Most of my campaigns focus on the battle between Law and Chaos, not Good and Evil. Even if it isn’t the focus of the campaign, it will turn up. Like in my latest campaign, the party has traveled far enough to the North that the veneer of Law is breaking down, and the planetary crust is less than a mile deep before it breaks off into chaos – and someone was trying to break down one of the anchors that keeps it that way.
This probably has to do with two things that are closely linked in my fantasy history.
1. I love the Eternal Champion series by Michael Moorcock. It was my introduction to “adult” sword & sorcery fantasy at the age of 9 (prior to that, my first fantasy novels were the Chronicles of Prydain) and because of it, I have never been able to truly enjoy Tolkien’s works or the many Tolkien-derivative works out there.
2. The first D&D set I owned was the Moldvay Basic set. No Good and Evil alignments to be seen, which reinforced the concepts I had picked up from my Moorcock readings.
Thus I look at my Elric! and Stormbringer RPG books with great fondness – even though I’m not a fan of the BRP system overall and prefer my fantasy RPGs to be D&D-based. But what is lacking in these D&D-based games is the awesome demon summoning from Stormbringer. I tried in vain to make the system from the d20 version of the game (Dragon Lords of Melniboné) work, but it wasn’t all that well ported to the d20 system (actually, very little of that book was, sadly).
While much of Lamentations is a lightly house-ruled B/X D&D (with awesome art and production), hidden away in the spells is the wonderful level 1 Magic User spell “Summon”.
Originally, I was going to reproduce the whole spell here, with the OGL declaration and everything. But really, just go download the PDF from RPGnow. The spell in question is on page 134 of the no-art version. It actually goes from 134 to 143. At heart, it is a chaos-demon summoning spell ripped right out of the old school love for all things random, chaotic and magical. It’s as close to a Stormbringer summoning as I’ve seen yet, and it makes me ecstatic.
In fact, it was the inspiration for what burned down the house in Imp Brucke. A summons gone tragically wrong, but where the summoned beast didn’t get to stick around for long.
For use in a regular campaign, I would recommend sitting down for an hour before hand and rolling up a selection of random summons at each Hit Die level you expect the player(s) to use, just to speed up play a bit (well, a lot).
Now that you’ve read the spell, give me one good reason why you aren’t incorporating it into your OSR D&D-alike game. Right now I’ll tell you that your reason is bunk. This spell has legs. Let it run free!