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Favourite Edition of Strombringer


Favourite Edition of Stormbringer?  

37 members have voted

  1. 1. What is your favourite edition of Stormbringer, and why?

    • Stormbringer 1-3
      12
    • Stormbringer 4
      4
    • Elric
      19
    • Stormbringer 5
      2


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Elric! - Stormbringer 1-3 were a huge part of my gaming in the 1980's but I increasingly wanted something a little more robust and coherent, and was even by the mid-eighties co-opting material from other BRP and BRP related games (not just Chaosium but e.g. Niall Shapiro's Other Suns)  to fill out the SB engine for wider settings. SB 4 was a great re-focus of the game on its source, and I admire what Ben was trying to do with the revised Demon Summoning and design system, but somehow it didn't quite cohere - it neither was compelling enough to entirely replace my battered copies of SB1&3 but equally, I always had it at the table to dip in to...

Elric! seemed quite a radical change when I first read it... but as I read it and re-read it and then tried it in play, I kept finding that those gaps and weaknesses I had previously been patching by going to other games were either explicitly answered  in the core game, or it was so logically and cleanly written that a sensible ruling was easier to infer. It remains as far as I am concerned damn near the platonic form of how to edit and layout a b&w interior RPG book. The base text is clear, accessible, rich in content and adaptability, effortlessly evoking a broad and appealing style of play that seems inherent in its setting; the layout and editing makes it hugely useful at the table as a reference work, whilst still be a thoroughly readable work to learn the game.

Considering SB5 is largely the same text, its failings are salutary lesson in the value of skilled layout. Whilst I don't think Magic World is as poor a layout as SB5,  it too suffers from a layout that was NOT focused on concise and effective presentation, but rather on achieving a page count that could justify an inflated price point. 😕

Elric! as adapted by Ben Monroe remains my default BRP engine;  if I were ever to run in the Moorcock multiverse again,  its what I would use. But I will have a nostalgic soft spot for the GW printing of SB3 which was the back bone of my epic 1980's SB games. The former barbarian from Pikarayd, field-stripping a squad-support waldo mounted blaster machine gun for a group of fascinated Demons of Combat in a side tent at Aricoh's Garden party in the 3rd of the 7th Hells... good memories! 😮

 

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Elric! was the game which weaned me permanently off D&D. It was my first and favourite flavour of BRP. It perfectly suited the Nehwon setting which I'd already started playing in. The slim, well-laid out volume was a joy to work with at the table and showed that you could have a full game without having to refer to a pile of tomes.

Like @NickMiddleton I give the honorable mention to the Games Workshop Stormbringer 3, with its crazy random character generation and its terrible glue binding.

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I agree Elric! Is the best version because of the reasons Nick mentioned above. Although, one thing I disliked was the excessive presence of common spells, which were reworded spells from RQ and other games, with no relation to the setting, except one or two.

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Posted (edited)

My only gaming experience was as a player with 1st edition Stormbringer, where I had an absolute blast for many years. This may have been helped by the fact that I managed to always roll spellcasters as characters, though I sympathised (in a condescending, dismissive sort of way) with my fellow players who had beggars and other useless riff-raff. Well, actually, I seem to remember we had quite a few adventures in civilised places where spell-slinging and demon-summoning would have been rude, so from my admittedly hazy memory of those days everyone did get to have some fun regardless of the way the dice landed at character generation.

However, I've been delving into the mechanics of the later editions as part of my research into D100 games systems, and I have to agree that Elric! seems to stand out (though I like the intent behind the 2012 Magic World implementation, even if the execution leaves something to be desired). I suspect a lot of that will be creeping into my upcoming games.

Edited by Vile
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Gotta go with 3rd edition. It was the first RPG I ever GM'ed and, like a first car or first love, it's something I'll never forget. Yes, it was wild and crazy but that craziness could always be justified in some way. Why would a Pan Tangian sorcerer team up with a Nadsokor beggar? Because the Lords of the Higher Worlds wanted it that way.

Colin

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SB 4 has heavily revised Demon Creation rules and reworks / revises a chunk of setting material iirc, but yes, Editions 1-3 are basically the same text in different layouts. Again, I think SB5 revises some of the setting material from Elric! but the rules are unchanged.

*sigh* RPG fans and publishers have generally always been quite sloppy and inaccurate in their use of the terms "edition" and "version", and in later years overly influenced by the similar but different terms used in software development. 🤣

But I have known one person who loved their Stormbringer set with separate books and HATED both the 1e softback AND the GW hardback... And I generally discount SB5 against Elric!, because the layout is, as with Magic World, just not as good as Elric!. YMMV.

Nick

 

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5 hours ago, NickMiddleton said:

SB 4 has heavily revised Demon Creation rules and reworks / revises a chunk of setting material iirc,

 

5 hours ago, NickMiddleton said:

but yes, Editions 1-3 are basically the same text in different layouts.

Not really. One big change between SB1 and later edtions is with the power level of sorcerers. In SB1 they are much more powerful in chargen and can do much more, while in later editions they have to work their way up. I discovered this the hard way when playing SB with some people who had the latter editions, and discovering that my socrocer character completely outmatched anything possible in the latter edtions. 

The rules are basically the same, but SB1 characters started off much more powerful. 

Personally I disliked Elric! because it made attributes pretty generic and meaningless, and pushed all the player characters into the 100%+ range with their weapon skill(s). SB did have power level and game balance issues, especially SB1, probably due to the influence of Ken St. Andre (his T&T is notorious for one sided conflicts), but I thought it felt both more solid and more like the books than Elric! did.

 

For me, my "go to" version of the system ended up being RQ3. The game system was more robust than either SB1-4 or Elric!, with fewer things to patch, and prting over SB4 magic gave it enough of a Young Kingdoms feel to work. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, rsanford said:

I wonder if anyone prefered Mongoose's edition "Elric of Melnibone"? Personally I am a fan of Elric / SB5....

Me, obviously. But then I was also trying to recapture the flavour and atmosphere of SB1 to a certain extent, especially in the magic.

Elric! is a paragon of book design and layout. Better mechanics in some respects, but I personally loved 1st ed Stormbringer because...

1. It was wild and fun
2. The boxed set was ace

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I will echo a few a you. Favorite is Elric! but I have fond memories of GW Stormbringer 3rd.

For some reasons, I totally skipped 4th (I was focused on other genre) and has not delved into Elric of Melnibone (I could not stand Mongoose anymore so was mostly unaware of what they were doing).

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18 hours ago, lawrence.whitaker said:

Elric! is a paragon of book design and layout. Better mechanics in some respects, but I personally loved 1st ed Stormbringer because...

 

Well nothing too crazy for me, it was my 1st and only dive into that version of the eternal champ (also owned Hawkmoon). Seeing as there was never a Jerry Cornelius I will have to try Luther Arkwright, one day.

Cheers

Edited by Bill the barbarian
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40 minutes ago, Bill the barbarian said:

Seeing as there was never a Jerry Cornelius I will have to try Luther Arkwright one day.

Luther Arkwright is without a doubt my favourite iteration of the eternal champion, even though he's not! 😁

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2 hours ago, Vile said:

Luther Arkwright is without a doubt my favourite iteration of the eternal champion, even though he's not! 😁

I remain inordinately fond of Gabriel Bellhanger, a spoof version some university mates created for our university SF&F society fanzine, of Luther / Jerry  / et al... :P 

In the end, I always come back to Dorian Hawkmoon. Not the frankly rather conventional hero of the High History of the Runestaff (fun though those books are) but the very first Moorcock I ever read - Champion of Garathorm. Dorian Hawkmoon at the beginning of that book  was such a resonant, unexpected figure. This is the hero: and he is broken, shattered; obsessively, pointlessly rehearsing scenarios in his imagination in an apparently futile quest to change the facts of the world as everyone else accepts them... Still love that book, and the absence of an expansive, well supported Hawkmoon RPG in English remains a disappointment, especially as for me the best published incarnation in RPGs was Loz's brilliant but alas fleeting monograph, itself a a subset of what could have been.

Ah well.

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44 minutes ago, NickMiddleton said:

[...] in an apparently futile quest to change the facts of the world as everyone else accepts them...

That's almost the definition of the anti-hero - which to my mind was pretty much defined by Moorcock, so I guess that's fitting.

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My favorite edition happens to be the very first RPG I ever bought - the Games Workshop version of the third edition. It had this cover: Unknown.jpeg.e742d6ef4f4d51e0b86dc549346bca0c.jpeg

It was the art above all that sucked me in, and there was some pretty good full colour plates within. The system was stripped down and simple, although the random character generation led to some very random results. I loved the Demon-based magic, and the general psychedelic tragedy and darkness of the setting. It’s no surprise that I went for the World of Darkness games a few years later, but Stormbringer was doing the same sort of thing earlier. 

In terms of what I own now, it’s the 5th Edition which is quite classy. The best written version of the setting was with Mongoose’s Elric of Melniboné, although the production standards in art and layout weren’t as good as they should have been. Then again, my 3rd edition fell apart at the seems after a few months, so what matters about production values? 

Edited by TrippyHippy
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7 minutes ago, TrippyHippy said:

My favorite edition happens to be the very first RPG I ever bought - the Games Workshop version of the third edition. It had this cover: Unknown.jpeg.e742d6ef4f4d51e0b86dc549346bca0c.jpeg

I had the same version. My copy fell apart and is now kept in a ring-binder. Is yours still in once piece?

Colin

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GWs hard backs of that era were notorious - if one was lucky, one got one that was robust and lasted indefinetley; most seem to have bindings made of fragile crystal that shattered without warning or provocation. Applied to their RQ hardbacks as well. 

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Elric!

It was my first real exposure to Stormbringer. (I knew a guy in the mid-80s that had the 2e boxed set, which I remember looking through but we never played). The system was so appealing and intuitive. It compelled me to use it for homemade dark fantasy / sword & sorcery campaigns.

I can't even say that I'm that much of a fan of Moorcock's Elric material. I've only read a couple of the books and the writing never really hooked me. But Elric! presented the setting and system in such an inspiring fashion that it really captured my imagination.

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21 hours ago, rsanford said:

I wonder if anyone prefered Mongoose's edition "Elric of Melnibone"? Personally I am a fan of Elric / SB5....

I did. I thought it was much truer to the books than the Chaosium editions. It made excellent use of passions, which are integral to . Frankly, I never understood where Ken St. Andre got his elemental and demon summoning magic ideas from. I will add, however, that Stormbringer 1 is still a go-to for me for beer & pretzels games. You just need a group of players who doesn't mind that character power level will be all over the map - and that somebody else at the table will have a character much more powerful than yours.

Of course, my opinion is suspect, as Nash-Whitaker D100 has now been my preferred game system for 10 years. 

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On 4/7/2020 at 7:08 PM, lawrence.whitaker said:

Elric! is a paragon of book design and layout.

Yes it is. Even down to the art. A couple of the larger illustrations are not to my tastes but many/most of the small pieces are beautiful. There is so much great stuff crammed into such a small book, some of that is down to the small font size for sure but deliberate decisions like listing stats for natural foes on a single page for all of them are brilliant.

On 4/8/2020 at 7:02 AM, Vile said:

Luther Arkwright is without a doubt my favourite iteration of the eternal champion, even though he's not! 😁

Doctor Who for me. And Moorcock even wrote a Dr Who novel. So maybe the good Dr is an eternal champion - no (s)he isn't - yes (s)he is which seems appropriately Moorcockian.

 

SB3 and Elric! both have their flaws (SB3 - seriously Tower Shields do more damage than most one-handed weapons? Elric! - general consensus is that d100 games are at their best at the 60-70% skill range and Elric! seems to go out of its way to ensure that nobody has skills at this level, they're either really low or stupidly high. To name but two) but I still love both of them to bits.

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