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Author Topic: Sorcerer in action (briefly)  (Read 3392 times)
Ron Edwards
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« on: October 10, 2001, 08:35:00 AM »

So I finally got badgered into running a short Sorcerer experience for some of the people in the campus group. I've been resisting this for a while, partly due to misgivings about conflict of interest (just what I need, accusations that I advise this club in order to promote my own game), and partly because I hate one-shot Sorcerer. The game is simply not made for demos, which rely mainly on "cool Situation" and relatively disposable or play-as-written characters. Unknown Armies and Call of Cthulhu are great demo games, but Sorcerer just isn't suited for it at all. I especially didn't want to do pre-made characters, so we took the time to make them and run a quick intro, then to run the outcome the following week. Even that was too damn short.

Still, it was a good experience. I'll run down some of the events and concerns of play.

One player brought downloaded images from the internet to choose from for character pictures. I don't like using well-known actors for this; again, that's a matter of saying, "Well, Kevin Spacey would do it this way, so my guy does it this way." I did like the idea behind it though and having pictures at all made a big difference. For the second session, one player brought a portrait she'd drawn of her character and another worked up an image from an on-line character-illustration engine.

The usual Sorc fanatical character-creation kicked in; the sessions included multiple comments from two of the players that these were the most engaging PCs ever, and couldn't we keep playing, and "I love my character." As ever, demon GMing is too much fun. Interestingly, the players came up with what I'm thinking of as the Universal Demon Trio: the passing babe, the smartassed cute imp, and the cool-ass black sword. The "moving tattoo" concept showed up too, as a Telltale. These concepts show up again and again in first-time Sorcerer play.

I ran the sessions with the hood wholly open in order to familiarize the players with how the game works on both sides of the table. The demons' Desires were stated, and even Binding rolls were not kept secret. I used a lot of rolled-over victories, explaining each time what failed and successful rolls will do later. One character studied up on Banishing early in the game, so she got some bonuses for it later; another failed a Lore roll and thus set himself up for penalties when he finally encountered what he was trying to learn about.

I really like the diagram on the back of the sheets. Again, in agreement with previous play, it's clear that people who put something into that got a lot more out of play and "knew what to do" instead of just going with "my guy's being a butt-head." I also could use that material to take what was offered and turn it into content, whether superficial or substantive to the developing story. In this case, the name "Bob" showed up a lot and that generated a genuine surrealism in the context of the players figuring out what was happening - such that now, the name "Bob" generates a paranoid and freaked-out reaction.

And you know, the rushed and abbreviated play only made possible the usual hassle with a player who wanted to be vengeful, raging, and pursued by very bad people so he  could basically unload sadistic whup-ass on them, a la Payback. The problem with such play is that it's all ego, and I realize that I should have employed the Soap-style character-connections prior to play. It bogged down play in terms of getting to the conflict and also in terms of resolving it. We even had the wearisome disagreement-between-characters plus hostage-standoff, at which point, I just said, "OK, everyone, take a break." To his credit, the player admitted he wasn't happy with it and came back to the scene ready to move things along constructively.

Lest this sound like railroading, I hasten to add that the players understood very well that Sorcerer does not have personality mechanics, and that it was perfectly OK for them to deal with their situation in any way they saw fit - with Humanity consequences being the only consideration, and that it was perfectly OK to go to zero if they wanted to.

Best,
Ron
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Tor Erickson
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« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2001, 02:04:00 PM »

  Say...in danger of making an idiot of myself, what the heck is that diagram on the back of the character sheet? (I assume we're talking about the square divided into four labeled triangles)  It's entirely possible I missed an in-text reference, but I feel like I'm missing exactly what function it serves.
  Can you tell us any more about the session?  I'd be particularly interested in how you communicated the Sorcerous premise to the players and whether or not you used a Soul-style relationship map--I suppose that the confines of a one-shot would probably strip such a map down to just a few relationships to be revealed.  
-Tor
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2001, 06:03:00 PM »

Hey Tor,

That diagram is a fine thing. Tell the players to consider all the four topics labeled there, and write into the diagram, any PERSON, PLACE, OR THING that relates to the given topic. So if your Lore descriptor is "apprentice," then write the name of the master, where he lives, and anything else about him (beautiful daughter e.g.) in that space. Under Cover, write the job/lifestyle, the workplace or zone of operations, associates or co-workers, and so on.

The cool thing is that you should use the space as an associator device. Let's say this PC has "just had sex with beautiful daughter of sorcerous mentor, who wants me to kill her dad!" for the Kicker. Fine. The daughter goes into the Kicker section instead of Lore, but PUT HER NEXT TO HER DAD, who's written in the Lore section. Write these terms closer to the dividing line between the sections.

So if a term or issue connects to nothing in the other sectors, it goes in the middle of its sector. If it connects to something in one of other sectors, write the two fairly close to one another near the dividing line. If three or four terms connect across sectors, just move them all closer to the center.

This is really a fantastic device, I would say, if I hadn't invented it.

As for the run, no, we didn't discuss the Premise much except to point out the Humanity issues intrinsic to the system. In fact, I even tried to use Intuitive Continuity rather than a relationship map, and ended up with a very skimpy (but not bad) map after the first run. I'm not the best IntCont GM, so that might have contributed to some pacing problems too.

Again, though, it was fun.

Best,
Ron
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random
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« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2001, 09:28:00 PM »

The mention of the character sheet brings up a question I've had for a bit: is there a place where a PDF of the character sheet (and maybe the tables and stuff that are collected in the back of the book) can be downloaded?

Just curious.

Cheers,

bn
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2001, 06:33:00 AM »

Of course there is, as of a little while ago, anyway. At the website (http://www.sorcerer-rpg.com), in the "The Game" section (blue menus), there's a link called "Downloads." That ought to do it.

Including the tables isn't a bad idea. I'll get to that when I can.

Best,
Ron

[ This Message was edited by: Ron Edwards on 2001-10-11 10:34 ]
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