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[Sorcerer] Humanity Definitions and Premise

Started by Doyce, April 01, 2004, 01:35:04 PM

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Over in this actual play post, I commented that the two characters in my test run each had a different definition of Humanity.

Quote from: DoyceRon said:

QuoteInteresting ... are you permitting Humanity to be customized per character?

It didn't evolve so much as "per character" as it was "per Branch of Sorcery."  Shannon's dad was Black Wheel... she finds his old notes, studies, and for all intents and purposes, she's Black Wheel (though she's never really met one, she's learned from their traditions).  Looking at Black Wheel, "Mastery" seemed the way they'd look at Humanity (or, the result of that had the right kind of 'cascade effect' on the definitions of the other attributes).

Conversely, Sebastian's demon-binding took place as part of early childhood trauma, which seemed much more organic and emotional, so we just went for Empathy-based, since he was summoning in answer to an emotional need for companionship.  

I'm curious how other folks have done this (and, I suppose, curious if this should be a post in Actual Play or the Adept forum)...

Do you more frequently see one unifying definition of Humanity in a... let's say 'vanilla' Sorcerer game, or a mix?  

Am I misreading (or reading atypically) the example sorcerer groups in the back of the main book, thinking they would each see Humanity as something different?

It occurs to me that Humanity usually gets a unifying definition in each (mini) supplement, and that that's perhaps the way to go with each gaming group/campaign, but I'm curious to see how much that has been done in practice.

Also, how much has the definition of Humanity tied in to your Premise for the game?  In mine, I see two strong Premises represented by the characters, each of which is tied in some way (or at least metered) by their Humanity and definition of same.
Doyce Testerman ~
Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.

Trevis Martin


After having misled  you a little earlier I'm a little bit hesitant to...ah who am I kidding.  I love this game so I'll chime in.

I've found a central humanity definition is more helpful than individual ones.  There is a pretty intimate link between humanity, sorcery and demons, and it's covered extensivly in Sorcerer's Soul.   The thing is humanity IS your customization of Sorcerer's general premise.  It allows the players, even though their characters may be seperated by time and space, a thematic unity in their critical decisions.  Seperate humanity defs cause the intensity of the games focus to dissapate a little bit.  Where other games might rely on a 'party' to generate that unity, Sorcerer binds players and characters together by the focus of its premise.  Characters can be whatever the player is interested in except, on at least one level, they are designed to address a premise that unifies the game.

The general premise of sorcerer is "What would you do to get what you want?"  Not a bad place to start but very, very broad and can get some wildly different answers in the same game.  So a little more glue helps.  Defining humanity allows you to ask stuff like "Is what you want worth X?  Where X is the humanity definition.  Is what you want worth your sanity, is it worth your independence?  Is it worth your ability to make meaningful connections to other people?

You are tweaking a deep vs. broad dial.  The more specific premise will narrow your focus but will make exploration of that focus deeper simply because more than one person is answering it.  I think this contributes to the intense quality of the game immensly.

Now something that can be really fun, and is discussed in Sorcerer's Soul, is competing (and sometimes contradictory) humanity definitions.  In most of the games I've seen posted about here, and in the games I've played, the humanity definition(s) were unified and applied across the whole party.

hope that helps,


Ron Edwards

Hey there,

Actually, all the groups in Chapter 7 of the core book are dealing with the same definition of Humanity: values. Sorcery consists of transgression against boundaries.

For a full discussion, see the first chapter of Sex & Sorcery, which includes a rather shocking diagram of how the three basic approaches in the core book (death, sex, madness) interact relative the common Humanity definition.


Nev the Deranged

Okay, I posted on this in the Session thread because I hadn't read this one yet... any way someone could move it over here or do I have to do something from this end?