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Hawkmoon (1986)

There is a phenomenon with Michael Moorcock’s fiction that breaks his readers into teams. There’s the Moorcock series you first read, which entrances you (in my case, Elric) and then there are the rest, which seem like diluted parodies. That is how I feel about the Runestaff and Count Brass stories, both of which form up the setting of Chaosium’s Hawkmoon RPG (1986).

Hawkmoon is a bit of a whatisit. The box copy hails it as a standalone game, one of a (never materialized) series of Eternal Champion games. The system is a modified version of Basic Roleplaying, but it feels like a Stormbringer RPG supplement. It is an obvious labor of love for its author, Kerie Campbell-Robson, though it feels like it didn’t get the same level of editorial love as other products at the time (there is a bit of recycled art, including a map of Stormbringer’s Young Kingdoms for some reason).

The world of Hawkmoon is ours, but in the Tragic Millennium, a time far in the future, after nuclear war and plagues forced the world back to a pseudo-medieval period. Mutants abound and the line between science and magic is blurred. Despite not being into the source material, I dig the world building here. Jim Crabtree’s art does a lot to sell me (there are giant mutant flamingos that you can ride!) and the whole box has that 80s Chaosium design vibe I find super appealing.

Chaosium only put out one other Hawkmoon supplement (which I’ll cover another time), which is a bummer, because with time and support I think this could have evolved into something special. In fact, I know so, because the game caught on in a big way in France, where it has developed on its own into something wild and unique across three editions. If you’re familiar with the French Hawkmoon, drop me a line, I’d love to learn about it!

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