Sunday, September 30, 2012

BRP vs Sword and Sorcery

One of the things that I've noticed thus far is that BRP does not necessarily emulate the cinematic feel of the typical sword and sorcery yarn without some tweaking.  I am currently using the Elric! rulebook, as well as the big gold BRP rulebook.   If you'll permit a bit of a digression, the latter is one of the most valuable rpg books that I've ever purchased.  Not only does it succinctly present Chaosium's house system, it presents pages of optional rules that can seamlessly integrated.

What that in mind, I have chosen to employ one of these options in order to make my DIY sword & sorcery campaign feel more like, well, sword and sorcery.  In the stories that I read as a kid (Conan, Elric, Kane, Fafhrd and The Grey Mouser), the heroes are all, as rule, supremely skilled.  Sure, they are certainly beaten about quite a bit, but they always persevere, a little worse for wear, but alive and ready to celebrate.

Although the Elric! system certainly conveys Moorcock's particular subversion of the genre, I have found that the characters created with this system are not very heroic.  In other words, they are easy to kill, which, even in Moorcock's gloomy universes, is contrary to the spirit of this genre.  Sure, Elric and Corum eventually die, but they do so after accomplishing great feats.  Their deaths may be tragic and ironic, but they aren't senseless or untimely.  I suppose Corum's might be senseless, but I'd need to go back and reread his chronicle.  It has been a long time.   Elric dies after he has saved the world by destroying.  There is literally nothing left of his world for him to salvage - nothing.

As a GM, I have found myself pulling punches, as it were, to prevent a lowly thief from cleaving one of my PCs down with one well-placed blow.  While I want death to be possible in the game that I'm running, I would prefer that my players' characters aren't dispatched by a toady.  If they are going to die, it is going to be at the hands of one of the badder, full-fledged villains that will eventually oppose them.

With this in mind, I am have opted to provide the PCs with significantly higher hit points.  In a typical BRP game, hit points are the average of SIZ +CON.  The average is typically somewhere around 12 or something.  In my game, hit points will simply be the sum of SIZ+CON.   The minimum should be somewhere around 20 points.  This means that it will be much easier for PCs to avoid succumbing to critical hits, and they will withstand more than two sword strokes.

There are still plenty of other simpler systems out there that strive to emulate the genre, and I am sure that they succeed, but I happen to like the BRP system.   Given its modular nature, it is easy to tweak the system to suit one's needs.

No comments:

Post a Comment