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"Stacking" Demon Abilities and scope

Started by TickTock Man, June 30, 2007, 04:08:13 PM

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TickTock Man


A question came up in our game of Sorcerer last night.  The question was really one of the scope of the abilities of a demon and whether a demon could stack abilities (particularly in a a Sorc & Sword game).  The thought was that some abilities might be interesting if you increased their scope by taking the powers multiple times.  The powers we were discussing in particular were -


I am open to the idea, but I think Sorcerer is well balanced and I want to be careful not to unbalance it.  I also do not want to overcomplicate the game.  At the same time, if a player wants to be able to summon up a creature larger than a mastadon (even if only as a pact), I thought it was worth exploring.  This is spectacular sorcerery, but very dangerous and exceedingly rare.  Lets focus on Big...

One thought was that if a demon did have a stacked ability (like Big) that the demon's power might increase dramatically (Big = 1, Big 2 = 4, etc.)

The other thought was that if you want a demon to huge, it just is huge, and the rules for Big still apply.

Do you have any thoughts on this or experience with it?  I am still rolling it around in my head and there is a lot of experience on these boards so I thought I would get some feedback.

Thanks in advance!

Ron Edwards

Hi there,

There may be a certain confusion about the imagined, fictional meaning of an ability, and its mechanical effects during play. Keeping them mentally separate is a really good idea.

I'll take the case of Big first. The best option is to ignore the "mastodon-sized" limitation and simply take Big as meaning "really really big" at any scale that makes sense for the group. My thinking when writing that rule, back then, was to keep demonic material roughly on a human scale. This was part of choosing the real-world modern setting as the default, but given non-modern settings, that turns out to be less important.

To be absolutely clear, I do not think Big should be stacked in terms of mechanical effects, although its in-game, fictional expression may certainly be tailored to a given setting and, if necessary, dramatically exceeded the textual limits. Its non-stacked mechanical effects are profound during play and can apply to (for instance) a space station as well as to a grizzly-bear-sized humanoid.

As for Spawn, I am unsure what stacking would produce, because it's already highly constrained by the demon's Power. What did the suggestion entail, exactly?

For Warp, I presume the stacking is aimed at affecting more material? If so, then I think the same effect is achieved by the demon continuing to use the ability for several actions, with the limit to the ability's affected volume thereby being set by Power. So Warp is already, technically, "stacked," in the sense that a more powerful demon can affect more of whatever it's Warping.

Best, Ron

TickTock Man

Hi Ron,

Those were the very issues we were discussing - whether the scale implied by Sorcerer should be kept for Sorc & Sword. 

You nailed the Big and Warp discussions on the nose - I agree with the assessment there.  The Spawn discussion really centered on whether a parasite demon could hit a world like a plague or infection.  Because Spawn is limited (and rightly so, as it can be exceptionally powerful) one player's thought was whether or not a more powerful might be available to mimic a demon plague starting.  It was really just chatter though, more than anything, and as I said I am hesitant to tweak the rules of Sorcerer.

I believe that people tend to overestimate how powerful a demon has to be be (I am speaking here in terms of Power) to be spectacularly menacing.  One demon with Big on a rampage could give a fortress of foes a run for its money.  Maybe the questions being kicked around are really just symptomatic.  Maybe the questions really indicate that the players are thirsting for something with a little more spectacle.  The answer may be addressing and removing barriers the players perceive that keep them from stretching their descriptions and narrations rather than looking at Sorcerer's boundaries. 

I think that is worth reflection, anyway.