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Author Topic: Trying to choose between Parasites and Possessors  (Read 4847 times)
GreatWolf
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« on: December 27, 2007, 10:56:06 PM »

I just bought Sorcerer, and I'm working on putting together my thoughts for the game that's been floating around in my head for awhile.

The basic concept is that demons are actually bits of your personality that you draw out of your subconscious and give free reign within your body. They sit in the back of your mind, muttering to you.  And when you need them, they come forward to empower you to do what needs to be done.  In essence, I'm lifting the Shadow from Wraith and porting it into Sorcerer.  Think of Nikki/Jessica from Heroes or the Hulk...if the Hulk personality could talk to the Bruce Banner personality.

I'm still rolling this around to see if it would actually be fun.  But, in the meantime, I have a rules question.

So, originally, this seemed obvious:  these are Possessor demons.  But now that I have the book and am looking it over, I'm wondering if they are actually Parasites.  The way that Parasites inhabit a host and confer abilities seems to make more sense.  However, I'd always assumed that Parasites are physical entities, not a shard of the subconscious.

I also know that putting together demons in Sorcerer is like building Powers in Champions:  the name of the ability is less important than the rules effect.  So, am I overthinking this?  Should I just use Parasites and be done with it?  Or am I missing something?
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Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
producing Legends of Alyria, Dirty Secrets, A Flower for Mara
coming soon: Showdown
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2007, 02:26:03 AM »

Hi Seth,

Use Parasites and be done with it. All of the Types are best understood as boundaries for the relationship between sorcerer and demon. Since it's not a healthy relationship, the boundaries don't function constructively, but rather provide the framework in which the central aspects of the relationship to play out.

None of that is necessary to understand or even to think about when the demons are conceived in more physical terms - "the entity manifests as a blood agent," or something like that. You'll find that even in the examples you're talking about, some kind of physical Other is usually referenced, most obviously with the whole gamma-radiation thing.

In fact, that may be a useful clue ... I suggest that you may be defining demons as "purely psychological" to an extent that softens the game a bit too much. If you personally are more comfortable identifying them as such, that's cool, but I strongly recommending not putting them into such a safe little box for purposes of the fictional game, at the group level. What they "really" (i.e. fictionally) are should always be left open to question, especially from the characters' point of view, and arguably from the collective authors' POV as well.

Even if you all were to play in such a way that textually, the definition you've stated applies in every imagined detail, keeping the question open (and not addressed) is a constructive thing to do. One way to do that, and which preserves the inherent edge from the sources, is to permit or even encourage some element of physical Otherness. For the Hulk, is the green/big entity a manifestation of Banner's mind? is it the effect of a blast of radiation? I think it's clear that the concept of the Hulk benefits greatly from having the answer be "both?" with its question mark preserved, rather than answered.

Best, Ron
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GreatWolf
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« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2007, 09:32:56 AM »

Thanks, Ron.  That's helpful, especially the bit about the Demon Type defining the boundaries of the relationship.

In fact, that may be a useful clue ... I suggest that you may be defining demons as "purely psychological" to an extent that softens the game a bit too much. If you personally are more comfortable identifying them as such, that's cool, but I strongly recommending not putting them into such a safe little box for purposes of the fictional game, at the group level. What they "really" (i.e. fictionally) are should always be left open to question, especially from the characters' point of view, and arguably from the collective authors' POV as well.

Even if you all were to play in such a way that textually, the definition you've stated applies in every imagined detail, keeping the question open (and not addressed) is a constructive thing to do. One way to do that, and which preserves the inherent edge from the sources, is to permit or even encourage some element of physical Otherness. For the Hulk, is the green/big entity a manifestation of Banner's mind? is it the effect of a blast of radiation? I think it's clear that the concept of the Hulk benefits greatly from having the answer be "both?" with its question mark preserved, rather than answered.

Hmm.  Very interesting.

On the one hand, part of my goal in all this is to use the demons as "dark mirrors" of the self.  Ideally, the psychological aspects would not be there to soften the content but to sharpen it.  If a demon is "really" a part of yourself, then you have to embrace it as being a part of your nature.  This includes Need and Desire.

At the same time, for something like this to work, there does need to be that "out" for the character.  "Sure, I hulked out and ripped him limb from limb, but that wasn't me.  It was one of my shadows."  Some form of plausible deniability allows the "dark mirror" aspect of the game to be the Premise and not merely an answered question.  Physicality is one tool to accomplish this, because it allows the sorcerer to distance himself from the demon's actions.

At least, that's what I'm drawing from your comments.  Am I understanding you correctly?  If so, are there other tools to establish this plausible deniability?
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Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
producing Legends of Alyria, Dirty Secrets, A Flower for Mara
coming soon: Showdown
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2007, 01:43:56 PM »

I think you've been reading too much about espionage, is what I think. "Plausible deniability," indeed. What next, "mistakes were made?"

I think we're not quite talking about the same things. We need to distinguish among the following:

1. What "demons" as fictional elements are and mean to ourselves as game authors, or in this case, one person in the group of game authors.

2. What "demons" are in the game, as entities, as part of the metaphysics, as (basically) setting elements.

3. What "demons" are considered to be by the sorcerer characters in the game-fiction, whether it's one or many interpretations. (Note: this is what should set the look & feel of sorcery in the game, as we can assume that the fictional characters are using some kind of reason, observation, and intuition to arrive at their conclusion{s}.)

What I'm saying is that #2 can simply be let go entirely. Never mind it. If #1 and #3 are good and make a nice shudder go up and down the spine, then that's all you need. Treat all discussion of demons in the fiction itself as #3, with full knowledge that it's limited by the sorcerers' own views, just as metaphysical knowledge is always so limited. Treat all discussion of demons as game or thematic elements (as with my "relationship" talk) as #1. Never mention, worry about, or consider #2 - it's unnecessary and in fact intrusive.

For instance, when I talk about the Hulk and radiation/Banner-id, I'm talking about #1 - nothing to do with what the Hulk "really" is in the fiction, and nothing to do with Banner's self-perception or justification about his identity and experiences. I'm saying that the Hulk, as a creative concept and as a pop icon, is far better off without diddling about it in terms of #2.

Does that help or make sense?

Best, Ron
« Last Edit: December 28, 2007, 09:27:11 PM by Ron Edwards » Logged
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2007, 01:45:17 PM »

I don't know why some of that text is appearing with the strike-out modifier. I didn't code for it and it's not visible in the edit window. So, please ignore that designation.

Best, Ron
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lumpley
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« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2007, 02:08:22 PM »

It's the square-bracketed "s" at the end of "conclusion." Change the square brackets to parens or something to get rid of the strikethrough. There's surely a way to display square brackets, instead of having the forum interpret them as bbcode, but I don't know offhand what it is.

-Vincent
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GreatWolf
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designer of Dirty Secrets


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« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2007, 02:11:13 PM »

If I've been reading too much espionage, you have only yourself to blame.

But anyways, I think I get what you're saying.  Let me rephrase it to see if we're communicating.

When we talk about a "demon" in Sorcerer, we need to know two things:

--what that concept "means" to me, as creator.  This is the realm of symbolism, metaphor, and all that literary stuff.  This is your #1.

--what that concept "means" to the sorcerer.  This is the realm of the sorcerous "look-and-feel" with a pragmatic bend.  "I do this and get a desired outcome."  It's about practice, not theory.  This is your #3.

As long as we have these things in place, we don't really need to stress about what these things actually are, in some objective sense.  Because, in the end, we're more concerned with how characters and players react to these things.

Am I understanding you?

(As a side note, it occurs to me that most fandom debates revolve around your #2, which is probably why those debates tend to be counter-productive.)

edited to add italics
« Last Edit: December 28, 2007, 02:12:52 PM by GreatWolf » Logged

Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
producing Legends of Alyria, Dirty Secrets, A Flower for Mara
coming soon: Showdown
Ron Edwards
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Member
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Posts: 16490


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« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2007, 09:32:37 PM »

Yes, to all of that.

To be absolutely precise, #3 may include (in your game) something like this:

Sorcerer A is convinced that his demon is the lucky rock he carries around.
Sorcerer B is convinced that his demon is a fallen angel from Hell who must be prevented from stealing his soul.
Sorcerer C is convinced that demons are psychological manifestations exactly along the lines you describe.

And, in the fiction, the only one that you as authors are committed to (i.e. the #1 obligation for details and narrations about #3) is the third.

That's cool. But it's not #2, and never should be.

I think you're right about the fandom debates.

Best, Ron
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