News:

Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.

Main Menu

[Sorcerer] Intrigue in Mu's Bed (Paula and Robert)

Started by Judd, May 12, 2004, 03:21:15 AM

Previous topic - Next topic

Judd

Using the same Relationship Map as I did for my other game with Jeff, Julie and JJ, I have begun another Mu's Bed Sword and Sorcerer game with two new gamers, new to the Sorcerer system but taking to it like ducks to water.

It was interesting to see the Relationship Map take on a new shape as new areas grew important due to PC insertion.

Paula - she played in a long Ars Magica game I ran and has done alot of Vampire LARPing.  She's a solid gamer, a real mover and shaker at the table.

She's also a junior high English teacher.  Not sure why I mentioned that but there it is.

Robert - we've met recently at a 7th Sea game we both play in and he played in my Wyrd West Dust Devils (as did Paula).  Robert's gaming experience is pretty extensive with many gamers in his family.

For the record, below is the R-Map and a link to the other game I ran in this setting with Jeff and Julie

The Witch King
Overlord of Stygia,
Master of Lemuria,
High Warlock of Mu’s Bed

Father of The Prince and Lovers with Lady Dresda

Lady Dresda
Witch-King’s Concubine

Mother of The Prince and lovers with the Witch King

The Prince
Witch-King’s Heir

Son of Dresda and the Witch King and lovers with Carv

Carv
Witch-King’s Assassin (formerly the Duke's Assassin)

Lovers with The Prince

Duke Malteek
Lord of Mu’s Bed

Father of Kessen

Kessen Malteek
Mu’s Bed socialite

Daughter of the Duke and Lovers with Doggod

Doggod
Slave-master of the Witch King

Lovers with Kessen

They took to the R-Map concept fast, inserting themselves right on in.

Paula decided to make her character the young illegitimate child of Doggod and Kessen Malteek, birthed years ago and Kessen didn't have the stones to kill the infant and then the child's Demon, in the form of a snake, coiled around the child and hissed, protecting it from the would-be murderers.

Neat.

Robert decided to be the Lady Dresda's brother, also a concubine to the Witch-King and doting uncle to the Prince, heir to Lemuria.  His Demon is an ancestor his grandmother strangled due to court intrigues.

Good stuff.

Next up, Characters, Demons and Kickers!

Judd

Amaranth

Paula envisioned a creepy child with a bestial Demon.  It progressed into the leader of a cult from the Wastes.  She leads a prophetic tent revival that travels across Marr'd, telling petty prophecies and reading the future for the common folk.

Stamina 2 Whipped by Marr'd
Will 5 Wasteland Wisdom
Lore 3 Waste Schooled

Cover 5 Tent Revival Prophetess
Price Cynical

Humanity 5
Telltale Protruding canines, pointed ears, greyish skin

Demon Hasan is a passer who can change shape into various predatory animals.  He was a god worshipped out in the red wastes in ages past but his worshippers were all killed.

Paula talked about the possibility that Doggod is a descendant of the people who killed Hasan's worshippers and the Malteek family are descendants of those worshippers.  Meaning that this child's birth is playing out an ages old dramatic vendetta of some kind.  Interesting...

Desire - to be a god once again

Need - to be adored


Kicker

Amaranth has returned to Mu's Bed, the land of her birth with her tutor and their cultish tent revival.  She is having an angry adolescent fit and doesn't want to go out in front of the crowd tonight.  

She and Hassane begin to fight when the Demon lots slip (whoops!) that she was birthed in this city, her parents wanted to kill her to keep her secret and her father is in the audience tonight, curious about the newly arrived cult.

Ardash

Robert also staked his slot on the R-Map right away, deciding to be the brother to Lady Dresda, also a concubine.  Robert seems to be envisioning a cunning courtier whose sister, having given birth to the Witch-King's heir has her place nice and set.  I'm curious to see how he plays this social climber.

Stamina 3 Basalt Hewn
Will 4 Lemurian Ox
Lore 3 Blood of the Old Ones

Cover 4 Concubine
Price Arrogant

Humanity 4
Telltale Ozone perfume scent in the air

Demon Agga

Ardash's Demon is the ghost of a family rival who his grandmother strangled to death decades ago.  She is a cunning noble politicker and I see them having a rather bitchy relationship but the ghost also thriving on the drama of court LIFE.  

Desire to live again...somehow

Need to be involved in court intrigue

Kicker

Ardash has followed a conspirator against the Witch-King in order to gain favor in court, hoping to rat the traitor out.  The fellow concubine is followed by him to the revival tent and meets someone who was exiled by the Witch-King for unspeakable crimes.


Both Kickers put the ball firmly in the players court and I know these two well enough to know that they will take the ball and run with it.

As always, the part of Sorcerer that people are most hesitant about is the idea of playing characters who aren't in the same scene.  They have both GMed and It hink they engineered their kickers for an early meeting in order to make my life easier.

Next up BANGS!

Judd

I should really let the Kickers marinate in my head but I'm awake, so I'll churn out some hastily written Bangs and come back to this thread later with more developed ideas.

    *Ardash's ghostly Demon sees her former husband, now a beggar king on the streets of Mu's Bed and she tries to communicate with him or manipulate Ardash back towards him.

    *A rival of Ardash's sister attempts to kidnap him in order to make his sister send her own son, the heir, with the ransom so they can easily kill him.

    *Amaranth is approached by escaped slaves, children her age, from her father's pens.

    *Amaranth's Demon comes across an ancient alter from his dead religion and grows despondent of his faded glory, making his Need become all the more pronounced.

    *The Prince asks his uncle Ardash to break off his relationship with Carv, the Witch-King's own assassin.

    *Duke Malteek sends a pacted Immenent to kill Amaranth, in order to avoid the embarassment to his family she represents.[/list:u]

Robert Bohl

More bangs:

Someone who wants the position that Ardash and his sister hold, so they're trying to drive them apart by whispering things in their ears that are lies or distortions of the truth.  Try to make them jealous of one another, or just spiteful.

Amaranth's tell gets someone thinking she needs to be saved from her Demon--that she's possessed.  Think The Exorcist--Mu's Bed style.

Amaranth does some minor, arbitrary thing that fits a prophecy for the cultists of Hasan, who aren't dead, they've just gone underground.  They were a viciious, murdering cult that regarded themselves as human predators and therefore felt no compunctions about killing in the most bloody ways.  Now they think she's their god reborn.
Game:
Misspent Youth: Ocean's 11 + Avatar: The Last Airbender + Snow Crash
Shows:
Oo! Let's Make a Game!: Joshua A.C. Newman and I make a transhumanist RPG

Judd

E-mail correspondence concerning the game:

Quote'Mirror, mirror on the wall
which of my rivals is poised to fall?'


Judd,

The Dictionary of Mu expedition has succeeded in getting my creative juices flowing. I'm pleased, and anticipatory.

My brain finally supplied the word it was questing for in lieu of 'arrogance' for Ardash's Price: 'ambition.' I like it. The price this lad pays for having power, is the desire for it. I like it even more in the context of a career concubine, whose greatest ambition is to have power by proxy (or proximity) but is limited in the fora where it (power) can be pursued for his own direct exercise thereof.

Could you talk for me a bit on the demon summoning system for Sorceror? Is it the full ritualistic form, octagram scribed in rare powders with hours of chanting? Is it the sort that one can pull off on short notice? Is primary demonic interaction through binding, as per our chars' familiar demons, or are fast and loose bargaining deals also done?

Could you also tell me a bit about The Prince, Ardash's darling nephew? What's he like?

More to come, but I'm diiiiirty, and it's time to get the soil and dead blackflies outta my hair. What a fuckin' sauna today!!!

Rob


QuoteRob,

Love the rhyme.  Love the trade from arrogance to ambition.

Demon summoning is difficult to do right off of the cuff.  Ritual sacrifice and drugs can make it easier and it is very much an arcane ritual that you make up and describe well for extra dice from the GM, very much like swashbuckling in 7th Sea.

There are ways to Pact with SOME Demons but it isn't nearly as solid as a Binding, butthe fucking creature isn't IN your life.  These Demons are called Immenents and are more monsters than Demons.

Summoning on the fly is difficult and probably not a smart move to do in the middle of combat.  Best to go in with Demons ready to rock and roll.

When you summon, you create the Demon, whole clothe.  You tell me what you want to summon, the idea of it and I make up the stats without you seeing.  You won't know exactly what you Summon.  Its a risky deal but the power is immense.

Also summoning and binding and contacting forces you to roll on your Humanity to see if you lose it.  Going to 0 Humanity is a big honking deal and I'll talk more about that before the game on Sunday.

The Prince is something of an enigma.  Is he a spoiled brat who can't look after himself, whose mother killed all of his rivals for him?  Or is that just the aura he projects so his enemies will underestimate him?

He has killed a number of men and women in duels but the whispers around court say that he had help from mommy or daddy.  He's dating the Witch-King's assassin.  Is he dating her because she's tough and dangerous?  because she is tutoring him in the ways of violence?  because its naughty?

I'm leaving it ambiguous but rumors abound.

Mind if I forward this along to Paula?  I think she'll dig the further comments on the system and thoughts on the setting.

Thanks for the food for thought.  On to the next e-mail,

Judd


from Rob:
QuoteYes, do please tell me more about the concubinal status. Are they spouses (as the language 'brides/grooms' could be taken to suggest), kept toys without official status, or....? Also, tell me 'bout these mummies. How strict is the binding on fidelity - no flirtatious manipulations of various players, or no smoochies and rendezvouses but teasing (and offering a chance at the forbidden fruit, ahem) ok? Etc etc etc. I'm contextualising the world he knows, and the place he knows himself to fit in, within it.

QuoteI rather forgot about the mummies and, quite frankly, wasn't keen on forcing you to take a Demon of my design.  That'd SUCK.

Let us say that many Bridges and Grooms have Mummies but your sister had yours assigned away.  She still thinks there's one Pacted to keep an eye on the both of you but at least the creepy fucking thing is out of sight.

She hated the fucking thing and she's no slouch.

The Brides and Grooms are a political maneuver to tie families to the Witch-King, something of a hostage system for families far away.  The Witch-King is known to sleep with a fair number of his Bridges and Grooms but a great many are ornamental and/or political.

Flirtations, etc. are FINE.  The only thing that's wrong is sex and by sex I mean something that could possibly spawn a bastard linked to the Witch-King's house.  Be careful with that seed, boy.  It belongs to the Witch King now.

Mind if I post these two e-mails on-line?

Anymore questions are fine.  Lay it on me.

Judd

QuoteThanks for the excellent replies/answers by the way, Judd. And no, I don't mind at all if you share any game related blather I send your way. Story-time is funn to share!

Speaking of which, what do you think of this idea I had for a collaboration with his sister, the Lady Dresda (?). It ties into the whole 'must. stay. beautiful' idea I mentioned when we were doing character generation.

At one point in time, Ardash and Lady D worked together on the gruelling and very difficult conjuration of the demon Lost Beauty (sure, new pretty people are made all the time, but all beauty fades and dies...). It was hard and took a lot out of the both of them, hence the tag-team, but they pulled it off; the entity is now Bound as a parasite-style demon within the body of one of Lady D's maidservants who was drugged and unconscious at the time. The poor girl is rather the worse for wear, carrying upon her face as she does the ravages of age due to three people now. (Herself, the two concubines.)

However, since that primary act of cruelty committed upon her, she is *very* well looked after. She is kept cloistered in Lady D's apartments - for her protection, and also so that no one has a chance to figure out the little secret. She's given easy work, ironically enough beautification projects like braiding Lady D's hair, etc. Ardash and his sister feed her good foods, and a regular stream of tonics, elixirs and medicines '...to help you feel a little better, dear.' On the one hand, they've a vested interest in her health, because when she dies they'll have to face another ordeal (and potential... wrinkles! *shudder*). On the other, they both probably feel some remorse for what they did to the girl. Ardash does, although he feels it 'a necessary loss'... I don't know what his sister thinks. From the parasitic demon's point of view, *it* is the one being pampered, which suits its monstrous vanity just fine.

Lady D probably gets the added benefit of her other maidservants seeing: 'See now, the First Concubine's a mighty and dangerous sort, but lookee how nice she is to poor Issie what got sick.......'

QuoteRobert,

I love this idea but I don't want us to start playing this gameover e-mail.  I'll meetcha in the middle.

How about your sister and you have already chosen the maidservant and the summoning has only to happen.  That way we can do the summoning in-game.

Judd

The more I think about it, the more I think this summoning of Lost Beauty idea should somehow be his Kicker.

Judd

I sent Rober the following e-mail because I feel like a player's Kicker should be where their energy is, show what they're excited about.  I think one of the most difficult concepts to get across is the idea that the characters need not start the game meeting in a tavern and need never meet at all.

Its late to be re-thinking this stuff but such is life...

QuoteRobert,

Do you want something to do with your summoning to somehow be your Kicker?

I feel like you chose your Kicker just to make my life easier, bringing your and Paula's PC's stories together fast.  This is a very sweet gesture, done by a player who is considerate and knows what it is to GM.  I like your Kicker, don't get my wrong, however if you like this idea better, perhaps we should somehow change it around.

* There could be a complication with the summoning preperation
* There could be some kind of gruesome and violent act you and your sister have to partake of before the summoning can happen.

I want your to be really invested in your Kicker and this idea is pretty grand.  Ideas?  If you want to stay with this idea as lurking in the background and keep your Kicker as is, that's cool too.

Judd

Judd

And it all comes together in the following e-mail.

QuoteDo you want something to do with your summoning to somehow be your Kicker?
Yes, you're right that the original Kicker was planned in part due to an interest in bringing Paula and my characters together, but I also quite like it in its own right. Ardash has been collecting information on this other concubine (always, always on the lookout for advantage vs. all of them). He's discovered that she's scheming against the Witch King directly, about to meet this exiled personage who has secretly returned from exile. Exposing this has the double advantage of removing a rival, and possibly earning the King's (positive) attention thereby, which is just juicy.

Contrast this to the 'usual' - this kind of complete Takedown of a rival would usually require equally elaborate planning to ensure that blame could never be definitively pinned on the perpetrator. The whole setup for the original Kicker could be fun.

* There could be a complication with the summoning preperation
* There could be some kind of gruesome and violent act you and your sister have to partake of before the summoning can happen.
We *could* try to tie the two together, though. After writing out this idea to you, I started to think: what sort of ritual *would* be involved? My generic ideas bloomed that they've been collecting items possessed by persons renowned for their beauty - a handmirror, a comb, whatnot, destroyed in a hothot fire to create the coal used to scribe a summoning circle. Phase two, they've arranged for sacrifices symbolic of beauty and grace: a peacock, a gazelle, butterflies. Phase three, they select a pretty young maidservant girl and bring her into Lady D's service - host fot the demon. For the summoning rite itself, in addition to the animal sacrifices, I thought that it would be appropriately grim that another person of great beauty be present as a sacrifice; the demon Lost Beauty is 'recreated' through the aspects of preparation and ritual, culminating with the brutal disfigurement of Lovely Person X, who is left alive but scarred and hideous. In the context of this rite as backstory I thought that this target might be a random pretty off the street, drugged up and trippin their ass off prior to their maiming and being dumped off in an alley or whatever, with no clear recollection of the nightmare they'd been subjected to.

Icky, huh? Anyway. If you'd like to tie this planned summoning into the game, I could easily offer the following. In addition to any other benefits from his present scheme, Ardash hopes that the Witch King might grant the request: 'Let me have the treasonous bitch, master?' She's pretty. She's hated. Only hitch with the idea of using her as a potential victim is that she would potentially comprimise the Secrecy of the rite. But I suppose, given enough disorientation to obscure her memory of the event, it needn't be secret *who* scarred her, merely *why*. Hmm. That kind of brutality would be a screaming red flag amongst the other concubines though, invite them to plot vs. Ardash before he 'gets around to doing *that* to *me*'.... (Whilst Lady D remains comfortably invisible, clever witch.) Hmm, hmm. I suppose there's no reason why said sacrifice would *have* to be left alive to suffer (that's just extra credit malignancy points), just their beauty destroyed in a ritual fashion.

*shrug* I could go either way on a tie-in. Feel free to suggest another method of doing so, also, if you like. I do like the initial Kicker though.

later,
 R.

QuoteI love the idea of using tying the Kicker to the rite.  Fun, gruesome and brilliant.  Perfect.

Consider it done.

See you tomorrow,

Judd

The other character had a PC portrait drawn by one of the kids she teaches.  It wasn't precisely what she pictured but was cool.

And tomorrow, after much posting and such, we game.

Judd

The game was a rousing success with excited players, Humanity loss, Summonings and vicious player-character sociopathic episodes.

In the end Amaranth stranged her mother with her snake Demon and Ardahs viciously scarring his rival concubine in a ritual to summon the Demon of Lost Beauty, helped along with his sister, who shared inthe Binding.  As the game ended Rob and Paula were already discussing their next Kickers, raring to do another episode in the future.

It was interesting to run an adventure with the same Relationship Map that was used in another game.  Rob and Paula's Kickers felt strong and drove the game forward from beginning to end.

The list of Bangs helped and many made it into the final game with minor to major alterations:

*Amaranth's Demon comes across an ancient alter from his dead religion and grows despondent of his faded glory, making his Need become all the more pronounced.

Paula wanted Amaranth to track down her mother's midwife and it led to them finding the room where she was born and where he mother tried to strangle her but was stopped by the Demon.  Turns out the midwife put her down on a slab that was an ancient altar ot Hasan.

Hence the Summoning and binding at her Birth.

*The Prince asks his uncle Ardash to break off his relationship with Carv, the Witch-King's own assassin.

This one was modified to include Amaranth's use of prophecy.  Lady Dresda asked her brother to take her son to the prophetess for guidance.  When the prophet let him know that his current relationship needed to be broken off, he asked that his uncle and the prophet make Carv understand.

It ended up driving the game along quite a bit.

Ardash's rival was meeting with an exorcist worshipper of the Dame Messiah.  He is still at large at the end of the game, having cut his way past a Guardian Mummy.  Should be an interesting NPC for later, his mystique is set.

Paula summoned and bound the spirit of her the late midwife who helped birth her and left her along with her mother, knowing full well her mother intended to strangle the babe to death in order to avoid any complications.  Robert summoned and bound the Demon of Lost Beauty, a powerful mirror Object Demon, in a brutally described ritual in the last scene.  Rob's description was very nice.

They took to the Summoning system quite well.  Rob Contacted the Guardian Mummy in charge of guarding his rival in order to prove her guilt as a conspirator against the Witch King.  It was a nice surprise.

They took to the game quickly and we had an exciting, blood-filled night.

They already have Kickers worked out for their next game.

Rob is down to 1 Humanity.

Rob's relationship with his Demon was tremendously catty and awesome.  His concubine really was an evil he-bitch who would step on anyone to see him and his sister stay on top of the concubine heep.

Paula's relationship with her Demon was fantastically dysfunctional.  She ran a 12 year old well, really bending under the pressures and demands being made on her by the cruel world of Marr'd.

I was pleased with the way it played out and some time this week I will write up their Kickers and begin brainstorming about next week's Bangs.

Judd

Fine moments that stood out:

Amaranth to Doggod, the Witch-King's Slavemaster:  "The world is not your slave pit."

Adrash to Aga:  "Don't be sad.  Let's go to the market and you can choose an outfit that would've looked smashing on you and I'll wear it for you."

"That's cruel."

*shrugs*  "I was trying to be kind."


Amaranth to Adrash:  "Your husband, the Witch-King, is quite a powerful man."

"It is rather intoxicating, isn't it?"

Ron Edwards

Hello,

Judd, correct me if I'm wrong, but did you employ the technique of showing the players a relationship map, then having them build connections between their characters and the characters in the map?

There's nothing especially wrong with that, but (a) it's not the same technique as I present in The Sorcerer's Soul, and (b) it does tend to lend itself to 95%-ing, which is to say, having the story be nearly over at the starting point of play.

If you're interested, I suggest taking a more Sorcerer's Soul approach and having the relationship map be reserved mainly to the back-story of the NPCs.

Also, the listed demons' Desires seem a little ... well, goal-directed to me. Again, that's fine if you like it, but there's a rules-reason for the very specific definitions of Desire and Need in the game. Let me know if you want to discuss that.

Best,
Ron

Judd

Quote from: Ron EdwardsHello,

Judd, correct me if I'm wrong, but did you employ the technique of showing the players a relationship map, then having them build connections between their characters and the characters in the map?

I did.  It helped bring everyone together and the story didn't feel almost over but poised on the brink.

I will re-read Sorcerer's Soul to get a better grip on the R-Map ideas that you've presented.  Apologies if I've mis-represented my ideas as riffing off of SS.

Quote from: Ron EdwardsAlso, the listed demons' Desires seem a little ... well, goal-directed to me. Again, that's fine if you like it, but there's a rules-reason for the very specific definitions of Desire and Need in the game. Let me know if you want to discuss that.

Best,
Ron

I will also re-read the section on Desires to get refreshed.  If you want to write a bit about the Desire I have listed and how they could end up being a mess, I'd love to read it.

stingray20166

OK, Ron, I'll bite -- in preparation for my own game (sadly postponed to June -- but my players have some neat characters drawn up).  

QuoteAlso, the listed demons' Desires seem a little ... well, goal-directed to me. Again, that's fine if you like it, but there's a rules-reason for the very specific definitions of Desire and Need in the game. Let me know if you want to discuss that.

And to be fair I will take a stab at it myself.  I have decided to make one of my PC's demon's Desires to be "Political Information junkie" because the player is one and I think it will be fun for him.  

Now, to make his desire more goal oriented like Judd's examples, let's say that his desire was "To be elected President."

The problem?  Eventually it will become clear that either
 a) He cannot ever achieve his goal, because once the desire is satisfied  -- then what?  Create another desire for the demon?  Kind of falls outside of the scope of the rules as written
 b) He can and does achieve his goal -- leaving a demon who is essentially free to act as he will, 'cause nothing is holding him back anymore.

At least, this is two problems that would have to be considered with goal oriented desires/needs.  

Am I close? I'm betting "no."  :-)

Nick

Ron Edwards

Hi Nick,

I reeeeally hate to be a "just do it my way" kind of guy, but you might do well ... just to do it my way. Use the listed Desires in the book, and think of them as demons' attitudes, what floats their boat, what flag they wave. Lose the whole idea of "goal" as a feature of the demon sheet, and instead simply role-play the demon as a character and arrive at goals that way.

Best,
Ron

Judd

Quote from: Ron EdwardsHi Nick,

I reeeeally hate to be a "just do it my way" kind of guy, but you might do well ... just to do it my way. Use the listed Desires in the book, and think of them as demons' attitudes, what floats their boat, what flag they wave. Lose the whole idea of "goal" as a feature of the demon sheet, and instead simply role-play the demon as a character and arrive at goals that way.

Best,
Ron

I have found that the Desires in the book fit with my idea of where the Demons were going anyway.  I'll push the goals soft or hard, based on the players' input and my impeccable GM's instincts.

Judd

Desire - to be a god once again = Power

Desire - to live again...somehow = Mayhem, because she can't live again because she's dead and so she's going to make the lives around her hell whie still trying to be of use and be wanted.

She already stalled on an order that Ardash gave her last game, hoping it would cause calamity for the Prince, Ardash's beloved nephew.