Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Wee Jas

Wee Jas, The Suel Goddess of Magic, Death, Law and...a bunch of stuff really.
Could she be more 80s chic?

Been thinking a lot about Wee Jas lately.
Ever since I first "discovered" her in the pages of Dragon magazine #88 I was enthralled with her.

She first appeared (I learned almost right after) in the World of Greyhawk boxed set.  All we knew about her then was she was a greater Suel goddess of magic and death.

Lenard Lakofka's article though gave us the most detail really.  That is where the picture on the right is from.
What do we learn about her?  Well at this point she is still a greater goddess of magic and death.  She knows every magic-user spell and all other spells to 5th level (why only 5th??).  She can cast up to 9 spell levels worth of spells each round; so 1 9th level spell or 9 1st level or any combination.  She has 90% magic resistance and a globe of invulnerability that floats around her.

She is attractive (Charisma 20) and always appears so.
If she is anything she is very lawful.  To the point where good and evil are mostly meaningless to her just as long as you are not chaotic.  In fact she pretty much hates anything chaotic except for the chaotic neutral god Norebo; who is her brother (or half-brother) and occasional lover.  Gods. Go figure.
In the letters section in a couple Dragons later it is mentioned that Norebo's entry mentions Wee Jas, but Wee Jas' doesn't.  The editors reply that it is because Wee Jas is loathe to admit it and Norebo could also be bragging.

By this point, this was all I knew about her. She was not yet known as "The Witch Goddess" but that is what I used her for.  Besides, take a look at her name.
Wee (We) and Jas (Ja), we ja or "we ya".  Or to spell it differently Ouija.  Her name certainly comes from Oui Ja, the French and German words for "Yes" and the basis of the name of the Ouija board. Plus magic and death.  Seems a dead give away.

After this Wee Jas' story gets weirder.  She is demoted, promoted, gains and loses domains.  Gets more evil, less evil. Picks up the title of Witch Queen somewhere along the way as well.  Canonfire, the great Greyhawk website, has spilled a lot of bits and bytes on this.

The Wee Jas Resurrected article is insteresting because it attempts to bring in a lot of these inconsistences and bring together to a complete and understandable whole.  For me the the bits on the rivalry of Wee Jas and Iggwilv were very interesting as well as making her one of the Suel gods/goddesses of Sex. Totally make sense really.  She even gains a "reformed" succubus, Zem'Jil, as a servant.

In truth the model for Wee Jas from our own world is Hecate, the Goddess of Magic, Witches, Ghosts, Necromancy and the Crossroads.   It is said that Wee Jas gaurds the doorways to the dead and the same is true for Hecate.  In fact I have used them rather interchangeblly for years.

I think for my own version of Wee Jas, I would start with the Dragon 88 version, add a little bit of what we saw in D&D 3.x, and then change her "Death" portfolio to "Spirits".  She can summon undead, and her priests may do so as well, but no raise dead spells.  I rather liked the Raven Queen from D&D4, so pass of Wee Jas' control of Death (save for spirits) to the Raven Queen.  Since the Raven Queen is described as a young or new Godess, it could even be that she is the daughter of Wee Jas.  Have to investigate this line further.

I would also change her Globe of Invulnerability into a ruby skull that floats and protectors her.  Maybe a former lover.  Keep Zem'Jil because that is just cool to have a succubus ally.  Give Zem'Jil some levels in witch too, since Wee Jas would be her patron.

Certainly would have to have her in my War of the Witch Queens adventure.


Mike Bridges said...

I enjoyed this post! I've been into Greyhawk and Canonfire for a long time and maybe I just don't remember or I missed it, but the Ouija connection is quite eye opening. Well done sir. Wee Jas is one my faves from the original boxed set list of gods, and yes, slowly over time she accumulated more "portfolios" somehow. In 4th edition, D&D had a short-lived core pantheon which included Nerull (death) but also introduced the "new" Raven Queen who I thought was a redundant if not reskinned Wee Jas.

Pun Isaac said...

She was my favorite god in 3rd edition and I like your idea that Raven Queen is her daughter.

Tim Emrick said...

Wee Jas was my favorite in that Suel gods series. I also chose her as patron for one of the few 3e clerics I've played as a PC (rather than a NPC on a game I ran). Having the party cleric only able to spontaneously cast inflict wounds posed an interesting challenge!

Izar Talon said...

Yeah, I know this is years later, but I love Wee Jas and just came across this article, so I'm commenting now. Specifically to answer a question you asked:

"She knows every magic-user spell and all other spells to 5th level (why only 5th??)"

It wasn't just a random decision. The answer is that it actually wasn't 5th level Magic-User spells, it was 5th level Cleric, Druid, or Illusionist spells. She knows ALL Magic-User spells. The reason why she's limited to 5th level and lower in the other class spells is because of of the way that Clerics and Druids gained their spells in 1st Edition AD&D. 1st and 2nd level spells were gained from the Cleric's own training and understanding of magic, basically similar to how a Magic-User learned magic. 3rd through 5th level spells, however, were granted by supernatural servants of their deity (as the 1E DMG says "angels, demi-gods, or whatever.") The highest level spells, 6th and 7th, were granted directly by the deity, and only Greater Gods could grant such spells (remember, in 1E Cleric spells only went up to 7th.) To be granted magic of such power a Cleric had to petition their deity directly. This is why Clerics who worshiped Lesser and Demi-Gods only got up to 5th level spells.

2nd and 5th level were basically the cut-off points for Least, Lesser, and Greater Magics. Remember the 1E Magic-User spell progression: up to 5th level spells were gained at class level x2-1, or 3rd levels spells at 5th class level, 4th at 7th, 5th at 9th, etc. But starting with 6th level spells it became flat class level x2, or 6th at 12th level, 7th at 14th level, etc. (They changed this starting with 3E to all spell levels at x2-1.)

Anyway, Wee Jas was able to cast any Cleric, Druid, and Illusionist spell of up to 5th level because she didn't have to petition any other gods to grant her such magic; she could draw it directly from lesser entities or from her own power, even though she didn't personally have any Cleric levels. It's a demonstration of her mastery of magic that she can cast such spells even though she isn't actually a Cleric (or Illusionist) herself.

Well, I hope that provided some insight and wasn't just babbling. :)

Izar Talon said...

Oh, I forgot to add that I really like the article!