The Forge Archives

Independent Game Forums => Adept Press => Topic started by: Bailywolf on September 19, 2002, 06:57:59 PM

Title: Accidental sorcery
Post by: Bailywolf on September 19, 2002, 06:57:59 PM
This is a side note, and strictly an opinion here.

I find the concept of the 'found demon' or 'accidental sorcerer' quite compelling- especialy to play the character's evolution from the wonder (or horror) of discovery right up to that moment of critical choice- up until now, I have simply been moved by circumstance...but now I have to take choose to delve further into this occuluded world, to make my wager of humanity against the possibility of awesome power...or total damnation.  

A player who chooses to begin play with an accidental sorcerer- even if done as a copout- doesn't avoid the critical decisions...he just delays them, and puts them right in his character's path down the line.  A GM who can't use the player's kicker to bring this to a head isn't worthy to run a Sorcerer game.


Title: Accidental sorcery
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 20, 2002, 06:02:57 AM
Hi Ben,

All that's fair - for you. I think that in many, probably most people's cases, existing habits of role-playing will serve to undermine the game's strengths if "accidental sorcery" were permitted as a plain old option along with adept and so forth.


Title: Accidental sorcery
Post by: Bailywolf on September 20, 2002, 07:24:51 AM
That's certainly fair.  I defend the idea because the accidental sorcerer is one of my personal favorite starting sorcerer concepts... I've even toyed with an implementation of Sorcerer in which all characters begin as naive mundanes shocked into occult awareness by an accidental binding.  The fun comes when the players realize they can do it again- willingly this time.  I'd love to run this with a group of players ignorant of any of Sorcerer's core ritual mechanics- all they know is they begin play with some kind of demon.  

Everyone I know who got involved in drugs in any kind of serious way never paid for their first nose full of coke or their first ecstasy pill...the first taste is always free.   Not to say that there wasn't a active choice there- they reached out their hands for the psychoactive pharmicopia when it was offered, but they didn't pursue it with their energy and money actively.  When the circumstance presents itself, something in such a character reaches for that demon.  At some point, there will come a reconing.  

However, I'm not blinded to the potential for abuse... accidental sorcery hints at hundreds of derivitive superhero origin stories... Dr. Wilson discovers a strange amulet inside an Egyptian funery jar, and when some strange compulsion impells him to don it, in a flash of light and insense smoke he becomes... Captian Occult!  

Ron (and any others with more Sorcerer field experience than myself), how have you delt with such characters in your past games?  Simply outlaw them, or make them pay for the copout through play?


Title: Accidental sorcery
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 20, 2002, 08:07:12 AM
Hi Ben,

We usually develop more depth through pre-play discussion. The Kicker is usually a fine place for such dialogue, or talking about the demon, especially asking the question, "What did you do to Bind it."

In other words, there's little need to "fix" the problem in any extra kind of way - simply focusing what's required to create a sorcerer PC in the first place, and not letting any of it slide, will do the trick.


Title: Accidental sorcery
Post by: Mike Holmes on September 20, 2002, 08:24:19 AM
Unless you have some situation like BW does above, or Ron did in the Demo package, the problem with the accidental sorcerer concept is having more than one of them. This I would not allow. What, three guys who all happened to summon demons accidentally just happen to bump into the same relationship map? I have a hard enough time with the idea of ultra rare sorcerers bumping into each other. These things need explicit explanations. Even if it's something like, we'll develop a cogent reason in play.

This is the only trouble I have with the accidental sorcerer concept.


Title: Accidental sorcery
Post by: jburneko on September 20, 2002, 09:29:28 AM
What exactly IS the difference between the acidental sorcerer and say the Sanzoku (?), the warrior dudes from Chapter 7, and the naive Sorcerer?

When trying to expalin how to play a naive Sorcerer to people who don't get that just because you're naive doesn't mean you can't actually do Sorcery, I use a very simple and ultra cliche example.

Imagine a warrior who's brother has just been killed by the lord of the land.  The warrior draws his sword, plunges into the ground and kneels beside his slain brother.  Then in a burst of anger he rips the sword from the ground, holds it high above his head and swears by the Powers That Be, that this sword will taste the blood of his brother's killer.

Congratulations, you've just contacted, summoned and bound a demon into the sword, effectively creating an Object Demon.

Now, is this "accidental" Sorcery?  I mean certainly the warrior figure wasn't expecting a supernatural entity to enter his sword.  Or are we talking about something else entirely?


Title: Accidental sorcery
Post by: Bailywolf on September 20, 2002, 10:34:01 AM
I've been thinking of it in the "weird gift from crazy uncle Fred" or "woke up after a wicked bender with this THING where my left hand should have been!"

Someone who ends up with a bound demon inadvertantly.  All but one of the characters I posted to the character archive started out like this... one ends up with a demonic eye after shooting very bad heroine into it... he's now an occult savy PI for the freaky underground very much in the sorcerour know.  Another inhaled a weird gaseous demon whcih took up residence in his lungs... I was trying for a "one demon" sorcerer with him... a guy who would never willingly bind another demon (but might punish or banish for example).  Another was a mob hitman who ran into a demonic chick (two sins in one with this character) who he then tried to kill- the battle (a Stamina based binding) served as a sorcerous ritual of the most primitive kind- a battle for dominance.  They all began as utterly clueless guys who somehow eneded up with bound demons, but have since (or will soon) have that reconing when they must use that sorcery they fluked across entirely willingly.  

The knight example above seems like a pretty non-controversial concept... unconscious or symbolic use of sorcery doesn't seem like the same thing as out and out fluky sorcery.

I also have an weakness for cool "how they met" stories... how a sorcerer comes by his first demon seems like a great place for some groovy backstory, rather than just "I summoned it."  

Personal preff.

Oh, and thanks for splintering this thread off... the topic is proving quite fun.

Title: Accidental sorcery
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on September 21, 2002, 06:22:56 AM
Personally, I am speaking from all of my experience on the matter at this point. i.e. none, it seems to me that the difference between a "good" accidental sorcerer and a "bad" one is a matter of attitude.

"OH no! What have I done? I didn't mean to! I need to fix this so everything can go back the to the way it was!"
Is "bad."

"Woo-hoo! Look at that! Well, I'll be. Now We're cooking with evil gas! What else can you do, little buddy?"
Is "good."

You see, they had summoned and bound a demon somehow, but they probably didn't know what they were doing when they did it, but now that they've done it, the "good" ones are willing to explore and/or exploit the possibilities of this situation they find themselves in. "Bad" ones just want to get rid of the demon or just want it to not bother them anymore and such so they must be forced into action concerning the demon, for good or ill.

Looking at it this way, I doubt I'd let anyone play a "bad" accidental sorcerer unless I trusted in the players skills to make it interesting. Done well, a "bad" accidental sorcerer can develop into a "good" one. Likewise a "good" accidental sorcerer may slowly become a "bad" one as the character starts to realise that having a demon is a lot more work than they had originally envisioned. This is a sign that the character is ready for retirement IMO.

Title: Accidental sorcery
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 21, 2002, 06:46:51 AM
Hi there,

Another point to consider is that Sorcerer characters are necessarily layered in pre-play time.

1) Before he or she was a sorcerer.

2) He or she becomes a sorcerer (i.e. Lore = 1 or higher). Think of this as the comics-superhero origin story.

3) The Kicker happens.

All Sorcerer characters have 1, 2, and 3 prior to beginning the first session. It may be that 2 and 3 are very very closely allied, which is what Ben is talking about, I think, and certainly what Jack is recommending.

However, in most of my experience, the "accidental" sorcerer concept is an excuse to 2 or 3 or both, as a turtling defense mechanism and that is not functional for play.


Title: Accidental sorcery
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on September 21, 2002, 08:06:44 AM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
However, in most of my experience, the "accidental" sorcerer concept is an excuse to 2 or 3 or both, as a turtling defense mechanism and that is not functional for play.

Which is, if I understand this correctly, the reason why accidental sorecerers are unrecommended in the book. Such a concept is mostly the player trying their darnedest not to play the game.

It's weird, actually, because I have seen this often, most annoyingly in my own behavior when playing, this idea of players simply trying not to play when playing, if you follow me. That is, it seems to be the GM's job to put adversity on the PCs because, well, otherwise things get boring. However, it seems to be the players' job to avoid this adversity as much as possible, because adversity can get you killed or at least badly hurt or just plain inconvenienced. This, I think, is a habbit born out of old school killer-GM sort of play which is unnecessary baggage in Sorcerer since the point is to get all the adversity you can.

This is why I said that if you have an experienced Sorcerer player, one not doing the above, then they can play an accidental sorcerer "correctly" and it will be fun. It's just that it's usually the first concept an old school player will come up with since it requires the least effort on their part both in terms of coming up with a character concept and the reduced chance for adversity, or so it seems.

Such is my take on it anyway.