Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 12

Thread: So, how do you run Stormbringer?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Paraparaumu, New Zealand
    Posts
    59
    Downloads
    8
    Uploads
    0

    Default So, how do you run Stormbringer?

    I've been thinking about what makes up my version of Stormbringer at the table; in otherwords the aspects and themes that I focus on during play. Interestingly, the more I thought about it the more I realised that I also modify the game mechanically to best reflect my version of SB!

    Theme wise I am a big fan of morality plays, where the characters have to make a decision based on what they think is the best solution. I think this comes from my memories, some recent, some faded of the sort of decisions Elric himself had to make, and in the gaming sphere from Loz's Ghosts in the Machines adventure from the Rogue Mistress campaign. My greatest success in this was an adventure in which the characters had to determine whether or not to kill an NPC who they knew would, in the future, kill a number of people, despite the fact that he had no current intention in doing so. Suffice to say most of the concluding session consisted of me simply sitting back and watching the players argue their points in front of the very man whose life they held in their hands...

    Mechanically, I'm not a big fan of the overload of demons and magic seen in the later SB releases. I think they have their place in the game, but I usually minimise them (i.e. in my Lost Heroes* campaign, the group encountered only one bad guy with a demon blade, and only one real demon). Everything else I run as written, although I often allow my players to allocate points to their stats and generally limit magic to one caster per group.

    As for setting, I have a weak spot for Menii, although I've run a number of campaigns - both short and long - as well as numerous one-offs in other locations. Timewise I set all my games in the first year of Elric's reign, as noted in the core rulebook, and I usually relegate the powers of Pan Tang and Melnibone to the background (i.e. way above the interests of the characters). That said I have had one campaign, in which I was a player, that ended at the fall of the Dreaming City, which was excellent, as while our fates were never detailed, we were key in ensuring Elric returned with a vengence to his homeland.

    Probably the most interesting aspect of all the games I've run, is that for the most part I still default to the ELRIC! ruleset, rather the 5th edition SB book. I don't know why this is... maybe because I own multiple copies of ELRIC! and only only one, rather mint copy of SB? I will add, that while I've played and run plenty of Stormbringer games over the last decade, I was late to the whole party - The only Moorcock I'd read before 2000 was the Kane of Mars series as a young teen. My hey-day was in the mid 2000s when I was running multiple games (oh and doing the layout for those couple of SB Monographs), and playing in that epic campaign I mentioned earlier. In recent years, with a move half way across the country, I've only had the briefest chances to run SB... much to my disappointment.

    Well, I garbled on there for a while, but what I want to know is - how do you run Stormbringer? What rules? What changes? What adventures or campaigns? Hell, anything...

    Marcus

    * - One day I might write this up...
    Stormbringer! - Supporting Stormbringer 5th edition over at http://www.stormbringerrpg.com

    Unbound Publishing - Bringing back the fear - http://www.unboundbook.org

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Worlds of Wonder
    Posts
    744
    Blog Entries
    4
    Downloads
    153
    Uploads
    10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by binder View Post
    Mechanically, I'm not a big fan of the overload of demons and magic seen in the later SB releases.
    That there is the big elephant. I found (in earlier editions, anyway) that you either ran games with demons and characters that could deal with them, or not. They do tend to take over any game in which they feature at all. And, while I like the SB system, without demons (even if they are there in the background) it seems to feel a bit odd, I dunno, orphaned in a way. I usually just end up with RuneQuest then.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    5
    Downloads
    1
    Uploads
    0

    Default Running Stormbringer

    Hey Marcus,

    I am running my campaign using the Elric! rules, mostly. Demons are present in my game, but my players and I have implemented a bunch of house rules to reign them in a bit. For example, we now use the damage bonus for attributes to determine how much extra damage a demon weapon inflicts, rather than the table in the summoning section.

    This will be hard to believe, but a player of mine initially balked at the idea of such powerful weapons in the game. I suppose he feared crossing paths with an NPC with a demon-tainted blade that could inflict
    3d10 extra damage, or something.

    As I said over at my blog Delver Down, I started out running the game in the Young Kingdoms, but the setting has quickly morphed into my own world. The characters are currently exploring a vast, baroque city called Hrulvir. I have done away with the allegiance system, and I am still fiddling around with combat. My game is basically a pastiche of Lankhmar, with demons and some Vornheim quirks thrown in for good measure.

    The most difficult aspect of facilitating the game has been trying to create a more cinematic style of combat. Like most sword and sorcery heroes, the characters in this world are far more potent than Elric! enables them to be. I am thinking of making hit points the total of SIZ and CON, and I am going to implement rules for mooks, as well. This will mean that that my players will be able to wade through gangs of ruffians without batting an eye, but that is the way I want it.

    I am also thinking of doing away with most of the spells, other than those that augment demon summoning, as well as healing. The rest of the spells are pretty lackluster, I think.

    I hope this answers your question.

    Matt

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    771
    Blog Entries
    1
    Downloads
    74
    Uploads
    3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by binder View Post
    Probably the most interesting aspect of all the games I've run, is that for the most part I still default to the ELRIC! ruleset, rather the 5th edition SB book. I don't know why this is... maybe because I own multiple copies of ELRIC! and only only one, rather mint copy of SB?
    Maybe it's the multiple copies, but I'm willing to bet it's just that Elric! has a kick ass layout. Something about that book lets me find exactly what I'm looking for in a very short amount of time. Now, some of it may be familiarity but man is it a beautiful book.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vile View Post
    That there is the big elephant. I found (in earlier editions, anyway) that you either ran games with demons and characters that could deal with them, or not.
    See, I've only played a few games using the Stormbringer 1-4 rules (not sure, think it was the Whelon cover) and this wasn't a problem at all, for two reasons. Characters are really quick to roll up, and characters, no matter how powerful, had a tendency to die an awful death. Seriously, every time we went out adventuring it was like a scene from Agak and Gagak. We'd start with at least three characters each and it would be a wonder if you has someone standing at the end of the night. One night the dice were on my side. I rolled up this insanely powerful Melnibonean and this lowly barbarian from Oin. This Melnibonean had it all man, and I was certain he was going to be my go to character for a long time. He died like a chump in a sword fight. That Oinian though went on to live a nice long life... at least two more adventures under his belt.

    Elric! and Stormbringer5 went a long way in evening out the system, in my view.

    So, I use the Elric! core when running, but swap out the demon summoning rules from Corum. Corum allows for a sorcerer to develop pacts with the demons they summon, and once the demon and price are defined and the pact is made, said demon can be called upon much more easily during the game. Also, the rules for Elric! demons really favor weapon and armor bindings. Making a demon weapon is a much greater pay off than constructing and summoning a demon. Demon summoning in Corum is much more streamlined. I still use the sword and armor binding rules from Elric! but when used in conjunction with the Corum rules it allows for more flavorful sorcerers.

    I love the Virtues system from Gods of Law and encourage those who would make a character of the lawful bent to look to Focus Skills and embodying Virtues. For such a long time devoted acolytes of law had to hide in the shadow of their more power hungry compatriots of chaos. The earlier Virtues system that was basically demon summoning lite was very unsatisfying to me as an alternative. No more, focus skills and virtues are subtle but substantial and fit right in with my version of the Young Kingdoms.

    I don't think I have ever had someone play a devotee of the Balance. If I ever do, I'm going to use the back section of Gods of Law where Green mentions having mp affect rolls and tie it in as a benefit to being a follower of the balance.

    Combat wise, I play resolution pretty straight. PCs generally start with skills over 100%. Skill breaks down as follows (and I've likely written variations of this list a dozen times here. They don't all match up, I imagine, because it's just a guideline that I use while running. For instance, sometimes I break it down into groups of 20%):

    1-30 - trained
    31-60 - experienced
    61-90 - veteran
    91-120 - master

    Most of the PCs opponents fall into the 1-30% trained category.

    I use a variation of the minion rules from Gods of Law (later expanded on in DragonLines). I find they serve two purposes. They greatly speed up combat when in use. Secondly, when I start hit point tracking it gives the PCs an out of game hint that they're up against serious opponents.

    When I need stats, I start with only what I need for the moment. If the NPC becomes important I can fill it in later.

    For instance, there's an old midwife in the village. She begins like this:

    Old Midwife
    Insight 86%, Natural World 62%

    Later when the PCs need a concoction
    Bargain 56%, Insight 86%, Natural World 62%, Potions 34%

    On the outskirts of the woods, the midwife is instructing the PCs on the shape, color and smell of the root she needs, the group is attacked by gobnoidblins!
    HP 6, DB 1-d4
    Walking Staff 25% 1d6-1d4
    Armor none
    Bargain 56%, Insight 86%, Natural World 62%, Potions 34%

    and so on.

    Combat wise, I encourage PCs to work together and to control the number of opponents against them. Those -30% on parries add up fast. PCs who don't control their battleground can get overwhelmed quickly. They should be looking for Spot Rules and terrain features to give themselves an advantage. If a PC does something daring, inventive and more importantly, interesting, they should be rewarded with a few points to their roll. I usually break these up into steps of 5%.

    If the PCs are trying to bring down the Big Bad, they should seriously consider splitting attacks, not to actually hit the BBG, but to bring down his defense so one of them can put the whammy on BBG.

    Minor Wounds are your friend when running Elric!. If the PCs get in over their head, you want them to fail their rolls to stay conscious. Enough Minor Wounds do this without the potentially gruesome side effects of a Major Wound. I find PCs don't like to surrender, so being taken captive is an option that I sometimes use.

    On Hit Points, I keep it at (CON+SIZ)/2 and 0 HP is unconscious and dying. PCs and named NPCs are allowed their CON in negative numbers to 'bleed out' before death. At any point during this time they can be stabilized with a Physik roll. So Trala the barbarian is down to 4 hit points. She takes a blow with 6 points of damage and is now at -2. She collapses. Trala has a CON of 16, so she has 14 combat rounds of life left in her. If someone gets to her in those 14 rounds, before she hits -16, and performs a successful Physik roll on her, she can be stabilized. If no one can treat her before that -16 rolls around, she dies.

    If Trala is successfully treated with a Physik roll, she makes a Luck roll. If successful, her hit points return to 0. If unsuccessful, she remains at the negative but she is stabilized. She has to heal up those negative points before she can really start to recover and gain consciousness.

    I think that's the extent of the break down on how I run it mechanically. If I remember anything else, I'll certainly add it.

    I use those item creation rules that I posted here on BRP Central someplace. I think that covers mechanics.
    70/420

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hillsboro, OR.
    Posts
    163
    Downloads
    29
    Uploads
    1

    Default

    My Stormbringer games (and Magic World, these days) rest on three pillars:

    1. Scenes of desperate violence (the 'sword' of 'sword and sorcery').
    2. Magic and mysticism (the 'sorcery').
    3. PC relationships to the Lords of the Higher Worlds (which usually, but not always, manifests in the use of the Allegiance rules).

    When running, I go into a session with a few NPC stats, and a rough outline of what's going to happen. Once I set up the situation, I let the PCs react to it, and take hints from how the react to push the game to bring out one or more of the 3 pillars.

    The specific rules system doesn't matter as much. All I need is a clear resolution mechanic, and I can get through a session. Really, Stormbringer games, for me, are a matter of approach to the session and the PCs, and less about the game itself.
    5/420

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    5
    Downloads
    1
    Uploads
    0

    Default

    I agree with you, Charles. In general, I run my games by the seat of my pants. I tend to keep the game moving so that the story doesn't end up mired down in disputes over rules. I try to remain as consistent as possible, though. As far as Elric! is concerned, I am playing a stripped-down version of the game. I did recently pick up a copy of the Corum rules, and I may use some of its rules on somoning creatures of chaos (pacts, etc.).

    Like you, I always have a rough idea of what I would like to happen, and I let the players create the story as they flounder about.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
    Posts
    126
    Blog Entries
    1
    Downloads
    19
    Uploads
    0

    Default

    Elric! was and is my perfect version of BRP.
    It's lean, fun and captures the saga enough for me.
    I've played SB1 and SB4 and also run YK with RQ3, and Elric! hits the sweet spot.
    But I agree with Charles, decide on the mundane plot, weave in one or two demons or an avatar of the Lords, and preset a moral choice or two.
    Then let sheer bloody mayhem break out.

    I still like the Ken St.Andre vision of Stormbringer as big bouncy rather T&T like fun, just like the books used to be up to the 80s.
    Not that I am knocking the later books, but the simplicity of the original vision achieves Maximum Game Fun (MGF).

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Paraparaumu, New Zealand
    Posts
    59
    Downloads
    8
    Uploads
    0

    Default

    Thanks everyone,

    It is cool to hear the ways people run games so differently using the same system! The next trick is trying to find players with whom to run SB adventures!

    Marcus
    Stormbringer! - Supporting Stormbringer 5th edition over at http://www.stormbringerrpg.com

    Unbound Publishing - Bringing back the fear - http://www.unboundbook.org

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    San Leandro, CA
    Posts
    351
    Downloads
    36
    Uploads
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Vile View Post
    That there is the big elephant. I found (in earlier editions, anyway) that you either ran games with demons and characters that could deal with them, or not. They do tend to take over any game in which they feature at all. And, while I like the SB system, without demons (even if they are there in the background) it seems to feel a bit odd, I dunno, orphaned in a way. I usually just end up with RuneQuest then.
    FWIW, this is why I pulled all the demon stuff out of Magic World, and put it in the Advanced Sorcery supplement. I like them as an option for those who want them, but felt that if they were in the core rules, they'd be over-emphasized, and over-used.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    5
    Downloads
    1
    Uploads
    0

    Default

    That was smart of you, Zomben. I kind of regret allowing demon summoning / binding in my game. We actually spent one full session just trying to figure out the rules for summoning. It would've made life easier for all of us if demon weapons, and demons, in general, were prohibited from the game.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •