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Title: My current Sorcerer game - modern necromancy
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 09, 2003, 01:26:51 PM
Hello,

I've been holding out on everyone, because for months, I've been running a Sorcerer game and not discussing it here.

The players include our own Nev the Deranged and two of my friends, Beth and Frank. The former always wanted to role-play but wasn't allowed by the guys, and the latter played a lot of D&D back in the 80s, but hasn't role-played since high school. We've played five sessions starting last May, I think, which is pretty slow-paced, but it was a busy summer. We should probably wrap it up in another session or two.

The Premise of the game is best expressed by the handout (http://www.sorcerer-rpg.com/necrosorc/necrosorc1.htm) I prepared for our first get-together 'way back last spring. Sorcery is all necromancy, and it's set in the modern day. To repeat some of it here:

Quote
Humanity = expiation through grief, “letting go,” and honoring memory over existence. Therefore losing Humanity is not about failure to care, but caring too much and refusing to accept loss.

... “Demons” in this game are the dead have not proceeded past the Ninth Gate, for whatever reason – and who have found a means (or are forced) to interact with the living world. They are no longer the living beings they were; do not think of them as people. Memory, to them, is nothing but obsession, and they know nothing of life or its priorities, not even as memory.

Without sorcerers, even the returned dead are almost entirely powerless. In this game, demons gain their abilities and Power scores through the Binding process. This idea has many implications both for the setting and for your options during play, so consider it carefully.


Demons aren't really ghosts, and they're certainly not the "people" themselves. They are ... derived from, or representative of, or left-over from, dead people. They do not look like or think like the original person, although they may be evocative of them in some way. I basically stole all the sorcery-in-action imagery from Garth Nix's Sabriel novels and from Tanith Lee's Kill the Dead, and the kernel of the whole thing is Raven's text about defining demons as the "essence" of dead people, which you can find quoted in The Sorcerer's Soul. I also read Patrick McGrath's Spider recently, and that character certainly qualifies for this Premise as well.

Before going on, I need to say that I ran websearches on "necromancy" and "lich" to find the images I used, and didn't check for copyright on any them. So these sheets can't be used for promotional Sorcerer use or even linked at my website; it's all Personal Use Only. So be warned, these pictures are not copy-safe. Oh yeah, one more thing; they look better in black and white for my purposes in this game.

Our first meeting and character creation session revealed some interesting things. Typically for a first-time role-player encountering Sorcerer, Beth's character is astounding: Victoria Carson, an almost-completely paralyzed survivor of a car accident, and a dedicated altruist and legal/political power-broker. Her demon is the remains of her boyfriend, killed in the same crash, best described as the uber-Possessor ... with Link, Hop, Cloak, Travel, and two sorts of Perception that permit it to zip about, host to host, and do what Victoria wants as she monitors its activities. It eventually bulked up to Power 8 to be capable of all the stuff she wanted it to do. Its Desire is Vengeance, and its Need is justice (!). The real winner, though, was her proposed Kicker - the demon has just discovered her long-ago affair with one of their mutual friends, and even better, this friend, a politician, is an outstanding champion of justice.

Frank's character creation went a little rockier ... he initially suggested that his character was amnesiac, and that his Kicker was the return of memory. But as the discussion progressed, he changed all that and went for something more exotic - a Peruvian shaman-type guy named Urma, who'd actually eaten part of one of his friends in order to survive an accident deep in the jungle. The demon, naturally, was the friend, with a Desire for Vengeance and a Need for blood, basically a smoky scary thing with some protective abilities and Daze. Frank suggested that the demon is all about vengeance on Urma, but it has to be exactly the right vengeance. This worked well for me, because from "demon point of view," what it really wants to know is what's so special about Urma's goals in life that it was so important for him to live. The perfect Sorcerer question. I deliberately did not challenge the amnesia-concept and was pleased to see that Frank eventually jettisoned it on his own.

Nev's character creation was also typical - but in a different way, based on his mostly White Wolf, LARP, and related role-playing experience. For one thing, the character (Craig Liu, a streetfighter-badass type) is chock-full of past trauma: murdered parents, no friends, lost, grim, alone, savage, barely socially functional ... in other words, all set to hunt the GM's clues and fight whomever the GM throws at him (a) with full abandon and rage and (b) no distractions. You can read a bit about his character in these early stages in his thread The dead are too much with us (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=6434). I was a little worried about this one, but given our discussions in Character ideas (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=5385) and other threads, I figured all would be well. Craig's demon, by the way, was his father, essentially a combat-enhancer, with a Desire for Vengeance and a Need for mercy.

Three demons motored by Vengeance, and with three Needs just begging for difficult character decisions. Cool. As for the Kickers, I've described Victoria's; Craig's and Urma's were both "GM, complicate my life" kind of Kickers - the former basically brings in a mysterious attacker and the latter suggests that the streetfight scene is ostracizing Craig. Again, they were mainly empty pegs for me to fill in, but I was all right with that.

As for my prep, at the time, I was mapping the few Travis McGee novels that lend themselves to relationship maps (most of them do not), and settled upon The Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper, because it is so bleak and vicious, and (as required for this particular Premise) full of dead people. In fact, I did something a little unusual - instead of backing up to just before the events in the novel, which is the typical relationship-map prep tactic, I started after the events of the novel, in the total absence of the protagonist. In other words, all the people who were almost killed or ruined in the novel were indeed killed or ruined, and the various bad people succeeded in their awful plans and reaped their rewards, and basically, it was all "over."

I did this for a couple of reasons - first, the novel, like all the McGee novels, isn't really very interesting. Bad guys are up to no good, and McGee stops them or partly stops them. I wanted that all over with; I wanted successful, happy, fat bad guys who'd gotten away with everything. Second, as I mentioned, dead people mean potential demons, in this version of Sorcerer. The more the better. And finally, I wanted the player-characters' Kickers to be the only jump-start material I had to work with, not NPC plots or plans of any kind. Or to put it better, I wanted to come up with NPC plots and plans strictly in the context of the three Kickers. Also, since the map is based over-simplistically on a single "bad guy," I spiced things up by taking another McGee novel called A Purple Place for Dying and just attaching the two maps together.

For purposes of early events, as a GM, I played "round robin" with demons and NPCs ... Victoria's demon was possessing the fellow who tried to kill Urma, but not by her orders; Craig's fight situation was all wrapped up with an undercover cop who was connected with the possessed fellow, as well as with a woman who was married to, and being cheated by, the guy who co-opted Victoria's demon ... basically, imagine at least one character associated with Player-character A looking over his, her, or its shoulder toward Player-character B, and so on. I trusted that my role-playing of the demons and the players' own proactivity would take it from there without trouble.

Anyway, that's my first post, bringing us up to late spring. I've provided extensive handouts for nearly every session of play so far, so I'll continue to post them and comment on the play-sessions themselves in this thread.

For now, though, what do you think? Any questions, insights, points of view?

Best,
Ron

P.S. I think the image links are wonky on that webpage; bear with me and I'll see if that can get fixed.


Title: My current Sorcerer game - modern necromancy
Post by: galex on September 09, 2003, 05:44:52 PM
All I can say is....DAMMIT WHY DON'T I LIVE IN THE SAME CITY AS YOU!!

Sounds very cool. I hope you'll keep us all posted on things as they progress.

Also: how the Hell do you find the time to run so many games?!


Title: My current Sorcerer game - modern necromancy
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 10, 2003, 08:11:32 AM
Hi galex,

I should clarify a little ... all of the above material applies to the game as it stood back in late spring of this year, about four months ago. We've played about five sessions since then, so there's plenty to discuss. I'm hoping for a little more feedback here in this thread about the first set of material before doing so, particularly regarding how one decides what to include in a one-sheet.

After that, I'll tell all about the play sessions and link to yet more handouts.

Now, as for all the role-playing time, the answer is fairly easy: I don't have the time. I have a hefty job, I run Adept Press (which is quite a doozy now), I have an active social life, and I both train in and teach martial arts several times a week. Compared to most people I encounter who claim not to have the time to role-play, I'm busier by an order of magnitude.

So to do all this role-playing, I have to make the time and commit to it ... and the nature of the groups, the nature of the content of the games, and the nature of everyone's relationship to their non-participating acquaintances are all involved with that.

1. I'm the faculty advisor for the campus role-playing club, at the university where I work. That allows me to try out lots of games in a limited format.

2. The groups I play with are, for the most part, extremely committed. It's not a matter of me "trying to get the group to meet," far from it. More often, they are committed to meet and I'm trying to shuffle all the other stuff going on so I can make it.

I don't think this commitment is a matter of luck. I think it's because the social context for our role-playing and its content/goals are both functional to an extent that most role-players have never imagined. Therefore the hobby occupies our scheduling attention and that of our significant others and co-workers, none of whom are playing, to an extent that allows it to happen.

Best,
Ron

P.S. What's your real name?


Title: My current Sorcerer game - modern necromancy
Post by: jburneko on September 10, 2003, 09:34:11 AM
Hello,

First, I'd like to back Ron up about the time thing.  If you treat gaming the same way you treat going to the dentist or even showing up for work maintaining a regularly meeting group isn't difficult at all.

Back to Ron's Game:

I like your one sheet and I'm now VERY interested in this game because it deals with a lot of the issues that interest me.  I like your comment on the sheet about finding the material disturbing.  I DO find it disturbing.  I find the Premise behind my own Gothic Fantasy version of Sorcerer distrubing and, to jump games, I find the Premise behind My Life With Master VERY disturbing.  And the thing I love is that all that "disturbedness" creatively excites me.  It is the engine that makes the game GO.  I'm so disappointed by the people I find who either flee because it's disturbing or don't find it disturbing in the first place.  It was refreshing to see that spelled out on the sheet.

I am not at all surprised that Vengeance was the common Desire.  It's almost like word association: Ghost Story - Vengeance.  What do 99.9% of all stories about ghosts deal with?  Past wrongs needing to be righted.  You asked it yourself on the one sheet, what do the dead want?  The most typical answer is: Vengeance.  It's one of the reasons I liked The Ring.  Samara didn't want Vengeance or Proper Burial or anything like that.  She wanted, well as you say on the one sheet, a form of Corruption.

That stuck out at me.  I'm curious as to why your mind went to Corruption.  Also, whenever I list something on a handout as "typical" it always feels like a double edged sword.  If a player doesn't use it then, on the one hand, I'm glad because it means he's branching out and taking the core idea in new directions.  On the other hand, I worry that perhaps he's missing the core mark altogether.  So, I personally, would have been a bit worried in your case where NO ONE took Corruption or at least something related to it like Ruin as a Desire.  But all that's wrapped up in why your mind went to Corruption as your example Desire and I could be off base.

Finally, I notice that you included Pact in your list of rituals.  In fact I've noticed that you include Pact in MOST of your one sheets.  However, Pact was introduced specifically in Sorcerer & Sword as a featured element of that genre.  Do you now generally include Pact in ALL of your settings as an available ritual?  The less "fantasized" a setting gets for me the less I tend to want to include Pact as a player option.

Jesse


Title: My current Sorcerer game - modern necromancy
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 10, 2003, 10:30:34 AM
Hi Jesse,

Great feedback. I want to talk all about the Corruption point.

"Vengeance," to me, has always struck me as a secondary thing, leading me to ask, "To what end?" or even "So what?" It also seems, to me, to be all about the living person's perspective at the moment of death, which differs very greatly from how I conceived of the demons in this game. They are not the dead people, nor their ghosts. I don't have a copy of The Sorcerer's Soul on me at the moment, but you'll find the key quote in the second chapter, from Raven, in the beginning part of the chapter where a whole bunch of people provide their visceral take on the word "demon." Its final two sentences concern Corruption as the main issue for demons of this sort ... not necessarily even as a malevolent goal, so much as a peripheral and inherent effect of their interaction with humans.

So if you look at Parl Dro in Kill the Dead, the story is about a demon who realizes that his influence is corruptive, and his son/sorcerer who decides that he can manage his own responsibility about that issue. Or if you look at the role of the Abhorsen as an office or social status in the Garth Nix books, it's based on the same thing: Can I stay human, although I live close to, and talking to, the Dead? In those books, the very nature of the office provides a positive answer to this question, although it seems to me that the subtext is whether the sorcerer really can engage in close emotional connections with other people. (Sabriel's father cannot, Sabriel does, and Lirael has to struggle very hard with it.)

Now, you rightly ask whether that's a problem or inconsistency of vision in our game, because the three player-characters demons turned out to be all about Vengeance. My way of looking at it now, is to say that all demons in this setting have Corruption for their Desire, but also another Desire in tandem with it ... "corruption about what?" or "for what?" Which is to say, the Corruption Desire is a constant, and the other one is that particular demon's focus or sphere for what gets Corrupted, or where its Corrupting attention gets focused. That way we get to play mondo-Vengeance but also see lots of Corruption.

Best,
Ron


Title: My current Sorcerer game - modern necromancy
Post by: Tim Alexander on September 10, 2003, 11:56:17 AM
Hey Ron,

Great stuff here, creepy and deep. I'm surprised the one-sheet didn't include descriptors, since it seems to be one of the big questions you ask to get a feel for other folks concepts in Sorc. Is that just something you don't normally put on a one sheet, something worked out with the players themselves later, or something you just do in your head to ground the concept?

That said, there's something really visceral about the whole thing, with the demons as echoes of the dead it leaves me with this sort of dirty feeling. Sorcerers seem to be the ultimate abusers in this context, almost raping the memory of the dead. I love the fact that objects only exist as necromatic tokens, it lays a weight to them that seems really appropriate for the setting.

On characters, did you have them create any ties to one another, however tangental? Are they even in the same geographic location, or are you handling all of the tie-ins via the map and the kickers? I'm pretty excited about reading the rest of these.

-Tim


Title: My current Sorcerer game - modern necromancy
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 10, 2003, 12:09:52 PM
Hi Tim,

Oh, right! Good point about the descriptors. I forgot to mention that one of the very first things I decided about this game was that I'd use the list of descriptors in the main book, without modification.

I decided not to create character ties prior to play, but drive the whole thing based on their Kickers. Quite a bit of the games I've played lately require a certain among of "the story thus far" in the prep stage, and I get really tired of that. I like playing Sorcerer to include the pre-creative phase of story-making, such that the first session might seem to wander a bit, but also such that the emotional priorities for the shared-created plot arise directly from playing the characters under stress (i.e. the Kickers).

Quote
... there's something really visceral about the whole thing, with the demons as echoes of the dead it leaves me with this sort of dirty feeling. Sorcerers seem to be the ultimate abusers in this context, almost raping the memory of the dead.


At their worst, yes. The demons' Corruption would be meaningless without the humans' Desecration. One of the main bastards in the story actually used a necromantic Token based on his murder of one woman to ensnare and marry her sister.

Some of my thinking about this comes from our game of Le Mon Mouri last year, when I realized (via my character's "actions") that the player-characters' existence actually desecrated their previous mortal lives rather than preserved them.

All of the player-characters' decisions about their demons, so far, have hit this issue like a gong. We still have a session or two to go, though, so I suspect some points have yet to be made.

Best,
Ron


Title: My current Sorcerer game - modern necromancy
Post by: galex on September 10, 2003, 12:15:02 PM
Hi Ron,

My real name is George.

After reading your one pager intro, I was struck by a couple of things.

First, I love the Sabrielesque necromancy thing, a very good source to borrow from. In your description of Sorcery, the phrase  "(1) separate acts of sorcery at the same time may encounter one another on the river" caught my eye. I couldn't tell if you meant the "acts" of sorcery would meet or the "sorcerers performing the acts" would meet. I point this out not so much as a "this is vague and I don't like it", but rather to ask what indeed you meant; both are interesting. And perhaps your wording is meant to keep people guessing.

-George


Title: My current Sorcerer game - modern necromancy
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 10, 2003, 12:20:25 PM
Hi George,

Good to have you here. With "talex" and "galex" goin' on, I really need the real-name thing to help me out.

The "meeting on the river" business is taken from the Nix novels, because I really liked the idea that sorcery implied, or even facilitated, sorcerers' paths crossing. In fact, we treat Contact very radically: the sorcerer's real body freezes almost solid, and the sorcerer perceives himself or herself to be standing hip-deep in the river. Say some sorcerer in Timbuktoo is doing the same thing at the same time - and that guy will be there too! They'll be standing in the river, looking at one another.

Or, for instance, as has happened in our game, the sorcerer tries to Contact a demon and fails, but - since he's standing in the river - encounters another demon that some other sorcerer is Summoning.

So I guess in response to your "acts or sorcerer" question, the answer is, "either or both."

Best,
Ron


Title: My current Sorcerer game - modern necromancy
Post by: Tim Alexander on September 10, 2003, 12:22:39 PM
Hey again,

Ah, good stuff on the descriptors, explains their absence.

Quote
Quite a bit of the games I've played lately require a certain among of "the story thus far" in the prep stage, and I get really tired of that. I like playing Sorcerer to include the pre-creative phase of story-making, such that the first session might seem to wander a bit, but also such that the emotional priorities for the shared-created plot arise directly from playing the characters under stress (i.e. the Kickers).


Help me out with what you mean by 'pre-creative phase,' is this just an absence of 'here's what I've been doing lately' on the part of the characters and letting that evolve backwards in play from the kickers?

Quote
Some of my thinking about this comes from our game of Le Mon Mouri last year, when I realized (via my character's "actions") that the player-characters' existence actually desecrated their previous mortal lives rather than preserved them.


I was reading your Mon Mouri thread recently and it came to mind while reading this description, so I think it's definitely left it's mark. I'm really curious to see how the players have handled all this in play, but I'll refrain from asking for details since I know the other threads are coming.

-Tim


Title: My current Sorcerer game - modern necromancy
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 10, 2003, 12:40:38 PM
Hi Tim,

Quote
Help me out with what you mean by 'pre-creative phase,'


OK. Let's take a look at the fundamentals of Story (in the very strict sense of novels, film, and theater).

Character in a Setting faces a Situation ... [character creation, Kicker creation, pre-game prep and discussion, and in emotional terms, the glimmerings of Premise]

... and takes Action, with certain Outcomes ... [System; "actual play"]

... which lead to a far more focused Situation ... [continued play and between-play prep; in emotional terms, full-blown and absorbing Premise]

... which culminates in decisive actions and irrecoverable Outcomes ("climax"). [System again, and in emotional terms, Theme]

Most Narrativist role-playing games, at this point in time, tend to start in the middle or toward the end, specifically the last two steps. I think that's because role-playing practitioners are currently so badly prepared to play in this fashion, that they have to "make sure" it happens by front-loading as much "story already" as they can.

This is my main criticism of the storymap prep protocol that Seth presents in Legends of Alyria, and also of the "blood opera" approach taken by many groups with The Riddle of Steel. If my goal is Narrativist play, then I want the whole process, I don't want to start (to put it crudely) three thrusts prior to climax.

Hey, I'll stick with the crude analogy. I like to start all the way back when I'm puttin' on the cool clothes and deciding which nightclub to go to. That means there's a lot of experiences to have and early decisions to make long, long before the woman and I are actually screwing. A group which is overly-anxious about really getting the story under way (which in my analogy would be tantamount to worrying about whether one should or will get laid, to the detriment of doing so) is going to scoot to the three-thrusts-before stage to alleviate the fear.

Being more experienced, confident, and skilled at the Narrativist mode, though, I can back way, way up and take it from the top. This means that I, as GM, really don't have any idea what the story is about aside from what's on the one-sheet, and the story can really be said to be created, lock stock and barrel, through the medium of all of us role-playing together.

Best,
Ron


Title: My current Sorcerer game - modern necromancy
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 10, 2003, 02:18:24 PM
Now, with copy of supplement in hand, I'm looking at pp. 26-27:

Quote
a demon is the result of someone very tortured, very depressed, or very evil dying without resolution to the extreme issues in their lives. They are literally the living manifestations of the "emotions" of a deceased human or humans...the tortured poet, the starving artist, the scorned lover...perhaps twisted in some way since, now dead, the issue cannot be resolved. ...

To me, the word means a spirit, an entity of semi-malignant nature. Perhaps not meaningfully malignant (no more than a chipmunk means to be cute), they just happen to be, they may not even actively work to cause pain, harm, suffering or etc. Those are just the effects they produce when they are around...so make no mistake, they are corrupt beings. That's the word I'm looking for...corrupt.


After my initial inspiration from re-reading the Nix books, I was browsing through the rulebooks and happened upon this quote from Raven. The really interesting thing is that when he originally wrote this in 1998, it didn't resonate with me at all. I kind of went, "H'm, that's one way to look at it," and that was it. Even when I decided to include it in the text for the supplement, it was only in the interests of diversity, not because the concept spoke to me. But when I read it this time, a few months ago, it hit like a train, and I scribbled up the one-sheet within hours.

You can find the original discussion and Raven's full text at the What is a demon? (http://www.sorcerer-rpg.com/brochure.php/list8.html) page, within the archives from the old Sorcerer mailing list. The full text is even better for my purposes in this game than the excerpt.

Oh yeah, one more thing. I forgot to answer about the Pacting. That table in the one-sheet was originally created for my Azk'Arn one-sheet, which was indeed a Sorcerer & Sword game. I just copied it over to make the one-sheet for this game, and the Pact remained included because I didn't think much about it one way or another.

Best,
Ron


Title: My current Sorcerer game - modern necromancy
Post by: Tim Alexander on September 11, 2003, 05:51:53 AM
Hey again,

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Being more experienced, confident, and skilled at the Narrativist mode, though, I can back way, way up and take it from the top. This means that I, as GM, really don't have any idea what the story is about aside from what's on the one-sheet, and the story can really be said to be created, lock stock and barrel, through the medium of all of us role-playing together.


So did you even have your McGee map in place before bringing the one sheet to the players, or did that choice come directly out of your initial talks with the players during chargen? I guess on another front I get the feeling I'm still missing something, since I don't exactly see any other way of handling this given the way you lay out Sorcerer. How the heck do you successfully start with a full blown premise? It sounds like a much more difficult task than having it come from playing. I'm not familiar with the storymap concept in Alyria, but it seems to me that trying to get a group all on the same wavelength in regards to premise before the start of play is taking a big leap, given the amount that characters (via player choices) evolve through play.

So much of what draws me to Sorcerer revolves around the fact that it supports that evolution. Cutting that out to get to the end seems a lot less satifying, or at least harder to pull off while being satisfying. So maybe I'm missing something in what your saying? Also, since I'm sort of falling away here from the game at hand and more into your prep stuff, perhaps this thread isn't the best place to chat this out.

-Tim


Title: My current Sorcerer game - modern necromancy
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 11, 2003, 06:57:44 AM
Hi Tim,

I always have a number of relationship maps kicking around, based on books I'm re-reading at the moment. (I rarely map a book on the first reading; mapping is too analytical a process, and I read books for very emotional, non-analytical reasons. But I re-read constantly, and sometimes that can be very analytical.) So to ask "Did I have the map ready?" specific to that particular game isn't very useful - think instead of me always having a bunch of recently-scribbled maps on hand, each one with a few notes about what sort of Premise it might be suited to. Sometimes those notes correspond to events or issues in the source novel, and sometimes not.

You know about the Art-Deco Melodrama threads, right? If you haven't, see the Actual Play page at the Sorcerer website, at the bottom of the page, for the links.

Quote
How the heck do you successfully start with a full blown premise? It sounds like a much more difficult task than having it come from playing. I'm not familiar with the storymap concept in Alyria, but it seems to me that trying to get a group all on the same wavelength in regards to premise before the start of play is taking a big leap, given the amount that characters (via player choices) evolve through play.


As it turns out, most people seem to be much easier with doing this. You should check out Legends of Alyria, because it's extremely well-written and very clear about the storymap technique. You can read my review of it as well, which talks about the technique. From a recent private-message I sent to Josh Neff, slightly modified:

Quote
"Blood opera" was coined in discussions between me and Jake, if I recall correctly, before it started showing here as a term at the Forge. It's perfect for most con demos. The idea is that the group as a whole comes up with a locale and a set of Setting-based concerns that have reached a point of crisis. They pose a whole bunch of characters who are deeply embedded in the situation, and then the protagonists are chosen from that list, often in opposition to one another. Play begins at the point of lots of morally-heavy choices for each.

Imagine coming into the middle of John Woo's The Killers, when the cop has gone rogue and the hit man is being hunted by his own people, and both are in love with the same woman. We know it's all going to end badly for everyone, and the best anyone can hope for (and maybe one character finds it) is a scant moment of knowing he's doing what he thinks is right.


By contrast, the way I'm describing my play of Sorcerer tends to be much more difficult for people who come from primarily White Wolf or other late-80s, early-90s game experiences. In many cases, these people have such a difficult time relating the terms "story," "my character," "GM," and "decision" to one another, that issues like "bringing the group together" and "investigating the GM's plot" loom up and obfuscate the process. They are much better off learning about Narrativism from Legends of Alyria, InSpectres, a TROS con demo, or Otherkind than they are from Sorcerer or TROS outside of a con demo (which is more like Sorcerer in this regard).

Best,
Ron


Title: My current Sorcerer game - modern necromancy
Post by: Tim Alexander on September 11, 2003, 07:28:49 AM
Hey Ron,

First, thanks for indulging my probing. Then:

Quote
I always have a number of relationship maps kicking around, based on books I'm re-reading at the moment.


Got it. I can related to this.

Quote
You know about the Art-Deco Melodrama threads, right? If you haven't, see the Actual Play page at the Sorcerer website, at the bottom of the page, for the links.


Yes, they're great. I'd love to see a supplement of essentially this, an example book for different settings/premise etc. with the play by play and step by step. I think this thread put a lot of the text in Soul into perspective for me. I keep meaning to write up my take on the three supplements, but I need to reread them now that I've actually read all of them. Does that make sense?

I'll take a gander at Legends of Alyria, and your review. As an aside, I specifically ran into some of this recently when trying to handle a CP2020 game using some of the techniques (mainly r-maps) from Sorcerer. It's been an interesting experiment, but I've found that while your method feels very natural to me for Sorcerer, it seems very difficult for games that don't have such an explicit mechanic to aid premise. Part of that may be my relative unfamiliarity with it.

It's also why I've put off running my tabletop Sorcerer game for a bit. With my local group I think I'm going to introduce Dust Devils first, mainly because the narration portion is so much more mechanical. My experience with the CP2020 game is that they may need some more specific guidelines on handling stance and narrating scenes as players. They're pretty locked into the GM handling that for them, and I think since it's so explicit in DD, it will help them out. Hopefully that will let the Sorcerer game work more naturally when I do it.

Back to your game though:

Quote

The "meeting on the river" business is taken from the Nix novels, because I really liked the idea that sorcery implied, or even facilitated, sorcerers' paths crossing. In fact, we treat Contact very radically: the sorcerer's real body freezes almost solid, and the sorcerer perceives himself or herself to be standing hip-deep in the river. Say some sorcerer in Timbuktoo is doing the same thing at the same time - and that guy will be there too! They'll be standing in the river, looking at one another.


This is ridiculously neat. Other than this aspect of being in the 'other,' has anything else come up that brings the characters in contact with it beyond the demons themselves? Or has no one explored that side of things, being caught up in their own stuff?

-Tim


-Tim


Title: My current Sorcerer game - modern necromancy
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 11, 2003, 08:06:20 AM
Hi Tim,

Quote
Other than this aspect of being in the 'other,' has anything else come up that brings the characters in contact with it beyond the demons themselves? Or has no one explored that side of things, being caught up in their own stuff?


I think your fingers got ahead of your brain or vice versa, there. I see several independent variables all squashed together. Can you provide a fully-parsed version of your question?

Best,
Ron


Title: My current Sorcerer game - modern necromancy
Post by: Tim Alexander on September 11, 2003, 08:28:36 AM
Wow, no kidding, I got a little excited I guess. :)

Ok, lemme try and break it down.

The contact ritual seems to bring the characters into territory that's sort of the demon's world, or at least less the Sorcerer's world. That in itself is pretty wild, instead of just communicating with the otherworldly demon, you're experience the otherworldly to allow communication with the demon. It seems that this could have a lot of other repurcussions, and so I'm curious if:

A) Have the characters been limited to this experience of the otherworld? Do any of the other rituals touch on this sort of direct experiencing?

B) Are they really there, or is this all in their heads? If they are there, then:

1) Has anyone tried to wade around and see what's on the other side, or is that not an option?

2) Are they vulnerable there to any Tom, Dick, and Harry demon who comes wading by?

-Tim


Title: My current Sorcerer game - modern necromancy
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 11, 2003, 09:09:43 AM
Hi Tim,

Probably the very best answer is to say, "Read the Nix novels," because I'm following the books' imagery and implications fairly carefully.

Quote
A) Have the characters been limited to this experience of the otherworld? Do any of the other rituals touch on this sort of direct experiencing?


I'm not sure what you mean by "limited," but I'm going with the idea that there is no other sorcery whatsoever. You do sorcery, you go to the river, period.

All of the rituals should touch on it. Banishing, for instance, blows the demon back through the gates.

One of things that shows up in the books that I'd like to get more established in the game is going beyond the first gate, and through "more" other-realms (which are still the river, just different "geography" for each). We haven't done so mainly because I've been a slacker about providing handouts that clarify the rituals better, in terms of providing more meat for the players to work with.

Quote
B) Are they really there, or is this all in their heads?


Heh. Do a search on "NaN" for this forum and read those threads. The practical answer is that we play it as if they were there.

Quote
If they are there, then:

1) Has anyone tried to wade around and see what's on the other side, or is that not an option?


You can wade around all you want, but all you ever find is the river and the nine gates. This follows the books' model.

Quote
2) Are they vulnerable there to any Tom, Dick, and Harry demon who comes wading by?


Uh-huh. That includes something horrid which has managed to work itself upstream from the further gates, something horrid which is being Contacted by some other sorcerer at the moment, or something horrid which has actually been set there as a trap for you by some other sorcerer.

All of the players apparently love the river-imagery, and Frank in particular likes to have Urma do a Contact whenever anyone is killed, to confront the demonic "version" of the dead person. It's hard on his Humanity, but it's cool as the dickens. (Frank is rather keen on the special effects of Urma's sorcery, by the way. "I bring out the leeches" was his winning phrase in the first session.)

Best,
Ron


Title: My current Sorcerer game - modern necromancy
Post by: Tim Alexander on September 11, 2003, 09:25:21 AM
Hey Ron,

Ok, I may have to wander over to Borders here in a minute and grab Sabriel. I could stand a trip out of the office anyway. You answered the core of my questions, which I had still not managed to ask, which was "Do you get to do a bunch of interacting here? Or is it mostly color for the contact ritual?" It sounds like the former, which I have to say is way cool. I can't wait to see more of this, I'm terribly jealous.

-Tim


Title: My current Sorcerer game - modern necromancy
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 12, 2003, 06:36:52 AM
Hi everyone,

Check out the second handout (http://www.sorcerer-rpg.com/necrosorc/necrosorc2.htm), which I brought to our first actual play session. It's not much more than a collage for each character based on some free-associative Googling. I do this a lot for characters I play, and it just struck me as fun for these characters as well, to let the players know how their concepts had struck me. See how that works? These aren't "What your character looks like, 'cause I say so," but rather, "What your character work brought to my imagination, given some keystrokes."

Doing this was interesting in unexpected ways. For instance, using "coma" as a search term yielded photos of actual coma victims, and I was instantly repelled at the idea of using these images for Victoria. It struck me as absolutely unethical, and I went for a more conceptual or implied-version, more like a Rebus than an illustration. Also, the demons are pretty much absent from the pictures, because they ended up being so nebulous. Marca is a drift of smoke, Veniamin is invisible, and Grett mainly  appears as a fleeting overlay of Craig's father's features over his own.

I also found a few pictures that matched sort-of well with some of the NPCs that had cropped up in the pre-game prep, whether explicit on the backs of the character sheets or just in my notes thus far.

(H'm, looking over the file, I find that the formatting is little off. Well, just imagine 8.5" by 11" sheets with fuzzy borders.)

So how about play? The first session was very much like I've described in the Art-Deco threads: no "story" to speak of, just playing out the Kickers or perhaps their consequences, and pressing for decisive actions from players. Here's how it worked out.

1. Urma's Kicker involved being attacked in such a way that he recognized his old-school Peruvian sorcery in action. That's easy - the attacker was Possessed by a demon, and it used a funky-duty Neat Knife (tm). I also decided that the demon in question was Veniamin, Victoria's demon, because her Kicker strongly implied that Veniamin was alienated from its master. That let me posit that it had cut a deal with an NPC who wanted Urma dead.

Oh yeah! That reminds me of another creative constraint I had laid on myself, for this game: Known Demons Only. In other words, I did not invent any demons for the back-story or bring them into play. Instead, I simply indicated very carefully which characters in the relationship map were dead, and which living NPCs might interact with them in sorcerous terms to generate demons later. So that's one reason why the demon in Urma's Kicker turned out to be Victoria's Bound demon - for the first run, no other demons were present in the game.

During play, this Kicker rocked wonderfully, for three reasons. (a) I decided to role-play the two demons getting together and communicating inside the Possessee's body, which was both visually cool and set up for more demonic role-playing later. (b) Victoria was able to participate in the scene (see below) and that turned out to be a big deal. (c) I'd decided to make the possessed-host an interesting NPC, not just some schmoe, so he was Walter Stone, a city detective. And then Frank blew me away, because he successfully befriended Stone, even after leeching him for blood for Marca! Stone has been a major character ever since and provided a key way for Urma, who was an illegal-immigrant newstand-vendor, to get more connected into the power structure and society of the city.

2. Victoria's Kicker was way fun, because she and Veniamin have Link. That means that she could eavesdrop on its activities (and Veniamin didn't mind; using the "just watch me disobey you, you're not the boss of me" concept) and get pretty surprised as to what it was up to. Looking over my old notes for the session, I find that my decisions about this Kicker remained in flux almost right up to the session itself. Apparently I'd thought that Veniamin would be attacking Craig, not Urma, and then changed my mind:

Quote
H'm ... how 'bout if cult guy who attacks Urma is actually Veniamin in action? trying to lure Urma into killing the innocent host? [key: Marca wants Urma to live] & the Widdoes are part of the real cult, which ...


I don't want to bore anyone with details, but "the Widdoes" are Victoria's mentor (the wife) and her previous lover (the husband), and the "cult" was revised sharply before play in some dialogue with Beth, when we decided it was kind of a "wives' club" coven that taught her sorcery. I also have enjoyed the revelation over the full course of play so far that Victoria is the only member who actually practices, and that the mentor, Martha Widdoes, is actually a pretty pee-poor sorceress, not some Awful Expert Master. But see what I mean about the details? I'm getting away from discussing the Kickers and the first session.

Anyway, the important thing about Victoria's Kicker is that she realized she needed to feed her demon's Need, so she sent it around to spy out any infidelities committed by all sorts of politicians and public figures throughout the city, and possess their wives to go and walk in on each instance. That turned out to blow my relationship map wide open (which is a good thing), because it revealed a crucial affair ... which itself had been the basis for Veniamin being co-opted in the first place, in my prep. In other words, all of Beth's choices not only revealed tons of stuff to her as a player, but also placed her character in severe, overriding danger and upset her entire sense of who was who throughout all of her acquaintances.

3. Craig's Kicker was sort of troublesome, unsurprisingly. I decided to play it both emotionally and physically - on the one hand, he swung into action to see why he was being ostracized by the streetfighter scene, and that led to a brief physical confrontation with an mean NPC I'd made up, Kim Vega (the tough Asian-looking guy in the second half of the collages). But I didn't want it all to go into "investigate, fight taciturn guy, investigate, get stonewalled, investigate, uncover conspiracy" mode. That struck me as a path to disaster for me and Nev as fellow role-players.

So the real Kicker, or the "spike" if you will, was to get him hooked up with some people who'd known his parents, specifically a guy who wanted to use him in a documentary recapping his dad's career. I pushed a lot of contrast between the bright hope of martial arts in the 1980s and the grubby, broken life Nev had described for Craig fifteen years later, especially since I could use his reviewing of the old videotapes "back in the day" to instigate some dialogue between him and Grett. I also introduced the guy's daughter, Melanie, who remembered Craig from when he was little.

That fed really nicely into Victoria's situation, because Melanie was one of the women that Veniamin possessed on Victoria's orders, and the husband she walked in on (with Martha, Victoria's mentor) is one of the really bad bastards in the relationship map - the guy who'd killed his first wife, Lori, and married her sister, Melanie. Interestingly, Nev decided that Craig would not follow up on his interaction with Melanie and that he was simply not the kind of guy who cared about what this forlorn, lonely, unhappily-married woman was all about. It was a solid "No," if you will, to a possible emotional connection with an NPC. I decided to say, "All right," and move on. Never argue with the word of God, and that means don't consider an NPC you like, personally, necessarily to become important to another person in the game.

So far, you'll see that "story" isn't very evident during this session, and I've glossed over some things that are very important for the story as it developed. I'll try to clarify them in later posts, and it'll become much clearer if you guys ask lots of questions. For now, what I'm trying to emphasize are my thoughts and interactions with the players during this phase. The most important thing for purposes of the first session was not to connect the characters physically or logistically, but rather to interest the players in one another's situation, and the logistic overlaps among the Kickers were only a means to that end.

Best,
Ron


Title: My current Sorcerer game - modern necromancy
Post by: Tim Alexander on September 16, 2003, 10:48:38 AM
Hey Ron,

Sorry on the slow turnaround on some questions. DSL was down at home over the weekend, and in addition, there's a whole lot to digest here for so 'little' story. :)

1) Did you hand out the handout before our after play. Was there any discussion about it? Did you find out from it whether your concept and the players concept was different? The same?

2) Why the known demon's only constraint? Arbitrary challenge you put on yourself? Were you looking to achieve something specific with it?

3) What the heck did Victoria's player do with all the stuff going on with Victoria's demon? Has there been any punishing? Any sort of confrontation there beyond the show and tell stuff so far?

4) How did the befriending of the detective actually happen? How did they get from leeching to handshaking?

5) Given that a big possible NPC washed up pretty early in Melanie, how have you been moving Craig forward?

-Tim


Title: My current Sorcerer game - modern necromancy
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 16, 2003, 11:01:03 AM
Hi Tim,

Whew! I was feeling neglected. And hey, all you non-Tims, how about some more comments? I busted my ass for that post.

Quote
1) Did you hand out the handout before our after play. Was there any discussion about it? Did you find out from it whether your concept and the players concept was different? The same?


I handed it out before we played, and we chatted over it a little. As far as I remember (or could tell), everyone accepted the pictures as "Ron's notions" rather than as fixed and standardized images for their characters. The "what happens in a car crash" went over very well, and I was surprised at how disturbing the final two dead-people images apparently were.

Quote
2) Why the known demon's only constraint? Arbitrary challenge you put on yourself? Were you looking to achieve something specific with it?


I wanted to avoid the cornucopia o'demons World of Darkness problem, in that I really want the setting to be the modern day and not some "one dimension away, with demons." I also recognized that the concept of sorcery we're using permits demons to come into play very easily - just kill someone, or know they've been killed. So I wanted "demonics" in the game to arise from events in the game.

Quote
3) What the heck did Victoria's player do with all the stuff going on with Victoria's demon? Has there been any punishing? Any sort of confrontation there beyond the show and tell stuff so far?


Oh my God. Yes, in the second session, things got very whacked. I'll talk about that soon (small time constraint just hit).

Quote
4) How did the befriending of the detective actually happen? How did they get from leeching to handshaking?


All I can say is, good role-playing and good rolls, acting in tandem in the Sorcerer fashion. Urma had tied Stone up, and he talked to him then - it was clear that he, Urma, had driven Veniamin out of Stone, who was mainly concerned with what had happened to him. Then the leeching proceeded from there - it was almost a bonding-type thing between them. And yes, Frank made a fantastic roll - an appeal of Humanity against Stone's Will.

Quote
5) Given that a big possible NPC washed up pretty early in Melanie, how have you been moving Craig forward?


I decided not to. It's clear to me that Nev, much like one of the finest role-players I know, Mario, prefers to have his character's personal crises arise without much reflection on his (the player's) part. If it doesn't "hit" in a given scene, then he won't force it.

The fourth session, in particular, paid off big-time.

Best,
Ron


Title: My current Sorcerer game - modern necromancy
Post by: Tim Alexander on September 16, 2003, 12:48:02 PM
Hey again,

Quote from: Ron Edwards
I also recognized that the concept of sorcery we're using permits demons to come into play very easily - just kill someone, or know they've been killed. So I wanted "demonics" in the game to arise from events in the game.


Huh, this implies to me that in most games you've run that events don't usually trend towards a lot of new demons mid story. Or was it more that you really expected a _lot_ of demons created in this setting, and so didn't want to add more to the mix?

Quote
I decided not to. It's clear to me that Nev, much like one of the finest role-players I know, Mario, prefers to have his character's personal crises arise without much reflection on his (the player's) part. If it doesn't "hit" in a given scene, then he won't force it.


So what's the direction his story is taking at the moment, more followup on the documentary? Further down the streetfight track?

Quote

The fourth session, in particular, paid off big-time.


Perhaps I should wait for this. :)

-Tim


Title: My current Sorcerer game - modern necromancy
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 16, 2003, 02:17:43 PM
Phew! I'm back.

All right, I have to expand my previous post a little as well as deal with Tim's new questions.

Quote
this implies to me that in most games you've run that events don't usually trend towards a lot of new demons mid story. Or was it more that you really expected a _lot_ of demons created in this setting, and so didn't want to add more to the mix?


Your first surmise is correct. The starting-demon dynamic is usually so strong in my games that most of our attention focuses on that. Other demons usually were set into action by me, the GM. So I was hoping that we'd see more player-input into demon creation via the events (i.e. deaths and revealed-deaths) of play.

Problem: I didn't follow up on my intentions of making a really good, kick-ass Rituals and Sorcery handout. It would include special effects for the Gates (beyond the first of which does use the Sorc & Sword otherworld rules) and provide some guidelines for (a) seeking a particular dead person, (b) seeking long-dead vs. recently-dead people, and (c) seeking particular demonic abilities or qualities regardless of who the dead person was.

So without that, and since none of the other people involved have played Sorcerer before, there's been less effort toward Summoning than I'd hoped. But recent events in play have changed that a little.

Regarding Nev's character, Craig, the answer for the second session is, not much happened in the second session in terms of decisions or (in particular) combat. I provided a Bang, in the form of Kim Vega, a tough bastard Craig had scuffled with in the first session, being found dead in Craig's workout studio. Shot through the forehead, actually.

That led Craig and Urma to enter one another's stories via Stone, and it also led to a fun scene in which Frank demonstrated his nasty imagination again, gaining bonus dice for Urma putting his hand into the blown-open back of Vega's head and Contacting. This was the scene I'd mentioned before (see When sorcery goes "poof" (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=7971)), in which Frank's failed roll brought them into Contact with a different demon, a really big one.

Frank also used his Lore successfully to get an "image" of Vega's last moments, which provided a look at a new NPC. Combined with Walter Stone's police savvy, this clarified a whole bunch of things for Urma and Craig even as Victoria's actions, via Veniamin, clarified a whole bunch of things for her and brought about the third-session climax for her character.

So this session represented, for me, a certain retrenchment on Nev's part as he started to find his feet as a Sorcerer player and shook off some habits from previous play. This continued through the third session (when he actually took some ribbing from the other players about getting his character into action), but then blossomed during the fourth.

H'm, I just decided explaining the events of play ("the story") isn't going to work too well without the relationship map. So I just set it up, and I'll see about uploading it soon.

Here's another point about our game - the actual play spaces and times. We've bounced around a lot, partly because I'm getting used to my house as a social role-playing space, and partly because we all have wacky schedules and have to fit in our role-playing with other obligations.
-Venue for our first meeting: my basement, in the evening (how Gamer!).
- For our first session of play: my front lawn, in front of all the neighbors, including one magic moment of seeing the jock teenager across the street and his friends head into his house with a box of Axis & Allies under his arm.
- For our second session: my living room, in the afternoon.
- For our third session: my wife's parents' back yard, by their pool, on a very sunny afternoon.
- For our fourth session: Frank's apartment, at their dinner table, in the afternoon.

Best,
Ron


Title: My current Sorcerer game - modern necromancy
Post by: Tim Alexander on September 17, 2003, 10:28:40 AM
Me again with some followup and some additional questions...

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Your first surmise is correct. The starting-demon dynamic is usually so strong in my games that most of our attention focuses on that. Other demons usually were set into action by me, the GM. So I was hoping that we'd see more player-input into demon creation via the events (i.e. deaths and revealed-deaths) of play.


That's fascinating, I wouldn't have thought that would be the case. I wonder if that's a trend most people find in their games.

Quote
Problem: I didn't follow up on my intentions of making a really good, kick-ass Rituals and Sorcery handout. It would include special effects for the Gates (beyond the first of which does use the Sorc & Sword otherworld rules) and provide some guidelines for (a) seeking a particular dead person, (b) seeking long-dead vs. recently-dead people, and (c) seeking particular demonic abilities or qualities regardless of who the dead person was.


This sounds too cool to pass up, do you still have plans to do it?

Quote
Frank also used his Lore successfully to get an "image" of Vega's last moments, which provided a look at a new NPC. Combined with Walter Stone's police savvy, this clarified a whole bunch of things for Urma and Craig even as Victoria's actions, via Veniamin, clarified a whole bunch of things for her and brought about the third-session climax for her character.


Was the lore as psychometry something the player pitched, or something you hit upon? It sounds like something that could become fairly heavily used in this game.

Quote
So this session represented, for me, a certain retrenchment on Nev's part as he started to find his feet as a Sorcerer player and shook off some habits from previous play. This continued through the third session (when he actually took some ribbing from the other players about getting his character into action), but then blossomed during the fourth.


Interesting, it's cool to see the various substories evolving at their own pace. When you're dealing with the various players do you handle them scene by scene, or will you play through with them to some breakpoint and then move to the next? Are you keeping them relatively close to each other in time, if not physical space?

Quote
H'm, I just decided explaining the events of play ("the story") isn't going to work too well without the relationship map. So I just set it up, and I'll see about uploading it soon.


I almost asked for this in my last post, it'd be really helpful. Also, if it's built from a literary reference that you care to reveal I'd love to know that as well.

Quote

-Venue for our first meeting: my basement, in the evening (how Gamer!).
- For our first session of play: my front lawn, in front of all the neighbors, including one magic moment of seeing the jock teenager across the street and his friends head into his house with a box of Axis & Allies under his arm.
- For our second session: my living room, in the afternoon.
- For our third session: my wife's parents' back yard, by their pool, on a very sunny afternoon.
- For our fourth session: Frank's apartment, at their dinner table, in the afternoon.


Interesting, how much has the setting effected, if at all, the vibe of the session?

-Tim


Title: My current Sorcerer game - modern necromancy
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 17, 2003, 11:42:04 AM
Hi Tim,

It'll be a few days before all the stuff I want to upload makes it there, but in the interim ...

Various people have reported less Contacting and Summoning in their games than they'd expected or hoped. The reasons are pretty clear to me.

1. Summoning is quantitatively difficult, because Humanity is a negative modifier.

2. People don't remember or process the idea that successful Contact rolls give bonus dice to Summoning, if the special effects or actions carry over.

3. Related point to #2: role-playing bonus dice apply to any roll, which is to say, to Summoning rolls.

4. Coming up with the in-game context for sorcery is flat-out, hands-down, the biggest stumbling block for any group who's used to a post-1990 context for how "setting" and "system" interrelate for a role-playing game. Failing to create such a thing means that #2-3 above have no hook to hang their hat on.

Yes, I'm working on the next handout and planning to rev up the River context substantially.

Frank came up with the psychometry idea by himself, if I remember correctly. I think we're still considering it a Contact of a sort.

Quote
When you're dealing with the various players do you handle them scene by scene, or will you play through with them to some breakpoint and then move to the next? Are you keeping them relatively close to each other in time, if not physical space?


I don't quite understand your first question; the two options sound like the same thing to me. I use the simultaneous-scene method and cut back and forth among scenes as they play out. The technique is outlined pretty carefully in Sex & Sorcery, in the last chapter, including a bunch of jargon called Bobs, Weaves, and similar.

Time is a little labile, as we feel free to shift a little forward or a little back regarding separated-in-space scenes' relative positions, but not very much.

Best,
Ron


Title: My current Sorcerer game - modern necromancy
Post by: Tim Alexander on September 17, 2003, 12:08:34 PM
Feel free to put me off at some point if you grow weary of me picking at you. :)

Quote
4. Coming up with the in-game context for sorcery is flat-out, hands-down, the biggest stumbling block for any group who's used to a post-1990 context for how "setting" and "system" interrelate for a role-playing game. Failing to create such a thing means that #2-3 above have no hook to hang their hat on.

Meaning,

Yes, I'm working on the next handout and planning to rev up the River context substantially.


Ok, so without a good Sorcery definition no one 'gets' it enough to want to get the bonuses to overcome the penalties of humanity, so it's all a bit daunting. Now that I've written this, it niggles a part of my brain where I read you mention how surprised people are at how hard it is to summon demons. Do you have criteria for determining when a sorcery/ritual concept is complete?

Quote

Frank came up with the psychometry idea by himself, if I remember correctly. I think we're still considering it a Contact of a sort.


Oh perfect, that's neat.

Quote
I don't quite understand your first question; the two options sound like the same thing to me. I use the simultaneous-scene method and cut back and forth among scenes as they play out. The technique is outlined pretty carefully in Sex & Sorcery, in the last chapter, including a bunch of jargon called Bobs, Weaves, and similar.


You're right, I knew that. Sometimes I divorce you from your own text. I'm also still digesting S&S. Heck, I'm still digesting Soul, and Sword, and the main book for that matter.

Quote
Time is a little labile, as we feel free to shift a little forward or a little back regarding separated-in-space scenes' relative positions, but not very much.


Gotcha.

Looking forward to the next installment.

-Tim


Title: My current Sorcerer game - modern necromancy
Post by: Ben Lehman on September 17, 2003, 01:13:13 PM
I have questions about your collages:  Is that fair game for this thread?

First of all, they are tres cool.  Extracurricular art for games is (almost) always great.

Do you do these for every game you run?  Every game you play in?  When you are creating them as a GM, do you find that the content and focus is different than when you create them as a player?

Do others in your group (any group) do similar artistic contributions?  What do they do?  Do people tend to have schticks (Nev does the sketches, Ron does collages, Laura does musical mixes) or do they tend to do all sorts of things?  What length of game generates this sort of art (they might not be appropriate for a one shot, but a six-or-seven session deal seems much more likely.)

Whew.  That ended up being a lot more questions than I had intended.

I ask because my college gaming group was very big on extracurricular artistic contribution, particularly music mixes but also costuming (even for tabletops) and sometimes other things (like art or collages or surreal webpages.)  It was not something that I had encountered in gaming previously.  People got very into these things -- one player in a LARP of mine wrote two novel-length fanfictions about her character.  I was never that focused, but I still very much like the mix CDs, and will often have about 60 minutes of music for any given character or game.

yrs--
--Ben


Title: My current Sorcerer game - modern necromancy
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 17, 2003, 08:20:13 PM
Hi Ben,

I was spoiled in the 80s, playing my first game of Champions with extremely professional and inspired comics artists. Almost every week would bring incredibly good cover art or pages for the comics we were "creating."

Throughout my history with that game, I often paid artists I met through the Champs grapevine to provide portraits, and my final game has a veritable catalogue of images.

However, the lesson didn't take for playing other things until I played Everway, and realized that the card-images were a major feature of play, both for prep and for communication while playing. Looking for certain images always yields other ones, many of which become incorporated into the game as well.

Ever since, I very frequently use images while playing. The internet and Google are of course a godsend for this purpose, but the hundreds of minimally-used gaming books and supplements, as well as my extensive comics and art-books collection, all get mined as well.

Typically, when starting a new game, I'll pass out some text that I've photocopied and images from a variety of sources. Ideally, I like to provide a new handout every session, sometimes with certain rules being clarified, other times with recaps or reminder-lists of NPCs, and still other times just with nifty pictures.

When playing a character, I very often will make a collage page for him or her, very much like the ones I made for this game. Again, none of the images are supposed to be a literal and exact portrait, but the viewer is supposed to look at all of them and create a kind of gestalt or "common source" for them, and that's the character.

I would vastly appreciate similar input from fellow role-players in my groups, but I have also learned - from Amber - that forcing it, or even formalizing it in terms of points or whatever, is counter-productive. But yes, music mixes, other forms of art, or what-have-you are great adjuncts. Sometimes they're used for play itself (e.g. Everway image cards), sometimes they're used mainly for out-of-play appreciation (e.g. the comics art from the Champions game), but it's always welcome.

Best,
Ron


Title: My current Sorcerer game - modern necromancy
Post by: ejh on September 20, 2003, 03:00:04 PM
(reposting some stuff I private-messaged to Ron, at his request)

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Ron,

My family has some connections to Navajo culture, and so I've heard second or thirdhand about some bits of Navajo religion/mythology/worldview/superstition/whatever.
 
One of the things that's worth knowing about is the "chindi."  You see, when you die, everything that's good about you disappears... Annihilated.  Nothing left.  Everything that's bad about you lives on as a spirit called a "chindi."  (This extremely bleak afterlife is, according to some Christian Navajos, a reason why there is a significant Christian Navajo population -- the afterlife story in the Old Ways is so absolutely hopeless; belief in heaven, even heaven for a restricted few "saved" folks, is *way* more than they've traditionally been able to hope for.)
 
A chindi is localized.  They stay in the place where the person died, and cause trouble for anyone still there, especially people close to the deceased.  There is no way to exorcize a chindi.  You just have to leave.
 
This is one reason that Navajos tend not to buy expensive houses.  Because any house may have to be abandoned forever if someone dies in it.  If your house was just a hogan, and you can build another one in a reasonable amount of time, that's not such a big deal.  So spend your money on a pickup truck instead!
 
Anyway, your dead folks reminded me a bit of chindis -- though to be honest, they're a lot more mellow than chindis. :)

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(disclaimer: I'm not an authority on Navajo culture; this is just stuff that I've heard from my mom, who was a teacher at a school on the rez for most of a decade.  My stepfather is a Navajo convert to Christianity, raised in the Old Ways back in the day, but I've never sat down and talked to him about the Old Ways, cause it never happened to come up in conversation.  I learned about chindis from my mom, who had learned it from her students and other sources on the rez.  What's in the above paragraphs is the sum total of what I know about chindis; what's in this paragraph is the sum total of the reason I know it, and I welcome correction from anyone better informed. :)

(edit when I realized I'd gotten the word wrong -- instead of "chindi" -- "ghost" -- I'd written "chidi" -- "car".  Doh!)