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Author Topic: First Try (Sorcerer and Sword)  (Read 1875 times)
Aaron
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Posts: 102


« on: August 22, 2006, 10:44:57 PM »

Sunday we played a session of Sorcerer and Sword and I've got to say fo the most part it went great!
The guys were really into the character creation and ended up with a ex mercenary who had had a brush with the supernatural in the form of his former superior officer.  The officer was "killed" he believes in that battle.  The character, Tordani, ended up looking after the officers special sword and which became his starting demon.  Tordani was pretty much the only survivor from the battle waking uninjured after it was all over.  He returned to his village only to find everyone murdered.  Grief stricken he had become a wanderer and mercenary.
The second character, Rabat, grew up as a street thief and fighter until he accosted the wrong victim.  The man he fought looked just like himself and cut him badly.  He fled but was visited by his opponent in his dreams.  In one dream he confronted the apparition and bound it to himself.  They loved the character creation and were pretty creeped out by it.

The game started in a moderate, around pop 200, village just celebrating the marriage of the headman to a new young wife.  Told of this before hand Tordani's player wrote his kicker as entering the village to see the headman marrying a woman who looked just like his sister!  Unfortunately I didnt get a kicker from the other player as time hadn't permitted us to meet before hand. 
I wrote a backstory about the village working out how I could include the sister etc.  The headman and his sister, the village wise woman, were in fact immortal sorcerers of an ancient civilization.  Both had bound parasite demons that gifted them wiht vitality.  The demons both desired power so upon coming to the previously sleepy village they took control aggressively and pushed to increase the size of the village.  Occasionally a villager would question their rule and would disappear.  One such villager had two baby children that the headman adopted as his own.  These children had now grown up.  The village did a lot of raiding of nearby areas to further appease the demons natures and desires.  The headmans son, Yara, enjoyed leading these raids and has become a braggart and bully, the daughter, Iona, is happy with her position as the prettiest girl in town, the headman, his sister and their demons were happy while the village was being manipulated and controlled.
Until 4 weeks ago when a raiding group returned with a particularly attractive slave, Haani.  The headmans son, Yara, had decided she was to be his but his father, Shevatis, became infatuated with the girl.  He wanted her for himself.  She for her part wanted neither of them, Yara didn't mind forcing himself on her but Shevatis wanted her to want him (he was on humanity 0 I had decided and so used to just using people this girl struck something different in him).  Unable to convince her he spirited her away to a cave and summoned a exact dulicate in the form of a doppleganger.  With the new Haani fawning all over him he could easily justify taking her from Yara and marry her.  He planned, and actually encouraged, the doppleganger to visit the original to be more like her.  Once he eventualy seduced the real Haani he would dispose of the doppleganger, or once the doppleganger was sufficiently like the original...

So enter the characters into the marriage feast celebrations.  I had set up three distinct groups in the celebration.  There was Yara and his thugs bragging about themselves and him whinging about loosing the girl.  There was the wedding table, the daughter pissed off at hom much attention the new wife was getting, the old woman annoyed at Shevatis risking their position over this girl.  The third group were the disenchanted villagers, one particularly charismatic who had lost his son in this latest raid, and thought it was about time for a change of leadership.

The characters headed straight to the wedding table.  Tordani was asking about work, being a mercenary, and almost staring at Haani but getting no hint of recognition.  Rabat was more direct, he was lookig for a new wife and wanted to know where he could find one like Haani.  The rest of the conversation was fairly inane Tordani headed off toward the thugs, confused that his sister didnít notice him and Rabat got Iona to dance.  Whispering sweet nothings he got her outside only to discover Tordani had challenged Yara to a duel.  No real reason other than to cause trouble!
Tordani won the duel and Iona promised to visit Rabat latter than evening.  As the party inside began to wind down they discovered the discontent of some of the villages, Tordani hinted to these men that Shevatis had in fact hired him to kill Yara, his son.  Rabat was busy chatting up the serving girl at this time, "maybe latter, maybe latter" was all she said.  With the players winding down on ideas here I thought it was a good time to end this scene here.
Tordani was sure he was going to get a visit in the night so slept on the roof, nothing happened though.  The serving girl visited Rabat and stayed the night.  She left early the next morning. 
Our two heroes went for a bit of a wander the next morning only to come upon Iona beating up the serving girl, calling her a whore etc.  As they pulled her off the young girls father, the blacksmith, arrived on the scene looking for someone to blame.  The characters calmed the situation down somewhat, Iona deciding she liked the look of Tordani, ďMaybe I will come see you later.Ē she whispered.
After seeing the injured girl to the wise woman and calming the father Rabat was set upon by Yaraís right hand man and a couple of the local thugs.  They werenít happy that he had upset Iona and were going to give him a beating.  After only a couple of rounds of inconclusive wrestling Tordani appeared on the scene sword in hand.  The thugs ran off but one was caught.  Tordani broke his nose and told him to go back to the farm and if he saw him again he would get the sword. 
This seemed like another good place to break this scene and chuck in a bang to throw the adventure in a different direction.  A huge bird swept down out of the skies plucking a figure the heroes recognized as Haani and carrying her off toward the mountains.  The characters rushed to the headmans hut where there was much commotion.  Shervatis was quite distressed as was Yara.  Shevatis rushed off to his sisters hut saying she would throw the bones and discover where she was.  Whilst waiting Rabat ducked off to find Iona.  With some good rolling and cleverish words, ďIn the dark I thought she was youĒ(it was a particularly good roll!!) he managed to re seduce her and that is were we then draw the veil on that scene!!
Discovering the location the characters and four of the villagers, including Yara, set off into the mountains.  We cut straight to the cave were the great bird swooped down and grabbed one of the villagers and sent him sprawling into the mountain side.  Everyone else ran for inside a cave where they believed Haani to be.  Once inside they quickly discovered a large chamber were an old man was chanting over the screaming Haani.  Without a word Tordani Launched a javelin into the man and charged forward.  The old man was a sorcerer himself and his large shadowy demon manifested and attacked Tordani for a vicious wound.  Rabat freed the girl as the sorcerer was still stunned, and started to carry her out.  At the sight of the Demon all three villagers just turned and ran.
Battling bravely Tordani was having no luck against the Demon so he hurled his sword at the enemy sorcerer impaling him then rushing over to get his sword back.  The demon kept attacking but through a lucky roll Tordani managed to inflict a terrible wound on the creature at which point it retreated.
They fled the cave with the girl, no sign of the bird and the villagers seen disappearing over the next hill.Ē Do you know who I am?Ē asks Tordani, ďDonít you remember our village?Ē  She looks vague ďNo, No I donít.  Should I?Ē  ďShe is possessedĒ says Rabat, ďlets take her back into the cave and banish the demon.Ē  So they did.  She struggled but they did complete the ritual, Tordani aiding, and suddenly Haani disappeared(they didnít realize that she was the demon, they thought she was just possessed)!
That is where we finished it as we had run out of time. 

So what happened in game that was really cool?
I had a bunch of bangs that I just didnít use.  The enemy sorcerer, more trouble in town, that sort of thing.  The characters seemed more than happy to cause their own mischief without my help.  Rabatís dice roll to enamour the serving girl was not a success.  I used the advice in the rulebook making his seduction attempt successful but with bad consequences, ie being seen by the other girl, the beatings etc.  For the most part guys did really get into the idea of making their own story.
The players had a good time but still looked to me ďdirectĒ the game.  We are just learning this ďstorymakingĒ type of roleplaying.

We had a few questions and confusions with the system that I hadnít foreseen when Iíd read the rules.
The inconspicuous demon has a passive cloak?  Is this any different to the cloak ability or is it just the cloak ability for free?  The parasite living in the blood stream doesnít get a similar ability?  What might be an appropriate tell tale for a parasite?

When the two sorcerous characters met the two sorcerous NPCís and everyone tried to spot each others tell tales seemed to include a ton of dice rolling.  Iím guesing I didnít handle this quite right.  I did Lore vs Willpower for the roll but everyone had to make 4 opposed rolls!  I didnít worry about the characters Demons as well as that would have made it 8 rolls each.  Iím sure I was doing something wrong there.

We were a little confused about using special damage and whether this constituted using a demons power and coming off their STA limit.  When the character with the special damage using sword was unsuccessful in his attack we didnít count it as a use of the power.  But what about the other character when he used his convulsion ability at range.  I still did this attack as STA vs STA.  If the attack doesnít succeed does it use a power or not?

We played armour ability as written and it didnít have any effect vs special damage.

When Tordani was initially wounded it reduced him to 0 dice.  He chose to try for 6 dice and made the willpower check.  Should that have given him six dice on his initiative?  If he won the initiative and attacked with the 6 dice would he have 6 dice to defend himself later in the round?  Or are these dice for only one action, the character having to make a will roll each time?  We played it at the time that he made the roll he got all the dice for everything.
The next round he was at -4 lasting penalty giving him only 2 dice.  I let him make a will roll to gain the other dice even though the rule does say its for when your on 0 dice.  I couldnít see how he could have possibly overcome the demon with only 2, even with roleplaying bonuses so extrapolated the rule.

I think thatís about it.  I really enjoyed the game, had to think on my feet and reacting to the direction the players took the story.  I threw in the big bird bang as they had started to slow right down and were looking for some more direction, but aside from that it was very successful.

thanks
Aaron.
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Frank T
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« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2006, 05:00:06 AM »

Hi Aaron,

It sounds like you had a good time, which is cool. I especially liked the part with the servant girl, how you caught the ball the player tossed up, and passed it back with a vicious spin. You seem to have hit the genre well, at least to me, it sounds very Swords & Sorcery. The town seems to have a lot of interesting conflicts going on. Also, well done on the scene framing.

There is really no playing a game ďwrongĒ as long as you all have fun, so please read the next part not as criticism, but rather as just an observation. As I understand Sorcerer, I would guess that normally the marriage would have been made up by Tordaniís player as part of the kicker, and not you. You did a nice job of spiking the kicker with that doppelganger part, though. And normally, you would not have started play without a kicker for Rabat. Since he did not have a kicker of his own and thus no pressure to do something about it, he was running around chasing skirts, which is not a bad thing, but not Sorcerer as intended either.

I would recommend to have Rabatís player make up a kicker before the next session, so you can fit it into your scenario.

Here is also one point about kickers. If you have been aware of this, please bear with me. There is one common misperception of what a kicker is that I have heard several times now. People mistake the kicker for some sort of scene framing authority. Like, ďI make up a scene, and as we play out that scene, the kicker gets resolved.Ē A kicker is not a scene, though. Itís a circumstance. You probably can relate it to a certain scene in the fiction, but the scene is not the point. The point is the circumstance. Maybe the scene that relates is just the character finding out about the circumstance. The scene does not even have to be played out. By default, it happens just before play starts.

Also, the kicker is not resolved in one scene. The kicker is what the characterís story is all about. The kicker is what replaces the classic ďadventureĒ in Sorcerer. When you resolve the kicker, the story is finished and you have to start a new story, either with the same character or with another. I had a feeling I should stress this, just in case.

- Frank
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Aaron
Member

Posts: 102


« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2006, 03:52:14 PM »

Thanks Frank.
I really did want to get Rabats player to give me a kicker but I just don't think he understood the concept so well and since we didnt have time to get to together before hand.  He also has alot of shit happening in his life currently so I didnt want to hassle him.
I sent them both an email a couple of weeks earlier setting the scene re village in the mountains, headman getting married to new young bride etc.  It was the Tordani's player that turned her into his sister.  It really did make it easier to create a backstory.
I can see that the kicker is so important, and that is what the scenario is about.  There was no way in this scenario that the players could have resovled the kicker in one scene! It was the basis of the whole adventure.  I explained that to them afterward and how it would have been better still if Rabat had had a kicker as we would have had other areas to explore as well.
Maybe I'll ask my more rules specific questions in the adept press forum, I was tossing up between here and there when I made my original post.
Thanks again
Aaron
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2006, 04:30:04 PM »

Hi there,

Hey Aaron, Frank responded to your post so well that I didn't have much to add. Go ahead and post your rules-questions here, because they'll make more sense in the context of what your game was like and what happened.

Best, Ron
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Aaron
Member

Posts: 102


« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2006, 07:31:48 PM »


We had a few questions and confusions with the system that I hadnít foreseen when Iíd read the rules.
The inconspicuous demon has a passive cloak?† Is this any different to the cloak ability or is it just the cloak ability for free?† The parasite living in the blood stream doesnít get a similar ability?† What might be an appropriate tell tale for a parasite?

When the two sorcerous characters met the two sorcerous NPCís and everyone tried to spot each others tell tales seemed to include a ton of dice rolling.† Iím guesing I didnít handle this quite right.† I did Lore vs Willpower for the roll but everyone had to make 4 opposed rolls!† I didnít worry about the characters Demons as well as that would have made it 8 rolls each.† Iím sure I was doing something wrong there.

We were a little confused about using special damage and whether this constituted using a demons power and coming off their STA limit.† When the character with the special damage using sword was unsuccessful in his attack we didnít count it as a use of the power.† But what about the other character when he used his convulsion ability at range.† I still did this attack as STA vs STA.† If the attack doesnít succeed does it use a power or not?

We played armour ability as written and it didnít have any effect vs special damage.

When Tordani was initially wounded it reduced him to 0 dice.† He chose to try for 6 dice and made the willpower check.† Should that have given him six dice on his initiative?† If he won the initiative and attacked with the 6 dice would he have 6 dice to defend himself later in the round?† Or are these dice for only one action, the character having to make a will roll each time?† We played it at the time that he made the roll he got all the dice for everything.
The next round he was at -4 lasting penalty giving him only 2 dice.† I let him make a will roll to gain the other dice even though the rule does say its for when your on 0 dice.† I couldnít see how he could have possibly overcome the demon with only 2, even with roleplaying bonuses so extrapolated the rule.
Aaron

Hi Ron,
I was most interested in how others handle sorcerers recognising sorcerers.† I was going to judge the NPC's reactions to the players dependant on the conversation they had whether they new the PCs were sorcerers.† As I explained above I gave everyone a chance to recognise the other but that meant alot of dice rolling.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2006, 08:39:57 PM »

Hi there,

Oh, those questions. I thought you had others ... anyway, here goes.

Quote
The inconspicuous demon has a passive cloak?  Is this any different to the cloak ability or is it just the cloak ability for free?  The parasite living in the blood stream doesnít get a similar ability?  What might be an appropriate tell tale for a parasite?

It's the Cloak ability for free, and no, no other demon gets anything for free. It's not very elegant, and now I wish I'd treated it like the Passer's Cover ability - they have to have it, and it counts toward their Lore score limit.

Quote
When the two sorcerous characters met the two sorcerous NPCís and everyone tried to spot each others tell tales seemed to include a ton of dice rolling.  Iím guesing I didnít handle this quite right.  I did Lore vs Willpower for the roll but everyone had to make 4 opposed rolls!  I didnít worry about the characters Demons as well as that would have made it 8 rolls each.  Iím sure I was doing something wrong there.

No, you did it right. Yes, lots of dice rolling. One way to reduce that is to ask whether anyone cares not to make a conflict out of it. Basically, if character A doesn't care whether character B knows he's a sorcerer, and if character B is actively looking, then hey, "that guy's a sorcerer." I know it doesn't say this outright in the rules, but it is at least consistent with the textual principle that you don't roll unless there's a conflict. Not that I defined what I meant by that, at the time.

For demons, though, definitely roll. Too much fun not to.

Quote
We were a little confused about using special damage and whether this constituted using a demons power and coming off their STA limit.  When the character with the special damage using sword was unsuccessful in his attack we didnít count it as a use of the power.  But what about the other character when he used his convulsion ability at range.  I still did this attack as STA vs STA.  If the attack doesnít succeed does it use a power or not?

Typically I count all uses as an official use, successful or not. The sword did sweep through the air making a keening noise or whatever it was that that particular sword does.

Quote
We played armour ability as written and it didnít have any effect vs special damage.

Depends on the Special Damage's effect. Say you have the Armor ability, good against physical attacks (knives, guns, claws, teeth, etc). This demon has Special Damage defined as claws - the Armor should count. But this other demon has Special Damage defined as radioactive fire ... nope, that Armor won't help.

Quote
When Tordani was initially wounded it reduced him to 0 dice.  He chose to try for 6 dice and made the willpower check.  Should that have given him six dice on his initiative?  If he won the initiative and attacked with the 6 dice would he have 6 dice to defend himself later in the round?  Or are these dice for only one action, the character having to make a will roll each time?  We played it at the time that he made the roll he got all the dice for everything.

You were almost right, much more right than not, and that's an OK thing. He started with the 6 dice, and that's cool. But his defense roll and all subsequent rolls should re-set to the lasting penalties of his damage.

To clarify, no, he would not have to make another Will roll. The one successful roll (against 6 dice!! jeepers) gets him out of the hole he's in, and whatever temporary penalties he was facing at the time just disappear. After that, he's on his feet, but the lasting penalties he had incurred do stick around.

Quote
The next round he was at -4 lasting penalty giving him only 2 dice.  I let him make a will roll to gain the other dice even though the rule does say its for when your on 0 dice.  I couldnít see how he could have possibly overcome the demon with only 2, even with roleplaying bonuses so extrapolated the rule.

Aw, well, you see, you were taking care of him. Why should it be your problem whether he can overcome the demon or not? Losing should always be strictly a matter of the dice in Sorcerer.

Oh, don't forget ... you were playing the demon. I don't know the details of the situation, but playing a demon like a random-encounter monster who "wants to kill the guy" is not recommended. Say the demon kicked his butt and he collapsed? Isn't it possible that this demon was impressed by this one's Will? Maybe it wants a master who's got more guts than its current one ...

Also ... just because my antennae just twitched ... you do know that any sorcerer can attempt to command any demon to do anything, right? Plain old Will roll ... Keep it in mind for your next session.

Best, Ron

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Aaron
Member

Posts: 102


« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2006, 10:06:44 PM »

Cool, thanks Ron.
I suppose I was looking after him, but since I didn't let his armour ability work against it's special claws it probably evened out.
Re reading my question I can see that I didn't explain very well what we did when he was wounded.  At the start of the round, before initiative etc, immediately after he was injured I reduced his dice by his temporary and lasting penalties.  That brought his pool to 0.  He then made the call to try for 6 dice and rolled his will and won.  Then we did iniative.  He used the 6 dice, won, and attacked using these 6 plus stratergy bonus.  The next round we removed the temporary penalty and only imposed the lasting penalty of 4 dice bringing his pool to only 2.  Before initiative he decided how many dice he wanted to try for and so on we went.
Thanks for the other answers.  I must admit that I didn't put alot of thought into the attacking demon at the time.  I just had it go for it until it was wounded then it backed off.  Even after its' sorcerer was dead.  Didn't think to remind the guys about commanding it!
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2006, 07:18:05 AM »

Hi Aaron,

I think it will be a lot more clear for you in both posting and in play to stop using the term "initiative." It doesn't apply in Sorcerer. The six dice you roll at the start of the clash or round are the same six dice sitting there, on the table, as the attack. I'm pretty sure you got that right in play, but it will be way easier to talk about it and, while playing, to do it, than saying "initiative" vs. "attack."

Now, the only thing that seems funny about the way you handled the rules - and remember, I said already, you were more right than not - is that apparently you started a new round upon his recovery roll. That may or may not have been correct. If the round was over when he took all that damage, then that's cool; obviously, he has to make a recovery roll in order to have a new round at all. But if all this happened in the middle of a round, which is often the case, then you roll those new dice right into the middle of the round and continue with the rest of the ordered actions and their rolls.

Let's say the first was the case, which really does seem to match the rest of your description. In which case, the only thing that isn't textually correct, as you know, is letting him try for more dice when he had two nice solid dice to work with. Again, I think you were "helping" him as GM, which is a very common habit that people get into, rather than playing the demon and considering what it wanted out of the fight. Demons aren't just "monsters" to fight, they're very distinct things which want stuff and do stuff accordingly.

I ran into that trap a lot in the first years of playtesting the game. I'd throw "generic demons!" at characters and then wonder why I was such a weeny and so tempted to fudge dice to help them survive. But when I made sure that any demon in the game had a well-defined Need and Desire, and when I also made sure that I knew whether it was bound or unbound, and if bound, how was it getting along with its master ... then every demon fight became far more interesting, and I no longer had to use kid gloves and try to make it "work out all right" for the player-characters.

Best, Ron

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