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Stormbringer Tales: Lots of Demons, Lots of Sorcerers

We are now four sessions into Stormbringer Tales and I am satisfied with out progress. In the beginning I envisioned two sessions per “year” or episode or, what I am now calling series as if it were a BBC show. Turns out it looks like 3 sessions or six hours of play may be the baseline here. Jon and Alan started from session 1 and now Robbie has joined us in session 4.

It has been quite the reminder, re-learning the early system here. So much has been done in terms of design since Stormbringer 1st edition has been published, that there are times when I expect a rule to be one thing but it is another or absent altogether.

The source material takes the characters all over the world and there is more than enough color here to latch onto and then create situations out of. In fact, if I wished I could have them go to places never (or rarely) mentioned in the original stories. But I think that would create even more prep and I am trying to keep preparation from getting out of hand. Over prepping can create expectations and I have been (pleasantly) reminded that players can have their characters chart any damn course they want, within the constraints of the setting and situation.

I will link each session as I get the video. I apologize for how rough these first (8) videos will be. But things should improve as we go forth.

Department: 
Actual Play

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Sean_RDP's picture

Session 1 Recap

Having stolen some horses, Ignar and Haril rode two days to come to a crossroads where a longhouse stood guard. Taking their chances that their pursuers had not gotten word this far east, they entered the home of Ieuan (ye-yan), the lord of this area. Ieuan and his house welcomed them in as travelers. Ignar assumed the name of Abek (sp?) and Haril stumbled with his lie and became Justharil. A meal was shared, with various folk coming and going. Ignar and Haril spoke a bit about themselves and Ieuan shared as well. There was no hint of news about Duke Morg. After some time Ellimahr Fraek arrives, a well-dressed merchant. She is a friend of Ieuan’s family and is welcomed warmly. Ignar engages with Ellimahr and she “looks” into him with some strange power. Ignar offers his and Haril’s services and Ellimahr accepted.

As the two rest, a woman comes in looking for three strangers. She does not seem to notice the two characters resting in the corner of the common room. Soon after Ignar and Haril depart with Ellimahr as she is headed east to the coast. A few hours down the road, a dog is spotted following the group. Turns out it was a demon following Ignar and Haril. Ellimahr watched as the two of them fought the demon, with Ignar suffering a minor wound. After the battle, the group camped in a place on the side of the road that is protective of merchants. Ellimahr spoke of her past and revealed to the characters that she is an Agent of Law.

Link to 1A and 1B

Dreamofpeace's picture

Just curious, is there anything about the rules or how you use them that you particularly enjoy? Or is it mainly the color, that you could play with a different rule set?

Sean_RDP's picture

I think the answers are yes and yes.

I do think you could take the setting and color and play them with different boxes of stones. Off the top of my head, Sorcerer & Sword, which Alan, Rod, and Jon are playing. The Pool for sure. There is an OSR hack called Black Sword Hack, which I rather like. Maybe even something like 2d20 Conan or one of the Hyborean rpgs out there. 

But, there are quite a few features (other than nostalgia) about the original game that I like.

  • The magic is focused on summoning of demons and elementals. No fireballs or such. No attempt to make it fit too neatly into standard fantasy forms.
  • Combat is deadly and wounds can be significant. There is a death spiral and its possible you could take a couple major wounds and be badly maimed yet still live. 
  • Far fewer skills to keep track of then some BRP games.But it is still BRP. 
  • The asymmetry of character creation. You could be a sorcerer from Melnibone' or a beggar. Lots of stuff in between. I feel like this also provides context for characters. 
  • It is rough and imperfect. Perhaps that is part of nostalgia but I am a big believer that the textures of a game, they way its laid out, art, and such do provide a quality that makes a game desirable to play.
  • It is not overly complex. 

A few games that are tied to their IP nail it. I feel Stormbringer 1st ed does that. 

robowist's picture

I joined the 1st Edition Stormbringer campaign 4 sessions in, and this was my first taste of playing the game. So these are a few initial reactions from a fledgling player who is jumping in mid-stream (or, as it turned out, mid-voyage) with no prior Stormbringer experience save from having read some of the Elric materials in high school and college.

We are doing character generation pretty much by the book. For me, this led to results that were both unforgiving and exciting. I’ve got a stout Lormyr warrior woman named Rikkaa Pyrosikk, who, despite weighing just under 250 lbs (113 kg), is quite weak—so weak, in fact, that the one revision to the rules we made was a one-point swap with Intelligence. Without that swap, she would have been a warrior incapable of wielding weapons; now, she is at least capable of wielding a light mace and a hatchet and of throwing rocks (which are actually not so bad as a missile weapon). 

If you roll straight by the rules, it is highly unlikely that you will end up with a character capable of wielding magic. NPC sorcerers naturally command special attention for their unusual talent, and the non-magical PCs navigate a world that is rife with physical and supernatural (largely elemental) dangers. From what I can tell, none of us are interested in meeting (much less being) Elric. We are invested in what is facing our characters in the moment—surviving and perhaps sharpening a skill or two are 

One striking feature of my first combat encounter is that the three PCs each were engaged in different actions in three different places on some warring ships. Alan’s character was shooting arrows to distract one of the two warring sorcerers; Jon’s was trying to get the enemy captain to surrender, and Rikkaa went below deck to see about an enigmatic woman prisoner. The combat system supported this type of arrangement quite well, and it was exciting to see the wide array of approaches firing off: We had NPC sorcerers summoning elementals, one character initially using his persuasion skill, another resorting to missiles, and one doing some investigation followed by combat. 

Playing a warrior with a marginal strength gives me some incentive to take a strategic approach to conflict and also gives me some ideas about why Rikkaa might not be employed in a standard army or militia. It also makes victory (i.e. survival) more sweet. When Rikkaa went below deck, she faced a solitary fighter from the ship guarding its cargo (a mysterious woman with a message). Some earlier perception rolls went poorly, giving me more reason to debate whether I wanted to take on the guard. After an initial falter, I connected in my second attempt with the mace, but the real saving grace was a high roll on the damage. In Stormbringer, those types of blows are likely to result in other nasty incidental (and, in this case, gory) effects which will lead to quick defeat. Fortunately, in Rikka’s case, she was on the delivering side of that equation.
 

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