Conquest of Ralasia
Zabie the Great and Terrible
Gnome wizard, played by Benjamin Baxter
Too many wizards are never quite what they appear to be. Bumbling anachronistic hermits live with a destiny in mind; hags challenge your paradigm thrice before revealing their beauty; green-skinned water-soluble witches are but misunderstood freedom fighters. That sort of thing isn’t Zabie.
“I might have the energy for such a charade,” he says, “but why kowtow to convention when you can duck it?”
So he does. Who else but a slickly greased charlatan would match gold pantaloons with royal purple pinstripes, a bright blue cotehardie with silver ruffles, and a burlap brown chaperon, worn to the barest threads?
Being a trickster is so much easier when you hide in plain sight, I say, but Zabie ignores the observation, too enraptured with a scrying glass of red crystal he scavenged early in his adventuring career.
Ah, and there’s the rub
- only recently did Zabie run away from the ratty traveling medicine show with which he spent his formative years. Honing his natural skills as a youngster for fun and profit sounds more fulfilling than it was. How many years can you spend crouched in the mud under a wagon wallowing like a pig before the whole thing loses its charm? Serendipitously did Zabie, newly run away, find the adventuring party. Surprised from behind at first, he acted on reflex, pulling a hat out of a rabbit. Approrpiately, Iamonson rolled his eyes, Wartooth giggled and the warlock stood slackjaw, eyes glazed over. Zabie’s beginning to think the warlock always looks like that, but that’s neither here nor there.
Like any conjurer of cheap tricks, Zabie distracts to succeed. Rather than the deck of cards or the false-bottom hat, though, this lanky, diminuitive gnome is the distraction, from the spikes of dark hair to his stylishly pointed shoes. Around Zabie, real danger comes from the invisible fist or exploding ball of fire behind you, invoked seconds later with a wave of the fingers or a muttering under the breath.
“I don’t have to conjure shadow serpents or illusory dragons, and I don’t want to, either,” he says. “If I did, those bullywogs and kobolds and demon princes would catch on way too quick. What would be the point?”
Why, then, do you create illusory irregular walls under the feet of your enemies, or make the demon altar whisper unholy sounds, or slap your foes across the face with an unseen hand?
“Well,” grins the wily gnome, “I can’t be too predictable.”