appetite for fur, and especially for seal skin, which they consume in vast quantities. They are polite and grateful to anyone who helps them.

    The Phoenix [PC]
    BODY [1], MIND [5], SOUL [4], MAGIC [5], Actor (oratory) [6], Athlete (Flying) [4], Brawling (claws, peck) [2], Linguist (all languages) [7], Psychology [6], Scholar (history) [7], Wizardry [5], Stealth [8]
    Wounds: B [ ] F [ ] I [ ] C [ ]
    Spells: Clairvoyance, Communication, Illusions, Mind control, Transformation (of flammable materials to fire), Vanishing
    Quote: "Be careful; I am not nearly cool yet."
    Notes: The Phoenix is neither male or female; it is a unique creature that hatches in fire and dies in fire, laying a single egg before it dies. When the egg hatches the Phoenix is reborn, giving it a form of serial immortality. In other respects its magic seems to be moderate, often more a matter of knowledge (of such things as the location of the Paammead and the functioning of the Carpet) than sheer power. It can hide extraordinarily well - this is partly through illusion and partly its small size and high Stealth - but is extremely vain, wanting to be loved and worshipped as a god. This eventually leads to serious problems when it mistakes a crowded theatre for a temple; fortunately nobody is hurt by the fire, and as the magic wears off the damage is restored. Several people encounter the Phoenix then assume that they have been dreaming, which suggests that it uses mind control to cloud memories of its activities - although it is vain, it would have no peace if its whereabouts became public knowledge. Eventually the pace of modern life proves too much for it, and it has the Psammead arrange for its egg to be stored somewhere safe until the coast is clear, then sets itself alight to await rebirth.

    The Psammead - See above

    Rabbits
    BODY [1], MIND [1], SOUL [1], MAGIC [0], Athlete (running) [4], Brawling (bite) [2], Wizardry [0]
    Wounds: B [ ] I [ ] C [ ] All wounds injure.
    Quote: -
    Notes: Rabbits seem to be determinedly non-magical animals, and exist mainly as pets or pies. Why, then, do wizards persist in pulling them from hats? And what's with the carrots, what do they need such good eyesight for anyway? Referees wishing to give them more significance are referred to Richard Adams' Watership Down, the RPG GURPS Bunnies and Burrows (and the original Bunnies and Burrows game from FGU), and various episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

    Ravens and Crows [7D 5]
    BODY [2/1], MIND [2/1], SOUL [2/1], MAGIC [2/1], Athlete (Flying) [5/4], Brawling (bite) [3/2], Linguist (human) [3/2], Wizardry [2/1]
    Wounds: B [ ] F [ ] C [ ] any Injury is Critical
    Quote: The raven sat down on the edge of the marble basin and tried to peck the gold-fish. It was all he could do to show that he was in the same temper as his master.
    Notes: Ravens and Crows (statistics are shown as [raven/crow]) are often familiars of witches and wizards; they tend to be useful as a remote observer when casting spells, as a source of extra MAGIC, and as a means of getting something (such as a poisoned apple) into a place where it shouldn't be (such as a princess's bedroom). Their innate magic is mostly used to aid these tasks. They don't seem to be spectacularly powerful or interested in using magic for their own purposes, but it's possible that we only see the less successful members of the species, those who can't or won't take charge of their powers.
     Human-sized crows and pigeons appear in [MW 8], but they are actually cursed humans rather than true birds, and have appropriate characteristics plus Athlete (flying) [5].

    Rotundian microfauna and megafauna: [7D 2]
    Rotundia is an isolated magical kingdom which rotated in the opposite direction to the rest of its world. Its animals were large where ours are small, or small where ours are large, with appropriate statistics. Recently the kingdom's spin was reversed, and most animals assumed the size of their relatives elsewhere. Statistics are shown for these animals before the spin was changed; wounds etc. are about the same as any other animal of similar size.
    SpeciesBODYMINDSOULNotes
    Elephant142A popular miniature pet, often found sleeping on its owner's pillow.
    Rhinoceros 211Another popular child's pet, roughly dog sized.
    Hippopotamus211A popular outdoor pet, roughly rabbit sized.
    Rabbits811Shy but potentially dangerous wild animals, they can jump great distances. Some have been tamed.
    Guinea Pigs1012Affectionate but stupid zoo animals.
    "Lap" Dog1521Huge but friendly zoo animal, its bark is used as a fog-horn. There is only one in Rotundia.
    Dormouse2011Huge zoo animal, probably uncontrollable but spends all its time asleep.

    These creatures needn't be the only ones in your game. It's easy enough to design your own from fiction, from legend, or from your imagination. Here's an example, a small bear who has proved surprisingly useful in play-tests of the adventures accompanying this collection:

    Example: Arnold, Small God of Teddy Bears
    BODY [1], MIND [2], SOUL [7], MAGIC [5], Wizardry [5]
    Wounds: F [ ] I [ ] C [ ] Immune to bruising damage, immortal (since He occupies multiple bodies), most wounds can be repaired with a needle and thread.
    Spells: Communication (with children only), Materialisation (of sawdust only), Transformation (to animate Teddy bears only)
    Quote: "Grrr.... I don't think you should trust him"
    Notes: Arnold (based on a concept originally outlined by Michael Cule for GURPS Discworld) is a magical Teddy bear, who can be used to give children advice or help in moments of crisis.
     Untold thousands of children love Teddy bears with all their hearts. Somehow this love has crystallised as a god (admittedly a rather small one) who is currently named Arnold. Arnold is a magical entity occupying a bear owned by one of the adventurers (in play-testing ownership was disputed and claimed by at least two children). Arnold's children can talk to Him as an Imaginary Companion and get replies which nobody else can hear. If it becomes necessary He can try to help them more actively, using various unusual powers:
     When He is manifest in a bear He can animate it, to a limited extent. Since He is still a Teddy bear it is nevertheless possible to squash Him through a narrow opening (such as the bars of a cell) and into other places children can't get to. However, He has only the crudest of paws, which makes it difficult to open locks or do anything else requiring much dexterity. Adding fingers to a Teddy bear makes it less Teddy-like, and Arnold cannot occupy it.
     If necessary he can take control of another Teddy bear, and talk to whichever child owns that bear; in fact, He is simultaneously immanent in all Teddy bears, under a multitude of names, talking to all children who love their bears, and choosing to make Himself manifest only when a child is unhappy or in danger. This might enable Him to get help for a child in danger, by asking another child to sound the alarm. However, he will never normally reveal what he has seen or heard from other children in another body; this is the last resort in an emergency.
     If necessary He can make Himself manifest in more than one bear simultaneously; for example, it might be a very bad idea to hurt a child in a toy shop. While Arnold can't do any actual damage, being simultaneously tackled by dozens of stuffed toys could ruin your day... Alternatively, imagine a giant Teddy made up of hundreds of smaller bears - this might actually be able to do some damage.
     Any part of Arnold may house a portion of Arnold's consciousness; for example, He would be able to see through a glass eye that had been pulled from His head, even if it was separated from the rest of His body. The possibilities for bugging etc. should be obvious.
     At will Arnold can produce an apparently endless stream of sawdust, a few ounces per round. It doesn't appear to be magical, but children can probably think of ways to use it.
     Since He simultaneously occupies every Teddy bear in the world He is effectively immortal; nevertheless He prefers not to be ripped, burned, etc. if it is avoidable, and definitely won't approve of His eye being pulled off as a bugging device! If He is damaged he will ask to be repaired at the earliest opportunity.
     If more than one child has a Teddy bear, only one will normally be Arnold at any given time; He gets a pain in His sawdust if He has to talk to Himself unnecessarily.

    Author's Note: In a modern setting it is strongly recommended that Arnold's dexterity problems and size should prevent Him using computers, telephones, and above all power tools. This note is prompted by a recent TV advertisement for loft conversions which featured a chainsaw-wielding Teddy...


    To contents
    The Worlds of Magic

    NESBIT'S stories are set in three main types of environment which tend to define different styles of campaign; our normal world with the addition of a little magic (see especially the Psammead stories), our normal world with "doorways" into wildly different magical worlds which often have major problems to be solved (e.g. [7D 11]) or contain moral lessons for the protagonists, and what might best be described as generic fairy-tale magical lands (as in most of the stories in [MW]) with no obvious connection to the real world. All have their pros and cons, are equally valid choices for a game, and needn't necessarily be mutually exclusive. For example, it's possible to imagine a campaign which is generally set in the "real" world with a little magic, occasionally visits wildly variant worlds (incidentally, this idea has been the theme for at least one dimension-spanning RPG, WOTC's now-discontinued Everway) to save problems or learn from them, and has links to a fairy-tale magical world that is nevertheless more real than the variant worlds.

    Does time pass in the campaign? If it does, it will probably have a major impact on the design of adventures and the flow of events:

    There are many gradations within these bands; a common example is best described as "weak continuity", a campaign in which major events sometimes have repercussions in later stories, but mostly seem to be forgotten. The Billy Bunter series could be placed into this group, since continuity is rarely important to the plot, as can most of the Star Trek canon.
    Example: Faith, Gordon, and Alaric
    The referee intends to keep track of history and continuity in all three worlds of the campaign, and to age characters accordingly - it's an ambitious plan, but the main history of both of the boys' worlds is mapped out already, and Faith's part of the campaign will mostly be based on real-world British colonial history with a dash of magic, with the Thugs still active and secretly evil necromancers.


    To contents
    Our World - More Or Less...

    THE adventures use the "our world plus a little magic" approach, with occasional visits elsewhere; it's the form that works best with the rest of the material in this collection, and is by far the easiest for the referee to describe. There's an additional reason to choose this approach; a campaign with a lot of magic, and magic taken too much for granted, can be difficult to run and leaves the players expecting bigger and better special effects in each adventure.

    Here the style is to keep magic rare and exciting. Children probably don't know how to cast spells, they just have access to something - the Psammead, the magical keys that have been mentioned in some of the worldbook examples, or some other source of magic - which is probably their closely-guarded secret. There may be other sources of magic or magical creatures, but they're as secretive as the children. There can be an ongoing story arc - for example, magic may bring the children to the attention of something that wants to steal it - but most of the action will deal with the consequences of the use of magic in a largely non-magical world, and the children will have to handle adults, school, and other nuisances.

    There are endless fictional models for this type of campaign - the Psammead trilogy is the most obvious Nesbit source, but she alone wrote several other books on this general theme, and other authors have also used it. An excellent modern example is Diana Wynne Jones The Ogre Downstairs, in which a group of children are given a chemistry set containing some magical compounds, with chaos ensuing. Another is Buffy The Vampire Slayer, especially Season 6.

    Nesbit covered this field so effectively that it may be difficult to come up with entirely new campaign ideas; here are some examples that have stood the test of repeated use - note that the boundaries between magic and technology, and between SF and fantasy, are often blurred or ignored:

    If magic is to remain unusual, it's necessary to have some mechanisms in place to keep things that way. Limited duration of magic (as in [5C]) is one easy option, especially if it is combined with collective amnesia by the adult world. Assume that adults tend to blot out things that they can't explain, and forget them or explain them as day-dreams or mundane happenings once gone ([PC 5], [AM 8], Buffy The Vampire Slayer).

    Settings for a "real world" campaign are home, school, the areas around and between these locations, and places visited during holidays. All have their pros and cons:

    Unless there is something badly wrong with the family, home is usually the place of safety for children; it's where to go if you're hurt or frightened. Usually malevolent supernatural forces can't get in without permission (see most vampire stories), although once inside they may have a child at their mercy. Haunted houses and monsters under the bed or in a cupboard are the stuff of nightmares, but generally speaking home is a sanctuary. Occasionally it is more; there might be access to some form of magic, or a doorway to another time or place (see [MW 8], [MW 10], and C.S. Lewis' The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe) inside the house. In My School-Days Nesbit talks of finding a trapdoor to "...that mysterious and delightful region between the roof and the beams, a dark passage leading all round the house..." and to a hiding place on the roof ...safe, secluded - whence one could see the world around, oneself invisible, or at least unseen. Old houses often have such hiding places, which could contain almost anything - the door to a magical kingdom, a dead pigeon, or the lair of a horrible monster.

    Home isn't the ideal place for adventures, of course; there are adults around with a nasty tendency to pry into your affairs, and little patience with unusual excuses. "Why are your hands so dirty?" "I was trapped in an underground cave with hundreds of man-eating spiders and had to dig my way out" doesn't really cut it when you live in London, and you may find it difficult to explain why you have a fortune in dubloons under your bed or a baby mermaid in the fish tank. Hiding a dragon is probably right out. Nevertheless most of the action of [PC] starts off at home, and the children of the story successfully conceal the Phoenix for several weeks.

    In a "secret community" campaign most if not all of the occupants of a house will probably be members of the magical community, perpetually struggling to hide their exotic talents from the outside world. Here children may be a liability to the rest of the family, accidentally revealing their powers or true nature. See e.g. The People: No Different Flesh by Zenna Henderson for examples.

    School has obvious disadvantages; strict discipline and routine are likely to frustrate budding adventurers, and anything unusual or disruptive will probably be confiscated by teachers. Nevertheless occasional incidents can enliven lessons if the forces that prevent magic from becoming common knowledge are strong enough; see Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and C.S. Lewis' The Silver Chair for examples. Alternatively, the school might be a magical place in an otherwise mundane world; perhaps there's a doorway to another world there, a teacher who gives certain unusual pupils extra tuition, or a librarian with an inexhaustible supply of magical tomes and peculiar knowledge. In a "secret community" campaign the school will probably be devoted entirely to young magicians or magical creatures, and preferably isolated enough to keep things reasonably secret when the children have their Spelling lessons. Keeping things secret from the locals and Her Majesty's School Inspectorate may not be entirely easy.

    Magic schools apart, the main justification for school in a campaign, unless it is based entirely at the school, is to add complications and give the adventurers something to escape. School might also pose problems that can be solved magically; for example, think of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure with younger protagonists, difficult history homework, and the Amulet replacing the film's time machine. Some useful events for school:

    One thing to do in a school campaign, especially if the setting is a boarding school, is run away. Perhaps there is an intolerable bully, or the adventurers have suffered a horrible miscarriage of justice (such as an accusation of cheating) which can only be disproved by finding the evidence to clear their names. Once on the run there are endless opportunities for adventure, for falling in with bad company (such as working-class "riff-raff" adventurers), or for stumbling into the world of magic.

    The local area around home and school can contain almost anything; shops and street markets, the homes of important NPCs, theatres and music halls, farms, churches, museums, abandoned ruins and haunted houses, and whatever else fits into the area and the needs of the campaign. [AM 1] describes some examples, more are easily invented. For example:

    Holidays are the obvious locale for many adventures, even if only the adventure of exploring a new town or a new rock pool. If the pattern of the Psammead stories is followed children should be relatively free on holiday, provided they remember to return for meals and bed. Stricter parents may expect children to stay with them, or with a nanny or nurse, and outwitting them should be a constant struggle. Obviously a lot depends on the location for the holiday; a strange town offers one set of possibilities (including variations on all of the examples above), an isolated country cottage offers different features. Here are a few "dream" holidays that referees may wish to consider:

    Holiday plots can be fun because they allow the characters to behave unusually outside their normal setting, with a better than usual chance of getting away with it. They also avoid the complications of school ("boo, hiss") and possibly those of home and family, and give them chances to meet new friends. And of course things may be going on behind the scenes which will drastically change the children's circumstances; perhaps they've been sent away (with a suitable "keeper") to keep them out of their parent's hair while they try to resolve a marital problem, one of the adults accompanying them will experience a whirlwind holiday romance, or the friendly relative they're staying with is up to no good. For an adventure that is all undercurrents, which could easily involve more children, see the FF VI scenario The Wages of Sin.

    A variation on a "real world" campaign is the real world with some extra features; dragons [7D 3], working magic taken more or less for granted (Diana Wynne Jones' Chrestomanci novels and stories, Harry Turtledove's The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump), and so on. Generally these extra features will tend to define much of the campaign; for example, the "real world with dragons" campaign might revolve around attempts to exterminate the beasts, living normally while avoiding being eaten, taming them or discovering their secrets. Keeping things mostly like the real world can be difficult, but this type of campaign can be fun if the referee is prepared to work at it.


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    Hidden Worlds

    HIDING an entire world sounds difficult; it's actually extremely easy. Hidden worlds are just around the corner from our own mundane reality, and you get to them by climbing onto a magic carpet, bouncing with a magic ball [7D 9], sliding on ice [7D 4], stepping through an oddly copious wardrobe [MW 10], walking through the magic door that isn't usually there, or mistakenly taking a very bright green and gold omnibus from Brixton [7D 11]. Here are a few more routes into hidden worlds:

    These worlds might be the only places where magic will work in a campaign; the snag is that the magic usually has a price, and the children are often allowed into the magical world for a reason. It may be because they are the only people who can solve the problems of the world [MW 8], or to teach them some sort of moral lesson ([MW 10], C.S. Lewis's Narnia novels). Generally plots involving these worlds will to some extent be puzzles with an element of "closure"; sooner or later the last part of the puzzle will be solved, the moral will be found, or the fatal apple will be picked. Then it's time to pack their bags and go home. Usually little or no time has passed while they've been gone, even if it's been years for the children; if they have aged they're back at their original age when they return. Repeat visits are possible, of course - the Narnia stories are again the obvious example - but it's often easier to present the adventurers with a new problem.

    Problem solving is an obvious way to use this type of world; the adventurers are dropped into a situation, have to find out what's going on, then resolve it before they can go home. For example:

    Another traditional use for this type of world is to provide moral lessons. The way to do this is simple; keep tabs on the activities of the children, then create a world that shows them the disadvantages of their behaviour. There are numerous examples in fiction, the most familiar probably being the "Island of Do-As-You-Please" in Pinocchio. Particularly sadistic referees may wish to hammer in the moral point by the use of appropriate names, puns, etc. For example:

    A final use for these strange hidden worlds is as gateways between one "real" world and another; for example, between our world and fairyland. Good examples can be found in C.S. Lewis' The Magician's Nephew, Diana Wynne Jones' The Lives of Christopher Chant, and Roger Zelazny's Trumps of Doom. Generally these gateway worlds are relatively small, and guarded in some way; by a dragon, protective magic, or some sort of test, riddle or ordeal designed to deter the unworthy. Needless to say these tests seem almost designed to fail when a child confronts them - for example:

    "NONE SHALL PASS, LEST THEY BE CHASTE IN HEART, MIND, AND BODY" boomed the giant.
    "What does 'chaste' mean?" asked little Fiona...

    Some forms for a gateway world might be:

    Example: Faith, Gordon, and Alaric
    The campaign will occasionally visit hidden worlds, such as the Kingdom of the Birds mentioned above. When the children learn to control the keys they will find that their route now takes in the 'cosy room' above. The 'old lady' explains that "you used to rush through here so fast that you didn't see me. Now you're taking things more slowly and carefully, so you have time to stop and chat." She will also show them more doors, leading to new worlds, as they become ready for them.


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    Fairyland and Other Strange Places

    FAIRYLAND is exactly what it sounds like; a magical world of wizards, witches, and fairies, talking animals, dragons and everything else that might be found in a typical fairy story. It is not Fantasyland, the world of barbarian heroes and warrior princesses (as described in Diana Wynne Jones' The Tough Guide to Fantasyland); things are a little more relaxed, magic tends to be playfully inconvenient rather than lethal, and there probably isn't an Evil Overlord (although if any of the children are interested in applying for the job it'll probably turn out that there are several people ahead of them in the queue). Generally the technology and culture seems to be medieval, although there are occasional anomolies.

    For a campaign set entirely in Fairyland the class system will be VERY strong; Kings, Dukes, and other nobles and their families will be upper class, merchants and members of the main guilds will be middle class, and peasants will be peasants. Upper class children might be tutored by wizards, monks, centaurs or good fairies, middle class children learn from the local priest, their parents, or the village scribe, and peasants might be taught to read and write if they are very lucky, but otherwise get no formal education. Some of the more advanced regions do have more formal educational establishments, but these invariably seem to be run by evil wizards or targeted by witches.

    Events in Fairyland seem to be dominated by stories. The plot, fate, or whatever else the children want to call it is far more important than normal cause and effect; as a result, everyone seems to be a character in a story, but it isn't always easy to tell which story you are in, and if you are a major character or just one of the cast of Princes or villagers that are needed to make it work. Some people seem to be involved in several plots simultaneously; for example, a Princess might be the innocent victim of an evil wizard's plot, the wealthy patron of the hero of another story, a romantic rival to another Princess in a third, and the inspiration of a starving artist in a fourth. A woodcutter might cut the logs a toymaker needs to make a puppet in one story, give a wandering prince a bed for the night in another, and kill a wolf in a third.

    Any attempt to fight the plot is probably doomed to failure, the trick is to realise your place in it and manipulate events accordingly. There is a strong element of predestination in most plots; a child aged just a few weeks can be cursed, and the evil fairy cursing her can be reasonably confident that events will eventually conspire to bring about the doom she has promised more than twenty years later.

    Generally, children who are native to Fairyland won't usually be major players in many plots; in the long term they may be under a curse, or destined to become heroes, but usually these things come to fruition with adulthood. There are occasional exceptions, of course, and traits such as Long Lost Heir or Doomed are signs that such a development might be on the cards, but usually children start out as minor characters in the plots of their elders.

    Children coming in to Fairyland from outside are likely to find that they mysteriously slot into someone's plot as though they had always been part of it. They may be mistaken for missing heirs or ghosts, asked to pull a thorn from a lion's paw, chased as thieves or runaway apprentices, or receive mysterious gifts from hitherto-unknown fairy godmothers. There's a simple reason; because they aren't already entangled in multiple plots, they are unique "wild cards" which the supernatural forces of this world can easily fit into stories that need them.

    Anyone entering our world from Fairyland will often feel a sense of "disconnectedness" and alienation; they aren't involved in any plots, and they are in a universe that shows no particular inclination to slot them into one. It's as though the whole world is indifferent to them. Suddenly predestination doesn't work, and curses are a lot more chancy. See e.g. the film Last Action Hero for excellent examples of characters moving from a world of story to our reality.

    Children apart, most Fairyland denizens can be described by one of the standard fairy-tale clichs, such as:

    Supernatural creatures and animals should also fit into the most convenient clichs such as

    Generally, Fairyland plots will tend to be simple; there's a curse to lift, a wrong to be righted, or a monster to be killed. There may sometimes be great danger - a dragon's fire will kill you if you give it a chance, and giants really do grind bones to make their bread - but it will usually be overt and avoidable. Scenarios should emphasise teamwork, problem solving, and destiny, the triumph of the plot over free will.

    Typical locations and themes for Fairyland might include:

    There are dozens of variations on the idea of Fairyland; see Nesbit's stories for the general "feel" as described above, but there are plenty of alternatives. For example, for plots with a mythic feel and much more powerful supernatural creatures see Neil Gaiman's The Sandman and Gaiman's (and others) The Books of Magic. For Fairyland with a more adult feel and some sexual content see Tanith Lee's Red As Blood, and other works by Tanith Lee and Angela Carter; see also Christina Rossetti's poem Goblin Market (on the FF CD-ROM release 4). For a more malevolent version see Terry Pratchett's Lords and Ladies or Diana Wynne Jones' The Lives of Christopher Chant, and of course the tales of the Brothers Grimm.

    If the idea of Fairyland doesn't appeal there are many alternatives; worlds that function by the rules of fables (every plot and adventure exists to make some moral point), myths (there are gods, spirits, and other supernatuaral beings, who between them control our destiny), dreams (little or no logic, or logic unconstrained by the limits of the possible), and other forms of fantasy. Unlike the hidden worlds described in the previous section, these should be relatively stable places; completing one plot doesn't necessarily mean that you are forced out, and you may even live there.


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    Characters

    THIS section details some of the characters and beings of the Psammead stories that have not been described above. It hasn't been possible to include everyone mentioned, or cover the other stories; where details are not provided, assume that characters have average statistics and skills appropriate to their role in the story. Statistics for the children are only suggestions, since their apparent age and maturity sometimes seems to change to meet the needs of the plot, but seem reasonably plausible.

    Cyril (alias Squirrel) - elder brother (age 8) [5C] [PC] [AM]
    BODY [2], MIND [2], SOUL [2], MAGIC [4], Athlete (school sports) [3], Brawling [2], Linguist (French, Latin) [3], Wizardry [1]
    Traits: brave, greedy, mercenary, optimist, thief (if there is no alternative)
    Spells: -
    Equipment: Model engine, Bow and arrows (shared with Robert), biscuits, twine, fir cones, wax, father's second-best watch, a broken watch, matches.
    Quote: "We'll go up there directly after brekker, and have another wish. Only we'll make up our minds, solid, before we go, what it is we do want, and no one must ask for anything unless the others agree first."
    Notes: Cyril is always conscious of his status as elder brother, and often initiates activities involving all the children.

    Anthea (alias Panther) - elder sister (age 7) [5C] [PC] [AM]
    BODY [2], MIND [2], SOUL [1], MAGIC [4], Linguist (French) [3], Scholar (History, Geography) [3], Wizardry [1]
    Traits: brave, Charitable, child minder, games, polite,
    Spells: -
    Equipment: Doll, tea set (shared with Jane), handkerchief.
    Quote: "Well.. ..perhaps if we knew who you are in particular we could think of something to say that wouldn't make you cross. Everything we've said so far seems to have. Who are you? And don't get angry! Because really we don't know."
    Notes: A sensible child who means to be a good housekeeper one day.

    Robert (Bobs) - younger brother (age 6) [5C] [PC] [AM]
    BODY [2], MIND [1], SOUL [1], MAGIC [5], Brawling [4], Wizardry [1]
    Traits: Brave, Greedy, Persistent, Practical joker
    Spells: -
    Equipment: Bow and arrows (shared with Cyril), matches
    Quote: "Never mind.. ..perhaps you'll be the only stone one, and the rest of us will be all right, and we'll cherish your statue and hang garlands on it."
    Notes: Robert is impulsive and a little too inclined to try to use force to solve problems. He likes to play jokes on his family and the servants.
    As a giant boy [5C 8] he is 11 ft tall with BODY [12], Brawling [14], all other characteristics remain unchanged.

    Jane (Pussy) - younger sister (age 5) [5C] [PC] [AM]
    BODY [1], MIND [1], SOUL [3], MAGIC [8], Wizardry [1]
    Traits: Child minder, Optimist, Phobia (snakes), Polite
    Spells: -
    Equipment: Doll, tea set (shared with Jane)
    Quote: "Suppose the bottom of the hole gave way suddenly.. ..and you tumbled out among the little Australians, all the sand would get in their eyes."
    Notes: Jane always means well, and believes in being honest; unfortunately her attempts to be honest about the childrens' magical activities are usually dismissed as wild flights of fantasy.

    The Lamb (Hilary St. Maur Devereux) - baby (age 2) [5C] [PC]
    BODY [1], MIND [1], SOUL [2], MAGIC [10], Wizardry [0]
    Traits: Grubby, Lucky
    Spells: -
    Equipment: -
    Quote: "Wanty go walky"
    Notes: The Lamb is an ordinary baby, about average for his age. He seems unusually magic-prone, and at various times is made supernaturally attractive, aged to adulthood, and transported by carpet. He is abroad with mother throughout the last book, only returning in the penultimate paragraph.

    Hilary St. Maur Devereux As adult [5C]
    BODY [4], MIND [3], SOUL [2], MAGIC [0], Athlete (cyclist, cricket, running) [6], Brawling (boxing) [6], Business [5], Linguist (Greek, Latin, French) [4], Wizardry [0]
    Spells: -
    Equipment: Bicycle, cycle clips, etc., gold watch with chain and seals.
    Quote: "Hullo, kiddies!.. ..still here? What's the giddy hour? You'll be late for your grub!"
    Notes: This is The Lamb magically transformed into an adult. While aging he has forgotten magic, and his skills reflect his education and career in The City.

    Mother [5C] [PC] [AM]
    BODY [3], MIND [3], SOUL [4], MAGIC [0], Artist (Needlework) [5], Wizardry [0]
    Spells: -
    Equipment: Sewing kit, umbrella, etc.
    Quote: "A very nice game, darling,.. ..Now do be quiet. I've got a lot of letters to write. I'm going to Bournemouth to-morrow with the Lamb- and there's that bazaar."
    Notes: Mother (no other name is given) appears to suffer from migraines, and occasionally needs a break from the children. She is often busy with Good Works, but occasionally at a loss when dealing with servants. She is convalescing in Madeira throughout the third book, only returning in the penultimate paragraph.

    Father [5C] [PC] [AM]
    BODY [5], MIND [4], SOUL [3], MAGIC [0], Artist (writer) [6], Brawling [7], Business [5], Marksman [6], Military Arms [5], Riding [5], Wizardry [0]
    Spells: -
    Equipment: bicycle, travel kit includes guns and a sheepskin, blankets and an aluminium mess-kit.
    Quote: "No more playing with fire, thank you"
    Notes: Father is a reporter, a war correspondent for the Daily Bellower. He pretends to be strict, but usually finds ways to soften any punishment. He is in South Africa throughout the last book, only returning in the penultimate paragraph.

    Martha (Nursemaid) [5C]
    BODY [3], MIND [3], SOUL [3], MAGIC [0], No game-related skills.
    Spells: -
    Equipment: Apron, safety pins, etc.
    Quote: "If you've quite done a-browbeating of the innocent children..."
    Notes: Martha (no other name is given) is a sturdy unimaginative nursemaid, reasonably tolerant of noise and mischief and protective of "her" children. She is under a spell which prevents her (or the other servants) seeing any effects of the Psammead's spells. She eventually marries Andrew Beale, a keeper in a neighbouring village.
    The house of this story also has a cook (described below) and a housemaid (Eliza) who also appears in [PC].

    Cook [5C] [PC]
    BODY [3], MIND [3], SOUL [2], MAGIC [0], Artist (cook) [6], Linguist (island dialect) [4], Wizardry [0]
    Spells: -
    Equipment: Apron, cook's hat, etc. White robes and a crown of floowers after becoming Queen.
    Quote: "Look 'ere!.. ..my only basin; and what the powers am I to make the beefsteak and kidney pudding in that your ma ordered for your dinners? You don't deserve no dinners, so yer don't."
    Notes: The cook is Irish, and fond of children (especially the Lamb) despite her anger at their naughtiness. She resigns following some particularly poor behaviour by the children, then is accidentally transported to a South Sea island where she becomes the Queen of a native tribe and marries a burglar, also transported there by the children. She firmly believes that her life as queen is a pleasant dream.

    The Burglar [PC 8]
    BODY [3], MIND [3], SOUL [2], MAGIC [0], Brawling [4], Stealth [4], Thief [5], Wizardry [0]
    Spells:-
    Equipment: Lock picks, crow bar, sack, fur cap, red and black charity-check comforter.
    Quote: "It's a judgement,.. ..so help me bob if it ain't. Oh, 'ere's a thing to 'appen to a chap! Makes it come 'ome to you, don't it neither? Cats an' cats an' cats. There couldn't be all them cats. Let alone the cow..."
    Notes: The burglar has the bad luck to pick the children's home to burgle on the night that it contains 199 Persian cats and a cow. He helps sell the cats, but is arrested on suspicion of having stolen them. The children rescue him and transport him to a tropical island, where he marries their former cook.

    "Old Nurse" [AM]
    BODY [3], MIND [2], SOUL [4], MAGIC [0], Artist (cook) [4]
    Spells: -
    Equipment: Apron, duster, etc.
    Quote: "You can get yourselves some buns or sponge-cakes, or whatever you fancy-like,.. ..Don't go getting jam-tarts, now- so messy at the best of times, and without forks and plates ruination to your clothes, besides your not being able to wash your hands and faces afterwards."
    Notes: Old Nurse is a former servant who has bought a small house near the British Museum and lets rooms, and takes care of the children while their parents are abroad. She is kind to the children and lets them stay out all day, provided that they are home by dark.

    "The Learned Gentleman" [AM]
    BODY [2], MIND [5], SOUL [3], MAGIC [0], Artist (author) [6], Linguist (Greek, Latin, Ancient Egyptian, Hebrew, Aramaic, etc.) [8], Scholar (Archaeology, Egyptology, ancient civilisations, Atlantis) [7]
    Spells: -
    Equipment: Library, magnifying glass, access to the British Museum's library.
    Quote: "Won't you sit down? No, not there; allow me to move that papyrus."
    Notes: The Learned Gentleman is a tenant of Old Nurse, a scholar and author working at the British Museum. He is extremely absent-minded, neglects his health and often forgets to eat. Although he travels into the past several times he believes that he has been dreaming. but uses the "dreams" in his writing.
    Eventually his soul is merged with that of an Egyptian priest, with all the evil from the souls of both men eliminated by the power of the Amulet. At this point he should have SOUL [5], MAGIC [3], Wizardry [5], although the power soon fades away. He subequently achieves considerable success as an author, and donates the Amulet to the British Museum.

    The Queen of Babylon [AM 6]
    BODY [3], MIND [3], SOUL [4], MAGIC [0], Actor (Royal bearing and presence) [7]
    Spells: -
    Equipment: -
    Quote: "Don't be frightened, I really am so glad you came! The land where the sun never sets! I am delighted to see you! I was getting quite too dreadfully bored for anything!"
    Notes: The Queen is a spoiled near-absolute monarch, and is used to handing out arbitrary justice whenever her husband is away. Having learned of the Psammead she uses a wish to travel to London to visit the children, then more wishes to wreak havoc there before a clerk happens to wish that it is all a dream. Instantly she is returned home and all the changes she has made are forgotten.

    Nisroch, Servant of the Gods [AM 7]
    BODY [6], MIND [5], SOUL [7], MAGIC [10], Wizardry [10]
    Spells: All
    Equipment: -
    Quote: "Speak.. ...the servant of the Great Ones is your servant. What is your need that you call on the name of Nisroch?"
    Notes: Nisroch is a God, the servant of the greater Gods of Babylon. As a God he has incredible magical powers and can grant any wish within reason. However, he is extraordinarily frightening, and it is difficult to wish for anything other than his speedy departure. He is described as having an eagle's wings and head and the body of a man.

    Rekh-mara (an Egyptian priest and wizard) [AM 11]
    BODY [3], MIND [4], SOUL [4], MAGIC [3], Wizardry [6]
    Spells: The Seven Curses of Amen-Ra
    Equipment: Half Amulet.
    Quote: "And they come with gifts in their hands as tribute to Pharaoh, in whose heart is the wisdom of the gods, and on his lips their truth."
    Notes: Rekh-mara is a self-serving priest who will do anything he can to stay in favour with the Egyptian court. He has half of the Amulet, but it is the same half as that owned by the children. He joins them in a search for the other half, and eventually makes his own way to the twentieth century. But it is impossible to stay there permanently once the halves of the amulet are re-united; rather than return, he "merges" personalities with the Learned Gentleman to form an united pure synthesis of their psyches. The residue of evil from both minds is destroyed. His precise magical abiltities are never explored, apart from a threat to use the "seven curses of Amen-Ra". Presumably this would be bad. See the film The Mummy if you want to give him serious magic powers.


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    Appendix: Cats as Player Characters

    CATS can be an interesting alternative to human player characters. This section briefly outlines rules for their use in a magical campaign; they're very limited in other settings. These rules can also be used to create more interesting NPC cats.

    Lives: All cats get nine lives. If they die in lives one to eight they immediately reincarnate as a newly-born kitten; usually of the same sex as the first life, but occasionally (on a 1D6 roll of 6) of the opposite sex. It takes several months to recover memories of previous lives, when this happens they regain characteristics, skills, etc. from the previous life. Before this the kitten should be treated as being in its first life. When cats die for the ninth time they are permanently dead and go to dwell with Bast in the cats' afterlife.

    Points, characteristics, and Skills: Cats get the following characteristics initially in their first life:
    BODY [1], MIND [1], SOUL [1] MAGIC [Lives/2]

    The following skills are also available:
    SkillBase value Notes
    Actor ("Who, me?")MINDFree at base value
    Athlete (climbing, gymnastics) BODY+1Free at base value
    Brawling (claws/bite)BODY+1Free at base value, Effect B+1
    DetectiveMINDAcute senses etc., Free at base value
    First AidMINDBy licking, usable on cats only.
    LinguistMINDe.g. Human, Rodent, Dog
    MediumSOUL-
    ScholarMINDUsually cat lore etc.
    WizardryLives/2Free at base value
    StealthBODYFree at base value
    ThiefBODYNot lock picking!

    Cats get NINE points to spend on characteristics or skills in their first life; cats cannot exceed BODY [2] (which would be a cat as strong and tough as many dogs), but all other characteristics and all available skills can be improved without limits. Unlike humans, cats can spend points to improve their MAGIC or Wizardry. Use the normal points costs to improve characteristics. In all subsequent lifetimes they gain one free characteristic or skill improvement; this must be done before the cat is first used as a character in each lifetime.

    Skills and characteristics, and any improvements, are retained from one life to the next. For example, if a cat raises its MAGIC in its first life, it will have Lives/2 + 1 MAGIC in each subsequent life. If it has Linguist [3] in its 2nd life it will retain it in its third life, but if MIND is improved Linguist will also improve.

    Use the normal rules for purchasing and improving skills once the character enters play. Any bonus points unused when a cat dies are lost.

    Finally, cats get one trait per life, selected or rolled randomly from the list below (if using random traits any that are incompatible should be re-rolled); traits available are similar to those for humans, but a cat's viewpoint is a little different:
    RollTraitNotes
    1,1BeautifulYou are beautiful/handsome to other cats (and humans, but who cares?)
    1,2 & 1,3 BeggarYou have no shame, and prefer to persuade humans to give you food, rather than hunting it for yourself.
    1,4BraveAs humans
    1,5BullyTo other cats
    1,6CowardScared of your own shadow
    2,1CrippledThis only lasts one life, and may be replaced by another trait in the next life.
    2,2 & 2,3CuteCute to humans; other cats probably despise you.
    2,4DaredevilAs humans
    2,5DoomedAs humans
    2,6 & 3,1FleasYou need to stop and scratch at least once per adventure, usually at the most awkward moment possible.
    3,2 & 3,3GreedyAs humans
    3,4Human Companion You voluntarily associate with a human, even one who doesn't claim to "own" you.
    3,5 & 3,6HunterYou're unusually good at catching fish, small birds, etc.
    4,1 & 4,2LazyYou have no interest in adventuring etc. and must be forced or carried into action.
    4,3 & 4,4LecherousYou seek opportunities for sexual encounters with other cats. This may not be entirely appropriate for a campaign involving human children. This trait must not be added in the same lifetime as Neutered, below.
    4,5LiarAs humans, usually to other cats.
    4,6 & 5,1LonerYou prefer to work on your own, without other cats or humans.
    5,2LuckyAs humans.
    5,3Neutered(Male cats ONLY in a Victorian / Edwardian campaign) Something horrible happened to you when you were a kitten, now you have no interest in sex. This only lasts one lifetime, take another trait in the next life. If you previously had the Lecherous trait you are perpetually frustrated. Realistically this trait should be rare until at least the 1950s, increasingly common (and affecting females too) thereafter.
    5,4 & 5,5PetYou regard yourself as the property of a human, even when you have opportunities to escape, and will (usually) listen to simple commands.
    5,6RatterYou are prepared to fight rats (may not be combined with Coward)
    6,1RebornAs well as your lives as a cat you dimly remember an even earlier life as another animal or human. This gives you a certain insight into that species, but no extra skills.
    6,2SelfishAs humans
    6,3SicklyThis only lasts one life, and may be replaced by another trait in the next life.
    6,4StoicAs humans
    6,5StreetwiseAs humans
    6,6VainYou like your own looks, and will always stop to admire your face if you see it reflected in a mirror, a pond, or a lavatory bowl.

    Example: Tybalt
    Tybalt ("nobody calls me Tiddles and lives!") begins life one as a newborn kitten; seven points give him the following characteristics:
    BODY [2]2 points
    MIND [2]2 points
    SOUL [1]free
    MAGIC [3]3 points
    Additionally, he spends two points on:
    Brawling (Claws/Bite Effect 3) [4]1 point
    Wizardry [2]1 point

    Adding all skills that are free at base levels give him the following initial characteristics and skills:
    BODY [2], MIND [2], SOUL [1], MAGIC [3], Actor [2], Athlete (climbing) [3], Brawling (Claws/Bite Effect 3) [4], Detective [2], Wizardry [2], Stealth [2], Thief [2]
    He also takes the Lecherous trait. After several adventures, having acquired Linguist [3] and Brawling [5], he is run over by a cart and killed.

    Tybalt begins life two with these characteristics and skills and raises MIND to 3, improving Actor, Detective, and Linguist, and adds the trait Daredevil. On a 1D6 roll of 6 "he" is a "she" in this lifetime, and takes the name Tess. Unfortunately she is killed by a wicked witch's snake familiar in her first adventure.

    For Life three the minimum values of MAGIC and Wizardry rise to 2, making MAGIC [4] and Wizardry [3]. Tybalt is male again, boosts Wizardry to 4 and adds the trait Hunter. At this point his details are:
    BODY [2], MIND [3], SOUL [1], MAGIC [4], Actor [3], Athlete (climbing) [3], Brawling (Claws/Bite Effect 3) [4], Detective [3], Linguist [4], Wizardry [4], Stealth [2], Thief [2]
    Wounds: B [ ] F [ ] C [ ] any Injury is Critical
    Traits: Lecherous, Daredevil, Hunter.

    To create a new character with several lives expended start off with
    BODY [1], MIND [1], SOUL [1] MAGIC [Lives/2], skills at their base values, and nine points plus a point for each life used. For instance, a cat on its fifth life starts off at:
    BODY [1], MIND [1], SOUL [1] MAGIC [3], Wizardry [3], with 14 points to spend on characteristics and skills and five traits.

    Use With Children and Dogs
    Cats generated by these rules are much more powerful than non-magical dogs and most children; their main weaknesses are their size (a child can always pick up a cat), relative frailty (any Injury is Critical), and lack of hands. Even a BODY [2] cat is smaller than a BODY [1] child; the extra BODY is more strength and speed than weight. Cats could choose to dominate other characters, it's up to the referee to make sure that things aren't too easy for them. For example, a cat who gets too bossy may find that he's just become the target for a wizard who needs a strong source of MAGIC to grind into his next potion...

    The FF rules include dogs as player characters, but it's generally accepted that cats don't like dogs and vice versa. Player character animals can be the exception that proves the rule; alternatively, role-playing animals who detest and will attack each other at every opportunity is challenging but could be a lot of fun. A cat with magic will usually win, but using its powers on a dog may be enough to make the dog discover its own latent powers. Again, the referee needs to keep things reasonably balanced.

    Adventures
     Turn Again...: Various fairy godmothers and other meddlers have taken an interest in the destiny of a human. Unfortunately they have some sort of hold on the cat(s) - and possibly some other animals - who must help the human achieve his or her goal.
     Have Broom, Will Travel: The adventurers are the familiars of a group of witches, out to wreak as much evil as possible. Here the challenges come from do-gooder fairies, handsome knights, and other riff-raff, all trying to foil your lady's perfectly reasonable desire to release the powers of Evil, throw princesses to dragons, invade Poland, etc. Optionally the witches are just a front, with the cats pulling the strings and casting spells behind the scenes, and drawing on the witches MAGIC for extra power.
     A Purrfect World: Here all of the characters are cats, with some sort of mission (e.g., to liberate the King of the Cats from a witch who is using his magic) and a Prime Directive that prevents them from involving humans in their problems.
     Ancestral Vices: An NPC cat seems to be putting on a lot of weight and is feeling a strange urge to armour itself and eat more interesting food than bread and milk; somehow it is reverting to its ancestral form as a
    hermit dragon. What has triggered this sudden transformation, and should it be cured or helped to achieve its destiny?
     Dog Star Rising: Dogs are usually just a nuisance, but now they seem to be getting organised, and some of them are even using magic! What's going on here, how will the cats put them back in their natural place, and how can they keep the humans from realising that there's a war? Better solve this one soon, before things get really Sirius...

    Recommended Reading:
    Diane Duane: The Book of Light With Moon and On Her Majesty's Wizardly Service
    Alan Dean Foster: Cat-A-Lyst (SF rather than fantasy)
    Neil Gaiman: A Dream of a Thousand Cats (The Sandman, Vertigo Comics)
    Gabriel King: The Wild Road and The Golden Cat
    Fritz Leiber: Space Time for Springers (short story)
    Terry Pratchett: The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents and The Unadulterated Cat (humour)
    Tanya Huff: Summon The Keeper and sequels


    To contents
    Appendix: Edith Nesbit

    EDITH Nesbit (1858 - 1924) was undoubtedly one of the most prolific and (with hindsight) successful British children's authors of the early twentieth century. Her father died in 1861; after several years at indifferent schools then travel in France and Germany (see My School Days in this collection) she settled in Kent where she married. Her first fiction was published as by Fabian Bland, in collaboration with her husband, also as Mrs. E. Bland, but she began writing children's fiction under her own name in the 1890s, and eventually produced more than 60 juvenile books, plus some adult novels (only one of which is fantasy) and collections of poetry. She invariably used the initial E. rather than her full name for her juvenile fiction, presumably to avoid being categorised as a girl's author.

    Her most notable stories appeared in the Strand Magazine, and were written to appeal to adults as well as children. They also saw the start of her collaboration with H. R. Millar, who was to illustrate much of her work. Some of her other stories, written for juvenile readers only, are less impressive though always inventive.

    Nesbit's other activities included socialism - she and her husband were amongst the founders of the 'Fellowship of New Life' which became the Fabian Society - and magic and the occult. She was interested in Theosophy, the Golden Dawn, spiritualism, Atlantis, the true authorship of Shakespeare, archaeology and other related subjects. Echoes of this interest crop up in several stories, most notably The Story of the Amulet.

    Nesbit's marriage was rocky; her husband fathered several illegitimate children, two of them adopted by Nesbit. George Bernard Shaw felt that 'No two people were ever married who were better calculated to make the worst of each other', although H.G. Wells commented 'All this E. Nesbit not only detested and mitigated and tolerated, but presided over and I think found exceedingly interesting.' Her husband was usually unemployed, with her writing supporting the family. Of her four natural children one was still-born, another died in his teens during a minor operation. After her husband's death her fortunes declined, and her later books were poorly received. By the end of the First World War publishers were no longer interested in her work; her popularity was only revived as the best books were reissued after her death.

    The importance of Nesbit can be gauged in various ways. For example, the 1992 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary CD-ROM quotes her in 131 examples; not an extraordinary number of references for such a prolific author, until you realise that Karl Marx scores 25, Conan Doyle only 284. Although she can be criticised on the grounds that she made a cosy middle-class background the norm for children's fiction for many years, she had a profound influence; echoes of her stories appear in works by Lewis and Tolkein, and most of the other English-language fantasy authors of the Twentieth century. Her work did much to create the genre as it appears today, although other authors such as Beatrix Potter, Kenneth Grahame and F. Anstey must also take credit.

    Sources: Encyclopaedia Britannica, The Encyclopaedia of Fantasy (Clute & Grant), The Children's Encyclopaedia, Oxford English Dictionary, Secret Gardens: The Golden Age of Children's Literature (Carpenter), Wizardry and Wild Romance (Moorcock), The Writing of E. Nesbit (Vidal, The New York Review of Books 3/12/1964)

    Bibliography
    This is far from an inclusive list; it simply shows some of the best-known titles, and those most useful for gaming purposes.

    Children's Fiction:


    Nesbit with one of her 'Magic City' models; the photograph was poorly focused, and has been edited to improve clarity.
    1 Books which have been televised in Britain. Please note that there may be others I've missed.
    2 Guides to modelling fantasy scenes and creatures, with photographic illustrations and drawings by Millar, fiction by Nesbit. Fully illustrated versions of these books are now extremely rare; the photograph to the right presumably comes from one of them, but is not attributed.

    Adult Fantasy

    Horror (story collections)

    Biography of Nesbit

    On-Line Resources
    Versions of several of Nesbit's books are downloadable from the University of Indiana's collection and other sites. Some include illustrations by H. R. Millar which for copyright reasons could not be included in this collection:

    There is a listing of Nesbit's fiction, original publication, and more recent appearances at the Locus Magazine site; this has hypertext links to the other contents of anthologies containing her work.


    To contents
    Appendix: Fantasy By Other Authors

    NESBIT is far from the only author of children's fantasy; it's a growth industry, with hundreds of titles published every year. Most of them are instantly forgettable, here are just a few personal favourites. Note that some of these books have variant titles, especially in America:

    F. Anstey
    Vice Versa (1882) is the definitive story of a personality swap between a boy and his father. Often imitated and seldom bettered.
    The Brass Bottle (1900) was a great influence on Nesbit; it describes the complications that follow the discovery of a magic bottle containing one of the genies imprisoned by Solomon, which insists on rewarding the man who freed it. An excellent example of ways that wishes can go horribly wrong, it was aimed primarily at adults but also very popular with children.
    These books should be added to the FF CD-ROM in 2004 when Anstey's European copyright lapses.

    Diane Duane
    So You Want To Be A Wizard (1983), Deep Wizardry (1985), High Wizardry (1990), A Wizard Abroad (1993), The Wizard's Dilemma (2001). This sequence of books, set in the "real" world, follows the fortunes of two young wizards as they discover their powers and join a hidden society of magicians whose aim is to protect the universe from the forces of evil and entropy. Excellent examples of "magic as a science" which should be a useful resource for anyone running a juvenile fantasy campaign, especially one set in the present day, and some chilling scenes when evil is confronted.

    The Book of Night With Moon (199?) and On Her Majesty's Wizardly Service (1998) are spin-offs from the "Wizard" series, featuring a team of cat magicians who run the magical transport system used by human wizards in New York. A good additional source for juvenile campaigns, or anything using cats as magicians.

    Neil Gaiman
    The Sandman (DC/Vertigo comics, 1989-1996) is an essential resource for any fantasy campaign, and several stories involved the dreams and activities of children. Sometimes too gloomy for a Nesbit-based campaign, but always worth reading.
    The Books of Magic (Vertigo Comics, 199? onwards, now by other authors) is a continuing story of a young magician dealing with the discovery and consequences of his powers. Useful but often disturbing imagery of magical creatures and worlds.
    Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (1990, with Terry Pratchett) is a hilarious story of the battle between Heaven and Hell, the Antichrist, swapped infants, and Armageddon. Notable for its juvenile characters, who would be excellent in any modern campaign.

    Diana Wynne Jones
    This excellent author specialises in children's fantasy, and most of her books are useful resources for any campaign. In particular The Ogre Downstairs (1974), Eight Days of Luke (1975) and Archer's Goon (1984) are excellent "real world with occasional magic" fantasies. The "Chrestomanci" sequence - Charmed Life (1977), The Magicians of Caprona (1980), and The Lives of Christopher Chant (1988) plus stories in the collection Warlock At The Wheel (1984) - is mostly set in a pseudo-Victorian magical world where magicians are respected professionals. Witch Week (1982) can also be considered part of this sequence, though it is set mainly in a world much like our own, but one in which magic exists and witches are burned at the stake. Howl's Moving Castle (1986) and Castle In The Air (1990) are set in a more traditional magic world of witches, wizards, and genies. The latter is probably the best magic carpet story since Nesbit. Finally, The Tough Guide To Fantasy-Land (1996) is a tongue-in-cheek look at the tropes of fantasy fiction, focusing on adult works but with plenty to say about any sort of fantasy world.

    Rudyard Kipling
    Kiplinmg wrote many juvenile stories, amongst the best of which are the collections Puck of Pook's Hill (1906) and Rewards and Fairies (1910), stories of fairies and their role in the history of Britain, and The Jungle Book (1894) and The Second Jungle Book (1895), the definitive story of a boy bought up by wolves. All include other stories on a variety of themes. See also the "straight" school story collection Stalky and Co. (1899, expanded in later editions), an excellent account of public school education in the latter half of the 19th century.

    Michael De Larrabeiti
    The Borribles (1976), The Borribles Go For Broke (1991), and The Borribles: Across The Dark Metropolis (1996) describe a grim world of "lost children" who never quite grow up and fight an underground war around and beneath the streets of London. A dark counterpart to Peter Pan, and another very good source of ideas for a modern campaign.

    David Langford
    The Distressing Damsel (198?) is an excellent parody of the traditional genre, a lovely story of frogs, princesses, magical mirrors, and other fairy-tale tropes. It is currently most easily found in the Mammoth Book of Comic Fantasy edited by Michael Ashley.

    Terry Pratchett
    Ignoring the adult fantasy of the Discworld series, this author has produced some excellent juvenile fantasy. The Carpet People (1971) describes tiny "people" living in the jungle world of a deep-pile carpet; it could be useful as a world for characters to visit, especially if their baby siblings are crawling on the carpet at the time... Only You Can Save Mankind (1992), Johnny and the Dead (1993), and Johnny and the Bomb (1996) mix fantasy, computer games, dreams, the restless dead, and time travel, all with teenage characters in contemporary Britain, and would fit very well into a modern campaign.

    Phillip Pullman
    Probably most famous for the "His Dark Materials" sequence of novels: Northern Lights (1995), The Subtle Knife (1997), and The Amber Spyglass (2000) pit their young characters against forces which threaten to destroy the universe. Pullman's other teenage fantasies shouldn't be ignored - see esopecially the "Sally Lockhart" series: The Ruby in the Smoke (1985), The Shadow in the Plate (1987), The Tiger in the Well (1990) and The Tin Princess (1994), which mix Victorian adventure and elements of horror, fantasy, and steampunk. Pullman specialises in a bleak no-compromises style which may not be entirely suitable for a Nesbit-based campaign, but his stories are eminently readable and a good source of ideas and characters.

    Christina Rossetti
    Goblin Market (1862) is a classic fantasy poem containing extraordinarily stong sensual imagery. It was almost certain to be read by any child of the period, and still appeared in children's magazines well into the twentieth century; an illustrated version has been added to the FF CD-ROM release 4, and is also on the FF VIII distribution CD-ROM.

    J. K. Rowling
    The Harry Potter books are essential sources for any school-based campaign, but look at other authors too, especially Gaiman's Sandman stories and Jones' Chrestomanci series. The list of books is currently Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (1997), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000).

    See also other sources mentioned in earlier sections of the worldbook.