Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Elric to Mongoose
There’s an unfulfilled yearning I’ve had for a long time. It was the hope that Chaosium (the guys that publish the Call of Cthulhu RPG) would really support their Michael Moorcock licensed game Stormbringer. It was the first non-TSR game I ever played that I honestly enjoyed and it was also my first introduction to Elric, the multiverse and the Eternal Champion. Well, that’s not entirely true as I had read the Oswald Bastable stories years before but at that time I hadn’t realized their connections to Moorcock’s other works. After playing the Stormbringer RPG, I immediately went out and scooped up and read all the Elric novels. This of course led me to Hawkmoon and Corum as well as the rest of the Eternal Champion titles. The battle between Law and Chaos both in the books and in the game was a fantastic backdrop for the adventures. Also the dimensional and time travel aspects fired me up as I greatly enjoy this type of fantasy.
Eventually, I bought all the Stormbinger game materials I could get my hands on, many from used bookstores. The product line went through many aborted restarts that included a name change to Elric for a while and even a poorly adapted version for D20. Many promised supplements never came out as the line was always thrown on the back burner in deference to Call of Cthulhu. We finally did see a Corum supplement and Chaosium finally put out some of their unpublished but promised books out as monographs (cheap photocopy tape bound books) but the fan base for their Moorcock inspired works seemed greatly reduced as was the enthusiasm for game itself.
Recently, I discovered that Mongoose Publishing acquired the RPG rights to the whole Eternal Champion line including Elric from Chaosium. See the link here. In the end it’s probably a good thing because Chaosium really wasn’t doing a whole lot with it (the biggest missed opportunity of the RPG world in my opinion), plus they had terribly damaged their relationship with Michael Moorcock. Still, it is a little sad as I thought we just might be on the verge of a Basic Role-Playing System Renaissance, Basic Role-Playing being Chaosium’s house system. Elric and Hawkmoon, which are coming out very soon, will be using Mongoose’s new Runequest rules (MRQ) to make them compatible with other game products they publish. This is good as the original Runequest formed the foundation for Basic Role-Playing (BRP) and Stormbringer, although the new Mongoose Runequest rules has been tweaked to make it appeal more to D20 fans.
I’m a little leery on dumping money on these new game products as I have spent a ton of cash on Mongoose’s Conan line only to see it revamped with an updated second addition. This is very much like how many fans were stuck when Wizards of the Coast decided to go from 3 to 3.5 on D&D. But if the past is any kind of prolog, Mongoose Publishing will be putting out a bunch of supplements for the Eternal Champion line, something Chaosium was unwilling or unable to do.
To sum it up, I guess it feels like I was in a relationship where I was never getting what I needed or wanted but still I stayed. Now, that bad relationship is over and I wonder if I should start a new one. I think I'll wait and see. I waited so long for Chaosium to step up to the plate, I guess I can wait a little longer to see if Mongoose’s game is any good before I buy.