#RPGADAY2020 - 2 - Change


Staff member

Day 2 and a different graphic.

The style of game I prefer has changed, and I can tie it back to a single session. I ran an extended campaign of Elric! (later updated as Stormbringer 5th Edition) and it was a blast. A group of us from used to gather from across the north of England and we explored the Young Kingdoms with gusto and verve. We embraced one of the slickest interpretations of the d100 rules wholeheartedly, and after several years of gaming, we'd reached the place where we had potent sorcerers, weapons masters, demonic allies and honest thieves who could usually take down any target they set their mind to.

I was running a heavily modified take of 'The Fang and the Fountain' (from an earlier edition's game compilation) and had set up a big climax for the part of the campaign that we were in. It was getting increasingly difficult to get the gang together, as life was pulling us in different directions, so I wanted this to be an epic afternoon of gaming. The characters swiftly followed the threads and arrived at the tower where the enemy awaited. The battle ensued... and went on... and on... and on... and eventually, nearly six hours later, the players triumphed.

I'd run the battle like clockwork, trying to keep a pace to it and I was drained. It probably took ten minutes or so of game time, but much more in real life. The characters were at a level where their skills and abilities were high enough that damage was really only happening on when criticals met fumbles.

I loved where we got to in the campaign, and at the same time, it had led me to fall out of love with a game engine that I'd spent hours playing. I couldn't face playing it again, not after that battle. I think we'd gone beyond the sweet spot of basic roleplaying and it had become a grind like AD&D used to feel. I knew I had to change.

I'd been introduced to Hero Wars (aka HeroQuest aka HeroQuest Glorantha) at Continuum, and that planted a seed in my mind. What if I converted Stormbringer to the HeroQuest engine. Although it has a few quirks, the system resolves conflict quickly and scales well. I foolishly mentioned this on the Tavern, and Loz Whittaker encouraged me to take it further. Several months later, in time for the next Continuum and ready to go in the con book, I had twenty-four thousand words written and a nice slickly working hack that Graham actually ran for me at the con. The plan was to print to con book after the convention. Unfortunately, at the convention, Mongoose acquired the rights to Stormbringer and Hawkmoon, and all chances of it seeing publication disappeared. Disheartened, I abandoned my plans to relaunch our campaign with the hack.

What I took for this was a newfound appetite for more simple systems, especially those that portrayed characters who were competent well. Ultimately, it's taken me into the arms of both the Apocalypse and the stripped-down brutality of parts of the OSR. My love for d100 engines was broken, and my perspectives changed.

2 August 2020

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