Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Stormbringer 1E Laughing Tower Session Reflection and Rules Clarification

Although the first session of Laughing Tower went swimmingly, due to my exhaustion I did not do an equal job the second time. I give myself a C and will do better in session three if the players are still up for it.

Such is life.

Anyway, inspired by the session, here are two rules clarifications I sent to players:

  1. 1) As for the Description (ie the 2 high or low attributes), once a session you can now invoke them for a Story effect when you are in a hopeless situation (ie imminent death or deadend in the scenario) that normal skills can't get you out of. Basically, roleplay something cool and believable, then tell me which attribute you are invoking and you can change something in the scene to your benefit. For example, last session, Maleia dropped to her knees before the tower guardian and pleaded, "Please spare my friend! If you kill him, you are not better than any Chaos beast!" To which he replied, "Drag your friend into the tower and begone!" There is no payback from the GM, just use a Description to move things along. Note it is not a superpower, so don't ask for the impossible.

  2. 2) As for the Life Purpose, let's say everytime you advance your goal, you get a point to use to either increase an attribute or buy a level in a skill. So since Soo got information from the Oracle about how to restore Melnibone, he gets a point to use as he wishes. There is no payback from the GM, just think about a way from what is happening to advance your goal.

  3. So these abilities don't exist in old school games, but I feel would add a lot. next session, feel free to try them out. I'll tell you whether it is appropriate, and there is no harm in trying.

Play report coming soonish!

By the way, the Chaos minor nobles the characters may meet next session look like this:

Sunday, April 24, 2022

The Laughing Tower (Stormbringer 1E) play report # 1

 The Laughing Tower play report

1st Session

Chapter One - The High Priest has a dream; his motley crew; a journey into the countryside; father comes home

1. Soo Tay's Dream


High Priest of Pyaray (Melnionean Chapter) Soo Teeba awoke from the nightmare with a start. Strangely, he had had no dreams he remembered since the Sack of Imrryr by Pan Tang a year ago. He had wandered around the Young Kingdoms, as if in a daze, half thankful that his worship of the same oceanic god as Melnibone’s conquerors had let him escape from the doomed city of Imrryr, and half dreading spending the rest of his life among the dirty brutes of the Dumb Kingdoms.


In his dream he had seen a tower of shimmering rainbow, piercing the ground in a farflung cowtown of the Southern Continent, shattering the cobblestones of its central hall. He saw bestial visages grinning with madness emerge and spread violence and fire among the town. Lava bubbled from fissures that rent the ground, and brimstone pierced his nostrils. He heard the laughter of the tower's inhabitaants, the cries of terror of the townsfolk, and watched from above as these latter grabbed their ragbags and mewling brats and fled the inferno that was once their hometown.


His consciousness moved into the thin tower, which opened up into a large hall bustling with carousing figures, where wine splashed into cups and blades flashed across bodies, but where the laughter never ceased.


Images flashes below his closed eyelids.


Daggers thunking into a spinning wheel emblazoned with symbols from the Deck of Fate.


A labyrinth of blueish stone strewn with coins and stoppered philtres through which ghostly footsteps echoed.


A robed figure peering abyssally dark eyes into a swirling prismarine ball.


A fountain into which hands flipped coins stamped with the 8 arrowed mark of Chaos.


And the same mark burned into the flesh of people twisted into hideous and beautiful shapes.


Finally, he saw and heard beautiful mouths laughing, ever laughing at the Chaos they had sewn.


Soo arose and left his cabin to ascend to the deck of his silver Melnibonean yacht, an heirloom of his family, one whose eldritch craftsmanship no living person could now emulate. He looked upon the length of the beauteous vessel and sighed at the two roughhewn figures he saw at either end of it.


Billy Bones, a Vilmaran seaman of no mean skill with boats and blades, was hanging upside down from the stern, trying to jimmy an ornamental gem from its gilded socket on the escutcheon. Ganzaiyah, the desert nomad, sat at the prow fletching arrows and chewing a mix of pipeweed and aromatic herbs that most westerners believed was camel dung. Camel dung smoking barbarians were an ill founded myth. Among Ganzaiyah's people the fungus 'Ergot' is picked from the underside of Rye stalks and smoked in small quantities with tobacco. It's effects are sensory enhancing and mildly hallucinogenic to the uninitiated. These two would be the muscle he needed for this venture to the tower of his dream, and would take any blade or bowshot meant for him.


Soo smiled, turned and looked into the cabin. A Kohl eyed beauty sat writing in a ledger. Maleia of Ilmiora had been a shopmistress of an herbalist he had visited, and whose entire store he had bought out. Impressed by her business acumen and ability to talk to her fellow subhumans, he had left the drudgery of all mundane transactions to her. On the other side of the cabin sat a Dharijoran priest of Strassha he had made the acquaintance of. Although their gods were nominally rivals, in manners of the fickle sea, Soo knew it was better to have two patrons than one. And the young priest, Vinket by name, was an eager pupil to Soo’s ambition.


If he would need any souls to sacrifice, these two would suffice.


This dream was a portent of power, a promise of a way for Soo to restore Melnibone to her glory, and drive the Pan Tangan upstarts back to their seacaves, or to the sweeps of Pyaray’s longship.


Soo grasped the chain of his ship’s bell and rang it three times. The humans gathered below him at the foot of the steps.


“I have news.” He told the upturned faces of his followers. “We sail for Argimiliar. Have you not heard of the Hall of Risk?"

The humans nodded. Everyone knew the tale. 40 years ago a mysterious gaming hall had appeared on the Western Continent, a site of chaos spilling over onto the Earth. Many lives were ruined and fortunes made, while Chaos seeped ever more into the world.

"Now" Soo continued, "a new hall has appeared, a laughing tower, and it seems the cycle has begun anew. This is my chance for power undreamt of. You shall all be richly rewarded."

Billy Bones' eyes gleamed. This is what he was here for. Chaos or Law, it mattered little to him who stamped the coins. With this windfall he could replace the ship and crew lost in an unearthly storm that swept him from rich captain down to thieving crewman. Maleia herself never turned down a chance for profit whatever the risk, and this only confirmed her decision to quit her shop in Ilmar when Soo offered her employ in his retinue. The young sea priest Vinket for his part dreamt of gaining power to become a force in Dharijor to protect it from the depredations of Pan Tang, who would surely turn its attention to his homeland with Melnibone out of the way.

The motives of the barbarian, Gansaiyah, remained a mystery to his fellows. They would have been surprised to know that, although he welcomed the coin and chance to spill blood, in his mind's eye he also knew that this was his chance to find the lover he knew destiny had in store for him.

2. From Cassandra

Maleia rushed about the bustling city of Cassandra, making deals, securing mounts, gear and provisions for her employer and her companions. They had arrived here on Soo Teeba's yacht this morning, and she had until noon to prepare mounts and equipment for their expedition to the tower's site in the hinterlands to the east. She had secured a safe berth for the alien silver vessel, then ran into town to do her work.

Soo had warned her she would "Face the wrath of Pyaray!" if she failed in securing provisions for the trek. Maleia had laughed. She didn't take the Melnionean's threats seriously, and had unfailing confidence in her business abilities.

Cassandra was a progressive metropolis, and folk of all races and creeds rubbed shoulders largely harmoniously there. Pyramids of Law glared at Spires of Chaos across wide avenues. Folk of all nations of the Young Kingdoms exchanged greetings and coins, and among them bobbed figures of alien dress or demeanor. Maleia felt she could settle there and make a name for herself amid such a diverse clientele.

True to her word, riding horses for the others, a workhorse and cart for her, and enough food and gear for the journey were all waiting at the city's east gate as the sun took prominence in the sky above. Without a word of thanks, the Melnibonean mounted his ebony stallion and they were off. Maleia took the reins of the horse cart, and the young sea priest seated himself besides her with a nod. The scurvy seaman Bones rode a tan fjord pony, while the desert nomad Gansiyah seated himself deftly on a roan and steered it with clicks and whistles.

As they proceeded into the countryside, Soo's retinue could see that Argimiliar was a beautiful land of rolling hills and immense forests. Farms with pens of the long horned yet docile Argimiliar cattle dotted the grasslands, and horsemen greeted the group as they passed.

As the afternoon waned, the party began to encounter clumps of disheveled people walking towards Cassandra. These were refugees, some injured, all scared and shocked. Soo thought he recognized some of their faces from his dream.

"We should talk to someone, get some information" offered Bones. Maleia agreed, stopped her cart and approached a large farmboy walking with his family.

"Can you tell us whither you come in such haste?" she asked.

"We flee from Shet" the large farmboy offered.

"What happened?"

"This morn a strange tower appeared at dawn, bursting as if from the ground, through our town hall. Then smoke and burning rock erupted from a dozen places. We gathered what we could and left town. As we fled, we heard terrible laughter, then the screams of our neighbors. We daren't look back, but took to our heels."

Maleia was silent for a moment to let the man calm himself after the doubtless bitter memory.. 

She continued, "My pities. But we have business with that tower. Can you lead us there?"

The young man hesitated, then replied.

"For coin, I will lead you as far back as Farmer Tinble's place, but no further. Tis not safe. You may stay there the night."

Maleia looked at Soo, who nodded his assent.

"Very well" she replied to the young man. "I will count you enough coins to provide for your family in Cassandra. Is this fair?"

The man agreed and bade her pass the coins to his parents. The young man made his farewells, promising his worried folk he would come later. His parents and siblings turned towards Cassandra, and trundled off.

"Follow me."

The youth lead the party in silence, over the scenic countryside only marred by the hobbling figures of the displaced. As evening fell they could make out smoke on the horizon, ominous columns rising to pollute the sky before it darkened and hid them from the adventurers' view. But the acrid smell remained.

True to his word, the youth, who they learned was named Henk, led them to Farmer Tinble's, a simple yet sturdy ranch a few hours walk from Shet. Henk went in to talk to the farmer and secure their lodging. A few minutes later he returned, shaking his head.

"The farmer and his oldest son have gone to Shet and not returned. His wife is sick with worry, as are their children. Be that as it may, Mother Tinble has agreed for you to stay. There are two small rooms in the farmhouse, but the hayloft of the barn is much wider. Now, I must catch my family."

Maleia thanked the youth and he trudged off into the night the way they had come.

High Priest Soo walked into the farmhouse, Bones trailing him with his bags. Mother Tinble's eyes widened at the sight of him, but Argimiliar folk were open to all people and hid their surprise well.

"Where is your best room?" he asked sardonically. Mother Tinble pointed upstairs, and Soo proceeded up to a guestroom that, although lavish by country standards, was nothing more to Soo than a sign of the devolution and decay of this world since Melnibone had fallen. He took his bags from Bones brawny tattooed arms, then slammed the door in his face.

After settling his employer for the night, Bones wandered into the kitchen and saw Mother Tinble preparing warm milk for her children.

"How about a cuppa tea, then?" he beamed at her warmly. As she bustled about he rummaged all the drawers and came up with some scattered silverware for his troubles. Not a great haul by any means, but a start, and Bone turned his nose up at nothing in his unceasing hunt for coin.

Feeling some unease at what was to come, the sea priest Vinket asked Mother Tinble where the well was, then followed her directions and set his bedroll down on the earth besides the water source before making his nightly prayer to Staasha, Lord of All Wetness. He would sleep soundly under the protection of his deity tonight, he felt.

In the barn, Gansaiyah crawled up into the hayloft silent as a cat and was instantly asleep, his sword and bow at his side. Maleia sighed and set her bedroll atop the cart. But she could not sleep. Although her lust for wealth blinded her to danger, from deep inside some primal instinct warned her of what was to come.

Finally, Maleia spread her bedroll under the cart and crawled in on top of it. Any threat would have to work to get her, she reasoned, then drifted off to sleep.

3. Father Comes Home

Gansaiyah's animal-like senses awoke him instantly. Something moved in the darkened barn, making the sound of giant fingers drumming on a table.

His hand went to a bow and he notched an arrow, then peered into the darkness of the barn from his vantage point in the hayloft. He could see the horsecart below, but Maleia was nowhere to be seen. Had she gone into the house, or somewhere else? Then he saw a shape scuttling through the barn door. No mistaking that it was a spider, but the size of a large dog or small man, and where the flattened head and 8 eyes should have been, instead a man's neck and head protruded at an angle.

"By the winds of Hsung-Nu!" he whispered, invoking the god of the desert sky, then let his arrow fly. It hit into the creature's side with a squelch. The creature shrieked in pain, a sound that made Gansaiyah shudder, but he nocked and sent another arrow into the monster's flank before it could react.

"ATTACK!" Gansaiyah bellowed to wake his comrades and draw needed aid.

Although pierced by two arrows, the spider-thing belched a great gob of viscous green fluid at the desert dweller, which missed but began to eat away at the guardrail from behind which he had shot. Gansaiyah loosed another arrow but it missed its mark, then with a leap the creature flew up to his position and snapped at him. Gansaiyah did not see that Maleia had snuck out from under the horse cart and slashed at the spider-thing's hindlegs, but to no avail.

The spider's man-face snapped at Gansaiyah but he parried with his beloved bow, which the creature's mandible gouged horribly. Next, it bit again and savaged his leather armor and the flesh beneath it. Unbeknownst to him, the eldest son of Farmer Timble had woken the house screaming incoherently about his father in the barn, and the sailor Bones had come to see what the commotion was. As he entered the barn door, he saw the spider leap at Gansaiyah as Maleia crept out from under her bedroll below the horse cart. Bones ran and began to clamber up the ladder to the right of the loft, while Maleai ascended the left.

Now the thing was between Gansaiyah and Bones, and both men scored hits, while Maleia jockeyed for a striking position on the narrow ledge from behind the barbarian. As Gansaiyah raised his broadsword for another blow, all were frozen by the anguished cry of the farmer's son.

"NO! FATHER!" he sobbed from the doorway, looking up at the spider-thing that had once been Farmer Timble.

The spider creature looked at his son with sad eyes and ceased his movement, frozen by all he had lost to Chaos. It was then that Gansaiyah gave him the mercy of his blade, and cleanly sent the farmer's head flying down to the barn floor, when it came to rest at the feet of its son.

Gansaiyah dropped to his knees in pain and exhaustion, while Bones and Maleaia scanned the area for other threats. Just as they relaxed and turned to their injured comrade, the voice of their Melnibonean leader came down to them from his bedroom in Farmer Timble's house. 

"Do keep that racket down" High priest Soo called, then slammed the window shut and returned to bed, muttering about the brutish behaviour of these barbarians. But deep inside, he was very pleased to have had his first glimpse of raw Chaos and the power it promised.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Stormbringer Redux # 13 Skills Revisited


Rereading the old Stormbringer 1e skill list, it is both clunky in places, liberatingly spartan in others, and refreshingly evocative of the source material. Here, I'll try to wrap my head around how to use the skills as written, and what changes would make them support play better.

NB: Remember, in my modified rules these Skill Bonuses are based on one attribute, which is multiplied as indicated according to the Profession (class) of the PC.

STEALTH SKILLS (Based on Dexterity)

Move Quietly - No problems here, and the - 40% penalty for heavy armor makes perfect sense. The fact that this penalty is written here but not repeated in the Armor listings points to the Chaosium habit of not putting info in easy to find places for players and GMs.

Hide - Once again, pretty straightforward, and the reference to the need for Cover grounds this in reality, as do the explanation of ranges of detection (1 meter, or 10 with a See roll). The half skill penalty for readjusting position again impresses the fact that this is not a super ability like modern Feats.

Ambush - I don't agree with the view that this skill should give you an automatic ability to ambush someone. I think that is better left to Move Quietly or Hide and using the terrain well. Instead, I would use it as a save versus Surprise, as in your reflexes keep you from being totally defenceless and at least let you roll Dodge or Parry. Maybe renaming it to Deflect Ambush will help players understand this.

Conceal - A useful skill, but could use more description re the size of concealable objects. Once again common sense should prevail, and this skill could either be used for instant palming of tiny objects (ie coins or keys) as well as stashing of slightly bigger things in clothing or on person. No runeswords in your boot, though.

Cut Purse - Lovely skill name and ability, and fits the genre well. As for the DEX save for the victim, instead offer either DEX x 1% roll or Deflect Ambush skill roll, whichever is higher. Makes the modification to Ambush even more useful.


Ride - Yet again, a perfect description. Rolled only for attempting feats or on an unfamiliar mount. The limitation to the lower skill of Ride or Weapon when fighting mounted also totally sensical, as is the d10 damage on a fumble (although this is mitigated by Tumble as we shall see).

Swim - Very solid description, roll every 15 minutes, 3 fails and drowning starts (d8 per round, healable with First Aid). Once again, we see the Chaosium habit of burying useful knowledge in the skill description and not repeating it in other relevant sections such as Wounds.

Climb - Fairly sensible. Half skill without appropriate gear, damage (d10 per 10 feet on randomly rolled d100) is a bit heavy, and conflicts with the Jump damage of a Major Wound roll on a failure.

Players should have some sort of choice with falling damage, such as with the Fumble rules I outlined previously. Here is a suggestion:

On a fall, the player can choose one of the following:

1) Take the damage indicated (d10 per 10 feet) but with a Tumble roll for half and Major Wound if over 1/2 CON damage is suffered.

2) Take a Major Wound but no HP damage and no Tumble roll.

3) Invoke an appropriate Description or Life Purpose to suffer no damage but lose or break gear (weapons and baggage).

I think this is fair, interesting, and has story possibilities.

Jump - Basically better thought of as a running jump or long jump. Detailed wargamey calculations of jumpable distance and height should please many a grognard.

Tumble - Great skill, both for its utility in reducing fall damage, as well as diving into cover. Cover is mentioned often in the Elric novels, and should always be a consideration. The Combat section mentions that arrows and beams cannot be dodged, but if a character has a high Tumble and makes a Deflect Ambush roll, they should be able to dive for cover instead of being pincushioned helplessly.

Dodge - Simple and effective description, ie explanation that it is used mostly against thrown objects, with - 20% per cumulative use in a round. Add to this the Combat injunctions against dodging arrows and need to choose either to Fight (ie Attack) or Flight (ie Dodge) and you get a very tight mechanism that binds a character to a course of action. I love this old school style of combat and deplore the modern penchant for letting characters run, jump, shoot three arrows, swing from the ceiling and dodge while whistling showtunes as one action.


Tie/Untie Knots - A bit of a narrow skill, but makes sense given the two conditions of relating to complex knots under time constraints. I don't like the reference to sailors as having the ability to untangle nets and such, which should be a given, as I explain in the Professional Skills section below.

One way to expand the use of this skill is to allow a roll to escape bonds when captured, with a penalty based on the strength of materials or skill of the captor.

Set/Disarm Trap - This makes sense in a pulpier game, and should be extended to mechanical switches and simple mechanisms.

Sleight of Hand - Very flavourful skill, requiring DEX 15 to even have, and can only be seen through by another character with the same skill. I'm all for this.

Juggle - This seems a bit narrow, but understandable given the reference to performers and need for DEX 13. I'd let a cunning player abuse the heck out of this.

Pick Lock - Totally natural skill choice for fantasy gaming. Since the YK only has simple locks, would be either useless or suffer a huge penalty on Lawful worlds with more advanced locksmithing.


I don't really understand the initial suggestion to roll d100 and divide by 2 and add to the Perception bonus. What could this have been? An unfinished rule? The injunction to let the GM roll in secret is understandable, but would depend on the case.

See - This is the essence of Perception, and is kind of a Sherlock Holmes style visual ability, as opposed to the hands-on checking of Search.

Listen - Discerning languages and catching sounds. No problem here.

Scent - One wonders if there is a need for this, but then again better to let players have it in their arsenal. The half skill penalty for inebriation is interesting.

Taste - Once again, interesting to see what players do with it, but in terms of world building, it really inspires the GM to ramp up poisons and metals and their importance in the game.

Balance - Very neat, good for walking on ledges, tightropes, or stacking objects. Good players can exploit the heck out of this.

Search - Useful for searching bodies for loot, rooms for secrets or traps. No complaints here.

Track - Roll every 10 minutes when trailing an animal or person, and the 20% bonus for bleeding quarry is nice. The additional explanation of trail freshness being 24 hours, with a 20% penalty for every day the trail is old, is a nice touch.


Read / Write Common - Needed to basically overcome the dialects of the YK and write legibly. As a language professor, I dig this.

Read / Write or Speak Low Melnibonean - Linking this to being cultured by the dominant power is a nice touch.

Read / Write or Speak High Melnibonean - Making this the de facto language of sorcery, especially demon summoning, is very in keeping with the source material. Differentiating this from Low Melnibonean and setting an INT 16 requirement is a nice touch.

Read / Write or Speak Other Language - Once again we see the Chaosium penchant for putting important information in the Skill description. Basically, all the considerations of linguistic interaction are here. Easterners and outsiders need to take Common; literacy and spoken fluency are separate; I especially dig the fact that 'literate classes' (Nobles, Priests,  and Merchants) bundle spoken and written fluency together, while illiterate classes have to buy and roll these skills separately. It is all very atmospheric and accords with my views of the importance of social class amongst characters.

Evaluate Treasure - Very fitting skill, as is the penalty of being conned for failure.

Navigate - I think this description mistakenly overlays the Navigate role onto the normal ability of Sailors. In the real world, sailors rarely flub their navigation unless there are extenuating circumstances, such as a severe storm or lack of tools. Add to this that in the Young Kingdoms navigation failures are often due to supernatural interference, such as Elric and Smiorgan's difficulties finding their way beyond the Crimson Gate. So I would say this skill is only rolled under special circumstances, or to know one's position relative to a start point or landmark, ie knowing how deep one is when spelunking, or where the portal they came through is when sojourning in a pocket dimension.

Craft - Nice details on crafting time (d6 days), superior quality with critical rolls and inferior quality with fumbles. I need to rejigger my item quality and income table to reflect this. I would also add that most Craftsmen churning out items of average quality don't need to roll, only when they are attempting to make something of superior craftsmanship for a special game-related purpose, for example make a spear with meteorite metal to slay a specific beast.

First Aid - An essential skill, to be sure. I like the HP recovery (D3), but some of the rest is vague and muddled. A Critical can recover D3+3 and / or stabilize majorly wounded characters, and possibly reverse a Major Wound rule?

Let's clarify this a bit with levels of effect and a bit of choice:

Success - Recover D3 HP and stabilize a wounded character (ie at 0 to minus CON HP).

Critical - Recover D3 and reverse Major wound OR just recover D3+3. Either stabilizes the injured.

Fumble - I don't like the implication that fumbles do more damage, which makes players reticent to help others. There should be no penalty for trying and failing to help someone, except a twinge of remorse.

Make Map - D&D alert! The reference to a character declaring that they are mapping is a holdover from D&D and doesn't really have much place in Stormbringer, in my opinion. In addition, the following skill Memorize overlaps with this skill in its description of memorizing a map.

To make this skill more apt for Stormbringer, I would rule that a Make Map roll lets a character try and recall a mental map of the area they are in. The GM rolls, and the better the result the more information is given, as follows:

Critical - The GM gives as much information as he or she can without giving away secrets.

Success - The GM gives the basic information useful to the PCs

Failure or fumble - The character can't recall the needed information. Note that I disagree with giving false information, as this is frustrating to the player, and there is no such repercussion in the similar skill Memorize.

To differentiate with Navigate, Make Map gives you an outline or layout of the area, while Navigate tells you where you are or how to get from point A to B.

Memorize - I would use this exactly like the above skill for anything that the PC has recently seen, excluding maps. If the PC is trying to recall a spell, a password or code briefly seen, a fragment of text, the number of enemies seen, etc, use this skill. Please note that attempting to recall ancient myths or legends falls under the skill Music Lore, interestingly enough.

Poison Lore and Plant Lore - These two skills are great additions to the game, and I appreciate the 5 classes of poisons and 10 classes of potions given, as well as the note on plants used in sorcery. It is very atmospheric and suits the game, although a bit fiddly, and I wouldn't change anything.

I think, however, there is a lost opportunity to differentiate where plants for poisons or potions can be found based on the alignment of their location. This would affect where PCs would have to go to gather or trade for certain materials, so it is very evocative of the setting. For instance, any plant that creates a mundane effect (ie as in the real world) should be found anywhere. This means all poisons and Plant Lore levels 1-3 and 5-7. Plants used in creating a supernatural effect (Plant Lore levels 4 and 8-10) should only be found in Balance and Chaotic lands, as summarized below:

Lawful Lands - All Poison Lore levels, Plant Lore levels 1-3 and 5-7. No bonus.

Balanced Lands - All Poison Lore levels, Plant Lore levels 1-3 and 5-10. +10% to skill to find anything involved in healing (Plant Lore levels 5-7).

Chaotic Lands - All Poison and Plant Lore levels. +10% to find instant poison (Poison Lore 5) or anything that affects abilities (Plant Lore levels 9-10).

Additionally, poisons are also available from animal sources, so on a successful Poison Lore roll, a character should be able to harvest the venom from a snake or spider they have captured or killed.

At some time I may try to make a cabinet list or random table of poisons and potions, or find one in my collection of Stormbringer / Elric! materials.

Music Lore - I love how evocative of setting this skill is, and how it can be exploited by smart players. You get a new instrument per 10%, as well as the chance to remember (or even create!) a myth or legend pertaining to the situation. This is a Story Effect from way back, one that reminds me of the modern Gumshoe system Investigative abilities, and that I expand on in the Professional Skills section below.

The only thing I disagree with is the injunction against improving through practice, and limiting improvement to training. I think this is largely non sensical and will ignore it.


Persuade - Nice description as the "skill of winning arguments" instead of a low key Charm spell as it is often misused. The 10% penalty for opposed alignments is also fun, as is the Fumble result of convincing the listener of the opposite intended. Sounds like internet discourse to me.

Credit - Interesting skill, if a bit fiddly. Can net you some additional funds at creation if you have it (and do the math), get you a loan in game, or at worst let you beg successfully.

Orate - Another nice description as the "ability to sway crowds by one's voice." There is an interesting if vague note that the orator must be a 'leader', which I would define as of equal or higher social class as the crowd, as well as having some authority or title.

Sing - There are no bards in Stormbringer per se, but add this skill and you have a skald. This is a hilarious way of getting money by singing, netting D100 on a success and D100x5 on a Critical. I would allow creative players to use it to lull enemies and creatures. Music does soothe the savage beast, after all.

As I have noted, I don't entirely agree with overlapping a skill roll with abilities of a profession, and so I propose the following Professional Skills rules below.


As I noted under Tie / Untie Knot, what a person of a certain Profession can do should not be too tightly linked to a skill roll. Instead, I would rule that each Profession comes with 3 abilities that succeed automatically and need no roll. 

1. Knowledge & Intuition - Any member of a Profession can understand the tools of their trade, their quality, and where they were made, as well as make educated guesses about unfamiliar objects.

2. Interaction & Socialization -  Any member of a Profession can recognize a fellow, their basic skill level, and parlay with them, although they may not agree. They also know names of important figures in their field.

3. Production & Performance - Any member of a Profession can use the basic tools of his trade, can exercise basic work practices, and make money by plying that trade at the rate of INT coins per fortnight? Day?.

Note that I am not trying to prescribe or limit what members of a Profession can do by these rules, but conversely open them up in ways that support both roleplaying and storytelling linked to the gameworld.

EXAMPLES - This list is not exhaustive, but is meant as a general guideline or inspiration.


Knowledge & Intuition - Can read and understand battle plans. Can recognize the weapon & armor styles of nations, know the nationality of units at a glance, and guess how alien weapons are used.

Interaction & Socialization - Can ask for parlay during battle, and knows the look and names of famous military commanders. Can interact with fellow warriors and military commanders with appropriate manners.

Production & Performance - Can serve as a mercenary or guard for coin, and work in a band or unit without incident.

"Those soldiers are from Pan Tang, and that is Mu Ho the Merciless leading them, if I'm not mistaken."


Knowledge & Intuition - Can read & understand poison and deathtrap instructions. Can recognize the poison & execution styles of nations, know the nationality of killers at a glance, and guess how alien assasination weapons are used.

Interaction & Socialization -  Can negotiate the price for a killing, knows weapon and poison merchants, and recognizes the look and names of famous assassins. Can interact with fellow assassins and employers with appropriate manners.

Production & Performance - Can serve as a killer or executioner for coin.

"This style of garrotte is only used in the East!"


Knowledge & Intuition - Can read and understand contracts, bills of sale, and tax regulations. Can recognize the trading styles & products of nations, know the nationality of other traders at a glance, and guess how alien economies operate.

Interaction & Socialization -  Can negotiate transactions, and knows the look and names of famously good and bad customers. Can interact with fellow traders, customers, and suppliers with appropriate manners.

Production & Performance - Can serve as a mercenary or guard for coin.

"100 LB for this old camel is an insult! I'll give you half for the whole herd."


Knowledge & Intuition - Can read and understand contracts, bills of sale, and tax regulations. Can recognize the shop types & goods of nations, know the nationality of goods at a glance, and guess how alien consumer goods are used.

Interaction & Socialization -  Can negotiate transactions, and knows the look and names of famously good and bad customers. Can interact with fellow shopkeepers, customers, and suppliers with appropriate manners.

Production & Performance - Can serve as a mercenary or guard for coin.

"We carry a complete range of Chaotic herbs for your sorcerous needs. What exactly are you looking for?"


Knowledge & Intuition - Can read and understand seacharts. Can recognize the ship type and rigging of nations, know the nationality of ships at a glance, knows flag signals, has knowledge of difficult Young Kingdom waters and sea routes, and can guess how alien sailing vessels are used.

Interaction & Socialization -  Can ask for parlay during a sea battle, and knows the look and names of famous captains or commanders. Can interact with fellow sailors and commanders with appropriate manners.

Production & Performance - Can serve as a sailor or pirate for coin, and work in the rigging or below decks without incident.

"We'd best avoid the Boiling Sea and follow the current north along the shores of Oin and Yu. Ware of black sails - only Pan Tang raiders fly those."


Knowledge & Intuition - Can read and understand trapline or hunting maps. Can recognize the traps & hunting styles of nations, know the type of animal trails at a glance, and guess how alien hunting or trapping tools are used.

Interaction & Socialization -  Can understand hunting signs carved in trees, and knows the look and names of famous local hunters or guides. Can interact with fellow hunters and game or fur buyers with appropriate manners.

Production & Performance - Can feed themselves through hunting and foraging, or catch game worth selling or trading. Can serve as a guide or scout for coin.

"If we follow these animal tracks we can reach the caves faster and catch some rabbits for supper."


Knowledge & Intuition - Can read & understand property maps and farmer's almanacs. Can recognize the seeds and farming implements of different nations, know the type of crops growing at a glance, and guess how alien farming implements are used.

Interaction & Socialization -  Can negotiate with landowners, seed suppliers, and produce buyers, knows the names of the above, and can interact with fellow farmers and buyers with appropriate manners.

Production & Performance - Can serve as a sharecropper for coin.

"You'll want to sneak in through the cornfields, as they're at their highest this time of year."


Knowledge & Intuition - Can read and understand holy texts of their sect. Can recognize the priestly robes & temple styles of nations, knows the alignment of priests at a glance, and guess how alien cults work.

Interaction & Socialization -  Can discourse respectfully at all levels of church hierarchy, orate to followers, and knows the look and names of high ranking church members. Can interact with fellow clergy and church hierarchy with appropriate manners.

Production & Performance - Can serve as a preacher, mendicant, or missionary for coin.

"I should be honoured to recite the sutras for Archbishop Delexia."


Knowledge & Intuition - Can read and understand laws & literature. Can recognize the courtly manners and practices of nations, know the nationality of nobles at a glance, and guess who is noble among alien peoples.

Interaction & Socialization -  Can ask for parlay with another Noble during battle, and knows the look and names of famous Nobles from all nations of the Young Kingdoms. Can interact with fellow nobles, royals, and imperials with appropriate manners.

Production & Performance - Can serve as a military commander or courtier for coin, and perform the legislative, formal, and social functions demanded of them.

"Follow my lead, bow when I bow, and spoke when you're spoken to, or you louts will lose your heads."


Knowledge & Intuition - Can read & understand thief symbols, vault plans, and floorplans. Can recognize the thieving tools of nations, know the weakness of marks or building entrypoint at a glance, and guess how alien thief tools are used.

Interaction & Socialization -  Can speak thieves' cant, and knows the look and names of famous thief leaders or master thieves. Can interact with fellow thieves and thief guildmasters with appropriate manners.

Production & Performance - Can serve as a thief or security expert for coin.

"The skylight is doubtless well guarded, but the sewer tunnels are merely chained closed with a lock I can easily open." 


Knowledge & Intuition - Can read and understand hobo marks. Can recognize the wealth levels & purse styles of nations, know where people store their coin at a glance, and guess how alien money is used.

Interaction & Socialization -  Can beg for coin during battle, and knows the look and names of famous beggars. Can interact with fellow beggars and beggarmasters with appropriate manners.

Production & Performance - Can serve as a lookout for coin.


Knowledge & Intuition - Can read & understand blueprints and fabricating instructions. Can recognize the crafting styles and products of nations, know the nationality of crafted objects at a glance, and guess how alien objects are constructed or used.

Interaction & Socialization -  Can discourse about products, and knows the look and names of famous craftsmen. Can interact with fellow craftsmen and patrons with appropriate manners.

Production & Performance - Can serve as a craftsman or artisan for coin from their patron.

"This urn is from the 3rd Melnibonean Empire, and it was used to hold cremated dragon remains."


Knowledge & Intuition - Can read and understand grimoires or scrolls, and find their way in extraplanar lands. Can recognize the spells & summoning styles of magic, know the type of demons or elementals at a glance, have knowledge of famous mystic artifacts, and guess how alien magics are used.

Interaction & Socialization -  Can understand mystic signs, and knows the look and names of famous wizards and demigods. Can interact with fellow wizards and supernatural entities with appropriate manners.

Production & Performance - Can perform all summoning rituals of their rank of sorcery, and make all the fetishes needed to concentrate sorcerous power.

"This smells like magic, but of an older kind than Chaos or Law for that matter. Better to tread lightly."

In addition, Professions should be able to use skill rolls in ways that reflect their Profession. A Thief might be able to discern traps at a glance, but other Professions would have to Search for them first.