The Magnificent Joop van Ooms (2012)
James Raggi IV (Lamentations of the Flame Princess)
For the Dutchman it is not often one sees one’s native land portrayed in an rpg supplement. Therefore I looked forward to the Magnificent Joop van Ooms but I was somewhat disappointed at the actual result. Dat sweet ass coverart though.
The Magnificent Joop van Ooms is labeled as a module (it is not) concerning the exploits and character of Flamboyant Dutch wizardman Joop van Ooms and his many exciting art related exploits. It is ultimately more of a toolkit for creating your own encounter with Ooms. 16 pages.
It begins with a brief overview of Amsterdam in 1615, alluding to the Dutch/Spanish insurrection (which was as much a civil war between protestants and Catholics and part of a continent-wide revolt against the dominion of the Habsburgs/Holy Roman Empire) and sketching the general social and political climate (e.g one of immense tolerance and progressivism for that day and age, but then again you have to be if you want to trade properly). This is a very excellent primer that should suffice in giving Loftp Amsterdam the verisimilitude it needs for a good adventure. It won’t get one.
We are then presented with a random table (d50?!?) of encounters for adventuring in Amsterdam. The encounters proper are done in a sort of half-jokey tone that is very amusing to read and some of them make for amusing hooks (the opportunity to steal a cannon is very exciting, and the odd recruitment attempt by Spanish Spies or Dutch Spy-hunters pretending to be Spanish spies should provide for adequate lulz). I heartily endorse the opportunity to purchase some excellent dutch wooden shoes (clogs my friend, clogs) as well as multiple ways to get Shanghaed into joining the VoC. The odd magical Hamster of the Hague encounter and the ‘Amsterdam gets wiped off the map’ encounter are pushing it though. I will say that almost all the encounters are actual hooks and will provide gameplay beyond stabbing things to death, which is very welcome.
Overall, this table makes the place feel alive and distinct. Good job on the table.
A page of black market rules follows, fairly good stuff, integrates charisma into a sort of random roll to see what kind of deal you get. Trading on the black market is risky but financially attractive. Good rules. One page.
We are then presented with the focal point of this product (page 7); The magnificent Joop van Ooms himself. Ooms is a sort of 17th century Oscar Wilde with wizardly powers that spreads his doctrine of progressivism after having stared into the Void beyond and coming to the inclusion that all conventional morality is meaningless. Artist, philosopher, architect and general Reinassance Man. His lackeys are similarly colorful, a huge mute negro servant and an effeminate fop. Interesting NPCs, well detailed.
Ooms studio is also described, but there is nothing interesting in it. Why is it here at all? Some paintings serve to foreshadow Oom’s magical ability (he may paint things to make them come true). 2 pages out of 16 gone man.
Ooms’s powers are expanded upon afterwards, he can design rooms that have ill effects on the 8th or multiple of 8th person to do something in them, he makes strange plays that have beneficial effects on humanity (but ill effects on clerics) and horrible mishaps if they are performed incorrectly. A Golden Gun reference. Various inventions. He can rhyme people back in time. He can capture souls in sculpture.
We end with a list of ways to use Ooms in your adventures. As patron. He has been arrested and must be rescued or TERRIBLE THINGS WILL HAPPEN!!!11!. Bandits with flying machines are plaguing the city. Someone has redesigned one of his buildings and now all hell is breaking loose. Bleh. Ooms would have worked far better as a direct antagonist with a clear motivation and objectives rather then a sort of patron. Ditch half the random encounters, the black market, add 5 pages and make this a short adventure instead. Start with the house, add a dungeon level in multiple paintings. Go crazy. Add a part where the players must compete against Ooms or solve one of his challenges by drawing something IRL. Do SOMETHING!
Listen. Raggs did a nice job on wizard Milo Yiannopoulos. And this is an interesting and unique NPC. But it is ultimately not much more then that. For 18 pages, I just don’t see you getting much use out of this. If you ABSOLUTELY desire an interesting NPC in your campaign and you cannot come up with one yourself and your campaign is set in Amsterdam 1617 then I guess I could recommend it to you. This stuff is not terrible and a lot of it is fairly interesting but I just don’t see much use for it. Added to an Amsterdam setting book or a Death Art Doom adventure it could have been pretty solid. If that is a copout review so be it.
Pros: Rarely seen take on the NPC wizard. Nice tables for some city adventuring.
Cons: Lacklustre hooks. 16 pages for an NPC?
Final Verdict; Nice NPC with interesting possibilities but does not merit a purchase or even the existence of this product. Not useless but damn close. 3 out of 10.