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Author Topic: [Sorcerer] Session Four: Lexigrams  (Read 4041 times)

Posts: 442

« on: May 10, 2004, 01:31:14 PM »

No new posts in Actual Play?  Lemme rectify that...

Our fourth session of Sorcerer ran per normal on Friday. All in all, I was pleased with some of the Humanity Issues that came up as well as (what amounted to) my One Big Bang of the night.

Intro Bits:
The Premise as defined by the group is, "What would you give up for Knowledge? Who or what would you trade for power?"

Humanity is defined as Empathy (connection to your fellow man).

First session is here (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=10429). Second session is here (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=10737). Third Session here (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=10952).

To sum things up briefly, the game is set in the North-Boston/Cambridge area, centering around (mostly) Harvard, with some off-campus business as well (both from the tech industry and the darker side of the 'independent erotic film' industry). In events leading up to this point, the PCs have become aware that various sorcerers of no small skill have died mysteriously. Also, several coeds have disappeared from campus and at least one of them has since turned up in a snuff video after her disappearance -- Both of the missing girls are known to at least one of the PCs. It is mid-November and the weather is getting quite bad -- freezing sleet has devolved into the front end of a major blizzard. For more detail, see the session links above.

Now then, let's see how well I can do without having taken any session notes at all (cringe)...


Last session ended with Val and Ken agreeing to meet and compare notes on the snuff film emails they'd both gotten and what that might portend: Ken had some intel on the source of the emails (as well as the file itself, cleaned up and extended) and Val had some info on the mystic side of it (though he danced around that somewhat over the phone).  The two agreed to meet at the Harvard Science Library (which is where Shannon was currently in research mode).

Unbeknownst to Shannon or Val, Ken had learned that the email had originally come from a "soniel" email address at the university and found it very... interesting that Val's contact was named Shannon O'Neil... so interesting in fact that he decided to bring along his pistol.  He locked up the house and headed out into the worsening weather in his BMW Z3 (there's a lot of useless-in-a-blizzard sports cars in this game).

Meanwhile, Shannon is still looking for Yvonne, who pulled a vanishing act out of the ladies' room at the end of last session.  She finally locates her in the vestibule using a 'campus phone' to make a call.  Shannon calls for Bister (who answers with a "Just a minute"), comes up on Yvonne fairly stealthily and (Minor Bang) overhears her conversation...

"I don't know what you're thinking, but you're pissing me off and I want you to back the hell off!"

"I don't care what you planned, Jerry, I'm not interested."

"Fine.  You do whatever, just leave me out of it."


Shannon is standing there when Yvonne hangs up and turns around.  Yvonne looks startled and (possibly, Shannon's no good at reading people) guilty, but explains the conversation fairly easily:  it seems that Jerry Rubinek (the 'digital film guy' they took the snuff film to earlier) is something of a stalker -- he's been after Yvonne for a couple years now, which is why she hasn't worked with him in awhile -- when she brought Shannon and Val to his place, he took this as a signal to that she wanted to hook up, and has been paging her non-stop ever since they left Jerry's place. (She offers her pager-log as proof of this, and she's not lying.)

Shannon accepts this explanation (after sniping at Yvonne some more for her choice in men, business associates, business, lifestyle, and anything else she can think of -- the girls are not bonding), and hauls Yvonne back to where she can keep an eye on her.  They go into research mode on the moth-mimic things and their queen, looking for good material for Punishments, Banishments, and (if the Queen has become Immanent) Contains.

(A side-note on Bister in this scene: he never did come out of the office to help Shannon out -- his "just a minute" turned into another ten minutes of making mischief on a political-discussion-forum -- Shannon ended up on her own.  I am, frankly, modeling Bister's Need to be online on my own mild OCD with regard to working on computer projects -- Shannon is played by my wife, who has heard "just a minute" more than a few times in the last ten years, and I know Bister casually dismissing her request in favor of more computer-time will start to get under her skin, even if he is helpful "when it counts".  If he keeps it up, there's a Punish in Bister's future. :)


Val, meanwhile, is already heading over to the library and got there quite a bit earlier than Ken (who we'll find out later had a stop to make).  He gets there and walks into a lot of angry page-flipping between the two women.  He asks about progress, catches a little friendly-fire, and volunteers to escort Yvonne out to a local vitamin-herb shop (that's hopefully still open) to pick up some stuff they might find useful when messing with the moth-demons. (Babylonian banishment-rites are weird, apparently.)

Shannon gets some much-needed alone time.

Yvonne bitches about Shannon for most of the walk in the growing snowstorm, and the two get back to the front of the library just as Ken is pulling up -- sliding slowly over the icy pavement into a parking slot.


(Standard Bang: Demon Needs Food, Badly)
Back to Ken, who's just left his house.  He's got Doji with him, but the Object Demon is currently showing him nothing but an 8-bit iRogue icon for 'food' -- the thing wants its Need (Suffering) and it wants it now.  Since he's already in his car, Ken resolves to use the weather to his advantage: he swings down through the docks and railroad areas, driving slowly through the area looking for transients huddled under the bridge overpasses to get out of the weather.  He sets Doji up on the dash ("like a radar detector") and lets him soak in the suffering of the cold and hungry people.  It's not very proactive or high-octane in the Need-Feed department, but it'll get the job done eventually and hey, it's on the way.

Here's where it gets interesting.  Some of the homeless folks, seeing the slowly driving fancy car think there might be handouts or... something... forthcoming.  Some of them head towards the car with hope in their heart.

Ken sees this, gets an idea, slows down a bit more, then takes off when they get really close.

Doji is very happy.  Ken's not cackling or anything, but he's certainly pleased with the more efficient, faster means of feeding the need, so he repeats it a few more times.

Humanity Check.  (Generally, finding more efficient, faster ways to use people to your own ends is not Empathic.)  Ken fails and drops to a 4.

This was the first real instance I've had in experiencing the Sorcerer Party Line first hand: "You set the premise and the player's address it with the choices they make." I'm still jazzed about how this played out and how it illustrated the setting and premise.  It just felt like, when this happen, the whole setting came into sharper focus.

Player's comment:
The keen (or scary) thing is that (a) I never really considered whether it would incur a Humanity Check (from Ken's perspective, he didn't do anything particularly wrong, just a bit mean. I mean, it's not like he ran someone over or something, right?), and (b) the Humanity Check made perfect sense in the context of the game (i.e., I had no objections, and certainly didn't feel like it was a GM Punishment or something).

    Ken isn't a bad person (certainly not in his own eyes, and even in mine, though I don't like him very much). He's just rather selfish, and vaguely cowardly in being unwilling to face that. Don't think one need search much further for the human condition than that.

Anyway, it's not very much longer before Doji is as happy as can be and Ken can head off to the library.


Val sees Ken pull up as he slides (!) slowly into a parking slot and waits for him in the vestibule.  Ken walks in and Val checks him out: neither one spots a telltale, but Val does notice as he opens the door for him that Ken's got something that looks very much like a gun tucked in the small of his back.   The echoes in the vestibule are strong and kind of distracting, so they head inside (and Ken tenses up, getting ready for action -- something the GM was unaware of).

The echoes, oddly, do not fade as they enter the library.  In fact, they get worse, and as Shannon O'Neil steps out of the office behind the front desk, the reach a climax and MISTER Osato (Ken's father) materializes in the air between the approaching men and Shannon and leaps to attack the librarian.


Now, I'd given Ken quite a bit of information regarding the snuff films that led him to believe that "SOniel" was involved somehow, but I'd left it to him to decide what to do about it.  His plan, it turns out, was to draw a gun on Shannon and have her explain herself... It would have been a great player-initiated Bang.  

Unfortunately, I sort of volleyball-spiked it since Daddy suddenly showed up and went after Shannon like gangbusters, leaving Ken's plan so much confetti.

So Ken improvised.  Val drew his own gun, planning to... well, *try* to shoot Osato-san at least, and Ken responded by drawing his own weapon on Val and ordering him to 'stand back and leave him alone.'  This left Val pointing a gun at Dad, Ken pointing a gun at Val, Dad moving in on Shannon, and Shannon backpedaling mightily.  Yikes.

Osato-san got the drop on everyone and Shannon (despite being full-defense) got pegged pretty hard with his Psychic Force (described as the echoes in the room building up and settling inside her head like a migraine).  Shade went after Osato-san and Val aborted his attack to defend against Ken's will, which worked out for him.

Shade went after Osato successfully as Osata came in on Shannon again.  Bister finally arrived and Shannon ordered him to use Shadow, hoping to hinder both the ghost and the guy with the gun.  Using that distraction, Val dove behind a table and waited for the lights to come up.  By this point, Shannon was scrambling away from the ghost crabwise on her butt.  Ken couldn't see a damn thing.  Yvonne starts to try a Punish on the ghost, which Shannon decides to help out with as best she can.

Bister and Shade both go after the ghost, but he's too experienced and wily.  Yvonne and Shannon find out that catholic-exorcism-based Punishes don't work very well on a Buddhist ghost.  Osato-san, inexorable, reaches in and touches Shannon right between the eyes (using Hint) and Shannon collapsed in a heap, suffering 4 dice in penalties from hallucinations.  Ken pulls out Doji and orders him to "Do something!"


Y'see, Doji, in general terms, is fairly loyal to Ken... Ken treats him pretty well and generally leaves him to his own devices.  In return, he helps Ken out in such a way that Ken doesn't really have to know (or acknowledge) what Doji did for him... Denial is a beautiful thing.

Anyway, as part of this, Doji has a funky Perception: Solutions to Ken's problems.  They probably aren't the kind of solutions Ken himself would prefer (at least if you ask him), but they get the job done.

So, Ken holds Doji out in the darkness, hits the power button, and shouts "Do something."

Doji hits Osato-san with Psychic Force.  

Doji rolls well.


Still, the ghost seemed to have gotten what it came for: Shannon's hallucinating something pretty intense and rolling on the floor.  He gives Ken one reproachful glance and vanishes, leaving his son to pick up the pieces.


Things are a little tricky after that, but while Ken did draw a gun, he also did something to get rid of the ghost (see? solutions to problems!), so Val was willing to cut him some slack in the 'Marvel Comics Mistaken Identity Fight' department.

Shannon is, big surprise, not so forgiving.  She's been drooling on herself and having visions of a younger version of her father, Alonzo Clarence Shaw (pic), and a living version of the ghost-guy (who looks quite a bit like Ken of today) performing some kind of rite in a room she's never seen before.  Some kind of Contain, and maybe ten or twenty years ago?

Ken explains that the email came from "Miss ONeil's account" at the university, but Bister informs him that Shannon's email is "shoniel", not "soniel".  "Soniel" was her father Sean's account -- out of use but not deleted since his death three years ago, and that's where the snuff film email originated.

Ken and Shannon aren't getting on very well (not helped by their mutual derogatory comments about each other's fathers), so the group splits forces: Ken works at tracing back access to the "Soniel" account via the University computers while Shannon, Yvonne and Val look over Ken's version of the snuff video.

It's a curious thing, that... Jerry is supposed to be a real genius with video stuff, but Ken's version is much cleaner than Jerry managed, and also Ken managed to recover the missing minute and a half at the end of the video.  All this makes people wonder if Jerry's incompetent or hiding something.  Yvonne maintains that Jerry's a clueless putz... but might be stupid enough to try something he didn't really understand.

Ken traces back the IP address from the soniel email account access to Jerry Rubinek's "Pink Pineapple Productions" domain registration. Yeah...  (He also notices that Yvonne was producer on a LOT of his films a few years ago, but everyone else already kind of knew that.)

(Also, somewhere in here, Ken's older sister (the power-hungry one) calls from his house.  She's outside and has let herself in -- since the weather's so bad, she can't do anywhere and was expecting him to be there.  Ken's hopes fervently she 'doesn't get into anything' and tells her that staying there is fine.)

Anyway, the group generally agrees that Jerry is up to something and needs to have a stern talking to... or possibly a stern shooting-in-the-face:
    Val wants to make sure Boston doesn't become a hive for an unbound Moth Queen (not so much for the heroics of it, but because someone is screwing with 'his town').

    Shannon wants to eliminate the threat to Yvonne so she can kick her ass back out on the street, free-and-clear.

    Ken wants to save his girlfriend... again, not so much out of heroic inclinations but, to paraphrase Sam Spade: "When someone kidnaps one of your girlfriends to use in a demon summoning, you have to do something."[/list:u]
    Val has Shade use his Warp get them a decent, unlocked 4x4.  Val goes and gets the thing once Shade gets it open, loads it up with 'stuff', including a shotgun he bought earlier, and they all pile in.  Val is calling all cars on this one and phones his mentor, Candace Lynn Voight, to ask her to come along as well.

    CLV is not interested in heroics.  Although Val stops by to pick her up, her final word on the matter is that she thinks this may be some kind of misdirection or distraction and is going to stay at the house and see if she can figure out who, what, where, and why.  (She's also not thrilled at the idea of going into an unstable situation with Yvonne, and few people can blame her.)

    So Val gets back in the Escalade (of course it's an Escalade) and they head though in the driving snow, back across the river to Jerry's warehouse.

Doyce Testerman ~ http://random.average-bear.com
Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.

Posts: 1641

Please call me Judd.

« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2004, 10:27:59 PM »

Once again thanks for the clear and concise Actual Play report.  The Blue Bangs are a nice touch.  

Loved Ken's Humanity check.  Nice moment.


Posts: 442

« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2004, 11:00:21 PM »

Most gratifying for me was later in the weekend when, due to car problems and sick children, another game had to be cancelled.  One of the players (participating in both the Sorcerer game and the one we had to call) immediately suggested calling up Ken's player (Shannon's player was already there) and "playing more Sorcerer" instead.

We didn't end up doing so (prior commitments, et cetera), but that kind of player enthusiasm and interest was great to hear; the sort of thing I fondly remember from college and high school.

Doyce Testerman ~ http://random.average-bear.com
Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.
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