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Stormbringer, 1981 edition, by Chaosium

Stormbringer, 1981 edition, by Chaosium

An albino prince travels the Young Kingdoms wielding an ancient and terrible sword, the last remnant of his once great people.

Stormbringer is the Chaosium RPG set in the world of Michael Moorcock’s Elric Saga. The game has gone through several editions under Chaosium (including one edition called Elric! instead of Stormbringer) and a new version is now being published by Mongoose Publishing. The classic edition were written by Ken St. Andre (famous as the man still behind Tunnels and Trolls all these years later) and Steve Perrin (of Elfquest and Runequest).

The game itself is much akin to other BRP games, using D&D-like stats and a percentile system for skills – including combat skills. Classes determine what skills a character starts with (although they also gain a small number of freely-chosen skills). One thing that stands out compared to many games of the era is the humanocentric game environment, with no non-human races for characters.

The game makes references on several occasions to the Runequest rules, directing readers to that game if they need additional information or explanations of systems presented in Stormbringer.

One problem I’ve had with Stormbringer over it’s many incarnations is that character creation tends to create a moderately skilled adventurer, but on occasion it spits out a truly epic character. This suits the genre well as Elric is such an epic character and he is accompanied by much less skilled companions, but it can make extended campaigns boring for the supporting characters when one player gets the majority of the limelight in combat.

As with most D&D-like games, character creation begins by randomly determining stats using 3d6 for each stat, rolled in order.I get a fairly large man who is clumsy but hardy, and not very inclined towards magic. His large Size and decent Constitution give him a fair number of starting hit points. Next we roll for nationality – the hope is of course to roll a 01 or 02 on the percentile dice to be Melnibonean and reap the ability score rewards that come with it. However, a roll of 15 makes our young man of Dharijoran descent and gains 3 Constitution.

As a Dharijoran, he has been immersed in the cult of chaos all his life. A roll of 13 indicates that he is a warrior by profession, and a further d10 roll of 9 makes him an Assassin. This gives him a variety of both combat and stealth skills. His physique and dexterity work against him as a warrior and assassin, but hopefully his training will make up the difference, otherwise he’ll be relying on those hit points a little too often.

Every character has a set of skill bonuses based on ability scores – Attack, Parry, Stealth and so on. These are determined now and modify any skill of the appropriate types. Generally they take a set of 2 or 3 ability scores and calculate a bonus based on how much over 12 or under 9 each stat is. The game also uses a set of minimum stats to wield various weapons effectively, and with Dirrin’s very low Dexterity, this seriously impacts his weapon choices.

Dirrin gets the maximum number of additional skills (8), and I settle on Evaluate Treasure, Memorize, Set Trap, Persuade, See, Track, Dodge and First Aid. As Dirrin does not have an INT + POW of 32+, he is not a sorcerer, and character creation ends here for our clumsy assassin.

Name: Dirrin Anders
Origin: Dharijor
Age: 25
Class: Assassin

Strength: 10
Constitution: 16
Size: 15
Intelligence: 13
Power: 7
Dexterity: 7
Charisma: 10

Hit Points: 19

Abilities
Attack Ability: -3%
Parry Ability: -7%
Melee Damage: +1d6
Missile Damage: +1d4
Agility Ability: -7%
Manipulation Ability: -3%
Perception Ability: -1%
Stealth Ability: -4%
Knowledge Ability: +2%
Communication Ability: -1%

Skills
Broadsword Attack 47%
Broadsword Parry 43%
Spear Attack 37%
Spear Parry 33%
Target Shield Attack 27%
Target Shield Parry 23%
Ride 57%
Poison Lore 32%
Search 24%
Move Quietly 46%
Hide 36%
Ambush 46%
Listen 49%
Evaluate Treasure 39%
Memorize 46%
Set Trap 36%
Persuade 38%
See 16%
Track 38%
Dodge 26%
First Aid 32%

Kit
Broadsword 1d8+1
Spear 1d6+1
Target Shield 1d6
Half-Plate 1d8-1
104 Large Bronze Pieces

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