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Author Topic: Souther Fried Sorcerer, part 1  (Read 7681 times)
Tor Erickson
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« on: November 14, 2001, 07:02:00 PM »

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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2001, 08:11:00 AM »

Hey

Almost two months ago, Tor began http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?topic=684&forum=7&1">this thread in the Sorcerer forum.

Historically, when a person thinks of GM-prep, they think in terms of literal world-creation - who's under what rock, basically. When this proves cumbersome, they exert effort to canalize the possibilities of play, so that when X happens, they know who's under what rock at X.

For Sorcerer play, it's a tad different. The preparation is intensive, but it's not about mapping EITHER the world OR the sequence of planned events. It's about creating a reactive web of interacting humans (and demons).

So at first glance, I think that Tor said, "Oooh, sketchy setting creation? Cool, less work."

I tried to warn him. The payoff comes during play, as the traditional methods tend NOT to save effort & time during play, and this one does. But prep is still a monster.

Best,
Ron
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2001, 08:16:00 AM »

Now for the specifics.

HOOKING TO THE MAP
It is not entirely necessary to hook each Kicker solidly to the relationship map. I have found it functional to run at least one Kicker as a subplot, rather than as an element of the main plot. This works best when the sorcerer characters are already interested in one another's lives (which is why Demon Cops is a very easy and quick form of Sorcerer; they're all cops in the same department).

If the characters begin utterly disconnected, then yes, the relationship map is all you've got. You can still run one character's Kicker as a subplot, just establish the character as KNOWING someone in the map and thus he keeps being AFFECTED by this other stuff going on, in addition to dealing with the Kicker.

RELATIVELY BORING KICKERS
The way I look at this, we have a choice. Either we have NO Kickers, which puts the player floating in space and gazing expectantly at the GM to situate the character (by which I mean "situation" in all its meanings, not just location); or we have Kickers that only bump the character a LITTLE into action. My call is that a little is better than nothing, and at least the GM can use what little is there to connect up to as many relevant NPCs and as much wild-demonic-hoo-ha as possible.

The prize in the box is when a player gives you a Kicker like "After returning from a painful scene at my ex-wife's funeral, I find that she's sitting at my kitchen table, looking perfectly hale and hearty, smoking one of those damn cigs and gazing at me coolly."

But if it's something like, "A guy tried to kill me with a hatchet on the bus today," and if you (rightly) do not want to spend time making it more explicitly full of content ... then the solution is clear, although it's work-from-the-ground-up for you. Just come up with a good reason for that to have happened, AND "spike it" during the first run. In other words, have the written Kicker simply be the opening scene for an in-play Kicker that blows the player's socks off. Like, "You then come home to find all your stuff hacked up with hatchets, and your neighbors, smiling very widely, invite you to stay with them tonight for ... um, for safety. Yeah, safety. What do you do?"

Best,
Ron
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2001, 08:50:00 PM »

Hey Tor,

o A relationship map...
o Kickers...
o An explicitly stated premise...
o Explicit use of author-stance by all the players involved
o A fortune-in-the-middle game mechanic
o The extensive use of out-of-character knowledge to heighten the overall impact of in-game events


You're really cooking with gas. These, plus the explicit scene framing and non-traditionally fluid attitude about time and distance that you've described are really going to have you searing the narrative meat. Congratulations on your game!

Paul
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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
Tor Erickson
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Posts: 134


« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2001, 08:28:00 AM »

Quoth Ron:
Quote

Historically, when a person thinks of GM-prep, they think in terms of literal world-creation - who's under what rock, basically. When this proves cumbersome, they exert effort to canalize the possibilities of play, so that when X happens, they know who's under what rock at X.


This is exactly how I've almost always run games in the past, the guiding philosophy being that preparedness=detailed physical descriptions and lists of props and NPCs to believably flesh out a scene.

This sprung from the idea that the game world had to be as detailed as possible in order for the players to have suspension of disbelief.

Quote

For Sorcerer play, it's a tad different. The preparation is intensive, but it's not about mapping EITHER the world OR the sequence of planned events. It's about creating a reactive web of interacting humans (and demons).


Which isn't easy or quick.  On the other hand, I'm in the process of prepping for Southern Fried Sorcerer session two and it looks like I'll be able to get all of the pre-game prep done within a couple of hours this week (hopefully).

In other words, I'm looking at lots of initial prep, with significantly less "maintenance" work.
 
-Tor

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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2001, 08:38:00 AM »

Tor,

Exactly right. You'll find that between-run effort is spent on FUN stuff, like:

- more or less playing NPCs' reactions to various things that happened in the last run, to set up Bangs for the next

- rearranging or sharpening up elements that had been iffy or "left open" previously

- thinking about "path-crossing" (a technique I have not described previously) such that stories WITHOUT conceptual connectors STILL contribute to one another

- prepping to play particular NPCs - finding their voices, clarifying their outlooks, and otherwise coming up with ways for them to bring the player-characters more into the light

Best,
Ron
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Tor Erickson
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Posts: 134


« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2001, 08:48:00 AM »

Quote

On 2001-11-15 11:16, Ron Edwards wrote:
Now for the specifics.


All right! Specifics.  Let's do it...

Quote

HOOKING TO THE MAP
It is not entirely necessary to hook each Kicker solidly to the relationship map. I have found it functional to run at least one Kicker as a subplot, rather than as an element of the main plot. This works best when the sorcerer characters are already interested in one another's lives (which is why Demon Cops is a very easy and quick form of Sorcerer; they're all cops in the same department).


The interesting thing is that this occurred to me while I was connecting Kickers to backstory.  And after this first session, I really wish that I had just set up one of the Kickers as a subplot.  In fact, I'm trying to figure out if it's not too late to do so.

The reason I ended with intimate connections to the Map for every Kicker is that I was worried that the characters wouldn't have enough emotional investment to get involved in the backstory unless they were really tied in to it.  In retrospect, I think I was worrying too much, and perhaps not giving the players enough author credit to keep their characters involved in interesting ways.

Quote

If the characters begin utterly disconnected, then yes, the relationship map is all you've got. You can still run one character's Kicker as a subplot, just establish the character as KNOWING someone in the map and thus he keeps being AFFECTED by this other stuff going on, in addition to dealing with the Kicker.


A part of character creation was establishing character connections prior to play.  Charles Scrump knew Cole Zion Summers' grandmother, and Marvin Harris' father was a client of Charles Scrump.  This proved immediately effective, as Charles' first action was to flee to the grandmother for help and Cole did the same.  So already in the first session the characters have established connections in a believable, interesting way, and are already starting to share scenes (though I suspect they will break up quickly in our next session).

Quote

RELATIVELY BORING KICKERS

SNIP SNIP

But if it's something like, "A guy tried to kill me with a hatchet on the bus today," and if you (rightly) do not want to spend time making it more explicitly full of content ... then the solution is clear, although it's work-from-the-ground-up for you. Just come up with a good reason for that to have happened, AND "spike it" during the first run. In other words, have the written Kicker simply be the opening scene for an in-play Kicker that blows the player's socks off.


This is a great idea, and something that has been sort of floating around in my head for awhile, but reading this quote really solidified things.  I think I was worried that writing a climactic Kicker with the purpose of escalating the player's initial Kicker would be infringing on player authorship.  But after reading your comments and thinking a little bit about it I realized that the player is REALLY asking for it (and you always give the players what they want, right?).

"A guy tried to kill me with a hatchet on the bus today." For some reason, whenver I think about this I start laughing.  It's so fucking random, such a non sequiter, but so violent and brutal.  Do you ever run black comedy games, Ron?

-Tor
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Tor Erickson
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Posts: 134


« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2001, 04:49:00 PM »

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Paul Czege
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« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2001, 06:57:00 PM »

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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
Tor Erickson
Member

Posts: 134


« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2001, 07:20:00 PM »

I sent off an email today to the players in the group touching on some things I'd like us to work on during the next session.  Particularly, I let them know that I'd be pushing the scene-framing and that as players they should gravitate towards interesting plot developments and conflict, and worry less about "but my character wouldn't know that!"  

My hope for the first point was that there would be no surprises when I start the game next week by cutting directly into some action, and proceeding to keep cutting throughout the afternoon, and also to let them know that this sort of technique requires player complicity (if what I said wasn't okay with them, then they should say so and we'll back up).

My hope for the second point was that they'd quit worrying so much about believable character actions and really start exploring the ramifications of the relationship map (including their PCs) and pursuing interesting plot developments.
 
We'll see how it works.

-Tor
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #10 on: November 19, 2001, 07:56:00 PM »

Well, you're doin' the dance now.

Give direction and guidance
Let'em run the show and you facilitate
Give direction and guidance
Let'em run the show and you facilitate
....

And for your next trick, you'll discover that they are guiding you! As more than one nascent-Narrativist GM has discovered, if the group is into this sort of play, then very quickly, the shoe will be on the other foot.

Best,
Ron

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