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(1) Commands and (2) demon PCs

Started by Elysium, November 14, 2007, 07:16:09 PM

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I have a minor side question from this thread, not about power durations but about forcing demons to obey commands. It was mentioned that a Sorcerer can command any demon, not just one they have Bound. Both Ian and Ron mentioned this rule, but didn't give a page reference. I've skimmed through the book a few times, and I can only find a mention of this rule, but not the rule itself, under the Training Run section under Notes on Play (pg 84). I can find rules about how a sorcerer can command a demon they have Bound, if that demon starts to get rebellious under Binding Subtleties (pg 93), but that's it.

This also brings to mind the question of what would happen in a situation where the PCs were demons, such as mentioned in A scary idea (pg 126). This is non-standard way of playing, of course, so it stands to reason that things would be different. An NPC sorcerer ordering around a PC demon is taking control away from the player, similar to a mind control power. Either this rule would be ignored in such a situation, or the players would have to be cool with playing along with it, before getting into play.


Ron Edwards

The above post was split from Function of power durations?

Hi David,

Here are some threads to answer your first question, listed from most recent to oldest:

[&Sword] Brief praise and some questions
Commanding demons?
[Sorcerer] Dialogue and combat
Commanding demons and the like

Let me know if reading those helps with that question. If it doesn't, let me know what's missing and we can continue.

Regarding your second question, I think that the existing rules and text already answer it, as follows.

If we wanted to be boring, the demon player-characters could be treated exactly as player-characters are ordinarily. As written, the Sorcerer rules work like this: if a player-character fails a roll to resist a direct order of some kind, then the character is still free to act as he or she chooses, but if the action is counter to or ignores the command, then the victorious dice against them now act as penalties to the action's roll. This procedure is a simple application of two rules: (a) Currency and (b) full freedom of action for player-characters.

However, that section "Over the Edge" is intended to be more interesting than merely applying the rules in the ordinary way. In Sorcerer, demons are not like other characters; they aren't just another race or dimensional travelers or anything like that. They are things, not people or anything like people. So the point of including that idea is to say, "let's have non-GM participants play non-protagonists, and the GM participant play the protagonist." That's why it's an over-the-edge proposal. The rules would apply as usual, but preserving the important feature that demons cannot be protagonists, and thus, yes, would have to be subject to the commands of the sorcerer. Can we play that way? Sure, because we'd all know the sorcerer was the protagonist. I still think it'd be pretty interesting.

Best, Ron


Section 2 is answered pretty well. Everything there seems to be as I'd expect, with the addition of the penalty dice. Hrm.. this answers open up a number of other questions for me. I'll have to give those some thought and time to stew.

As for the first part, it seems to answer everything around the question quite well, but still leaves me without what I was trying to get in the first place: a page reference. The rules book is of course my main interface with the game, not the forum. If a rule is mentioned in the forums here, but not in the book, I can't easily reference it again during a game. If I know where it is in the book I could pencil it into the index and be able to easily find it again during a game.

I already spent better than an hour combing through the rule book searching for this rule. The errata is very short and it's not there. I have a huge stack of books I have not yet read, and want to avoid further delaying getting to those by re-reading a rule book cover to cover in hopes of finding a reference that may or may not be in there. It seems an easy question that someone familiar with the rules should be able to help me out with in a minute or so of their time, if they choose
to help me out.

I apologize if it wasn't clear what I was asking. It seems clear to me.  Instead of a page/section reference, I get even more reading containing the history of that rule from an earlier edition to the game, and other people mentioning they can't find it either, and never given an answer of if it's there or not, or if it is then where? I find what I assume are house-rules for bringing back an updated version of this earlier edition rule back into the game.

I could be wrong, but it seems this rule is only mentioned as cruft from an earlier edition of Sorcerer. If this is wrong, can I please have the page reference so I can read it for myself and find it again in the future? If it was intended to be there, but was left out, could I ask that it be added to the errata page, so that myself and others might have a reference? That is a pretty important rule. Commanding demons not bound to you drastically alters the game from how it would be otherwise.


Ron Edwards

Sigh ... here are the page references you're looking for.

Pages 15-16 describe the player's relationship to the sorcerer player-character - namely, that any action they announce is valid.

Pages 99-100 describe when dice are rolled - by definition, only for situations of opposition, and always for those situations.

Page 75, from top to bottom, describes how the Currency works.

I'm going to guess that this is not a satisfying answer for you. The problem is that you keep referring to a rule regarding characters ordering other characters what to do. Sorcerer is not composed of one rule per every single thing you can imagine happening during play. It is composed of a very few rules which interact and intersect. You're referring to one of the points of intersection. Those three page references are the "arrows" of the rules, and my answer to you in the above post describes how they come together in the case you describe.

All of Sorcerer is like that. You will not find "the rule" for any of hundreds and hundreds of things during play. You are only provided with the rules to apply, under all circumstances, and if you do apply them, you will find that they work.

On the plus side, I am always willing to help with specific questions.

Best, Ron


OK, let's go over these. I was familiar with all of your points listed on those pages already. I re-read them and have found nothing in them to address the rule about a Sorcerer commanding any demons as they would a demon they have Bound to them. I'm not saying the rule doesn't exist so you can't do it. I'm saying it specifically goes against the rules given on those pages.

Pages 99-100. I think we see things the same with that, no confusions there. We're not rolling each time someone tells someone else what to do, only if there is a conflict involved in those orders.

Pages 15-16 say any action is valid. Sure, OK. I'm not saying they can't shout out orders and such, even to demons. But the people they order around don't have to obey. There's one exception to that in the book, a demon and the master it is Bound to.

Page 75. Using Currency I would conclude that any action that is a Will vs. Will conflict would work as you described earlier in this thread in the 'boring demon player characters' example. This should include any conflict of this type. PC vs demon not bound to them, PC vs normal NPC, PC vs demon bound to them, or even a demon or NPC ordering the PCs around.

You can't force anyone to do anything through a roll of dice, but you can get into a Will vs. Will conflict where penalties/bonuses on related actions apply. No problem. It's not explicitly listed in the rules so far as I know, but it works with the Currency.

Ordering around a demon Bound to you is very clear in the rules, and goes beyond Currency. Page 93 says they can only disobey a command if they make a Will vs. Will roll, with Binding strength modifier. If they still want to try to disobey, they would have to go into full rebellion and try to break the Binding. If that fails as well, they must obey. This is not what you'd get just following Currency. It's not a problem and makes sense considering there is a Binding ritual in place. It's a special situation, and hence the specific rule.

Ordering around a demon not bound to you isn't listed under this exception. Until I stumbled across a thread that mentioned otherwise, I had come to a completely different conclusion that is listed in those threads; a Sorcerer can't force a demon to do anything, unless that demon is Bound to them. They can Punish it, or try to reason with it, or tempt it, or anything else. They can not force it to change it's mind about doing a particular action through dice rolls as they can with their Bound demons.

The rules in those pages bring me back to the same place I started. Ordering around a demon that is Bound to you works, with specific rules on how the demon can disobey if they wish to try. Ordering around a demon not Bound to you can't force them to obey. A conflict based on ordering them around works just like anyone ordering around anyone else... use the Currency of the game.

Am I missing something here?


Ron Edwards

Hi David,

Now I'm confused.

Let me preface my reply by saying that I appreciate your attention to the game and its text. It's clear that you care about understanding the game, and I'll stick with you as long as it takes, respecting exactly what you say and where you're coming from, as best I can.

The thing is, though, is that your post is exactly correct. So I guess I don't understand your initial question! It seems to me as if you've answered it just fine.

If a sorcerer orders a demon to do something, and that demon isn't Bound to that sorcerer, then it's the same as any other character who doesn't want to be told what to do. If it's Bound to someone else, then the Binding strength acts in its favor as a bonus.

Now, full disclosure: when I play, I typically have such a demon, when it loses, simply obey the sorcerer - i.e., not exercise the option of disobeying and accepting the penalty for whatever roll might be involved. In discussions in the forum, I've found it easier to use that model when explaining some aspect of the rules. Typically, as you can tell from the linked threads, that involves how the timing of the dice work. Considering that the "disobey and accept penalty" option adds an extra step, and considering that typically I go ahead and have the demon (having failed its resist-order roll) obey, explaining whatever hassle the person is asking about is easier and more sensible to them by treating that as "how you do it" for purposes of that discussion.

Let me take a look at the parent thread again to see how it factored into the discussion, and to see whether I over-stated the option as being the only option. Back in a minute.

Best, Ron

Ron Edwards

Found it, I think!

I wrote,

Quote3. A sorcerer may command any demon in his or her presence to do anything at any time. If, for whatever reason, the demon did not want to permit the Shapeshift, or to renew it, then the sorcerer may indeed command it to do so. If he or she wins that conflict, then the demon must obey anyway. As you can imagine, this also factors into #2 in the long run. The related rules from the GM's perspective concern how the GM plays the demon, meaning how fractious or rebellious the demon is at any given time. You may be interested in reading the rules for that carefully.

(bolded for emphasis)

That's it, right?

You are correct in not finding this as a rule for demons who aren't Bound to that sorcerer. I explained this issue to Filip in the context of a Bound demon, or with that as the primary issue in my mind given his example. Considering all the funky things he was asking about, in my mind, the extra step about non-Bound demons and the subsequent dice-consequences for the demon's action didn't come up.

What I said about the sorcerer being able to command any demon in his or her presence is correct. However, you are correct that "the demon must obey" (if it fails to resist) does not apply if the demon is not Bound to the sorcerer. Yay! You have read the rules correctly.

This is a good example of why people shouldn't treat my replies to specific, complex questions as some kind of Torah. Sorcerer is such a nuanced game, in terms of system applications in the moment, that almost all of my answers leave out an angle or two in order to clarify exactly what that person needs to know, not so much on purpose as a necessary feature of replying at all.

Or to put it a little less charitably, I'll cut corners about seven details or options in order to make the one that matters as clear as I can, for that person at that time.

All of which is also to say, thanks for noting it, following up, and sticking with me until I understood exactly what you were asking.

Best, Ron


Thanks, Ron.

All clear now. Yes, that bolded quote was what caused my question and confusion. I thought I missed something. Now that I know your style of answering questions here, I'll try to read what you say through that particular lens. Know your audience, as they say. And in a dialog, we're both each other's audience. :)