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Independent Game Forums => Adept Press => Topic started by: Lisa Padol on September 20, 2005, 08:49:18 AM



Title: Getting Started
Post by: Lisa Padol on September 20, 2005, 08:49:18 AM
One of the games I want to get good at running over the next year is Sorcerer. (Josh was like, "Well, duh, of course it should be on your list. It's important!" Only sweetly.)

Okay, I'm trying to figure out where I start. Is this about right:

1. Reread the book and the supplements.
2. Decide on a setting.
3. Make the one sheet. Don't overprep. Don't underprep either, but definitely don't overprep.
4. Have a plot in mind (which one expects to get thoroughly trashed).
5. Have an r-map.
6. Get players together to make up characters.
7. Take a few days to look over everything and let it gel.
8. Run the first session.

Is this about right? Or is it more 1-3, then 6, then worry about r-maps, plots, and such? This is one of those games that's -- well, it's like a haiku. You don't need fewer words than necessary -- you need precisely as many words as necessary. That is, preparation is vital, but it has to be the Right Sort of preparation, as Pooh would say.

-Lisa


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Trevis Martin on September 20, 2005, 09:08:24 AM
From my experience I would say #1-3 and wait until you have characters for the rest.  I usually make up r-maps after I have a nice passle of NPC's from the players to work with.  After you get characters remember too that your prep between is to author a 'bandolier of bangs' for use in the game.  (I'm sure that was implied in your 'let everything gel' but I thought I'd make it explicit.)

best

Trevis


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 20, 2005, 09:21:08 AM
Hi Lisa,

I'd modify a couple of your steps a little, which may merely be a phrasing thing.

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4. Have a plot in mind (which one expects to get thoroughly trashed).

Re-write: consider what all the various NPCs & so on might be up to, what they'll drive toward during play. I'd also put this after the r-map stage (i.e. reverse #4 and #5).

Quote
6. Get players together to make up characters.

Re-write: Get players together to discuss the one-sheet and basic ideas of the game in full, moving into character creation.

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7. Take a few days to look over everything and let it gel.

Rewrite big-time. This includes:

Internalize all Kickers into your understanding of play as a whole, spike them if necessary, use them as the basis to revise everything else.
Embrace all characters' demons as if they were your own, favorite, desperate-to-be-played NPCs.
Refine, finish, and possibly totally revise or even replace the r-map you started with.
Rewrite one-sheet.
Come up with nifty collages built of pictures and words (I love doing this for Sorcerer stuff), just as arty handouts.
Totally revise the "what NPCs are up to" stuff, beef it up with steroids and meth, and make sure to include the demons now.
Construct a bandolier of Bangs, realizing that the first session will almost certainly make more use of your prep than any other session.
Consider possible Crosses and Weaves in the same way as Bangs, i.e. a bandolier.

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8. Run the first session.

Yup ... add the concept "the players are only building trust and interest at this stage" to this one.

Plus, add step #9 after the first session, which is to do the NPC and demon steps again, in detail, and to make Bangs that are really engaging based specifically the consequences of players' choices during the session.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: John Harper on September 20, 2005, 11:09:45 AM
I also recommend some time with the Sorcerer Wiki:
http://random.average-bear.com/pmwiki.php/Sorcerer/HomePage

Much wisdom can be found there.

And it's a long one, but the Art Deco Melodrama threads are an excellent guide to Sorcerer game prep:
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?t=770
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?t=828
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?t=876


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Lisa Padol on September 20, 2005, 12:12:03 PM
Thanks. It sounds like steps 1-3 are solid enough to give me enough to start with.

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4. Have a plot in mind (which one expects to get thoroughly trashed).

Re-write: consider what all the various NPCs & so on might be up to, what they'll drive toward during play. I'd also put this after the r-map stage (i.e. reverse #4 and #5)

Okay, step 4 is like what Lee Gold said: Have plans, not plot. That is, the NPCs should have plans, but the GM doesn't have a plot per se.

Either reverse 4 and 5 or add sort of a 3.5: Get an overview.

That is, before I create an R-map, I probably need a a vague overview like "Intrigue in the King's Court for a Sword and Sorcerer setting" or "A Wolfram and Hart kind of plot involving an inheritance". Nothing I'm going to stress over, just mentally breaking down the process. Also, I seem to think in R-maps to a degree, so that should help.

Either way: NPC Plans, not GM Plots. R-map before serious details.

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6. Get players together to make up characters.
Re-write: Get players together to discuss the one-sheet and basic ideas of the game in full, moving into character creation.

Got it. Like the Pitch for PTA, it isn't just "roll up some characters" or even "create carefully crafted characters". It's "Are we all on the same page here?"

Quote
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7. Take a few days to look over everything and let it gel.

Rewrite big-time. This includes:

Internalize all Kickers into your understanding of play as a whole, spike them if necessary, use them as the basis to revise everything else.
Embrace all characters' demons as if they were your own, favorite, desperate-to-be-played NPCs.
Refine, finish, and possibly totally revise or even replace the r-map you started with.
Rewrite one-sheet.
Come up with nifty collages built of pictures and words (I love doing this for Sorcerer stuff), just as arty handouts.
Totally revise the "what NPCs are up to" stuff, beef it up with steroids and meth, and make sure to include the demons now.
Construct a bandolier of Bangs, realizing that the first session will almost certainly make more use of your prep than any other session.
Consider possible Crosses and Weaves in the same way as Bangs, i.e. a bandolier.

Okay, Step 7 = Do not worry about Step 7 until you've done Steps 1-6. Then, re-read what Ron said about Step 7.

(YMMV. This is to protect against bad habits of worrying about steps I'm not yet ready for.)

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8. Run the first session.

Yup ... add the concept "the players are only building trust and interest at this stage" to this one.

Plus, add step #9 after the first session, which is to do the NPC and demon steps again, in detail, and to make Bangs that are really engaging based specifically the consequences of players' choices during the session.

Thanks! Where I expect to dither right now is the setting.

-Lisa


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Andrew Norris on September 20, 2005, 02:54:34 PM
Hi, Lisa.

I ran Sorcerer for a dozen or so sessions this spring and summer. Here's what I'd go back and tell myself to do if I had the chance.

- Don't let anyone make a character who "just happened" to end up with a Demon. If they do, then understand that they're still sort of going to be doing character creation for the first couple of sessions. Now, I'm a big fan of sorcerers who have serious reservations about what they're doing, but they should "get it". (It's okay if that "getting it" happens on the player level but not the character level -- for instance, the sample "con-man" character in the main book. Yeah, he accidentally bound his Demon, but he knows he uses people, and his sorcery is an extension of that.)

- Similarly, "Uh oh, I have a Demon now" isn't a good Kicker. It can be part of one, though.

- Make filling out the back of the character sheet a necessary part of character creation. We thought it was optional, but I really wish I'd had those diagrams when I was prepping the R-Map and Bangs. Our game didn't start to "pop" until I did that (after Ron haranguing me about it here, for good reason.)

One reason it's so important is that it shows you player priorities, which are exactly the kinds of things you want to force them to deal with with Bangs.

- If a player isn't interested in dealing heavily with raw power, that's okay. For instance, the "haunted by the ghosts of her daughters" PC I mentioned in another thread. Her Demon gave her a few abilities that didn't really grab her. What I realize now is that just having them there was pretty powerful. Their thematic power was way more important to the player than their Abilities. Along the same lines, if a player has an interesting concept for a Demon but isn't sure what their Abilities should be, it's okay to keep them vague.

I'm not sure how good this advice is for Sorcerer GMs in general (except for the back of the sheet thing, never skip that), but they're things to think about.





Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Judd on September 20, 2005, 04:23:09 PM
Take it easy and trust the book.  The steps are really laid out there for chargen especially, take it 1-10.

Don't forget to breathe and have fun.

I think too many people play Sorcerer and wait for Ron to jump out of a cake and burn their old gaming books while doing a dance that changes their world.  It really is just a fun RPG, an intense RPG but a fun one. 


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Lisa Padol on September 23, 2005, 05:07:10 AM
There's one question I have about the R-map. I recall Ron explaining on the Forge that the R-map is supposed to contain only lines of sex and blood, nothing more.

Flipping through The Sorcerer's Soul last night, I came across this passage:

====
A relationship map lists all but the most minor characters in a story as little bubbles or symbols, with ties of (1) marriage, parentage, romance, and (2) employment or other obligations drawn to link them together.
====

No actions, no feelings or intent -- this is not what the R-map is for, and this I understand. But, is #2 correct? Did I misunderstand Ron on the Forge, or is this something that represents a change from the text? As Le Guin once wrote, one of the problems with a text is that it cannot change to reflect the author's changing experience.

-Lisa


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Peter Nordstrand on September 23, 2005, 06:01:06 AM
Hi Lisa,

There is really no need to worry about this. You will do fine. The r-map is only there as a tool to help you prep and run a better and more exciting game. You want to include all important characters on this map, but some important characters will not have a blood or sex relationship with any of the other. You write them in there anyway, since anything else would be inconvenient. It is pragmatism, that's all.


All the best,


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 23, 2005, 08:52:49 AM
bangs head on wall

Why does no one ever get this? I say it again and again.

First build the map based on ties of kin and sexual contact.

Then add other characters as necessary.

It is not difficult. The prep-and-play potential it offers is hugely significant. It is the basis for many, many, many of our stories, throughout human history and across all cultures. It is radically different from all other prep-and-play advice given by any other role-playing texts prior to The Sorcerer's Soul, even from the ones which used similar-looking diagrams.

Yet people interpret the "first" step as me saying "nothing more." And then perceive the second step as being contradictory, or backsliding on the first step, or God knows what.

The conclusion I'm forced to draw, based on the constant and consistent reactions to the relationship-map material, is that people are fully cognizant of the potential consequences (i.e., we'll have to make Story Now if I do that), then shy away from it and go into full denial, characterized by mental tailspins.

Lisa - do the "first" and "then" exactly as presented above. Don't listen to anyone else or come up with any "but but I thought" or "didn't I remember so-and-so saying" notions.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Peter Nordstrand on September 23, 2005, 10:56:48 AM
Lisa,

Please note that, despite what Ron seems to believe, his post and mine do not contradict each other. Except, of course, for the ridiculous notion that you shouldn't listen to anyone but him.

Finally, let's not get upset about the tone in Ron's reply. I am confident that the fair and friendly moderator will tell him to be civil or shut up.

Good luck with playing Sorcerer.

All the best,


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 25, 2005, 03:44:59 PM
Oh, that's right.

Except for Peter, of course.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Lisa Padol on September 25, 2005, 06:53:10 PM
Ah, okay, I double checked the other text,  <http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=9969.0>this thread[/url]. Ron, you're absolutely correct, not that I think you doubted that. I was remembering a conversation something like this:

Lisa: I've got a complicated R-map.

Ron: No, you just use ties of sex and blood.

Lisa: Huh? That's it?

Ron: Yep.

Lisa: No, I mean, that's it?

Ron: Honest, that's it.

Lisa: But -- that's it?

Ron: Do we have to around again?

Lisa: No, but -- that's really it?

What Ron actually said included some very crucial words: "for the first pass". These words were utterly absent from my mind.

As for why no one gets it, this is standard human behavior, I'm afraid. I've seen it when I taught. Sure, sometimes my instructions sucked. But, sometimes, they were clear, and people still didn't get it. I saw it when I was a grad student, when I asked my professor how long a paper needed to be -- this after boggling that my students didn't see the paper length I'd requested Right. On. The. Sheet. My professor, who may have been teaching longer than I'd been alive, was quite patient, and merely turned the course syllabus to the page I'd read at least twice, where the paper length was Right. There. And, as far as I knew, I had genuinely searched the syllabus, had nothing I was consciously aware of to make me not want to find this, and had managed to miss it.

And, no, I'm not offended that Ron snapped a bit -- it is also standard human behavior to go "Ahhhh! Why don't they get it?"

I am trying to get it. I've finished rereading Sorcerer, and am starting on the supplements. I've found some stuff unclear in Sorcerer, and will reread the passages -- it's all mechanics, so at least there will be a simple answer, even if it's "Reread the text again, twit."

-Lisa


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 25, 2005, 07:41:54 PM
All questions welcome! I may occasionally do a little dance of rage; pay no attention.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Lisa Padol on September 27, 2005, 09:02:18 AM
Okay. Apologies in advance for lingering cluelessness.

1. For demons, the number of abilities they get is equal to their Lore, correct? I was counting up abilities for the demons in the main book, and sometimes the number of abilities was greater than the demon's lore. Manicus, on p. 60, has 10 abilities -- 4 listed, plus instructions to the GM to choose 6 more -- but his will is 9. On p. 81, Yzor, with a Lore of 9 also has 10. L'il [Name of Master] has a Lore of 4, and either 4 or 5 abilities, depending on whether the two types of Perception count as one or two.

Am I being cluelessly anal here? That is, is it actually a Rule that # of abilities = Lore, and the book is actually in error, or is it, as Pirates of the Carribean would have it, more of a guideline?

2. For Summoning, the player of the sorcerer rolls (Will - Humanity) dice. In the unlikely event that this number is 0 or negative, what happens? My assumption would be that the player rolls 1 die.

3. Demons get a 5 die bonus when something contradicts one of the three rules. I understand how something contradicts the Rule of Secrecy, but I'm not sure what sorts of things contradict the Rules of Need and Binding. Could I have a couple of examples?

I may have a couple more, but I'll start with these.

-Lisa


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 27, 2005, 09:48:56 AM
Hello,

By the numbers!

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1. For demons, the number of abilities they get is equal to their Lore, correct? I was counting up abilities for the demons in the main book, and sometimes the number of abilities was greater than the demon's lore. Manicus, on p. 60, has 10 abilities -- 4 listed, plus instructions to the GM to choose 6 more -- but his will is 9. On p. 81, Yzor, with a Lore of 9 also has 10. L'il [Name of Master] has a Lore of 4, and either 4 or 5 abilities, depending on whether the two types of Perception count as one or two.

Whoops. All errors. Lore sets the number of abilities of the demon. Yup, it's a rule.

Quote
2. For Summoning, the player of the sorcerer rolls (Will - Humanity) dice. In the unlikely event that this number is 0 or negative, what happens? My assumption would be that the player rolls 1 die.

First, the number can't be negative. All Sorcerer scores drop to 0, never into negatives.

Second, when you roll a score at 0, roll one die and add one to the opposing roll.

Quote
3. Demons get a 5 die bonus when something contradicts one of the three rules. I understand how something contradicts the Rule of Secrecy, but I'm not sure what sorts of things contradict the Rules of Need and Binding. Could I have a couple of examples?

H'mmm ... it depends a bit on the local look & feel for sorcery and demons, but here are some ideas.

Say a sorcerer swears to a Bound demon that never, ever again will he or she feed its Need. The demon might get a fat 5-dice bonus on its rebellion roll. Or maybe a demon starving for its Need could conceivably (again, depending on the local terms for the game) get a bonus to break into a Contain that contains the Need.

For Binding, that's even more dependent on local stuff, and it's practically impossible to come up with examples out of context ... Let's say an un-Bound demon has a golden opportunity to save the life of a sorcerer who might (or is potentially very willing) to Bind it, because this sorcerer is currently about to be shot by a guy with a machine gun. The demon might kick in that five-dice bonus in performing that action.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Lisa Padol on September 28, 2005, 04:56:21 AM
Whoops. All errors. Lore sets the number of abilities of the demon. Yup, it's a rule.

Got it.

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First, the number can't be negative. All Sorcerer scores drop to 0, never into negatives.

Check.

Quote
Second, when you roll a score at 0, roll one die and add one to the opposing roll.

As in, if the opposing roll is 5 dice, you roll 6? Or, as in, if the opposing roll is 5 dice, you roll 5, but add one to the total of the highest die?

Quote
Say a sorcerer swears to a Bound demon that never, ever again will he or she feed its Need. The demon might get a fat 5-dice bonus on its rebellion roll. Or maybe a demon starving for its Need could conceivably (again, depending on the local terms for the game) get a bonus to break into a Contain that contains the Need.

Oh, break into a contain! That's a cool notion.

Quote
For Binding, that's even more dependent on local stuff, and it's practically impossible to come up with examples out of context ... Let's say an un-Bound demon has a golden opportunity to save the life of a sorcerer who might (or is potentially very willing) to Bind it, because this sorcerer is currently about to be shot by a guy with a machine gun. The demon might kick in that five-dice bonus in performing that action.

Hm. In Disney's Aladdin then, the djinni has that bonus when he asks an unconscious Aladdin to order the djinni to save him. Aladdin's body moves so that it sorta looks like he's nodding, and the djinni says, "Good enough." Hm, that doesn't acutally involve a contradiction to the Rule of Binding, though -- but, okay, point is, we should use a combination of common sense and intuition. Got it.

Other questions:

1. Chart question: On the chart of sorcery rituals, there's a column for modifiers. This column doesn't contain stuff like the Binding Strength, which is a modifier for both Banish and Punish. Any reason for this? In other words, if there's a principle behind the chart I'm missing, what is it?

2. Contain question: My character creates a contain. I roll my character's Lore vs Stamina and record the successes as bonuses. These bonuses mean nothing until the Contain is tested, at which point I roll my character's Lore, plus those bonus dice, against the demon's Power. Correct so far?

If my Lore vs Stamina is a failure, do the Stamina successes become penalty dice when the Contain is tested? Or am I inventing penalty dice where nothing like that actually exists in Sorcerer?

3. As usual, I'm confused by combat rules. In this case, if I've read p. 105 correctly, someone who has already acted in a round and who is then attacked gets to use full Stamina as a defense, while someone who has not acted must either abort the planned action to use full Stamina as a defense, or must suck up the damage, using only one die. How come someone who's already acted gets to have it both ways?

4. On page 111, there's a reference to the Blades/Claw Table. Is there such a table?

-Lisa



Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 28, 2005, 06:12:57 AM
Hi Lisa,

Quick example. Character A is running under enough penalties to negate all the dice for a score he is using. Character B's attack is coming in with four dice.

(note this situation may have evolved during the whole action/abort sequence in the middle of a complex conflict - in fact, that's very likely)

Anyway, what's the roll? A will roll one die and B will roll five.

Note that in many situations, B's four dice have already been rolled and are currently sitting on the table. What then? No problem. Just roll one more die for B and add it into his existing batch. This does not change any order-of-action.

Quote
1. Chart question: On the chart of sorcery rituals, there's a column for modifiers. This column doesn't contain stuff like the Binding Strength, which is a modifier for both Banish and Punish. Any reason for this? In other words, if there's a principle behind the chart I'm missing, what is it?

Binding strength is a potential multiplier for all the rituals, even Binding, conceivably, under some funky competitive-Binding situations. Just figure it in as a blanket modifier for tons and tons of stuff, most or all of the rituals included. I was thinking of highly specific and unique modifiers for the rituals when I made that table.

Quote
2. Contain question: My character creates a contain. I roll my character's Lore vs Stamina and record the successes as bonuses. These bonuses mean nothing until the Contain is tested, at which point I roll my character's Lore, plus those bonus dice, against the demon's Power. Correct so far?

You got it!!

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If my Lore vs Stamina is a failure, do the Stamina successes become penalty dice when the Contain is tested? Or am I inventing penalty dice where nothing like that actually exists in Sorcerer?

More-or-less the latter. In Sorcerer, typically, the "augmenting" roll (to use a HeroQuest term) can give you a bonus if you succeed, but nothing is penalized if you fail. 

Quote
3. As usual, I'm confused by combat rules. In this case, if I've read p. 105 correctly, someone who has already acted in a round and who is then attacked gets to use full Stamina as a defense, while someone who has not acted must either abort the planned action to use full Stamina as a defense, or must suck up the damage, using only one die. How come someone who's already acted gets to have it both ways?

First of all, you got it!

Second, although I'm hesitant to use "in real life" as a justification, this, uh, is the way it is in real life, at least for hand-to-hand combat.

Third, and more appropriate for Sorcerer-as-principles-in-action, combat & conflict scenes in stories rely very heavily on a kind of "dominance" principle - a given character or team of characters tends to exert more offensive/defensive oomph in a given clash or exchange.

The classic wargame table which puts offense down the side and defense across the top, then has a 50% value running diagonally through the table with incremental ups and down filling up the remainder, isn't the model for Sorcerer conflicts. I built the rules to set up "who dominates this time" as a principle overseeing all the choices for everyone, during that exchange.

Quote
4. On page 111, there's a reference to the Blades/Claw Table. Is there such a table?

Same as the edged weapons table, whatever it is I called it.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Lisa Padol on September 28, 2005, 08:17:42 AM
Quick example. Character A is running under enough penalties to negate all the dice for a score he is using. Character B's attack is coming in with four dice.

(note this situation may have evolved during the whole action/abort sequence in the middle of a complex conflict - in fact, that's very likely)

Anyway, what's the roll? A will roll one die and B will roll five.

Thanks. Right, that makes sense -- both sides get a die they're not technically supposed to have, and that balances things well enough.

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Second, although I'm hesitant to use "in real life" as a justification, this, uh, is the way it is in real life, at least for hand-to-hand combat.

This I'll have to take your word on. I'm a poor enough fencer that I can't swear to exactly how timing in an rpg sense works there.

Quote
Quote
4. On page 111, there's a reference to the Blades/Claw Table. Is there such a table?

Same as the edged weapons table, whatever it is I called it.

Thanks. Okay, I've got to re-read the Token rules, which are probably simpler than I'm assuming.

-Lisa


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Christopher VandeLinde on September 28, 2005, 11:39:07 AM
Hi Lisa and Ron,

I hope you don't mind me butting in here, but I want to make sure I understand what Ron is getting at.

Third, and more appropriate for Sorcerer-as-principles-in-action, combat & conflict scenes in stories rely very heavily on a kind of "dominance" principle - a given character or team of characters tends to exert more offensive/defensive oomph in a given clash or exchange.

The classic wargame table which puts offense down the side and defense across the top, then has a 50% value running diagonally through the table with incremental ups and down filling up the remainder, isn't the model for Sorcerer conflicts. I built the rules to set up "who dominates this time" as a principle overseeing all the choices for everyone, during that exchange.

I'm understanding this to mean that the character with the higher initiative gets to effectively act twice because his higher initiative is seen as giving him the dominance of the action.  And that the importance of this dominance is in it's contribution to the drama of the conflict, instead of worrying about the fairness of the tactical simulation.  Is that basically right?

Thanks,
Christopher


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 28, 2005, 02:20:13 PM
Hi Christopher,

Yes, more-or-less. I'm not sure I'd call it "acting twice" so much as "acting with more awareness/reactivity." Think of one guy getting the drop on the other as a default feature of any confrontation.

For instance ... you guys do understand, I hope, this point as well: say X is attacked by five guys, and gets the high value. After his action, as their attacks come in, he gets to roll all his defense dice against every one of those attacks, separately. That's a lot more than "one more" action!

In terms of counting dice, the folks who go earlier simply have more dice, total, in which one part of that overall "pool" is dedicated to self-protection.

This is one of the subtle reasons that Sorcerer combat and The Riddle of Steel combat are more similar than most people think.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Christopher VandeLinde on September 29, 2005, 05:45:56 AM
Hi Ron,

Thanks, that helps.  I admit I didn't realize that a character could have the number of defense rolls you mentioned; I was thinking more of the swordfight scene in The Princess Bride, where the switching of the sword hand changed the entire flow of the fight.

Thanks again,
Christopher


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 29, 2005, 05:50:53 AM
Hello,

Ever hear that funny click, or maybe the repeated-phrase effect, that tips you off that the person you're talking to is actually an android? I thought I just did.

Christopher, what you said about The Princess Bride sword-switching effect makes no sense at all to me. That sort of effect is easy and common in Sorcerer; it's called a dice bonus (prior to the roll), or possibly a fun narration (after a Complete Victory for defense, which would then fold into the attack roll next exchange, as a bonus). What in the world are you talking about?

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Christopher VandeLinde on September 29, 2005, 06:12:11 AM
Hi Ron,

Ever hear that funny click, or maybe the repeated-phrase effect, that tips you off that the person you're talking to is actually an android? I thought I just did.

I get that a lot, especially before I've had my morning caffeine.  Let me try to clarify what I was thinking.

I was looking at the idea of a character having dominance in a fight.  The swordfight example seemed appropriate to me because of the way the flow of the fight progressed.  At first there is an equality between Westly and Inigo, although eventually Westly gets the upper hand.  Then Inigo switches his sword hand.  The flow is now significantly different; Westly is on the defensive and pressed by Inigo's attack.  It seemed to me that this was a clear example of the sort of dominance you were talking about (although perhaps Lisa's comment about fencing sent my mind in that direction), although I can see how, in terms of mechanics, it was properly inappropriate to the issue at hand.

Anyways, I don't want to take over Lisa's thread more than I already have; I do think I understand your point, even if the example I was using was a bit off.

Regards,
Christopher


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Lisa Padol on September 29, 2005, 11:28:02 AM
For instance ... you guys do understand, I hope, this point as well: say X is attacked by five guys, and gets the high value. After his action, as their attacks come in, he gets to roll all his defense dice against every one of those attacks, separately. That's a lot more than "one more" action!

Oh, my! No, I did not realize that. It follows, of course, but it just hadn't occurred to me.

-Lisa


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Lisa Padol on September 29, 2005, 11:29:31 AM
Anyways, I don't want to take over Lisa's thread more than I already have; I do think I understand your point, even if the example I was using was a bit off.

Not a problem -- without your posts, it would not have occurred to me that the defense rule meant someone going first got the full defense against, well, everyone going later.

-Lisa


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Lisa Padol on September 29, 2005, 11:52:47 AM
Okay, Token questions.

To make a Token, one kills a living being. The victim's Humanity becomes the number of bonus dice the Token has. Correct, so far?

Is this automatically successful? That is, my character kidnaps a young girl, slits her throat in full ritual fashion and has her bleed out onto whatever is to be the token, let's say the very dagger he slit her throat with. She has Humanity of 5. Has my character automatically succeeded in creating a Humanity 5 Token?

Animals do not generally have Humanity, correct? So, animal sacrifice is pretty pointless in terms of getting the crunchy toys?

A Token is not a one use thing, correct? That is, my character can use, re-use, and abuse those 5 bonus dice whenever it is appropriate to use the Token?

Let's say my character now kills someone with Humanity 6 with the Token, hoping to make the Token even more powerful. This means I roll 6 dice vs the Token's 5 dice, and any successes are added to the Token's dice. That is, if I roll 2 successes vs the Token, I now have a Token with 7 dice, correct? In other words, Tokens sort of "bottom out" after awhile, since, while, in theory, using a 10 die Token to kill someone with 1 Humanity could result in getting an 11 die Token, that's not the way to bet.

Or am I completely wrong? The above is what I thought was the case, but The Sorcerer's Soul has a scenario that seems to indicate otherwise.

Reading pp. 98-99 of The Sorcerer's Soul, I see that Leopold's sword becomes a Token after Leopold is killed. Leopold's Humanity is 4, so that is the starting value of the Token.

But, 2 is added to that for Grette's Humanity loss. Is this a part of the Token rules I missed in the previous supplement? Is this something specific to the scenario?

Regardless, we have a 6 die Token. Then, Gunther, with Humanity of 5 is killed. I would expect this to mean that 5 dice are rolled against the Token's 6, and only the successes on those 5 dice got added, but the entire 5 dice are automatically added. Did I misunderstand the rules? Is this sort of a fiat, since, after all, there are no PCs present when this takes place, as written, so there's no reason to roll?

Marcus loses 1 Humanity, and I've already asked about that part.

We now have a 12 die Token. I see why Kerl's Humanity would count for double if he were sacrificed. It Just Fits. But again, I'd expect that would mean I'd roll 12 dice against the Token's current value of 12, adding only the successes, rather than adding in all 12 dice without checking.

Is this something I'm thinking too hard about? I could see if it's just a question of streamlining things. Or are the dice supposed to add automatically? That is, can someone create an obscenely powerful Token by going around ritually murdering people? I have no problem with that being the case, but I want to make sure that if I use Tokens, I use the actual rules for Tokens.

-Lisa


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 29, 2005, 12:28:33 PM
Hello,

Quote
The victim's Humanity becomes the number of bonus dice the Token has. Correct, so far?

Is this automatically successful? That is, my character kidnaps a young girl, slits her throat in full ritual fashion and has her bleed out onto whatever is to be the token, let's say the very dagger he slit her throat with. She has Humanity of 5. Has my character automatically succeeded in creating a Humanity 5 Token?

Animals do not generally have Humanity, correct? So, animal sacrifice is pretty pointless in terms of getting the crunchy toys?

A Token is not a one use thing, correct? That is, my character can use, re-use, and abuse those 5 bonus dice whenever it is appropriate to use the Token?

All correct. About the animals, though, that'll definitely be a local look & feel thing. I can think of lots of animal characters who'd have Humanity in story terms, even non-anthropomorphic ones.

Quote
Let's say my character now kills someone with Humanity 6 with the Token, hoping to make the Token even more powerful. This means I roll 6 dice vs the Token's 5 dice, and any successes are added to the Token's dice. That is, if I roll 2 successes vs the Token, I now have a Token with 7 dice, correct? In other words, Tokens sort of "bottom out" after awhile, since, while, in theory, using a 10 die Token to kill someone with 1 Humanity could result in getting an 11 die Token, that's not the way to bet.

Yup.

As for the scenario in The Sorcerer's Soul, you're seeing some errors. The dice should be rolled and the victories added, not the whole Humanity amounts. The source of the errors is that both supplements existed in PDF form, and when Sorc & Sword got revised for print, the necromany rules were revised extensively. The scenario was written when the older rules applied, and I didn't realize the discrepancy when that supplement went to print form.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Lisa Padol on September 29, 2005, 01:58:43 PM
As for the scenario in The Sorcerer's Soul, you're seeing some errors. The dice should be rolled and the victories added, not the whole Humanity amounts. The source of the errors is that both supplements existed in PDF form, and when Sorc & Sword got revised for print, the necromany rules were revised extensively. The scenario was written when the older rules applied, and I didn't realize the discrepancy when that supplement went to print form.

Okay, got it. Thanks. In the case of the two characters who lost Humanity, which of the following ought to apply:

1. Local variant on the rules. Roll the Humanity loss vs the Token, and any successes add to the Token,
2. Local variant on the rules. Add the Humanity loss to the Token, no need to roll.
3. The Humanity loss has no effect on the Token.

Am currently making my way through Sex & Sorcery, with a lot of "Wow, that dovetails with the book I'm considering stealing the R-map from."

-Lisa


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Lisa Padol on September 29, 2005, 06:54:24 PM
Another question from Sorcerer & Sword. Page 71 says:

===
In face-to-face dueling, at just beyond arm's length, a sword should get a single-die bonus over either a shorter weapon and a longer/heavier one (including a heavier sword).
===

Does this mean that if Character A has a regular sword and Character B has a heavier sword, both characters get a single-die bonus, A for having a sword against a heavier sword, and B for having a sword against a shorter weapon?

I am okay with any answer, so long as I know what the actual rule is.

-Lisa



Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 29, 2005, 08:50:20 PM
Hiya,

I'll get back to you on the Grette/Humanity-loss thing. Have to check out what I wrote in full.

Regarding the swords, no, the bonus only applies to the lighter sword in that encounter.

Contrary to popular belief, bigger swords receive no special emphasis in most classic sword-and-sorcery fiction, and in many cases were treated, in story terms, as evidence that the opponent wasn't much of a man.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: James_Nostack on September 30, 2005, 06:30:52 AM
Hi - I apologize for butting into Lisa's thread, but I had a question about damage penalties and when they apply.  Since this seems to be a "clear away elementary confusions" thread, here goes--

Basic Situation
The demons Azathoth, Beelzebub and Citibank get into a skirmish.
1.  Intentions are declared.  Azathoth and Citibank team up to attack Beelzebub.  Beelzebub attacks Citibank.
2.  Modifiers are assigned if necessary.
3.  Dice are rolled to determine initiative and general combat performance.
4.  As a result of Step 3, these are the results...

5.  Azathoth attacks Beelzeub.  Beelzebub chooses to "suck up the pain."
6.  Beelzebub attacks Citibank.  Citibank chooses to "suck up the pain."
7.  Citibank attacks Beelzebub.  Because Beelzebub has already acted, it can make a regular defense roll.
 
Let's say as a result of Step 5 Beelzebub suffers a 2-dice penalty.

It is my recollection reading these forums that the penalty applies to the next roll rather than the intention of the following round.  So, my question is, when does that 2-dice penalty apply?

A - During Beelzebub's attack in step 6.  (Can't be right, can it?  He rolled in step 3.)
B - Beelzebub's 2-dice penalty gets converted into a 2-dice bonus for Citibank's defense in Step 6.
C - Beelzebub suffers a 2-dice penalty when defending in Step 7.
D - Beelzebub suffers a 2-dice penalty in the following round.  (I get the impression this is wrong.)

thank you for your time,


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Valamir on September 30, 2005, 07:06:50 AM
Step 6.

Beeze's 2 die penelty translates to a 2 die bonus for Citi, who then gets to "suck up the pain" using 3 dice instead of 1.


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Lisa Padol on September 30, 2005, 07:07:14 AM
Regarding the swords, no, the bonus only applies to the lighter sword in that encounter.

Contrary to popular belief, bigger swords receive no special emphasis in most classic sword-and-sorcery fiction, and in many cases were treated, in story terms, as evidence that the opponent wasn't much of a man.

Gotcha. That's what I would have thought, but Josh noted that the phrasing could support either interpretation.

I have a setting more or less in mind, and am wanting to diagram the R-map from the source I'm thinking of playing with. The one sheet should probably come first. OTOH, no harm in diagramming the book's R-map, as that is stuff that I will want to change, and it may give me a better idea of what I want in the one sheet. I'm currently partial to Humanity as Sanity, but haven't made up my mind. Really fuzzy on what demons should be given what I'm trying for. Somewhat fuzzy on Lore, but not as bad.

-Lisa


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Lisa Padol on September 30, 2005, 10:35:46 AM
Oh yes, there was a reference to Lore increasing. Now, this makes perfect sense, but is there a mechanism for this, or is it more by feel? Do Stamina, Will, or Cover/Past ever increase? I'd sort of assumed only Humanity changed.

-Lisa


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Judd on September 30, 2005, 10:58:10 AM
Oh yes, there was a reference to Lore increasing. Now, this makes perfect sense, but is there a mechanism for this, or is it more by feel? Do Stamina, Will, or Cover/Past ever increase? I'd sort of assumed only Humanity changed.

-Lisa


Character stat improvement is covered in the book.  My book is in my car but look it up, its in there.


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Lisa Padol on September 30, 2005, 01:17:11 PM
Character stat improvement is covered in the book.  My book is in my car but look it up, its in there.

Okay, will do.

-Lisa


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Lisa Padol on September 30, 2005, 06:28:27 PM
Character stat improvement is covered in the book.  My book is in my car but look it up, its in there.

Okay, will do.

-Lisa

Done. Found it!

Jeez, there are few enough rules to Sorcerer that you'd have thunk I'd remember them, especially as I just reread Sorcerer a few days ago!

-Lisa


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Judd on September 30, 2005, 06:45:35 PM
Done. Found it!

Jeez, there are few enough rules to Sorcerer that you'd have thunk I'd remember them, especially as I just reread Sorcerer a few days ago!

-Lisa

It doesn't have rules for figuring out your strength if you are left-handed in no armor but it is a misnomer to think its rules-lite.


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Lisa Padol on October 01, 2005, 10:31:54 PM
It doesn't have rules for figuring out your strength if you are left-handed in no armor but it is a misnomer to think its rules-lite.

It is not rules light. It is rules haiku. There are precisely as many rules as are needed. Or at least, that's how it seems to me. When I actually try to run the thing, I'll find out if I still think so.

Got an R-map in mind. Got a setting in mind. Got ideas for Humanity, Demons, and Lore. The thing to do now is to start trying to get the one sheet down and see if it makes sense.

-Lisa


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Lisa Padol on October 02, 2005, 11:15:41 AM
I've started the first draft of the one sheet. It's chaotic and will need to be reworked at least once, as I shift further away from my source material. The juxtaposition of Sorcerer and its supplements with a third read of The Fall of the Kings does very interesting things to the brain.

Setting: In and around a university in sort of a Renaissance period, more or less. Everyone knows there's no such thing as magic. Sure, there are stories about how there once was, but that was just silly superstition. We are Enlightened now.

Source Material: Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman's The Fall of the Kings and Kushner's other Riverside works. An Instance of the Fingerpost. Faren Miller's The Illusionists. Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials. Of these, The Fall of the Kings is a primary influence.

Humanity: I'm seeing a sort of three-tiered thing, but that may be an illusion.

Sanity. Sorcery seems to require magical, illogical thinking. Insane thinking, in other words, except that the conclusions are correct. There cannot be demons, but you have just bound one.

Social Obligation. If you drop this altogether, you risk becoming a socio- or psychopath type, someone who just can't function in society. Hm, that is not what a socio or psychopath is, is it? But if Humanity bottoms out from this one, you can't function in society.

Freedom. If you go too far the other way, you are denying who you are. This ties in with the inner animal concept in interesting ways, I think. And I think both this and Social Obligation involve the idea of Sanity. I'm not sure if this means I have really 2 definitions, rather than 3, with Sanity underpinning both. OTOH, Basil from my source material doesn't have a problem balancing the two until he gets involved with magic, and then, his Sanity is definitely in question. Okay, that's simplistic, but it argues a certain tripod structure.

Demons:

Possessor: Inner animal, ancestor

Object: Ancestor bound to an object. Theoretically, one's inner animal could be as well.

"Passer": This would either be an animal that's one's inner animal pulled out, or an ancestor, perhaps as an animal. The question is whether this would be an ordinary animal with a telltale or something clearly unnatural. I think the former. Does this still count as a passer?

Passer: The human kind of Passer should be fairly rare. This could be an ancestor returned. It could be something completely different. I want this type to be rare, but really creepy, precisely because it is so rare and -- just plain wrong, even by sorcery standards. I am not sure how much I want to nail down what it is. If it's all right if the players don't know, I'll keep it fuzzy. That is, it can be ancestors or Something Elses.

Inconspicuous: I'm not sure about these. Josh asked if a blade of grass is a Passer or an Inconspicuous demon. I think the latter.

Parasite: Not at the moment. Still, what happens if one's inner animal changes one? That is, if someone grows horns or hooves, or turns into a deer altogether?

The Inner Animal Thing: (Gaa. I need a better term for that.) All people have... Something. A potential that can be wakened to primacy. It is an animal personality. It can be wakened within the person, in which case, you get someone acting really strangely. Say your inner animal is a deer. If a sorcerer Summons and Binds it, you're not going to be able to digest red meat. Telltale is fairly obviously weird behavior. Not that it screams "Demon!" to most people. Everyone knows there's no such thing as magic.

You can pull that part of a person that's an animal out and have it take the shape of an actual animal. This is sort of a cross between Pullman's daemons and Passers, I think.

You can Bind it to an object. In that case, you get an Object demon. This is probably trickier.

Object or Animal must be of the appropriate type. If my inner animal -- need a better term -- is a deer, you can't have it take the shape of an animal that isn't a deer.

Ancestors: Dead sorcerers. Or perhaps only sleeping. They can possess objects and people, effectively becoming a Possessor or an Object Demon. I don't think the whole inner animal concept can mix with this. And a really powerful dead-or-sleeping sorcerer can Bind himself? No. No one accidentally Binds a demon. Even the pyschologically inviting one is dicey. No, in Sorcerer terms, maybe the dead-or-sleeping sorcerer is waiting for a Summons. Maybe even as an Object which serves as a Contain so it doesn't fade, but it must be a deliberate summoning. (So, in Sorcerer terms, the book in The Fall of the Kings is an Object Demon, and it confers a Perception (Truth) of some kind on the Sorcerer, and the special effect is that the "spell" is read aloud. I think the book either Desires or Needs its abilities to be used.)

Now, if I'm sticking close to The Fall of the Kings, then the whole Inner Animal thing is seen as a good by some, or at least, as a necessary. But, sorcery must be transgressive. OTOH, in FotK, it is. We'll have to get a touch further away from FotK, but this isn't a bad start.

Lore: TBD, but should include Folklore / Supersitions and Scholarship.

Need descriptors for Stamina, Will, Cover

Like I said, this needs at least one reworking, but it's starting to look like it might cohere.

Mm, if I don't scrap it all, I will need to decide the gender thing -- are women allowed at University? Now, Fall of the Kings has a very specific set of gender constraints, which is part of what makes it dovetail so nicely. Keeping the societal prejudices -- women allowed grudgingly into the University, and not many of those -- may make good sense,  but I am not sure I want to go further than that. Magic and gender interact in some fascinating ways in the novel, but, given that I'm already treading dangerously by not changing the tech level of the setting, I don't know that I should stick with the gender pattern for magic. I need to shift away from the novel at least one or two more steps, but I want that flavor of danger and transgression.

-Lisa






Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: droog on October 03, 2005, 08:44:03 AM
It is not rules light. It is rules haiku.
Playing Sorcerer
Is really not difficult
Humanity is


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: jburneko on October 03, 2005, 09:25:08 AM
Hello There,

I've been following this thread with some interest.  I like Sorcerer prep.  I haven't read any of your inspiration sources so what I'm about to say may be way off base.  Take it and leave it as you feel necessary.

Your one-sheet feels a little too tight to me.  Part of the goal of a one sheet is to get everyone on the same page with Look & Feel and the issues at stake that come with being a Sorcerer.  There should be enough room after that for the players to seize those concepts and make them their own.  Your one-sheet seems a little too close to a classic RPG setting book that is trying to explain how magic works, where it comes from, what role it plays in the world, etc.

When this happens (and believe me, it happens A LOT to me) I try to distill the whole thing to a raw concept that I find exciting.

In your case what I'm seeing is a general intest in the animal nature of human beings.  Hunting, Mating, Flight, Fight, these things don't go away they just become more complicated.  Some see "civiliazation" as an attempt to tame or even remove these things.  To what degree is that a good idea?  Sounds like a good Sorcerer setup to me.

So your whole Demon concept could be summarized as: Beastial entities where Rituals are characterized by animalitic activity.  An *example* of such might be an "inner animal" awakened into full possessor status by ritualized pretatory seduction of its host.  By abstracting the concept a bit, you leave room for the players to add their own take and spin on the concept while firmly defining what's interesting about it. 

I do like the rennaisance university setting.  Ultra-sophisticated, ultra-civilized, the perfect backdrop.

Now, like I said, I maybe 180 degrees off from what you have in mind.  I haven't read your sources and I'm sort of pulling my ideas from films like Brotherhood of the Wolf and The Village.  So, take or leave as you see fit.

Does this make sense?

Jesse


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Lisa Padol on October 03, 2005, 06:39:48 PM
Playing Sorcerer
Is really not difficult
Humanity is

I like. Thank you.

-Lisa


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Lisa Padol on October 03, 2005, 07:03:46 PM
Your one-sheet feels a little too tight to me.

I would have said too loose, too trying-to-do-too-much.

Quote
Part of the goal of a one sheet is to get everyone on the same page with Look & Feel and the issues at stake that come with being a Sorcerer.  There should be enough room after that for the players to seize those concepts and make them their own.  Your one-sheet seems a little too close to a classic RPG setting book that is trying to explain how magic works, where it comes from, what role it plays in the world, etc.

Mm, while I'd thought the point of the one sheet was to define what sorcerery was and how it worked, I think I actually had a different problem. I think my problem was that I was trying to get far enough away from my primary source of inspiration that I'm not trying to copy it while still trying to fit in too many things that I liked about the book. My first stab at fixing this problem was to pull from a couple of other sources, which, while that's good in so far as it gets me away from the primary source, meant that I was now trying to squish in a couple of extra balls.

Quote
When this happens (and believe me, it happens A LOT to me) I try to distill the whole thing to a raw concept that I find exciting.

Yes! This is exactly what I was floundering around trying to do.

Quote
In your case what I'm seeing is a general intest in the animal nature of human beings.  Hunting, Mating, Flight, Fight, these things don't go away they just become more complicated.  Some see "civiliazation" as an attempt to tame or even remove these things.  To what degree is that a good idea?  Sounds like a good Sorcerer setup to me.

So your whole Demon concept could be summarized as: Beastial entities where Rituals are characterized by animalitic activity.  An *example* of such might be an "inner animal" awakened into full possessor status by ritualized pretatory seduction of its host.  By abstracting the concept a bit, you leave room for the players to add their own take and spin on the concept while firmly defining what's interesting about it. 

I do like the rennaisance university setting.  Ultra-sophisticated, ultra-civilized, the perfect backdrop.

Mm, I like this. I'm not sure how it shakes down into a one sheet, but it focuses things nicely.

Quote
Now, like I said, I maybe 180 degrees off from what you have in mind.  I haven't read your sources and I'm sort of pulling my ideas from films like Brotherhood of the Wolf and The Village.  So, take or leave as you see fit.

Does this make sense?

Oh yes, thank you! I'm still scratching my head on a couple of things.

1. Okay, so there's a civilized -- animalistic dichotomy. This is simple and works even better than I'd thought with the university setting. Should I ditch my notion of sorcery requiring illogical, insane thinking? I believe that the answer is yes. Or, a more complicated answer that means the same thing is "Yes, unless the sanity thing can be framed in terms of the civilized -- animalistic dichotomy. Two poles are fine; don't try to make this a tripod structure." Sound good?

2. Do I want to do anything complicated with gender and sexuality? The sane answer is, "No, play it as it lies within the concepts you've already got." The thing is... well, I was rereading Sex & Sorcerery. And I spent a lot of time saying, "Nah. Too simplistic. Nah, doesn't work that way." But... all this time, I am reading The Fall of the Kings, which is proving me wrong and Ron right in just about every sentence, and in ways that I find interesting. So, I want that element of danger. But, I don't want to take it as it appears in The Fall of the Kings. It's too tied to that setting. OTOH, the only alternative that popped into my head (admittedly, after not all that much thinking about it) was "Eunuchs", which conjures up a whole different kit and kaboodle. Granted, it's a potentially interesting kit and kaboodle, especially if I wanted to do enough research to set the game in China, with bureacratic universities, but I don't, really, and without that, I'm grafting on something that I'm sort of hoping can substitute for something else. The something else was very well thought out, and this isn't. And, amusing as it is in a silly, over the top way, the idea of eunuchs doesn't quite fit into the whole civilized-animalistic dichotomy. So, either I find something that does, either as I redesign the one sheet or with all the other players in play, or I shrug and decide I don't need to do everything all at once right now the very first time I've ever tried GMing Sorcerer.

Does that make any sense?

I've not seen those movies, but I definitely want to see Brotherhood of the Wolf at the very least.

My sources: Instance of the Fingerpost and Name of the Rose are mysteries where the philosophy is at least as important as the nominal mystery. The former is set in 16th or 17th century Oxford (I forget which), and has 4 sections, each written from a different point of view. The latter is set in a 14th century monaster, and I had a blast reading it. It was set over the period of a week. I read it over the same period, between Christmas and New Year's, remembering enough Latin to appreciate the excellence of the translation and syntax and to get about one out of three untranslated Latin words. I finished New Year's Eve, with the words spinning, and, for some reason, my taking another swallow of champagne to make them stop spinning didn't work.

Phillip Pullman's trilogy His Dark Materials has everyone in one world having a daemon. This is utterly natural. But sorcerery should not be a natural thing that everyone does.

The Fall of the Kings -- um. Okay, I'm torn between saying, "Just read it" and saying, "Read Swordspoint first". Swordspoint came first, and is fascinating, if rather romantic. So, sue me -- I'm a romantic. The Fall of the Kings is set 60 years later and is one of the most unsafe books I've ever read. It read much better the second time, once I'd gotten it through my head that the author did not want to retread ground covered by her earlier book, thank you very much.

Anyway, back to the drawing board. But I think this will help. Thanks!

-Lisa


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: jburneko on October 04, 2005, 12:26:02 AM
Hello Again,

I suddenly realized I've partially lied.  I have seen the film based on The Name of the Rose and at one point had read about the first 100 pages of the book but found the author was a little TOO good at mimicing the writing of a 14th Century monk.  I'll give it another go some day.

I can't speak to what you do or don't want to include.  It's your idea pulled from your sources but you do seem to be agonizing over a lot of details.  I'm not *quite* sure what you're still looking for.

As for sexuality issues, you don't have to build them into the Sorcery concept.  You can build them into the setting (such as the issues of women at the university as you've already stated) or into the situation (via your R-Map) or players can build them into their characters and you can choose to emphasize them in your bang choice.  I don't really see a need to include them directly into your one-sheet from the get go.

Another issue I've seen you repeat is the fear of Sorcery being viewed as "good."  I wouldn't worry about that either.  Sorcery isn't necessarily good or bad, it's unnatural.  I used to have a real problem with "likeable" demons.  Occasionally, a demon in one of my games would become "loveable" in that kind of cartoony way and you'd feel bad for the guy when his master Punished him.  Turns out this OKAY.

I think you have more than you think you have.  Hmmm... Just for fun, I'm goind to construct a character from my understanding of your setting.  In the absense of customized descripters I'll just pick things I think are appropriate.

Name: Jonathan Oak
Appearance: Tall, stately gentleman who walks with an oakwood cane.
Telltale: Birds do not take flight when he is near.
Price: Wounded (-1 to physical activities involving his legs)

Stamina 2 Trained-soldier
Will 4 Lover
Lore 4 Adept
Cover 2 Ex-Commisioned Officer
Humanity 4

Kicker: Through the eyes of The Lady Jasmine (see bellow) Jonathan has witnessed his love Viola Hanover give away her "innocense" to his scholarly (and romantic) rival Sebastion Villefort.

The Lady Jasmine
Apperance: A brown and silver hawk
Type: Passer
Telltale: Her cry, sounds distant and echoy no matter where she is or what her surroundings are.

Stamina 3
Will: 4
Lore: 3
Power 4

Desire: Love
Need: To kill on the hunt.

Abilities: Perception (confers to Jonathan, allows him to see through her eyes via Link), Link and Mark

Note that sexuality issues are built into the kicker and (*shudder*) the demon.  Also, I suspect the demon to be highly sympathetic, a valued pet and trusted companion but no less trouble.

Would you consider this character appropriate for you concept?

Jesse


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: droog on October 04, 2005, 05:58:15 AM
I like. Thank you.
You're welcome. And, look, I don't have any really pertinent advice for you (I was seeking some myself recently), but I'm sure you'll have fun if you follow the book. Relax and enjoy. It's a great game.


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Lisa Padol on October 04, 2005, 08:35:53 AM
I suddenly realized I've partially lied.  I have seen the film based on The Name of the Rose and at one point had read about the first 100 pages of the book but found the author was a little TOO good at mimicing the writing of a 14th Century monk.  I'll give it another go some day.

Hey, most people who don't care for it can't get past page 24. (That's where the page and a half description of the church door is.)

Quote
As for sexuality issues, you don't have to build them into the Sorcery concept.  You can build them into the setting (such as the issues of women at the university as you've already stated) or into the situation (via your R-Map) or players can build them into their characters and you can choose to emphasize them in your bang choice.  I don't really see a need to include them directly into your one-sheet from the get go.

Sounds good. I've generally found that most of the thematic stuff I do works because I haven't actually planned it.

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Another issue I've seen you repeat is the fear of Sorcery being viewed as "good."  I wouldn't worry about that either.  Sorcery isn't necessarily good or bad, it's unnatural.  I used to have a real problem with "likeable" demons.  Occasionally, a demon in one of my games would become "loveable" in that kind of cartoony way and you'd feel bad for the guy when his master Punished him.  Turns out this OKAY.

It should definitely be unnatural, although if I go with the civilized-animal dichotomy, this does set up an interesting question of just what natural is.

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I think you have more than you think you have.  Hmmm... Just for fun, I'm goind to construct a character from my understanding of your setting.  In the absense of customized descripters I'll just pick things I think are appropriate.

<snipping out description>

Would you consider this character appropriate for you concept?

Dead on, more so than you may realize, as in you've done an interesting echo of something from the sources I'm playing with. Thanks.

-Lisa


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: James_Nostack on October 05, 2005, 05:34:39 AM
Hi Lisa, I'm in the middle of constructing a "pre game procedures" outline for Sorcerer, Sorcerer & Sword, and Sorcerer's Soul -- consolidating most of the GM advice into one place.  I'd be happy to e-mail it to you if you wanna PM me....

best of luck,
James


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: avram on October 05, 2005, 10:26:43 AM
The Inner Animal Thing: (Gaa. I need a better term for that.)

It sounds similar to Pullman's daemon, from an old Greek word for an in-dwelling spirit, so why not use that?

Or you can use the Latin anima (an animating soul or spirit), which has the advantage of sounding like "animal". Your setting predates Jung by centuries, so you don't have to limit yourself to the meaning he invented.


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Nev the Deranged on October 05, 2005, 02:10:53 PM
Lisa, you're a lot sharper than me, heh. I agonized for months over what took you half a thread to suss out.

And the first half of this thread had some really useful bits I'm stealing for yet another revision of my quick-reference, so thank you ^_^


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Lisa Padol on October 05, 2005, 06:14:39 PM
Sorcerer One Sheet, Second Draft, with thanks to Jesse

Demons: Bestial entities. Note that this does not mean stupid entities. Animal Passers and Possessor demons causing their hosts to act more animal-like are the most obvious.

[Do I need to figure out the rest of the types of demons, or can that be left to develop as play proceeds? I still think human Passers should be rare and spooky.]

Rituals: Involve animalistic behavior.

Humanity: Got two possibilities.
The simple one: Humanity is civilized behavior and acting according to the social contract.
The more complicated one: Socialized behavior vs. Freedom. If you act too animalistic, if you ignore the conventions of society, you risk losing humanity. But, if you deny your inner nature and desires, you also risk losing humanity.
Either way, I think 0 Humanity means a kind of insanity. Too animal, and you've got Sir Lancelot running through the woods, cutting himself with thorns. Too much the social beast and, um. This could manifest as suicide, as the Renaissance equivalent of going postal one day, or just the quiet insanity of someone desperately unhappy in his role.

Setting: Renaissance like university. The role of women is in question, and they are just starting to enter the university.

Premise, largely quoting Jesse here: The animal nature of humans does not go away as we become more civilized, but it becomes more complicated. Is civilization an attempt to tame or remove these things? To what degree is that good? Or, if not, what is the drawing room jungle like? The academia jungle?

Inspirational source material includes: The Fall of the Kings, His Dark Materials, An Instance of the Finger Post, The Illusionists, The Name of the Rose, Austen, Wharton, et alia, The Vampire Tapestry and other works by Charnas

Descriptors:

[How many of these should I have? I am finding these the most challenging because this is inventing the more crunchy bits.]

[I'm trying to come up with descriptors that fit either the Renaissance Social / University feel or the animal world.]

Lore:

Folklore / Superstition 1-2
Instinctive 1-3
Scholar (someone who's learning lore via research, on his own) 2-3
Student (someone studying under a Sorcerer) 2-3
In a Study Group (sorta like a coven -- not sure I want to include this one) 1-3
Adept 4+
Mad 4+

Will

Lover
Predator/Hunter
Belief System [Is there a more acadamese way of saying this?
High Self Esteem
Vengeful
Social Lion / Animal Magnetism
User / Manipulator
Zest for Life and Sensation

Stamina

Natural Vigor
Clean Living
Scrapper
Athletic Regime
Swordsman
Military Training

Cover / Past

[Which term makes most sense in the context of the setting?]
[Players are allowed to come up with their own, correct?]

Professor
Student/Scholar

What am I leaving out? What seems to need reworking?

R-map question: I'm starting to diagram the R-map in Fall of the Kings. First is ties of blood and sex. Somewhere in there, IMO, on the second go through, should be mentor-student relationships. Two questions: 1. Am I right about this, or is that something that should -not- be on the R-map? 2. If I am right, any opinions on whether I'm better off having the mentor-student relationships on the same diagram as the blood-sex relationships, whether I should have 2 different diagrams, or whether I should do both, e.g., one with the whole picture, and a couple of simplified ones to look at when I just want to focus on one type of tie?

-Lisa


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Lisa Padol on October 05, 2005, 06:15:47 PM
And the first half of this thread had some really useful bits I'm stealing for yet another revision of my quick-reference, so thank you ^_^

Sure thing -- is your quick-reference available online?

-Lisa


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Lisa Padol on October 05, 2005, 06:20:13 PM
The Inner Animal Thing: (Gaa. I need a better term for that.)

It sounds similar to Pullman's daemon, from an old Greek word for an in-dwelling spirit, so why not use that?

Or you can use the Latin anima (an animating soul or spirit), which has the advantage of sounding like "animal". Your setting predates Jung by centuries, so you don't have to limit yourself to the meaning he invented.

It depends on whether you're talking in-game or out-of-game. At the moment, I like the sound of "anima" for in-game, but I'll see if I still think that way in a week.

-Lisa


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: angelfromanotherpin on October 05, 2005, 09:43:16 PM
My two cents...

Quote from: Lisa Padol
[Do I need to figure out the rest of the types of demons, or can that be left to develop as play proceeds? I still think human Passers should be rare and spooky.]

It seems that if Demons are bestial, then those capable of passing as humans would be rare, but it strikes me as a matter to hammer out with the group. 

Quote
Rituals: Involve animalistic behavior.

Humanity: Got two possibilities.

Rituals, as an expression of Lore, should directly challenge the Humanity definition.  So if you really like animalistic behavior, stick with 'Civilization' as the definition.  The other definition seems to point at rituals which desocialize or constrain.  Treating oneself and others almost like zoo animals, for instance.

Quote
Descriptors:

[How many of these should I have? I am finding these the most challenging because this is inventing the more crunchy bits.]

As many as you need, neither more nor less.  I tried once to shoehorn an arbitrary and equal number into each, which just frustrated me.  Although, if the setting is a University, I think 'Tenure' would make a very cool Will descriptor.  In fact, given the setting, you may want to consider moving 'Teacher' and 'Student' into Will and take a look from that direction, given how much those roles tend to define people's social interactions. 

Lore descriptors should be informed by the Humanity definition.  Also, I'm not sure the student and study group sort of thing is right.  Consider combining animalism with learning, maybe?  How do animals acquire behaviors?  Instinct, immediate observation, direct experience, but certainly not through the dry civilized methods of people. 

Quote
Cover / Past

[Which term makes most sense in the context of the setting?]

Definitely Cover.  Or possibly Major or Subject, if you don't think that's a bit silly.

Looking good, in any case.  All luck.


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 06, 2005, 05:40:46 AM
Hi Lisa,

What you need to do now is STOP and let the rest get worked out through the players and yourself in character creation. You'll discover three things there:

1. People who will try to shoehorn whatever you present into familiar territory. This is like the guy who listened patiently to Judd's description of the complex and beautiful Marr'd setting, then made up a wandering samurai to add to "the party."

2. People who seize what you present and run with it, providing shocking and fascinating spins on what you've said.

Good news: this is where all of you (specifically you, during prep after character creation) will develop plenty of material that will individualize your setting far, far away from the inspirational material. You're trying to be "too original" right now, which is trapping you into "like this, but not like it, but like it, but ..."

3. People who kind of get it, but need confirmation or minor suggestions at every step of the way during character creation. Your goal here should be to let most of the input come from dialogue among the #2 folks and these folks, with yourself as an equal participant rather than Queen GM.

It'll work out fine. You're right on track, including the uncertainties. Don't put in more. Take out all the hesitant stuff; for instance, just step up and say "No human-type Passers." If you say, "I think they should be rare," you are guaranteeing that at least two, perhaps all of the players will use them.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Lisa Padol on October 06, 2005, 01:41:13 PM
What you need to do now is STOP and let the rest get worked out through the players and yourself in character creation.

Okay, good. I thought I had to nail down all the descriptors first, until they couldn't twitch anymore.

Quote
You'll discover three things there:

1. People who will try to shoehorn whatever you present into familiar territory. This is like the guy who listened patiently to Judd's description of the complex and beautiful Marr'd setting, then made up a wandering samurai to add to "the party."

With any luck, I'll be the worst offender.

Quote
It'll work out fine. You're right on track, including the uncertainties. Don't put in more. Take out all the hesitant stuff; for instance, just step up and say "No human-type Passers." If you say, "I think they should be rare," you are guaranteeing that at least two, perhaps all of the players will use them.

Right, like all of the other rare stuff in every rpg ever written. Okay, so R-map goes off to the side until there are characters, and then gets revisited, and probably thoroughly rewritten. Either way, I don't have to worry about it now.

-Lisa



Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Lisa Padol on October 06, 2005, 02:25:38 PM
Question: Is Sorcerer a games where it's absolutely essential that everyone do character creation at the same time, as is the case with PTA?

For those wondering why one might want to do it any other way: Time is always at a premium, and I don't know how many players I'm likely to get. Could be 2. Could be 4. For more than 2 players, and a very specific 2 players at that, I am looking at a best case scenario of getting people together once a month. Doing one at a time character creation is a way of short circuiting the Murphy factor of getting the entire group together the first time, particularly attractive when I know from the get go that I don't even try to run anything until at least a few days after everyone's got a character. Some games work fine with such a short cut. Some do not. Which category does Sorcerer fall into?

If, as I suspect, it falls into the category of games where it really is essential to have everyone there, at the start, doing character creation, is this a step that could be done asynchronously, via email?

-Lisa


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: joshua neff on October 06, 2005, 03:34:36 PM
Lisa,

I can't think of a single RPG out there that I would run without having all the players make characters together. If you've got time to get together to play, you've got time to get together to make characters. And you know how Ron and the others talked about the players contributing to the setting? That comes from character creation as well as playing those characters. Musically speaking, this is everyone getting together and laying the foundation for the upcoming jam sessions.

Now, I don't want to dismiss creating characters through asynchronous communication like email. My own experiences haven't been very good with that, because not everyone in the play group would check and respond to emails as quickly as others, but if you read the Art Deco Melodrama threads, the character creation there works very well. As long as everyone is getting a voice and feels they can throw out ideas freely, to the GM and to other players, however you create characters should be fine.


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Lisa Padol on October 06, 2005, 07:38:21 PM
I can't think of a single RPG out there that I would run without having all the players make characters together. If you've got time to get together to play, you've got time to get together to make characters. And you know how Ron and the others talked about the players contributing to the setting? That comes from character creation as well as playing those characters. Musically speaking, this is everyone getting together and laying the foundation for the upcoming jam sessions.

Nah, you're right. Oh, I've done it, and it's even worked. Often this is a case of new players joining the game later. But it's worth doing right.

Quote
Now, I don't want to dismiss creating characters through asynchronous communication like email. My own experiences haven't been very good with that, because not everyone in the play group would check and respond to emails as quickly as others, but if you read the Art Deco Melodrama threads, the character creation there works very well. As long as everyone is getting a voice and feels they can throw out ideas freely, to the GM and to other players, however you create characters should be fine.

With email, it depends on who's doing it. Mm, and another very important factor: I think I'm the only one in the potential group who actually has a copy of the Sorcerer rules.

-Lisa


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Judd on October 06, 2005, 09:34:57 PM
Question: Is Sorcerer a games where it's absolutely essential that everyone do character creation at the same time, as is the case with PTA?

Allow me to tell you how it has worked for me.

I haven't played Sorcerer where we've made the setting together at the table.  I'm sure I'll get to that at some point but it hasn't happened yet.

So, I e-mail everyone the basic pitch and let them stew, asking them not to have any concrete ideas just yet.

Then we get together for a chargen half-session.  I hand out the descriptors.  Everyone reads, they think, they ask questions, they add a descriptor to the list that would go with the setting.  Mind you, the descriptors aren't wide open but sometimes one is missing that is obvious.

Then we discuss our concepts.  The players will find cross-overs between their characters.  No need to push the cross-overs too hard but they'll be there, well written descriptors will make that a sure thing.

We make up characters and then the relationships between PC's become clear.  These relationships aren't necessarily two PC's who know each other but could be just that tehy know of each other, have heard of each other's rep.

Then we write kickers together, making sure everyone is on the same page.  If they want to have kickers that are somehow related...cool.  If not...cool.

Then take those PC's, go home and think about how to handle 'em.

This process of character creation takes about two hours if its rushed, three if you've got the time.

Then writing bangs.

Then play.

Hope that helps.


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Peter Nordstrand on October 06, 2005, 11:30:31 PM
Hi,

Quote from: Ron Edwards
What you need to do now is STOP and let the rest get worked out through the players and yourself in character creation.

I absolutely agree. It is time to kill this thread, stop talking to us for a little while and talk to your players instead. You are ready. And so what if you make a mistake or two? I've made a ton of stupid mistakes when running Sorcerer, but I'm learning, and I've had a cartload of disturbing yet entertaining experiences all the same.

Good luck


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Lisa Padol on October 11, 2005, 11:51:13 AM
Okay, I've got three potential players, one of whom went into fascinating detail about how universities came to be in our world and what precedent there is for exceptions to the church or mosque derived universities.

We've discussed when we can get together for character creation / one sheet review, and I've suggested the 28th. Yep, that's really the first time we've all got an opening (presuming we don't get hit by terrorists, nature, or various family health issues). I'll let you know how it goes.

-Lisa


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Lisa Padol on October 27, 2005, 05:07:09 PM
Yay! We actually had a meeting and started Character Generation! Wow. I mean, really, Wow! The energy level was amazing. I posted about it here: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?board=14.0.

Short term goals: Get Beth's character generated. Get the demons stated up. Get the backs of the sheets filled out.
Long term goal: Have the first session sometime this year.

-Lisa


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Lisa Padol on October 27, 2005, 05:13:48 PM
Yay! We actually had a meeting and started Character Generation! Wow. I mean, really, Wow! The energy level was amazing. I posted about it here: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?board=14.0.

Er, here: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=17417.0

-Lisa


Title: Danged URL
Post by: Lisa Padol on October 27, 2005, 05:14:36 PM
Sigh. Okay, try this one: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=17417.0

-Lisa


Title: Re: Getting Started
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 28, 2005, 03:38:45 AM
This is getting silly. Lisa, let go of this one. Stick with the other threads you've started.

Thread's closed.

Best,
Ron