and now, to address the question that literally no one is asking: what exactly did our hero janklow mean when he wrote “perhaps, ever so slightly, foreshadows the upcoming update?” well, a combination of “angry magician” and “Patton Oswalt” might lead you to realize that this week’s update is about this incredibly random and ridiculous role-playing module purchased for yours truly by the Irishman: ANGRY WIZARD. brace yourself, because this week’s update is about to get about as insane AND nerdy as one update can possibly get without involving that tentacle pornography Japanese people seem to like. there’s no way i can top that.
the back story: the Irishman spotted this module on the internet (of course) and picked it up for me solely because of the “ANGRY WIZARD” title and basically nothing else, which led to a string of discoveries about this module that i, because i am sometimes easily amused, find to be incredibly hilarious. so here we go!
JANKLOW’S 13 FAVORITE RIDICULOUS THINGS ABOUT THE ANGRY WIZARD MODULE, IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER
and by “chronological,” i mean “starting with the front cover, and then i flip through the book to the back cover,” just in case that wasn’t clear. was that actually very clear? eh, well, that’s what i get for trying to be helpful.
clearly the only thing more powerful than this wizard (and his anger) is THIS INTENSE FONT
01. the title of this module: ANGRY WIZARD
so let’s just take a look at the above image and start with the screamingly-obvious bright red title bursting out from the cover of this thing: ANGRY WIZARD. technically, when you get to the introduction part of this module, you learn that it is actually called FEZ III, The Angry Wizard, being as it’s the “third in a series of adventures” featuring this Fez character… although whoever designed the cover clearly wanted to give us the wrong impression, since ANGRY WIZARD is printed in letters about about three feet tall, with FEZ III hiding in the shadow of the D in WIZARD.
also, there’s still some deranged grammar at work if the wizard’s name is Fez, because then shouldn’t the title be Fez III, not FEZ III. clearly, someone at the Role Aids corporation is of the mindset that role-playing modules DEMAND TITLES PRINTED SOLELY IN CAPITAL LETTERS, THE LETTERS OF MAGIC AND DRAGONS… and i cannot say that i truly disagree.
02. the “suitable for use with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons” declaration
okay, okay, i swear that we’re done with the above cover once we get through this. anyway, if you’ll note, this product, which was clearly NOT made by the company that brought us D&D (TSR), has a little yellow corner that declares ANGRY WIZARD to be “suitable for use with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons*.” now, i have to admit, i found this shameless hilarious, and THEN i noticed that on the back cover (we’ll cheat and skip ahead this one time), the full claim is “suitable for use with all popular roleplaying systems including Advanced Dungeons and Dragons*.” thus i am forced to ask: well, what about the not-so-popular role-playing systems? is this module not suitable for use with them because they’re not the proverbial cool kids in school, or is it just that we’re not willing to guarantee they’ll be up to the task of allowing you the full pleasure of ANGRY WIZARD?
and yes, there’s an asterisk in each case, because there’s a tiny notation on the back stating that “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons is a trademark of TSR Hobbies, Inc. Use of this trademark is NOT sanctioned by the holder.” this surprises me (although i think the internet told me TSR and Mayfair Games had a weird arrangement for some time), because i didn’t think you could use someone’s trademark and then just say, “they’re not okay with this” in very small letters… especially when you consider that on page 2, it’s angrily declared who FEZ is the trademark of, and that you’d BETTER NOT USE IT WITHOUT THE EXPRESS PERMISSION OF LEONARD BLAND.
just pretend that the effect from the flash is the ANGRY WIZARD magic bursting out of the module
03. the cover image itself, in all its ANGRY WIZARD glory
okay, keep looking at that above cover. as stated, the Irishman saw a scowling wizard on the cover of a role-playing module, thought to himself, “well, janklow is king of the nerds in this state AND angry wizards are funny, OKAY,” and bought this thing for me on a whim. that in and of itself is fairly insane as is… but then when he actually received the module, he learned that the ANGRY WIZARD is sitting in what appears to be a reasonably-appointed but ill-kept modern kitchen drinking a can of beer. i’ve examined this image closely, and as best as i can tell, he appears to be drinking a generic Budweiser, which may be popular, but seems to lack the magic you expect in a beer that can be described as “the choice of angry wizards everywhere.” the copyright on this module also leads me to believe that we’re talking about a “modern kitchen” circa 1984.
other questions raised by this cover image include the following: “is it possible the wizard is mainly angry because the kitchen is simply FILTHY?” and “is it counter-productive if i engage in a fantasy role-playing game to escape the misery of my mundane life only to find myself adventuring in an early-1980s kitchen filled with dirty dishes and trash?”
04. the “Role Aids” name and logo
so you might notice that, in the lower right-hand corner of the cover, you’ll find name and logo of the company behind this masterpiece: ROLE AIDS. while i suppose what they were going for is apparent (if a bit clunky; does this aid my role? or more my adventures?), it still seems like a tactical error to have your company’s name sound exactly like a brand of antacid meant to alleviate “muscle soreness and stomach aches relating to constipation” that also has more than 60 years of existence on your company? yes, i know that Role Aids is a brand pushed by an actual company (Mayfair Games) because i researched this module on the internet because i have nothing better to do with my life, but it’s still incredibly lame.
also, let’s note the logo they chose to use: an angry unicorn. not a unicorn, which is maybe a little feminine but still an iconic fantasy image, and not something classic and angry, like a dragon breathing fire (or even an ANGRY WIZARD)… but an angry unicorn. i’m picturing a board room full of nerds fighting over the logo, with half demanding “something beauteous and magical” and the other half demanding “something fearsome and mythological.” that’s the story of how you get a ridiculous angry unicorn as your logo.
05. the somewhat awkward names of the adventurers in the adventures of ANGRY WIZARD
as i skipped over the part of this module where they gloss over FEZ I and FEZ II (which also feature our ANGRY WIZARD, but are not titled ANGRY WIZARD because life doesn’t make any sense sometimes), i got to the part where they assign the players characters, as it’s one of those kinds of modules (many provide this option, but in less demanding terms), and they’ve got fairly generic names. some are appropriate: Stoutarm, dwarf fighter; Nightstar, female elf illusionist; Fern, female human druid. some are generic: Roshan, human ranger; Moman, human cleric. one confuses me: why is Ramble the human magic user? shouldn’t the ranger be named Ramble, since that would kind of keep with the theme that Fern has established regarding “the outdoorsy types of characters.”
and then we have Ughblow, human fighter. Ughblow? Ughblow? what kind of twelve-year-old nerd wants to play someone named UGHBLOW? it’s bad enough that the kids playing this are being forced to stomach a second-rate knock-off version of a D&D module; now one of them has to throw himself on the proverbial sword of being the one to bear the name Ughblow? maybe i’m just being incredibly immature about this (most likely true), but i find it to be just plain cruel.
also, on the last page of this module, FEZ violates the naming we have already established to address this character as “UghBlow,” which essentially confirms my theory that this is all a cruel joke.
“#8: Please remember that you cannot breathe water in real life, nerds!”
06. the “special underwater conditions”
so shortly after we learn our players awful names, there’s a box that helpfully tells us that “even though the characters have been given the permanent ability to breathe underwater, there are still a lot of differences between adventuring on dry land and adventuring underwater.” now, okay, some of the upcoming rules are clearly in the need-to-know category: movement in water, decompression sickness, speech under water, and so on. but then we have a couple things that don’t really seem to need to be spelled out:
–“Wooden objects in water: Care must be taken with wooden objects as they tend to float in water.” now this section ultimately ends up telling us some specific rule for the rate at which they float… but listen, if your elven illusionist needs to be told by the guy running the game that WOOD TENDS TO FLOAT IN WATER, then you probably need to get out of your house more.
–“Paper in water.” it turns out that if you leave a scroll unsealed after reading it UNDERWATER, it gets ruined. SHOCKING.
07. the part about “how the character sheets are used”
now, those who have played role-playing games generally understand the part where you get a character sheet (or at least some paper) and draw up the character you play on it; even in the case of those aforementioned modules that provide characters (like this one), you tend to still need a sheet for the same reasons. what does ANGRY WIZARD direct us to do with the sheet that explains the characters?
“This page should be torn out of the booklet, photocopied, and cut into sections for each character.”
for one, i reject any product that immediately tells me to start tearing it apart. i probably paid good money for this in 1984! for another, this module lays flat: could i not just photocopy the page and cut the photocopy into sections WITHOUT tearing anything out of the module? like, oddly enough, almost every single other role-playing book would recommend? i am willing to bet that i can. oh Role Aids, please don’t think i’m going to be tricked into purchasing extra copies of ANGRY WIZARD.
hopefully this has killed off anyone’s remaining desire to play this module… and if it hasn’t, then we’ve discovered their fetish
08. the picture of what can only be described as “a leprechaun prostitute”
yeah, it’s an awkward picture. now, it’s not ENTIRELY random: when i examined this module closely, it turns out that one of the characters (not Ughblow) gets turned into a leprechaun by FEZ for some reason, because we all know that when an ANGRY WIZARD wants you to fetch a gem for him (this is the general plot of the module), it’s incredibly helpful for him to turn the cast of heroes into random monsters, and for those random monsters to include a leprechaun. anyway, it also turns out that this leprechaun might be helpful in obtaining a “reptile-control staff” and this is all very important to this adventure that even i, a guy who played first edition D&D at age five, find grotesquely nerdy.
none of this, however, explains why the leprechaun is shooting the reader a come-hither stare while posing with the “reptile-control staff” in front of what appears to be a leg made out of smoke. clearly whoever is responsible for this art (and the credits tell me that one “Susanna Griffin” is responsible for the “interior illustrations”) has done a wonderful job… of making me incredibly distressed by their art.
09. “the Dwarf is indestructible”
i pointed this line out to the Irishman, and he about lost it, but yes, there’s a part in this module where the characters are confronted by an old Dwarf who teaches them a valuable lesson about greed, which boils down to “if you choose what appears to be a better option that you’re told that you can have for free, and continue to choose apparently better and better options that appear in sequence, all still for free, you will ultimately be punished by fighting a lot of kobolds and always getting the same thing: dwarf-size armor.” reading through it, i’ve learned nothing about greed, but i HAVE learned that i might want to kill a dwarf.
however, as the module takes the time to explain to us, possibly for reasons like “they saw this need to murder said dwarf coming,” the players won’t be able to live out their dream, as “the Dwarf is indestructible. On any attempt to attack him, he will vanish and reappear.” let me just say this: FUCK THAT. if i was running this module –which would never happen– i can assure you that i would promptly violate its rules on the grounds of not recognizing the powers of dwarves that fail to teach us reasonable lessons.
this image of the least-threatening monster EVER also features a bonus mention of UghBlow
10. the “rust monster”
so i may have mentioned the thing where our ANGRY WIZARD turns the cast of heroes into random monsters? well, one of those (Nightstar, our elf illusionist) gets turned into a rust monster. however, it seems that Role Aids didn’t want to stop with making your precious character one of the most random and lame of all the D&D monsters; no, Nightstar is described as looking “like a teddy bear,” but with “an insatiable appetite for metals (chiefly brass and iron).” now, my understanding of rust monsters was that they at least didn’t look THAT fucking pathetic, and that while they loved to eat metal, it wasn’t some kind of insatiable hunger.
but to make matters worse, of all the characters the aforementioned Susanna Griffin illustrated for the module, she chose not just the courtesan leprechaun Moman, but ALSO the pathetic “rust monster” Nightstar… and yes, that means this module features a crude sketch of a teddy bear tossing a handful of nails into its mouth from a pot marked “BRASS NAILS.” brass nails?
this also confirms my theory that if i was standing in a store debating whether or not to purchase this module and flipped through it, seeing these pictures… well, i would put this shit back on the rack.
11. the closing rewards found in FEZ’s castle
so you’ve finally beaten the “adventures” contained within the module and brought the ANGRY WIZARD some mysterious “Queen’s Gem” that he needs to defeat a wizard, which sounds like a much more exciting adventure that you’ve missed out on because you were busy dicking around in leprechaun form. FEZ rattles off this list of rewards for all the characters, which make sense if you’re aware that early in this module, on the sheet we were supposed to TEAR OUT FOREVER, your characters learned what their adventurer motivation was. i found this to be weird, but not funny, so i skipped over it.
so some of the rewards make a little sense: Stoutarm got some dwarf armor, Stealthwidow gets a small but sustainable amount of money. some are weird, considering that these are throwaway characters you didn’t create and will never play again, but that i guess are still reasonable: Roshan gains “an important clue to [his] wife’s recovery”; Moman gets a staff that controls reptiles (remember that?) because his village is plagued by snake attacks; Fern gets a cure for a plague afflicting her forests; Ughblow gets to be a two-headed ogre forever, which is apparently a good thing, for some reason. but two are a little more off, if you ask me:
–Nightstar gets a cure for her iron deficiency. while i am sure this is important to ACTUAL PEOPLE, doesn’t it seem beyond lame for a role-playing game? “i’m setting off on a noble quest TO CURE MY IRON DEFICIENCY!”
–then there’s Ramble, a human magic user whose motivation is to become a fighter. i’m not sure why you wouldn’t have just made a level one fighter if that’s what you wanted, but there it is. so what’s his reward? well, you can become a warrior… but you have to maintain your charcoal-skinned warrior physique that was your MONSTER FORM for the entire adventure. luckily, since you cannot be attached to this lame character, i guess you just say “fuck it” and go charcoal.
…and then FEZ “will invite them all into his castle for dinner.” now THAT is what i call an absurd conclusion.
please enjoy an additional dose of ANGRY WIZARD (and stern ANGRY WIZARD gaze) with your terrible, terrible grammar
12. the punctuation of “time traveling Wizard”
finally, we find ourselves on the back cover of this module, where we’re told that “at the beck of Fez, a time traveling Wizard-” woah, stop right there, whoever the hell is writing this thing: where’s my hyphen? (and i suspect they think i forgot that “roleplaying” spelling from earlier.) why is Wizard capitalized? sure this is some nitpicking, which IS one of the things i love to do, but i find it hilarious. also, i should note this: this kind of grammar runs rampant throughout the ENTIRE module in question. commas are all over the place, capitalization is consistently weird (nouns are randomly capitalized all the time, and then there’s that whole UghBlow thing); the whole thing is just a mess.
it also goes on to this “claw your way through opponents and hazards on a mission” thing, but for some reason, after that last preceding ridiculous moment of non-grammar, my brain reads this sentence as “claw your eyes out.” make of that what you will.
Role Aids gets in one last stab at those poor conjurers
13. the subtle insult directed at conjurers
so after you’re told to claw your eyes out on a mission for ANGRY WIZARD — and really, the disparity in the text makes the way i wrote that insufficient; it should be more like “you’re told to claw your eyes out on a mission for ANGRY WIZARD” and then a massive explosion of EXCLAMATION POINTS– we get to the second part of the description:
“He has guaranteed each hero or conjurer the time of their lives, soon you realize that it may be the time of your death instead.”
yes, to start, we AGAIN have atrocious writing. ignore that, however, and focus on “hero or conjurer.” now, i am pretty sure that every nerd playing a wizard throwing LIGHTNING BOLTS around sees themselves as an adventuring hero even if they’re not a strapping warrior (or even Ughblow), so this just seems like an unnecessary insult aimed directly at your target audience: “he has guaranteed each hero the time of their life, and even you stupid guys playing wizards can come along!” plus, to really nerd this up, doesn’t the average conjurer (for the non-nerds, think… uh… Gandalf, i guess) come off as more heroic than the average thief or rogue or whatever you want to call the class?
plus, remember this: the game that ASSIGNS you seven characters to play… and FOUR of them are arguably conjurers (Moman, cleric; Nightstar, elf illusionist; Fern, druid; Ramble, magic user). granted, one of them has the motivation to not be a magic user, and i GUESS you could argue that “we didn’t mean the cleric and the druid when we said that,” but you’re still alienating one or two of the people playing the game after FORCING them to play those conjurers.
so, all in all, it’s a pretty ridiculous module. i need to hang it on the wall somehow next to my autographed picture of Steven Seagal.