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Author Topic: Sorcerers of Prax (Not really. Completely different)  (Read 6725 times)
Moreno R.

Posts: 389

« on: August 12, 2007, 09:45:01 PM »


My long-delayed game of Sorcerer / Dictionary of Mu, the one for which I asked help in this old thread, will be delayed again. My "experimental" group, the one that did met every month or so to play the games we couldn't play with our "normal" groups, couldn't meet from May (half of the players live in another region, with hours of travel time), and it's probable that we will not be able to organize a game until autumn.

But I am tired of waiting. To prepare, I re-read the books, and I read a lot of older threads here at the forge, I don't want to waste all that time now waiting until I will forgot everything, and most of all I want to play Sorcerer now!

This leave me with only one option: I will play Sorcerer with my "normal" group!

It's not that this group is against playing narrative games: we already played PtA, tSoY and DitV with good results. But they are a more easy-going group, still tied to the old "party mentality", very against inter-party conflicts (apart for some little rivality), against "evil characters", and one of the players is very religious. So, no chance to have the characters as somebody who even resemble satanists or evil persons. By the other hand, they are much into Sword & Sorcery, so I will opt for "Sorcerer & Sword"

And most of them don't read English, so I can't make them read the manuals.

To get the intial buy-in from the players (already a little wary after seeing the cover, and some comment from the more knowledgeable players about "a game where you summon demons"), I thought of using a superficial likeness of the setting (and of the premise I thought) to a drifted Runequest campaign I GM'd years ago, based on the Prax setting.

What I did, at the time, was to justify the (not very mythic) "spirit magic" of RQIII giving some background to the spirits. The characters were all Rhino Riders, from the same tribe/clan, and they got their "magic" from the tribe spirits and the tribe totems, "the spirits of the Great Rhino" or even ancestors.  It was one of my more successful game, and for years a couple of the players clamored to play again something like this.

I am not thinking of making them play in Glorantha or as "riders" again (I want a quick buy-in of the setting, not a endless comparation with "how we played it last time"), but that kind of tribal mythology, the "spirits" that have powers, is already familiar with the players, and would not be seen as "evil" like summoning demons.  (I will have to separate it from the tribe traditions, of course. I don't want a tribe of sorcerers). And the tribal setting would be very useful to start the game with very little knowledge of the world.)

So, this is what I am thinking to play:

iconograhy: taken from the movie "Apocalypto". A primitive clan, living in a tropical forest. Menaced by other tribes, from slave traders. Near, human sacrifices atop pyramids, blood and hearts for arcane "gods"  (I am taking ONLY the iconography: the forest, the pyramids, the solar eclypses, but it will be a Sword & Sorcery world, not central america. More the tropical forests around Stygia in the Conan stories)

The tribes in the forest have sciamans, "magic", talismans, good luck charms, but NOTHING OF THIS REALLY WORK. It's faith, tricks and human nature that fuel the belief in this "magic"

Then, two brothers, captured years ago from slave traders and sold to the "people of the pyramids", returns to their tribe, having fleed captivity. They don't want to talk about what they have witnessed, they scream in the night from terrible nightmares, and they have brought the tribe a terrible knowledge: how to summon true spirits. Of animals, but of dead ancestors, too.

This "gift" is too terrible, and tear the tribe apart. People who learn it have power over others, and even if some use it to save others, many are corrupted by it and they have to be killed.  The brothers are exiled in the forest, to live alone.  Sciamans warn people about them. They become a tale to scare children with, a cautionary tale about learning dark secrets. But they still teach their secrets, to the ones bold enough (or desperate enough) to search them. One of the brothers teach how to summon animal spirits, the other teach how to summon the spirits of the deads (the Lore is the same, but you discover this only when you learn it)

The player character will be people bold enough (or desperate enough) to have searched for one of the brothers,and to have asked him to teach them. Every one will have to describe why he/she did it (so, a character could be motivated by thist for power, and another by self-sacrifice to save others, tying this with his kicker), and I will press the fact that, if they want, they can start without any "spirit" (but they still have to have learned the lore from someone). Knowing my players, they will be all from the same tribe, but it will not be mandatory.

HUMANITY: it's the thing that keep the tribe united. Caring for others, family, mathernal / paternal instincts, friendship, solidarity.  (question: I don't know how a definition of humanity like this would work in the game. It's too broad? It's too resticted? What do you think?)

DEMONS (spirits): they are spirits of dead people or animals (I want to be open to more powerful spirits in the future, but I think that the spirits of extinct species or of dead sorcerer-kings will suffice). But they are not "complete". The animals are all solitary and alone, as the instinct to leave the others at the time of death was increased by death itself, and people don'f feen anything anymore for the living one they left. They always tend to separate the sorcerer from the other human contact, to influence him better (or by simple instinct). They can give "powers" they didn't have in life (for example, a bat spirit could have power over dankness itself), but still tied to their characteritics.

I can see, with this definition, possessor spirits, passing spirits (with a solid body or not), incospicious spirits (very little animal spirit easily hidden), or parasite demons. I am unsure about object spirits (a spirit bound into an object? Or this would be a contain?)

In the next days I will write the list of descriptors, but I wanted to post the initial idea as soon as possible, because maybe I will have to start in 10 days. What do you think about it? Do you see problems or complications I didn't notice? Do you have some advice or idea? There is something in these definitions that could weaken the game premise? Thanks in advance for your help!


(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Posts: 16490

« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2007, 04:52:59 AM »

I think it's fantastic. I wish I could think of some constructive comments, but really, it's something I simply would like to play. So I haven't much to add.

Best, Ron

Posts: 642

« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2007, 06:31:40 AM »

Moreno: object demons = fossils?

I would love to see dinosaur-spirits.

I think your Humanity definition is very good!  I especially like that you have a clear idea in your mind, but use several different words to describe it.  To me, that is much more precise than using a single word.

I would suggest that you imagine, in a sentence or two, what the sorcerous rituals look like, and what's involved.  This might reflect the demons and the Humanity definition.  Like, perhaps a Contact means, sitting in a spot in the jungle, with reminders of all your friends and family arranged around you in a circle.  Then, after breathing holy smoke and listening to holy drums, you smash all the tokens or throw them into the jungle, thinking of times they disappointed you... so now in the clearing it is just you . . . and the demon.


Moreno R.

Posts: 389

« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2007, 07:44:16 AM »

Hi James!  I think I will prefere to ask the players about how they summoned the spirits, but I will make suggestions and your advice will surely be one of them! Thanks for the fossil suggestion, too. I think I will limit object demons to object made from the old body of the demon (so, bone, fur, sinews, etc for animal spirits, fossils for Old Ones, and a lot of interesting possibilities for human spirits...)

I know that almost everybody is going to Gen Con these days, but this thread will be still here when they return, and I have a lot of work to do in too little time, so I am going to continue posting other bits of the preparation these days too. This time, I wll post the descriptors for Stamina, Will and Lore. This is REALLY a first draft. I had weeks to think about the demons and humanity definitions, but I didn't know that I would have so little time to prepare so I didn't think about descriptors until now. So I am really open to any suggestion or critic about them. Most of them in this first draft are directly from the Sorcerer & Sword manual, with some little modifications


big and vigorous (stamina 4-up, a good "second" descriptor for people over stamina 5 I think)
just Healthy (stamina 2-3)
unnatural means (I don't know how much this is appropriate in a tribe like the ones I described, if a player choose this the unnatural means will have to be from the outside of the tribe]
about "savage-raised", I don't think it's appropriate in the contest (everybody is savage-raised here) and I thought about using "hunter", "forager", "foundchild", etc, but thinking about it, they seems to me more appropriate as "cover/past" descriptors. So I think I will use these instead:
and I would  like another descriptor or two based around something like "the eyes of tiger" or something like this, but I am not sure this wouldn't be better as a Will descriptor.


brush with the unknown
clan chief (this replaces "aristocrat")
zest for life
leader of men (I see this different from "clan chief" in the same way a natural leader of a hunting party is different from the chief of the tribe. With the natural rivality between the people in the two roles)
in love  (I replaced "lover" with this simply because of a better Italian translation)
family  (the name still don't sound right to me, but I want to indicate someone who has the responsability to find food for and protect children (and maybe a wife or a injured husband)


adept (lore 5-up) (I need a name more "tribal-sounding")
naive (lore 1-2, I am thinking abot changing this to "by instinct" or "second-hand knowledge", or both, for purely estetic reasons)
apprentice (lore 2+) (here, too, I need a more tribal name)
I don't like to add the "Changeling", "Half-breed" or "Inhuman" descriptors to this setting, but this leave me with only three (or four) lore descriptors...  mmm...

For semplicity, I think I will not even talk to the players about a Destiny or humanity trading (there is already a lot to explain about the game)

As you see, I need some more descriptors in stamina and lore. Any suggestions?


(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Posts: 16490

« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2007, 11:02:41 AM »

Sometimes only a few descriptors are appropriate for a given application of Sorcerer. There were only three types of Lore in Demon Cops, for example, and I can think of plenty of times I'd like to play with only Apprentice and Adept.

So if you can't think of any more, that's a good time to stop. I also suggest staying open to good suggestions for descriptors during character creation. But remember, when you do that, that the group is officially adding to the list, not merely customizing that particular character. That's actually fairly important, conceptually.

Best, Ron
Moreno R.

Posts: 389

« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2007, 08:57:29 PM »

Hi, Ron! 

I stopped posting the other descriptors because writing them in English and then translating them in Italian didn't work well and took a lot of time. We already had two session for the description of the setting and the creation of the characters. I hoped to do it in one evening but we had little time and nobody had seen the movie, so I had to show it to them, describe the setting and the rules, and then I had to follow the character creation one character at the time (with suggestions from everybody) reading the book for them,  and it was a lot of work.

I am posting now the characters to get any advice or recommendation before starting playing next week, and to get have any mistake I could have made.

First, I need to assure you, that my players REALLY did tell me that they wanted to play "good" characters, without inter-party fighting or corruption. Because when you will see the characters you could doubt what I said in my first post. What I can say? I am more than a little worried about the effect your game is having on my players. They are showing aspects that they never did show before in our play.  They are beginning to scare me a little, too...

Ah, well, what it's done it's done. These are the fruit of their contact with your sinister game...

The characters live in a little tribe, no more than 40 adults and a similar number of children.  The two "teachers" (the two brothers who fled from the big city) live in a nearby "haunted ruin", overgrown and hidden by the jungle. The tribe has a tradition of having a "medicine woman" instead of a shaman.  Every new medicine woman is chosen among the little girls of the village by the previous one, and go to live with her and is taught herbs, medicine and chants. The old medicine woman is called "bark" and she choose years ago as a disciple the character played by Angela, that is now (at the beginning of the game) called "Run in the night", for reason that will be soon obvious....

"Run in the night" was a little control freak, she had to have everything always under control, and envied the power Bark had on the tribe and on herself. And she was very happy to become the next Medicine Woman. But then, "Run in the night" began to have dreams. She dreamed of a black panther and of the haunted ruins. She went there to discover the meaning of her dreams, and found the brothers. They explained to her what the panther was, why she was talking to her in her dreams, and what she would have to do if she wanted to bind the panther.  Fascinated by the panther's beauty and power, she agreed to stay with the older brother (the one who teach animal spirits) to learn what he could teach her.  He treated her with contempt and was a hard teacher, but at the end she was ready to contact, summon and bind the panther. The binding ritual was the first time she sated her demon's Need, hunting with the panther, in both human and animal forms, for a full night and savoring for the first time the taste of a prey disemboweled by her own fangs and claws.. (I gave her +3 dice for the description and the need fulfillment, but she still rolled a -1 on the binding strength. She was more lucky with the humanity roll)

"Run in the night", sorcerer and medicine woman, age 22  - Telltale: feline grace in movements
Stamina: 2 (little stature)
Will 5 (hard-headed, manipulator)
Lore: 3 (student)
Cover/Past: 5 (Medicine Woman)
Humanity: 5
Price:  control freak, -1 every time she is not prepared for a situation (this new knowledge didn't calm her need to control everything. It even worsened it to maniacal levels, giving her problems in any situation that she did not had time to prepare for...)

Shadow, passing demon (a big black panther) - Telltale: her pupils are horizontal, not vertical
Stamina 5  -  Will 6  - Lore 5 - Power 6
Binding Strength: -1
Desire: Mischief
Need: every fortnight (when the moon is half full), the sorcerer must hunt for a full night running naked with the demon, and being changed during this hunt from a human to a panther at different times at the panther's whim. (usually when they reach a prey). This was scary at first to her but now she awaits this moments with anticipation.

Demon Powers:
- Cloak (black panther) user: the demon
- Special (killing) damage, (fangs and claws) user: the demon
- Shapeshift (black panther), user: the demon (the demon can change the sorcerer that bound her to a black panther like her)
- Special (killing) damage, (fangs and claws) user: the sorcerer (only when shapeshifted to a black panther)
- Armor (in the form of fast regeneration), user: the demon (the demon can regenerate very fast from wounds)

I can't show you the back of the character sheet, but I will try to describe it:  in the "lore" box she wrote "Black Leaf" (her teacher) and "shining bone" (his brother, that never talk). In the "cover" box she wrote about "Blade of Grass", a girl that was her friend but was kidnapped (she don't know why and by who) when they were children, and about Bark the old medicine woman (now senile), and about her younger brother, "fast arrow, and his unrequited love for Singing River, a young widow (another PC), and about her friend Red Patch, who tan animal hides. In the "price" box she has written that "Run in the Night"  have to rest, alone after every fortnight hunt, and that she lives in a hut outside of the village. Out of the diagram, she wrote the recent past of the character, how she returned to the village, and got the "work" as Medicine Woman when Bark got too old and senile, and how she now live in the medicine Women's lodge out of the village, with the old, mad and senile Bark and the demon panther (that can't be trusted to behave herself around the village children without the presence of "Run in the night")

When "Run in the night" went to the haunted ruins, she was followed by a small boy from the village. In the next months he often returned there to spy on the brothers and their student. He knew, from the village stories, who they were, and was both scared by them and attracted from the stories of the power they could give.

The small boy (now called Green Snake, played by Michele), was an outsider, a foreigner in the tribe.  Michele did not write on the sheet most of what he told me about the character, so I don't remember all about it. Green Snake was a foundling, his adoptive mother found him in a basket floating in the river. The boy was cruelly taunted and picked on by the other children because he was different from them. His skin is more pale, his hairs and face more fair, A little different was his relationship with "Root" (a female children one year older and another player's character). She was clearly attracted by him but showed it exclusively in the rare occasion in which they were alone. When they were with other children she always complied to social pressure and treated him with contempt just like the others. When he grew older he had to go to her to get the tattoo that would sign his name/destiny (Root is the tribe "magical tattoo artist". She gives foretelling/insightful tattoos while in a kind of trance). She, instead of giving him a tattoo of a eagle, or a jaguar, or another fierce beast apt for a hunter, tattooed a serpent on his tight. Humiliated by this (and from the taunt of the other boys that began calling him "Green Snake") he began to stay most of his time out of the village, and going more and more frequently to the haunted ruins (even more after "Run in the night" returned with her scary panther)

At last, he was discovered by Black Leaf. The old slave would have thrown the boy out of his stony home, if Green Snake had not began to plead to him to give him power.  Amused, Black Leaf did hear the boy's tale, and agreed to teach him, little by little, when the boy could sneak away into the forest without anyone noticing. For years the boy studied the arcane lore, until he believed himself ready.  He had already chosen the kind of spirit he would call: a snake, to turn the old cruel prank to his torturers.  The snake appeared during the rite, exactly as Root has drawn him, and told him what he would have to do to get power.

The next night, Snake went to the camp of a nearby tribe, that arrived in the zone only a few years before, fleeing something, and had some skirmish with our tribe until they settled on the other river bank before the big falls. He waited until a girl went to the river to get water. He hit her with a club and kidnapped her, taking her to the haunted ruins. Black Leaf saw him, and let out a mocking laugh, but did not try to stop him. Snake tied the girl in the middle of a circle of old snake bones, blindfolded and naked, and began to torture her cutting her back.  When she had no more voice to scream, the bones moved and formed the snake he had contacted. Then, the snake bit his leg, and entered the leg by the wound.  Biting his lip to avoid screaming Snake saw his leg wither and die, becoming misshapen and useless. Then the serpent tattoo glowed and the binding was complete.  When he did return to his senses and could think clearly again, the girl had disappeared. He believe her to have fled to her tribe, but he didn't care, he had what he wanted. (he had to make two humanity rolls, one failed, and had a +4 on the binding roll, for a +1 binding strength)

Green Snake sorcerer and tribe storyteller, age 15  - Telltale: his leg
Stamina:  1  (cripple)
Will:   5  (ambitious,  acute)
Lore 4  (Adept)
Cover/past 5   (storyteller)
Price:  lame  (-1 on every roll that require the use of the leg or body balance)
Humanity: 4, (lowered from 5 by the binding ritual)

Coil, parasite demon  (The demon is his right leg, now. If banished, Snake would not have a leg anymore. The tattoo on the leg changed a little, but not so much to be very noticeable by untrained eyes.. ) - Telltale: the tattoo (it's not exactly the same as before, and the little eyes of the snake follow you...)
Stamina: 5 - Will 6 - Lore: 5 - Power: 6
Binding strength, +1
Desire: Power  (Michele was divided between choosing knowledge or Power.  Knowledge would be more apt for a serpent, but power was more in tune with  the character. He was worried about having a too self-serving desire for  his demon, because Green Snake wanted power, too. Power over the tribe. I replied "do you think that power over a little tribe will be enough for Coil?" and I accepted the Desire)
Need: a woman's pain. Even if not physical. Any woman will do. The demon want always more pain, but will begin to be in need only after a week without hurting a woman  (yes, the only male player in the group, and he has chosen this need. I must say that the guy has balls. Yet)

Demon Powers:
- Armor (the sorcerer skin become hard and scaly), user: the demon
- Boost Will (the in-game effect is that Snake become very charismatic and can easily sway others) user: the demon
- Perception (smell) user: the sorcerer
- Psychic force (need at least a little eye contact at the beginning) user: the sorcerer
- Cover: Storyteller (the Sorcerer became a great storyteller, with knowledge of old stories and a high control over the audience). User: the sorcerer (Snake was always good in creating stories for himself, but with the demon's help he has become the new Storyteller of the tribe.)

Lately, he attacked with his mind the younger brother of Root,  Sapling (the girl's father must have had a fetish on this kind of names. Luckily the people of the tribe can change it when they get old enough...) making him fall, stunned, in the river's water. Then, he feigned having saved him from drowning, and returned him to his desperate father, the great hunter Round Stone. Then he asked, in return for saving his only remaining son's life, to marry one of his daughters: Root.

In the back of his character sheet, he wrote: in the "lore" sector, the names of Black Leaf and the name of the young chief of the tribe, Acacia, that he despise considering him just a bully. In the "cover" section, the name of a place where he hid as a children to avoid the other children, "the Green tree" (the tree is green even in the trunk because it's overgrown by a strange green musk) and his old name as a children: "Found in the River". In the "price" section he wrote about  "Three Crows" (30 years old) is his adoptive mother, that he idolize, but she repudiated him when he returned after binding the demon. In the "kicker" section he did wrote the names of Sapling and Round Stone.

Root is another player character, played by Claudia. Really, she always liked Green Snake. She saw the other children tormenting him but she never summoned the courage to act differently according to her feelings. She has no control over what she tattoos when she breathes the smoke of sacred herbs and see in a vision the animal that signs a boy's destiny. She tried to explain this to Snake, but he didn't listen to her.

She spied on Snake, as she always did from when they were children, and she saw him using the demon's powers, and she heard him calling them. Some other things she heard from the old stories about the haunted ruins (that Green Snake never narrate anymore) and from "Run in the night". She is now a Naive Sorcerer (Lore 1) but she doesn't have a demon.  [when this character was first thought of, she was already married to Snake, so it was more probable that she could learn sorcery from spying him and his things, but then the story of these two characters was backtracked to just before the marriage ceremony, and we had to justify her knowledge somehow]

Root, Tattoo Woman and naive sorcerer, age 16,  - Telltale: her hands are always cold (she has to have a telltale with no demon?)
Stamina:  3 (good health)
Will: 6  (Emphatic,  lover)
Lore 1 (casual knowledge)
Cover: 6 (Tattoo Woman)
Price : Paranoid, - 1 on any action unless the character is under physical attack
Humanity: 6

The back of the sheet:  "lore": "I have spied my husband, unseen", and "I am the tattoo woman", in the "cover" section, very near the lore: "Father:  Round Stone (32). Mother: Rain (29), Brothers:  Sapling (14) and Bud (18),  Best Friend: Lynx's Tracks (16), expansive and extroverted" and "Acacia, new chief, everybody thought that he would have been my husband, not Green Snake"

Singing River is another player character, played by Silvia. A few days after the binding of Green Snake's demon, the people of the other side of the river banks attacked the village. They wanted revenge for something, but nobody could understand what, and after this skirmish the two peoples attack each other on sight. During this battle, only one warrior of the tribe died. Falling Sky, a young warrior that had married his loved Singing River only a few weeks before. He was hit by an arrow throw by an enemy warrior with a cut nose, at the beginning of the attack.

Singing River was no stranger to tragedy. Her parents died when her three little brothers (Yellow Frog (11), Wings (Cool, Seven moons (5) ) were very young, and she raised them alone (with the help of the other families who gave them part of their food). When she was of age Fast Arrow, the brother of the new Medicine Woman, wanted her as wife, but she choose instead her childhood sweetheart, Falling Sky.  After Falling Sky's death, one year ago, things got worse. Acacia was the new chief of the tribe (having shown his mettle during the battle and having saved his father's life. The old chief, his father Broken Blade, is still alive but can't fight anymore and act as an adviser to his son), and to get her to marry at last his friend Fast Arrow, he declared that the tribe had not food enough to feed a stubborn woman with no husband. She had to choose a new husband that would have hunted for her. She refused and started to search for food by herself in the forest.

Mad with grief, rage and fear for his brothers and sister's health, she at last clang to a last desperate hope, remembering the old tales. She searched for the brothers, and the younger one, Shining Bone, took her as student. Or, better, he did nothing while she observed his rites, and day after days the shadows in his dark cave whispered her dark secrets, while Shining Bone never talked. Until she was ready. Following the whispered promises she took the lock of her husband's hairs she always had with her, and delicately put it in the center of her blood-drawn circle of symbols. Then she took her own left eye, with her fingers, from her eye socket, and held it in her open hand, offered to the circle.  Before her mad, bloodied face, her eye grow with flash, bone and bones around and around, until her hands wasn't holding a lone eye anymore, but was covering the left eye of his husband, alive. The he raised his own hand and put something in her empty eyesocket, and she could see from the left eye again...

Singing River, female hunter and sorcerer, age 16 - Telltale: her left eye is her husband's. It's brownish green, while her eye was black (she cover that eye with her hairs)
Stamina: 2 (lithe)
Will 5 (obsessed, strong-willed)
Lore: 3 (student)
Cover/Past: 5 (trapper/gatherer)
Humanity: 4 (she did lost one point)
Price:  -1 to any social interaction

Falling Sky, passing demon (has the exact same aspect that he had before, apart from the telltale) - Telltale: His left eye is her wife's. black, while his eye was brownish green, (he cover that eye with his hairs)
Stamina 4 - Will 5 - Lore 4 - Power 5
Binding Strength: +2
Desire: Intimacy (he still somewhat loves her. In his demonic way. He want her for him alone, always, and don't want to share her life with anybody) 
Need: he can eat only from her hands. Without her he would starve as a normal human being, even if he could find food.
(it could seem that she has summoned a demon that nobody could ever take from her. It's not so. A binding from a different sorcerer would mean, from Falling sky's point of view, that he simply now want another partner...)

Demon Powers:
- Cover (hunter/warrior) user: the demon
- Special (killing) damage: (Obsidian Knife): he has a knife made from the blackest obsidian, that he can use with inhuman precision to hit exactly a vital point
- Link (they always see, if they want, what their old eyes is seeing, in the other's body)
- Vitality: (in-game take the form of the demon's knowledge of curing methods)

Now, Falling Sky live in the forest around the village, well hidden from anybody. She meet him every night, but now she has to hunt for him, too, and the weariness is taking his toll...

(more to follow)


(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
Moreno R.

Posts: 389

« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2007, 08:58:30 PM »



It's two days before Root and Green Snake's marriage ceremony. The village is buzzing with excitation, even if people expected a different marriage (Acacia with Root)
Before the dawn,  "Run in the Night" has weird dreams, and wake up finding before her a black owl, inside her hut. The Owl speak, with the voice of her childhood friend Blade of Grass: "please, help me. I want to return, but to let me get back, they want another in my place. They want the pale boy. Please, help me, you are my last hope"

Just after the dawn, Root is still lost in thought about her imminent marriage. She is happy to marry Green Snake. She loved him but her guilt prevented her to share her feelings with him. Her little brother, Sapling, approach her. He say "don't worry, sister. You will not have to marry that dirty cripple. You will not see him again"

Middle morning.  In the forest, Green Snake see two figures approaching. They are Acacia and Fast Arrow. They give him a stern warning, telling him "you will cancel this marriage, or you will not be alive the day of your wedding"

At the same time, another part of the forest. Singing River is barely missed by an arrow that hit a nearby tree, no more than one hand from her face. She turns, and see her little brother, Yellow Frog, that shot that arrow. The bow and the arrow are recognizable as the one used by Falling Sky. Yellow Frog stares silently at Singing River, with a knowingly expression on his face.

So, how you can see, my old nice group of good-mannered players that always played nice people fighting for good causes, now want to play: (1) a woman who run naked in the night drinking wild animal's blood after ripping their throats with her fangs, and that is, really, in love with a female demon panther, (2-3) a couple tied in a sado-masochist relationship to feed a demonic parasite, and (4) a woman in a steady relationship with a walking corpse that want her all for himself. And I have to role-play the demon in these relationships...

... my God, what I have done???


(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Posts: 16490

« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2007, 07:06:12 AM »

Hi Moreno,

It's called Blood Opera. This is a variant approach to play which is sometimes seen in Sorcerer, Burning Wheel, and The Riddle of Steel. It is a foundational feature in some other games, like My Life With Master and The Mountain Witch.

In Blood Opera, the characters begin play nearly at the height of an emotional extreme, and their interests are pre-defined to be in conflict. Play is guaranteed to be fast, active, and consequential for all the characters. In many ways, it's like arming a bunch of mobile toys with effective weaponry, programming them to recognize one another as targets, winding them up, and letting them loose in a small area.

Blood Opera works, and it is often a necessary mode of play for people to break out of party-oriented, GM-directed, illusionist play. It trades off "you're all a team" for "you're all in a death-match," and it's quite liberating in that context. However, in some ways, it's a training-wheels version of Sorcerer and can miss a certain amount of the game's potential for letting stories grow entirely from separate individual concerns into whatever interactive shape they may become through play alone. Without that potential, the resulting creative process, during play itself, will lack moral (or if you will, human) depth.

The real risk of Blood Opera is "playing before you play," and I perceive a certain tendency toward that risk in the characters. It seems to me as if each character, when created, built more and more upon the tensions and issues of the previous characters. More and more back-story was created, and more and more resolutions can be observed in those back-stories.

None of this commentary is fatal to your enjoyment of Sorcerer, and I think that the group will have a good time. I do not recommend trying to correct or re-write anything that's been done so far. As long as you realize that this is what is happening, and what benefit can be gained from it, it will be fun.

Best, Ron
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