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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 158 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Cover in play  (Read 3306 times)
Balbinus
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Posts: 290


« on: January 25, 2002, 05:45:59 AM »

One thing which has puzzled me slightly with how to run Sorceror (or Sword for that matter with the equivalent Past) is how to work with Cover.

Firstly, how complex do people make their Covers?  In RL I am a lawyer, a gamer, I have a reasonable knowledge of European history, I scuba dive and ski with reasonable competency, I speak Italian.

What would I have as Cover if I were a character?  If Lawyer then the instant my player tried to claim he spoke Italian or was good at scuba I can just imagine a gm saying "that has nothing to do with your Cover".  Now I appreciate that Sorceror is not about all those mundane things, but they still must come up from time to time.

Also, how do people approach things which are tangentially part of Cover?  In an OtE game I ran recently one character had the trait Police Sergeant.  His character acquired a pistol and at one point wanted to use it.  In the UK, gun training is available to relatively few officers, his character had not been defined as a member of a firearms unit so my initial inclination was to say that firing a gun was not something covered by his trait.  The player argued that his character could well have had gun training at one point even if that was not what he did now in the police force.  I compromised by allowing him to use the gun with his trait but with the trait reduced by one die to reflect the tangential nature of the skill to that trait.

If this had been Sorceror and his Cover had been Police Sergeant (UK, US would have gun training of course) what would the answer be?  Could he use a gun at his Cover, not at all, at a penalty to his Cover?

What if he then said his Police Sergeant was an amateur pilot, how does that work in?

Basically I'm interested in how people work with Cover, it seems to be little discussed but I'm not sure is necessarily the most obvious part of the rules.
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Bailywolf
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Posts: 729


« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2002, 06:09:37 AM »

The way I work this is with a Backstory.  Write a brief  passage (100-200 words or thereabouts) hitting your highpoints, and how you learned them.  For what you're best at/focused on write this in Cover... your mundane identity.
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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2002, 06:10:42 AM »

Quote from: Balbinus

Firstly, how complex do people make their Covers?  In RL I am a lawyer, a gamer, I have a reasonable knowledge of European history, I scuba dive and ski with reasonable competency, I speak Italian.

What would I have as Cover if I were a character?  If Lawyer then the instant my player tried to claim he spoke Italian or was good at scuba I can just imagine a gm saying "that has nothing to do with your Cover".  Now I appreciate that Sorceror is not about all those mundane things, but they still must come up from time to time.


Easy answer: you wouldn't be a Sorcerer character.

In the game, those characters are intense and driven and action-oriented...if there was a sorcerer with many varied skills, his cover might be "Student" or "Dilletante" or "Scoundrel" or something. But in the end, Cover is...well, it's a cover for the sorcerer's true nature.

That's how I'd handle it, anyway.
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jared a. sorensen / www.memento-mori.com
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2002, 06:25:08 AM »

Hi there,

Despite its rather abrupt derailment, http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=997">this thread presents my starting thoughts on this issue. I've also handled it through private email with many people (often non-Forge-ites), so I'm willing to continue here.

One important addition to what I stated in the linked thread is that all the scores with descriptors, yes, even Price, carry with them a plethora of interpretable "skills."

Best,
Ron
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jburneko
Member

Posts: 1351


« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2002, 10:01:24 AM »

I have to agree with Jared's comment that people aren't Sorcerer characters or more even more generally people aren't FICTIONAL characters.  Characters in fiction are much more narrowly defined than people are in real life.  I've actually developed a line of thinking that not only explains Cover and Kickers but drives home the idea of the player as an author.  It goes something like this:

Player asks me about Cover and presents Buckaroo-Banzi, as Ron puts it, character design.  Conversation then goes something like this:

Me: When was the last time you saw a character like that in a film or novel.

Player: But in a film or a novel we only ever see part of a character.  How do we know Hamlet isn't skilled in blacksmithing?  It just never came up.

Me: Okay, so just write down the part you plan to show the audience.

Player: But how can I do that? I don't know what the adventure is going to entail.

Me: Yes, you do.  You wrote it down in your Kicker.

You know, I really don't think there is anything more enjoyable than actually watching a paradigm shift happen across a persons face.

Jesse
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Balbinus
Member

Posts: 290


« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2002, 11:06:10 AM »

Jesse,

Thanks, that was actually an extremely illuminating reply.  Very helpful indeed.
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furashgf
Member

Posts: 55


« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2002, 11:38:35 AM »

So, just to make sure the slow kids get it, Cover is narrow.  I'm only asking because Ron mentions that it covers lots of skills (which implies wide).  So, if you say you're a lawyer, you're a laywer.  If the need to speak French comes up, Cover wouldn't cover it, because speaking French is not a big part of most Laywer's careers.

Jessie - would you mind expanding on your comments? What would a good "part" description look like (the "part you were going to show to the audience.").  e.g., if my character is a Bond-like superspy, and my kicker involves me assasinating out to be my partner, how does your player answer the cover question?

Gary
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Gary Furash, furashgf@alumni.bowdoin.edu
"Life is what happens to you when you're making other plans"
jburneko
Member

Posts: 1351


« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2002, 11:52:28 AM »

Quote from: furashgf

So, just to make sure the slow kids get it, Cover is narrow.


Yes and no.  I would say Cover is worth defining relatively narrowly, such as 'Lawyer' or 'Ex-Marine' or 'Psychologist' rather than 'Professional Chef who's uncle taught him wilderness survival skills.' because the more narrow definition gives a clear shape to the character.  As much shape as a trailer for film can give.

Now comes the specific issues like, 'Well what happens if the character travels to a foreign country?  How do we know if he speaks the language and/or knows the customs?'

The problem is the question is fundamentally a Simulationist question and Sorcerer is a Narrativist game.  When questions like this comes up I find that it's easiest to start with this question: 'Why do I care?'

If my only answer is because 'it's realistic' or some such then I know it's not 'important' in terms of facilitating a story.  Simply ask the player: 'Does your character know French?"  If the player thinks so, then it's covered under Cover.

If however, your answer is something like, 'Well, the whole Premise of this story is Alienation and culture conflict would really be a cool way to keep things focused on that Premise' then I would say that, no, the average lawyer doesn't know French and Cover doesn't cover it.

Does this make any sense?

Jesse
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