Saturday, December 12, 2020

Retro Review & Commentary On The Free Campaign Setting For Fifth Edition Stormbringer rpg - Old Hrolmar By Richard Watts

" OLD HROLMAR IS a bastion of culture within grim Vilmir, and stands as one of the greatest cities the Young Kingdoms will ever see. Yet it is a city under siege. While the machinations of Law and Chaos threaten its stability from within, far greater dangers are massed outside its walls. Neither King Naclon of Vilmir, nor the powerful Cardinal Garrick of the Church of Law, look favourably upon Old Hrolmar, and its bravely independent ruler, Duke Avan Astran. Sadly the duke is fated to be slain by Elric of Melnibon√© within a few short years, after which the city’s glory will quickly fade as the inexorable weight of Vilmirian tradition is brought to bear upon its citizens. This book however, is set before those unhappy days, during the city’s brief renaissance, when the duke and his ideals reign and all is good within Old Hrolmar. "

Its been ages since the spine of the free fifth edition Stormbringer  rpg -  Old Hrolmar monograph was cracked. What is this free supplement?! Well in the words of the site;"Near the end of the Chaosium’s Stormbringer and Elric! production run they produced a number of ‘cheap and cheerful’ monographs set in the Young Kingdoms. " 

Note that Old Hrolmar  is a human centric campaign setting & it brings this setting into a viable & actually usable supplement. Old Hrolmar  is a good supplement & even as a monograph deserves to be used in a Stormbringer rpg campaign. 

This is basically a fully fleshed out Young Kingdom campaign city right from the ground up; "Old Hrolmar explores the Vilmarian city of the same name, and details how the home of Duke Avan Astran represents a bastion of change throughout of the Young Kingdoms. This monograph includes information on the city, its inhabitants and its future in a world doomed for destruction." 
 Recently having reread Michael Moorcock's Sailor on the Seas of Fate, exactly the part that this kingdom plays. And the huge history that Old Hrolmar has in the 'Young Kingdoms';It should be noted that the vision of Old Hrolmar as described in this book differs in one important respect from the chronology laid out by Michael Moorcock in the early volumes of his passionate, furiously-written and sometimes contradictory Elric Saga. The adventurerexplorer Duke Avan Astran is introduced to readers in the second book of the saga, The Sailor On The Seas Of Fate, before being swiftly killed off in the same volume. " 
Old Hrolmar  clocks in at one hundred & ten pages & it does so with the idea that this is a campaign monograph to be used at the table top level. The city & its environs cry out to be used & used well during play. The historical details & writing are crisp & the balance of material in the supplement is well done. 

We've said it before & so it going to be stated again, Elric is not a hero at all. He's a chaotic force of nature destroying everything around him. And Old Hrolmar has centuries before he has to appear on the world stage of the 'Young Kingdoms'. This happens to make the Old Hrolmar campagin setting not only viable but very accessible. 
A perfect addition to Old Hrolmar campagin setting; 
"Visitor’s Guide to Old Hrolmar, a Primer for Stormbringer 5th edition Players " 

This a perfect hand out for players who want to have a viable & stable kingdom to base themselves in. That's not to say that there isn't 'adventure a plenty to be had'. Old Hrolmar  has some solid NPC's, well thought out backgrounds, and intriguing hooks to get the players deeply involved. The writing is good and there are two well done maps 
an annotated map of the City of Old Hrolmar, Bastion of Change – March 2019 (JPG, 1 A3 page, 835Kb) perfect for the players & for the DM Old Hrolmar (as original drawn by Carl Pates)
The Old Hrolmar campagin setting feels like an adventurers city, a place to hang your hats & shealth your sword. But its also a place to get the players into the action of expediations to unknown lands, & places of intrigue. There are details here on some of the cults of both Law & Chaos, the politics of the palace, and back alley deals waiting to happen. 

To us at least Old Hrolmar is a real place in a Stormbringer campaign & a place that can be dropped into a Stormbringer fifth edition campaign with little issue. Since this is a monograph part of me as a Stormbringer fan wants to see more. That's why this is a four outta of five for me.  

Note that this isn't the first time we've  reviewed this monograph but because of my recent rereading of the Stormbringer rpg  we thought that it would be a good time to reexamine Old Hrolmar

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