*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
July 13, 2020, 12:07:06 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 263 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: demonic detectives  (Read 4643 times)
TheThingInTheMirror
Member

Posts: 16


« on: November 16, 2007, 11:57:23 PM »

So the game arrived and I am maniacially typing away, trying to build a game world.
I've got about four major plots running in my campaign setting. One of them is more or less a ripoff of the movie "Dirty Harry: Sudden Impact" only with sorcery involved. One of my plots is a little talky and I wanted something dark and violent to break it up a bit. This will have the occasional dead body turning up and point to a singularly angry violent sorcerer lurking around out there.

Basic synopsis... Young lady was sexually assaulted by a gang of very bad people. She has had a lot of trouble putting her life back together. In her particular case, so great is her desire for vengeance she has actually managed to become a sorcerer.

How trite. Ahh, but it will keep the players busy and it is not immediately obvious what is going on. These guys are not what you would call a normal criminal gang. They do not wear signs or have calling cards saying they are rapists and sociopaths. They are criminals but crime is not their business. They are friends who hang out together and sometimes raise hell after hours. They all have the same profession... but why would anyone want to systematically kill a bunch of guys who work for a normally above board company?

So the players are left with guys being brutally assaulted by demons and they have to figure out why. Shouldn't be too hard, but I bet I can use this to make them jumpy.

But there is a problem, at least for me as gm.
Ok. She wants revenge. Check.
She wants to summon a demon to do terrible things to them. Check.
She summons it. Check
She sends it out to---- oops. At the time of the assault she was rather badly hurt and couldn't exactly ask them their addresses. She knows their faces. She has memories of them... laughing, clapping each other on the back, walking away into the town...but she has little idea who they really are. She does have a good memory though. She'll never forget their faces, and she remembers one truck, though sadly not a license.
But she isn't that much of a detective. At least not yet. If she is going to track these guys down, she is likely to at least try to rely on demons to do so.
From what I see demons don't seem built for that, and by reason of deliberate rules design choices. I can see why too. The demon who can solve the mystery for the npc can do the same for the pc, and that can really reduce the IQ level of the stories, and leave them saturated with Deus Ex Machina.
And she has only some control of what sort of demon she gets anyhow.

But my question is this... assuming you could wheedle the ref into giving a demon designed the way you want it...if you wanted a demon to track down the perpetrators who hurt you, and badly, many years ago... what abilities would you look for in a demon?

For what its worth, she has a pretty good idea what town they live in, and it's not that huge a town. If she just goes there and hangs out, she'll probably find one or two eventually. Just not all of them. I suppose she can have her demons torture them for info. Any other ideas?
Logged

-Ron H
-The Thing In The Mirror
-(Absolutely not related to The Thing In The Closet.)
TheThingInTheMirror
Member

Posts: 16


« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2007, 10:29:40 PM »

Oof.
Well, 24 hours of thought and a deeper reading of the rules has turned up the embarrassingly obvious.
If you want a demon who can track these guys down, you could try to get one with Cover: Detective. (Blush)
Any other ideas?
Logged

-Ron H
-The Thing In The Mirror
-(Absolutely not related to The Thing In The Closet.)
Hisho
Member

Posts: 24


« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2007, 05:56:14 AM »

Hi,

what about a demonic bloodhound with the perception ability, as written in the book you can define perception as weird senses. And using the given specification of this power (knowing of a person or demon who meets stated specifactions) it should be an easy task.

It could be a demon like the mummy in the movie, knowing where they are and searching them out to do terrible things to them.

otherwise I like the idea of a demonic bloodhound, a realy vicious beast with claws and sharp teeth that acts like a cat... playing with it's prey until it dies.

Michael K.
Logged

- - - Michael - - -
Judd
Member

Posts: 1641

Please call me Judd.


WWW
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2007, 10:05:11 AM »

Oof.
Well, 24 hours of thought and a deeper reading of the rules has turned up the embarrassingly obvious.
If you want a demon who can track these guys down, you could try to get one with Cover: Detective. (Blush)
Any other ideas?

Check out the perception power and get funky with it.

Perception: Criminals, Perception: Sin, etc.

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?  Your demon does.
Logged

James_Nostack
Member

Posts: 642


« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2007, 10:39:45 AM »

Easiest way, as you noted, is "Cover: detective" conferred either to the demon or to the master.

Another way would simply be to get a demon that confers to the master "Mark: people I can clearly visualize" + "Ranged."  (I'm being a bit flexible with the rules here, in part because I think Mark is an under-utilized ability).  For extra fun, you can tack on "Perception: whereabouts of those Marked".  Or, "Psychic Force: bad luck on those Marked" or something.  Mark also tags someone with a message only other sorcerers & demons can read-- in this case, probably something like: "This guy is a rapist, and I am going to ruin his life.  Don't interfere."

If you don't mind me saying so: the issue of whether or not Random Angry Sorcerer can locate those who wronged her, and avenge herself upon them - it's sort of a non-issue in Sorcerer.  Of course she can.  The question is: what would she do to them (simply torturing or killing them is far too normal), why would anyone else care, how far would they go to stop her, and what could go wrong?  For example, it's pretty easy for a demon to locate these guys.  But what happens if the demon plays tricks, identifying the wrong people, or starts screwing with its master's perception?  What if the people she wants to rub out, are important sources for the Needs of the player's bound demon?  What if these victims have friends in powerful places who begin causing problems for the player-sorcerers & demons (guilt by association)?

Sorcerer generally works better as a "reverse-mystery" game - the question isn't who killed the victim and why - it's who ends up chopping up the body with a hatchet so the police won't find it, and what the stress of such actions does to the web of social relationships.
Logged

--Stack
sirogit
Member

Posts: 503


« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2007, 08:48:54 PM »

Besides Cover and Perception, a method I would consider is impersonating them through a Passer or a demon with Shapeshift and making enough noise in their guise that other parties come looking for the rapists - Police, FBI, Sorcerers, etc.
Logged
TheThingInTheMirror
Member

Posts: 16


« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2007, 11:44:36 PM »

Wow, thank each and every one of you. Thank you Hisho, Judd, James, and Sirogit.
Good thoughts all.

Do we agree the suggestions that used mark are in keeping with the intentions of the rules? I was pretty unclear on mark myself, but thanks to those suggestions I seem to be a lot clearer now.

James... Thanks for all your thoughts. My concern is not IF she can avenge herself. My concern is HOW will she (I've got a much better picture now) and what effect will it have on the world. Yes you are right, the cost to her and her relationships is important. Also of concern is if the PC's will or will not care and why. Also... both the pc's and the police are doing things they should not while trying to stop others from doing the same. This is quite a mental juggling act. She will not only effect her own social web, she will effect how her victems percieve each other, how society percieves her victems, even the police will have their own social webt affected... she is going to effect all sorts of people in all sorts of ways.

This really helps. After I run this scenario I've got a scenario thread I think I'll want to post. You've given me some really sick ideas. 8-D
Logged

-Ron H
-The Thing In The Mirror
-(Absolutely not related to The Thing In The Closet.)
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2007, 07:10:40 AM »

Hi there,

Everyone, that was an excellent round of suggestions and abilities, all on target.

However, I think you should examine something a little bit more fundamental. I think this thread has been a good exercise for you to see what the rules can do (both in people's contributions and in your own review of the book), but as prep for your game, it might illustrate a pitfall.

It is possible that I am mistaken, though, based only on your posts and my inferences, so be sure to correct me if that's the case.

My concern is that, as prepped and discussed, you have no reason for any player-characters to be involved. You have your hero. You have her demon. You have the bad guys. And there's nothing for the other people in the game to do except to watch her enact her vengeance. I've run and played in literally hundreds of role-playing sessions based on this or similar ideas. The story is all set! It's already done, and all that matters is to act it out in a timed fashion which permits the player-characters to participate in some way.

I recommend that your prep be much, much simpler, and to allow most of the adversity and intensity to arise from the player-characters. In other words, let a player-character be in the kind of position that you've described. I don't mean that you should feed a player this very character, but rather that you take a given player-character, or all of them, and accept what they offer to you as GM. Then your prep exists mainly as a means of applying pressure to those characters, and to make their existing conflicts sharper and more problematic.

Let's say I was the GM and you were the player, and the character you've described is your player-character, with the addition of your Kicker, of course.. Cool! My role is now to respond to what you've provided, and to say, "Well, what can I do to make this more than merely a chase?" I'd think about the perpetrators. I'd think about whether I'd want any of them to be sympathetic or remorseful, or whether there was something in one's life that isn't just a stereotype. I'd think about whether someone else was after them too, which may not be what your player-character wants to see at all! All of these thoughts would require your Kicker in order to give me a meaningful (and non-negotiable) jumping-off point, and armed with it, there'd be no problem in my prep at all.

So my suggestion to you is to simplify, simplify, simplify your prep. Don't prep "what happens," or even a complex back-story which will essentially dictate "what happens." Prep adversity - in fact, go an extra mile and prep to such an extent that you cannot imagine how the hell any player-character could possibly live or succeed.

At this point, without player-characters, you should focus mainly on the look and feel of the game-to-be, with lots of notes about atmospheric stuff, about characters in pure stylistic terms, about locations, and about sorcery/demons. Think of threats and dangers and terrors - for instance, from your posts so far, clearly you want physical threat and rape to have an evil presence in the game. Good! Now, instead of a rape in the past, consider a person on the edge of committing rape in the present. Consider the social network and physical space of this person's situation.

Bring that look and feel, and that kind of social network and physical space, to your fellow players and use them as a touchstone through the process of character creation. When you look at the diagrams on the backs of their sheets, you will see all the "story in action" you'll need. Rape may or may not be involved after all, depending on what the players have come up with. It might not fit after all. Or it might be staring you in the face just as intensely as with your own practice-character. Or it may fit in as an addition of yours, as a logical addition to what the players have provided.

Does that help, or make sense?

Best, Ron
Logged
TheThingInTheMirror
Member

Posts: 16


« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2007, 02:05:08 AM »

SHRRRREEEEEEIK!!!!!!!

I posted a reply, Ron, but it timed out and has dissapeared into the luminferous ether. Sorry.
Sigh. Prolly too muddled and long winded anyway.

Basically.... I've had these rules 12 days.
My game is at a very early development stage, and that is merely one of several possible story elements
I don't know for certain if my players will choose to care or not...
Since they are new, however, I do want to have four or so sorcerers who will be around for a little while, doing things that sorcerers do, expressing some of the motives that they have.
But some may care or may not care about this chick and either way, I am fine.n If they don't care theres other stuff going on.
Yes, you do need to build from the player's kicker but we have not yet come to that point.

There are plots that revolve very specifically around the player. It has to be that way. If not, the consequence of it is simply this... the gm is running a show, and in that show, the player is not accorded star billing. The player gets relegated to the status of a bit character or extra, which makes for a duller game.

There are plots that revolve around the world and NOT the player. It has to be that way. If not, the world becomes too dependant on the character and it develops a kind  of flat feel. Players become disconnected and stop caring about it.

At all times it is my goal to maintain at least one of each sort in motion.

I think I agreed with most of what you said. You seem to be full of good advice I should listen to and don't.
But much of what you said seems built around a gm who is used to this game, players who are used to this genre, players who are used to these rules specifically, and a game thats been in place for a while. I assure you none of these elements are in place.

I have faith in my own ability to run sessions that are entertaining... but these rules are new and I was feeling both lost AND a case of "writer's block" which is a bad combo. Everyone was very helpful and I've been giggling myself sick ever since. Thank you all.

I do have other things I am stuck on and other opinions I want to offer but its a bit of a topic shift so I will do it in a different thread.
Logged

-Ron H
-The Thing In The Mirror
-(Absolutely not related to The Thing In The Closet.)
Judd
Member

Posts: 1641

Please call me Judd.


WWW
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2007, 04:54:38 AM »

If you have writer's block it might be because you are either writing too much or writing too early.

For example:

You go to your players and say, "There is a dame and she is in trouble.  Link your kickers to her."

One player says that he has been looking for her for his boss and sees her across a smoky bar with a man I've seen on wanted posters...also, he's a sorcerer.

Another player says that he wakes up after spending the night with the finest woman he has ever met, the woman he knows he wants to marry, the women he told all of his secrets to and she is gone and so is his tome of sorcery.

They will likely alter what you had in mind a bit but you have the same basic framework, there's a lady, something bad happened to her and now she's looking to summon a demon for some sweet, brutal revenge.  And let your players link to that and go-go-go.
Logged

Valamir
Member

Posts: 5574


WWW
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2007, 08:46:48 AM »

I'm concerned by the repeated use of the word "plots" in your write-up.

Have your players created characters yet?

If not, then spending even 30 seconds on anything that remotely smells like plot, in my experience, will likely lead to VERY disappointing play.  It will also be very Not-Sorcerer play, in that you may be using the Sorcerer rules, but you won't be playing Sorcerer as designed.

I recommend do a search in this forum on One Sheets.

The only thing you want to be doing right now is coming up with the look and feel for your campaign.  Not plot or characters or backstory...just color and flavor.  Think about how someone can say "Gotham City by Gaslight" and the wheels immediately start turning and filling in all the elements of what that looks and feels like.  Work with your players to get some initial ideas that grab everyone and rough out a definition for what humanity is.  Then flesh out the one pager into a solid working document following the advice in many of the threads you'll turn up being sure not to overlook the importance of a tightly defined list of descriptors appropriate to your game.

THEN have players create characters remembering that the absolute most important part of character creation is the back of the sheet...skimp on that and you'll be starting play with 2 strikes against you.

THEN go and develop your relationship map.  You can find alot of threads on Relationship Maps too, but essentially this is a diagram of the important NPCs so that you can get a feel for who's doing what and who's doing whom and how the NPCs are related and tied together.  Get a good feel for what these NPCs are after, what they want, what they're willing to do, and what their capabilities are and then just set them in motion.  They should touch upon the individuals on the back of the character's sheets, but don't necessarily have to map tightly.

The PCs are wildcards.  The NPCs will see them as enemies, opportunities, allies, or otherwise and react to them accordingly. 

Do a search on Bangs which will get you a TON of hits.  Bangs here are essentially events that happen that a player absolutely MUST respond to in some fashion, but for which there is NO "right" response.  If you can imagine one choice being interesting and making the game exciting and another choice which is boring and will cause things to peter out...then there is no choice and there is no Bang.  But the key is that you as GM must have absolutely no vested interest either way.

And that means...no plot.  Just have the NPCs do what they're doing and see what falls apart when the players start to interfere.  Then have the NPCs react accordingly.  Players may well wind up enemies on opposite sides of a conflict, or they may wind up embroiled in their own conflicts in their own little corner of the Relationship map having very little to do with each other...that's all good, and all classic Sorcerer play.
Logged

James_Nostack
Member

Posts: 642


« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2007, 09:12:43 AM »

If we get Jesse in here, it'll be a royal flush.

What pretty much everyone is saying here is that Sorcerer isn't like Dungeons & Dragons.  D&D, by deliberate design choice, allows the GM to do stuff even if there aren't any players on the scene.  Bored?  Build a character, build a world, build an 'adventure-module.'  It's like fiddling around with Lego's - even if no one ever sees it, it's still satisfying on some level, like playing solitaire.

But in Sorcerer -- and the core book doesn't really hammer this home, so don't worry if you missed it, I certainly did -- the most you can do without major player input (notably kickers, but also the Big X) is maybe draft a list of influences, figure out what Humanity/Lore/Demon means in this place, and wait.  From a "solitaire" point of view it's a terrible game, because you'll end up making a mess once your players show up.
Logged

--Stack
jburneko
Member

Posts: 1351


« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2007, 01:38:09 PM »

Sometimes I feel like a demon myself on these boards.  I lurk around until someone invokes my name and then I feel compelled to respond.  I don't think I have anything to add to the abstract discussion, just, see everyone else above.  However, I AM a big fan of leading by example.  So I'll show you how one game of Sorcerer worked for me.

Okay, so I was the GM.  I came up with the following all by myself.  I wanted to do a game set in New Orleans just after the Katrina Hurricane disaster.  I wanted it to be very Southern Gothic in flavor.  I came up with a flavor list of the kinds of people I thought were appropriate sorcerers (mainly people with strong family, community or sub-cultural ties) and a similar flavor list of things I thought were appropriate demons (mainly honorific or ritual things related to family, community or sub-cultural ties).  I also customized the descriptor list from the core book a bit such that Religion was a very specific Will descriptor for example.

That's it.  That's what I brought to the table before character creation.  During character creation it was agreed upon that we wanted racial issues to be part of the game.  Note: All players involved were white between the ages of 25 and 33.  Here's what we had after character creation.

We had the matriarch of a well-respected black family, Annie.  Her demon was a parasite that lived in her blood and kept her alive.  Her Kicker was that she had been diagnosed with an actually lethal blood disease.

We had the matriarch's great-granddaughter, Jean, who was toned but the player said she could pass for white if she wanted to.  Her demon was a force of nature summoned from the Katrina storm itself.  Her kicker was that without provocation her demon had just murdered her boyfriend.

We had a black teenage boy, Jimmy, who was also a descendant of the matriarch.  His demon was an amulet his mother gave him just before the storm killed her.  His kicker is that while he has been living on his own out in the swamps he came across several bodies with symbols on them that match the amulet.  The police have seen both the bodies and him and are now after him.

Finally we had a white college professor, Joshua, who was married to a third descendant from the matriarch.  His demon was an identical twin he had summoned and sent off to war in Joshua's place.  His Kicker was that he had decided to use the storm as an excuse to flee gambling debts.  After about a week he had a change of heart and came back to his family only to discover that his demon had returned and replaced him.

At the end of character creation I said, "It seems to me that what you guys need is a rival family."  Everyone agreed.

So this is what I prepped.

I imagined a wealthy white man named named Wallace Lasser who hated the Valroux's (the PC's family).  He was an honest racist who couldn't stand that people of color came even close to sharing the social status he had.  I had decided that he had learned sorcery from his father who was a cruel tyrant and used a powerful possessor demon to keep the family in line.  Wallace's father is still alive but an invalid.  Wallace has a sister who was driven insane by her father's cruelty and lives in a mental home.  Wallace has a loser brother who never really grasped the sorcerous traditions of his family and lives in a trailer park.

I looked over the various character's sheets and connected things thusly.  I had decided that Katrina had completely destroyed the Lasser family home and spared the Valroux one.  Wallace covets Annie's wealth and home.  Wallace also has a daughter who has just been assigned to be Annie's live in nurse.  I had decided that Wallace was an academic who worked in the same department as Joshua.  I had decided that the boyfriend Jean's demon killed was Wallace's son.  On the back of Jimmy's character sheet he had noted that he doesn't know who his father was.  So I decided that Wallace Lasser's loser brother was Jimmy's father.

Here's where things get a little weird.  I had decided that Jean's demon, Jimmy's demon and the Wallace possessor demons were all "relatives" as far as that concept carries with demons.  Jean's demon killed Wallace's son because it recognized he was from the bloodline that bound one of his siblings.  The possessor demon is currently in a contain in the basement of the flooded Lasser home.  Since the storm some transients have moved in and discovered the mysterious symbols and a crazy man has formed a kind of cult around them (Note: This "cult" has no idea what they're doing and no "real" sorcery is involved).  It's these people living in the Wallace house worshiping the contain that are killing people and marking them with the symbols from Jimmy's amulet.

I also prepped a debt collector that was after Joshua's debts. 

So after a few hours of thinking this is what I had prepped:

Wallace Lasser and his demon.
Wallace Lasser's daughter.
Wallace Lasser's father and his possessor demon in a contain.
Wallace Lasser's crazy sister.
Wallace Lasser's loser brother.
A non-sorcerous cult leader living in the destroyed Wallace home.
The detective investigating the cult and pursuing Jimmy.
And a debt collector pursing Joshua.

That's it.

That's what I walked into the first session of play with.  Note: Part way into the second session one of the players suggested that once upon a time the Valrouxs had been slaves owned by the Lassers and that the Lassers had actually stolen their sorcery from the Valrouxs.  It was brilliant and added a whole new dimension to the game.

Does that help clarify any of the above ideas?

Jesse

 
Logged
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #13 on: November 20, 2007, 06:19:13 PM »

Whoa! The new guy is getting dogpiled!

I have two things to say, and then we all need to back off a lot.

1. Thank you for buying my game and for being interested in playing it. That means a lot to me, and also that you were brave enough to post here and knock back some tequila with us (you did see the sticky post that begins the forum, right?).

2. All of the advice people have given you must sound like tons of extra stuff to do and to read. I'll tell you straight up: it's not. It's really saying, you don't have to prep hardly at all in the traditional way. It's really saying, you're way ahead of the game, as you are.

Enjoy it! For someone who's really only read the book once, and then reviewed it, you are doing great. You'll find that prep and play are very easy.

Let me know about anything else that interests you and that raises questions for you. This forum can be pretty enthusiastic and a lot of the folks are eager to share the way they got their brains joggled here, in part by returning to favor to newcomers. I'll damp it down a bit for you.

Best, Ron
Logged
TheThingInTheMirror
Member

Posts: 16


« Reply #14 on: November 21, 2007, 12:40:37 AM »

No don't worry about dogpiling me.
You have all been most helpful.

The use of the word "plot" has some scary connotations in gamer circles. In my case I usually mean an npc(s) who is doing something for the player to choose to react to or not. As valamir put it, :"Just have the NPCs do what they're doing and see what falls apart when the players start to interfere"

When some people hear the word plot they either think of a story with a rigidly fixed outcome, or some rigidly fixed mission goal.

I cannot explain it to you, this board is not a sufficient communication vehicle and the topic is not that interesting. But... I know my players. I will have to run this game "wrong" before I can run it "right"

The change in mindset is simply too great to do it in one hop. It is going to take two. Heck, while I am so sure they won't get it in one try, truth is, I can't even be sure I will. I don't know how this game should be run, I only know what drew me to it.

I will do the searches you requested I do.

I am going to drop this now. Post if you will, but I will not respond, and likely may not even read it. You have not offended but... This has moved waaaaay off the original topic. I was having a brain cramp and was wondering "How might this psycho chick go about wreaking an unspeakable revenge?"

You all responded and were wonderful... but now we are moving in to "What is the RIGHT or WRONG way to play Sorcerer" and that is a different thread.

I am going to start a post called "Why would I want to play this game anyway?"
If you want to come dogpile me over there, I would be very happy to see you.

-The Thing In The Mirror
Logged

-Ron H
-The Thing In The Mirror
-(Absolutely not related to The Thing In The Closet.)
Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!