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Independent Game Forums => Adept Press => Topic started by: Darcy Burgess on August 26, 2005, 08:37:34 AM



Title: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Darcy Burgess on August 26, 2005, 08:37:34 AM
Don't have a catchy name for the Sorc game that's a-brewin' at the Gaming Ranch, but the subject line is pretty indicative...  I'd like to use this space to keep my thoughts organized, and encourage feedback/suggestions as I go.  the game's in development, and I'm interacting with the players via email.

Setting: feudal Japan.  More specifically, a period when the balance between Imperial power and Shogunate power is in flux.

Premise: Is Oppression justifiable in the face of Chaos?

GM Concepts:
  • two parallel universes, "ours" (in which play occurs) and a chaosphere
  • the chaosphere exists for the purpose of subjugating our sphere
  • demons are manifestations of the chaosphere
  • use the chaos inherent in a society in flux as a tool to illustrate the dichotomy between spheres
  • demonic powers look like a Japanese silk-screen painting of a Wuxia flick (yeah, that's right, let's mix cultures up!)
  • Humanity will likely bear some resemblance to "honour", or at very least "belonging to society"

Player Ideas
  • Ancestral spirits as demons.  (GM response: use these benevolent spirits as binding aids.  Much like drugs are in summoning.  The spirit is ripped from their Karmic reward and becomes part and parcel of the demon's manifestation.)

No characters generated as of yet, but I've thrown all sorts of questions regarding the nature of Sorcery, Humanity, and how the culture incorporates/deals with (or is aware of?) Sorcery at the players.


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 26, 2005, 08:55:42 AM
Wow - I like almost everything.

My only advice is to minimize the in-game justification and explanation of the demons. Long play has taught me that a good "look and feel" for the demons is all you need.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on August 26, 2005, 09:13:50 AM
I ran a short Sorcerer game set in feudal Japan last spring. Humanity was interestingly defined as concern for fellow man over ideology, while demons were all wedded to some philosophical or religious dogma. This was chosen as a compromise to get both samurai and religious questions covered under the same roof. In hindsight, it'd have probably been better as a dual definition.

Just saying.


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Darcy Burgess on August 26, 2005, 11:45:08 AM
Ron --

Your comment re: in-game justification.  Were you referencing the general idea ("manifestations of chaos") or the bit about ancestral spirits.  And out of interest, what's the experiential background for keeping this stuff to a minimum?  (I'm assuming that it has to do with stifling creativity).


Eero --

Since you've mucked about in the setting, did you run into any pitfalls that I should keep in mind?



Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on August 26, 2005, 11:55:17 AM
No pitfalls, really. It wasn't altogether too deep, though. Mainly inspired by Lone Wolf and Cub, too much Samurai Champloo and some Turtles, of all things.

I don't know if you're looking for that kind of adventure thing, but if you are, here's my advice: make sure that the rules address and have connections with each of the following concepts:
- Ronin, wandering free of rules or morality
- Samurai, bound by his duty
- Ninja, committed to the defence of his immediate clan
- Monk, laying aside societal bounds for selfish enlightenment
- Gaijin, ignorant of societal mores, but wielding great power
- Power, when found readily available, means inhumanity and ogreness
The cool action comes from the interplay of these cultural concepts. It's grab-bag feudal Japan, in other words.


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 26, 2005, 03:16:47 PM
Hi Darcy,

I think there's some potential for getting confused, so I'll lay it out very, very carefully.

1. Ancestral spirits and "manifestations of chaos" are fine.

2. Stating what demons want and what they are up to, as if they were schemers from an alien planet or other dimension, is a bad idea. They are demons. Don't treat them like beings who just happen to be a little different.

3. None of this has anything to do with stifling creativity. It is all about avoiding the pitfall of "genre safety," in which the demons are an understood quantity of a known universe. Remember: demons do not exist. Say it again: "in our game-world, the fictional one in which we are making a Sorcerer story, demons do not exist."

I'm serious. They don't. Sorcerer is not about playing a game in a world in which demons exist. They don't exist there.

Now you get the idea, I hope. "But my character has one" should prompt exactly the response you'd expect.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Darcy Burgess on August 26, 2005, 04:19:13 PM
Hi Ron.

Or, should I say, you have blown my fragile little mind -- stop that!

I'm wrestling with what you wrote so hard, it hurts.

The only thing that's leaking out of my left ear is that you meant to say,

"Make sure the PCs are still fucking reality where it hurts, not cashing in on interdimensional shipping & receiving."


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: jburneko on August 26, 2005, 04:39:51 PM
Hello Darcy,

The non-existence of demons is one of those things I occasionally shake my fist at Ron for not including explicitly in anywhere in the books.  It's a vital and key concept to the game.  I once came up with a mathematics analogy to explain it.  Yeah, the concept is so mind-blowing a MATH example is easier to understand.

Here's the analogy in full:

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=5394.0

I hope you find it useful.

Jesse


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Darcy Burgess on August 27, 2005, 05:41:38 AM
Well, I've sort of recovered from Ron's Postmodern Glock to the back of the head -- I'm still processing what it means to me, so in the meantime I've got to move onwards.

In keeping with my desire to incorporate a Wuxia aesthetic, I think that I'll borrow a page from House of Flying Daggers, rip it out, spit on it, and trample it in the dust.

Ikebana (flower arranging)
A movement to overthrow the Shogunate, but to simultaneously suppress the return of Imperial power.  The devotees of the movement are essentially terrorists, with widely varying personal motivations.  They're lead by a charismatic leader who binds small object demons for them to use.

maybe too trite, but it could be fun.


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 27, 2005, 06:43:31 AM
Post-modern, my ass. That's hard core mythological and dramatic baseline thinking. Nothing to do with PM.

I like the flower-arranging. GM prep for Sorcerer should be simple. Make sure to set up a little relationship map that penetrates, but does not wholly encompass this group, and you're all set.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: GreatWolf on August 27, 2005, 04:47:15 PM
Well, I've sort of recovered from Ron's Postmodern Glock to the back of the head -- I'm still processing what it means to me, so in the meantime I've got to move onwards

Ron's right.  It's not a post-modern concept; rather, it's a cornerstone of good horror.  Jesse's analogy is good; here's another take on it.

Think about your average ghost story.  Normally, the setting is "the real world".  Not "the real world plus ghosts".  That would be Wraith or Orpheus or Ghostbusters.  Just the normal world, where people get up in the morning and go to work, just like every day.  There are no such things as ghosts...except that you have just seen a ghost.  There is a sense of wrongness that pervades this appearance.  Ghosts don't exist.  Everyone knows that.  But you are looking at one.  Its entire existence is a violation of reality, which makes it horrifying.

Now, take this to the next level.  Ghosts don't exist, but you went looking for one...and were successful.  Ghosts don't exist, but your need for something has forced you to bind one to your needs.  If ghosts were a normal part of the world (even an evil part), then this would "merely" be technology manipulating the "natural" world.  But ghosts aren't a natural part of the world.  This is what makes them transgressive, and that's what makes ghost stories horror stories (i.e. stories about violation).

As an aside, this is exactly what Lovecraft was shooting for (with varying levels of success).  His default setting was "the real world", not "the real world plus the Mythos", and his cultists understood full well that they were transgressing reality to achieve their aims.

Just another way of thinking about this.



Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Darcy Burgess on August 28, 2005, 06:04:47 AM
Hi Ron, Seth --

It's all about perceptions!  I'm the one who got the 9mil 'o truth shoved in the back of his head...If I say it's po-mo, it is goddammit!  :)  I've wrapped my head around it now (and in fact, I had already done so when I posted that pithy bit about doing reality where the sun don't shine -- I just didn't know it yet).

And oddly enough, that's where I'd been all along -- demons can't be "safe", they can't be "hey look, there's demon bob -- let's ask him out to the movies".

However, I can see where Ron was leading -- familiarity breeds contempt.  Or in this case, comfort.  Try and justify their existence too much, and you open up the possibility of stripping them of their utter alien-ness, the stuff that makes them wrong.  Stop asking why.  Just GO.

On other topics, I've had some more ideas (and some questions)

Quote
Make sure to set up a little relationship map that penetrates, but does not wholly encompass this group, and you're all set

Ron -- I'm assuming that you mean a little RM for Ikebana, as a subset of the big RM for the PCs?  That way, on the big map, I just have a box marked "Ikebana", and then if I need to see whats going on internally with that group, I can cascade down to the Ikebana map.  Or am I getting way too complex?


The Nature of Sorcery
One of my players pointed out that martial arts were typically established through a Master/Apprentice relationship, and that it would really make sense to do this with Sorcery as well.  I'm not sure how I feel about this.  I like the idea of that relationship, but I worry that it makes it a little too safe.  The danger would have to come from somewhere.  Obviously the process (sorcery) isn't safe, but I don't want Sorcery to be "martial arts, but with magic".

Demons as masters?

No.  Masters, but ridden by really powerful possessor demons.


Some Guy's Name
Former monk, Lore=1, dug up "secrets no man was meant to know", and realizes what all this weirdness is about.  Knows enough to be a pain in the ass demon-killer, but mostly tries to convince those in power about what's really going on.  Sort of a kung-fu-fightin' private dick with a conscience.


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Darcy Burgess on August 29, 2005, 05:03:39 PM
Humanity -- What the Fuck!
One of the original things that made me want to do this setting was the concept of Humanity as Honour.  But Honour doesn't riff a whole lot with the premise that I've since developed.  And I'm much more interested in the premise.  Taking a page from Jake's plan over in his Soldiers Thread (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=16537.0), I'll probably work out something that has Humanity clashing with the Nature of Sorcery.

Decency?  Compassion?  Simplicity?

That has the potential to really set up the cost of power, which does relate to the premise.  What concerns me there, is that with that sort of loaded Humanity definition, isn't the Premise question answered?  At least in part?


Question of the Day #1
This one's taregeted at all you Sorcerer GMs out there.  Would you play your first game immediately after chargen, or wait two weeks?  The reason I'm asking is this: our group is coming from a Sim-based background (but approaching Sorc with eyes open in terms of the Narr goals we have), and I know I'm going to have a hard time not "pre-planning" the adventure.  I was thinking that if we got right into it, I wouldn't have the chance to slip into old habits.  On the other hand, there's the potential for insufficient prep.

I'm thinking that the quality of the players' kickers will help make the decision...


Question of the Day #2
How many NPCs do you stat up for your Sorc games?  Obviously, the demons.  But what about villains?  Just the "big bad"?  Some minors?  What works well?


Paging Ron Edwards...
<best Jabba voice>Ron, me boogie</best Jabba voice>.  What about those Rmap questions, hunh?  It's in the last post, eh?


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Darcy Burgess on August 30, 2005, 09:12:22 PM
Running on ... nearly empty
Languishing in "8 days 'til chargen" hell sucks.  The big one.  Must fight urge to tie down everything about the game!

Real Ultimate Power (sad injoke.  search thru the Driftwood pages to get in on the deal)
Gotta have ninjas.  Maybe some link between a ninja clan and Ikebana.  Clan as parent, Ikebana as fractious entity?  Ninjas as good guys?  Then they can get mowed down for pathos.  1 dead ninja = 1 gold pathos.  cool.


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 31, 2005, 06:03:17 AM
Darcy, dunk your head in the horse trough.

1. Fuck ninjas. Ninjas are stupid, and they take over every aspect of any game they're in. Yes, I realize the native-language plural of "ninja" is "ninja." I do not care.

I'm totally serious; you'll put a big poker up the ass of your game if you include ninjas. They are absent from The Mountain Witch for a very very good reason.

2. You've committed a hideous error by thinking "organization first, relationship map second (i.e. within organizations)." Stop that right now. Think of the relationship map as the biggest thing, arching over and branching into all other aspects of society. Some of its members may be in some societal organizations; just color them appropriately with a pen or something like that. (I tend to make dotted-line boxes around them, but it is messy.)

And stop "nailing down" anything except the look and feel. Check out my necromancy game for examples of a one-sheet and handouts (do a search in this forum for the threads, using "necromancy" and me as author).

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Darcy Burgess on August 31, 2005, 08:37:12 AM
Hi Ron.  Thanks for checking back in.

I shouldn't check the boards at work -- your bit about Ninjas had everyone in the shop looking at me kind of weird when I busted out with a huge belly laugh.  Regardless, I was inspired to include Ninjas after watching The Last Samurai last night.  The ninjas in that flick were a nice touch, but I see your point.  Our culture is too steeped in early 80's ninja flicks to see them as anything other than guitar-wailing weilders of real ultimate power.

Re: rmaps, I think that you've answered my earlier post.  So, when you said that the "little rmap" should "penetrate but not encompass" Ikebana, you meant include a few good members (one or two would do in my mind's eye) from Ikebana on the rmap for the game.

I also checked out the first thread from your Necromancy game.  How much of the "nature of sorcery" and "this is humanity" stuff was derived from conversations with the players, or was it basically stuff you brought to the table?  I'm curious is all, especially as to how you think your choices in this regard affected the unspooling of the Story.


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 31, 2005, 09:01:33 AM
Hi Darcy,

In the necromancy game, all three of the other participants were brand stinking new to Sorcerer. So I brought that first sheet wholesale, and we went specifically with that. However, I left the demon creation very open (outside of the listed constraints) and received an enormous amount of input during character creation that honed my initial vision a great deal.

In other words, don't have anything in mind besides what you give them at the outset, especially if that material is pretty focused. If you can't help it and simply must prep because you're an anxious Sorcerer virgin, then be ready to chuck whatever you've got in mind beyond that (e.g. your relationship map, whatever) in favor of whatever they provide during that stage.

Finally, don't forget - after character creation, you can go hog-wild with prep. My main advice to you is to keep it in your pants until then.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Darcy Burgess on September 07, 2005, 12:07:55 PM
Thanks for the "sex talk", uncle Ron... :)

Just keeping my thoughts organized here -- chargen is tonight, and I wanted to actually make a record of my thoughts going in to the session.

I've finally settled...
  • on a definition for humanity -- it represents individualism, a sense of self.  Someone with Humanity=0 is a drone/nigh-vegetable, without drive or desire.  I think this will interact well with the Premise I've chosen, and set up some interesting dynamics.
  • descriptors -- basically using the list out of Sorcerer, with a few tweaks here and there.  Mostly re-naming to suit setting and premise (ie: Athletic Regime becomes Stoic Regime).  Notably absent is any sort of "samurai" descriptor.  I envision quintessential samurai being achieved through a combination of descriptors (ie: Military Training & Stoic Regime on Stamina, Belief System or High Self Esteem for Will...)
  • what demons/summoning look(s) like -- until demons are bound, they're a clashy vortex of ... colours? ... facets? ... something that hurts to behold? ... once bound, they take on whatever form the Player wants, with the proviso that when they take some sort of visible form, they tend to look (or exhibit Telltales that look like) Kabuki makeup -- extreme features, lots of whiteface with red accents around the eyes, etc.


I'm really looking forward to seeing what the guys come up with tonight.


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 07, 2005, 04:46:36 PM
PERFECT


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Darcy Burgess on September 08, 2005, 08:37:00 AM
Well, the array of characters is...stunning.

The only downside is that we didn't complete chargen last night -- no player got everything done (2 of 4 got to the point that they're basically just filling out their Rmaps).

Characters don't all have names yet, so they'll be named by Player for the time being.

Glenn W
  • Cover: Samurai General ("a brilliant military mind")
  • Lore 4 (solitary adept -- we're seeing this as being due to the fact that his "apprenticeship" is in the dim and distant past, his master long dead)
  • Demon is a corrupting beast, much like the "ghosts" at the end of Indiana Jones 1.  Powerful as all snot, the binding roll should be fun...
  • Kicker TBA, but undoubtedly will relate to his sense of duty, with the potential for conflict with his lord (he may be in service because of pressure).

Brendan
  • Cover: Peasant farmer youth
  • Lore 1 (naif)
  • Telltale: One pupil is permanently dilated
  • Demon: Object, his younger brother's Kabuki doll.
    Need: To be cared for (re-painted, cleaned, etc.  It has a low Stamina to boot)
    Desire: To be around happy children.  To make them happy.
    Telltale: Creepy irridescent eyes that move, and the pupils react to light.
  • Kicker: Samurai kills his brother.  The next thing he knows, he's got this creepy semi-animate doll and a massive desire for revenge.

Tymen
  • Cover: Recently Ronin'd Samurai
  • Setup: Lord attempts to force himself on character's sister.  In a rage, the lord is cut down.
  • Lore 1 (naif)
  • Telltale: Streaks of blood in his hair
  • Demon: Object, katana possessed by his murdered lord's spirit.
    Telltale: Whenever no one is looking at it, the blade becomes bloody.
  • Kicker: TBA, as the current one seems to be "flee from justice" -- which seems weak to me.  I want something proactive.

Glenn H
  • Cover: TBA
  • Concept: Serial Killer (I'm going to suggest reworking this to be someone who is on the edge of being turned into a serial killer by his Demon)
  • Lore 1 (naif)
  • Telltale: TBA, may be that although everyone can hear him talking to his demon, only those who make the lore check actually hear it whispering back
  • Demon: Currently Inconspicuous, but I'm going to suggest switching to Possessor.
    Desire: TBA (Corruption?)
    Need: TBA
    Telltale: TBA
  • Kicker: TBA

Everything is awesome -- I have some reservations about the Serial Killer, but if we make it about does he become a serial killer, then that's premise-related, as opposed to just a ninja under another name.

Also, I've got 3 characters whose kickers are directly tied into the fact that they "just became" sorcerers.  Spontaneously.  Force of will and all that.  That has some interesting implications for the nature of sorcery in the game.


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 08, 2005, 08:43:19 AM
Look out for the serial killer player. He is trying to dodge the central point of playing Sorcerer.

"Can" you play a serial killer? Sure, very much in the sense that you can put a bean up your nose, if you want.

I'll be posting about a game from GenCon about this, soon.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Darcy Burgess on September 08, 2005, 11:35:36 AM
Ron --

I'm guessing that by "central point" you meant "what will you do to get what you want?"

Ta
D


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 08, 2005, 01:03:01 PM
No. The central point of Sorcerer is, and always has been, whether you can summon/bind demons and remain (or become) a good person.

"How far will you go to get what you want" can be a misleading phrase. It is only useful for Sorcerer when a person is committed to answering, at some point, this far and no farther.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Darcy Burgess on September 08, 2005, 06:59:38 PM
Cool.

As it turns out (after a phone call...) I was misinterpreting his intentions.  The status of the character in question is best summarized as: "no character concept yet, but whoever he is, he's going to be saddled with a demon with a desire for Violence (or Fear or something else appropriate), and a Need for causing Meaningless death"

That's a huge difference from "my guy is a serial killer".


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Judd on September 08, 2005, 07:06:52 PM
Question of the Day #1
This one's taregeted at all you Sorcerer GMs out there.  Would you play your first game immediately after chargen, or wait two weeks? 

I'm ignoring the sim and nar hooey because it makes only a little bit of sense to me.

But I know me some Sorcerer.

I like to do some session as chargen, with kickers as the last thing we do.

Then I like to go home and brew on the kickers and write bangs for a week.

Seven days later I like to take my list of bangs to the table.  Some will be crap, you will know which ones.  Some will be gold, you might want to save these.  Some will scream to be set free, do so.

I find 4-7 days percolation time between kickers and first game is optimal.


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Darcy Burgess on September 09, 2005, 05:25:25 PM
Hey Judd

As luck would have it, it looks like 4-7 days is what I'm likely going to end up with... >grin<

Since the guys didn't finish character gen at the table the other night, we're finishing up via email/telephone, and with the next game scheduled for the 21st, things will undoubtedly work out so that I end up with a little less than a week to do prep.

D


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Darcy Burgess on September 13, 2005, 07:36:26 AM
Crossposting a realization I just had:  Holy Fuck (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=16810.0)


And some updated character stuff:

The "serial killer" has gone by the wayside.  Phew.

Enter: deep one cultist.  I'm an oldskool lovecraft junkie, so this appeals to me.  Red notation is mine.

Basic Concept: Fisherman
Stamina: 5 (Natural Vigor)
Will: 2 (Belief System)
Lore 3 (Coven)

Price: Creepy (resulting from something akin to the Innsmouth look)
Humanity: 5
Telltale: Possibly something like the Innsmouth look (i.e. slimey skin, bulging
eyes, webbed feet and hands...all somewhat subtle, but real)  (I've suggested something like sweats sea water, so that the Telltale and Price aren't duplicating each other.)

Kicker: As yet undecided

My demon would be a Passing demon who had essentially the same telltales
as me, except with a much stronger rotting fish smell.  He would be passed
off as my brother, when in actual fact he would be my servent (all of the
members of my coven would have bound similar fish-monster demons).

Stamina: 6
Desires: I dunno...to serve?
Needs: Water (maybe he can suck it right out of people--we're all just bags of
water anyway)

Powers: Cover (looks like my creepy brother), Fists (comes with being Passing
demon), possibly Link, and Shapeshift (which allows him to "monster out" to
look like the creature from the Black Lagoon or a big-ass Deep One, and grants
him Armor, Big, and Special Damage).



Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Kirk Mitchell on September 13, 2005, 07:42:42 PM
I'm curious, how are you planning to tie this in with the whole feudal Japan theme?

Kirk


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Kirk Mitchell on September 13, 2005, 07:57:22 PM
Searching through wikipedia, I came across the Kappa. It looks like exactly like what you might want in a Japanese flavoured game. Just a suggestion http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kappa_%28mythical_creature%29

Kirk


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Darcy Burgess on September 14, 2005, 05:06:55 AM
Hi Kirk.

Good question -- and here's a questionable answer.

I'm not going to worry about it.  At all.  "fisherman" is just about all of the tie-in that I need in terms of "setting".  As for the demon, so long as it incorporates with my "look and feel" for demons and their telltales (in some way), I'm hunky-dory.  As it happens, this (demons/telltales) isn't happening -- and it's another area of discussion with the player.

It all relates back to not making the game "Feudal Japan Plus Demons!" -- justifying "deep ones" within Japanese culture is the least of my worries.


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Kirk Mitchell on September 14, 2005, 03:08:35 PM
That's fair enough, and a most reasonable way of approaching it.

Kirk


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Lisa Padol on September 20, 2005, 04:54:33 AM
3. None of this has anything to do with stifling creativity. It is all about avoiding the pitfall of "genre safety," in which the demons are an understood quantity of a known universe. Remember: demons do not exist. Say it again: "in our game-world, the fictional one in which we are making a Sorcerer story, demons do not exist."

I'm serious. They don't. Sorcerer is not about playing a game in a world in which demons exist. They don't exist there.

Now you get the idea, I hope. "But my character has one" should prompt exactly the response you'd expect.

Oh. My. God.

I have just been hit over the head with a stick by Ron. Am I enlightened yet?

-Lisa


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Lisa Padol on September 20, 2005, 05:04:12 AM
The non-existence of demons is one of those things I occasionally shake my fist at Ron for not including explicitly in anywhere in the books.  It's a vital and key concept to the game.

Hm. On the one hand, my gut agrees with you. It should be in the text.

On the other, when I explained to Stephen Tihor, my larp-writing mentor, about the non-existence of demons, he just nodded and said that it made perfect sense. He didn't think it needed to be in the text. The game is playable just fine without it, and he argued that making it explicit introduces a failure mode. He did elaborate, and the elaboration made a lot of sense on Friday, and I can't remember exactly what he said now. Something about how it gets folks saying, "Okay, so if people can do X, even though demons don't exist, then they can do Y, so why aren't there other modes like that" -- if this sounds garbled, it's me, not him. He said something coherent and sensible.

-Lisa


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Lisa Padol on September 20, 2005, 05:09:17 AM
Think about your average ghost story.  Normally, the setting is "the real world".  Not "the real world plus ghosts".  That would be Wraith or Orpheus or Ghostbusters.  Just the normal world, where people get up in the morning and go to work, just like every day.  There are no such things as ghosts...except that you have just seen a ghost.  There is a sense of wrongness that pervades this appearance.  Ghosts don't exist.  Everyone knows that.  But you are looking at one.  Its entire existence is a violation of reality, which makes it horrifying.

Now, take this to the next level.  Ghosts don't exist, but you went looking for one...and were successful.  Ghosts don't exist, but your need for something has forced you to bind one to your needs.  If ghosts were a normal part of the world (even an evil part), then this would "merely" be technology manipulating the "natural" world.  But ghosts aren't a natural part of the world.  This is what makes them transgressive, and that's what makes ghost stories horror stories (i.e. stories about violation).

Oh, yes. Something that's just wrong by existing. Got it.

-Lisa


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Darcy Burgess on September 22, 2005, 10:22:45 AM
Chargen essentially finished -- yay!

Am currently knee-deep in prep, and loving it.

We've pared down to 3 players, keeping "samurai general", "fallen samurai" and "freaky child with demon doll".

And that complement is what I'm currently struggling with -- and I new that I was going to (in a good way) as soon as I proposed "feudal Japan" as a setting -- how to integrate characters from such opposite ends of the social spectrum in such a stratified society.

This "problem" is one potential tactic for addressing the premise.

Much good conflict here too.


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Darcy Burgess on October 03, 2005, 05:01:40 PM
Actual play writeup from session one here (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=17095.0).

Am currently wrestling with crafting a few bangs for next session -- I want to introduce Ikebana early on, and am thinking that a crowd scene would be a good opportunity.

And the players have asked for a crowd scene involving Kenji's arrival in "the city".


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Darcy Burgess on October 12, 2005, 06:21:15 AM
Prep for Session #2, following on ideas from the players in Session #1, as well as Ron's feedback.  Read both here (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=17095.0).

Scene 1 - Kenji Arrives
The scene will play out in and around a bridge leading into town -- some houses are nearby, as well as an orchard.  The predominant feature is the bridge crossing a river.  The fall rains have swollen the river, and it is rushing fiercely.  A large crowd of locals has gathered to see what's going on, as the Daimyo's men have been summoned to greet the "visitor".

Here's my bucket of shit to throw at the players, mostly in the form of motivations/opportunities for their demons:

Nobutaka/Biwa: Biwa will want to become involved with a group of children playing in the crowd.  Nobu will likely be tailing Kane Koga (brother's murderer and member of the house guard).

Saiko/Kenji: Saiko will continue to take "Aiko" (the little girl they met on the road) under her wing, and will persue this agenda with Kenji -- this fulfills her need to "become what she is" -- ie, Kenji's wife and mother of their "child".

Kyuzu/Sword: After Kyuzu's less than stellar showing with the Daimyo's son, Sword will be looking to establish dominance over someone (possibly Kyuzu, but the little Aiko is also a possible target).  Kyuzu will of course be part of the "welcoming party".

Aiko/Saiko: Aiko will want to play with the children as well.  However, she'll play quite rough, wanting to act out in an aggressive fashion.  Some of its abilities may come to light.  This is the real instigating moment, as it will likely draw in Nobu and Kyuzu in one way or another.

Tengu (the wildcard):  Tengu is the demon bow being carried by an operative of Ikebana (see above, probably page 1 of this thread).  Abilities will include haste, ranged damage, and shadow.  The pair will strike indiscriminately, and attempt to flee into the chaos.

I'll be interested to see if this plays out well -- I'm concerned that I haven't loaded it enough, but I'm simultaneously worried that I've got a scripted outcome in my head.  My plan is to make an effort to throw narration duties at the players whenever I'm tempted to "get back to my story".  Here goes...

If I can scrounge up some webspace, I plan on posting my onepage for this session as well.


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Darcy Burgess on October 12, 2005, 08:23:22 AM
Aha!  I found some space.  My bandwidth is questionable, so please only dl if you're really curious...thanks.

One-Page #2 (http://home.ca.inter.net/~krunch/eggo/sorc/)

As an addendum, I have nothing prepped beyond "scene 1" for this session -- I imagine that it will fill a good part of the evening, and I'm hoping that it is laden with enough potential to kick the players into action.  And I'll just keep on workin' those demons...

Which is tricky (and hopefully satisfying to my inner actor) when 2 of them are objects.  Although we've granted the conceit that Biwa (the doll) can use some language with Nobu when they're in contact with each other.


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: MetalBard on October 12, 2005, 12:42:20 PM
Very cool stuff here.  I especially like the ikebana.  I've just started reading Sorcerer (just finished ch. 4) and coincidentally the anime series, Samurai Champloo has caught my eye.  Your ideas on this thread here have gotten me thinking about the two together.  Nothing more than that at the moment, though.  I'll be interested to see some more actual play on your game.


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Darcy Burgess on October 12, 2005, 02:12:03 PM
I'll be posting to actual play (session 2) in a few days, and I'll link to the thread from here.

This is my first time out with Sorcerer, too.  My advice: check out the Art-Deco Melodrama (search with those terms and you'll find 'em) threads in this forum.  They're the best starting point for prep.

Personally, I've found keeping this prep blog really useful too -- it has let me look back at a record of problems I had, solutions I implemented, and the result (via linked AP threads).

One issue I'm struggling with (conceptually) is whether the Premise we're working with is "too cerebral" -- but once elements of chaos and oppression start rearing in the game, that might change.

Ta


Title: Re: Sorc. Blog: Feudal Japan
Post by: Darcy Burgess on October 16, 2005, 07:54:28 AM
AP thread from Session #2 here (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=17264.0).

Prep worked out well -- I'm still debating internally whether or not play was "demon-y" enough, or whether I resorted to mundane stuff in play too much.  In the end, it probably doesn't matter, as the game was a blast for everyone.

Just as note-taking, the "telltale list" currently stands as:

Kenji: has spotted all telltales he's come across (which is everything that has one, except for Tengu).
Nobu: has only spotted Seiko and Kiko's telltales.
Kyuzu: has only spotted Nobu and Biwa's telltales.

My challenge for prep for Session #3 seems to be what to do with Kenji, as he doesn't seem central to the bang at hand (Kyuzu and Nobu in a chase).