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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 71 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Reluctant Sorcerers  (Read 4099 times)
DaGreatJL
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Posts: 57


« on: September 20, 2003, 06:56:29 PM »

I ran my second session of Sorcerer yesterday, as well as the first game with play time. Both the original char gen and last night went really well; however, there is one thing about two of the characters which somewhat vexes me, which is the fact that they are in denial.
Let me give some background. One of the characters is a famous novelist who is the author of "The Abyss Chronicles", a best-selling series of books that has recently been connected with a number of school shootings and suicides (the book series talks about the death of God and lots of really dark, messed up imagery). Now, the way the character gets inspiration is by taking drugs and performing mystic rituals he learned with a bunch of his buddys (read: coven) back in college. But that's stuff's not real, it's just what he does for inspiration, right? Needless to say, the novel is his starting Demon.
The second character in denail has the  short description of "pig with a badge". He a plainsclothes police officer who has very set ideas about what's right behavior, and wrong behavior; drugs, sex, and being a bum are bad things. The character has a mentor, a parole officer, who's helped guide the character, and has been also teaching some of his philosophy regarding 'luck', and ways for dealing with evil and superstitions to improve your 'luck'. With the mentor's help, the character acquired a 'lucky' gun. Now, of course the character would never use magic or traffic in demons or anything like that; those are things that Bad People Do. The fact that she needs to drip blood down the barrel to keep the gun working is just an interesting quark. (And for the record, the player thought that up without reading the example characters in the book, so the similarites are pure coincidence).
Now, both characters are sorcerers. This is not something that is in dispute. However, neither character sees themselves as sorcerers, or is willing to see what they do as sorcery. I'm worried that unless they eventually start to take responsibility for what they're doing, it will take some of the bite out of the game. I could, of course, be worrying for nothing.
What do y'all think?
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JL

I got the Power of Metal without cheating.
sirogit
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Posts: 503


« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2003, 12:13:17 AM »

Speaking as a player in that game*(*see P.S.) my own personal opinion on the situation on regards to the character's personal issues is:

A rose by any other name.

That is, they are aware that they have some sort of power seperate from natural existence. One (the novelist) seems paticularly unintereasted in the damages that this power is causing other people, and far more intereasted in the demographics of his next big book. The other (Badge-pig) sees his demon as an ends to a means, and the character seems to put consideration of ends far, far ahead of means.

What aspects hits me as absent from the game is the danger of being a sorcerer. It doesn't matter what they believe for that to come into play. I got the sunken feeling that you were planning to display that in my character's first scene.

If you wanted to provide a fix for the situation, I think those characters running into mine would provide with them a better understanding of what exactly it is they are doing. Whether they would believe him is a whole other matter.

This is all speaking from a near complete lack of expierince, though.

P.S(Hey! You! "JL")
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2003, 07:48:32 AM »

Hi there,

What really matters is the players' commitment to the issues at hand. When a character is a reluctant or in-denial sorcerer, it may or may not indicate that the player isn't connecting to the issues best served by the game.

In some cases, it's a real danger sign, and in the various threads here, you'll often see advice for new Sorcerer groups that say, "Don't let them have naive or 'oops I'm a sorcerer' characters!" But that's playing the issue as conservatively as possible.

Alternatively, if you think your players have come up with such characters specifically to enjoy their characters' coming to an eventual epiphany about their real choices that they must make ... then that's good too. The key is to observe them in play carefully - do they enjoy playing the characters, in terms of making decisions of any kind? If so, that's a good sign - it means that when the crunch comes, they will probably have a "Oh, shit, I am a sorcerer" moment, and then take off in various Four-Possible-Resolutions directions.

As a GM, JL, you can concentrate on two things for sure. (1) As sirogit suggests, when the characters get together, they will act as case-studies for one another; use my advice in Sex & Sorcery regarding Crosses and Weaves for purposes of this eventual contact. (2) Play your NPCs with great passion. Deliver their lines from a sense of commitment to their points of view, and communicate their outlooks - and why they need and/or hate the sorcerer characters - in every scene.

Both of these will facilitate the players' commitment to their own characters, and make the constructive approach to an in-denial player-character more likely to get expressed through play, over time.

Best,
Ron
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Christopher Weeks
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Posts: 683


« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2003, 04:15:22 AM »

Maybe I'm too late to be useful and Ron has already spoken, but I'm trying to learn the game and how to actually play it too, so thinking these things through aloud (as it were) is useful to me.

It seems like the players' understanding of sorcery coupled with the raw Humanity mechanic as an adversary of the Needs and Desires is going to propel their behavior along "correct" lines.  Unless their Needs and Desires are completely compatible with Humanity-affirming behavior, of course.

And if, because of the particular details of your situation, you wanted to push them out into the open, you could tailor situations that they know they can't handle.  One obvious way of dealing with that, from their perspective, is to grab more demons.

I think the reluctant/accidental sorcerer is an interesting story element to play with and I've thought it curious that in general people seem to want to steer clear of it because "Sorcerer is about the choices you make."  I agree with this, but don't see the disconnect.  I can imagine the tough choices that I would have to make if such a thing just happened to me.  The line from Blade (movie), "I'm going to be a naughty vampire god" comes to mind.

Chris (who considers himself more or less 'good,' but maybe we all do)
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2003, 08:04:30 AM »

Like Ron said, Chris, it's indeed all about player engagement. If the player is playing a reluctant Sorcerer because he doesn't want to address these sorts of problems, then even if forced to do so, he's not going to have fun. If they're playing the reluctant sorcerer because they're going to enjoy the particular conflicts that will arise despite the reluctance (as you point out), then it's all good.

Some players sabotage their own fun by avoiding creating a character who has some conflict that they will enjoy playing out. Because if there's no potential enjoyable conflict from the character's situation, there's no fun from Sorcerer.

Mike
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Ben Morgan
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« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2003, 10:02:48 AM »

Quote
Unless their Needs and Desires are completely compatible with Humanity-affirming behavior, of course.


Creating demons with Humanity-affirming Needs and Desires, if it's even possible, still completely misses the point.

By definition, the nature of Sorcery is completely at odds with the nature of Humanity. It follows then, that a demon's Need and Desire would also be at odds with Humanity. After all, it's that Desire that's brought them to this world to begin with (with sorcery as a vehicle for that), it's why they wanted to be summoned and bound. And their Need is (ideally) specifically tied to the sorcery that brought it here.

Even such dubious Needs as "Protect my sorcerer" are twisted by the dysfunctional nature of the sorcerer-demon relationship. As a less personal example: Something as noble as "Help the Poor" becomes just a bit screwy when you realize that the sorcerer is responsible for providing the demon's Need. A Need to "Make everyone Happy" means that the sorcerer must ensure that there will always be a plethora of unhappy people around.

More importantly, just like Mike said, playing out the conflict is the point of the game.

-- Ben
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-----[Ben Morgan]-----[ad1066@gmail.com]-----
"I cast a spell! I wanna cast... Magic... Missile!"  -- Galstaff, Sorcerer of Light
A.Neill
Member

Posts: 62


« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2003, 02:41:49 AM »

Just to add to the advice and agree with what's been said....

In my own Sorceror game demons are Lucefarian constructs born of psychological extremis. When we began the game, three of four characters did not even know their demons were real. However, each player had made a decision to allow their characters to summon a Demon (or Darker Angel as they're called in the game) for material affect to help with their psychosis (or take the blame for it) or whatever. It was the players' decisions that indicated an engagement with the premise of the game rather than character acceptance or denial.

Alan.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2003, 07:03:19 AM »

Hi Alan,

That's a great example.

And hey, if you'd like to post more about your game either here or in Actual Play, please consider yourself invited.

Best,
Ron
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A.Neill
Member

Posts: 62


« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2003, 01:36:46 AM »

Well I went and wrote up our Sorcerer game and posted to Actual Play. Some stuff in there about characters discovering their sorcerous natures that DaGreatJL might find useful.

Alan.
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