Every Book’s a Sourcebook: The Fire at Mary Anne’s House

The Fire at Mary Anne's HouseI have a theory that any book -any book at all – can be used as a D&D sourcebook.

This is the second time I’ve illustrated a Blog of Holding post with a Babysitter’s Club cover. That’s because there are a lot of them around the house. Babysitter’s Club books are my wife’s slumming comfort book, just as 1970’s fantasy/horror novels are mine. “The Fire at Mary Anne’s House” kind of looks like it could be a genre crossover.

I’ve never read “The Fire at Mary Anne’s House”, but I don’t even have to open it to find inspiration for a supernatural horror D&D game. Look at Mary Ann! Her face and posture bespeak guilt, fear, or a deceptive faux-innocence. If she’s not a psychotic or possessed child, there’s a good chance she’s an evil spirit. In any case, I think we all know she burned down that house. From the title of the book, we can infer that she burned down her own house, unless she’s not really Mary Ann.

And how about that tag line? “Can Mary Ann rise from the ashes?” OK, so clearly Mary Ann was burned alive and is returning as some sort of vengeful ghost.

I think that what happened is, people whose bodies are burned but whose souls are unquiet (possibly because of some unfinished baby-sitting business) rise as spirits that the common people called “firebugs”. (Maybe the girl firebugs are called “fire Marys” or “fire Annes”.) Firebugs usually return at night, holding lanterns or candles. A firebug’s only desire is to burn their former homes, enemies or loved ones – everyone and everything they once had strong feelings about.

This is why, in a world where corpses can rise as zombies, cremation is not universal. Cremation can produce a firebug, juts as burial can produce a zombie.

An adventure idea: the PCs enter a village on Lantern Night, a festival where everyone carries a lantern or candle to protect themselves from the spirits who haunt this night. The first person the PCs meet is a solitary little girl with a candle, who speaks confused words about “saving the little ones” and runs towards an abandoned, half-burned house. If the PCs follow, they may be able to stop her from setting the building ablaze. If they don’t, they will have to deal with a fire sweeping through town.

Every Book’s a Sourcebook

From now on, I’ll try to record one d&d rule, adventure, or encounter idea from every book I read. This should be pretty easy, since about 1/2 of what I read is crappy pulp fantasy and sci-fi: the other half is, for the most part, 18th and 19th century novels and early 20th century adventure fiction, most of which has some swashbuckling. So for the most part it won’t be a stretch at all. If I somehow end up with a biography of Carol Burnett, or something, I’ll do my best.

I reserve the right to suppress any super-awesome ideas that I plan to use to surprise players. After all, if I don’t blog about a book, you poor bastards won’t even know I read it.


9 Responses to “Every Book’s a Sourcebook: The Fire at Mary Anne’s House”

  1. paul paul says:

    A high-STR, high-INT leader would definitely be a good tactical warlord, so I concur re: Kristy. Diabetes plus math sounds like a wizard to me, with CON as a dump stat.

    looking for a defender: is there anyone who takes a lot of flak so that the others can get on with their lives? Who answers the phone at Babysitters Headquarters, is it Kristy?

  2. paul paul says:

    >I challenge you to actually use the real plot of a BSC book as a D&D sourcebook.

    I will accept that challenge.

  3. Laura says:

    Claudia answers the phone when it’s not a meeting time, since it’s her bedroom. But Mary Anne has to keep the record book, which could also count. But neither of them would have super high CON, I think. I like Mary Anne as a cleric. I see Claudia as a rogue, for some reason?

    Dawn totally gets super pissed off all the time despite being so ‘relaxed.’ I could see her go into a rage in a heartbeat.

    Logan is good at sports, so he could totally be a fighter. He’s in football. (Possibly his position is mentioned in Logan’s Story?) He’s also good at track, fwiw. He was too moral to join the thieves, so maybe he is a lawful good paladin.

  4. Laura says:

    Claudia might be one of the new classes, actually. She might have a connection to her grandmother from beyond the grave. is that an invoker? Or maybe she is a psion. She does shape things from the ectoplasm or whatever.

    Actually, Dawn is really into ghosts, if we’re going to consider necromancy. But I really like her as a barbarian.

  5. Claire Claire says:

    Do we own that book? It looks way more pulpy than any BSC book I know of except for maybe “Logan Bruno, Boy Baby-Sitter.”

    I challenge you to actually use the real plot of a BSC book as a D&D sourcebook. I can actually imagine a pretty fun campaign involving a club of young girls who protect the community’s children. It could be a weird vestal-virgins-type community that girls enter when they turn twelve and leave when they turn fourteen. But this one group of five to seven adventurers are under some weird curse that keeps them thirteen FOREVER! The seasons change but they are always thirteen. Some of them have gone to like twelve Harvest Festivals as thirteen-year-old girls. Their quest could be to figure out how to age, but they could be conflicted because they really like baby-sitting.

    Also it would be fun to figure out character classes for Kristy, Claudia, Mary-Anne, etc. Kristy is clearly a high-intelligence warlord, but she should be pretty strong, too, because she’s a good athlete. Claudia could be a bard, because she’s creative, but she could also have bizarre fashion-based shapeshifting abilities or be some kind of illusionist wizard. Based on the book you cite in this entry, Mary-Anne could be a dragonborn with a breath weapon, but really she should probably be a ranger with a cat animal companion. Or she could be a cleric because of that time she healed Jenny Prezioso. Stacy is good at math and has diabetes, so who knows. Some kind of Elric figure who faints all the time if not sustained by drugs and magicks, and who maybe has to do a lot of annoying calculations all the time. Maybe a chaotic sorceress would make sense. Man, there are not a lot of fighters in the BSC. Um, let’s just make Dawn a barbarian because she comes from California where things are way less civilized and where they eat raw food, and also she has long hair. She’s pretty relaxed, though, so maybe she can’t be a Rageblood barbarian? but she does get in pretty bad fights with Mary-Anne when their parents get married. Mallory can be a bard who rides on a Dream Horse. Jessi has super high dex because she’s a ballet dancer so I guess she can be a rogue or something. Something more awesome and graceful than a rogue, though.

    Logan can be a rogue because of the time he was in that ring of thieves but he might also just need to be a fighter because he is a boy.

    Laura, what do you think?

  6. Claire Claire says:

    Logan as a paladin seems great. Claudia would be a good rogue because she uses stealth to eat candy and read Nancy Drew without her parents noticing!!

  7. […] (continuing my goal of using every book as a D&D sourcebook) […]

  8. […] Elsewhere, I’m reading Little Women – slowly – and blogging about it in excruciating detail. Little Women may seem like an unlikely source for D&D inspiration, but that’s because you’ve forgotten that Every Book’s a Sourcebook. […]

  9. […] my first Every Book's a Sourcebook post, where I extrapolated a D&D adventure from the cover of a Babysitter's Club book, my wife […]

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