#RPGaDay2022 – Day 5: Why?

Today’s question for #RPGaDay2022 interrogates our choices from earlier in the week by exposing the connections between who we are introducing to roleplaying games, what game will serve as the medium of that introduction, our own experiences with being a beginning roleplayer, and the place in which that introduction will take place. That’s a lot to pack into a three-letter word. It doesn’t stop there, of course. We still have tomorrow’s question to consider, and it too flows from what has gone before.

It’s not too late to join in and share your positive experiences with RPGs!

Why would they like this game?

Now, let’s go with the notion that imagination can change the past and that not only did I have the sense to invite “Roger” to play an RPG with us, but that I had had access to Stormbringer in those days. He was not a reader, and so would have no direct experience of Elric or any other incarnations of the Eternal Champion through the books of Michael Moorcock, but he loved metal and understood on a fundamental level that Lemmy was god, and so the pitch for the game could have exposed him to more music to enjoy or let him draw on experiences he had already had. Sadly, I don’t know if “Roger” had ever listened to Hawkwind (with or without Lemmy) or Blue Oyster Cult when I knew him. I know that I hadn’t. Those joys were still ahead of me.

Stormbringer stems from the in-your-face truths of RuneQuest and is a game that laughs in the face of ‘game balance’ like the albino wielder of the titular black blade laughs in the face of impending doom. In other words, if played as more than a 1:1 game, it takes a little finesse on a social level to use its tools to provide a whole group with a full-on fun experience of exploring the Young Kingdoms, the crumbling ruins of Melnibone, and the vast planes of the multiverse. If I were to use the game now, this would be fairly easy as I have lots of experience with running games with troupes of characters, and I have experience with managing expectations and identifying how a game will influence play and feelings about play. Running the original Stormbringer as written would be much easier now than it would have been for me then – but the experience, I am sure, would still have been transformative. You see, back then, it was much easier to embrace the wild chaos inherent in the game, and to live in its moments of madness and meaning. Your mileage may vary of course, and that is a strength of the hobby, but for me in those days – Stormbringer would have been a song I was born to sing. Finding it, in those days, would have changed my gaming forever as later – in the real world – Call of Cthulhu would. If that had happened, and if that joy had been shared, I think a significant part of “Roger’s” enjoyment would have been supported by my own love of the universe, my excitement in harnessing the system, and the desire to play again and again, and keep on playing. He would have brought a lot of the wildness and abandon to the game that the setting material begs for. His journey into the Young Kingdoms, and his chaotic reaction to the blend of darkness and danger that Moorcock suggests and that I seem to foster would have framed some memorable and wildly unpredictable games.

1st Edition

Through it all, I might imagine Lemmy laughing and telling us in his way: Everything louder than everything else.

Other than these elements which are a part of that mysterious alchemy of play, the system’s basics are logical and do not need much explanation. Percentile systems tend to be easy to explain and implement, and can scale toward more difficulty as time, interest, and ability dictate. There is a lot of detail which can be found in Stormbringer, but much if not most of it falls on the GM. Better yet, the type of play it encourages is to focus on singular actions and intentions, getting caught up in the moment, and just talking normally about what you are doing as the character. Interruptions into the flow of intentions, actions, interactions, and reactions are minimal and quick. As such, it can feel easier to learn on the system side as a player than as a GM. If a person has some insight into the setting? It doesn’t take long to get off to the races – especially with the books as your guide. Moorcock’s short stories have a tendency to set a spectacular scene, then dump the hero deep into a tragedy from which their attitude, skills, and capacity for violence can free them. This sort of ease of entry is precisely what I look for in an introductory game: the dice are analogs to action and if not employed via a unified mechanism are at least typically used in just one way most of the time, and the discourse between players is direct and mainly in-character, and the setting is not subtle~

This is the really real world and there ain’t no “coming back”

Sadly, imagination cannot truly change the past and so I have also been providing answers for a hypothetical group or player to be introduced in these modern times. In this example, it is Broken Compass that we are using, and the people involved like action movies and days of high adventure.

Why would these folks like the game? As above, it does not have a steep barrier to entry and more than that, it has a mechanism for the dice which many of them are likely going to be familiar with from Yahtzee. This starts us out with a certain amount of comfort.

That comfort can continue with pre-gens that can be recognized easily as archetypal representations of favorite movie characters. If instead we go through chargen, they will soon return to comfort and familiarity as the procedure for making characters works from easily recognizable roles and traits and matches them with a simple and visual representation on a small character sheet.

Another reason that the group will like Broken Compass is that it will grow in options as they grow in familiarity with how it works in play. It can start as a simple binary pass/fail mechanism that then deepens into a much more sophisticated set of tools for the risk and reward interactions that make going to the dice and delving into roleplay and description so very much fun.

So much love and excitement in every page!

Finally, the game’s presentation and infectious enthusiasm, combined with my own, is very likely to serve as a catalyst that ignites the imaginations in the room and sets us on a rocket-fueled joyride into adventure!

Tomorrow’s Question: How would you get more people playing this RPG?

One Response to “#RPGaDay2022 – Day 5: Why?”
  1. Why would they like Delta Green… because of my knowledge of modern government and military I’m exquisitely suited for the genre.

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