Thursday, October 4, 2012

Review: The Magnificent Joop van Ooms

I can accept the lack of an early modern supplement with The God That Crawls because I got The Magnificent Joop van Ooms.

This is acceptable.

The Magnificent Joop van Ooms continues a recent Raggi trend of setting adventures in real-world early modern locales.  In this case, it's Amsterdam in 1615.  The Dutch are a major power and Amsterdam is their cultural capitol, featuring notable financial, political, and technological achievements.

As Raggi writes, "The city competes with London not just as a center of commerce, culture, power, and influence, but for the bragging rights to be the de facto 'Capital of the World'—in European eyes at least."

A few pages are devoted to encounters in Amsterdam and trading in Amsterdam's black market.  The rest of the book details the man himself, Joop van Ooms.

Joop van Ooms is an iconoclast in the vein of Wilmot, de Sade, or Wilde, with shades of fictional variants such as Henry Fool or Brian Slade.  Ooms is a celebrity, artist, and Renaissance man in Amsterdam, and he is no stranger to controversy.  He is a whirlwind of scandal, and a proponent of the relatively shocking idea that everybody should just get along.  He is mildly tolerated because he routinely donates his money to various causes — and if he were killed, many of his critics' revenue streams would dry up.

He travels with two attendants: a hulking, African slave he jokingly named "Gilles de Rais," and Ooms' fabulous attendant whom he calls "Henry VIII" (because he's quite the ladykiller, you understand).  They cause as much trouble amongst the high society of Amsterdam as one would expect, and are always the center of attention.

As one might expect, Ooms is more than he seems, and holds a great many secrets, some of which are potent indeed.  He's hardly the sort of man a group of adventurers and scalawags would be inclined to meet...but then again, a great many things are said about Ooms, and he is quite the intriguing character.

Despite not being a traditional adventure, I always appreciated books such as this from my days in World of Darkness and Unknown Armies.  No dungeon, no plot, no setup, just an interesting NPC to insert into ones' own game.  If you're looking for a typical D&D adventure or dungeon crawl, you're probably out of luck (although you can always rob his house if you want a classic site-based adventure), but if you want a brief history of 17th century Amsterdam or a fascinating NPC with secrets and adventure hooks galore, then look no further.


  1. I definitely need to check this out - thanks for the tip.

  2. I cannot wait to play in a game where I get to interact with this fellow. BFFs all the way!


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