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Author Topic: Stormbringer forgery  (Read 2704 times)
Matt Snyder
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Posts: 1380


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« on: December 12, 2003, 07:33:41 AM »

I'm trying to piece together a VERY house-rules-ized version of the Stormbringer rules for some good ol' fantasy gaming with a few newer twists. (I'm going to talk about meta-mechanics and reward systems here, but I've also streamlined much of the game's other rules to my liking.)

I'm referring to the current 5th ed. Stormbringer, also found in Elric! I have 4th Ed. Stormbringer, but I'm not really using that as a reference right now -- I can't even remember how 4 ed.'s allegiance system worked, other than it had "Elan."

Why? Good damn question, really. But it's not one I'm really interested in answering. I have my reasons. I'm not interested in suggestions for other games right now. I may opt for some other game, ultimately, and that's fine. But, please, let me figure that out as I work through this.

Make no mistake. I realize I'm dancing with the beast that is incoherence. Hence, my post -- trying to remedy that as I prepare a game.(FYI, the game idea is a kind of Million Spheres hopping routine -- sword and sorcery style adventures on myriad worlds, perhaps with "meta-enemies" like Moorcock's Gaynor and Paul Minct.)

I want to re-work the Stormbringer allegiance system into a workable reward system. I think what I'd ultimately like in doing so is something that is vanilla narrativism. I'm really intrigued by the ability to have three possible allegiances that would fluctuate depending on player choices: Chaos, Law, and Balance. Also, I'm trying to examine the game and find ways that the players can take on some authority. In other words, looking to find ways to avoid illusionism.

So far, I realize my ideas for doing this are simply another kind of Simulationism than what's presented in Stormbringer (by the way, I loathe the allegiance rules as they exist).

For example, I was thinking that players could spend the points to improve their characters, rather than the somewhat capricious character advancement included in the game. So, for example, a Player could spend a point of Law to increase his skills, or he could spend a point of Chaos to increase his magical power. Yay ... yawn. Similarly, they'd EARN those points for, um, doing Law / Chaos things. (E.g., earn a point of Chaos for binding or summoning a demon.)

So, I'm bothered that I've thought up ideas that are, in effect, limitations, rather than empowerment. "You can use Chaos points for this, but NOT for that. You can't do that with Law. Etc." Blech. Also, I don't want to have the "You want to do that? Well, you'll have to see if you can by rolling against your Chaos." Blech again. (By the way, I realized this after reading the excellent Bumpy Exalted game thread. I am an exhausted, nipple-sucked GM. And, boy, does that sound weird.)

Again, I'm mostly just "fixing" simulationism so far, rather than dragging the game, kicking and screaming, to vanilla nar.

So, here's what I'm looking for. I want ideas for metamechanics that do the following:

Primary goal: Redefine the game's reward system such that it becomes vanilla narrativism.

Secondary goal: Redefinie the game's reward system so that it may help avoid illusionism.

If you think I'm tilting and windmills, let me know. I'm half-convinced of that, myself. But, like I said, I have my reasons. If you really want to know these, I can explain 'em!
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Matt Snyder
www.chimera.info

"The future ain't what it used to be."
--Yogi Berra
hix
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Posts: 531

Steve Hickey


« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2003, 02:57:02 PM »

Just musing: through the course of the Stormbringer novels, did the characters change or did their allegiance to law, chaos or equilibrium change the world around them?  Perhaps this is where the reward system needs to go - not granting internal changes to character effectiveness but external ones to relationships and the state of the Young Kingdoms?

Steve
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Steve

Gametime: a New Zealand blog about RPGs
John Kim
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« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2003, 03:22:43 PM »

Quote from: Matt Snyder
I'm trying to piece together a VERY house-rules-ized version of the Stormbringer rules for some good ol' fantasy gaming with a few newer twists. (I'm going to talk about meta-mechanics and reward systems here, but I've also streamlined much of the game's other rules to my liking.)
...
If you think I'm tilting and windmills, let me know. I'm half-convinced of that, myself. But, like I said, I have my reasons. If you really want to know these, I can explain 'em!

Well, I'd certainly be interested to hear your reasons -- partly for comparison with my own.  For the past 2 years, I've been running highly-modified RuneQuest for a very successful campaign, and RQ is pretty similar to Stormbringer.  (Really, it is closer to raw BRP than RQ3 except that we are using hit locations.)  Personally, I've replaced the experience system with a flat rate: each player who shows up gets 5 skill points per session.  About half-way through, I added that skills have a rising cost if they go above 70.  (2 for 1, then 3 for 1, etc.)  We also are using Whimsy Cards.  Oh, and magic is completely redone for the setting.  

In general, the campaign has worked great.  I have had some problems with mass combat and unarmed combat.
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- John
Andrew Martin
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Posts: 785


« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2003, 04:20:48 PM »

Quote from: John Kim
I have had some problems with mass combat and unarmed combat.


I've had problems with mass combat and unarmed combat in RQ3 (BRP) as well. My big problem was enemy formations that shot arrows, where around five percent of the force were disabled each round due to fumbles on their own side. It grew very unimpressive when the enemy forces became decimated in two to three rounds just due to their own fumbles!
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Andrew Martin
Matt Snyder
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Posts: 1380


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« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2003, 06:23:04 PM »

Ok, thanks to my inept file handling, I’ve trashed my explanation. In writing it, I realized I’ve started this thread on the wrong foot. My problem is more fundamental than Stormbringer’s metamechanics

Here’s the deal. I’m trying to start up a new game with a small group of 2-3 friends. We’re all twenty-something guys that cut our teeth on games like D&D, Warhammer and Earthdawn (well, they did with Earthdawn -- I’ve never been fond of that game). You get the idea. Pretty “traditional” game guys, interested in fantasy, interested in action.

Despite our nice, small group, we’re a recipe for incoherence. You have me, the standard bearer of Narrativism. Then, there’s Flash, who I classify as a player who generally prefers “mild” Gamism. That is, he’s very interested in leveling up, improving his character, etc., but not especially energetic about overcoming immediate challanges. (Doesn't Ron have a term for this in the essay? One of the pair of dials, maybe?) Then, we have Tony, who I think it’s safe to say is a pretty Simulationist-preferring kind of guy. Yes, we can all play other modes. Yes, those guys are aware of what I’m talking about, though they aren’t immersed in Creative Agenda talk, etc.

So, I’m trying to identify a game that satisfies the three of us (and possibly one more member, my brother, who likes Exploration of Character). I want something that sneaks some neato ideas “under the radar.” My ideal example is how these “traditional” guys took like fish to water in Riddle of Steel.  The game’s inherrent narrativism snuck up on them, and they enjoy the hell out of it. I’m interested to see if there’s another means to do it. (In the end, there are worse problems than “having” to play Riddle of Steel, after all.)

I think they’re unlikely to get jazzed about something “radical” -- Sorcerer, for example -- from their traditional sensibilities and specific game preferences. Them not getting jazzed about the game means no actual play is likely to happen. So, I’m trying to find something they’ll be jazzed about, and that I won’t feel exhausted running.

This is why I’ve turned to my Frankenstein-ized Stormbringer ideas. BRP just comes very easily to me, unlike D&D 3E does, for example. But, I’m not convinced it’s the way to go now after all.

I’m looking for a game that has the following qualities, howevery squishy these may be:

Doesn’t exhaust me, the GM. Whether this means some player-empowering system, or just an easily improvised system, I dunno.

Provides compelling player characters, in terms of mechanics. I call this the “character sheet” phenomenon. When, say, Flash looks at his character sheet, is he going to get jazzed about the nifty stuff he has before him? Or, is he going to slouch in his chair and wonder if he has list-serv email?

These guys enjoy action, and combat especially. And why not?!? I don’t see them getting as jazzed about going toe-to-toe ... with their conflict resolving Trollbabes.

Currently, I think I’m falling on the “Hmm, sounds like these guys need a good Gamist romp” side of things. What are others seeing? Any games you’d recommend, given all this?

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

John – here’s a very brief run-down of how I changed BRP as seen in Stormbringer:

* Added Talents, which are fun little things similar to D&D’s Feats. Some are lifted right from D&D (Evasion), while others are more unusual (Companion, for example, which gives you a pet or familiar or small/underpowered character sidekick).

* Streamlined all attributes so they can be tested. So, there’s a Brawn test for STR (which is STRx1 through STRx5), an Influence test for CHA (which I changed from APP). All stats except SIZ, then, perform identically.

* Simplified the weapon statistics slightly. There’s now less range between weapons. (E.g., greatswords and halberds are as high-damage).

 * Created a “Fate points” system. Just a reward system to alter the advancement system to my liking. It also saves a PC’s bacon in dire straights.

* Created a psionics system that is a bit quirky and fun. It’s not really different from magic spells as seen in Elric! and Stormbringer. I created this for another setting I had concocted a while back.

These were among my “standard” changes until I read HeroQuest. Influence by that, I was tinkering with some means to have all rolls resisted, and maybe even masteries instead of skills at over 100%. Basically, task resolution inspired by HeroQuest. Pretty quixotic, really.

I’m sure there are a few other changes I haven’t thought of immediately. I’ve never considered anything for mass combat rules, however. If I think of other, more significant changes, I’ll let you know.
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Matt Snyder
www.chimera.info

"The future ain't what it used to be."
--Yogi Berra
John Kim
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Posts: 1805


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« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2003, 11:03:51 PM »

Quote from: Matt Snyder
  My ideal example is how these “traditional” guys took like fish to water in Riddle of Steel.  The game’s inherrent narrativism snuck up on them, and they enjoy the hell out of it. I’m interested to see if there’s another means to do it.  (In the end, there are worse problems than “having” to play Riddle of Steel, after all.)

I think they’re unlikely to get jazzed about something “radical” -- Sorcerer, for example -- from their traditional sensibilities and specific game preferences.

Ah!  OK, that gives me some context.  I'm thinking about posting on my own design/play quandries myself.  As far as Forge designs go, I'm mostly on the traditional side -- the HERO System and Buffy are my favorites.  

Quote from: Matt Snyder
  I’m looking for a game that has the following qualities, howevery squishy these may be:

Doesn’t exhaust me, the GM. Whether this means some player-empowering system, or just an easily improvised system, I dunno.

Provides compelling player characters, in terms of mechanics. I call this the “character sheet” phenomenon. When, say, Flash looks at his character sheet, is he going to get jazzed about the nifty stuff he has before him? Or, is he going to slouch in his chair and wonder if he has list-serv email?

These guys enjoy action, and combat especially.  

OK, I think that your instincts are right in that modifying BRP is probably not the way to go.  At its heart, I think BRP is designed to be gritty and naturalist (i.e. PCs are fairly ordinary people).  This was why I chose it for my Vinland game, which is highly un-traditional in the sense that it is all about arranged marriages, clan politics, and other aspects of Viking life -- and not about powerful wandering adventurers.  There are a number of factors behind this:
    [*] Roll-under percentile skills only works well for a fairly narrow range of competence.  There are schemes for skills for 100+ skills, but I think they lose the intuitiveness of the system.  This fits with the naturalist tendency -- PCs tend to be fairly similar to each other and ordinary.  
    [*] The skill list has a utilitarian feel to it, with skills like "Climb" and "Hide".  There are a lot of basic life skills which all characters will have.  Some other games might have, say, a "Stealth" skill that not all characters will have -- but BRP takes the utilitarian view that all characters will hide and thus all have a "Hide" score.  
    [*] Combat is fairly restricted in options.  It can be exciting, but because of the high-variability linear roll and criticals it has the feel of taking control out of your hands.  This is good for, say, Call of Cthulhu and also good for how I wanted Viking saga combat (where rushing into battle is likened to turning one's life over to Fate).  It is not good for cinematic action.  [/list:u]
    As for what you do want.  Well...  I am impressed with a lot of the ideas in the Buffy RPG.  It is designed especially for a low workload on the GM.  NPCs have simplified character sheets and don't have to roll.  i.e. If a PC attacks an NPC, the player rolls the attack against a fixed NPC defense number.  If an NPC attacks a PC, the player rolls defense against a fixed NPC attack number.  In general, I think combats are quick and fun.   However, it is weak in the nifty PC stuff department and isn't designed for fantasy.  

    I have been thinking of trying to do stuff with the Action! System, but that is theoretical at the moment.  I will write up a review of it soon, I think, and I will post about my thoughts on using it.
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    - John
    C. Edwards
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    Posts: 558

    savage / sublime


    « Reply #6 on: December 14, 2003, 10:21:26 PM »

    Pendragon comes to mind, but that may only be because I played it recently. It's certainly worth giving a look if you're not already familiar with it.

    -Chris
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    Matt Snyder
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    Posts: 1380


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    « Reply #7 on: December 15, 2003, 07:20:47 AM »

    Yep, I'm familiar with Pendragon. And I'm giving that one some thought, now! Thanks for the recommendation.
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    Matt Snyder
    www.chimera.info

    "The future ain't what it used to be."
    --Yogi Berra
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