Marcus Bone

Stormbringer 5.5 edition?

26 posts in this topic

Hi All,

I've recently been thinking about creating a SB 5.5 rule set (much like Pagan Publishing did way back in the 90s for Call of Cthulhu in their Unspeakable Oath zine). What do I mean by this? Well, going back to the ELRIC! and 5th edition rule sets (maybe even 4th?) and revamping the variables for a more streamline style of mechanical play (as is the trend these days; unified dice mechanics . This would likely be more around the skill names and descriptions, magical abilities and other things like that, rather than the core mechanics (i.e. what dice you roll, the names of the stats, etc.). 

Am I barking up the wrong tree on this? Or something worth doing as an exercise on this forum even?

Marcus

 

 

 

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I am all in for this. I feel like anything that gives the game life is a good thing, respecting the reasons why its out of print of course. Heck even a five page "Conversion" sheet would be worth it.

However, for a total revamp I would suggest creating a team to help. Lots of folks loved the B5Wars game (Babylon 5 ship to ship combat) and when it went out of print / AoG lost the license all the people who had been actively involved, plus others, built the Kitchen Sink edition, stripping out the B5 IP and stuck it up on a website.  It took a village to make that baby though lol

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I'd be interested in helping out. Stormbringer is still my favourite RPG, even after all these years.

Colin

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I'd be interested in seeing where you take things. <subscribed>

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I think a Stormbringer 5.5 should be based on Magic World brought back to its Elric roots. Ruleswise MW is a tweaking and improvement of the Elric!/SB5 engine. Minus the setting.

Add back the setting and SB 5.5 is done. The only thing that would require further tweaking is magic. For that I'd port aspects of Mongoose Elric.

 

 

 

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Character Creation

It seems logical to look at Character Creation first and foremost in a revision. Below are the areas that I'm interested in revisiting (and streamlining).

  • Defining Archetypes - Keep 5th's (and MW's) Cultures and Professions, or replace with more lifepath (yet to be defined) style of characters?
  • Characteristic Generation - Random rolling or point allocation? Base line 2D6+6 for all 'human' characters or mixed based on Characteristic (i.e. 3D6 for STR, etc. 2D6+6 for those needing a higher base)?
  • Skill Starting point -  Keep Skill Category Modifiers (as per MW), or create a new 'Aptitude' system? Allocate point as desired or provide allotments (again as per MW)? 
  • Skill List - Keep 5th's skills or revise (i.e.I've always been keen on combining skills like Jump, Swim, etc. as a single Athletics skill, etc.). Look to change names of some skills to better reflect their uses ('Trap' can be incorporated into 'Repair/Devise', could 'Repair/Devise' be renamed as Engineer?)
  • Allegiances - Better define what these mean and usage.

I think that covers this portion of the rules. Happy to discuss.

Marcus

 

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Suggested Skill List

To follow on from yesterday, this is my suggested 5.5 Skill List for non-combat skills (These are presented as Name - Change from 5th/MW - Skill Category).

  • Awareness - Combines Search, Sense/Smell - Perception
  • Art - Unchanged from 5th (Uf5th) - Communication
  • Athletics - Combines Jump, Swim, Climb into one skill - Physical
  • Bargain - Unchanged - Communication
  • Evaluate - Unchanged - Knowledge
  • Engineer - Combine Repair/Devise and Trap - Knowledge
  • Craft - Unchanged (except where noted) - Manipulation
  • Disguise - Unchanged - Communication
  • Dodge - Unchanged - Physical
  • Fast Talk - Unchanged - Communication
  • Hide - Unchanged - Physical
  • Insight - Unchanged - Perception
  • Known Kingdoms - Unchanged - Knowledge
  • Million Spheres - Unchanged - Special (starts at 0%)
  • Move Quietly - Unchanged - Manipulation
  • Natural World - Unchanged - Knowledge
  • Navigate - Unchanged - Knowledge
  • Oratory - Unchanged - Communication
  • Other Language - Unchanged - Special (starts at 0%)
  • Own Language - Unchanged - Knowledge
  • Physik - Unchanged - Knowledge
  • Pick Lock - Unchanged - Manipulation
  • Potions - Unchanged - Knowledge
  • Ride - Unchanged - Physical
  • Sail - Unchanged - Physical
  • Scribe - Unchanged - Knowledge
  • Sleight of Hand - Removed from Craft and combine with Conceal Object - Manipulation
  • Track - Unchanged - Perception
  • Unknown Kingdoms - Unchanged - Special (starts at 0%)

In Skill Category Order -

  • Special - Million Spheres, Other Language, Unknown Kingdoms
  • Communication - Art, Bargain, Disguise, Fast Talk, Oratory
  • Physical - Athletics, Dodge, Hide, Ride, Sail 
  • Knowledge - Engineer, Evaluate, Natural World, Own Language, Navigate, Physik, Potions, Scribe
  • Perception - Awareness, Insight, Track
  • Manipulation - Craft, Move Quietly, Pick Lock, Sleight of Hand
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On 3/17/2017 at 4:58 PM, Marcus Bone said:

Character Creation

It seems logical to look at Character Creation first and foremost in a revision. Below are the areas that I'm interested in revisiting (and streamlining).

  • Defining Archetypes - Keep 5th's (and MW's) Cultures and Professions, or replace with more lifepath (yet to be defined) style of characters?
  • Characteristic Generation - Random rolling or point allocation? Base line 2D6+6 for all 'human' characters or mixed based on Characteristic (i.e. 3D6 for STR, etc. 2D6+6 for those needing a higher base)?
  • Skill Starting point -  Keep Skill Category Modifiers (as per MW), or create a new 'Aptitude' system? Allocate point as desired or provide allotments (again as per MW)? 
  • Skill List - Keep 5th's skills or revise (i.e.I've always been keen on combining skills like Jump, Swim, etc. as a single Athletics skill, etc.). Look to change names of some skills to better reflect their uses ('Trap' can be incorporated into 'Repair/Devise', could 'Repair/Devise' be renamed as Engineer?)
  • Allegiances - Better define what these mean and usage.

I think that covers this portion of the rules. Happy to discuss.

Marcus

 

I like the idea of changing Archetypes a bit. What I am doing with Skaerune' is letting a character grow up until about 12 ish in their home culture, and then the player can try and jump cultures as it were if they wish. However, there is no guarantee and if they fail, the character ends up a pauper, street urchin, a levy soldier, something unpleasant. For example if culture a teaches sorcery and culture be does not, a character from Culture B could try to move to Culture A, with no guarantee of success. If they fail to latch on, they might end up a beggar or slave.

So do that for the Apprentice years (12-16) and again for the Journeyman years (16-20). (Or whatever age ranges). Throw a life event in between.

For Generation of Characteristics, I like random and varied depending on race and characteristic. BUT I do get folks like point buy and having a modern approach won't hurt. There should be tight rules about it though.

For Skills, I think you earn skills in your Apprenticeship and as a Journeyman, but also get X free points to spend

I do think Allegiances need to be discussed more? More concrete examples? Especially any middle ground.

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@Marcus Bone

I thought Languages (Own/Other) were Communication skills? (Sorry)

Repair/Devise/Trap could become "Mechanisms" rather than Engineer? I've always thought all disciplines of engineering to be "large scale" endeavours, rather than small, fiddly projects (electronic engineering being an exception). In my Golden Grimoire campaign for SB3, I had a set of extra skills including Engineering, which was taught by the Priests of Law, which might add some background flavour to characters from Lawful-aligned nations.

Colin

PS: I thought I had uploaded the Golden Grimoire campaign to this site but can't find it. It's hosted on my site at the Stormbringer page.

Edited by colinabrett
Link to GG campaign
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@Marcus Bone

Would you be amenable to dialling the clock back even further, to Stormbringer 3rd edition? Some things it brings to the table include: 

  • The character generation dice rolls (everyone rolls 3D6 with modifiers based on nationality), minus the random nationality generation
  • The Elan system, renamed as Allegiance, covers a number of Chaos, Law and Elemental Lords
  • SAN rules adapted from one of the SB3 supplements (Demon Magic, I think)
  • The rank-based Sorcery system might be one step too far but it's something I'm working on in the background

Also, how far into canon will you be taking this? Will you be including Dreamthieves as a profession/archetype, for instance?

I am really interested in going further but would like to know where the lines are drawn so I don't go off on a tangent.

Regards,

Colin

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11 hours ago, colinabrett said:

I thought Languages (Own/Other) were Communication skills? (Sorry)

You're right it should be Communications!

11 hours ago, colinabrett said:

Repair/Devise/Trap could become "Mechanisms" rather than Engineer? I've always thought all disciplines of engineering to be "large scale" endeavours, rather than small, fiddly projects (electronic engineering being an exception). In my Golden Grimoire campaign for SB3, I had a set of extra skills including Engineering, which was taught by the Priests of Law, which might add some background flavour to characters from Lawful-aligned nations.

Mechanisms might be a good name for this...

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8 hours ago, colinabrett said:

@Marcus Bone

Would you be amenable to dialling the clock back even further, to Stormbringer 3rd edition? Some things it brings to the table include: 

  • The character generation dice rolls (everyone rolls 3D6 with modifiers based on nationality), minus the random nationality generation
  • The Elan system, renamed as Allegiance, covers a number of Chaos, Law and Elemental Lords
  • SAN rules adapted from one of the SB3 supplements (Demon Magic, I think)
  • The rank-based Sorcery system might be one step too far but it's something I'm working on in the background

Also, how far into canon will you be taking this? Will you be including Dreamthieves as a profession/archetype, for instance?

I am really interested in going further but would like to know where the lines are drawn so I don't go off on a tangent.

Regards,

Colin

Hi Colin,

I'm personally not a big fan of the earlier editions, and while I do think their 'craziness' has a place, its not for me.

  • I'm a big fan of point-buy systems so will be looking to utilise that as an option for Character Gen. I'd stay away from random, but will likely look to ensure minimums (I mean we are creating heroes here, right, not peasants?).
  • The Allegiance System has never been a happy one for me - it never really reflected Fate or being agents of the Balance (which in my mind all characters are). I'm leaning towards a system that rewards the characters for staying close to the Balance.
  • Sanity rules don't really mesh with my ideas, but some sort of madness mechanics might be something worth exploring, especially for characters leaning towards Chaos).
  • I don't know about the majority of Moorcock fans but I think the later novels, while better written stories, were never as interesting or dynamic as the earlier Elric was. This older version is what I'll more focused on.

Hope that doesn't sound too pushie, but you raise a good point; is my ideas of the ideal SB the same as everyone else's? Maybe not... 

Marcus

 

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I think this is a brilliant idea

My previous attempts at house ruling various versions of SB always fell down when I went too far from RAW and realised that I had lost a lot of what made it special

For characteristics I like:

2d6+3 each

Then add +6 each to two chosen/favoured scores

For Elder races make the bonus much bigger but it is fixed by Species rather than being player's choice

 

 

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One Characteristic generation option that may work is using an array? Instead of adding bonuses after rolling / picking, you just make different arrays for different races.

Ex. Humans

16, 14, 12, 10, 10, 9, 8. 16 is the max and maybe you can shift points around on a 1-1 basis, but with 8 being the lowest.

Just an idea. I like this non random approach to Characteristics especially if there is more randomness down the road. "You roll.. a human rat catcher in Tanelorn! Welcome to hell!" 

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As an aside, I have just uploaded the Golden Grimoire campaign to the Downloads section. 

Colin

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18 hours ago, Marcus Bone said:
  • The Allegiance System has never been a happy one for me - it never really reflected Fate or being agents of the Balance (which in my mind all characters are). I'm leaning towards a system that rewards the characters for staying close to the Balance.

 

 

I agree the allegiance rules are not quite right. I think they lack relevance. There is no real consecuence in having or rising allegiance points save for the small bonuses in MPs and skills, and when becoming a champion. In my own system I tied a sort of allegiance to chaotic and lawful features. A PC may call for aid but risks a chance of acquiring some chaotic or lawful trait. So that puts the players in a position where they stay true to the balance or be tempted by the "easier and more powerful" forces but take the risk of consecuences.

Another thing I'd like is changing the concept of Chaos=magic, Law=science. It is never like that in the novels, and there are numerous examples of Lawful characters and champions using magic, and chaotic beings using tech-like artifacts. I believe magic and technology is just a tool. However a more chaotic environment would lead to superstition and magic, whereas a lawful plane would encourage logical thinking, methodic aproaches, science, etc.

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Making allegiance relevant

I did

Allegiance scores rolled alongside characteristics

Balance x5 = Perception%

Chaos x5 = Magic%

Law x5 = Knowledge%

 

BUT: that only worked with several other rules changes (which as above might lead SB5.5 too far from its roots)

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On 3/17/2017 at 1:58 PM, Marcus Bone said:

Character Creation

It seems logical to look at Character Creation first and foremost in a revision. Below are the areas that I'm interested in revisiting (and streamlining).

  • Defining Archetypes - Keep 5th's (and MW's) Cultures and Professions, or replace with more lifepath (yet to be defined) style of characters?

I would keep Cultures and Professions. IMO lifepaths can be too fiddly. You could ways keep options around for a change of profession at some point, or even just a simple point buy.

On 3/17/2017 at 1:58 PM, Marcus Bone said:
  • Characteristic Generation - Random rolling or point allocation? Base line 2D6+6 for all 'human' characters or mixed based on Characteristic (i.e. 3D6 for STR, etc. 2D6+6 for those needing a higher base)?

Point allocation, with die rolling as an option. 

Two different point totals; one for "normals" and one for "heroes". Same with die rolls, 3d6 for "normals" and 2d6+6 for "heroes". This gives a bit more variability for both characters and game type. 

On 3/17/2017 at 1:58 PM, Marcus Bone said:
  • Skill Starting point -  Keep Skill Category Modifiers (as per MW), or create a new 'Aptitude' system? Allocate point as desired or provide allotments (again as per MW)? 

I would be inclined to keep the modifiers, but I'm willing to take a look at what a new Aptitude system might look like. I would also keep MWs allotments, with Allocated points as an option. (Lots of sidebars in my version!) :D

On 3/17/2017 at 1:58 PM, Marcus Bone said:
  • Skill List - Keep 5th's skills or revise (i.e.I've always been keen on combining skills like Jump, Swim, etc. as a single Athletics skill, etc.). Look to change names of some skills to better reflect their uses ('Trap' can be incorporated into 'Repair/Devise', could 'Repair/Devise' be renamed as Engineer?)

Swim and Climb do not belong in Athletics, though combining others would work. Being a good runner doesn't mean you know how to swim. Being a big and burly football player doesn't mean you can climb well. In fact, I would be inclined to allow this version to function as a Grapple/Wrestling replacement.

Do not go overboard with skill renaming. Repair/Devise is much more focused; if you rename it Engineer, then you might have a hunter trying to build a ballista.

On 3/17/2017 at 1:58 PM, Marcus Bone said:
  • Allegiances - Better define what these mean and usage.

Yes, agreed. 

SDLeary

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On 3/18/2017 at 7:53 PM, Marcus Bone said:

Suggested Skill List

To follow on from yesterday, this is my suggested 5.5 Skill List for non-combat skills (These are presented as Name - Change from 5th/MW - Skill Category).

  • Awareness - Combines Search, Sense/Smell - Perception

I would say Spot more than Search. Search is much more looking in drawers, turning over furniture; much more an action than something sensory based.

On 3/18/2017 at 7:53 PM, Marcus Bone said:
  • Athletics - Combines Jump, Swim, Climb into one skill - Physical

I would say Jump, Run, Wrestle, just because I'm a contrarian. ;)

On 3/18/2017 at 7:53 PM, Marcus Bone said:
  • Engineer - Combine Repair/Devise and Trap - Knowledge

Engineer should really be a different skill. Someone who knows how to set traps, repair a barrel, doesn't know how to build a tower, or design a siege engine. An Engineer is unlikely to know how to properly build a trap (I envision Trap as including the ability to camouflage or conceal the existence of a trap). Its like the difference between First Aid and Surgery in other games.

On 3/18/2017 at 7:53 PM, Marcus Bone said:
  • Move Quietly - Unchanged - Manipulation

Manipulation implies the use of hands, which Move Quietly probably doesn't do often, other than to gently move branches or impediments out of the way. I would shunt this into Physical, perhaps even combining it with Hide and simply calling the resulting skill Stealth (moving quietly often also includes hiding; and hiding often includes getting to your hiding point without being detected).

On 3/18/2017 at 7:53 PM, Marcus Bone said:
  • Physik - Unchanged - Knowledge

I have issues with a universal "Medicine" skill to, but this has been around for a while, so I'd keep it. 

SDLeary

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On 3/19/2017 at 1:24 PM, Marcus Bone said:

You're right it should be Communications!

Mechanisms might be a good name for this...

Yes! That fits much better.

SDLeary

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On 19/03/2017 at 8:33 PM, Marcus Bone said:

 

  • The Allegiance System has never been a happy one for me - it never really reflected Fate or being agents of the Balance (which in my mind all characters are). I'm leaning towards a system that rewards the characters for staying close to the Balance.

 

Hi Marcus,

It has been a while since I read the Elric stories but I am under the impression that the vast run of the Young Kingdoms population don't know a Balance exists. It seems they have been manipulated into choosing a side and fighting to the death. Some characters in the books do know of the Balance and pass on snippets of information as the plot demands. I don't think even Elric accepts the Balance until the Stormbringer novel. If the characters are all agents of the Balance, then a couple of things spring to mind:

  • They are special or gifted in some way and should have higher characteristic scores (2D6+6 as mentioned elsewhere) and/or skills at the start.  The entire Young Kingdoms are "the enemy" and that's a lot of opposition to their quests.
  • They don't know they are agents until they reach apotheosis. I think it falls to the GM here to craft adventures where the PCs thwart the plans of "Chaos one week and Law the next" (so to speak), thus maintaining the Balance without even knowing they are serving the Balance. This could be a big ask for the GM.

I don't know how a Fate mechanic would work but, given the points above, it might be better for your needs. I'd be interested in how you see this working.

Regards,

Colin

 

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17 hours ago, colinabrett said:

Hi Marcus,

It has been a while since I read the Elric stories but I am under the impression that the vast run of the Young Kingdoms population don't know a Balance exists. It seems they have been manipulated into choosing a side and fighting to the death. Some characters in the books do know of the Balance and pass on snippets of information as the plot demands. I don't think even Elric accepts the Balance until the Stormbringer novel. If the characters are all agents of the Balance, then a couple of things spring to mind:

Oh, I'm sure they didn't. But then you don't need to know that you are agents of the Balance; you just are. In fact, as I might have stated earlier, I really see the characters - no matter what their skill level - as 'victims' of Mistress Fate and the Balance, rather than truly their agents. 

IMHO Stormbringer's central conceit is that the characters the roles given to them - they bring order to Chaos and disrupt Law. This means even when they don't mean to they are movers and shakers in the world (or Multiverse). I personally think players should embrace this style of play. For example, in Call of Cthulhu investigators should expect to encounter the mythos and come out the other side a little less sane, and in D&D the heroes should need no encouragement to explore dungeons and fighting dragons (small ones at first obviously :P); as an extension then, in Stormbringer the characters make hard choices and change realities.

But back to your concerns, yes enacting this concept in game mechanics isn't easy, not without offering some sort off incentives (be they positive or negative). BRP derivative games don't really have mechanics that reinforce a style of play (it instead provides a game system upon which a GM hangs his narrative hooks, it does not drive play in a session).

So how to do this without adding another mechanical subsystem? I'm not sure yet, but I think it would be fun to explore the options.

Marcus

P.S. I hope no of that sounded pretentious, it wasn't meant to be - rather I've thought a lot about this subject over the years... maybe a little too much :P

 

 

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5 hours ago, Marcus Bone said:

I really see the characters - no matter what their skill level - as 'victims' of Mistress Fate and the Balance, rather than truly their agents. 

So how to do this without adding another mechanical subsystem? I'm not sure yet, but I think it would be fun to explore the options.

Marcus

P.S. I hope no of that sounded pretentious, it wasn't meant to be - rather I've thought a lot about this subject over the years... maybe a little too much :P

 

 

@Marcus Bone

I don't think you were being pretentious and it does show the level of thought you've put into it. It's why I'm interested in working with you on this. I particularly like the idea of being "victims" of Fate.

As for a Fate system, my first thought was a random table of possible destinies. The player rolls a "possible future" and decides whether they want to fight or embrace that future. The GM would have to craft scenarios where the character is given that choice. This adds an element of randomness to your more structured character generation process, so might not be satisfactory. (It's a throwback to the randomness of SB3.)

Thinking about this, a character could have three Fates, one each for Law, Chaos and Balance. As Allegiance scores increase, the character is pushed towards one of these Fates. The player then decides to pursue this destiny or fight against it. Apotheosis happens when the character whole-heartedly follows that path; it needn't happen when an Allegiance score hits 100. I don't know how to assign these Fates during character generation aside from a long list of suggested destinies that the player can randomly roll or choose. If the player has strong ideas, however, these can supersede random rolls.

These options put a lot of the work on the GM to craft a campaign where each character is given the chance to shape their own destiny, rather than being pushed into it by Mistress Fate and the Balance.

Colin

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11 hours ago, Marcus Bone said:

IMHO Stormbringer's central conceit is that the characters the roles given to them - they bring order to Chaos and disrupt Law. This means even when they don't mean to they are movers and shakers in the world (or Multiverse). I personally think players should embrace this style of play. For example, in Call of Cthulhu investigators should expect to encounter the mythos and come out the other side a little less sane, and in D&D the heroes should need no encouragement to explore dungeons and fighting dragons (small ones at first obviously :P); as an extension then, in Stormbringer the characters make hard choices and change realities.

I think CoC offers a model for this actually. Once a character starts down the road to madness, he or she is forever on that road. There is an inevitability to their path. Elric was constantly pursued by the hand of Fate. Any redux of Stormbringer should embody that idea. The characters are pawns whether they like it or not and in a longer campaign they need to rise to the occasion, manipulating the three forces to their own ends as much as possible. Yet at every step, even if they try to find some piece, Fate drops something in their path they cannot avoid.

And yes, role playing requires a social contract and games like CoC or Stormbringer require a certain acknowledgement of the parameters of the Universe. Ironically, even though widely random starting professions / lives seems unfair from a game POV, from a narrative POV it totally makes sense. As long as the game itself gives the noble and the rat cacther the same chance to be great, I think it makes the game fair.

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On 3/23/2017 at 3:07 AM, ReignDragonSMH said:

I think CoC offers a model for this actually. Once a character starts down the road to madness, he or she is forever on that road. There is an inevitability to their path. Elric was constantly pursued by the hand of Fate. Any redux of Stormbringer should embody that idea. The characters are pawns whether they like it or not and in a longer campaign they need to rise to the occasion, manipulating the three forces to their own ends as much as possible. Yet at every step, even if they try to find some piece, Fate drops something in their path they cannot avoid.

And yes, role playing requires a social contract and games like CoC or Stormbringer require a certain acknowledgement of the parameters of the Universe. Ironically, even though widely random starting professions / lives seems unfair from a game POV, from a narrative POV it totally makes sense. As long as the game itself gives the noble and the rat cacther the same chance to be great, I think it makes the game fair.

I really like this idea. How to implement it is the challenge, especially, as I previously mentioned the BRP has no way of reinforcing play outside of the social contract (barring the Sanity rules). Does this mean a Young Kingdoms game should actually be based on the Fate system or the Apocalypse Engine? No, because then you lose the other aspect of gaming from such proscriptive mechanics - that being freedom of character.

As you say Reign, the characters need to have the illusion of free choice, but the reality is that are but puppets (played by unseen hands) of some unknowable Passion Play. This is why I like to make my adventures challenge the players beliefs and concepts of change - you don't need mechanics when your players are arguing about whether they should kill an NPC or no based on the fact he may, or may not, kill innocent people the future*.

I guess this is why I always see the Balance as a fulcrum (as I've previous raised in other topics), much like the Passions system is in Pendragon. But how to translate to a 100% system is quite a bit harder than I first imagined... 

Marcus

* - This was the premise of one adventure I once ran. 

 

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