Public Domain Super Heroes
King Ruggedo of the Runaway Land

Real Name

Roquat of the Rocks

First Appearance

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus (1902)

Original Publisher


Created by

L. Frank Baum


Long ago, the Gnome King provided Santa Claus with steel runners for his sleigh, and sleigh-bells for his reindeer. In return, he received a collection of toys for his children. He was part of the Council of Immortals who bestowed upon Santa Claus the Mantle of Immortality and was the first to cast his vote. Roquat of the Rocks purchased the Royal Family of Ev from King Evoldo in exchange for a long life, and turned them into pieces of bric-a-brac to decorate his home. Princess Ozma of Oz, Dorothy Gale, and a party from the Emerald City freed the royal family from his enslavement and, for good measure, took away his Magic Belt.

Roquat became so angry that he plotted revenge. He had his subjects dig a tunnel under the Deadly Desert while his general, Guph, recruited a host of evil spirits to conquer Oz. Fortunately, at the moment of invasion Roquat tasted the Water of Oblivion and forgot everything, including his enmity and his name.

He returned to the Nome Kingdom and chose a new name, Ruggedo. Using some personal magic, he enslaved the Shaggy Man's Brother, a miner from Colorado. The Shaggy Man, with the help of Betsy Bobbin, the Oogaboo army, and some of Dorothy's old friends came to his rescue, and Ruggedo dropped them down the Hollow Tube. Quox the Dragon conquered Ruggedo using an enchanted ribbon to deprive Ruggedo of all his magic knowledge and power. Ruggedo was forced him into exile, and his former chamberlain, Kaliko, was installed as the new king. However, Kaliko agreed to let Ruggedo stay as long as he behaved, which he agreed to.

Nevertheless, he had been exiled again by the time he met Kiki Aru in the Land of Ev. He overheard the boy's wicked intentions and saw him transform. He made an alliance with the boy to conquer the Land of Oz by inspiring an army of beasts to attack the Emerald City and then transforming the beasts into humans and the humans into beasts. He was transformed into a nut by the Wizard of Oz, and then restored to his proper shape only to be made to drink from the Water of Oblivion again. Ozma of Oz decreed that he should be kept in the Land of Oz and educated there, so as not to return to his evil nature as he would among the nomes.

He was given a cabin to live in near the Emerald City, but he couldn't stand life above ground; the sun was too bright and he couldn't stand the people's happy faces in Oz. He dug a tunnel underground from his cabin to a cavern under Ozma's palace, which had previously been dug out by someone else. There, Ruggedo spent most of his time, hoping to conquer Ozma. His memory slowly returned, and he began to write his own history on a series of rocks. During the days, he would wander the Emerald City and steal things from the people of Oz, only to return them to his cavern and give them to his rabbit friend, Wag.

Ruggedo eventually found Glegg's Box of Mixed Magic and used it to enlarge Wag and Peg Amy, the doll who he had habitually abused. He also turned his hair to iron spikes by accident and caused himself to grow into a giant. When he grew, Ozma's palace became impaled on his iron hair spikes. He then ran away in confusion and terror, traveling to the Land of Ev and sitting atop a mountain. The people inside the palace threatened him to not move or else they'd unleash thousands of eggs, so he sat perfectly still. The Sand Man accidentally crashed into the palace and dropped sand on everyone, making them fall asleep, including Ruggedo. Much later, when everyone had woken up, Ozma dropped trick oil on Ruggedo's feet, which caused him to walk back to the Emerald City, then shrink. Ozma made him tell her the whole story, and he begged for mercy. Now believing he would never reform, she exiled him to become the King of the Runaway Land.

Public Domain Appearances[]


  • The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus
  • Ozma of Oz
  • The Emerald City of Oz
  • Little Wizard Stories of Oz
  • Tik-Tok of Oz
  • The Magic of Oz
  • Kabumpo in Oz


  • The Fairylogue and Radio-Plays


  • He is an enduring enemy of the characters of L. Frank Baum's Oz books. Although the Wicked Witch of the West is the most famous of Oz's villains (thanks to the popular 1939 film), the Nome King is the closest the book series has to a main antagonist. He appears again and again to cause trouble for the Land of Oz.
  • In Rinkitink in Oz, the king of the Nomes is Kaliko, Ruggedo's chamberlain; he behaves much like his former master, at least in this book, which is a revision of a lost 1905 novel titled King Rinkitink, which, had it been published, would have been the original character's debut.
  • The character called the Nome King was originally named The Gnome King in his first appearance, then Roquat of the Rocks in Ozma of Oz, then Roquat the Red in The Emerald City of Oz. Later, he took the name Ruggedo, which Baum first used in a stage adaptation. Even after Ruggedo lost his throne, he continued to think of himself as King, and the Royal Historians politely refer to him that way. Authors Ruth Plumly Thompson and John R. Neill used the traditional spelling "gnome," so Ruggedo is the title character in Thompson's The Gnome King of Oz.
  • While the original character who appeared in Oz books published before 1923 is in public domain, the versions of the character used by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Disney, Vertigo Comics, Marvel Comics or post-1923 Oz books are NOT in the public domain.

See Also[]