A Facebook campaign running in England at the moment is driving the song Ding, Dong the Witch is Dead up the charts, in celebration of Margaret Thatcher’s death. This has the right-wing media up in arms, and has led to an open case of attempted censorship of the BBC. But old school role-players should also be up in arms with outrage at this attack on the legacy of the ’80s: although Margaret Thatcher is clearly a spellcaster of some kind, the Witch was not an authorized character class in the 1980s role-playing canon! Nothing is more frustrating than to see important aspects of the original system mis-used in the popular press, and so in the interests of accuracy, I think we should tackle the question of what kind of spellcaster Margaret Thatcher actually was. Being an ’80s phenomenon, Margaret Thatcher has to be fitted into the character class options of the old school canon: that is, she has to be either a magic-user, druid, cleric, paladin or ranger.
First of all, we know that “the lady’s not for turning,” so she can’t be a cleric or paladin. She doesn’t seem to have been very out-doorsy, and I think it’s safe to say she wasn’t true neutral, so druid is out. And by examining her history of spell-casting, we can rule out ranger.
So what spells did Maggie cast? First and most obvious is Mass Hypnosis, a fairly high level spell. Many northern newspapers claim that she destroyed whole areas of industry in the north, so maybe she could cast Earthquake as well. Along with Ronald Reagan (who was surely a Paladin!) she could use Detect Evil – before they joined to cast that spell, no one (no one!) knew that the Soviet Union was an evil dictatorship. It’s also fairly clear that she regularly used the Domination spell on members of her cabinet, and her resistance to assassination attempts suggests the use of Contingency and possibly also Resist Fire. From this list we can see that she had access to spells that were outside the ranger list. Thus we can conclude that she must have been a magic-user.
Finally, however, there is one additional power she had that suggests the ’80s was being run as a house-ruled boutique campaign. Many editorialists are claiming that Margaret Thatcher created Tony Blair; but Tony Blair is clearly a Vampire, and as far as I know there is no spell that can be used to create Vampires. So either she was so powerful that the GM had to create a whole new set of spells for her, 1980s Britain was being run based on an obscure supplement of Dragon magazine, or the entire industrial and economic wasteland that was the UK from 1978 to 1990 was being run on a unique set of house rules.
So, based on the available evidence, Margaret Thatcher was an extremely high level magic-user character being run in a homebrew post-apocalyptic UK campaign. And definitely not a witch.