Magical Marvels 26: Raggi’s Rejects 6: The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus

TheTragicalLife_of_DrFaustusA tattered manuscript of Christopher Marlowe’s play “The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus.” The text has little in common with other surviving versions of the play. In fact, those copies were forged by church censors. They secretly distributed the texts to satisfy heretical curiosity about the banned play, without revealing the true depths of Marlowe’s sin. Marlowe himself was quietly put to death for his abominable work. This is the only surviving copy of what he truly wrote, written in his own hand. A note, hastily scrawled on the first page, reads:

“Will that the noblest of magics might flourish, and God’s abominable sorcery might perish.”

In this version of the play, Lucifer and Mephistophilis treat Faust fairly. God is depicted as an interloper. He attempts to reassert His will over Faust after being rejected. God even goes so far as to send an angel to steal Faust away, but is defeated when Lucifer sends one of his own servants to protect Faust. The play culminates in an orgy with Faust, his friends, a number of demons, and several nuns and priests who have been convinced to turn away from God.

The entire play is filled with unusual phrasings and invented words. In particular, the scene where Faust makes his pact with Lucifer is completely nonsensical when read. However, if actors memorize the lines properly, then during the performance of the play they will be compelled to improvise. The scene is different each time, but always conforms to the plot and style of the play. During this scene, shameful secrets of audience members, and bizarre prophecies are incorporated into the narrative.

When a performance of the play begins, anyone within 20 miles who has been baptized in the Christian faith feels compelled to stop the performance by any means. God has suspended free will to prevent this sin from occurring. Characters who wish to renounce their baptism may make a saving throw vs. magic to resist the compulsion. The referee is encouraged to be creative about renouncing God in His time of need. Performers and audience members are shielded from this compulsion.

To this day, the play has not been performed in full. If it is completed successfully, which requires 3 hours and 11 minutes, then God is banished from the world for 100 years. Clerical magic will disappear entirely during that time. Meanwhile, magic users and elves will feel as though they can think more clearly. As though their minds had been clouded during all of their life before now. For the purposes of learning or casting, all spells will be treated as 1 spell level lower than normal for the duration of God’s banishment. Magic users will begin using the fighter’s experience table, and elves will begin using the magic user’s. All characters, even the lowliest of peasants, will have a 30% chance of knowing one random 1st level magic user spell.

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