Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Balo The Jester of The Chaos Lords & 'The Mad Cap Laughs' For The Stormbringer Rpg By Matt Williams White Dwarf 095 UK

 Let's talk about Stormbringer rpg  or more specfically Games Workshop's third edition of the Stormbringer Rpg. This is & has been my preferred edition of the Stormbringer rpg & everything begins with White Dwarf 095 UK. There are so many reasons why this is such a great issue of White Dwarf, let's see there's the almost but not quite Warhammer role play & Warhammer Fantasy wargame influences. And then there's the Stormbringer Rpg adventure beginning. 

 That's where 'THE MADCAP LAUGHS'  on page 59 By Matt Williams begins. This  adventure of  mad schemes  are  revealed. Here's where the background to a new Stormbringer adventure & mini campaign began for me as a player. My Uncle Jack ran us through this adventure back in '87 & it was a bad ass adventure back then. The whole thing concerns Balo The Jester of The Chaos Lords & who is Balo?! Well according to the Moorcock's Multiverse Wiki;"Balo the Jester is the Court Jester to the Lords of Chaos. He is of demigod status and not a true Chaos Lord, and is the only god able to move between the Realms of Law and Chaos at will. He entertains the Chaos Lords, his masters, with humorous riddles and satires that serve to explain the nature of the Cosmic Balance. Balo juggles enigmas like baubles, laughs at what Chaos holds dear, and takes seriously that which they mock. However, not even the Lords of the Higher Worlds understand his true motives.[1]

Balo made a distasteful joke that offended the Chaos Lords so he fled from them to Elric's World where he attempted to transform the physical world into a Realm of Paradox under his rule. Elric confronted Balo inside the jester's Singing Citadel and summoned Arioch to take Balo back to the Realm of Chaos. There the mischievous godling was punished for his foolish ambition that contradicted the Chaos Lords' own plans for Earth.[1]"

Having played through this adventure series I always thought Balo always looked like demented jester from Werner van den Valckert 'Fool With A Smaller Fool' art piece. The first article in the 'THE MADCAP LAUGHS' series added in the Stormbringer rpg airships of Law. Freaking airships ages before Mystara's Voyage of the Princess Ark. We get a short & sweet background on this adventure, Balo's motives, the poor PC's are going to facedown some horrid odds. Personally the on going theory about the Chaos Jester from my encounters as a player with the demigod is that he's a left over god from the previous universe's gods in the Young Kingdom. We get hints of this in Michael Moorcock's Weird of the White Wolf. 

This wasn't the first time our group faced down Balo though. In Different Worlds issue #31 'The Bastions of Balo' we faced down the machinations of the bastard Chaos Jester in one of his dungeons. My PC was slaughtered quite literally by a chaos succubus & drank dry. He died happy but it was a nasty turn. Since then Balo has been on my hit parade for Chaos. 

Balo doesn't fit the normal mold of a Chaos Lord because he mocks both chaos & humanity in equal turns. His issues with humanity dive deep into the final narrative Elric's Young Kingdom. Balo's mockery is a both a laughter & a plea for the cosmic joke of the Lords of Chaos. 
We would see this play out as more & more of the mythology of the Young Kingdoms & the Eternal Champion come to light in the later books. Not only did my PC's die in 'The Mad Cap Laughs' but the fact that the adventure's name was taken from Syd Barrett's 69 debut album is both ironic & vicious by their very nature. 

Why do I say this? Because you've gotta understand the issues surrounding Pink Floyd & Syd Barrett; "In the second half of 1967 and through to early 1968, when still part of Pink Floyd, Barrett's behaviour became increasingly erratic and unpredictable.[4] Many report having seen him on stage with the group during this period, strumming on one chord through an entire concert or not playing at all.[5] In August 1967, Pink Floyd were forced to cancel their appearance at the prestigious National Jazz and Blues Festival, informing the music press that Barrett was suffering from nervous exhaustion. Band manager Peter Jenner and bassist Roger Waters arranged for Barrett to see a psychiatrist (an appointment he failed to attend), while a stay on the Spanish island of Formentera with Sam Hutt, a doctor well established in the underground music scene, led to no visible improvement in Barrett's behaviour. A few dates in September were followed by the band's first tour of the United States.[6] At this point, Barrett's condition grew steadily worse.[7] At a show at The Fillmore in San Francisco, during a performance of "Interstellar Overdrive", Barrett slowly detuned his guitar; the audience seemed to enjoy such antics, unaware of the rest of the band's consternation. Sometime in October, Jenner transferred tapes of "In the Beechwoods", two takes of "Vegetable Man", and a 5-minute backing track called "No Title", which Jenner hoped Barrett would finish eventually.[8]

Around Christmas 1967, guitarist David Gilmour, an old friend of Barrett's from Cambridge, was asked by the other members of Pink Floyd to join as a second guitarist,[9] initially not to replace Barrett, but cover for him, because his unpredictable behaviour prevented him from performing. For several shows Gilmour sang and played guitar while Barrett wandered around on stage, every now and then deciding to join in playing guitar and singing. Waters and fellow band members keyboardist Richard Wright and drummer Nick Mason soon grew weary of Barrett's on-stage antics and, on 26 January 1968, when Waters was driving his bandmates from London to a show at Southampton University, they all agreed to go without Barrett: according to Gilmour's recollection, one person asked, "Shall we pick Syd up?" and another said, "Let's not bother."[10] Since Barrett had written or co-written 10 of the 11 songs on their debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, as well as the band's three singles up to this point, the original plan was to keep him in the group as a non-touring member − in a similar arrangement to what The Beach Boys had done with Brian Wilson − but this soon proved to be unworkable.[9][11][12] At his last rehearsal with the band, he presented a new song entitled "Have You Got It Yet?", which proved to be deliberately unplayable as the others attempted to join in, until they realised the joke of the title. On 6 April, the group officially announced that Barrett was no longer a member of Pink Floyd.[9][13] Upon leaving the band, Barrett said to Melody Maker: "I suppose it was really just a matter of being a little offhand about things"" 

Truly I think that Barrett's behavior & antics  during this album are also woven into & inspired quite a bit of Balo in 'The Mad Cap Laughs'. 

One thing that can truly be said about 'The Mad Cap Laughs', never ever take Balo The Jester of the Chaos Lords lightly. He's like an evil version of Superman's Mister Mxyzptlk. And their true forms might be very similar. Never take The Jester of Chaos lightly..ever. 
Coming up we're gonna Stormbringer 3rd Edition By Games Workshop.. And possibly more installments in
'The Mad Cap Laughs' series. Stay Tuned & keep those dice rolling. 

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