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General Forge Forums => Actual Play => Topic started by: ADGBoss on October 29, 2002, 06:49:55 AM

Title: Sorcerer: Labyrinth of Worlds
Post by: ADGBoss on October 29, 2002, 06:49:55 AM
Well Sorcerer finally arrived and I am somewhat eager to begin what is my first "new" RPG experience in some time.  I cannot wait to play but for the moment I will be running Sorcerer: Labyrinth of Worlds.

I will be aiming for character creation this Thursday at least for one of the players and probably two of the players I have in mind.

A little about the world:

Sorcerer: LoW will be set almost four thousand years in the future at a time when Science has evolved past mear formulas.  Indeed although Standard Einsteinian Physics is understood, in this part of the Galaxy it barely works anymore.  Instead, Metaphyscial Science has taken hold and has allowed a warping of Space, Time, and Reality.

A maze of sorts has been created with the various Gates that link the various worlds.  Space Travel is possible but usualy only occurs in orbit.  After the development of of the Metaphysical means of Travel and splintering of millions who fled the galaxy seeking "Real Science", there came discoveries of other forms of life, most importantly the "Deomonic" Realm of existance.  These Demons (Aliens of a higher Order is  what some refer to them as) can bind with Humans who understand the Rituals available but very few do.  

The general populous, as enlightened as they are, still tend to fear the truly Alien or Supernatural and this includes the Sorcerers.  As such Sorcerers, for the most part, still generally hide their existance as much as possible so as to move among the population unhindered by prejudice.

A note: MEtaphysics is a very nebulous framework around which the universe seems to be built.  I do not have every single Theory and Hypothesis peged down but it shouldn't become necassary. As we play and they ask questions I feel I can plug in some Logic then.

Now, if anyone has any advice, suggestions, or words of warning please feel free to comment.  

I do not have Humanity pinned down exactly and any advice on that (I have been bugging Ron Edwards about for almost a week now and don't want to bug him too much more :) ) that would be appreciated.



Title: Sorcerer: Labyrinth of Worlds
Post by: Mike Holmes on October 29, 2002, 09:32:09 AM
Whoa. One should almost start with Humanity. What are demons (as contra-human)? They are aliens, simply? Hmm.

Humanity could be very literal. It means not being alien. Perhaps as the sorcerers contact the aliens they tend to start to behave like them, and less like humans. At zero Humanity, the character goes native, and becomes, for all practical purposes, Alien.


One problem is that in four thousand years, what will human mean?


Title: Sorcerer: Labyrinth of Worlds
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 29, 2002, 09:35:57 AM
Hi Sean,

The only pieces of advice I can give at the moment are ...

1) Hold a character creation session, but don't play immediately. You'll have to take time to read over the Kickers and to process the difficult challenge of having those Kickers "be the story" in favor of your back-story or setting.

2) Make sure that all the players are present at the character creation session and encourage a lot of cross-communication among them. However, don't encourage them to link up their characters in any kind of "squad" way; leave it entirely up to them.

3) Visit the threads listed at the Sorcerer Actual Play ( page about prepping for play, especially the Gothic game links by Jesse Burneko and the Southern Fried links by Tor Erickson. The Art-Deco Melodrama threads are invaluable as well.

I also suggest Melodie's About to start first Sorcerer game - Humanity question ( thread, and all the threads I've linked to in my post there.

4) Review the combat rules, especially in reference to these threads:
My first Sorcerer game ( (with strict reference to my posts)
Last (?) combat question ( (but ignore the stuff about Sorc & Sword for now)
Sorcerer combat (
Individual conflict resolution in Sorcerer (
Combat, penalties, and Sorcerer (
Attack and order of attacks (
Combat question: multiple actions (

I know this might seem like a lot of reading, but believe me, Sorcerer is not a game which gently introduces people to a new style of play. It was written explicitly for dissatisfied role-players who were already 50% of the way to this mode of play already. On multiple occasions, people who thought Sorcerer would "open the heavens" for them have been shocked and frightened by just how different it is.

It's especially important to break down the usual dichotomy of [GM + book] as opposed to [players]. Instead, the book is intended for players and GM alike; encourage everyone to read bits and to get interested in how the game works, mechanically.


Title: Sorcerer: Labyrinth of Worlds
Post by: ADGBoss on October 29, 2002, 10:22:16 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes

One problem is that in four thousand years, what will human mean?


Goooood Question :)


Title: Sorcerer: Labyrinth of Worlds
Post by: ADGBoss on October 29, 2002, 10:31:51 AM
Thank you both much... I apparently do have alot more reading to do.  Which is fine, since I like to scope out perspectives of others.  

again much appreciated


Title: Sorcerer: Labyrinth of Worlds
Post by: Bankuei on October 29, 2002, 10:55:35 AM
On multiple occasions, people who thought Sorcerer would "open the heavens" for them have been shocked and frightened by just how different it is.

Sounds just like a typical Binding....  :)


Title: Sorcerer: Labyrinth of Worlds
Post by: Paul Czege on October 29, 2002, 11:11:43 AM
Hey Sean,

If you find yourself skeptical of the importance of Ron's advice to have all players present for your chargen session, you might want to also read my conversation with Christopher Kubasik on the Character Back Story thread.

Good luck,


Title: Sorcerer: Labyrinth of Worlds
Post by: ADGBoss on October 29, 2002, 12:36:57 PM
Wow that is alot of info to bring in, fortunately work is slow today.

Now I had a question. Its about the plot. Now I understand and like the idea of the Player's Kickers creating the plot (yes I know I am "Players cannot be trusted!" Designer but I am intrigued by this).  So essentially I wanted to give them an Environment rich with possibility when we started Chargen.

So I have the planet (Tau Gemini) and the location (Hermes' Rest) which is a sprawling rural community of deep forests and small buildings.  There is one major crossroads area with several utility buildings and stores etc... Each of the four major Houses in the setting hae manors here and there is a festival coming up in a solar week. (I am saying that Tau Gemini has similar rotation etc to Earth just so that major Astronomy does not interfere in the first game).  Also the player's know that on Tau Gemini there are creatures which resemble some of the Dark Myths, specifcally Werewolves and Vampires.  These are mainly superstitions.

Now can I stop right there? Wait for Chargen and the NPCs the Players give me and then fill in any gaps or should I create an NPC or three? Or have I gone too far?

Also I am working on some premise and Humanity ideas, more now after I have read some of the available threads.  The game will be about pursuit of knowledge and the inherent dangers.  In this world of Metaphysics were everyone appears happy and those that aren't are sick or incapable of understanding, perhaps the surface hides some secrets? I am imagining Knowledge and Metaphysics as a Warm Pool or Lake. As you descend into the upper layer you realise its much better to be here in the water (knoweldge) then where you were...  however once you descend deeper, thinking it even better the lower you go (despite the fact that you may know there are dangers) the less light there is until fianlly you realise that its all darkness and your lost...

This is part of the Sorcerer dynamic, the more the explore Alien/Demon the more they move away from the light or their Humanity.


Title: Sorcerer: Labyrinth of Worlds
Post by: Valamir on October 29, 2002, 01:44:09 PM
My initial suggestion is that perhaps you are being a bit too ambitious.  Trying to tackle a conceptually difficult new game system (which seems to be quite different from your normal balliwick) at the same time as trying to create a new and engageing setting might be too much for your first game of Sorcerer.

I would honestly recommend getting a few games of "standard" Sorcerer under your belt before trying to tackle this setting (which does seem interesting).  By standard I mean a slice of our own mostly modern world where players have all of the big setting details already understood and all that remains is creating a little slice.  That would allow you to focus on mechanics and witness and practice with some of the unusual features first.  I think your enjoyment with the Labyrinth of Worlds setting would be vastly improved as a result of the experience.  A "mini" sorcerer campaign can generally be wrapped up in a session or two.

To give advice specific to your question above.  I think I'd stop right there.  Don't give them any information on what the Houses are like, or what kind of economy the town has or anything.  Let them build their own kickers.  Pay special attention to the part of the character sheet where players invent and record pertinent relationships.  Have a group creative brainstorm session.  After which take the kickers you collectively invented, the people you collectively invented, and any little setting details you collectively invented that enable those kickers/NPCs and build up a Relationship Map from there between adding in new NPCs and such as desired.  Then wind them up and see where they go.

Title: Sorcerer: Labyrinth of Worlds
Post by: ADGBoss on October 30, 2002, 07:19:11 AM
I appreciate that suggestion but I guess I like Pain :) and the modern world is fine but when I get a setting idea I usually run with it...

I will eventually do modern Sorcerer.

I agree, I think I have enough info for the players and am eagerly awaiting the Chargen session.



Title: Sorcerer: Labyrinth of Worlds
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 31, 2002, 11:38:50 AM
Hi Sean,

Just wanted to say that I'm awed at the care and time you're taking to set up for play. I appreciate it a lot, and I'm looking forward to what you and players come up with.


Title: Sorcerer: Labyrinth of Worlds
Post by: ADGBoss on November 16, 2002, 06:15:29 AM
Ok! After some delay I am finally posting this.  We are done with Character Generation and our first session. CharGen first.

Character Generation

This went alot better then I had hoped it would.  At the time we had three players (there will be  a fourth as soon as I can get his char made for him) one of who was very eager to play and the other two a little leary I think. Still they wanted to try something new and sorcerer is new.

At first we talked about the setting and the basic Sorcerer rules and then we began a step by step chargen from the book.  This was going very well as everyone seemed to be expressing really great ideas and getting clues about their characters. Then we came to Humanity.  The concept of what Humaity's purpose was went fine but the definition of Humanity was a bit of a tough nut to crack. Fortunately Dave (ADGConscience) semed to get some of the ideas I had thrown out there and explained them very well. we tweeked Humanity a bit and boom everyone was on the page.

In a nutshell we decided that Humanity is like a pool of water and at the surface it seems fine to swim but once you breach the water, once you know that there are other experiences and ideas beyond what you currently are, i.e. Lore and the knowledge of Sorcery, you can never quite go back to normal.  So a little knowledge is not harmful but as you go deeper, there is less light from above and so as you know more of these secretes your mind seems to reject the notions o fHumanity more and more till finally your consumed with this Alien knowledge and are no longer quite so Human.

Dave can again explain it a little better then I.

So this is how things panned out:

Dave, an Information Specialist, I cannot remeber the exact title, who seeks out Information in General and has difficulties in situations where people ask HIM questions.  His Demon is a Shadow that follow him around and pesters him for Artistic Creations and likes to be in the vicinity when death occurs.

Marsha, a noble of House Issis, who somewhat rejects the societal notion that when your exact station in life is discovered you should stay in it. She has difficulty taking orders.  Her Deomon is a passing Demon who is her bodyguard and has a fetish for cleaning as well a deep need to know secrets.

Shelly, a secret Operative of House Issis, she despises law breakers and seeks to bring them to justice.  The character is a sorrt of Judge Dread / Dana Scully crossover which she is playing pretty well.  Her demon is a cat named Animal who loves to cause mayhem and enjoys the rush of power gained when killing someone

Dave's Kicker: He has come to Hermes rest (on the world Tau Gemini) to seek out knowledge of a suspected Sorcerer named Megedden who used to be a tutor of Morgoth Dye, ruler of House Cath.

Marsha's Kicker: She has comen to Hermes Rest for a meeting of Nobles sponsored by Morgoth Dye to find some peaceful response to the outbreak of unrest by the Technological Separatists.

Shelly's Kicker: She is to go to Hermes Rest to investigate the rumors of Werewolves and Vampires and find out the truth, bringing back a live specimen if possible.

I will get my notes together fully and post the first session later today or tomorrow but I must say Sorcerer turned out be a very easy to use and intuitive system.  I am much pleased with all of the results.


Title: Sorcerer: Labyrinth of Worlds
Post by: Paul Czege on November 16, 2002, 11:26:16 AM
Hey Sean,

Sorcerer, in my experience, can be a rough game to wrap your head around as a GM, so I like how you guys came together as a group and sorted out a definition of Humanity.

I was going to direct you to a couple of older threads on Gaming Outpost about Kickers, from the time when I was personally struggling to understand them, but it seems that they've been archived offline. So below are some excerpts that I'd saved from them for personal reference.

This is Ron's guidance to me after I'd posted about the characters produced by our chargen session:

What about the Kickers? Remember, the most important thing about a Sorcerer PC is that he or she is IN MOTION. Something happened, ONE MINUTE AGO, that changed everything. What is it?

From another thread, more explanation from Ron about what Kickers are in the context of chargen and play:

I have discovered that it is the way for a player to say to the GM, "This is what I want the story to be ABOUT." Whatever the context, whatever the setting, whatever the logistics of what the GM is "up to," the conflict or issue raised by the Kicker MUST be addressed in a climactic fashion at some point during play.

Here is where the real difference between the Sorcerer Kicker and the Feng Shui Melodramatic Hook shows up. The latter is used quickly in the first session "get" the PC "there," and it is as quickly discarded once its purpose is served. The former, however, is literally an intrusion of the player into the traditional role of the GM, during scenario preparation - it means, "I wanna play THIS," and the GM is obliged to do it.

Clearly, Kickers vary in their degree of information and demand. The examples in the rules about discovering one's murdered roommate or the suitcase of heroin only tell the GM to "put me in scary danger," rather than telling him to "give me a family crisis" for example. But I think that variance is OK - at the very least, the player is committing to CARE about the situation the character is in, and he or she has partly created it.

From later in that same thread, some examples from Ron of good and bad Kickers:

"My mom tells me I have a twin brother, and then I find that evidence at a variety of crime scenes points to his involvement." (the PC is a cop and a demon-halfbreed)

This is a great Kicker because I now have a couple NPCs, I have a series of crimes, I have opportunities for the brother to be a victim or a villain, and above all, the player is telling me that he WANTS to participate in a family-loyalty conflict and drama. Notice also that I still have plenty of creative input - he's given me elements and theme, I still have lots of power too.

"I get home from the airport, open my perfectly normal suitcase which I believed to contain my stuff, and it's full of heroin."

Why is this still a good Kicker? After all, it doesn't offer any NPCs or specific moral crises like the first one. However, it DOES tell the GM exactly what SORT of conflict or action the player wants to see - in this case, a gritty blood/cash/drugs story, with lots of dealers and illegal economics and ruthless stuff. Very 80s, maybe, with some touches of Miami Vice or DePalma's Scarface (neither of which I like, but it's the FEEL and TOPIC I'm talking about, not story quality).

"I change jobs, from insurance broker to fire-fighter."

This is no use because the "change in the character's life" is no change at all in STORY terms. The basic, fundamental act is still working for a living in a societally-approved way. There's nothing that makes me, the audience-member-me, sit up and say, "Oh shit, how's he gonna deal with this?"

PRETTY DECENT KICKERS (conversions from above)
Now if he changed careers from Arthur Anderson to working for the mob, that's a bit more interesting, although it still needs help - for instance, is it a knowledgeable change? Then the GM should ask WHY the PC decided to work for the mob (i.e. is the mob going to be a villain or a movie-cool context for heroics?). Or it could be the sort of thing where one day the PC discovers that he's been working for the mob all along - now that's a Kicker too, much like the heroin-suitcase example.

All of these might then be good versions, depending on the outcome of player-GM discussion:
- "I get fed up with legal hypocrisy and go work for the mob."
- "The mobsters threaten to feed my wife to the fishes, so I go work for them ... for NOW."
- "Oh, shit! I've been working for the mob!"

"Some guys I never saw before are trying to kill me."

The problem here is that anyone would have exactly the same reaction - evade, analyze, retaliate/solve. There's no opportunity for the hero to demonstrate anything except good puzzle-solving skills and good dice rolls.

Converting this to a decent Kicker is easier than it looks. Instead of forcing the player to make up back-story stuff about the killers - because obviously he WANTS to be mystified, as part of the fun - just ask, "HOW are they trying to kill you?" All the possible answers to this provide the GM with stylistic information about the kind of conflicts the player wants to face: "ninjas leaping through the windows" means a lot of things that "strychnine in my tea, drunk by my nosy neighbor by mistake" does not, and vice versa.

Getting everyone on the same page somewhere beyond the lack of potential for "anything except good puzzle-solving skills and good dice rolls" seems to be key. You've already done the everyone's on the same page thing very effectively with Humanity, so there's every reason to assume you'll nail Kickers too. Congrats! I'm looking forward to seeing your post about actual play.


Title: Sorcerer: Labyrinth of Worlds
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on November 16, 2002, 12:02:30 PM
Paul is completely and totally on the mark with Sorcerer. One piece of advice I'll give from my Sorcerer & Sword game and how I dealt with Kickers:

Either before or after you get the Kickers from your players, think of a few images or names you want in the game. You are the GM, and not everything can come from the players. In my case, I thought of names without actually applying any information to what they meant: the City of Truth, the Western Wastes, Darwin's Army, and slaver-bandits.

Then take the Kickers. These should perhaps at least have some overlap, but with more than two players, they will vary a bit. This is the most daunting part of the process: "weaving" the Kickers into a good story "blanket." (My players should close their eyes now, by the way.) For example, I have:
 - One character was kicked out of his tribe for defiling their god-in-a-pool, which became his demon. (He also stated a goal: to bring a new god to his tribe.)
 - One character had less of a Kicker, and more of a situation: his demon is an enormous combat killer that hates him and follows him around starting fights. (I actually can't remember if he or I came up with the real Kicker: the bandits he used to be a part of, and were wiped out by his demon, have cropped back up.)
 - Finally, the last character, a cyborg, woke up from cryo-stasis to find that his entire platoon is gone.

I weaved these together to get: the bandits are enslaving people to work in a local town, where the characters find another demon like the god-in-a-pool, and find out about the City of Truth, run by a demon like the enormous combat killer. (The third character came in later, after the characters made it to the City of Truth, destroyed it, and got a new god for the first character.) Upon making it back to the first character's village, they find everyone's gone, taken by Darwin's Army, and other locals identify the third cyborg character with a legendary character called the Waste Walker, which can only be another cyborg from his platoon.

Anyway, that's my advice: grab some cool ideas and attach them to the characters' Kickers, while making sure that certain NPCs and places in the Kickers are the same.

Title: Sorcerer: Labyrinth of Worlds
Post by: ADGConscience on November 16, 2002, 12:57:15 PM
Now that I know what Kickers are meant to be, and saw an excellent example in Christopher Kubasik's Gothic-styled one, I realize we had pretty weak Kickers.

Kickers, it seems, are a great way to keep from a game session from resembling a stagnant pool.

If I were to do another Kicker? I guess I'd say that my Informatics* Researcher had had several conversations with Meggedin, strongly suspecting he was a Sorcerer, and finally arranged a face-to-face--only to find out upon arriving at Hermes' Rest that the man was 20 years dead.

Evaluations of the above Kicker from Paul/Clinton?


*The field of Informatics? I'd try to explain, but it's beyond your 21st-century monkey-brains to understand.

Title: Sorcerer: Labyrinth of Worlds
Post by: ADGBoss on November 18, 2002, 12:45:15 PM
But he has only been dead 18 years...