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Author Topic: Some ideas for settings in Sorcerer  (Read 4986 times)
kaworuiskool
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« on: December 28, 2002, 08:01:29 PM »

Ok, so I'm another success story-walked to my FLGS a few days back, laid down money for sorcerer and I'm a changed roleplayer. Thing is, right now I only know some folks who play dnd of the tactical variety. (Been there, done that, got the 'I survived a social disaster' shirt.) Ron's right when he says bad is worse than none at all. In the meantime I'm going to play with settings. (IMHO, these seem less offtopic here than in a dedicated web forum that probably hasn't heard of sorcerer.)

1. Evangelion, a bit of 90s anime worth watching

Demons are giant robots. They work or not depending on who's in the seat. Whatever their need is, the pilots aren't aware of it. They only see the results when it breaks free and goes berserk. Humanity is the sticky one, the characters in the show were dramatized with internal conflict more than the mech bothering them. There was a nice moment when one character looks in horror as another mech goes berserk ('I'm piloting that thing?'), but seeing as they were all told it was just a robot, the show was over before they had time to find out otherwise. It's more of a Lovecraft type thing, but I'd love to see it in sorcerer. Oh, almost forgot the whole point-theme would be 'what would you do to survive?' it's easy to say the ends justify the means until you have to put kids in fault prone robots and send them to fight so you can save your butt. Anyway, suggestions on humanity would be fun.

2. Planescape - or, 'I can't believe this is dnd!'

just what the book says, magic is parlor tricks and lies. wizards run a big soul sucking racket to get their spells, and recruit new wizards often without telling them where the spells are really coming from until it's too late. Sorcerers are tieflings. No more utility belt spellcasting, prepare to get down and dirty in the grab for followers that the planes are all about. Imagine playing that newbie-going thru magic missiles like crazy-who figures out just what he signed, or the sorcerer trying to get away from his own blood. Defnitely needs for me to obtain sorcerer and sword. So, humanity is the usual get-out-of-eternal-damnation-free punchcard. (Reminds me of how someone once said they believed that hell was reserved solely for those who believe in it.) Oh, and keep in mind the nature of planescape-a fallen paladin is better for the demons than a fallen tiefling. The former is a new customer, the latter is a frequent flier. Like a cigarette company, get em early and you've got em for the rest of their reincarnated lives.....

Well, perhaps tackling these will get my brain wrapped around the pertinent aspects of this shiny new book. Thanks in advance to anyone who comments, especially if it's pointing out something I've got wrong about this whole thing.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2002, 07:56:42 AM »

Hello,

Thanks for posting this - it's great to see.

Here are some of my notions about Humanity ...

1) Relative to demons, it's only about the three core rituals: Binding, Summoning, and Contacting. You can be as nasty or as nice to a demon as you can be, and there are no Humanity consequences.

2) Relative to ethics, it's always about people interacting with people. I suggest considering

In both of your examples, I think your musings about Humanity are a little abstract. Imagine some instances of play, in both settings. Think of a real pay-off role-playing moment, when the character really takes a stand about something.

"Get away from her, you bitch!"
"Luke ... I am your father."
"I am Inigo Montoya - you killed my father - prepare to die!"

It's all personal interactions and connections, and it's about making sacrifices and taking risks for what you want. When you do that via demons, you threaten your own Humanity. When you do that via other humans (recognizing them as other humans), you increase it.

So think about the situations during play that correspond to such interactions and connections. I suggest that "damnation" is a little abstract unless you can tie it to concrete actions and emotionally-relevant decisions; I also suggest that "what would you do to survive" is a little bland, as the answers are usually straightforward.

Best,
Ron
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kaworuiskool
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« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2002, 03:37:25 PM »

Ok, that's very helpful. I think I get the cart before the horse nailing down specifics that sound fun before I know what I want. Lemme see if I can revise these.

1. This is about pilots-so that theme is irrelevant, in addition to what you said. I can't help but think of the show's characters-each had their own situation, and their own reasons for what they did, but every one of them felt that they were alone. I'm still not clear on humanity. This show has lots of superficial things that click with sorcerer, but I'm groping for the 'hidden cost' element and not finding it. Perhaps I'll rethink this one-at least shelve it until my preconscious processes find a solution while I'm mowing the lawn or something.

2. Having more success here, especially with your advice. Ok, evil outsiders in planescape aren't the only ones doing this racket, the idea is that the good ones do it too-they just give healing/wrathful spells, that's all. The point is, everyone's picking sides, and no matter which side you're on, you're still putting yourself on a side. That means a certain lack of respect for the other side, which precludes any kind of fundamental rights for anyone. Planescape always described itself as 'philosophers with clubs.' The drama comes from learning to let go and recognize people as equals, not tools to be used. Humanity represents your need for control. zero humanity is utter evil.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2002, 07:01:32 AM »

Hi there,

Regarding Planescape, bam! Got it! I agree with you completely about the themes at stake, which I think were never realized by any of the Planescape material after the initial (brilliant) boxed sets.

Best,
Ron
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Andy Kitkowski
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« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2002, 12:46:03 PM »

Your Evangelion idea is interesting, and I really think it can be 'Sorcerer'-ized. The hardest thing, I see, is actually making up interesting adventures for it. Evangelion has the whole mind-blowing background story to it, and then it has the dramatic interactions between the characters. The latter will be easy to think of (but maybe hard to pull off, depending on the players and gaming atmosphere- they man want to get into combat and deal less with drama), but the former, the plot and twists... well, it might require some thinking. If you stick with the metaphysics of Evangelion, then anyone who's seen the shows and movie knows all the secrets. You might want to change the cosmology a little.

For battles: You know how in Sorcerer abilities (will and body, for ex) can "amp" each other? This is great for the Evangelion universe. Most of the time the kids have a "breakthrough" or a "major stress/will scene" before they get into true ass-kicking mode. Putting Will or Lore into Cover/Body would totally fit the genre.

And further, instead of demons abilities transferring to (amping) humans, you might want to have the humans' abilities transfer to the Eva/suits that they pilot.  And keep the demon (Eva) bodies at the regular Sorcerer scale (of approx 5-12 for ability scores). In Evangelion, NOTHING but Angels or Eva can do damage in mecha comabt. Anything else that enters combat is a non-factor: It just gets wasted. So there's no need to say "Eva: Body of 120, Will of 90..." etc. Just stick to the regular scale and you should be fine.

Finally, Humanity is easy to define, I think, in the Evangelion universe: Humanity IS Hope/Action/Resolve. The more you have, the more uppity, resolved, and courageous you are. The less you have, the more reserved, shallow and whiny you become. Shinji probably started the series with a humanity of 2, it spiked at maybe 3 or 4 after he defeated some angels and got complimented, and then started the descent from there. I'd say the End of Evangelion movie Shinji had like 1 humanity the enitre time, and near the end it probably went to 0 (or stayed at 1, which left him still pretty much unable to do anything but pout, whine and generally be a hopeless wimp).

Evangelion: Wow. What a great idea.  And it would REALLY work with Sorcerer, I think.

EDIT: Furthermore, the whole bit about the power-play between demons and their summoners: It's very much a push-and-pull relationship here as well. Shinji in the Eva series would be a character with little hold over his Eva, whose need might be to protect him or something like that- Often when he hops into the cockpit he becomes shallow and reserved.  In the case of Rei, she's got a pragmatic relationship with her Eva. And near the end of the End of Evangelion movie, after being in a struggle of wills with it for a long time, Asuka totally dominates (so to speak) her Eva, and really gets it to work for her.

-Andy
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kaworuiskool
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« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2002, 06:24:37 PM »

First, to Ron-

Yeah, that's what I was trying to say. I was reflecting on someone's observation that by dnd alignment standards most cyberpunk was populated with chaotic evil types, and I realized that was the feel I wanted for Sigil. This has defnitely split my planescape thoughts in twain. The other is an exploration of a high magic city that would logically exist in a world where magic items can be produced ad infinitum, mixed with a bit of spelljammer (thanks to grimspear.com) and lots of various examples of why it all makes sense when you're dealing with a computer simulation......

Second, to Andy-

Sounds right. Maybe Lore is a synch ratio kind of thing. Now that I have a day off from work I can sit down and reread Sorcerer to see how these things operate.

Btw, I agree completely on the eva's stats-I've seen that kind of thing in other games, and it's always based on the assumption that the scale is absolute when it's really arbitrary.

At first I wanted Humanity to be normal perception which is lost thru piloting something alien. That's too Cthulhu/sanity for my tastes now. I've decided it represents ego, self-identity. As Ron said, a person gains humanity thru others, and the show defnitely had a theme of defining the mind's boundary thru the existence of others that are not yourself. This also fits with my design requirement of zero humanity being the dummy plug that activates evas so they can go berserk automatically.

Binding is activation, performed each time the pilot does that preflight checkup. Unit 00's fateful attempt is a good example of failure. Contact/Summoning is the province of someone offstage in this story, unimportant for all intents and purposes.

Oh, and I'll defnitely make changes to the background and deemphasize the religiously symbolic elements. There's plenty implied already. Besides, not only would it be useful against the eva fan that can quote the red cross dictionary but I'd like to create something interesting on it's own that's not a rehash of a story that's been done. It's a show with many elements, and this is refining one of those pieces. (I'm already salivating over the thought of me having no producers that demand fanservice and giant robots. Nice trick he pulled, turning the hook layer into a serious metaphor of life.)

As for plot I have a few things in mind. Thematically I'd like the feel of ender's game, which is already quite similar to eva. The difference is, Ender is more about giftedness, wheras eva focuses on depression. Due to shared expereince I empathize with both of those.

Oh, and I'll close by mentioning that I've been reading the manga reinterpretation of eva, and shinji is not a sit down character. He's reserved, but he tries to involve himself with others. It's when he's alone that the introspection starts.

Wow. I wrote all that? It's been awhile since I used a forum. Refreshing, it is.
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Wulf
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« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2003, 02:17:21 PM »

Quote from: Andy Kitkowski
Finally, Humanity is easy to define, I think, in the Evangelion universe: Humanity IS Hope/Action/Resolve. The more you have, the more uppity, resolved, and courageous you are. The less you have, the more reserved, shallow and whiny you become. Shinji probably started the series with a humanity of 2, it spiked at maybe 3 or 4 after he defeated some angels and got complimented, and then started the descent from there. I'd say the End of Evangelion movie Shinji had like 1 humanity the enitre time, and near the end it probably went to 0 (or stayed at 1, which left him still pretty much unable to do anything but pout, whine and generally be a hopeless wimp).-Andy


But what about Asuka? She's got more ups and downs than award-winning rollercoasters. Not having had a chance to play Sorcerer yet (I'm still looking for inspiration for a setting), I can't see a suitable way to simulate this fragility of ego (probably the wrong terminology, but it saves long-winded explanation).

And then there's Rei... but if you've seen EoE, then Sorcerer's Soul should have the answer to representing her situation (and if you haven't, it's a bit of a spoiler).

I love Evangelion in general, I see how well it fits Sorcerer, but I can't see it working as a game. I don't want to play in a game knee-deep in angst ALL the time...

Wulf
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