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Author Topic: Driftwood plays Sorcerer!  (Read 3984 times)
Jake Norwood
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« on: January 23, 2003, 11:46:24 AM »

Last night over half of our group wasn't able to come. We hadn't gamed in several weeks on account of school and business, and were dying to get playing.

"So let's play Sorcerer," I said. At the time I regretted it because I, like many, am somewhat intimidated by running Sorcerer.

I GM'ed (as always...) and My wife and her best friend (both regulars in our gaming group) created characters.

Earta (My wife): Coco, an Itallian American (think Moonstruck) journalist for Entertainment! magazine. Her Demon, Toto, is her invisible-to-all-except-her childhood imaginary friend that grew up along side here but who is still just a kid and a prankster. Her telltale: lots of childhood rough-and-tumble bruises (scraped knees, fistprint in the shoulder, etc). Toto's Desire: Practical Jokes; Need: to Play. He's especially fond of Twister lately.

Shannon (not my wife): Mercy Whitecastle, a wealthy art dealer/collector who throws all the parties and who desires to out-do everyone at the whole "New Yorker Artsy Thing." She openly practices a shamanistic semi-religion (sort of like Wicca, except that we don't know that much about Wicca, so it's not). She belongs to a Coven with one other sorcerer (the geeky and greasy Stefan-the-German); the other Coven members are Goths and new-age groupies that think they actually do something during the rituals, although mostly they're just window dressing, groupies, or "plausable denialbility" for what really goes on. Her demon: Parsellion, a passer demon (snake) who's "true" form is that of a two-elephant-sized dragon (fire and wings and all...think "Dragonslayer," but a little smaller...it would take 2 bites to finish off a human).

What happened?
Coco comes to work to find that every article or bit of research in the whole magazine office concerning the Oscars has been burned in a trashcan in the middle of the main floor. This was actually a red herring for something else that got burned, which is any and all information relating in any way to the unveiling of a new piece of ancient art being unveilled at the Wentworth mansion outside of New York (oh yeah, the game's in New York, present day, nothing wierd). She was supposed to cover this story, and arrives late to the Mansion. When she gets there the mansion is on fire and Toto reports that everyone inside the unveilling room (about 100 people, some of the celebrities) is dead, as if horriffically electri-fried. By the time the fuzz arrives the mansion is completely up in flames.

Before all of this our Art Collecter, Mercy, was in attendence at said unveilling. When the veil comes up a sudden "blast" roars out of the peice (a stone slab with a bass-relief Gryffin on it) and electri-fries everyone but her and some guy in a long coat, who preternaturally quickly flees the scene. The ensuing chase leads to the Dragon "accidentally" frying the mansion, a high-speed chase over the bay between the Dragon and the Gryffin, and finally the Gryffin--now flaming--plummeting into the ocean, status unknown.

So Mercy calls Coco on her cell (we never established whether the players knew each other or not...in fact, I figured they didn't, but when she "made the call" it just seemed right). They meet at McDonals (Toto takes the snake into the ball-pen...) to compare notes.

Mercy then heads out to her Coven meeting under a trendy goth nightclub. Stefan, the more-or-less leader of the Coven, announces that they're going to be summoning a demon tonight. It will only be the Coven's second time doing this since Mercy joined (the first being when she bound the Dragon). Stefan involves lots of drugs (as normal), but then introduces a human sacrifice and a bunch of other stuff out-of-the norm. Mercy does nothing. Then an 8-foot-tall Balrog (like in the movie, minus the weapons) appears, consumes the girl, etc. Mercy tries to banish it, but it's Power 13 (yikes!). It scuffles with the Dragon as mercy socks Stafan (total victory on that, too), and ends with an extra dead Coven member, a wounded Dragon, and Stefan fleeing with his new pet (that has a serious binding advantage).

Mercy decides she needs an ice demon to battle this thing, so she calls Coco again and has her come over to aid. They contact, summon, and Mercy binds this frosty mist-demon who's desire is to quench heat (this one is going to get sooo out of hand...). End session.

What's going on?
Not sure. I think that Stefan is behind it all...or a demon that he shouldn't have bound is, and now it's inviting friends.

Our cursory definitions of Demons are basically that they're the magical creatures of myth. Dragon, griffins, faeries (like Toto), and other folklore kinds of stuff. Humanity is meaningful interaction with other people and Empathy.

Observations

Okay, although I admit that we constantly make jokes around here saying things like "Cheerios, an Intense Breakfast Cereal" and the like, Sorcerer really was intense--especially when it came time to summon up Frosty.

The whole contact-summon-bind phase of the game was phenomenally fun. The PCs have high humanity at this point, so Summoning was difficult. It took both Sorceresses and lots of swell descriptions to make it happen. Shannon (Mercy) ended up doing all three rituals in improv rhyme, which was really impressive (nad it forced me to rhyme back...but now Frosty has a great personality gimmick). Combat ran pretty smoothly for a first-night thing.

I have a lot of questions about Sorcery, though.

1) Do victories from Contacting carry over to Summoning, and from Summoning to Binding?

2) Interaction w/ Demons that isn't one of the 6 rituals, such as ordering them around, seemed un-covered in the book. I figured just a Will vs. Will roll (w/ binding strength modifying) was the way to go, although I can see how other stats might work, also, but all against the Demon's will (not unlike the Biding ritual method). Am I doing this right? What if you try to boss around someone else's demon? Can/will a demon physcially attack it's master? I'm thinking that Stefan summoned something that he shouldn't have trying to gain a lot of power, and in doing so he lowered his humanity a lot. Now he can summon stuff easily, but he can't banish it. I want that first demon to be using Stefan--perhaps threatening him--so that the Demon is the one really in charge. Can the demon do that without going through the process into open rebellion via lack of need?

3) Contacting and Summoning both list Drugs as helpful in the chart, but only Contacting in the text. Is that a typo? Does summoning always incur a humanity check?

4) With group sorcery...do all victories of helping parties count as just victories (Mercy gets 3, Coco gets 2, net total 5?) or do those victories from the helpers become bonus dice for the main sorcerer's roll?

5) I'm really struggling with making Humanity work for us. Maybe our definition isn't solid enough, and the lack of pre-planning doesn't help, I'm sure, but we really weren't getting much out of it. I didn't know when to check it or when to raise or lower it. I'll re-read the section, but basically my "intuition" is failing me here.

Anyway, the game really isn't all that bad to run. I've shed my fear of running Sorcerer (I even did it "on the fly"). In fact, we had a wonderful time and chatted about the session for about an hour afterwards. We will definitely contiue this story arc. Summoning demons is way too cool.

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2003, 03:00:48 PM »

Hello,

Thanks, Jake! Let's do the Q&A first.

Quote
1) Do victories from Contacting carry over to Summoning, and from Summoning to Binding?


They do if the actions taken lead into one another in physical or otherwise highly-connected terms - that is to say, "Um, you Summon after you Bind" isn't good enough for carrying over. But if the described actions actually do set up a chain of some kind, then yeah, all the way.

(Hey! Does that mean I can offset the Humanity penalties for Summoning by role-playing cool and sensible stuff? Yes, Game-hopper, it does. Subtle and deep are the ways of Sorcerer.)

Quote
2) Interaction w/ Demons that isn't one of the 6 rituals, such as ordering them around, seemed un-covered in the book. I figured just a Will vs. Will roll (w/ binding strength modifying) was the way to go,... Am I doing this right?


Yeah. Do a search for "Bid" on the Adept Press forum some time - lots of stuff about just this issue.

Quote
What if you try to boss around someone else's demon? Can/will a demon physcially attack it's master?


The answer is yes, totally! Any sorcerer can order any demon to do anything. Apply Binding strength as a bonus in the demon's favor, and add any bonuses that seem to apply if the demon's master keeps it fed/happy.

When the game situation turns into everyone firing orders at everyone else's demons, then you know you're in a great Sorcerer session.

Quote
I want that first demon to be using Stefan--perhaps threatening him--so that the Demon is the one really in charge. Can the demon do that without going through the process into open rebellion via lack of need?


This was in the same paragraph as the above question, but yeah, it can. Do bear in mind that if the demon is bluffing (i.e. won't really attack Stefan lethally, is just bullying him), then Stefan holds the trump card by threatening it with lack of Need or by offering Need.

Quote
3) Contacting and Summoning both list Drugs as helpful in the chart, but only Contacting in the text. Is that a typo?  


H'm. Drugs, drugs ... I tend to think of hallucinatory or mood-altering drugs as Contacting helpers. I tend to think of stimulants as possible Summoning-helpers .... well, none of that is to the point. Drugs are handy for both.

Quote
Does summoning always incur a humanity check?


Yup. Contacting, Summoning, and Binding.

Quote
4) With group sorcery...do all victories of helping parties count as just victories (Mercy gets 3, Coco gets 2, net total 5?) or do those victories from the helpers become bonus dice for the main sorcerer's roll?


The victories from the helpers become bonus dice for the main sorcerer's roll. The helpers don't actually Summon anything directly.

Quote
5) I'm really struggling with making Humanity work for us. Maybe our definition isn't solid enough, and the lack of pre-planning doesn't help, I'm sure, but we really weren't getting much out of it. I didn't know when to check it or when to raise or lower it. I'll re-read the section, but basically my "intuition" is failing me here.


I suspect "superhero Sorcerer" is under way unless you as the GM bring as much moral challenge into the scenario as possible. Then your definition of Humanity will be just fine.

This takes prep; what's happening is that improv-Sorcerer doesn't really turn out to be about anything. Think about relationship maps that do not (or only peripherally include) the characters, and about NPCs who will do literally anything to protect their interests, real or delusional. Also review the demons. They're your babies now - see my recent posts in the Adept Press forum in Stephen's thread.

Here's my favorite part of your post:

Quote
Anyway, the game really isn't all that bad to run.


It's that kind of praise that a man just lives for ... Perhaps I should add a similar compliment to my comments on the current RPG.net TROS discussion.

Best,
Ron
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2003, 03:40:34 PM »

Quote
Quote:
Anyway, the game really isn't all that bad to run.  


It's that kind of praise that a man just lives for ... Perhaps I should add a similar compliment to my comments on the current RPG.net TROS discussion.


Doh! You know what I meant. There's a lot of people that are scared to run sorcerer, and I was trying to say that it wasn't bad to run. Read the next line, rock-hopper.

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Valamir
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« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2003, 04:05:45 PM »

heh heh.  God love the internet.  I believe Jake that Ron meant in all sincerity that he was really GLAD you didn't find it hard to run, and that he should have said that TROS isn't really that hard to run either.

I just love watching communication breakdowns over sloppy language use not backed up by intonation or body language.  I should have been a communications major :-)
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