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Author Topic: My current Sorcerer game - modern necromancy  (Read 23531 times)
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2003, 08:06:20 AM »

Hi Tim,

Quote
Other than this aspect of being in the 'other,' has anything else come up that brings the characters in contact with it beyond the demons themselves? Or has no one explored that side of things, being caught up in their own stuff?


I think your fingers got ahead of your brain or vice versa, there. I see several independent variables all squashed together. Can you provide a fully-parsed version of your question?

Best,
Ron
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Tim Alexander
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« Reply #16 on: September 11, 2003, 08:28:36 AM »

Wow, no kidding, I got a little excited I guess. :)

Ok, lemme try and break it down.

The contact ritual seems to bring the characters into territory that's sort of the demon's world, or at least less the Sorcerer's world. That in itself is pretty wild, instead of just communicating with the otherworldly demon, you're experience the otherworldly to allow communication with the demon. It seems that this could have a lot of other repurcussions, and so I'm curious if:

A) Have the characters been limited to this experience of the otherworld? Do any of the other rituals touch on this sort of direct experiencing?

B) Are they really there, or is this all in their heads? If they are there, then:

1) Has anyone tried to wade around and see what's on the other side, or is that not an option?

2) Are they vulnerable there to any Tom, Dick, and Harry demon who comes wading by?

-Tim
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #17 on: September 11, 2003, 09:09:43 AM »

Hi Tim,

Probably the very best answer is to say, "Read the Nix novels," because I'm following the books' imagery and implications fairly carefully.

Quote
A) Have the characters been limited to this experience of the otherworld? Do any of the other rituals touch on this sort of direct experiencing?


I'm not sure what you mean by "limited," but I'm going with the idea that there is no other sorcery whatsoever. You do sorcery, you go to the river, period.

All of the rituals should touch on it. Banishing, for instance, blows the demon back through the gates.

One of things that shows up in the books that I'd like to get more established in the game is going beyond the first gate, and through "more" other-realms (which are still the river, just different "geography" for each). We haven't done so mainly because I've been a slacker about providing handouts that clarify the rituals better, in terms of providing more meat for the players to work with.

Quote
B) Are they really there, or is this all in their heads?


Heh. Do a search on "NaN" for this forum and read those threads. The practical answer is that we play it as if they were there.

Quote
If they are there, then:

1) Has anyone tried to wade around and see what's on the other side, or is that not an option?


You can wade around all you want, but all you ever find is the river and the nine gates. This follows the books' model.

Quote
2) Are they vulnerable there to any Tom, Dick, and Harry demon who comes wading by?


Uh-huh. That includes something horrid which has managed to work itself upstream from the further gates, something horrid which is being Contacted by some other sorcerer at the moment, or something horrid which has actually been set there as a trap for you by some other sorcerer.

All of the players apparently love the river-imagery, and Frank in particular likes to have Urma do a Contact whenever anyone is killed, to confront the demonic "version" of the dead person. It's hard on his Humanity, but it's cool as the dickens. (Frank is rather keen on the special effects of Urma's sorcery, by the way. "I bring out the leeches" was his winning phrase in the first session.)

Best,
Ron
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Tim Alexander
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« Reply #18 on: September 11, 2003, 09:25:21 AM »

Hey Ron,

Ok, I may have to wander over to Borders here in a minute and grab Sabriel. I could stand a trip out of the office anyway. You answered the core of my questions, which I had still not managed to ask, which was "Do you get to do a bunch of interacting here? Or is it mostly color for the contact ritual?" It sounds like the former, which I have to say is way cool. I can't wait to see more of this, I'm terribly jealous.

-Tim
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #19 on: September 12, 2003, 06:36:52 AM »

Hi everyone,

Check out the second handout, which I brought to our first actual play session. It's not much more than a collage for each character based on some free-associative Googling. I do this a lot for characters I play, and it just struck me as fun for these characters as well, to let the players know how their concepts had struck me. See how that works? These aren't "What your character looks like, 'cause I say so," but rather, "What your character work brought to my imagination, given some keystrokes."

Doing this was interesting in unexpected ways. For instance, using "coma" as a search term yielded photos of actual coma victims, and I was instantly repelled at the idea of using these images for Victoria. It struck me as absolutely unethical, and I went for a more conceptual or implied-version, more like a Rebus than an illustration. Also, the demons are pretty much absent from the pictures, because they ended up being so nebulous. Marca is a drift of smoke, Veniamin is invisible, and Grett mainly  appears as a fleeting overlay of Craig's father's features over his own.

I also found a few pictures that matched sort-of well with some of the NPCs that had cropped up in the pre-game prep, whether explicit on the backs of the character sheets or just in my notes thus far.

(H'm, looking over the file, I find that the formatting is little off. Well, just imagine 8.5" by 11" sheets with fuzzy borders.)

So how about play? The first session was very much like I've described in the Art-Deco threads: no "story" to speak of, just playing out the Kickers or perhaps their consequences, and pressing for decisive actions from players. Here's how it worked out.

1. Urma's Kicker involved being attacked in such a way that he recognized his old-school Peruvian sorcery in action. That's easy - the attacker was Possessed by a demon, and it used a funky-duty Neat Knife (tm). I also decided that the demon in question was Veniamin, Victoria's demon, because her Kicker strongly implied that Veniamin was alienated from its master. That let me posit that it had cut a deal with an NPC who wanted Urma dead.

Oh yeah! That reminds me of another creative constraint I had laid on myself, for this game: Known Demons Only. In other words, I did not invent any demons for the back-story or bring them into play. Instead, I simply indicated very carefully which characters in the relationship map were dead, and which living NPCs might interact with them in sorcerous terms to generate demons later. So that's one reason why the demon in Urma's Kicker turned out to be Victoria's Bound demon - for the first run, no other demons were present in the game.

During play, this Kicker rocked wonderfully, for three reasons. (a) I decided to role-play the two demons getting together and communicating inside the Possessee's body, which was both visually cool and set up for more demonic role-playing later. (b) Victoria was able to participate in the scene (see below) and that turned out to be a big deal. (c) I'd decided to make the possessed-host an interesting NPC, not just some schmoe, so he was Walter Stone, a city detective. And then Frank blew me away, because he successfully befriended Stone, even after leeching him for blood for Marca! Stone has been a major character ever since and provided a key way for Urma, who was an illegal-immigrant newstand-vendor, to get more connected into the power structure and society of the city.

2. Victoria's Kicker was way fun, because she and Veniamin have Link. That means that she could eavesdrop on its activities (and Veniamin didn't mind; using the "just watch me disobey you, you're not the boss of me" concept) and get pretty surprised as to what it was up to. Looking over my old notes for the session, I find that my decisions about this Kicker remained in flux almost right up to the session itself. Apparently I'd thought that Veniamin would be attacking Craig, not Urma, and then changed my mind:

Quote
H'm ... how 'bout if cult guy who attacks Urma is actually Veniamin in action? trying to lure Urma into killing the innocent host? [key: Marca wants Urma to live] & the Widdoes are part of the real cult, which ...


I don't want to bore anyone with details, but "the Widdoes" are Victoria's mentor (the wife) and her previous lover (the husband), and the "cult" was revised sharply before play in some dialogue with Beth, when we decided it was kind of a "wives' club" coven that taught her sorcery. I also have enjoyed the revelation over the full course of play so far that Victoria is the only member who actually practices, and that the mentor, Martha Widdoes, is actually a pretty pee-poor sorceress, not some Awful Expert Master. But see what I mean about the details? I'm getting away from discussing the Kickers and the first session.

Anyway, the important thing about Victoria's Kicker is that she realized she needed to feed her demon's Need, so she sent it around to spy out any infidelities committed by all sorts of politicians and public figures throughout the city, and possess their wives to go and walk in on each instance. That turned out to blow my relationship map wide open (which is a good thing), because it revealed a crucial affair ... which itself had been the basis for Veniamin being co-opted in the first place, in my prep. In other words, all of Beth's choices not only revealed tons of stuff to her as a player, but also placed her character in severe, overriding danger and upset her entire sense of who was who throughout all of her acquaintances.

3. Craig's Kicker was sort of troublesome, unsurprisingly. I decided to play it both emotionally and physically - on the one hand, he swung into action to see why he was being ostracized by the streetfighter scene, and that led to a brief physical confrontation with an mean NPC I'd made up, Kim Vega (the tough Asian-looking guy in the second half of the collages). But I didn't want it all to go into "investigate, fight taciturn guy, investigate, get stonewalled, investigate, uncover conspiracy" mode. That struck me as a path to disaster for me and Nev as fellow role-players.

So the real Kicker, or the "spike" if you will, was to get him hooked up with some people who'd known his parents, specifically a guy who wanted to use him in a documentary recapping his dad's career. I pushed a lot of contrast between the bright hope of martial arts in the 1980s and the grubby, broken life Nev had described for Craig fifteen years later, especially since I could use his reviewing of the old videotapes "back in the day" to instigate some dialogue between him and Grett. I also introduced the guy's daughter, Melanie, who remembered Craig from when he was little.

That fed really nicely into Victoria's situation, because Melanie was one of the women that Veniamin possessed on Victoria's orders, and the husband she walked in on (with Martha, Victoria's mentor) is one of the really bad bastards in the relationship map - the guy who'd killed his first wife, Lori, and married her sister, Melanie. Interestingly, Nev decided that Craig would not follow up on his interaction with Melanie and that he was simply not the kind of guy who cared about what this forlorn, lonely, unhappily-married woman was all about. It was a solid "No," if you will, to a possible emotional connection with an NPC. I decided to say, "All right," and move on. Never argue with the word of God, and that means don't consider an NPC you like, personally, necessarily to become important to another person in the game.

So far, you'll see that "story" isn't very evident during this session, and I've glossed over some things that are very important for the story as it developed. I'll try to clarify them in later posts, and it'll become much clearer if you guys ask lots of questions. For now, what I'm trying to emphasize are my thoughts and interactions with the players during this phase. The most important thing for purposes of the first session was not to connect the characters physically or logistically, but rather to interest the players in one another's situation, and the logistic overlaps among the Kickers were only a means to that end.

Best,
Ron
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Tim Alexander
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« Reply #20 on: September 16, 2003, 10:48:38 AM »

Hey Ron,

Sorry on the slow turnaround on some questions. DSL was down at home over the weekend, and in addition, there's a whole lot to digest here for so 'little' story. :)

1) Did you hand out the handout before our after play. Was there any discussion about it? Did you find out from it whether your concept and the players concept was different? The same?

2) Why the known demon's only constraint? Arbitrary challenge you put on yourself? Were you looking to achieve something specific with it?

3) What the heck did Victoria's player do with all the stuff going on with Victoria's demon? Has there been any punishing? Any sort of confrontation there beyond the show and tell stuff so far?

4) How did the befriending of the detective actually happen? How did they get from leeching to handshaking?

5) Given that a big possible NPC washed up pretty early in Melanie, how have you been moving Craig forward?

-Tim
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #21 on: September 16, 2003, 11:01:03 AM »

Hi Tim,

Whew! I was feeling neglected. And hey, all you non-Tims, how about some more comments? I busted my ass for that post.

Quote
1) Did you hand out the handout before our after play. Was there any discussion about it? Did you find out from it whether your concept and the players concept was different? The same?


I handed it out before we played, and we chatted over it a little. As far as I remember (or could tell), everyone accepted the pictures as "Ron's notions" rather than as fixed and standardized images for their characters. The "what happens in a car crash" went over very well, and I was surprised at how disturbing the final two dead-people images apparently were.

Quote
2) Why the known demon's only constraint? Arbitrary challenge you put on yourself? Were you looking to achieve something specific with it?


I wanted to avoid the cornucopia o'demons World of Darkness problem, in that I really want the setting to be the modern day and not some "one dimension away, with demons." I also recognized that the concept of sorcery we're using permits demons to come into play very easily - just kill someone, or know they've been killed. So I wanted "demonics" in the game to arise from events in the game.

Quote
3) What the heck did Victoria's player do with all the stuff going on with Victoria's demon? Has there been any punishing? Any sort of confrontation there beyond the show and tell stuff so far?


Oh my God. Yes, in the second session, things got very whacked. I'll talk about that soon (small time constraint just hit).

Quote
4) How did the befriending of the detective actually happen? How did they get from leeching to handshaking?


All I can say is, good role-playing and good rolls, acting in tandem in the Sorcerer fashion. Urma had tied Stone up, and he talked to him then - it was clear that he, Urma, had driven Veniamin out of Stone, who was mainly concerned with what had happened to him. Then the leeching proceeded from there - it was almost a bonding-type thing between them. And yes, Frank made a fantastic roll - an appeal of Humanity against Stone's Will.

Quote
5) Given that a big possible NPC washed up pretty early in Melanie, how have you been moving Craig forward?


I decided not to. It's clear to me that Nev, much like one of the finest role-players I know, Mario, prefers to have his character's personal crises arise without much reflection on his (the player's) part. If it doesn't "hit" in a given scene, then he won't force it.

The fourth session, in particular, paid off big-time.

Best,
Ron
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Tim Alexander
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« Reply #22 on: September 16, 2003, 12:48:02 PM »

Hey again,

Quote from: Ron Edwards
I also recognized that the concept of sorcery we're using permits demons to come into play very easily - just kill someone, or know they've been killed. So I wanted "demonics" in the game to arise from events in the game.


Huh, this implies to me that in most games you've run that events don't usually trend towards a lot of new demons mid story. Or was it more that you really expected a _lot_ of demons created in this setting, and so didn't want to add more to the mix?

Quote
I decided not to. It's clear to me that Nev, much like one of the finest role-players I know, Mario, prefers to have his character's personal crises arise without much reflection on his (the player's) part. If it doesn't "hit" in a given scene, then he won't force it.


So what's the direction his story is taking at the moment, more followup on the documentary? Further down the streetfight track?

Quote

The fourth session, in particular, paid off big-time.


Perhaps I should wait for this. :)

-Tim
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #23 on: September 16, 2003, 02:17:43 PM »

Phew! I'm back.

All right, I have to expand my previous post a little as well as deal with Tim's new questions.

Quote
this implies to me that in most games you've run that events don't usually trend towards a lot of new demons mid story. Or was it more that you really expected a _lot_ of demons created in this setting, and so didn't want to add more to the mix?


Your first surmise is correct. The starting-demon dynamic is usually so strong in my games that most of our attention focuses on that. Other demons usually were set into action by me, the GM. So I was hoping that we'd see more player-input into demon creation via the events (i.e. deaths and revealed-deaths) of play.

Problem: I didn't follow up on my intentions of making a really good, kick-ass Rituals and Sorcery handout. It would include special effects for the Gates (beyond the first of which does use the Sorc & Sword otherworld rules) and provide some guidelines for (a) seeking a particular dead person, (b) seeking long-dead vs. recently-dead people, and (c) seeking particular demonic abilities or qualities regardless of who the dead person was.

So without that, and since none of the other people involved have played Sorcerer before, there's been less effort toward Summoning than I'd hoped. But recent events in play have changed that a little.

Regarding Nev's character, Craig, the answer for the second session is, not much happened in the second session in terms of decisions or (in particular) combat. I provided a Bang, in the form of Kim Vega, a tough bastard Craig had scuffled with in the first session, being found dead in Craig's workout studio. Shot through the forehead, actually.

That led Craig and Urma to enter one another's stories via Stone, and it also led to a fun scene in which Frank demonstrated his nasty imagination again, gaining bonus dice for Urma putting his hand into the blown-open back of Vega's head and Contacting. This was the scene I'd mentioned before (see When sorcery goes "poof"), in which Frank's failed roll brought them into Contact with a different demon, a really big one.

Frank also used his Lore successfully to get an "image" of Vega's last moments, which provided a look at a new NPC. Combined with Walter Stone's police savvy, this clarified a whole bunch of things for Urma and Craig even as Victoria's actions, via Veniamin, clarified a whole bunch of things for her and brought about the third-session climax for her character.

So this session represented, for me, a certain retrenchment on Nev's part as he started to find his feet as a Sorcerer player and shook off some habits from previous play. This continued through the third session (when he actually took some ribbing from the other players about getting his character into action), but then blossomed during the fourth.

H'm, I just decided explaining the events of play ("the story") isn't going to work too well without the relationship map. So I just set it up, and I'll see about uploading it soon.

Here's another point about our game - the actual play spaces and times. We've bounced around a lot, partly because I'm getting used to my house as a social role-playing space, and partly because we all have wacky schedules and have to fit in our role-playing with other obligations.
-Venue for our first meeting: my basement, in the evening (how Gamer!).
- For our first session of play: my front lawn, in front of all the neighbors, including one magic moment of seeing the jock teenager across the street and his friends head into his house with a box of Axis & Allies under his arm.
- For our second session: my living room, in the afternoon.
- For our third session: my wife's parents' back yard, by their pool, on a very sunny afternoon.
- For our fourth session: Frank's apartment, at their dinner table, in the afternoon.

Best,
Ron
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Tim Alexander
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« Reply #24 on: September 17, 2003, 10:28:40 AM »

Me again with some followup and some additional questions...

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Your first surmise is correct. The starting-demon dynamic is usually so strong in my games that most of our attention focuses on that. Other demons usually were set into action by me, the GM. So I was hoping that we'd see more player-input into demon creation via the events (i.e. deaths and revealed-deaths) of play.


That's fascinating, I wouldn't have thought that would be the case. I wonder if that's a trend most people find in their games.

Quote
Problem: I didn't follow up on my intentions of making a really good, kick-ass Rituals and Sorcery handout. It would include special effects for the Gates (beyond the first of which does use the Sorc & Sword otherworld rules) and provide some guidelines for (a) seeking a particular dead person, (b) seeking long-dead vs. recently-dead people, and (c) seeking particular demonic abilities or qualities regardless of who the dead person was.


This sounds too cool to pass up, do you still have plans to do it?

Quote
Frank also used his Lore successfully to get an "image" of Vega's last moments, which provided a look at a new NPC. Combined with Walter Stone's police savvy, this clarified a whole bunch of things for Urma and Craig even as Victoria's actions, via Veniamin, clarified a whole bunch of things for her and brought about the third-session climax for her character.


Was the lore as psychometry something the player pitched, or something you hit upon? It sounds like something that could become fairly heavily used in this game.

Quote
So this session represented, for me, a certain retrenchment on Nev's part as he started to find his feet as a Sorcerer player and shook off some habits from previous play. This continued through the third session (when he actually took some ribbing from the other players about getting his character into action), but then blossomed during the fourth.


Interesting, it's cool to see the various substories evolving at their own pace. When you're dealing with the various players do you handle them scene by scene, or will you play through with them to some breakpoint and then move to the next? Are you keeping them relatively close to each other in time, if not physical space?

Quote
H'm, I just decided explaining the events of play ("the story") isn't going to work too well without the relationship map. So I just set it up, and I'll see about uploading it soon.


I almost asked for this in my last post, it'd be really helpful. Also, if it's built from a literary reference that you care to reveal I'd love to know that as well.

Quote

-Venue for our first meeting: my basement, in the evening (how Gamer!).
- For our first session of play: my front lawn, in front of all the neighbors, including one magic moment of seeing the jock teenager across the street and his friends head into his house with a box of Axis & Allies under his arm.
- For our second session: my living room, in the afternoon.
- For our third session: my wife's parents' back yard, by their pool, on a very sunny afternoon.
- For our fourth session: Frank's apartment, at their dinner table, in the afternoon.


Interesting, how much has the setting effected, if at all, the vibe of the session?

-Tim
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #25 on: September 17, 2003, 11:42:04 AM »

Hi Tim,

It'll be a few days before all the stuff I want to upload makes it there, but in the interim ...

Various people have reported less Contacting and Summoning in their games than they'd expected or hoped. The reasons are pretty clear to me.

1. Summoning is quantitatively difficult, because Humanity is a negative modifier.

2. People don't remember or process the idea that successful Contact rolls give bonus dice to Summoning, if the special effects or actions carry over.

3. Related point to #2: role-playing bonus dice apply to any roll, which is to say, to Summoning rolls.

4. Coming up with the in-game context for sorcery is flat-out, hands-down, the biggest stumbling block for any group who's used to a post-1990 context for how "setting" and "system" interrelate for a role-playing game. Failing to create such a thing means that #2-3 above have no hook to hang their hat on.

Yes, I'm working on the next handout and planning to rev up the River context substantially.

Frank came up with the psychometry idea by himself, if I remember correctly. I think we're still considering it a Contact of a sort.

Quote
When you're dealing with the various players do you handle them scene by scene, or will you play through with them to some breakpoint and then move to the next? Are you keeping them relatively close to each other in time, if not physical space?


I don't quite understand your first question; the two options sound like the same thing to me. I use the simultaneous-scene method and cut back and forth among scenes as they play out. The technique is outlined pretty carefully in Sex & Sorcery, in the last chapter, including a bunch of jargon called Bobs, Weaves, and similar.

Time is a little labile, as we feel free to shift a little forward or a little back regarding separated-in-space scenes' relative positions, but not very much.

Best,
Ron
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Tim Alexander
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« Reply #26 on: September 17, 2003, 12:08:34 PM »

Feel free to put me off at some point if you grow weary of me picking at you. :)

Quote
4. Coming up with the in-game context for sorcery is flat-out, hands-down, the biggest stumbling block for any group who's used to a post-1990 context for how "setting" and "system" interrelate for a role-playing game. Failing to create such a thing means that #2-3 above have no hook to hang their hat on.

Meaning,

Yes, I'm working on the next handout and planning to rev up the River context substantially.


Ok, so without a good Sorcery definition no one 'gets' it enough to want to get the bonuses to overcome the penalties of humanity, so it's all a bit daunting. Now that I've written this, it niggles a part of my brain where I read you mention how surprised people are at how hard it is to summon demons. Do you have criteria for determining when a sorcery/ritual concept is complete?

Quote

Frank came up with the psychometry idea by himself, if I remember correctly. I think we're still considering it a Contact of a sort.


Oh perfect, that's neat.

Quote
I don't quite understand your first question; the two options sound like the same thing to me. I use the simultaneous-scene method and cut back and forth among scenes as they play out. The technique is outlined pretty carefully in Sex & Sorcery, in the last chapter, including a bunch of jargon called Bobs, Weaves, and similar.


You're right, I knew that. Sometimes I divorce you from your own text. I'm also still digesting S&S. Heck, I'm still digesting Soul, and Sword, and the main book for that matter.

Quote
Time is a little labile, as we feel free to shift a little forward or a little back regarding separated-in-space scenes' relative positions, but not very much.


Gotcha.

Looking forward to the next installment.

-Tim
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #27 on: September 17, 2003, 01:13:13 PM »

I have questions about your collages:  Is that fair game for this thread?

First of all, they are tres cool.  Extracurricular art for games is (almost) always great.

Do you do these for every game you run?  Every game you play in?  When you are creating them as a GM, do you find that the content and focus is different than when you create them as a player?

Do others in your group (any group) do similar artistic contributions?  What do they do?  Do people tend to have schticks (Nev does the sketches, Ron does collages, Laura does musical mixes) or do they tend to do all sorts of things?  What length of game generates this sort of art (they might not be appropriate for a one shot, but a six-or-seven session deal seems much more likely.)

Whew.  That ended up being a lot more questions than I had intended.

I ask because my college gaming group was very big on extracurricular artistic contribution, particularly music mixes but also costuming (even for tabletops) and sometimes other things (like art or collages or surreal webpages.)  It was not something that I had encountered in gaming previously.  People got very into these things -- one player in a LARP of mine wrote two novel-length fanfictions about her character.  I was never that focused, but I still very much like the mix CDs, and will often have about 60 minutes of music for any given character or game.

yrs--
--Ben
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #28 on: September 17, 2003, 08:20:13 PM »

Hi Ben,

I was spoiled in the 80s, playing my first game of Champions with extremely professional and inspired comics artists. Almost every week would bring incredibly good cover art or pages for the comics we were "creating."

Throughout my history with that game, I often paid artists I met through the Champs grapevine to provide portraits, and my final game has a veritable catalogue of images.

However, the lesson didn't take for playing other things until I played Everway, and realized that the card-images were a major feature of play, both for prep and for communication while playing. Looking for certain images always yields other ones, many of which become incorporated into the game as well.

Ever since, I very frequently use images while playing. The internet and Google are of course a godsend for this purpose, but the hundreds of minimally-used gaming books and supplements, as well as my extensive comics and art-books collection, all get mined as well.

Typically, when starting a new game, I'll pass out some text that I've photocopied and images from a variety of sources. Ideally, I like to provide a new handout every session, sometimes with certain rules being clarified, other times with recaps or reminder-lists of NPCs, and still other times just with nifty pictures.

When playing a character, I very often will make a collage page for him or her, very much like the ones I made for this game. Again, none of the images are supposed to be a literal and exact portrait, but the viewer is supposed to look at all of them and create a kind of gestalt or "common source" for them, and that's the character.

I would vastly appreciate similar input from fellow role-players in my groups, but I have also learned - from Amber - that forcing it, or even formalizing it in terms of points or whatever, is counter-productive. But yes, music mixes, other forms of art, or what-have-you are great adjuncts. Sometimes they're used for play itself (e.g. Everway image cards), sometimes they're used mainly for out-of-play appreciation (e.g. the comics art from the Champions game), but it's always welcome.

Best,
Ron
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ejh
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #29 on: September 20, 2003, 03:00:04 PM »

(reposting some stuff I private-messaged to Ron, at his request)

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Ron,

My family has some connections to Navajo culture, and so I've heard second or thirdhand about some bits of Navajo religion/mythology/worldview/superstition/whatever.
 
One of the things that's worth knowing about is the "chindi."  You see, when you die, everything that's good about you disappears... Annihilated.  Nothing left.  Everything that's bad about you lives on as a spirit called a "chindi."  (This extremely bleak afterlife is, according to some Christian Navajos, a reason why there is a significant Christian Navajo population -- the afterlife story in the Old Ways is so absolutely hopeless; belief in heaven, even heaven for a restricted few "saved" folks, is *way* more than they've traditionally been able to hope for.)
 
A chindi is localized.  They stay in the place where the person died, and cause trouble for anyone still there, especially people close to the deceased.  There is no way to exorcize a chindi.  You just have to leave.
 
This is one reason that Navajos tend not to buy expensive houses.  Because any house may have to be abandoned forever if someone dies in it.  If your house was just a hogan, and you can build another one in a reasonable amount of time, that's not such a big deal.  So spend your money on a pickup truck instead!
 
Anyway, your dead folks reminded me a bit of chindis -- though to be honest, they're a lot more mellow than chindis. :)

----

(disclaimer: I'm not an authority on Navajo culture; this is just stuff that I've heard from my mom, who was a teacher at a school on the rez for most of a decade.  My stepfather is a Navajo convert to Christianity, raised in the Old Ways back in the day, but I've never sat down and talked to him about the Old Ways, cause it never happened to come up in conversation.  I learned about chindis from my mom, who had learned it from her students and other sources on the rez.  What's in the above paragraphs is the sum total of what I know about chindis; what's in this paragraph is the sum total of the reason I know it, and I welcome correction from anyone better informed. :)

(edit when I realized I'd gotten the word wrong -- instead of "chindi" -- "ghost" -- I'd written "chidi" -- "car".  Doh!)
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