NPC Profile: Tasha, the Grinning Mage
Date: Mon, January 24, 2005
Topic: Rogue's Gallery
The collective body of work related to D&D over the years contains reference to myriad NPC personas, especially mages, and where not otherwise specified, it is generally assumed that these folk call the Flanaess home. Only a handful of these esteemed personages have been detailed in Greyhawk lore however, so what about the rest of them?
Join me for a peek into the life of one such Magic-User, Tasha, she of the Uncontrollable Hideous Laughter.
This document is presented in Classic D&D format, but should prove easy to convert to any other edition of the D&D game.
Includes a Classic D&D conversion of the Tasha's Uncontrollable Hideous Laughter Spell!
NPC Profile: Tasha, the Grinning Mage
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author. Tasha (Igla Yragerne),
The enigmatic mage known only as Tasha was born on the 19th day of Fireseek in cy 558 (1), in the city of Hardby, and named Igla by her mother, a minor alchemist. Despite having an unknown father, she led a fairly normal life until her mother revealed to her, on her 12th birthday that she is a relative of the original Gynarchy of Hardby (2), and a direct descendant of Xagig Yragerne, the Mad Archmage of Greyhawk City himself. Sensing Igla's gift for magecraft, her mother made contact with the archmage Otto, an old friend of the family, and arranged for Igla to travel to Greyhawk city to be apprenticed with him as a mage, and in the spring of 571, that is where Igla headed.(3)
Igla did have great potential, but she grew bored with rigorous study and failed to learn as quickly as Otto hoped, but like the eccentirc archmage, she showed a fascination with music and its supposed connection with magic. Igla spent much of her time in the city associating with minstrels and attending performances, relying more on minor magic items and scrolls than her own ability as a mage to perform her duties to the wizards guild. She was quite satisfied being a cohort of Otto's and spending her days aimlessly enjoying the great city until the end of the Greyhawk Wars, and the tragic events of the day of the treaty signing.
After the supposed "Treachery" of Rary and Robilar (who, it is worth mentioning, was a somewhat reluctant target of Igla's affections), Igla was urged by Otto to flee the city (4). Igla originally returned to Hardby, spending a year or two there with her aging mother and helping keep the family shop going. With the aging of the current Gynarch, Ilena, however, Igla began to recieve strange visitors and cryptic warnings that prompted her to seek counsel with Rary in his desert hideaway. Rary advised Igla to take leave of Hardby for the time being, until such time that she could defend herself against the scheming of would-be Despotrices. To aid in her flight, Rary made contact with Drawmij, who arranged transport to Gradsul and accomadations there.
After a short time in Gradsul, Igla, now calling herself only Tasha (5) and jealously gaurding the truth of her identity for fear of discovery by agents of the Gynarchs, took umbrage with the aggressive politics of Duke Luschan and began wandering the towns and cities of Keoland, seeking a quiter, more peaceful place to call home.
Upon reaching the sleepy lumber town of Millen on the Javan river, Tasha realized she'd found her new home. Forging a strong friendship with Baroness Margho (ruler of Westgate, the Barony of which Millen is the seat of power), Tasha secured a position as a court advisor, a duty which, given Westgate's quite role in national politics, affords Tasha much time to lurk around Millen's taverns mingling with minstrels and passing elven bards, as well as making trips to the nearby town of Dancingleaf for the Baronies many festivals.
Tasha is a gregarious, good natured woman with a warm laugh and simple but charming beauty. She is loyal to Baroness Margho and in the year and a half since her arrival in Millen, has grown fond of the people of Westgate, and is generally steadfast in her duties to them. She does have a reknowned sense of twisted humor, however, and often schemes extensively with Donwer, the court entertainer (a title Margho finds less demeaning than court jester, though his duties are those of a jester) to play practical jokes on annoying visitors to the Baronial estate. It's also well rumored throughout the court that Tasha and Donwer have been spending more and more time alone together, and may be secretly courting.
Adventurers who do not blatantly annoy Margho or Tasha, Tasha can be an excellent ally in local affairs, lending all support she can to parties that are active promoting the good of the Barony. Meddlers and Ne'er-do-wells would do best to avoid the Grinning Mage though, for her sense of humor can be frightening when directed at someone who has angered her. Parties who are overly secretive or myserious will also arouse the suspicions of Tasha, who is still a bit paranoid about her rivals in Hardby.
Tasha is a slim woman, about 5 feet 4 inches in height with long chestnut hair and a complexion reflecting her Oeridian heritage. She typical dresses in colorful garb, extravagant enough to fit in with the middle class of Millen, while simple enough to not alienate the common folk of the rest of the Barony. Except when acting formally in court functions, she rarely, if ever, wears the traditional robes of a magaic user, appearing more like a travelling minstrel.
Tasha (the Grinning Mage, Court Wizard of Westgate, Igla Yragerne)
9th level Nuetral Magic User, female, age 33; ST 8, DE 10, CO 11, IN 17, WI 15, CH 18; HP 31; AC 6 (Ring of Protection +3) Spells & Items: special (6)
1) Tasha is growing eager to regain contact with Rary and Robilar, but fears a common messenger might draw the attention of her rivals (or theirs!) A party who seems competent and inconspicuous enough to quietly deliver letters to the archmage of the desert may be recruited by Tasha to do so. Such a message would contain nothing of real interest to PCs, being more of a dialogue between old friends and colleagues than a piece of some great puzzle, but any who accept such a duty and complete it will have gained the gratitude of Tasha, Robilar and Rary, all of whom can be excellent contacts in an ongoing campaign. On the other hand, the three can be terrible enemies to PCs who betray them...
2) While visiting Millen, the party is approached by Donwer, a jovial man in his middle 20s who claims to be the Court Entertainer for Baroness Margho. This information is easily confirmed by asking around a bit. Donwer is concerned for Tasha's safety, having heard rumors that assassins have entered town looking for her. He can't offer much in the way of reward, but pleads with the party to aid his "partner" (astute PCs will readily realize that he considers her more than just a partner in court matters). The DM should construct a small adventuring party to fill the role of the assassins, as well as a minor (1 or 2 sessions) scenario in which the PCs track and confront them in Millen. If succesful, the party will have gained the solid friendship of Donwer, as well as the gratitude of Tasha and Baroness Margho, who will confer on them the titles of Gatesmen of Millen, a minor honor in Westgate that carries no real privilege, but will impress the locals in Westgate Barony and grant them access to council with Margho and her court when they need it.
(1) For ease of adaptability with published Greyhawk product lines, this article is set in the year 591cy. Those incorporating material from recent Living Greyhawk Journal, Dragon or Dungeon magazines, or developments from their favorite Living Greyhawk campaign triads will want to adjust Tasha's age or birthdate to keep things configured with the timeline in their home campaign.
(2) During the rise of Xagig as Landgraf of the Selintan and Lord Mayor of Greyhawk, he was also the only child of the reigning Gynarch of Hardby. Lacking a female sucessor to that cities throne, the other Gynarchs staged a minor coup and elected a new leader, naming her the 1st Despotrix of Hardby. The remaining legitimate, though indirect, heirs to the true Gynarchy were ignored, even by their cousin Xagig, and have dwelled in the shadows of Hardby's court ever since.
(3) Now and then over the years, a promising child with a vague claim to the true Gynarchy has come along in Hardby. In each past case, the child has met with an untimely death or disappeared mysteriously before their opportunity to seek their birthright presented itself. Igla's mother was wise enough to forsee this fate for her daughter, and sought the aid of her friend Otto, who also saw great potential in the girl, and agreed to tutor her.
(4) Igla was present at the treaty ceremony just before the "treachery", and is believed to know the truth of what occured. While she has yet to reveal what she witnessed to anyone who has asked about it, it is highly suspected that she can confirm that the Rary and Robilar now depicted in rumor and hearsay are not the real men who left Greyhawk to isolate themselves in the Bright Desert. It is known, at least, that Igla keeps in limited contact with Robilar, and to a lesser extent, Rary, and does not seem to blame them for Otiluke's death.
Author's Note: It is much debated among Greyhawk fans, and even designers (most notably Robert Kuntz, the creator of Robilar and Otto) about the true nature of Rary and Robilar's plotline, motivations and futures, so I have left the details of what exactly Tasha knows vague purposely. This is to allow the DM to give her eyewitness to whatever version of the story they adopt. It is not the purpose of this document to explain the story of Rary and Robilar, so I'll leave that bit of lore up to the reader to decide.
(5) Tasha comes from an Old-Oeridian phrase Tar-Shan, meaning roughly Grinning Mask.
(6) Although she isn't extroardinarily high in experience level, Tasha is a Keoish court wizard, as well as a friend and student of several influential mages, including Otto and Drawmij of the Circle of 8 and Rary of the Bright Desert. It is therefore possible that she has access to any spells and items a DM wishes to give her. I recommend adjusting her arsenal to reflect the strength of a party who might try and oppose her.
For more information on Baroness Margho, please refer to my Sheldomar Gazetteer Addendum: Westgate Barony article, here on Canonfire!
It was my intent in leaving the references to Rary, Robilar, Otto and Drawmij vague to allow players who prefer the visions of the setting and characters intended by their creators to implement this material into their campaign. A secondary benefit of this is allowing the material to be easily adopted by players who have their own unique ideas about characters and events in the setting.
More information on Rary can be found throughout various sources, and Rary the Traitor is an excellent starting point.
To learn more about Robilar, the same sources used for Rary will provide some information, or you can visit the forums of creator Robert Kuntz (run a net search for Pied Piper Publishing) to discuss his vision of the character, which differs a bit from the published one.
Otto and Drawmij aren't developed as much as the others, but Living Greyhawk Journal #0 or the City of Greyhawk: Gem of the Flanaess boxed set, are excellent starting places for those interested in researching them.
ADDENDUM: Tasha's Uncontrollable Hideous Laughter (slightly modified) for Classic D&D
Tasha's Uncontrollable Hideous Laughter
3rd Level Magic-User spell
Range: 180 feet
Duration: 1 round per level
Area of Effect: 1 creature per 3 levels
Rumor has it that this spell came about through a failed attempt by Tasha to learn her mentor's signature spell, Irresistable Dance. Although she failed to accomplish her intended goal, the result has proved interesting and useful in and of itself.
The victim of this spell perceives everything as extremely funny. On the round the spell is cast, the target begins smiling, then giggling, and finally collapsing into gales of uncontrollable, hideous laughter. The target is entitled to a save vs. spells to avoid the effect, but if this is failed, no action is allowed during the first round.
The saving throw vs. spell is modified by the Intelligence of the target. Creatures with Intelligences of 4 or less (semi-intelligent) are totally unaffected. Those with Intelligences of 5-7 (low) save with -6 penalties. Those with Intelligences of 8-12 (average to very) save with -4 penalties. Those with Intelligences of 13-14 (high) save with -2 penalties. Those with Intelligences of 15 or greater (exceptional) have unmodified saving throws.
Although this magical mayhem lasts only a single round, the affected creature must spend the duration of the spell controlling the giggling fits and recovering, resulting in a penalty of -2 to all dice rolls made during this period. In addition spellcasters must make a check against their relevant ability score (Int for Mystics, Magic-Users and Elves, Wis for Clerics, at the aforementioned -2 penalty) before attempting to cast any spells. If this check is failed, the spell may not be cast, though other action may be taken instead, with only a -1 penalty to initiative. The spell is not lost, and may be attempted again later.
Magic Item use is not affected by this spell.
Thanks and Credits
Thanks are due to the gang at the weekly GreyTalk thursday night chat for putting up with my ramblings while developing this character's background, as well as Gary Gygax and Robert Kuntz for the original development of the other personas mentioned in this article.
I'd also like to thank Maria Deltorre for her help developing Westgate Barony, and especially that now infamous (and older :-P ) little girl "Tasha", who originally suggested the TUCH spell to Mr. Gygax (through a letter penned in crayon, as the story goes), creating the character I've fleshed out here.