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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 153 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Southern Fried Sorcerer, part 2  (Read 8143 times)
Tor Erickson
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« on: November 14, 2001, 07:04:00 PM »

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joshua neff
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« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2001, 09:38:00 PM »

Tor--

I'm going to be running Sorcerer after Thanksgiving (finally!), & your two posts are extremely valuable to me. Thanks for posting them. They'll be loads of help when I start prepping for my own run.
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kwill
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« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2001, 11:10:00 PM »

this complements the Art Deco threads very nicely, thanks for sharing Tor!

what degree of previous roleplaying experience/exposure did the other players have? any comments about Sorcerer relative to other games? (does Sorc. simply do narratavism particularly well? can you see techniques being extended to other non-narrativist-focussed games?)

man, if I don't start up a game next year I'll go mad!

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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2001, 06:52:00 AM »

Did you find the need to "railroad" and push the players hard at points because you just wanted too, or because the players needed a push? My point is that I'm wondering just how far along the spectrum of player power you were. For one thing, asserting that the sisters nightmares were not what the player wanted them to be. Why was that necessary? It sounds like you were worried about some pre-plotting. Also, the predesigned scenes in which you had goals planned. These elements seem to be a bit counter to Narrativism. Was it just your comfort level that made you keep these things, or did you feel that they were somehow necessary.

I don't want to give the impression that I think that you did anything but a great job. Sounds like it was a blast (I'd like to hear the plot). But what I'm wondering is just how Narrativist you want to be and just how far you feel that you got. Do you feel that there are good reasons to be less Narrativist?

Mike
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2001, 07:55:00 AM »

Hello,

I strongly disagree that Tor's play-strategy with the dream content was railroading.

Again, people are prone to think that ANY GM-based (and in this case, GM-enforced) setting or situation material "must be" railroading, according to Narrativism.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Tor did not exercise any control over a CHARACTER'S decisions (which is what defines railroading). He had setting prepped, and his own reasons as co-author to enforce that prep.

I shudder to think that, according to someone's view of Narrativism, players would expect to "dream into existence" any and every aspect of the setting and situation, WITHOUT any negotiatory elements involved.

In Universalis, these negotiatory elements are all up-front because EVERYONE'S a GM. But in more traditional GM + group play, that negotiatory element may simply be expressed as, "Nope, good guess, but it ain't correct."

That's what Balance of Power is about. In classic Sorcerer play (vanilla Narrativism, all the way), the Balance favors the GM when it comes to Situation and Setting elements.

Best,
Ron

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Tor Erickson
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« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2001, 08:15:00 AM »

Quote

On 2001-11-15 02:10, kwill wrote:
this complements the Art Deco threads very nicely, thanks for sharing Tor!


Yr welcome! My pleasure.

Quote

what degree of previous roleplaying experience/exposure did the other players have?


Well, let's see.  I think two of them have only played DnD in the past, and probably done no role-playing for several years (except for a game of SOAP that one of them played in).  The other plays quite a bit more: a lot of DnD and several GURPS campaigns.  Again, for some reason their past role-playing experience didn't seem as important to me as the tendencies I identified in them via conversations.  They all seemed interested in co-authoring, they all seemed capable of it, and they all seemed (forgive me for saying this) mature enough to deal with a game that dealt with mature issues (am I about to get crucified for saying that?).

Quote
any comments about Sorcerer relative to other games? (does Sorc. simply do narratavism particularly well? can you see techniques being extended to other non-narrativist-focussed games?)


Well, let's see.  When I'm talking Sorcerer I'm talking about a lot more than just "roll dice in a pool and take the highest number" (the game mechanic).  I'd include Kickers, the Relationship Map, stat descriptors (you need to choose a descriptor for each of your stats that reveals something about your character), the Desires and Needs of the demons, and many other things.  I think all of those things are VERY useful for a narrativist game.  The mechanic on its own also seemed to encourage player authorship, but I think I'd like to wait for a really rigorous combat or an intense summoning and binding ritual before I comment on that.

As far as techniques being extended to non-narrativist-focused games, I'm not sure exactly what you mean.  Do you mean could aggressive scene-framing be applied successfully to a Setting Simulationist game, to enhance the exploration?  Or do you mean could a non-narrativist game be given some narrativist drive by applying some of Sorcerer's techniques?  To be completely honest, I'm not sure I'm qualified to answer either of the questions other than to comment that a lot of the techniques we used (especially the character/player disjunction in terms of disseminating information) could have been pretty disruptive to a lot of sim games.

Quote

man, if I don't start up a game next year I'll go mad!




That's exactly what I was saying over the summer.  :smile:

Tor
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Tor Erickson
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« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2001, 08:35:00 AM »

Hello Mike,

Really excellent questions.  I think I can probably respond best to your post as a whole, rather than breaking it up into quotes.  While reading this I was reminded of the discussion that was happening over in the Art-Deco threads between Jesse, Paul, Ron, and others (yourself included?).  Basically, Jesse expressed concern that the techniques that Ron was advocating were getting pretty close to railroading: aggressive scene-framing, setting the scene, pushing certain things in certain scenes.  

Interestingly, it never really occurred to me to think of those things as railroading.  As Ron pointed out, he was drawing a lot of the scenes from the character's Kickers and backstories, and he never pushed the characters in directions that the players didn't want.

In my pre-fab scenes, the goals were just possibilities: they were useful to me to keep the scene focused and from wandering off-topic.  As I mentioned, there was at least one scene where not a single one of the goals was accomplished.  This isn't to say that nothing happened in the scene, just that nothing on my list took place.  That was fine.  There were also a couple of scenes where everything got ticked off.  That seemed to work as well.  For the most part, though, we'd usually get through about half of the items.

Now, what I think would have been railroading would have been if it looked like the end of the scene was coming up (the drama had peaked or was dying down) and I looked down at my list and said, "Oh shit! Marvin's demon didn't go into need as I had planned," and then proceeded to twist and change the scene to ensure that it happened.

Which isn't to say that I wouldn't push certain things within a scene if it felt like the players needed a push.  But I just tried to ride the feel of what was going on and insert elements when necessary, and hold back when it seemed like I should hold back. For example, in the first scene of the game (the hill-billy character's Kicker) Charles Scrump (the character) is wandering through the bayou and comes across a sorcerous ritual taking place.  Now, on my checklist I had written down that one of the sorcerers would take off his mask at some point and accidentally reveal his face.  However, as the scene progressed the opportunity never arose.  Finally, at the end, the character is fleeing into the woods fighting off a horrible demon and I looked down and realized that he still hadn't identified the sorcerer.  At that point I could have had the sorcerer call out and Scrump turn around and see him demasked, or have the sorcerers chase after him and capture him and reveal their identity in that way, but for some reason all of those felt like they would have been twisting the plot too much.  So we just ended the scene with Charles disappearing into the dark.

Anyway, to sum up, I didn't feel like these kinds of things were railroading or anti-narrativist.  Maybe next session the players will start taking more initiative and seizing entire scenes start to finish, but I'm still going in with a full bandolier just in case.

Tor
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furashgf
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Posts: 55


« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2001, 05:47:00 AM »

Great post.  Just a few thoughts/questions:

1. The impression I got is that you were "done" after your 2.5 hour session?  Was that true?  Had they pretty much traversed the whole map?

2. Ron's / your discussion about GM power was very helpful. It was my understanding that Narritivism meant a complete abdication of GM control over events - apparently, not true.

3. Sort of amusing that you picked Bag of Bones.  In _On_Writing_, Stephen King basically claims to write the way Ron Edwards GM's.  That is, he doesn't plot, he just does a deep backstory, spends some time on character development, then just lets it "play out".  This is why his fatality / bad ending rate is so high for characters.

Gary Furash
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Gary Furash, furashgf@alumni.bowdoin.edu
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2001, 06:59:00 AM »

Hey,

I should like to mention - because this King connection has been invoked before - the following.

1) I have never read King's On Writing.
2) Based on what people have said, though, I think that King, like all authors, musicians, and film folks, is keeping his hole cards hidden.
3) In play, I exert mighty intrusive author-type material into the game throughout its course, from start to finish.

Best,
Ron

[ This Message was edited by: Ron Edwards on 2001-11-16 11:18 ]
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Tor Erickson
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« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2001, 08:17:00 AM »

Quote

On 2001-11-16 08:47, furashgf wrote:

1. The impression I got is that you were "done" after your 2.5 hour session?  Was that true?  Had they pretty much traversed the whole map?


Noooooo.... we've got 2-4 more sessions scheduled at this point, with the next one being this Saturday.  Our first session was really just about setting the scene, introducing the characters, and getting familiar with this whole Sorcerer thing.

Quote

3. Sort of amusing that you picked Bag of Bones.  In _On_Writing_, Stephen King basically claims to write the way Ron Edwards GM's.  That is, he doesn't plot, he just does a deep backstory, spends some time on character development, then just lets it "play out".  This is why his fatality / bad ending rate is so high for characters.


Have you read the book?  Do you remember the backstory?  As I mentioned in the posts, the backstory as it was proved to be too small to use effectively, so I ended up adding a whole lot of stuff into it.  In other ways the backstory was excellent as certain elements were just screaming to be sorcerized.

-Tor
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kwill
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« Reply #10 on: November 19, 2001, 06:10:00 PM »

Quote

I wrote:
can you see techniques being extended to other non-narrativist-focussed games?


and once I finally got back to this thread it took me a second to see what the heck I was saying too ;>

yes, I meant the latter, whether you felt the Narr. techniques presented in Sorcerer could be used in other (non-Narr.) games, and sufficiently promote Narr. goals (eg, run a game based off a relationship map but use the GURPS resolution system)

thinking about it again, I guess I can answer my own question with "it depends"; assuming everyone has Narrativist goals in mind, and you use rolls for conflict-resolution rather than action/task-resolution, I'd guess the Narrativist GURPS example would work

[in case anyone's spotted the trend, I'm interested in Narrativism, but don't have specifically Narrativist games on hand to play/run, hence my mumblings on turning other games in a Narr. direction; of course several web-based Narr. games are available, and I have been looking at those; it's now a matter of finding/making the time]

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d@vid
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #11 on: November 19, 2001, 06:46:00 PM »

David,

To quote all the outraged foes of GNS over the last years, you can use any system you want. For instance, you can play in a Narrativist fashion using Rifts, GURPS, Tunnels and Trolls, AD&D2, Werewolf, or whatever.

Mind you, I think it's harder to use these games or many others in this fashion (that's what "system does matter" means). But it all comes down to the goals and priorities of the people in the group. I think that many of the techniques can be inserted, as you suggest. I also think you should be ready to edit out portions of the games you're using as needed.

Best,
Ron
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