The Power of Positive Drinking
Copyright © Marcus L. Rowland 2005
Five years ago Professor Ecks, an antiquarian and archaeologist, found a old grimoire that described a surprisingly simple magical ritual which he christened "Dipsomancy". Briefly, Dipsomancy is a way of focussing your magical power by imbibing large quantities of alcohol and concentrating on a special mantra which expresses and focuses your desire; as you do so the desired magical effect will occur, if you are sufficiently drunk and persistent. His first use of the spell was to identify a few like-minded people with sufficient magical power to make use of the ritual - most people are magically inert by the age of ten or so, but there are occasional exceptions - and persuade you to help him with his experiments.
Three things have happened since then:
- All of you have become very successful in your chosen fields.
- Prohibition, making it difficult (and potentially dangerous) to get hold of safe booze in the quantities you need for dipsomancy.
- A blackmailer has sent most of you anonymous letters telling you that he or she is aware of your secrets, and revealing enough information to confirm it. For some reason you are all reluctant to show each other the letters.
The blackmailer has instructed each of you to assemble at the professor's isolated house in the woods with $500 and await instructions. Sooner or later you expect to be contacted, and learn how the money is to be paid. One thing is certain... none of you are willing to handle the results of exposure.
The assembled company consists of the following:
- Professor Ecks. A wealthy elderly antiquarian with an eye for the ladies, whose wife Mimi (a millionairess aged 22) is currently wintering in Miami. He has a faithful butler (Perkins) several attractive young housemaids, and a beautiful young assistant, Inga. He acquired all of the above (apart from Perkins) after mastering Dipsomancy.
- Senator Paul Parton is an up-and-coming young politician widely tipped for the vice-Presidential nomination at the next Democratic National Convention. He seems to be amazingly persuasive. Five years ago he was an unsuccessful advertising writer.
- Tommy Falsetto is a leading bootlegger who has risen spectacularly through the ranks of the mob thanks to a series of unlikely accidents to rival members of his 'family'. It might be unfortunate if his superstitious colleagues learned of his interest in magic. Most of the rest of you get your booze from him.
- Agatha Clifton is a famed author, raconteur, wit, and one of the leading lights of New York's artistic community, a frequent diner at the Alonquin Round Table, along with celebrities such as Dorothy Parker and the Marx brothers. Five years ago she was widely derided for her slushy romance novels. The books haven't changed, the attitude of her critics and readers has.
- Henrietta Pym is a successful young lawyer in line to become New York's next District Attorney, and probably a judge within the next few years. Five years ago she was defending drunks and minor traffic offenders. She seems to have an uncanny way with words, an ability to sway even the most prejudiced jury to her will. Of course any hint of scandal could be very damaging.
- Inga is the only one of you who isn't a dipsomancer; she's the Professor's beautiful young assistant. She's (to be charitable) as dumb as a sackful of hammers, except that this is possibly derogatory to hammers. She can type ten or so words per minute provided someone helps her spell the hard ones. Somehow you get the impression that she wasn't hired for her non-existent clerical skills...
All of you simply hope to get through the next few days as quietly as possible, while taking advantage of the excellent food, drink, and accommodation provided by the Professor.
An isolated country mansion in the woods, reached by a long road which criss-crosses a river several times.
Jo-Jo Banks, a minor hoodlum, is going to phone and arrange to have the blackmail money dropped into the river in a sealed milk churn. He sets the drop-off point on one of the bridges; a few hundred yards downstream there's a bend with shallow water where floating objects often run aground, and he plans to hook it and escape in a stolen truck along an old path through the woods (which rejoins the road a few miles downstream). He has a stolen car parked there for the rest of the getaway. The police are looking for both vehicles, and as servants of the law will soon let the Professor know that there is a car thief in the area. There are also several sheep on the loose, released from the truck after it was stolen, and these should be used to get in the way on the road and generally screw things up all round. For the rest of the plan and his motives see the character descriptions below.
Senator Paul Parton (A politician), age 35
BODY , MIND , SOUL , MAGIC , Actor , Athlete (baseball, American football) , Brawling , Business , Driving , Linguist (Latin, Greek, German) , Marksman , Mechanic , Melee Weapon (baseball bat etc.) , Stealth , Wizardry 
Equipment: Spell book (a notebook containing the mantras you need to focus your power), $1275, .38 revolver, hip flask whisky, Stanley Steamer automobile with crate of whisky hidden under floor, clothing etc., pipe and tobacco etc.
Big handgun, Max 2 shots/round, Effect 6, A:I B:I C:C/K
Quote: "My god, if the party finds out..."
Notes: You're the villain, don't tell anyone!
Five years ago you were a junior account executive in a New York advertising agency. Then Professor Ecks told you about magic, and you realised how useful it could be. Fortunately you studied languages at college, and soon picked up everything you needed to master Dipsomancy. Then a few liquid lunches let you win account after account, and made every advertising campaign you were involved in a runaway success, elevating you to the board of your agency. Two years ago you stood for office, and became one of the Democratic senators for New York. You're aiming for the Vice-Presidential nomination at the next Democratic National Convention.
The snag, of course, is that you really don't want people to know that you are using magic to attain your goals - one of the things you've learned is that the more magic you use, the more it can rebound on you if people know that they're under your spell. But Professor Ecks is thinking about going public, and that would be very bad news for you.
You've decided to scare everyone into silence by blackmailing them - you know enough of their secrets to make it convincing. To avert suspicion you have also pretended to be a victim of the blackmailer, and have the note to prove it. You have used your magic to persuade Jo-Jo Banks, a minor hoodlum, to do your dirty work in collecting the blackmail payment. He has no idea what it's really about, or who you really are (you were magically disguised when you met him), he thinks he's doing a favour for "the Godfather" - you have an uneasy feeling that this might be Tommy Falsetto, but you don't know for sure. You can't contact him, and don't know how he plans to get the money without getting caught, you must simply trust that he'll perform adequately. He's going to send the money to a post office box that you rented a month ago, again in disguise - it's yours for a year, paid in advance. You plan to wait several months before collecting the money, and only if it seems completely safe, to give things time to cool off.
Magic: Dipsomancy gives you a big plus in any attempt to persuade someone to do what you want - roll your MIND  plus Wizardry  against their MIND (or MIND plus MAGIC) to sway them to your will. Paradoxically, it seems to be easier to sway a crowd than an individual - this may explain quite a lot about politics, fashion, etc. It can also produce physical manifestations, but you haven't yet managed to produce anything useful. About the best you've come up with is dancing mice in ballerina costumes, which disappeared when you were sober.
Role-Playing Notes: Pretend to be VERY alarmed about the blackmail, and worried that your friends' lives will be ruined if anything comes out. Minimise your own involvement in magic, and pretend that you only have a scholarly interest... although any hint of a scandal could blight your political career. If all else fails resort to violence, but it really must be your last resort.
Professor Ecks (Professor of antiquities), age 74
BODY , MIND , SOUL , MAGIC  Artist (sketching) , Business , Linguist (numerous dead languages) , Scholar (almost everything) , Wizardry 
Equipment: Several grimoires, Perkins (a butler), Inga (a magical manifestation, precise nature unclear), servants, about $1500 in cash and jewellery, packard limosine (Perkins drives it). Perkins also has a shotgun somewhere, you think.
Quote: "You'll find it easier to externalise your ambitions and focus your will if you undress, my dear..."
Notes: You are an elderly womaniser, spry for your age, bald with a white beard. You found the key to Dipsomancy more or less by accident, and have spent most of the last five years exploring the powers it grants you. The most notable effect is that young ladies seem to find you very attractive, your wife first married you then was indifferent to your indiscretions, and Inga has appeared from nowhere to assist you. You're not quite sure who (or what) Inga is, but you've noticed that the statue of a rather fetching nymph with a striking resemblance to her disappeared from the garden at about the same time. She isn't bright, but she'll do anything you want if you can explain it clearly and unambiguously, and is stronger than the average blacksmith. You haven't slept with her - she's ornamental and occasionally very useful, but you suspect that your old bones probably couldn't take the excitement.
Despite all evidence to the contrary, you love your wife - you just aren't faithful to her. She knows it and doesn't much care, since she's just as promiscuous. She doesn't object to Inga or the housemaids, and you're pretty sure she's slept with Perkins at least once. She can't seem to master magic, and you've persuaded her to go to Miami largely for her own safety.
About a year ago you decided to write a book about Dipsomancy, which will be published after your death. You received the first blackmail letter three months after it was lodged with your attorney. The blackmailer has suggested that your wife may lose patience with your indiscretions if she becomes aware that you used magic to attract her. Since your wife controls the purse strings this would not be a good thing.
Magic: Basically, anything that you want will probably happen if you want it enough and get drunk enough. The exact way it happens can't be predicted; generally speaking, the more specific the wish, the more likely it is to have undesirable side effects. Keep things simple and all should be well. Things generally take a while (hours through days) to happen.
Role-Playing Notes: You're an odd mix of scholar and lecher. Try to keep the two balanced.
Tommy Falsetto (a hoodlum), age 42
BODY , MIND , SOUL , MAGIC , Brawling , Business , Driving , Linguist (Yiddish, Italian) , Marksman , Melee Weapon , Military arms , Thief , Wizardry 
Equipment: .45 revolver (huge revolver), lock picks, switchblade knife, baseball bat, Oldsmobile roadster, flask whisky, 2 cases whisky in car, $1100, carton of cigarettes, Zippo lighter, can fuel.
Huge handgun, Max 2 shots/round, Effect 8, A:I B:I C:C/K
Dagger, one attack, Effect 8, A:F, B:I, C:I/K
Baseball bat, Max 2, Effect 8, A:F, B:FI, C:KO/K
Quote: "I don't think you understood me... [swings baseball bat] ...you're out of the liquor business..."
Notes: What you see is what you get. You're a gangster and ex-marine who is working his way up the ladder of organised crime. You don't usually hurt anyone who doesn't deserve it, but in your line of work you tend to meet very few people who don't deserve to be hurt. People in the Mob respect you, and think that you've used hit men to cause the "accidents" that have taken out some of your rivals. That's fine. If they knew you were using magic things wouldn't be so good. They'd think you're in league with the devil, and that's no good in an industry dominated by Catholics. You wouldn't last a week. Your aims here are simple:
- Persuade the professor not to publish his book, or if you can't do that make sure that he doesn't mention you.
- Identify the blackmailer, and make really sure that he doesn't say anything to anyone.
- Get to know Inga a little better, if she isn't the Professor's girlfriend.
Magic: Basically, you have the evil eye; if you get drunk enough you can will your enemies to death. It helps if you know who your enemy is, of course. The exact means of death can't be predicted, and things usually take a few days to happen. But you're prepared to get your hands dirty if there isn't time for magic to work, that's what the weapons are for.
Role-Playing Notes: People misunderstand you. They see a big guy who looks like a brawler, don't think you have any brains. Sure, there are people around that are smarter, like Professor Ecks, but you're not dumb, and you hate people who treat you like you are.
Agatha Clifton (An author), age 44
BODY , MIND , SOUL , MAGIC , Artist (writer) , Brawling , Business , Driving , Linguist (French, German, Italian) , Melee weapon (bottle) , Wizardry 
Equipment: Typewriter, dictagraph machine, hip flask, 3 bottles whisky, small convertible, three or four copies each of your last three novels, packet Black Russian cigarettes - but you never seem to have matches. $350
Bottle, Max 2, Effect 6, A:F, B:FI, C:KO/K (Shatters on 11 or 12)
Quote: "Of course Dorothy Parker's a [hic] bitch, but she's my kind of [hic] bitch..."
Notes: Dipsomancy comes easy to you - you'd be plastered much of the time even if it wasn't necessary for the magic to work. You couldn't write such god-awful slush if you were sober, that's for sure. Since you mastered Dipsomancy your popularity has risen enormously, and you've somehow become renowned for your wit and literary gifts, god alone knows why. You know that the magic must be responsible for your sales, nothing else could explain it, and you're terrified that if the public learn about it they'll stop reading your books. You don't have anything like the $1000 the blackmailer has demanded, and will probably have to get someone to lend you the money.
Magic: You have no conscious control of your magic. Things just happen.
Role-Playing Notes: You are bored with your success but terrified that it will end. You'd love to be a more serious author, but can't seem to find anything to write about. Maybe some ideas will come up this weekend...
Henrietta Pym (An attorney), age 33
BODY , MIND , SOUL , MAGIC , Artist (oratory) , Business , Driving , Marksman , Melee weapon (fencing) , Riding , Scholar (Law) , Wizardry 
Equipment: Ford roadster, skeet-shooting shotgun and shells, notes on several cases, $1100
Small shotgun, Max 2 shots/round, Effect 4, A:F B:I C:I
Quote: "Relax, the defence haven't got a leg to stand on."
Notes: You're a competent attorney who has had a lot of breaks in the last few years. You resent the fact that you owe at least as much to magic as to your skill, but that doesn't stop you using Dipsomancy to win cases if you can't do it any other way. Of course exposure would be disastrous.
Magic: Your version of Dipsomancy seems to bring confusion to your opponents. Case notes get lost, documents are seen by exactly the wrong person, the opposing attorney has a breakdown (car or mental), an opposing witness gets religion and decides to tell the truth, or whatever else is needed to win the case.
Role-Playing Notes: You are VERY competent but always cautious, especially where your own career is concerned.
Inga (possibly a supernatural manifestation), age unknown
BODY , MIND , SOUL [?], MAGIC [?], Artist (mix cocktails sexily) , Brawling , Business (typing) , Wizardry [-]
Equipment: Clinging dress, beautiful smile.
Quote: "Do you spell 'magic' with a C, a Ck, or a YK?"
Notes: You have no memory of life prior to three years ago, when you found yourself standing naked in the Professor's garden. The Professor took you in and gave you a job, and you love him, his wife, Perkins the butler, the squirrels in the garden... For some reason nobody seems to want to make love to you, maybe it's because you can pick up large pieces of furniture without breaking into a sweat, bend iron bars with your bare hands, etc.
Magic: You appear to have no magical talents, but it's hard to tell because you don't seem to be able to get drunk, regardless of how much you drink.
Role-Playing Notes: You love the world and the world loves you. Or at least you think you do, you're not entirely sure. Sometimes you have an uneasy feeling that there's something you've forgotten, something you ought to be doing. But why worry about it, just be nice to everyone and things will turn out OK!
Inga (T100 Terminator Android)
BODY , MIND , SOUL [-], MAGIC [-], Brawling , Melee Weapons , Marksman , Military Arms , Wizardry [-]
Equipment: Clinging dress, beautiful smile, your hands are lethal weapons.
Quote: "I'll be back..."
Notes: You were sent back by Skynet to ensure that there would be no wizards to oppose its construction. Unfortunately you arrived while the professor was using Dipsomancy to summon the perfect woman, and that programming over-wrote your own personality. That spell was broken when the Professor was killed, now your real personality has emerged.
Magic: None, but you are normally immune to its effects
Role-Playing Notes: Kill everyone.
If anyone has thoughts on this, other than telling me that it's crap, I'd be delighted to see them.