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Author Topic: Sorcery and the Supernatural Dial  (Read 4129 times)
lumpley
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« on: January 04, 2006, 07:49:29 AM »

For me (running my first, a one-shot), the limiting factor was that it seemed that right after False Doctrine, you're getting into Sorcery, and are immediately faced with determining where you are on the supernatural dial without necessarily having time to discuss that with the players. In AP, I turned the dial up way too loud, with some very hentai tentacle pregnancy weirdness that was bordered on the comical. Whoops.

There's still a kind of speed bump in my head, thinking about the progression, that meets Sorcery and thinks, "how can these people not know they're sorcerers, given their Faith, and howcome they don't just stop?" That made it hard for me justify continuing to False Priesthood, and forms quite an inhibition.

This may just be a function of the circumstances, that meant I was coming up with the town cold for a first-time one-shot, though. I'll find out next month.

Hey, Alexander, that's interesting, let's talk more about that.

Why does establishing a sorcerer in a town writeup mean that you have to set the supernatural dial? It doesn't mean that to me at all, so that's very interesting, and please explain?

-Vincent
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Iskander
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Alexander Newman


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« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2006, 08:28:04 AM »

Will do, but can't right now. (Apologies for the working drone's vacuous post).
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Winning gives birth to hostility.
Losing, one lies down in pain.
The calmed lie down with ease,
having set winning & losing aside.

- Samyutta Nikaya III, 14
lumpley
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« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2006, 08:57:52 AM »

No sweat!

-Vincent
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Levi Kornelsen
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« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2006, 01:20:58 PM »

Why does establishing a sorcerer in a town writeup mean that you have to set the supernatural dial? It doesn't mean that to me at all, so that's very interesting, and please explain?

Okay, it does mean that to me, and I'll tell you how.

(Alexander may have a completely different "how").

Sorcery doesn't really exist until someone has, plainly, done some sorcery.  That sorcery must be described in some way to the characters - and that's one setting on the dial.  If the characters investigate it, they will learn more about it, and that's another setting.  If they confront the power of a sorcerer, used against them, that's another setting.

Now, if you leave it open to interpretation, allowing of further player input to define it, and just how supernatural, how coincidental, how psychological, and so on, each of those descriptions is, that's still a setting.  It's not necessarily "high" or "low", but you've still set a tone - "Open to interpretation" *is* a tone.

That's my thought on it, anyway.
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Iskander
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Alexander Newman


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« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2006, 09:23:05 PM »

Why does establishing a sorcerer in a town writeup mean that you have to set the supernatural dial? It doesn't mean that to me at all, so that's very interesting, and please explain?

It doesn't mean you have to set it for the session at all - and I think I got that at the time - but it meant that I had to resolve some issues I believe (with hindsight) that I had with understanding the process. To be clear, I'm certain this is not an artifact of the text, but rather something in my head that needed hammering out and may still; let me see if I can remember and analyse how I felt, approaching Green Creek Pass, my first town. (I posted about it in [DitV] Green Creek Pass, and AP in [DitV] Green Creek Pass: a Dog's pride and fall (rather long). - with pictures!)

I started with a person, Sister Hannah, ex-Dog now wife of the branch Steward, and her pride exemplified by the display of all her 'retired' Dog coats. I wanted to give the players plenty to chew on, so I leapt into town creation, without really understanding that there didn't need to be very much going on... so long as whatever was wrong would catch the attention of the players. Regardless of the over-complexity, I had the town go up to Sorcery, which I wrote thus:
Quote from: Iskander
  • 1. Sr. Hannah has prayed for a child, not realising she has been answered by demons.
  • 2. Sr. Hannah has the demons prolonging the bitter winter, but keeping the homes of the Faithful warm. Br. Noah is not in her prayers. She knows this binds the community.
  • 3. Sr. Hannah has proloned Br. Credence' sickness, so she can easily keep Thomas in her household.
  • 4. Sr. Hannah has become pregnant with a demon child.

I think my problem was that I couldn't see how #2 was possible and Sr. Hannah could still be unaware that she practising sorcery, although #1 points the way - she can sermonise about the bitter cold being a punishment without realising that she's at that point giving sorcerous instructions to the demons. So, I felt that Sr. Hannah had to be aware of her sorcery and therefore had to embrace it. Again, with hindsight, that's not inconsistent with a purely psychological dial setting, I just didn't get that. I subsequently painted myself into a corner by making the unborn child explicitly a demon, and set the stage for embarrassing tentacle hentai sim.

Running the town a second time, (unfortunately I had no time to write it up), I made some significant changes and deliberately turned the dial down towards the mundane, and absorbed some lessons about setting stakes; the session was much more satisfying. Looking back, I think I've confused my town creation disquiet with my acknowledged difficulty in restraining my desire to act: I have trouble stepping back enough as GM to observe the other players and let them do more of the heavy lifting.

The town creation disquiet remains, and I apologise for the ramble which has helped me figure it out more concisely, even if in a roundabout way: when you introduce False Doctrine in town creation, how do the 'bad guys' not know they're in the wrong, and just behave better? Given that the should know they're sinning, then to reach the Sorcery stage, they must have embraced their false doctrine consciously, and that implied to me that there was a level of empirical causality (that the town creation rules support) that presupposes actual demonic influence over and above the psychological. No matter how convinced a sorcerer and her flock are that demons are making the town colder, their belief alone won't move the mercury.

Again, I think this is my problem: I quite understand that I should lose weight. I still eat too much. Why don't I just know that I'm doing wrong? Answer: I do, but I want the yummy food more. As for me, so for Sister Hannah: she wants the baby more than she cares about treating with demons. Also, and I think this may be more generally significant, I pretty wholeheartedly do not accept the supernatural: not demons, not gods. So to conceive a town where the causal chain ascends to Sorcery requires that the sorcerous effects are caused by supernatural influence, if you pick the wrong kinds of effect. (Like demon babies).

Does any of that make sense? Sorry, I've stayed up too late, so it may be pretty incoherent. I will surely try to clarify when I'm less strung out.

Cheers,
Alexander
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Winning gives birth to hostility.
Losing, one lies down in pain.
The calmed lie down with ease,
having set winning & losing aside.

- Samyutta Nikaya III, 14
Brand_Robins
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« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2006, 10:28:43 PM »

[li]2. Sr. Hannah has the demons prolonging the bitter winter, but keeping the homes of the Faithful warm. Br. Noah is not in her prayers. She knows this binds the community.[/li]

Well here you have her doing something deliberate, where she wasn't in the step above. What if you just went with what was already working? She prays for this, not knowing that she is praying to demons. Or even, she prays for the community to stay together no matter the cost, or gives "blessings" to the community to stay together, or isn't even involved conciously. The demons could be doing this without her knowing or asking. The fact that she likes what is happening, unconciously, just gives her more unconcious incentive to keep doing the things she is doing.

Quote
Again, I think this is my problem: I quite understand that I should lose weight. I still eat too much. Why don't I just know that I'm doing wrong? Answer: I do, but I want the yummy food more.

This is a common way to sin. In most towns I will have a fellow or two who is doing just this. However, this also assumes that most people are basically honest with themselves. Most people, however, aren't. It is amazing the kinds of justification you can find when you look at people in bad situations. I used to work with gang members who were in rehab programs, and the rarest bangers were the ones that admited that anything that had happened to them was their fault.

Similarly, we could just as easily ask this loaded and ticking question: Why do North Americans continue to consume mass resources when they know that doing so leads to virtual slavery and cultural imperialism? The answer is they know no such thing. Some might believe that and do it anyway. Some might disbelieve that so they can do it without a guilty concious. Many don't believe that it is right in any way shape or form. Some believe that the drive for resources is actually (slowly) making life better for the workers.

Similarly most of the faithful don't know the stages of sin. Dogs do because they've been trained in them. They're theologians, and have special knowledge. Most people in most towns only know that you're supposed to be good. They don't know that being bad mean that demons will set fire to your neighbor. Even the ones that are sinning and know it probably think either the church is wrong, or that they're only hurting themselves, or are just happy they haven't been caught yet and take that as evidence that what they're doing isn't hurting anyone.

So when they start worshiping the hat, because their older brother told them to (and it was their older brother who taught them scripture in the first place), they don't realize that what they're doing is letting their little sister be possesed.
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- Brand Robins
Vaxalon
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« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2006, 05:46:30 AM »

I think one of the important things to remember in Dogs is that your common folk are pretty ignorant.  Uneducated, unaware, and consistently resistant to learning more.

Dogs are the exceptions.
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"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
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Warren
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« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2006, 06:19:01 AM »

Agreed - as it says in the book (p43-44 of the 'new' version):

Quote from: The Rulebook
Most Faithful will know that people shouldnít sin, because when people sin they lose the blessings of the Faith, but honestly theyíll think more and harder about whether itíll be a bad winter and they hope their horse isnít coming down sick and isnít it getting to be time to bring the apple harvest in? Keeping the Faith in order is your job, Dog.
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