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Third print supplement - maybe

Started by Ron Edwards, June 20, 2002, 03:54:02 PM

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Ron Edwards


Some of you know that I'm considering a third print supplement for Sorcerer to be released in early 2003. I'm only planning to do this if the new material can be considered on the same plane of content as the existing supplements. Bear in mind that I could junk this project at any minute; do not consider this post to be a press release or formal "company plans" statement.

Sorcerer & Sword is, when all is said and done, about how Character and Setting apply to Theme. The Sorcerer's Soul, when all is said and done, is about how System and Situation apply to Theme. Arguably, they and the core book may be taken as a single book divided across three volumes.

Therefore, what could the next one possibly be about? It can't be a setting-book or adventure-book (that's what mini-supplements are for). It can't be a bunch of canned services (that would be better handled at the website). It has to be such a powerful and relevant book that someone would hold up all four and say, "Now that's Sorcerer," just as they can do now with the existing three.

The working title is "Sorceress," although it is 99% sure that I won't be using that actual title. It will concern relationships as the functional unit of Sorcerer play, specifically relationships that include player-characters. It will largely concern male/female interactions, including gender as a source of conflict, gender as a sorcery issue (demons, rituals, etc), and both confirming and violating gender norms as sources of power. More controversially, I'm developing rules that are specific both to the gender of players and to the gender of characters.

Developed forms of my posts from some threads at the Forge will definitely be involved, notably from Drawing the line, drawing the veil, More depravity and Violence Future, and that one about playing off-type characters.

Setting and scenario material will be included, much as it is used in the other supplements to illustrate various points.

All comments and inquiry are welcome.


Fabrice G.

Well Ron, that's a great news !

Sorcerer is about transgression. Transgression of the universe's rules. Transgression of Humanity.
I think that it's only natural to focus on the transgression/conformism of gender as a Sorcerer topoic.

There's some points that are of special interest to me:

- transgression of gender's role into society: ex. witches. Why where they hunted ? Not because of some supernatural
powers, but mostly because they were seen as a menace to the social order. "Liberated" medieval women.Think about the
sabbats, that's pretty much liberated sexuality !
Now, in Sorcerer's term, it make a lot of sense. Having to reject the boundaries of their imposed role in society in order to achieve power.

- trangression of gender sexual orientation: I mention this only because it has appeared in my prep for the game. The novel I used is Ellroy' the Big Nowhere, in witch homosexuality and homophobia play a large rôle. When I thought about the "sorcerization" of the setting, that kind of transgression immediately popped into my mind. So I think it's also a (big and good) sorcerer topic.

So my reaction would be: yeah !  Do it,that rocks !

I have some questions.

When you speak about gender specific rules, are you thinking about integrating these notions of conformism and transgression ? Is it more about relationship between gender ? Or about helping the player portray his/her character ?

Also, do you plan to have a section about a player portraying consistently a character of the opposite sex ? Do you plan to support this by rules ?

Well, you have all my attention, sir.
I really do hope you'll do it.


Blake Hutchins

Awesome.  Go for it, Ron.  Sounds very interesting.  Humm-ida-humm-ida-humm-ida...!




I like it.  I think I'd be more excited about it if it were broadened into sources of conflict in general, of which gender conflict is one.

Le Joueur

Hey Ron, congratulations on being 'expecting.'  (Anyone who can't ape how releasing a game is like giving birth, PM me.)

All I have is one question (well, two).  If Sorcerer is all about Theme (just a guess, or maybe with Character), Sorcerer & Sword is about Character and Setting, and Sorcerer's Soul is about System and Situation...

Lessee...Character, System, Setting, Situation, and Color (Fang's counting on his fingers)...Setting, Situation, and Color are stock and trade for mini-supplements, so Color is out...

Are you thinking about adding Relationships to the "Character, System, Setting, Situation, and Color" list?  (I know I would, making Relationship Maps a practice for exploring them.)  That might stop people from conflating Relationship Maps with method of Situation and Setting management.

Oh, and the other question is; if Sorcerer is 'modern', Sorcerer & Sword is 'medieval', and Sorcerer's Soul is (and I know I'm oversimplifying) 'noir,' when will Sorceress be?

Fang Langford
Fang Langford is the creator of Scattershot presents: Universe 6 - The World of the Modern Fantastic.  Please stop by and help!

Ron Edwards

Hi Fang,

Well, "Sorceress" (quotes very much in place) would be mainly about Character and Situation. I think relationships are pretty much Situation, which as you can see moves that element of role-playing more into the Character realm and a bit less from the Setting realm (where it usually is). I'm sure an old-schooler such as yourself can see that emphasis from 'way back in my Champions roots.

That's a good question about the "when" thing. As it happens, the material in The Sorcerer's Soul only originates from noir (or as I like to say, the literary detective tradition), it's applied in that book to a variety of settings, including swashbuckling France and a dark fantasy setting. I'll be doing a similar range of applications for this supplement, including an insectoid/freaky fantasy setting I'm using for play right now.

As for the sources, though, I am thinking that myth and drama are pretty much the main ones.


Christopher Kubasik

Hi Ron,

Forgive me ahead of time for nudging forth such smokey thoughts (this is the Forge, after all), but something telling me to type it out...

My imagination is conflating the Relationship material your hinting at for S&"3" with this passage from page of 18 of S&Sword: "Humanity rolls, whether for gain or loss, rely only on actions, not reactions.  One does not make a Humanity loss roll upon viewing something appalling, but upon performing something appalling, and the same applies to Humanity gain rolls and meritorious or 'good' actions."

What I'm groping toward has something to do with the recent "Sidekick" posts.  The idea that unless a character actually takes action toward someone there really isn't any relationship.

Moreover, the idea that who a character is is defined by what action they actually take, and specifically, how they behave toward other people (or creatures).

This is all obviously touched on in the Sorcerer "series" (um, Humanity, you know) --but I  think if you're going to do a book about Relationships, you might want to add some special focus on Actions -- not in terms of "shootin'" stuff, of course, but as revelation of character, emotional status,  Humanity, and status in different Relationships.  

After all, it's what people do to each other that determines what a relationship actually is -- no matter what "label" we slap across it ("husband/wife", "parent/child" "boss/employee" cover a nearly infininite number of possible actions -- and the actions are what reveal what's really going on.)

What I'm getting at is using the book to "unpack" not only interesting ideas about Relationships, but the variety of Actions available in RPGs that, for one reason or another, are usually ignored.

Or... Something. maybe.

Take care,
"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield


This post might wander a bit, so bear with me...

I'd be very interested to see what this comes out as Ron, on several levels, ranging from the very practical to not so grounded concepts.

One, gender plays a role in all societies, and often plays as a major source of social power.  Since Sorcerer is all about power, this is great in and of itself...

Two, I've been reading some great mythology, and it was brought up that the male myth pretty much boils down to,"What methods are moral/acceptable towards aquiring power?"(which isn't far from "How far would you go?"), while the female myth is,"How do I deal with what I've summoned/created with this power I already have?"  Both of these generalized myth's make great Sorcerer spring points...

Three, coming from a totally mystical and ungrounded perspective, I've been looking at the variety of world views that hold male energy as active/pushing, and female as magnetic/receiving.  To elaborate, male energy as an active force being emitted, while female energy draws or summons that male energy into use(summoning).  The balance of this and unbalance of it being a great source of conflict in and of itself.

Anyway, I'd be very interested in another supplement, as well as checking out the recommended reading you might have for it. :)


Ron Edwards

Hi there,

Ralph, although the book can't cover every possible source of human conflict, it will cover a range of relationship-based conflicts, in which "relationship" implies some degree of obligation across the parties involved. Gender-stuff represents a significant fraction of those sorts of conflicts, but that won't be the only stuff in there.

Now for the two Christophers ...

1) C. Kubasik: I'm wholly committed to the notion that relationships only exist via actions. Everything in your post is 100% consistent with the approach I plan to take.

2) Bankuei: Your points #1 and #2 are definitely on-target regarding my intent and interest. The #3, in my view, is overly simplistic and not particularly interesting.




I think perhpas by focusing so narrowly on gender, you may be missing a larger issue of all character relationships.  The gender aspects certainly fill a large swath of this, but are only one among many human "interface points" where identity, society, biology, and other people converge- or conflict.  What of familial relationships?  Of the pack-dynamics of gangs?  Of tribal structures?  Of chains of comand.  Even a sorcerer's relationships with his demons- and with himself (many times, the same things after all).

Gender plays a roll in these things (and the optional rules for using gender as a structural element in the game sound nifty)- but what of other elements of identity.

The bush I'm beating around here is simply this:  make this the Relationship Map book.  Explore relationships, and how concepts such as personal identity- concepts we often think of as discrete and unique- a simply reflections of who we are when we are with other people- or when we imagine ourselves to be with other people.  There is some facinating social psychology theory which states that people are never alone, that the concpet of identity and consciousness is only a byproduct of social process- of action, whether internal or external.  We only exist through our relationships, and our experience of them.

How one's relatioships can reinforce identity- Humanity- or destroy it.

How Sorcery can shatter relationships, sever links in a relationship map, twist and distort identity by twisting and distorting relationships.

How relationships can Damn- or redeem- a character.  "Hell is other people" after all.

My 2cents.

Ron Edwards


Now I'm kinda pissed off. Bailywolf, what you wrote is exactly what I'm after, with the gender material being a strong portion but not the only portion. That's what I said in the first post, as well as in my reply to Ralph. Are you guys not reading?

It is intensely aggravating to be instructed along the lines that one is already proceeding.



QuoteRalph, although the book can't cover every possible source of human conflict, it will cover a range of relationship-based conflicts, in which "relationship" implies some degree of obligation across the parties involved. Gender-stuff represents a significant fraction of those sorts of conflicts, but that won't be the only stuff in there.
-- italics mine.

Woah there!  No need to steam, I'll admit that I missed that last bit there.  I wanted to throw my comments out in response to your very preliminary proposal, which seemed to heavily favor the gender issues over others.  My read, I'm sorry to have tread heavily.    

But I'll maintain that the relationship map- and all the concerns, questions, and ideas surounding the concept- represent the structure within Sorcerer which could use significant further attention.

Its your sandbox, you built it, you filled it, you let others play in it.  I can hardly 'inscruct' you on how to do your own thing.  I make a few specific points which have not been addressed yet- taken or left, they are what they are- and regardless, if what I suggest is entirely within the realm of your own conception for the project, then just consider it affirmation.

I'm not getting in your face here, I'm just riffing like I always do.


I'm in favor of a book specifically dealing with relationships, and especially the ones that the characters are in (i.e. their kickers).  The thing that gave me the greatest trouble about Sorcerer was working the player-generated relationships into the relationships that I generated. This is the result of years of games driven by GM generated storylines, and the habit is a bear to break.

I think that a series of exercises (maybe with solutions in the back) would be useful. The sorcerer books are definitely written with the same outlook as a scientific paper or college textbook.  Specifically, in a small space they provide you with a huge set of concepts that expand into amazing possibilities once you start really working with them. Textbooks use exercises to help the reader expand those concepts into something useful. I think that a series of exercises on the use of Sorcerer concepts would be helpful for the aspiring Sorcerer GM as well.

All that aside, I'm definitely interested in the topic as you've described. I've never run or played a game that satisfied me where relationships weren't the primary driver. Taking this on in more depth would certainly be a boon.
Clay Dowling - Online Campaign Planning and Management

Blake Hutchins

No offense, Clay, but putting exercises with answers in an RPG book sounds utterly asinine to me; it's making play into work.  If I want to perform rote drills, I'll grab a book on grammar or French quizzes or logic puzzles or algebraic word problems, but not an RPG book.  I'm fine with examples, discussion, and map diagrams, but let's please NOT push to make this read like a textbook.

I think Ron has a solid handle on what he wants to put in "Sorceress."  Right now he's checking the level of our interest and -- maybe -- keeping the door open for a few particularly "cool" suggestions people might come up with.  So far I've seen a lot of the former, nothing of the latter.




You're right that refering to them as exercises would drive people off, as your response indicates. Hypothetical situations with a follow-up of a possible solution are useful though. Rote exercises would be absolutely useless; memorization and mechanical performance aren't the issue. Development of certain mental skills is. Ultimately Ron will put in what he needs to put in. It's a safe bet that he doesn't sit up late at night wondering if I'll approve of the content or not.

The issues of gender role transgression are particularly interesting to me. It has cropped up in non-sorcerer games before, but I didn't have any decent concept for how to deal with it mechanically. Sometimes it played out well with drama, and sometimes it didn't.
Clay Dowling - Online Campaign Planning and Management