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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 158 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: A question before I buy: Vicarious unpleasantness?  (Read 2794 times)
Ry
Member

Posts: 215


« on: November 02, 2007, 12:55:22 PM »

I've picked up Mu because I heard it was excellent and relevant to my current project, and it is.

I've never played Sorcerer, or even seen a copy, but the impression I get from the text is very bleak.  It looks like a game about bad people that bad things happen to in a bad world full of bad things.  At the same time, I'm seeing "Stat Blocks" and other definitions that really intrigue me.  So before I buy, I'd liek to ask:  Is Sorcerer a game about characters losing their humanity and experiencing vicarious unpleasantness until you meet a tragic end?  If so, are there lighter-shaded games that came after Sorcerer that could teach me the same techniques? 

Thanks!
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jburneko
Member

Posts: 1351


« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2007, 02:09:23 PM »

Hey,

Sorcerer is a game about *risking* your Humanity and the odds are stacked against you but it isn't at all doom and gloom.  Most my Sorcerer games have "happy endings."  The Sorcerer supplement Sorcerer's Soul talks about a Sorcerer game having one of four major outcomes.

Outlaw - The character prevails sorcery and all!
Redemption - The character prevails but has to abandon his sorcerous ways.
Retribution - The character prevails but at a disastrous cost to himself.
Damnation - The character is utterly crushed by the world and the cosmic forces he's playing with.

I don't have the book with me and I'm not sure I have those four exactly right, but their flavor is more or less correct.

That said Sorcerer is by no means a white hat vs. black hats kind of game where it's expected that good will prevail and evil will be crushed.  It's very much a human game about people dealing with real people issues and all the complexities that entails.  I have run the game in a Space Western setting where the characters were dealing with exorcising their own sense of right and wrong vs. what the law of the "land" told them.  I have run it in post-Katrina New Orleans Southern Gothic style about two families at war with each other and internally.  I have run it in a Fantasy Gothic Romance setting about how we balance our passions against the realities of human interactions.

I have never run this particular idea but it's the "lightest" version of Sorcerer I can think of.  Sorcerer's are adolescents transitioning into adult hood.  I would say between the ages of 13 to 16.  Demons are fairies, imps, sprites and other playful beings that inhabit the backyards and imaginations of children.  Humanity is about taking on adult responsibilities.  I imagine lots of playground fights, parental miscommunication and well intentioned but disastrous mayhem.

Since you came to the game by way of Dictionary of Mu, I STRONGLY recommend getting the supplement Sorcerer & Sword.  Sorcerer is great.  Sorcerer + Sorcerer & Sword is AWESOME.

Hope that helps.

Jesse
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James_Nostack
Member

Posts: 642


« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2007, 05:25:17 PM »

Ryan: Sorcerer is supposed to be intense, but not necessarily bleak.  Here is a link to my very extensive "Dictionary of Mu" AP.  I think it does a pretty good job of showing how not to prep Sorcerer, and the imaginative content is full of Mu-flavor.

But here's something really, really bleak in the rules.  The most important resource in the game is called Humanity; it's a rough guide to the character's moral worth.  When you do bad things, you risk losing a Humanity point.  When you do good things, you might gain a Humanity point.  But in either case, the odds are only 50%. 

So you can do the greatest good deed in the world... and the moral laws of the universe might not notice.  Or, you can commit genocide, etc. - and the laws of karma may let you slide.  Sometimes, the only justice is the kind you make yourself...

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--Stack
sirogit
Member

Posts: 503


« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2007, 01:16:14 AM »

I'd say the game is about people who -might be- bad, doing -possibly- bad things, in our world, which isn't definitively good or bad.

When a say they -might- be bad, I don't mind to assert moral relativism or to say that protypical character is only marginally shitty, but that the question of whether the character is morally viable is commonly at the forefront of the game.

I'd say the most effective way to change the bleakness level is to change the Humanity Zero condition - normally this is something like losing your soul, going crazy, tradgic end stuff. But it could be changed to mean quitting or being fired from a service, such as a police force (Used in Demon Cops), losing access to demons or sorcerous ability, or perhaps a 'safety net' of sorts that beyond the character is forced to say 'I've gone too far and I'm gonna kick that sorcerous habit."
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Larry L.
Member

Posts: 616

aka Miskatonic


« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2007, 01:50:00 PM »

Ryan,

If you're asking if Sorcerer is bleak like Call of Cthulhu, where the game mechanics are set up to more or less invariably pound characters into death or insanity, then not really. While there is a very real possibilty that the character's choices will lead to a total loss of Humanity, there's also a tantalizing promise of hope, success, and redemption.

If you're asking if Sorcerer is bleak in that it presents its players with the freedom to make potentially uncomfortable moral choices, that there's nothing really preventing them from going down the road to damnation, then yeah, it's probably bleak.

If you're asking if Sorcerer is bleak in terms of the tone or mood of the setting, very often but not necessarily. The game gives you a lot of freedom in how you choose to define the elements of the setting. One could potentially come up with a very whimsical setting to play. One idea that repeatedly turns up from time to time is that Sorcerer would be an ideal system for running a "kids with fighting pet monsters" setting like Pokemon!

Oh, a bit of advice. While all the supplements are excellent, when it comes to playing the thing, avoid the temptation to bite off more rules than you can chew. Sorcerer is not presented like other role-playing rulebooks, and experienced gamers are apt to skim through the mechanics presented and graft it into whatever informal "system" they've been using for playing RPGs. This works badly. There's stuff going on in the Sorcerer system that you might not have ever thought to pay attention to in an RPG. Get a handle on how Sorcerer actually works out in play before adding in extra mechanics from the supplements, or you may easily find yourself overwhelmed. (Caveat: I don't know how DoM fits in with this.)

Hey Jesse,

There's something neat about your "adolescents and faeries" Sorcerer. I'm suddenly curious -- which direction would Humanity go? Would zero Humanity mean you lose all your childhood spirit and become a grown-up, or would it mean you're so thoroughly absorbed in imagination that you end up becoming some sort of permanent adolescent?
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jburneko
Member

Posts: 1351


« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2007, 03:56:35 PM »

Hey Jesse,

There's something neat about your "adolescents and faeries" Sorcerer. I'm suddenly curious -- which direction would Humanity go? Would zero Humanity mean you lose all your childhood spirit and become a grown-up, or would it mean you're so thoroughly absorbed in imagination that you end up becoming some sort of permanent adolescent?

Very much the latter.  You'd be incapable of being an adult.   You'd always be lost in naivete and never be able to take responsibility for anything in your own life.

Jesse
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Larry L.
Member

Posts: 616

aka Miskatonic


« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2007, 08:43:10 AM »

Jesse,

That rocks so hard. I want to play that game.
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