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Art-Deco Melodrama

Started by Ron Edwards, October 18, 2001, 04:02:00 PM

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Well, Ron did an excelent job of reaffirming what I already knew.  But the Proactive thing helped bring it into focus.  I fell into the trap I'm constantly warning people about Kickers.  Shame on me.

But seeing the two problems next to each other presented an interesting solution. SWAP THEM.  Check this out.

Mentor Story: Durring part of Cyril's bad luck days he spotted something not quite right with one of the more successful players.  Cyril got brave and approached the stranger with questions about the peculiarities he'd noticed and with curiosity about the man's amazing luck.  At first the stranger was reluctant to speak about them.  But Cyril was persistent and eventually the stranger gave in.  Thus began Cyril's training.  All was well and good for a while but one town ain't big enough for two Sorcerous gamblers.  After all, they can't BOTH win all the time.  Eventually things got too hot to handle between them and one day Cyril simply packed up and left town.  He didn't even leave a note.  That was three years ago.

I suck at names.  Anyone have a name for this mentor?

The Kicker: Walking home from his club Cyril spotted a young man about to jump off a bridge.  Acting quickly Cyril reached out and grabbed him.  The young man struggled at first but Cyril quickly subdued him and invited him back to his house.  The two talked long into the night and Cyril learned that the young man was an aspiring actor who was down on his luck.  After Cyril was convinced that he talked some sense into the boy, using mostly analogies from his own life minus the Sorcerous stuff, he called a cab and sent him home.  Over the next few weeks the young man has started showing up at Cyril's club asking about him.  He goes on about how Cyril saved his life and he has sort of taken on Cyril as a 'role-model.'  Cyril is not comfortable with the young man's enthusiam because it eerily reminds him of his own beginnings.  Worse Jenny has started taking a liking to the young man.  It's just a playful friendship now but if Cyril doesn't do something it may evolve into more.

I think it adds a nice parallel between Cyril's beginnings and Cyril's current problem.  However, it's different enough not to simply be the same.  After all, the young man isn't interested in gambling, only success and particularly success as an actor.  Also, Cyril spotted his mentor's telltale while the young man is ignorant of Cyril's knowledge.

Again.  I suck at names.  Anyone got a name for this young man?  Oh wait... What do you think of the name: Tobias Hapgood?



By the way a bit more on Cyril's motivations.  He lives for the game.  The thrill of the gamble.  The problem is he's really really really bad at it but it's all he wants to do.  He probably wouldn't even care about winning or losing if his survival didn't depend on it.  It's like my relationship with the 7th Sea CCG.  Man, I LOVE that game.  It's the only CCG I've ever had any interest in.  But I never WIN.  I can't design a deck or follow a strategy worth beans.

The more I think about it, the more I think Cyril OWNS this nightclub I keep talking about.  I see this as being the height of his fortunes thanks to Blob.  Up until now he's been very lucky with Blob's need.  Yeah, it's gotten him in some tight spots but nothing he couldn't worm his way out of.  

In fact I was vasellating between Manipulative and Zest For Life as the descriptor for will because it's kind of a combination of both.  He's manipulative because he HAS to be but he's driven by his love of the game.

Make Sense?

Edited Section:

I just had some more ideas.  Swapping the mentor story and the kicker really has shown Cyril's love for risk and more importantly his respect for life.  I realize now that Cyril is not a killer and the Kicker shows that.  But more interestingly so, neither is his Demon.  Blob, is by no means NICE or LOVING but his Desire is for Mischief.  He likes to take in secrets and see people burned by those secrets and even more so watching poor Cyril get stuck in the middle but Death doesn't enter into it.  It CAN enter into it but Death isn't subtle enough for Blob.  It's the easy way out.

So, when the style of the game kicks in lots of shocking violence, murder, betrayal and so on, it's all very horrific even on the DEMONS level.


[ This Message was edited by: jburneko on 2001-10-18 19:25 ]

Ron Edwards


OK, good, full stop. The other half of the Art of Kickers is knowing when the story has begun - and to save its continuance for really playing.

"Tobias Hapgood" sounds just right to me.



others. Sorcerer is about humanity. There are two satisfying narratives for a materialist or powermonger in my mind; he either redeems himself, or he gets his comeuppance. I'm not really interested in either of those narratives for this game.

There's no need to construe this sort of behaviour as "materialist".  Western thought tends to interpret materialism as "greed", but if it is kept within its formal bounds - drawing information for decisions from material reality rather than utopian idealism - any form of philanthropic or other behaviour can be materialist.

See the debate between Greyorm and John Wick regarding the biological basis for competition or cooperation in the wicked press forum.  Greyorm is advancing an argument for materialist philanthropy, essentially.
Impeach the bomber boys:

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci

Ron Edwards

Hey Gareth (contracycle),

I'm with you there. In fact, a great deal of my professional life is devoted to distinguishing between the material and (for lack of a better word) vitalist standards for knowing things.

My writeup for this exercise so far did include "material GAIN," which is to say, the amassing of status, power, wealth, sexual partners, and indications thereof.

The word "material-IST" as injected by some posters has been confounding to them. To all, Gareth is right; it has no place in our discussion. I didn't use it, so don't feel constrained by it. I also did not specify a given character's attitude, approach, or approval of the kind of material gain that I mentioned.


Paul Czege

Okay...influenced by all the's my current thinking.

Character name: Eroch de Pauvan

Eroch is a young architect, perhaps 27 years old, with a 15 year old sister, Chema de Pauvan. They are heriditary European nobility from some unspecified country, living in exile in the United States. Their parents were killed in a political assassination ten years ago. Chema has not spoken a word since the assassination, and for a number of years was fairly catatonic. She's currently being treated by an incredibly renowned German psychotherapist who Eroch hired and had brought into the country, and her condition has improved dramatically from her prior catatonia, though she still doesn't speak. It has been an expensive treatment proposition, and has depleted the family's heriditary wealth at a remarkable rate, but that's something which isn't a concern to Eroch. The improvement in Chema's condition and the renewed closeness between the two of them is the most important thing to him in the world.

Still, he realized a few years ago that he would need to produce an income that would provide for Chema's treatment after the heriditary wealth was depleted. So he created an architectural firm, funded it with money from investors and loans against de Pauvan heriditary assets, and designed and built a surreal skyscraper, with the idea that it would be the centerpiece of the metropolis and that owning and leasing it would provide the money he'd need for Chema.

His demon's name is Pazuzu. And I'm kind of fixated on an insect theme for the demon and for Eroch's surreal architectural style. I imagine a towering gothic structure, with flying buttresses that have sharp angular protrusions like the detailing of an insect leg. I picture round, multicellular windows of shaped glass, like insect eyes, that break the view of the outside up into abstraction. I imagine long dark corridors with bulbous eerily glowing light fixtures running down the middle of the ceiling, like the luminescent organs of fireflies.

I'm not sure how to incarnate his demon, however. I think of a horde of stinging insects. I can picture what looks like a snowy white area rug in the building actually turning out to be a carpet of insect larvae that rises up to envelop an assailant and consume everything but his watch, buttons, and skeleton. But I also picture a femme fatale with dark hair and bee-wing glasses.

Any suggestions on the demon?

I've got this idea that a cool telltale convention for the game would be that sorcerers and demons have colored items in our black and white and grey universe. If I went with the femme fatale demon, she'd have hard, shiny reddish-orange shoes with a few black spots on them, like the wings of a ladybug.

Any thoughts about telltales? How about one for Eroch?

And what about a Kicker?

My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans

Mike Holmes


Are you kidding? The building is his demon. And you've already described it.

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Ron Edwards

Hey Paul,

Even if the demon isn't the building, a shapeshift will do just fine for the human-type form. That insect theme is great by me.

I really like the colored Telltale part; it was pretty much what I was aiming at when coming up with the style of animation.

Kicker? No problem. Threaten or destabilize his success - EITHER financially (threaten the building/business) OR personally - devalue the sister, either in her actions or via someone else's negative influence on her. All set; you have the material-gain issue as well as the decent-guy issue ready to go.



Hey Paul,

I gotta go with Mike on this one.  The Building as the Demon is pretty awesome.  I'm pretty unerved already.


Ron Edwards

Jesse and Paul, full writeups of your characters are welcome. Tor, how about a character concept and/or writeup?


Tor Erickson

Hi fellas,
 Sorry I haven't been posting, we just finished midsems and then I had to travel back to California.

 Jesse, Paul, Ron: what do you guys think about there being character connections prior to the game itself?  I have to admit that I like the idea.  So should we tie our characters together somehow?  

Anyway, let me present...
Richie Silver

Stamina: 2, scrapper
Will: 5, driven, social competence
Lore: 3, Coven member
Humanity: 5
Cover: Street hustler
Price: Out of control, -1 to control emotions
Telltale:  Occasionally the horror that Richie has witnessed and caused overwhelms him and he lapses into minor psychotic episodes where he begins to see things from his past and hear voices.

"Be good, Richie," his mother would say, "be kind.  Look after others, do no harm."  That is what she said.  

But she did not tell him that the world is an evil place.  She did not tell him that no matter how hard he tried to do good, he would not be able to escape doing bad.

"My shadow" is what he calls it, and for him, it is all that is evil and wrong in himself.  He would never hurt another man, but his shadow would.  He would never make a woman scream in mortal fear, but his shadow has.  For some reason it knows what needs to be done, and it does it.

"I have no choice," Richie tells himself, "without my shadow's help I would never be able to give the things to my mother and sister that I do.  I would be as worthless to them as my father was."

Richie's father never told him to be good.  He never told him anything.  His lesson to his little son was that when the going gets tough you walk out, leaving it all behind.  Richie hates his father all the more because sometimes, more than anything else, he finds himself wanting to walk out and leave it all behind.

But now Richie is scared, more scared than he has ever been: supposedly somebody claiming to be his father is back in town, and is looking for the family that he left.

Richie's shadow:
Type: Inconspicuous
Telltale:  See text, below
Stamina: 5
Lore: 5
Will: 6
Power: 6
Abilities: Armor, confuse, hint, special damage (lethal), perception (360 degree awareness, conferred to Richie when they are close)

Richie's shadow dwells in and around Richie's body (almost like a parasite).  It looks like twisting tendrils of gray and black, sometimes forming frightening geometric patterns that seep from his mouth and eyes when he grows very emotional (telltale).  It can travel freely though, spilling across the ground and up walls, enveloping its victims, leaving them lacerated and bleeding with hundreds of surgical incisions.

Its need is to cause pain, its desire is corruption as it constantly tries to subvert Richie's hopes and desires to perverted versions of themselves.

[ This Message was edited by: Tor Erickson on 2001-10-22 22:19 ]

[ This Message was edited by: Tor Erickson on 2001-10-22 22:29 ]

Tor Erickson

A couple of other things:
First, I know Richie's background is pretty sketchy, and descriptions are at a minimum, but it seems to fit with the setting, more evocative than concrete.  Thoughts, comments?
Second, I think I'm missing something, because as far as I can tell, Lore is a markably inferior attribute.  The only two acts of sorcery that it affects are contact and contain (which are potentially two unimportant acts) and possibly Bind.  But  Will is good for Summon, punish, banish and potentially bind, and even stamina could be useful for bind.  And Stamina and Will are both highly useful in non-sorcerous contexts.  What am I missing?  How is lore useful?

Ron Edwards


Funny, my very next point was to suggest some interconnection among your characters that permitted positive interactions. Soap really taught me a lesson about this and now I wish I'd included similar concepts in the Sorcerer rules.

I would prefer that the interconnections be one-on-one between characters, and not some blanket thing like all being triplets or some such thing.


Ron Edwards

Lore, not useful? Oh, Tor.

Lore spots Telltales. It provides information about demons and sorcerers and rituals. It, more than anything, orients the character among all the funky evidence and leftovers. All that stuff in Chapter 4 about customizing demons and sorcery? Lore is the character's key to that material.

It's perfect for pre-action rolls - roll Lore vs. the demon's Power to get bonus dice for practically anything regarding that demon, including fighting it.



Well as for being interconnected I can come up with these two things off the top of my head.

My demon is a shadow.  Tor's demon is a shadow.  Perhaps they're two halves of some greater entity that was rend in two thousands of years ago.  This works espcially well since my demon has a mental need and his demon has a physical need.  Well, that at least relates the demons.

As for my connection with Paul.  Perhaps my nighclub is located IN his big scary building.  Kind of weak but the best I can do off the cuff.