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Author Topic: Gamist Sorcerer?  (Read 3589 times)
Sydney Freedberg
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« on: June 16, 2004, 06:24:34 PM »

First, an admission: I've never played Sorcerer, just read it (acquired rulebook only after acquiring tiny baby daughter; roleplaying, sleep, sustained rational thought all on hold).

But as I go over the rulebook and think of creative ways of put together Happy Demon Powers, I got to wondering: Yes, Sorcerer is designed to serve a Narrativist agenda -- it's got the original "System Does Matter" essay in the back, for crying out loud -- but is there anything in the rules which impedes a Gamist style of play? That is, instead of saying "this game is about disfunctional relationships and the price of power," saying, "this game is about just how much power I can get out of my disfunctional relationships without going crazy or getting eaten" -- which, come to think of it, is presumably how a lot of Sorcerer characters actually would think.

What I'd particularly love to see are Actual Play Experiences where people went Gamist in Sorcerer, and whether it worked or not.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2004, 08:26:55 AM »

Quote
"this game is about just how much power I can get out of my disfunctional relationships without going crazy or getting eaten"
How would you know? That is, give me a metric of success in this endeavor. Let's say that I had summoned a dozen demons of considerable power, and was still going. What would that imply? Player success?

The thing is that, in getting to those dozen demons, the player would have to do something to mitigate his humanity losses, which are non-negotiable. That is, there's nothing that a player can do to alter the automatic humanity die rolls that are required to gain power. So there's a constant drain if the player does this. Meaning that the player has a choice - either allow the character to go to zero humanity, or to find a way to gain humanity. If the first, then the player isn't playing your "game" and has decided to make a thematic statement. So, assuming the other rout, the player has to find something to do to raise his humanity. This will be of a general category, but can be anything in that category. Discovering what kind of things to do is not challenging, really it's just the choice of what to do.

Meaning that if a player does play your "game" then he's making some decisions about what's important to the character. Meaning that he's producing narrativism. Or at the very least, play that's "congruent" with narrativism. Given that it's not very challenging, what I see is players enjoying the specific decisions themselves, and playing narrativism.

I'm not saying it's impossible to do Gamism in Sorcerer, but it actually takes looking at the system sideways, and ignoring everything that makes the system what it's about. So I don't see the point. Maybe more telling, and to answer another of your questions, I've never heard of any gamism being produced by play of Sorcerer, functional or not.

Mike
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Sydney Freedberg
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« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2004, 09:53:39 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
....The thing is that, in getting to those dozen demons, the player would have to do something to mitigate his humanity losses, which are non-negotiable.


Presumably, though, you could just go around banishing your rivals' demons as fast as you summon your own, keeping Humanity constant as you ride the power curve upwards (err, downwards?). (There's even an example in the book of an NPC sorcerer "gone straight" who does something like this). And surely the statement in the book that the PCs are by definition some of the biggest badasses on the planet is a huge Step On Up.

Quote
I've never heard of any gamism being produced by play of Sorcerer, functional or not.


Now that's very interesting.

Note I'm not advocating gamist play of Sorcerer -- I think the "disfunctional relationships" / "demons as projections of your own psychological problems" is the much more interesting angle, as intended. I'm just curious as to whether it can be Drifted (if I use the term correctly) that way.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2004, 11:17:50 AM »

Quote from: Sydney Freedberg
Quote from: Mike Holmes
....The thing is that, in getting to those dozen demons, the player would have to do something to mitigate his humanity losses, which are non-negotiable.


Presumably, though, you could just go around banishing your rivals' demons as fast as you summon your own, keeping Humanity constant as you ride the power curve upwards (err, downwards?).


Sure, but what does that say? Why is the Sorcerer doing it? That is, the Sorcerer isn't aware of his own Humanity Score, or the fact that he has one. So why is he banishing his rivals demons? Further, to facilitate this the GM would have to keep providing demons to banish, so he'd have to be complicit. In many games of Sorcerer that I've played or run, the only ones are the players.

Yes, if you did play completely Pawn stance, and had the Sorcerer looking for opponent demons to banish without an in-game rationale, or if it became a competition between the players to see who got the most demons in the shortest order, then, sure, I guess you'd have a Gamist game. But a very crappy one. Because the only way to get a "better" position in play is to get 'roleplaying" bonuses. Which you'll get none of in Pawn stance. So you'll just be rolling dice to see who rolls higher. All other tactical advantages will be determined by GM fiat (is my enemy Sorcerer home when I come to ambush him?)

Doesn't sound fun to me. The game isn't designed to support Gamism, and I doubt it would well.

Mike
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Solomon
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« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2004, 12:41:11 AM »

Sydney, if something like gamist Sorcerer is really what you want, then Spellbound might be a good resource.  I have neither read nor played it, but it appears to use "demon" magic in a gamist rule set.  And it's only $5 for the PDF file.
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Alan
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« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2004, 03:18:52 AM »

Hi Sydney,

I have to emphasize Mike's point.  The core of gamist play is Step On Up - the player demonstrating guts in taking some risk.  The kind of "race to get the most demons before you go mad" has no challenge in Sorcerer as written.  Anyone can do it, they just need to come up with the thematic justification for their Sorcerer's actions.  This task, while perhaps creatively challenging, has no risk, so again there's not place to Step On Up.

Drifting is possible, I suppose, but would probably require some addition to the rules.
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Sydney Freedberg
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« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2004, 04:20:44 AM »

So the consensus seems to be: Sure, you can do it, but what's the point? It's not that anything in the rules actively inhibits gamism, but the rules don't provide enough gamist crunchy stuff to make this really interesting -- and meanwhile you're ignoring all the stuff which is in there for Narrativist purposes.

Unless someone pops out of the blue with "my Gamist Sorcerer session and how it rocked/sucked," question answered, I think.
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2004, 04:53:52 AM »

It all depends on the definitions and uses of Humanity.  A game where Humanity is defined as, say, combat skill (and all combat rolls are made with Humanity, not Stamina) could have interesting gamist possibilities -- players would have to weigh the special powers benefits of demons with the risk to their personal abilities.

yrs--
--Ben
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2004, 07:08:20 AM »

Quote from: Sydney Freedberg
So the consensus seems to be: Sure, you can do it, but what's the point? It's not that anything in the rules actively inhibits gamism, but the rules don't provide enough gamist crunchy stuff to make this really interesting -- and meanwhile you're ignoring all the stuff which is in there for Narrativist purposes.


Which can be said of any system and any mode. That is, a system can only support certain types of play, it can't force anyone to play that way. So all systems are driftable into play of other modes.  The only question is one of propensity. So, sure Sorcerer can be played Gamist - it's just less likely to be played this way than any other game I can think of because of what it does and does not support.

Mike
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Jaik
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« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2004, 10:12:16 AM »

I think a big factor would be the character's goal.  Trying to amass the largest collection of the most powerful demons (Sorcerer Pokemon) is pretty futile as laid out earlier.  Going for normal combat power via demons is too easy to be considered challenging.  

What about becoming President of the United States, or at least his most trusted behind-the-scenes- advisor, secretly steering the nation for your own benefit?  Demons would be useful and the goal is challenging.  The rules would require a different approach to be successful in a Gamist approach, requiring less pawn and more author stance to permit the roleplaying bonuses.  But G vs. N isn't about stances or actions, it's about motivation.  

I know in my own crew, I have a couple of players who, when confronted with a new system, will immediately buy the book and dissect the system in search of optimal power combos.  Generally they'll go for straight combat power, but in Exalted they quickly started using stunts.  After all, for a little extra thought and some cool descriptions, they get to have a better chance of hitting and doing bonus damage to boot.  SCORE!

It might be a different, more-hybrid-than-normal gamism, but it seems like it would be powerful and very game-y.  Maybe because Gamism is about rising to challenges and overcoming adversity, keystones of a good story?  Oh well, random thought.
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Aaron
DannyK
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« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2004, 11:49:25 AM »

Doesn't Sorcerer have just about the same mechanic, namely bonus dice for cool stuff?  It's very effective, in my experience, although it can be frustrating if you've got a player who's particularly uptight or inarticulate and can't stunt for the life of him.  

Depending on what you consider "cool", the same mechanic could drift the game in a G, N, or S direction.
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