Thursday, June 1, 2023

Down The Back Alleyways of Sanctuary - The Stormbringer rpg & The Thieves World Box Set

"Skulk through the night on the heels of Shadowspawn . . . delve into the twisted tunnels of the Purple Mage . . . attend the court (or perhaps the harem) of Prince Kadakithis . . . dodge the keen-eyed Hell Hounds with Jubal's Hawkmasks . . . drink your ale and guard your purse at the Vulgar Unicorn . . . boldly walk the streets of the wildest, most varied, and most downright fascinating city in fantasy literature — SANCTUARY, the Thieves' World!
* The Players' Guide to Sanctuary — the creation of Sanctuary; Thud and Blunder, Sanctuary chronology; 'Hakiem' and 'The Hell Hounds'; a stroll through the city; a captured llsigi document; magic, working ladies, and oaths; glossary /pronunciation guide; a map of the known world; a city map. * The Game Master's Guide to Sanctuary — palm-greasing and arrest procedures; a secret Carronnian report; city gods and religions; main city encounters; encounters for the Jewelers' Quarter, Processional, and Westside; 18 tables of specific encounters, descriptions/encounters for The Maze, Bazaar, Street of Red Lanterns, Downwind; business generators and tables by area; 6 area maps, 15 floorplans of typical buildings (including the Vulgar Unicorn); scenario suggestions.
* The Personalities of Sanctuary — story/character index; system notes as applicable and character stats for 9 RPG systems (minimum of twenty characters each, each system divided to Prince and Retinue. Transients, and Residents); general descriptions of other characters.
* Wall Map of Sanctuary. Referee Maps of The Maze, The Maze underground."

So one of the best supplements for the first edition Stormbringer rpg wasn't published for the Stormbringer rpg instead it hit the shelves from Chaosium in Eighty one. The Thieves World box set is one of the gems of that era. 
What makes this an exceptional resource for  the Stormbringer rpg is the fact that Thieves World offers a shared Sword & Sorcery universe for the PC's to explore without any lower expections. Thieves World works on the Runequest three engine and so it's rather a bit easy to adapt it to Stormbringer. 

Turn the influence of Law & Chaos down to two on the volume of the Multiverse meter for Stormbringer. And it's within Interested Observer2's review from 2016 that we get into the heart of what makes Robert L. Aspin's Thieves World box set  so damn useful:"None of the reviews attached to this page actually review the boxed game set. So let's do that instead of talking about the books. The boxed set includes three books and some very nice maps of Sanctuary. The first book is the player's guide to Sanctuary and describes the town and details some of the locales in the books. Frankly, of the three books in the box, this one was the least useful. For one thing, the maps are excellent, but actually make running the city harder since it seems to narrow the GM's choices with regard to where things are or should be. Frankly, having a more vague city map would have been a positive asset. Still, the descriptions of the Bazaar (and the map) are intriguing and could easily be re-developed by a clever GM for his/her own purposes with little difficulty, and the general information is useful. Frankly though, if you want to get into the "spirit" of the city, it's better to read the first two books of the fiction series. Book two, the GM's guide to Sanctuary, provides a wealth of information on the gods of the novels, bribery and criminal justice in Sanctuary, encounters of various types throughout the several districts of the city, and a "business generator" that may very well have been the first of its kind (though perhaps Judges Guild did something similar earlier). This book is where the GM begins to get the data s/he needs to really get into the "nuts and bolts" of GMing the city. Finally, the third volume is a guide to the personalities of Sanctuary. It lists all of the major characters of the first two anthologies, and most of the minor characters as well. It even describes some of the unusual monsters that present themselves during the first two anthologies.
One of the best parts of the boxed set was that it actually delivered on being a "generic" RPG supplement -- not by glossing over the various game systems published at the time and making the GM try to figure it all out on his or her own, but by providing ACTUAL game statistics for the creatures, events, and personalities in the city. Want to play Sanctuary using The Fantasy Trip? It's all there. (Who even remembers The Fantasy Trip nowadays, other than some of us old geezers -- for whom it is STILL one of the best classic RPGs ever designed? But for those of you who have no idea what it is, think "father of GURPS" and a simpler and faster playing version at that. It's easy enough to translate TFT stats into GURPS, though, if you prefer GURPS as your platform.) Prefer AD&D? There it is? Original D&D? Uh huh. Runequest/Basic Roleplaying? Yep. Chivalry and Sorcery? Right there. This product was an absolute gem for its time, and has aged well in the 35 years since it was published...and there are few products that can make that claim! Overall? Five stars easily, and if you can afford to pick up a copy, you should by all means do so. While it lacks specifics for post 2nd Edition AD&D versions, it does include stats for a lot of the classic Fantasy RPGs of yore, and if you're an "Old School Rules" (OSR) kind of person, you're going to LOVE this product." 
So not only do we get a solid overview and review. We also get ideas thrown in from this review. What the Hell would Stormbringer rpg characters be doing in Sanctuary?! If we go back to the origins of the original Thieves World stories entry from Wiki;"
Thieves' World is set in the city of Sanctuary at the edge of the Rankan Empire. The city is depicted as a place where many are downtrodden and where the invading Rankan gods and the Ilsigi gods they had ousted begin a struggle for dominance. As the series continues, additional invasions occur, and the city is taken over by the snake-worshipping Beysib as the Rankan empire collapses. Over time, a number of the characters in the series are revealed either to be the offspring of or otherwise blessed by various figures in the pantheons of the competing deities, and they discover or develop various powers as the series progresses."  Right smack dab there we've already got our answers. There is no way in Hell Law & Chaos are not going to have agents on the sidelines of Sanctuary. Even if thier demonic items and tools of Law are not as affective. Well so much the better in the eyes of the powers of Chaos & Law. After all it's all about the entertainment factor alone in the eyes of these two powers. 
Does Thieves World fit into the mode of the Million Spheres?! In a word? Oh yes it does. Thieves World and especially the box set as well as the Thieves World  Companion 
make an excellent urban campaign. 
There's enough within the Thieves World box set to keep a campaign going for months. Does Sanctuary fit the over the top demonic and law fueled world of the Stormbringer rpg?! Not really and that's alright. Sanctuary as a place to visit and kick up one's heels is fine as well. 
The PC's in Thieves World are right in the middle of the affairs of the gods. And sometimes this means getting down and dirty in the back allies of Sanctuary as well as the Maze. 
Incidently we've also used the Thieves World box set with old school Traveller many times.  One of the things that made the Thieves World Box set so damn useful was it's contents; "
The Thieves' World Complete Sanctuary Adventure Pack is a boxed set published by Chaosium in 1981, containing: 1) The Player's Guide to Sanctuary; 2) The Gamemaster's Guide to Sanctuary; 3) Personalities of Sanctuary; 4) Map of Sanctuary; 5) Map of the Maze; 6) Map of the Maze Underground.
And Oliver Dickensen review from White Dwarf #30 hits the nail on the head for the box set; "Oliver Dickinson reviewed Thieves' World for White Dwarf #30, giving it an overall rating of 10 out of 10, and stated that "This has to be one of the most challenging adventure packs to come on the market. It is a whole city, realised with a richness and thoroughness of detail that matches City State of the Invincible Overlord, and though not as comprehensive as this, it presented in a much more readable form."
I'm not really providing a really good review of the Thieves World Box Set for that I suggest you take a look at The Blackgate Adventures In Fantasy Blog's overview and review here. 

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