Stormbringer came out from Chaosium in , with the idea to adapt Michael Moorcock’s seminal fantasy anti-hero to role-playing games. After perusing the threads, other than the Big Two (Runequest and Call of Cthulhu) Stormbringer/Elric! seems to get the most love of all the BRP. Chaosium: Stormbringer 1 ( Box) Chaosium: Stormbringer 1 ( Box) Stormbringer The Stealer of Souls / Black Sword, Chaosium, Stormbringer 2 .
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It was 1e Stormbringer’s magic system that really wowed me. Demons bound into objects? How cool is that?! That really made the game stand out to me when I was younger. That, and the naked Empress of the Dawn pic on the back cover.
The magic system is indeed awesome.
I plan to talk specifically about that later, because it deserves a post all to itself: I’ll state that the Stormbringer magic system was definately one of the cooler aspects about the game. Very evocative of the source material. I suppose the backlash caused by RPGs being “Tools of the Devil” led to the ultimate watering down of the system in Elric. Totally towing the line with Stormbringer’s demon magic. My favourite edition of this game was the Elric!
The layout was compact, the contents well organized, I really liked the tuned “what kind of character do you want to play” creation rules, and the various fixes and tweaks to make playing grossly powerful characters in a percentile system a bit less bumpy. The cover art for the edition following that one Stormbringer was nicer, and I liked that they got back to the cooler name for the game, but the interior layout was not nearly as nice as with Elric!
I do recognize that editions of the game prior to Elric! I had always been more interested in the game as a sword-n-sorcery type thing with magic firmly in the background, so it didn’t really bug me that much. The Companion, and the Demon Magic companion. Ron Edwards also remarked on that in his fantasy heartbreakers essay. After reading the essay I got inspired to get most of the heartbreakers he discussed and tried to get all.
I think this is a huge lesson for the OSR to learn that some of the Indie scene of about a decade ago got. Authorial voice that doesn’t ape trends or history in our case but is original helps express what is one of the key OSR ideals: Not to mention it was so effective in at least one case The Forge Out of Chaos it made me want to play the game as I read it.
I have no experience with these games, despite being a giant fan an player of other Chaosium products. I’m most interested in hearing what kind of characters are suggested. Games based on Conan seemed to want you to run Conan or a sidekick of some kind.
Did this game want you to play established characters like Elric and Moonglum? The chaosiu, generation tables had more a tendency to insert characters into the background than place them at the fore.
Melniboneans were not impossible, just unlikely. I always preferred the “in the background” types when it comes to big properties. I found etormbringer so weird back in the 80’s when some games wanted you to be Conan or Captain Kirk or whatever.
But I’m thinking stormbrinfer if Elric does show up, your character better damn well better pray that sword just ate. Steve Perrin is a great of the hobby, and also a very approachable and nice guy.
I feel no urge to seek out its one supplement or chaosikm written for later editions of the game. Make that two supplements: While I can very well sympathize with James’ sentiments I must say chaowium “Demon Magic” is well worth having for the scenario “The Velvet Circle”, written by Larry di Tillio of Masks of Nyarlathotep memory which cleverly combines more “narrative” devices with gloriously pulpy location based adventure sites, such as the eponymous Velvet Circle pleasure district of Ilmar, fully detailed to the last brothel There are other Stormbringer adventures not so much rules supplements that are exceptionally good such as the “Rogue Mistress” campaign or the “Perils of the Young Kingdoms” scenario anthology, but they cannot be fully considered “old school”.
Your recent Stormbringer posts have inspired me to go back and stormbronger at my copy of the 4th edition which I picked up at the Compleat Strategist in downtown NYC around or so. Like you I never got to play this game! As far as I can tell–both Elric and the 5th Edition made fairly substantial changes to the game even though they still use Basic Roleplaying as the core system.
I’ll have to see if the stormbrniger voice you mentioned was eliminated by this point. While I think the Brunner covers are superior–the 4th edition Whelan stormbrinegr is kind of amazing too and they kept the Brunner art for the interiors. The game’s not flawless by any means.
There are a number of house rules I’d probably implement almost immediately, chief being a simplification of the ability bonuses, which I’ve found needlessly fiddly for too little benefit, either stormbrinyer or flavor-wise. Ah, that’s my No.
I did find some issues with the Demon Summonings in play: Also, Demons of Desire seemed to need a lot of fleshing out, as I recall. But, still, great game.
One thing I really liked about the 1st edition was that Attack and Parry were separate skills. Given the way BRP does improvements, it was very possible to end up with a guy who was a master of defense and only so-so with attacking.
Looking Back At Chaosium’s Stormbringer Role-Playing Game
That;s the kind of thing that woudl never happened if the player had a choice. I’ve never actually read Elricso I have no idea if it was an improvement or degeneration of the game, but I have always found the 4th edition of Stormbringer to be the best.
It retained all of the cool bits like random character creation and the awesome paragraph on playing a beggarbut improved the magic system by making demons a little more, well, Chaotic! Maybe the attribute bonuses would be more palatable if handled more as in RuneQuest? Double the value for INT in Knowledge and add for age. You’ll end up with some higher bonuses, especially for monsters. At an extreme, one could drop them altogether as in Call of Cthulhu and Elric!
I encountered Stormbringer before I ever read Moorcock. It wasI was in junior high school, and that game got me hooked on his work. This goes to what you said about the literary quality of Chaosium’s work. Call of Cthulhu introduced me to Lovecraft. Pendragon brought me to Malory, and so on. As a side note, what about that sensational Frank Brunner art?
I still see Elric that way. The PC have really to do their best not to die. And they may still die because of bad luck. Who wouldn’t want to explore the dead alien ship in that deserted sponge world? Who would not want to participate to the last battle of humanity in an icy world under a dying sun? It’s unashamedly railroading, yes. At least in the macrostructure.
But that’s to be expected: Fate decides for you. And you have to chaosimu with that. No sandboxes for champions of Fate. But the idea is that PCs are their equal, champions and victims as they are. A good GM can do that in Rougue Mistress. Of course, that is one kind of Stormbringer adventure and it may not appeal to everybody. Andrea Rocci “veteran of a thousand psychic wars” Looks like you either saw “Heavy Metal: The Movie” or are a Blue Oyster Cult fan.
The Elric stuff is good, but for myself the rest of the eternal champion books are hackneyed. The first six Elric books, then stop. The whole EC concept seems a bit pat to me.
Looks like you either saw “Heavy Metal: Of course it was an intentional citation of MM. I was trying to suggest the feeling that Rogue Mistress tries to emulate succeeding very sstormbringer. If Eternal Champion is not for you, stay away from that campaign. If, like me, you actually read the HM stories the movie chaosiuk based on, then saw the movie, your mind was considered blown. And I was never stormbinger heavy metal music dude, but the music in the movie was the best of it’s kind in it’s time.
Just sayin’ is all Brunomac I couldn’t agree with you more. I consider that a seminal moment in the creation of who I am. I became a fan of the magazine after that. It’s something I intend to promote more heavily in the weeks and months to come, since I think it’s in fact one of the things stormbriger worth preserving about the Old Ways. I absolutely adore chaosikm way BRP handles skill stormbringed. It’s probably my favorite approach to such things — elegant and straightforward.
It would be fun to hear more about what kind of house rules you’d consider. Wednesday, August 12, Retrospective: In a break with tradition, I’m going to use this week’s Retrospective stormbringe an stormbringerr to go back and talk about a game I just recently talked about: I’m doing this because I just recently laid my hands on a copy of the original boxed set and, having read through the rulebook, it’s eating at my brain.
Normally, when I write a Retrospective, I’m working mostly on my memories of the game or gaming product in question.