“We have been seeing a big uptick in these lately,” the Diviner at his kiosk says as he pushes the scroll over the tiny desk to the Paladin.
The Paladin feels confused. The little Wizard is alone. There are no other Wizards in sight. Perhaps the Diviner refers to himself in the Royal We. He is a Wizard and Wizards are weird.
“This scroll casts Leomund’s Tiny Hut. If you cast it, you get about eight hours of protection. Useful, because it’s portable, but it doesn’t manifest any particular creature comforts. See this mark here?” The Diviner points to a small scrawl and a happy little printed cartoon mage on the base of the scroll. “Ozmo’s Magic Hospitality Company produced this scroll. We’ve been tracking these scrolls with great interest.”
The Paladin thanks the Diviner, pays for the identify spell and leaves. The Paladin doesn’t share that he has eight more identical Tiny Hut scrolls in his pack.
The Party found Leomund’s Tiny Hut scrolls everywhere: in dungeons, on suddenly dead orks, in raider’s backpacks, and one inside a particularly nasty gelatinous cube. No one thought much about this except, perhaps, they simply had reached the level in which Tiny Hut scrolls became pervasive. And those scrolls weren’t without their use. The party could stand up a small protected zone wherever they went. It didn’t provide them the comforts of an Inn but it gave them the on-demand protection of one. The magic huts were at least comfortable and dry.
Whoever left these scrolls all over did the Party a real solid. And free, too. These were third level spell scrolls, not some mere cantrip or Light spell. These were worth something. And that one weird dungeon had a barrel full of Tiny Hut scrolls graced with a hastily written sign sporting the scrawled letters: “Free! Take one!”
While Inns provided food and, more importantly, booze, the Party no longer spent much gold on Inns. Sure, Inns were the purveyors of suspicious old men with quests and bar fights, but the adventure was on the road. As long as the Party had a *Cleric who could whip off the Create Food and Drink spell, and someone was smart enough to pack a bag of salt**, the party rarely returned to town. The Fighter could pack his own flasks of whiskey – he had the carrying capacity for it, and he could resupply his precious booze supply from rolling bands of evil humans (those guys are always loaded).
Happily and not thinking too deeply about it (although the Wizard did make mention that this was all very weird), the Party took free hospitality from the mysterious Ozmo’s Magic Hospitality Company. Thank you, Ozmo, you crazy magical nut, wherever you are. We raise a toast of magically summoned but cosmically bland bacon to you from within our toasty Tiny Huts.
Until finally, months later, the Party returns to town. Downtown, in the main square, stood the magical equivalent of a food truck – right next to the Inn. The big, colorfully decked wagon sold all sorts of useful scrolls courtesy of Ozmo’s Magic Hospitality Company at a marked down discount: the not appearing in this edition Leomund’s Secure Shelter, the also not appearing in this edition Leomund’s Hidden Shelter, and the grand daddy of them all, the rarest and best, Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Mansion. Buy five and get 10% off! Buy 10 and get 25% off! It’s a fantastic deal!
“For gold you, the rich adventurer with a party loaded with spell casters, can sleep every night in an enormous mansion with enough food (and booze) to feed 100! Perfectly secure from roaming monsters and hordes of orks!” comes the sales pitch. “No longer must you sleep in uncomfortable Inns with variable heating, bad beer, mysterious old men and smelly common rooms! Instead, use this scroll and sleep like the grand Lords you are! Also Ozmo’s Hospitality Magic Company is available for lucrative franchises. Inquire inside!”
And really, who wouldn’t turn down 10 Magnificent Mansion scrolls for 25% off? It’s just gold and they can find more on adventure. While the party’s Wizard protested that this much trans-planar magic is potentially bad and he should start a study, the party’s Sorceress forked over the cash for the scrolls. If unseen servants could serve her and she could sleep on a feather bed while on Adventure instead of sleeping on the hard ground and eating whatever the Cleric summoned, she’s all for this.
She’s not the only one.
Ozmo’s Magic Hospitality Company, purveyors of the World’s Finest Hospitality-based Spells, Scrolls and Items, provided a great service to the world’s adventurers, travelers, and murder hobos. It’s the Wizards, sick of being poked and prodded on adventures led by over zealous Fighters and vengeance-driven Paladins while sleeping on the cold ground, who take up the call of the franchise. Why have space-filling and noisy Inns taking up valuable downtown real estate when a Wizard could read off a cheap scroll (which he sells) and pop up a full service, safe, and hyper comfortable Inn (a service he provides with the scroll) down the nearest blind alley? Hell, it’s not merely Wizards – anyone with some Arcane got into the act. And rogues might have a 17 check to open up their own instant pop-up Inns, but that doesn’t stop them from selling Ozmo’s Hospitality Magic Company scrolls out the back of shady run down lean-tos on the seedier side of town (or at least knock-offs which may or may not work roll d20 to find out.)
Welcome to chaos in the heretofore stable hospitality economy. Inns, forced with sudden competition from without by Ozmo’s Magic Hospitality Company, raise their offerings, too: bar fight free Inns, Inns with better beds, meals by celebrity chefs. The Inns must advertise the stability of their location over convenience. They adjust their prices to a new competitive low.
And when a certain percentage of Inns go out of business – Inns run on profit margins and a little mass-market competition puts them in a bind – what happens to the old men hovering in dark corners giving out Quests? Has anyone thought about them? The Inns helped subsidize the living costs of the Old Man Quest Givers Guild. Systemic Inn closures forced old men to set up kiosks in the street with signs saying “QUEST GIVEN HERE 10 gp” next to the Diviner Kiosk and the guys selling the Ozmo scrolls.
The Diviner had some opinions about this development but for now he quietly feds his data back home.
Someone, the Party’s Wizard pointed out every time he saw one of these new trendy Ozmo-based businesses pop up, figured out the core production problem with shelter spell scrolls. 7th level spell scrolls are not trivial to produce. Look at the economic chaos. What about the silver that went into that dozen Magnificent Mansion scrolls we just bought? What about the ivory? All those hunted and dead elephants to feed the unquenchable maw of the market? What about them?
“Don’t worry about it,” says the Rogue (who now sells Tiny Hut and Magnificent Mansion scrolls on the side at a reasonable mark up). “You worry too much. It’s all good.”
It’s not good. The Party’s Wizard discovered, through careful observations and experimentation, that abuse of Planer spells lead to a weakening in the walls of Reality. “Continued use of Ozmo’s spell scrolls,” the Wizard says, “will cause a slow but certain degradation of reality until it all collapses into a single, final, Big Bloop.”
“But when?” asks the Sorceress.
The Wizard does not know. Letters passed back and forth with his Guild back home confirmed his worries. His home Wizard Guild (those left not making a killing selling insta-Inns) issued a warning. Continued use of products from Ozmo’s Magic Hospital Company will cause reality to degrade. While the tears in reality are tiny at first, the rips will expand until the entire world unravels. It may be next month, next year, in the next ten years, a hundred years, a thousand years from now… the Wizards cannot tell since measuring the effects of spell scrolls on reality is fraught with math. They need more funding for further studies – which they can raise by selling Inns.
“How will this be any different from those of Evil who open portals to other world to bring forth fiends we must fight in battle?” asks the Paladin. “How do we tell between an extra-Planar fiend summoned here by an evil Wizard and one who entered through a rift in a weakening of reality caused by millions of Tiny Huts?”
The Wizard conceded. The fiends will be the same fiends. The fights will be the same fights. The evil wizards summoning hordes from beyond the same evil wizards summoning hordes from beyond.
The Rogue pointed out the Inns of old already disappeared. It’s too late to think about the end of reality now. Someone should have thought of that before everyone bought into the Ozmo franchise. Besides, if the rifts in reality will not consume the world for another thousand years in a “Big Bloop” does it matter if the Party uses the scrolls today? Who much cares about a thousand years in the future other than a handful of Elven Wizards who always have their panties in a wad?
Isn’t a thousand years long enough to figure out a fix to this problem? Why do we care today?
The party doesn’t care today. Or tomorrow. Or once they reach level 20 and retire and their children become the next great adventurers. Except for a few, Inns go out of business. Ozmo’s becomes a Corporation of amazing wealth, reach and power. Adventurers adventure.
Sometime later, a great expose published by a group of bards uncovered Ozmo as a deeply Chaotic Evil Wizard dedicated to destroying the realm’s hospitality industry. Far in Ozmo’s deep past, he visited an Inn and had bad shrimp. After days of incredibly uncomfortable difficulties no Chaotic Evil Wizard should ever endure, he swore eternal vengeance on all Inns, Resorts, Lodges, and Hotelry. Driven by hatred, enslaving planar demons by the hundreds to his bidding to craft spell scrolls, he concocted a plan. He decided to destroy all Inns everywhere. His method of destruction? Freebies.
Buying from Ozmo’s put money into the pocket of Corporate Evil designed to destroy the hospitality industry! These revelations divided the populace. Some pointed to the body of growing Wizard research about the End of Reality and cried for corporate regulation from the King. The government must reign in Ozmo to save the world. Others claimed they had a right to use and cast whatever spells they wanted. Who cares what a handful of Wizards say? Just because Ozmo is evil doesn’t mean his spell scrolls cannot be for the greater good. Look at the amazing lift to the adventuring economy since Ozmo’s began! So many fewer orks! Sure, there’s been this eruption in extra-planar creatures lately, but we have all these adventurers to keep it under control!
A political rift opened. The two sides yelled each other. One side called their opponents government-abetting control freaks who would not let adventurers adventure without the burden of regulation. The other side called their opponents “Bloop Deniers.” In marketplaces they came to actual blows. No one noticed when the entire Diviner Guild simply left the Realm entirely.
And it was a shame when all of Reality came to a sudden and unannounced end sometime during lunch two weeks later.
Roll new characters! Time to adventure on the Planes!
* Theoretically we could measure the economical worth of a Cleric by the number of Create Food and Drink spells she can whip off in a day against the amount of money spent on actual food. Where does the food come from? Is she lowering the price of food everywhere by being able to create food from thin air? Is magically created food Vegan?
** Magically created bland food requires salt.