Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Elric! Summoning Rules

It has been awhile since I've posted anything.  I have run three sessions thus far of a campaign that is set loosely within the Northern Continent of Moorcock's Young Kingdoms.  I transplanted my own city, Hrulvir, into the setting, and I am using it as a base of operations.  My current roster includes an Organ necromancer and Half-Melnibonean warrior-sorcerer with a wicked sword-arm and a selfish streak.

We spent the last session on logistics - specifically summoning demons.  Much to our chagrin, we discovered that the rules outlined in the otherwise wonderful Elric! rulebook are, to say the least, obscure.  Ironically, the player with whom I spent last session working through the laborious summoning process seemed perturbed by the balance-shattering powers that are available to the sorcerer that successfully summons and binds a demon.

Although I remarked that Elric! is not a game that is overly concerned with balance, my nostrums did little to persuade my player that creating a sword capable of inflicting 2D10 points of damage would ruin the game.  I even went so far as to assure him that his adversaries would most certainly wield weapons of comparable power, which did little to allay his misgivings.  As a matter of fact, I think it bolstered his his misgivings.

I should say that I have never subscribed to the idea that a GM should go out of their way to kill their players' characters.  I am not saying that death isn't possible in my campaigns.  My players and I are grizzled adults with limited time to spare on something as trivial as an antiquated RPG; the only reason why we do this is that we still enjoy tossing dice and engaging in collaborative storytelling.  It would be anticlimactic, in my opinion, if my characters, the focus of this melodrama, were repeatedly bumped off by adversaries lucky enough to circumvent their blades and their baroque, demon-infested armor.

With this in mind, I took my friend's reservations to heart, and we devised (rather quickly) our own summoning rules.  I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge that my friend responsible for the lion's share of the innovations contained within this system. I add a few touches, and I have since exercised GM prerogative and revised some of the rules that we hashed out.  For the one other person out there who actually knows about, cares about, or, perhaps, plays Elric!, I hope that these revisions come in handy.

Revised Summoning Rules

1)      Cast Summon Demon (8 Points).
2)      Roll under your luck score (POW x 5).  If successful, devote the 8 points to the demon’s attributes.  If you fail, you lose the 8 MPs and the demon fails to materialize.
3)       All demons must have at least 1d8 in every attribute, including SIZ, DEX, and APP.
4)      For a lesser demon, 3d8 must be devoted to POW.  No more than 24d8s may be devoted to attributes.  No Skills or abilities may exceed 100%.
5)      Use your pool of MPs to purchase demonic abilities, skills, as you see fit.
6)      Per the normal rules, a lesser binding costs 1 POW.  An eternal binding costs 3 POW.
7)      POW: POW contest to successfully bind the demon.  The demon reveals its true name.
8)      If you’re binding a demon into a weapon or armor, use the Damage Bonus determined by adding STR+SIZE and add it to weapon’s damage.  For demon armor, add CON and SIZE, consult the same table, and add that to the armor’s stoppage capacity.
9)      Additional d6s of protection or damage may be purchased for 10 MP.
10)   Describe how the item looks and make a CHA roll.  If you only put 1d8 in APP, your loss.  The DM will determine what a successful or failure means with regard to the appearance of your item.
11)   Think up a suitable need for the demon, or the DM will do it for you.

The Trials and Tribulations of World Building

Since I am relatively new to running my own game, I thought it might be helpful if I jotted down some observations about the world-building process.  I have thus far run one session of campaign called The City of the Groaning Gate.  The titular city is called Hrulvir, which is an unabashed pastiche of Lankhmar, Sanctuary, and every other city that looms imposingly within the books that I've read throughout the years.

Thus far, I have a huge city lurking behind impenetrable black walls, that sits on the shore of the flint-grey Eastern Sea.  The broad, slow-moving Black River snakes past on its western flank and continues to slither languidly across the length of the continent until it eventually empties into the Western Sea 

Hrulvir is positioned between the Serpent Spires, a range of mountains that stretch horizontally across the continent, and The Barrier Peaks, a range which form a vertical ridge down the eastern shoreline.  North of the Serpent Spires is an icy waste teeming with marauding tribes of subhumans.  Far south, the vast Wastes of Ahura bake underneath a cruel sun.

This is really all I have right now.  I know that there are several trade towns located along the Black River. There is also a horde of beastly warriors assembling under one banner along the Northern Wastes, known as the Crimson Horde

I am a firm believer in the notion that the setting will create itself as the story unfolds.   This has played out during every attempt that I've made to write stories, and I'm hoping that the same holds true when I run this game.