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What is is about Stormbringer?

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On 5/18/2018 at 10:57 AM, Newt said:

If you want to read a good career retrospective of Michael Moorcock that highlights how his political views have influenced his writing read this interview in the New Statesmen from 2015:

Since it has a sensationalist title, I would ask that people read the article in full before shooting off replies ;)

Very nice article!

Btw, shouldn't d101 games be just the right publisher for a brp game in the spirit of stormbringer?

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On 5/19/2018 at 6:50 AM, Joerg said:

 

IIRC some time in the eighties Moorcock also released an essay or even a book about writing fantasy, IIRC, so I think that Moorcock had read at least the Lord of the Ring including the appendices quite closely.

If you replace "fascist" by "feudalist", there is nothing crypto about the position of Tolkien with regard to his romantically idealized past.

Tolkien's world is anti-industrialist (think of his treatment of the war factories of Isengard) and about a layered society, with Sam Gamgee personifying the loyal common soldier/servant to the nobility officer. Like most fantasy, the focus is on a lost past rather than looking forward. Aragorn's kingship has long been destined.

I guess that comes from his story-teller focus on SF. One can clearly say that Clarke created the concept of satellite communication and laid the groundwork for one of the pillars of the modern communication network.

Moorcock's generally dystopian settings do have rather backward-oriented mindset, too - decadent Melnibone, then the end of that universe, although there was also the heroic story of carving out the hinterland of the southern continent from unshaped Chaos by Aubec of Malador, and the necessity to end the world of Melnibone and the young kingdoms to make way for a world of Balance. (Which doesn't really make sense in a multiverse...)

Moorcock's one-dimensional axis of Law vs. Chaos probably is too much of a simplification, much like "left" vs. "right" in the political debate.

 

From a story-teller point of view, a flawless utopia has no potential. A struggling utopia beset by interior destabilization and exterior threats is probably the best view of a world we can get, or alternatively a struggle between several not quite mutually compatible utopias. Otherwise a selective utopia for a few chosen few means a dystopia for most others.

As I said, hard to tell from a single quote, but since he referenced "there and back again" that indicates he read The Hobbit at least, but indicates nothing more. I could well be wrong on how widely and deeply he read Tolkien, but in any case the soundness of his opinion is impossible to tell from such a short article. But thanks for the tip, I'll see if I can find the article or book you reference. And while we could replace "fascist" with any number of less pejorative terms, he presumably used the word he meant to use: for a writer of such accomplishment I would consider it common courtesy, and sense. 😉

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33 minutes ago, Rhialto the Marvellous said:

As I said, hard to tell from a single quote, but since he referenced "there and back again" that indicates he read The Hobbit at least, but indicates nothing more. I could well be wrong on how widely and deeply he read Tolkien, but in any case the soundness of his opinion is impossible to tell from such a short article. But thanks for the tip, I'll see if I can find the article or book you reference. And while we could replace "fascist" with any number of less pejorative terms, he presumably used the word he meant to use: for a writer of such accomplishment I would consider it common courtesy, and sense. 😉

Moorcock was the editor for New Worlds magazine for decades. Not only is he regarded as a major fantasy writer in his now right (he's ranked in the top 50 of UK writers of all time), he is also one of the most authoritative academics of the fantasy genre. To suggest that he had a cursory reading of Tolkien is silly - he actually met Tolkien in person - he's the sort of guy that could present lectures on the subject. Just because he doesn't like Tolkien's work - the reasons of which are well detailed in multiple articles and essays - doesn't mean he hadn't read them in any detail. Quite the opposite in fact.

Edited by TrippyHippy

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19 minutes ago, TrippyHippy said:

Moorcock was the editor for New Worlds magazine for decades. Not only is he regarded as a major fantasy writer in his now right (he's ranked in the top 50 of UK writers of all time), he is also one of the most authoritative academics of the fantasy genre. To suggest that he had a cursory reading of Tolkien is silly - he actually met Tolkien in person - he's the sort of guy that could present lectures on the subject. Just because he doesn't like Tolkien's work - the reasons of which are well detailed in multiple articles and essays - doesn't mean he hadn't read them in any detail. Quite the opposite in fact.

Yes, I'm aware of who he is, but (obviously! 😒) unacquainted with the entirety of his body of work laying at out his opinion on Tolkien (having simply enjoyed his own stories, and read limited quotes by him on others', and now "Epic Pooh"). Since I said "I could well be wrong..." I'll leave it at "Yep, I sure was".

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3 hours ago, Rhialto the Marvellous said:

Yes, I'm aware of who he is, but (obviously! 😒) unacquainted with the entirety of his body of work laying at out his opinion on Tolkien (having simply enjoyed his own stories, and read limited quotes by him on others', and now "Epic Pooh"). Since I said "I could well be wrong..." I'll leave it at "Yep, I sure was".

Fair enough.

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How did we go from "I love Stormbringer because ..." to "Tolkien is a crypto-fascist"?  I don't even know what that is but I suspect it has something to do with Superboy's dog.

So, Tolkien was a closet DC Comics fan?  Who knew!

Edited by seneschal
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14 hours ago, seneschal said:

How did we go from "I love Stormbringer because ..." to "Tolkien is a crypto-fascist"?

Since the interview characterizes Mr. Moorcock as "laughing" when he stated this it presumably indicates he wasn't entirely serious. I'm a fan of Stormbringer the RPG, whatever personal political persuasion spawned the tales it's based on... 

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I have no ties to the Elric property and it is still my preferred Fantasy system. Why? A combination of mechanical things.

 

A lot of things are abstracted and not simulationist. I am well past the point of enjoying buying mountains of books and having to cross reference powers in half a dozen of them to figure out how they interact (D&D style) or even flip through several pages of rules on combat styles, combat maneuvers and those kinds of things. Magic World provides simple, cinematic combat. A couple of swings and misses until someone takes a big hit and then combat is over. Very dramatic and very deadly. I can reference everything I need about combat in a few charts which are pinned to my screen. Despite this simplicity it still scales well to heroic levels with skills over 100% and other rules that allow for PC expansion beyond traditional caps.

 

This same thing extends to every day use of skills. They are all straightforward and relatively simple. This keeps the very large majority of gameplay rolling along at a brisk pace which is exactly what I want as a GM. Story first, mechanics second. However, due to the simplicity of the rules there is plenty of book space to handle the strange exceptions that happen without feeling bloated. Burning, asphyxiation, and little rules like that. Everything is self contained in an easily digestible book.

 

Couple that with a very robust magic system that is only one extra book for a ton of content and I hate to repeat myself, but the whole system is simple and fluid, but gives enough framework to handle just about anything quickly and easily. The simplicity wins the day for me.

Edited by Robsbot
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On 5/19/2018 at 7:27 PM, g33k said:

Please please PLEASE don't suck the forums down a political-theory black hole.

(n.b. despite quoting Algesan above, this is a plea to EVERYONE on this tangent; politics is so divisive these days, and political POV's can be so ardently held, that it can quickly render any forum into a toxic apocalypse).

Sorry, didn't mean to go that way, but when one gets into some of why Moorcock wrote what he wrote........

Politics aside, it still made for a lot of entertaining reading and you don't really need to know this stuff to enjoy reading it...and quite frankly it doesn't hurt once you do know this kind of stuff anyway, at least for his stuff up to 1980 or so. 

 

ACK, did I just create a literary black hole?  ;)

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On 5/13/2018 at 11:29 AM, Jakob said:

No EDO - creatures and non-humans are supposed to be original and often bizarre.

Which is funny, as the Melnibonéans are basicaly another form of elf.

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4 hours ago, soltakss said:

Which is funny, as the Melnibonéans are basicaly another form of elf.

True but a kind of (sigh, dare I say it) deconstruction of the elf.  Or a response to the Tolkien elf specifically. 

As an aside, whether intentional or not, I think the Vulcans of Enterprise had a kind of Melnibonean feel to them. Just a bit. 

Edited by Sean_RDP

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I think what Strombringer did (and does) as an RPG is give people permission to do and be something different, whether it is their first or a hundred and first rpg. Yes it is fantasy / sword - sorcery, but it breaks not only established rules but established themes.  Saving the world is impossible, though I suppose some people likely ran their campaigns that way (and that is fine). It is not so much a fantasy rpg as much as a test of character: do you get rich while the world burns or do you try and make something of yourself, do something memorable even if no one (save I guess Strombringer itself) is going to remember?  Even today with so many great settings, that feels a little mind blowing. 

But then I am a fan of the genre, the author, the books, the character, and the game. I might be a little biased. 

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