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Author Topic: Sorcerer Humanity/Demon concept for non-horror games  (Read 2168 times)
talysman
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« on: October 22, 2002, 03:06:28 PM »

I came up with an interesting approach to Humanity and a game concept that only tweaks a few Sorcerer rules slightly. I'm not sure I will be able to use it, so I am posting it here for anyone interested; I think it raises a couple points about how to avoid falling into any cliches about Humanity and demons, since the concept involves demons that aren't really hostile to humans, but are still a threat to Humanity.

in this concept, Humanity is defined as connection to the ordinary world; the score represents how often a character is invited to social functions, how well-regarded the character is, and how much the character cares about public image. at Humanity 0, the character becomes apathetic about the world at large; all decisions become reduced to "what will I get out of this?"

... but this is not the same as greed or powermongering. even though an moneygrubber or a soulless politician can be a pretty despicable thing, under this definition of Humanity, they are still human. they still care about something that is part of the world at large: money or power. an ambitious politician still has that ambition; a wealthy businessman still cares about amassing wealth. they are tied in to the rest of the world.

... whereas the sorcerer who drops to Humanity 0 has become so used to fulfilling basic needs with sorcery, the thought of building a business into a powerful corporation or campaigning one's way up to an important political appointment seems pointless. sorcerers with Humanity scores of 0 are mostly pleasure seekers or become absorbed in solipsism.

there are a couple ways of building demons to fit such a definition of Humanity. here's one: the primary demons are Immanent Passers that look exactly like ordinary people, but they are immortal and intensely magical. Powers vary, but most have Cloak, Travel (in the form of teleportation) and Warp. in addition, these Immanents are unusual in that they can Pact with other demons, mainly with some formless Inconspicuous demons that surround the Immanents and boost their magical abilities immensely. the form of the Pact, in this case, is an improvised incantation that defines the terms of the Pact; the Inconspicuous demons then manifest the events described.

the odd thing about these spells are that other Immanents cannot break the spell unless they know the exact incantation used. some Immanents that have grown too old and have become absentminded will sometimes "cast a spell" (make a Pact) that fails and comes out unexpectedly, but will be unable to remember their original incantation and so cannot remove the spell.

some of the Inconspicuous demon-spells have Travel and Transport. these can be used by the Immanents to fetch (conjure) Passer demons that are unaware of their demon nature; often, they will appear as (and will believe themselves to be) fictional or historical personages. one problem with this: since these conjured Passers are really demons, they can be bound by naive human sorcerers; this is expressed as a desire to remain where they have arrived and must be broken by convincing the conjured individual to return.

with so much power at their disposal and no Humanity to tie them to the world of "mortals", the Immanents tend to lead hedonistic lives. for most, their Desire is for entertainment, usually of a specific kind, often at the expense of mortals. Needs can vary, although they are rarely dark or violent. the Immanents look upon mortals with disdain, but they do not hate them.

so suppose one of these Immanents has a Desire to fit into the mortal world, combined with a Need for love? using the "demon to human" rule from Sorcerer's Soul, this Immanent would attempt to limit her power and try doing everything "the hard way". conflict in the story would come from the Immanent and the naive sorcerer husban she has pacted with (married) trying to avoid the temptation of using her powers, and perhaps trying to cover up the less-restrained actions of the Immanent's relatives, who are critical of the marriage.

oh, and also, the story would be set in the modern day and would be rather light; a comedy, rather than a horror story.

sound familiar? it's the concept behind "Bewitched". I was surprised that "Bewitched" -- and "I Dream of Jeanie", "My Favorite Martian", and so on -- could be descibed so easily in Sorcerer terms, especially since the free-wheeling magic in "Bewitched" is pretty much impossible to duplicate in many other systems. but then, it makes sense: Humanity as connection to the real world is a fairly common theme in popular entertainment, especially sitcoms. the story line becomes a series of tests for that Humanity. can the ordinary Joe or Jane keep from being regarded as a freak? why not use "witchcraft" to clean the house, just this once? no one will know!
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John Laviolette
(aka Talysman the Ur-Beatle)
rpg projects: http://www.globalsurrealism.com/rpg
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2002, 06:01:32 PM »

Hi John,

Whaddaya you're "not sure you can use it"?? It's fuckin' brilliant.

Play!

Best,
Ron
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talysman
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Posts: 675


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« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2002, 07:53:54 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards

Whaddaya you're "not sure you can use it"?? It's fuckin' brilliant.

Play!


thanks!

unfortunately, I'm having a problem with friends who are reacting badly to indie rpg concepts... I have some people who may be interested in a straight Sorcerer or Sorcerer & Sword game, but if I said "let's play Bewitched", that's not going to go over very well.

I could always claim I'm playtesting, I suppose... heh.
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John Laviolette
(aka Talysman the Ur-Beatle)
rpg projects: http://www.globalsurrealism.com/rpg
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