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Author Topic: [Sorcerer] I'm a clueless newbie with broad questions  (Read 7120 times)
redwalker
Member

Posts: 54


« Reply #30 on: April 27, 2004, 06:14:52 AM »

Quote from: DannyK
John Brown would make a great Sorcerer character.  Are you kidding?  I mean, he was an utterly demonic guy fighting on the side of the angels -- or at least that's how he seems to me.  Melville thought he was uncanny too, if you read his poem The Portent , about a picture of John Brown hanging from the gallows:
Quote

Bt the streaming beard is shown
(Weird John Brown),
The meteor of the war.


Hmm.  Civil War sorcerer, anyone?  I'd call it "The Better Angels of Our Nature."

But I'm really threadjacking.  I'll stop now.


No, actually, you're not threadjacking.

How about this:

John Brown starts off as a normal Christian who happens to know how to enlist the aid of angels.  These angels have Needs -- to see wrath poured out on the Philistines.  

John Brown gets a Kicker:  he finds out from a freed ex-slave that he could damage the Philistines if he is willing to kill a few slave-traders.  Well ... nothing un-Biblical about that:  he knows enough Hebrew to know that the commandment is "Thou shalt not murder," not "Thou shalt not kill."

Angel One is Bound to John Brown.  John Brown can Punish that Angel.

So John Brown feeds his Angel's need for Mayhem.

John Brown gets his Humanity down to 0, not from getting extra Angels, but from brutally killing his fellow humans.

Just as he's about to go from PC to NPC, John Brown gets visited by another Angel.  This Angel binds John and can Punish John at will, but he does provide Grace so John is not an NPC any more.  At this point, John is taking orders from the second Angel and giving orders to the first Angel.

(Whereas normal Demons in rebellion can refuse to work for a Sorcerer, John Brown can refuse to carry out missions for the second Angel.  Of course, the second Angel will simply put John Brown into excruciating pain for a while until John Brown has changed his mind.  Unlike Sorcerers, who have to be cautious about Punishing, the second Angel cannot be inconvenienced or threatened.)

In gamer terms,the second Angel is a Patron -- he gives out Missions.  The Missions may contain various Kickers, but John doesn't have a real choice -- he can obey the second Angel or else get Punished.  So he obeys (and he has no reason to believe that Angels can give bad orders, since they can mention Jesus' name without writhing in pain -- they're not Fallen) and perhaps in the course of his raids his has choices.

This may be twisting the rules, but that's sort of encouraged, I think.  I'm trying to combine the two separate rules options of "angels binding humans" and "angels loaning grace" from pp.48-56 of Sorcerer's Soul.

To quote:
Quote

...what's happened is that a very horrible person is now free to wreak all sorts of havoc without being taken out of the picture due to 0 Humanity.


And to  make matters worse, along with John Brown's original stupid self-righteousness we have the second Angel's utterly inhumane self-righteousness.  The first Angel, who would probably hate all this inhumane stuff, would then set up John Brown for the fall by lying to him, telling him that he will be supported when he takes risks, and then flipping the circuit breakers when the chips are down, causing John Brown to be arrested, tried, and hanged.

The whole story is pretty repugnant, but possibly some gaming groups might like it.
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redwalker
Member

Posts: 54


« Reply #31 on: April 27, 2004, 06:26:42 AM »

Quote from: hardcoremoose
But the point of Sorcerer isn't necessarily to create a "moral" that you agree with or that represents a personal worldview; it's about creating a portrayal of humanity that resonates emotionally with you and the other players on some level, and those emotions can be ones of agreement or disagreement, satisfaction or dissatisfaction, joy or revulsion.


... There's almost nothing more emotionally provocative than seeing a hated character stay in the game though totally undeserving of it, and I wrote Charnel Gods to facilitate that.



Looking at Charnel Gods , I suspect that it would work wonderfully with a Pol Pot-style protagonist.  Pol Pot provokes a lot of emotions in me because he got away with everything and led a long and happy life, dying peacefully in his sleep -- although no one really knows whether it was old age or poison that finished him.  He of all people did not deserve comfort, domestic bliss, the consolations of serene old age, etc.

Trevis' link to the Catholicism thread is also greatly appreciated.  Ron Edwards' definition of "Direct contact with the thematic point of existence" and the references to the Holy Office give me a lot to think about.  These issues resonate with me and call up interesting, active thoughts, whereas the "Psyche Junkies" and "Black Wheel" diabolists remind me of why I never played "Over the Edge" -- it just didn't resonate.
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greyorm
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My name is Raven.


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« Reply #32 on: April 27, 2004, 06:30:42 AM »

Every stone-cold killer you described in your post would make a highly workable Sorcerer character. The Humanity issues practically scream their existance from what you wrote. Didn't want to...saw no other way...etc.
Seem like Sorcerer characters to me.

As to SCK's in real-life and in games, I believe Ron is referring to them in games along the lines of the characters you've described for games: bad-asses with no ties to anyone or anything, no real desires, expectations, hatreds or anything else, shallow, one-dimensional constructs who exist solely "to be bad" and "to show how bad they are."

Those sorts of people don't exist in real life, even among SCKs.

In fact, I think you're still confusing Humanity with "having to be nice." Nope. Sorry. Code of conduct. Code of honor. Etc. (now pay attention) Even one not followed by a character.

"This is right (Humanity definition). But my character, he doesn't care nothin' about that."

Great! Go!

Humanity does not have to be something the character is concerned about or worried about, or attempting to emulate or follow. Yeah, it's a quick trip to the dark end of the tunnel, but so what?

The play's the thing; getting there is the story, and that's the point.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #33 on: April 27, 2004, 07:27:56 AM »

Hello,

Red, I think you might consider the difference between two things:

a) a protagonist in a story, which I know you understand because you referred to wanting an audience, even a hypothetical one, to identify with your characters as good guys

b) real actual people of whatever qualities

The two things are so different, in every possible way (existence comes to mind as a variable), that referring to (b) when talking about (a) isn't even vaguely relevant. Check out my post again: it's only about (a).

Raven's (greyorm) recent post is key to the entire issue you've brought up in this thread. The question now is whether you want to process and understand his point. I'm happy to work with you on this, and I know that Sorcerer pays off tremendously well in play. Is that a goal you want to pursue?

Best,
Ron
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redwalker
Member

Posts: 54


« Reply #34 on: April 27, 2004, 08:02:18 AM »

Edit note:
This whole post gets pretty arcane, and a lot of it comes down to what's valid in my culture versus what's valid in someone else's. So it is not very high-priority, because with many viewpoints I would just agree to disagree.  

Much higher priority is the thread I put on the "Adept Press" forum which proposes a "John Brown as Sorcerer" campaign to try to see if I am understanding Humanity yet.

If, on the other hand, you're really interested in my hair-splitting over "undeterrable," "Miltonian Satanic," etc. the meandering below will interest you.
---

Quote from: greyorm

Every stone-cold killer you described in your post would make a highly workable Sorcerer character. The Humanity issues practically scream their existance from what you wrote. Didn't want to...saw no other way...etc.
Seem like Sorcerer characters to me.


Nope, that's not what I'm getting at.  Lots of undeterrable killers are neutral toward or attracted to the prospect of killing.  Guys like Nguyen Ngoc Luan and even William Munny are deterrable and feel some discomfort from killing.

Sir Galahad, John Brown, Pol Pot, the sniper from "Day of the Jackal," the Assassins of the Medieval Middle East and quite a few other folks are undeterrable.

Sir Galahad might have no mercy, no compassion, but every kill he makes is a kill for Jesus.  He's a fanatical zealot.  Zero human connections, total faith in an inhumane, cruel-and-jealous God.  People might actually admire Sir Galahad because he fits their ideal of Christianity.  John Brown is the 19th century Sir Galahad.  The Assassins are a parallel case with sectarian Islam instead of medieval Christianity.  Pol Pot is a similar case with Communism, but he's very charismatic as well.  These all have at least one motivation -- to serve their ideal.  They may also have a secondary motivation -- to indulge their bloodlust.

The sniper from "Day of the Jackal" is very, very professional.  He took the job.  He is dedicated to his work, and he's probably a sadist.  He is going to go for the pure professional challenge even though he is exceeding the minimum requirements of the contract.  He has both motivations, but he's not going to be widely admired.







William Munny has a few human connections to his kids.  He can put those aside and kill for money.  Then he will take his money and his kids and go to a small town and prosper in dry goods.  He's giving his kids the money that will let them survive.  People might admire William Munny when they see him selling them dry goods, but if they knew about his past they would hang him.  William Munny isn't a sadist.  He kills because it's a practical way to better his life, but after the shooting is done he takes a slug of whiskey and reflects that he would much rather have a life where he didn't shoot people.  He's made a Faustian bargain, and he wins because he gets to prosper in dry goods.

Nguyen Ngoc Luan was a family man.  All he wanted was to live with his family.  He regarded killing as a distasteful duty.  And after his killing was photographed and he moved to America, Americans vandalized his restaurant and called him a war criminal.  He made a Faustian bargain and lost, and lost, and kept on losing.


Quote from: greyorm

As to SCK's in real-life and in games, I believe Ron is referring to them in games along the lines of the characters you've described for games: bad-asses with no ties to anyone or anything, no real desires, expectations, hatreds or anything else, shallow, one-dimensional constructs who exist solely "to be bad" and "to show how bad they are."

Those sorts of people don't exist in real life, even among SCKs.


To the contrary.  Johnny Ringo is an interesting character because he does have active hatreds:  he hates hypocrisy, bad scholarship, stupid people, uneducated people, etc.  He is attracted to killing, but has no positive ideal.  He is a Satanic figure (in a Miltonian sense) who hates God for creating an unjust world.

Sir Galahad acts with equal inhumanity, but he has a positive ideal.  For Sir Galahad, he might hate sexually active women, but he can rationalize that because his God hates them too.  So his cruelty lacks the Miltonian-Satanic rebellion factor of Johnny Ringo.  And if he's in the right culture, he's considered to be a hero, not a villain, by the community.

Quote from: greyorm

In fact, I think you're still confusing Humanity with "having to be nice." Nope. Sorry. Code of conduct. Code of honor. Etc. (now pay attention) Even one not followed by a character.

"This is right (Humanity definition). But my character, he doesn't care nothin' about that."

Great! Go!


Well, if you could take a look at my proposal for John Brown as a Sorcerer character and assume that Humanity is lost by brutal, inhumane violence, that's one take on it.


Quote from: greyorm

Humanity does not have to be something the character is concerned about or worried about, or attempting to emulate or follow. Yeah, it's a quick trip to the dark end of the tunnel, but so what?

The play's the thing; getting there is the story, and that's the point.


If that's the case, it looks like my John Brown scenario with two "Angels" is the way to go.  Perhaps I can pitch that to prospective players.
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redwalker
Member

Posts: 54


« Reply #35 on: April 27, 2004, 08:11:16 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Hello,

Red, I think you might consider the difference between two things:

a) a protagonist in a story, which I know you understand because you referred to wanting an audience, even a hypothetical one, to identify with your characters as good guys

b) real actual people of whatever qualities

The two things are so different, in every possible way (existence comes to mind as a variable), that referring to (b) when talking about (a) isn't even vaguely relevant. Check out my post again: it's only about (a).

Raven's (greyorm) recent post is key to the entire issue you've brought up in this thread. The question now is whether you want to process and understand his point. I'm happy to work with you on this, and I know that Sorcerer pays off tremendously well in play. Is that a goal you want to pursue?

Best,
Ron


I appreciate you (and everyone else) taking the time and effort to read my rambles, rants, and reprehensibilities.

And honestly, Ron, I'm flattered that a prominent creative artist like yourself is taking the trouble to answer my low-level questions.  I sincerely think your time is important and I don't want to take too much of it.

Tell you what, I've posted a "John Brown as Sorcerer" scenario and let's sit back and let everyone tell me if it sucks, and if so, where.  I don't mind if it sucks and is totally inappropriate, just tell me why.

If I can get consensus that the "John Brown as Sorcerer" scenario works, then I guess I'll have processed greyorm's point.  At which point I will take a bow and feel that I've contributed something worthwhile to the online community.

*If* I can take that bow, *if* people think I get it, then I'll argue about some other things you've said.  But that can wait.  For the moment I'm not convinced that I've even understood the rules -- and until I take the time to understand and prove my understanding, I sincerely think you have better things to do then read my meanderings.
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greyorm
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Posts: 2233

My name is Raven.


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« Reply #36 on: April 27, 2004, 09:01:26 AM »

Quote
He has both motivations, but he's not going to be widely admired.

Right, he won't be. But, well, I don't see how any of your examples are NOT Sorcerer characters. All of them look very juicy and useable as game characters confronting Humanity issues.

Right now, you seem to have "Humanity" tied it up with "humanity" at large, rather, a Christian-centric "moral viewpoint" or "something everyone thinks is good and right" or even "empathy."

Humanity isn't necessarily "good and right" -- Humanity can be concepts like "obeying societal laws." So, freeing slaves in the Old South pre-Civil War might call for Humanity loss checks.

In an oriental society, Humanity might be based around obeying the dictates of one's lord, and maintaining the boundaries of social caste. So, a Samurai cutting down peasants in cold blood for looking at him funny would not call for a Humanity loss check, because it isn't a Humanity endangering situation.

Have you looked into the multiple definitions of Humanity? Where the dynamism is that they may conflict? For example "Duty to Family" and "Love" -- now take Romeo & Juliet as the situation. It's all about what you're going to do, run off with your love and abandon your family? Remain loyal to your family and suffer the pangs of lost love? Humanity starts conflicting: one action might cause both a check for a gain and for a loss. The point is finding out where it takes you regarding the questions raised by Humanity.

Is family more important than love? What will following my heart ultimately lead to? And so on.

So, like I said, "This is right (Humanity definition). But my character, he don't care nothin' about that."

For example, a Samurai story with the Humanity defintion of "obeying one's lord" or "following the code of the Samurai," where your character doesn't care about Humanity would be all about disobeying the dictates of your lord, the seperation of the castes, or the code required of you as a Samurai, all for some other purpose.

You actively work against your lord's commands, you teach the peasants how to defend themselves, a peasant spits at your feet and you refuse to kill him. Lose Humanity, lose Humanity, lose Humanity.

Even if he's doing it all for humanitarian reasons: the lord is evil and corrupt, the peasants are about to be attacked by the well-armed force of another warlord, you know the spitting man's family and would feel sorry for them if you killed him. "WHAT?! Lose Humanity?!" you ask...but he's a great guy!

Yep. He is. You still have to check to see if you lose Humanity. Humanity, in Sorcerer, has nothing to do with being a humanitarian.

Like I said above, it's all about the story.

The samurai disobeys his lord because he wants something, something more important than the code he swore to uphold. How far will he go to get that something, and even if he achieves success, will he end up a disgraced and honorless dog because of it?

If you don't care about the code (Humanity), then your answer is "Hell, yes." And then you find out through play how he gets to that point.

You save the peasants from the attacking force by training them to use arms, and are then hunted down and beheaded by a dozen other samurai for your indiscretion and failure -- because you're at 0 Humanity for saving the peasants. Like I said, it's about how far you'll go to get what you want, and what you'll do to get there.

Heck, he isn't even necessarily dead. Rewrite the character now, and suddenly the game is now about the fallen Samurai trying to protect the village from the lord's own forces bent on slaying his own peasant laborers, infidels who dared to touch weapons!

You might look at it like this: Humanity is the "problem" in the game -- it's what's between where you are and what you want. So, to use some of your examples and the definition of Humanity as "morality," some people are going to say, "Morality? I won't let that stop me." And there's your story: how far does the character go?

And Humanity's definition sets the tone for the sort of story you want to tell -- the literary struggle, what it's all about.


EDIT: BTW, sorry for not dealing with your example utilizing the angels. I find that the angels, as you've used them, are fundamentally unnecessary to the whole thing. That what you've described could be run with straight Sorcerer rules, and none of the funky "other stuff" found in the various books.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
FredGarber
Member

Posts: 95


« Reply #37 on: April 27, 2004, 11:17:04 AM »

Take your bunch of players who are all playing Type A Badass.  They don't care nothin' about what nobody else thinks.  They are cold eyed, clear eyed killers.

What they risk, their "Humanity" is, maybe "Freedom from Incarceration"
Treat it like an inverse of the "Wanted" levels in the GTA videogames :)

Unless it shows up in a Kicker, none of them are actively hunted by Law Enforcement at the beginning of game.  But they need to eat; to stay alive.  To get food, you need money.  To get money: you will...  
and here's where the "Freedom from Incarceration" works.  They could go and shoot everyone in the mini-mart, and take as many Mountain Dew bottles as they need.  Or, they could rob a bank, and spend the cash.  How long they are free, and able to act on their own is the central Premise of the game.
Maybe by framing someone else, they can increase their "Freedom" level, and go back to the quiet, brooding life they started at.  Or, in the "Last Man Standing" case, they kill off every last person in town who might oppose them (in which case, Freedom goes up, despite that being a terribly inhumane act)

Rather than being a Cosmic Outlaw, they could be just be Terrorist Outlaws.
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DannyK
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« Reply #38 on: April 27, 2004, 11:43:57 AM »

Humanity as not being in jail?  
That's really cool.  That reminds me of the Demon Cops supplement, where Humanity is defined as the ability to go on being a Demon Cop.  

It suggests an endgame like in the end of most gangster movies, where the protagonist flees to Bermuda, turns state's evidence, or gets whacked.
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neelk
Member

Posts: 126


« Reply #39 on: April 27, 2004, 02:31:25 PM »

Quote from: DannyK
Humanity as not being in jail?  
That's really cool.  That reminds me of the Demon Cops supplement, where Humanity is defined as the ability to go on being a Demon Cop.  It suggests an endgame like in the end of most gangster movies, where the protagonist flees to Bermuda, turns state's evidence, or gets whacked.


Yeah, that's a really sweet idea. I have nothing to add, but praise for Fred Garber. :)
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Neel Krishnaswami
redwalker
Member

Posts: 54


« Reply #40 on: April 27, 2004, 04:59:42 PM »

Quote from: FredGarber
Take your bunch of players who are all playing Type A Badass.  They don't care nothin' about what nobody else thinks.  They are cold eyed, clear eyed killers.

What they risk, their "Humanity" is, maybe "Freedom from Incarceration"
Treat it like an inverse of the "Wanted" levels in the GTA videogames :)

Unless it shows up in a Kicker, none of them are actively hunted by Law Enforcement at the beginning of game.  But they need to eat; to stay alive.  To get food, you need money.  To get money: you will...  
and here's where the "Freedom from Incarceration" works.  They could go and shoot everyone in the mini-mart, and take as many Mountain Dew bottles as they need.  Or, they could rob a bank, and spend the cash.  How long they are free, and able to act on their own is the central Premise of the game.
Maybe by framing someone else, they can increase their "Freedom" level, and go back to the quiet, brooding life they started at.  Or, in the "Last Man Standing" case, they kill off every last person in town who might oppose them (in which case, Freedom goes up, despite that being a terribly inhumane act)

Rather than being a Cosmic Outlaw, they could be just be Terrorist Outlaws.


Actually, that's too easy unless there are Sorcerers working for the cops.

If they go to Humanity 0, sure, I take away control and say that they've screwed up badly and somehow they can't use their demons while the cops drag them away in cuffs.  

But what if they get incarcerated while they still have their demons?  Maybe they decide to turn themselves in for some reason.  (One motivation would be to get close to a demon posing as a prisoner or to assassinate a prisoner.)

I thought a lot about trying to get players for a party of outlaws.

I decided against it when I made the following numbers as a sample starting character:
2 Stamina, 7 Will, 1 Lore.

Demon: Boost Lore, Cloak (conferred), Travel (conferred) (Teleport), Perception (conferred) (weird senses necessary for teleport), Vitality(conferred).

A minor criminal who can teleport and cloak is virtually unstoppable, unless he runs afoul of someone else with demons.

I initially wanted to run a game with a gang of criminals, but I didn't want cops to have demons.  I gave up because it would have been too easy for the players to teleport from Muncie to Chicago, steal some money out of a locked room, teleport to Tampa and buy some groceries, teleport back to Muncie and have a snack while thinking about how to satisfy their demons' needs -- all while invisible.  Even if the cops could mark the money, they would have to believe that a nationwide crime syndicate was at work.

If the cops had demons on their side, they would simply fight to kill the players.

So I think Humanity as "Freedom from Incarceration," while valid for you, doesn't fit my vision of how things would operate.

If you like, I'd be interested to hear how you would handle such a campaign.
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Jaik
Member

Posts: 49


« Reply #41 on: April 27, 2004, 07:53:33 PM »

Quote
I initially wanted to run a game with a gang of criminals, but I didn't want cops to have demons.  I gave up because it would have been too easy for the players to teleport from Muncie to Chicago, steal some money out of a locked room, teleport to Tampa and buy some groceries, teleport back to Muncie and have a snack while thinking about how to satisfy their demons' needs -- all while invisible.  Even if the cops could mark the money, they would have to believe that a nationwide crime syndicate was at work.


I'm going to put my not-having-played-Sorcerer-yet opinion on the block and say that the above is not a problem.  Great, your PC's have rent money and munchies.  How does that help PC A with his kid sister who's hanging out with all the wrong guys?  What about when PC B sees a rival heading into the same shop where he bought the book that gave him his Lore 1?

In pretty much almost every game in my experience, character survival, followed closely by defeating the GM's big villain are the sum total of the goals of the game.  As long as you walk away, you win and if you beat up the bad guy, bonus for you.  

Sorcerer ain't like that.

Sorcerer forces you to say to yourself 'My character will not be safe.  I will willingly throw them into bad situations.  I will make trouble for my PC.  I will cause no end of fear for my PC and I will revel in the experience.'

I guess I look on a propsed story where a couple minor hoodlums learn to summon demons, do so, then use the incredible powers they now have to knock over an OTB out of state for beer money every other week but otherwise lay low like I would see a story about barry Allen discovering he has super-speed only to become an independant auto mechanic so he can do a day's work in 5 minutes and spend the rest of the day watching sports on the couch.  Is it something a real person might do?  Sure.  Could it be considered a reasonable thing to do?  Absolutely.  Does it make for a fun, exciting story?

Hell no.

Umm, I seem to be rambling a bit.  To close, let me tell you about the latest issue of Hawkeye, Marvel's ancient archer.  After a recap of Clint Barton's story to date (put on costume, got into trouble a lot) "And after all that, one thing hasn't changed for Clint Barton.  He has an insatiable need to get involved - to right wrongs - and to help others.  Maybe it's because every time he looks in the mirror, he thinks he doesn't measure up?  Or maybe it's just because, like a cop or a fireman, you are what you are.  And Clint barton is a hero."

Your PC is a protagonist.  They must get out there.  They must get involved.  They cannot be safe.
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For the love of all that is good, play the game straight at least once before you start screwing with it.

-Vincent

Aaron
Andrew Norris
Member

Posts: 253


« Reply #42 on: April 28, 2004, 12:02:40 PM »

Jaik is right on the money here.

Sorcerer isn't about "winning" by staying safe. It's set up to actively discourage that kind of play, in fact. If you think this will be a significant issue for you or your players, then it's not the right game for the situation.

You seem to keep trying to break the game by coming up with minmaxed characters, as well, but it's just not an issue in actual play. There's great advice in the character creation section about this kind of thing. Having demons that give you all these great abilities just changes the focus of the game to "is what I do with this power worth the cost?" That their power lets them do any number of mundane things with little effort just means that those mundane things drop out of the story almost entirely.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #43 on: April 28, 2004, 12:10:58 PM »

Hiya,

The discussion has moved on to more specific threads in the Adept Press forum, and I really should have stopped it here long ago, as it doesn't concern actual play.

So let's close it now and continue on the other threads.

Best,
Ron
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