Thursday, December 10, 2020

The Gothic Crusade - Thoughts on Karl Edgar Wagner's Kane & The Stormbringer rpg


When it comes to the Stormbringer rpg I've often thought that the rpg system would make an excellent stand in for running a Carl Edgar Wagner's Kane campaign. The idea that a Sword & Sorcery campaign set against the adventure elements of Kane's world setting are not that far off from Michael Morrcock's Elric's Young Kingdom. A world of mad gods, royals gone into debouchery, Lovecraftian gods & the games of immortals. Kane is the sorta character whose more of Gothic antihero then he is some tortured aspect of the Eternal Champion. 

A good break down comes from the Wiki entry on Kane; "Little is known about Kane's origins. In the story "Misericorde", he declares to one of his foes that his father's name was Adam and his stepmother's name was Eve, possibly making him the biological son of the Biblical Adam's first wife Lilith. Like traditional depictions of Cain, he is a powerful, left-handed man with red hair, said to have killed (strangled) his brother Abel, and has been cursed by a mad god with an eternal life of wandering. Nevertheless, he is vulnerable to wounds, although they heal at a rapid pace, and it is said that he can be killed "by the violence that he himself created", Kane is portrayed as both an excellent warrior and an accomplished sorcerer, who spends the millennia wandering from one adventure into the next. Also like the Biblical Cain, Kane is marked as a killer ("I kill things," he tells Elric in "The Gothic Touch". "It's what I was made to do. I'm rather good at it"); those who meet the gaze of his icy blue eyes cannot maintain contact for long, for they give away Kane's true nature as a butcher of men." 

Kane isn't a nice guy at the heart of it, he's the type of an NPC that players want to get the Hell away from and fast. Having had quite an extensive run in with the NPC in the past in a Strombringer rpg in the past we couldn't wait to get away from him. Kane is a force of nature & an utter weirdness magnet unto himself. This is something he shares in common with Elric.  

The Strombringer rpg has of the right moving parts & pieces in my mind for a Kane campaign or adventure setting. Kane himself isn't really necessary after all Kane revolted against a mad god and killed his brother, and was cursed with both immortality and the eyes of Kane, the gaze of a killer. But playing in the wake of Kane's plots & cleaning up his trail of bodies, consquences, and worse is a campaign worthy goal. Kane has been both the barbarian coming to clean the wizard in the tower & the black wizard in the tower himself. He's amoral & yet utterly evil with moments of pathos within him. 

The best thing that adventurers can hope for dealing with Kane is to live another day & take care of some of the horrors that the immortal leaves in his wake. This is campaign is going to a part of damage control & dealing with the aftermath of a visit of the deadly man himself. 

  1. Kane is a one man wrecking crew & the adventurers should give the man his due. 
  2. Adventurers have died at the hands of Kane repeatedly.. This isn't an NPC to be taken lightly. 
  3. There are caches that Kane uses across the planes. The PC's may need to locate one of these. 
  4. Kane is not a good guy & as an anti hero generates far more potential horror then one might expect. 
  5. The wastelands of the standard Kane short story are far more dangerous then the average adventurer expects. Encounters should be memorabe and deadly. 
  6. Kane's magical prowess is formible and utterly dangerous. 
  7. Adventures should center around the machinations of Kane. The universe revolves around its favorite immortal warrior. 
  8. Steps need to be taken in order to deal with the Sword & Sorcery elements of such a campaign. 

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