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Independent Game Forums => Adept Press => Topic started by: Wulf on March 10, 2003, 07:08:56 AM



Title: Getting the Sorcery urge
Post by: Wulf on March 10, 2003, 07:08:56 AM
I've finally decided what sort of Sorcerer game I want to play, and I want to use this opportunity to think the idea out loud and get some responses and ideas.

My idea emerged when I succumbed to buying a copy of White Wolf's Werewolf: The Apocalypse (Revised). I've always been interested in the WoD themes, but not at all in the barrage of wannabe-goth baggage that goes with it. However, I can never resist a good werewolf...

However, after a quick read through, I decided, "Stuff this, I don't want to have to learn all this just to play a game!" I'm OK learning a new game system, but the background was just too heavy. So, instead, I shelled out $4 for 'Urge' for Sorcerer, and figured out a 'Werewolf lite'.

So, eventually, here's the idea. I use Urge to allow players to create Were characters (yes, I know Urge isn't about shapeshifters, but that's easily adjusted), but add Lore back in as an extra stat, so they can start dealing with demons later.

The setup would be this. Everyone suddenly discovers they are werewolves (or whatever). HOW they got that way, how they discover it, is up to the players. Everyone starts out with Lore 0 (see note later), characters should all have no idea whatsoever that weres and demons really exist. They live in the present 'real world'. All PCs are drawn to one another, but don't know why.

Now, at present I'm not sure why myself... I fancy some sort of Tribe 8 like invasion. For those who don't know, Tribe 8 is Dream Pod 9's slant on alien invasion, where disembodied aliens find a way into our world by posessing people like spirits, then go on an amoral orgy of new sensations. Therefore, the newly seated demons would be there to help protect humanity, but lack direction or the ability to communicate.

Any suggestions, comments or criticisms? One problem, I actually don't have my copy of Sorcerer at present (it's on loan, and I won't get it back until the weekend), so I may be missing some important detail (like what value to start Lore at).

Wulf


Title: Getting the Sorcery urge
Post by: Mike Holmes on March 10, 2003, 09:19:27 AM
Hmmm. Lot's of problems. I don't know where to start, other than to ask "What is Sorcery?" Is this to be determined in play? That seems fraught with dificulties.

Mike


Title: Getting the Sorcery urge
Post by: Wulf on March 10, 2003, 09:33:10 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Hmmm. Lot's of problems. I don't know where to start, other than to ask "What is Sorcery?" Is this to be determined in play? That seems fraught with dificulties.

Mike


Well, assuming you mean 'what are demons', they would be otherworldly incorporeal entities with seemingly supernatural powers which can manifest in this world in various forms, but are most powerful when posessing living entities. They 'feed' primarily on emotional outpourings, and thus are manipulable by the PCs who have been posessed by the most primally emotive demons Exactly what Lore represents I still have to detail, but some sort of spiritual/emotional communication ability.

Now, exactly what these entities are in terms of science and/or occult terms I will leave to players to work out or ignore as they please.

Well, sounds good for the first time I've ever actually written it down...

Wulf


Title: Getting the Sorcery urge
Post by: jburneko on March 10, 2003, 10:07:25 AM
Wulf,

I've played Werewolf: The Apocolypse relatively recently.  It was nightmare.  It was a nightmare because it uses kitchen sink design when it comes to the question: What is this game about?  And I'm not necessarily strictly talking about a Narrativist Premise.  I mean the game tries to be all things to all people and ends up falling all over itself.

I recognized this fact up front while I was studying the game.  I TRIED to remedy this during the character creation process by trying to pry out some unified angle concerning what the group thought was "cool" about this game.  Even, armed with THAT the game was disaster because the System and Setting fought me tooth and nail to maintain that focus.

So, really I SERIOUSLY suggest you start here: What do YOU think Werewolf is about?  Be specific.  Then ask yourself: Is that thing compatible with Sorcerer play?

I think you might already be heading for disaster.  So you've got all the issues that come with Urge and THEN you tack on this emotion draining demon thing.  So what's the focus of play?  Primal Urges or Dealing With Emotions?

Maybe you see those as the same thing.  That's cool, and maybe this works.  But what you've given me so far, I'm seeing that road of fighting Premises that I fell down when I tried to Werewolf as written.

Just my thoughts.

Jesse


Title: Getting the Sorcery urge
Post by: Mike Holmes on March 10, 2003, 10:23:59 AM
Quote from: Wulf
Well, assuming you mean 'what are demons',
Nope. I said Sorcery specifically. I figured that demons would be about like you said, given the Urge and Werewolf references.

What is Sorcery? What do people do to get Demons? What is Humanity, therefore? What is violated, and how is it violated, to get demons to appear and join with characters? Seems like you're skipping this most crucial part.

Because this is going to tie into what Jesse has said. It's going to be what the game is all about in the end. Here are some obvious choices given the refrences:

1. Sorcery is falling prey to your animal nature. Humanity is refraining from acting in a bestial nature.

2. Sorcery is succumbing to the pull of the essence of nature and it's need to be defended (subtly different). Humanity is staying on this side of the curtain that separates us from the essential world.

3. Sorcery is embracing madness in order to fight an insane foe (wyrm). Humanity is remaining sane.

Just some examples. What do you see as the key issue in general terms (not character specific)?

Here's an interesting question. What are the black-spiral dancers? Are they demons who have completely taken over? Are they sorcerers who have lost all their humanity? Or are they just "misguided" or insane sorcerers?

Mike


Title: Getting the Sorcery urge
Post by: Wulf on March 10, 2003, 10:30:23 AM
Quote from: jburneko
I've played Werewolf: The Apocolypse relatively recently.  It was nightmare.  It was a nightmare because it uses kitchen sink design when it comes to the question: What is this game about?  

You misinterpret my intent, I think. having taken a look at W:tA, I decided, as you say, it was a mess, and too much to be bothered with. Barring the connection in concept with Urge, write W:tA out of the equation. I might use some of the same terms and some ideas, since at least one player who's expressed an interest in a WoD fan, and I'd enjoy confusing him:-)
Quote
I think you might already be heading for disaster.  So you've got all the issues that come with Urge and THEN you tack on this emotion draining demon thing.  So what's the focus of play?  Primal Urges or Dealing With Emotions?

My initial idea was with people struggling to control their emotions/urges (looking at both as parts of the one), but then forced to use them to achieve their goals. So control and balance of emotions. Yes, you can stop those muggers, but only by taking the chance of killing them in an uncontrollable rage.

Also, other demons need not feed on the PCs' emotions, they can feed on others instead. Do the PCs/players WANT the help of a demon who feeds on terror and panic? These 'demons' are drawn to the PCs as beacons of emotion, but they have their own needs that can be satisfied elsewhere.

Wulf


Title: Getting the Sorcery urge
Post by: Wulf on March 10, 2003, 10:39:25 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: Wulf
Well, assuming you mean 'what are demons',
Nope. I said Sorcery specifically. I figured that demons would be about like you said, given the Urge and Werewolf references.

What is Sorcery? What do people do to get Demons? What is Humanity, therefore?


Right, got you. Humanity is self-control, loss of humanity is giving in to the base urges, living through emotion over intellect. Total loss of Humanity would be returning to a bestial state (getting a bit Wolverine here...). Sorcery is a bit of a problem to me here, I want the PCs to be able to contact 'demons' because they are drawn to the posessor demons that make the PCs into weres (via the Urge rules). I imagine demons like shapeless forms within the PCs' perceptions, looking for a way to enter the world. Maybe they come in dreams?

Wulf


Title: Getting the Sorcery urge
Post by: Wulf on March 10, 2003, 10:45:25 AM
Incidently...

Quote from: Mike Holmes
1. Sorcery is falling prey to your animal nature. Humanity is refraining from acting in a bestial nature.

This, as I mentioned, was my intent.

Quote
Here's an interesting question. What are the black-spiral dancers? Are they demons who have completely taken over? Are they sorcerers who have lost all their humanity? Or are they just "misguided" or insane sorcerers?


I was considering them as the primary foe, the leadership of the 'bad guys', and therefore Sorcerers who have surrendered more of their Humanity, possibly not all, but are willing to lose more to gain power.

Actually, I think of Black Spirals as those damned hard guys who attacked us at a LARP weekend last year... thankfully a load of Ahrouns and Talia of Philodox helped out... And they're the reason I decided to buy W:tA!

Wulf


Title: Getting the Sorcery urge
Post by: szilard on March 10, 2003, 10:45:39 AM
Hmmm...

What if demons are the outward manifestations of the sorcerors' emotions?

Sorcerors are those who have tapped into an innate primal urge. This urge gives them shapeshifting abilities into forms that mimic their interior states. It further opens a channel, allowing them to give form to their other emotions.

Sorcery, then, could simply be losing yourself in emotion.

Stuart


Title: Getting the Sorcery urge
Post by: Wulf on March 10, 2003, 10:54:30 AM
Quote from: szilard
Hmmm...

What if demons are the outward manifestations of the sorcerors' emotions?
Sorcery, then, could simply be losing yourself in emotion.

Stuart


Hmm... so controlling other demons could be seen as releasing your emotions and giving them extra power? Hmm... nice, especially if the players don't know it at first, and assume the demons are separate entities... So they would likely contact them during times when the emotion was dominant, like during dreams, as I considered?

It would be reasonable to assume that the players would create ideas for demons based on their characters' character, so it would in turn be reasonable to allow them to miss the detail that that part of the character had been externalised (pardon my clumsy terminology), for a time, until they started to lose Humanity.

This is working well for me, folks, thanks.

Wulf


Title: Getting the Sorcery urge
Post by: Bankuei on March 10, 2003, 11:18:49 AM
Hi Wulf,

Some serious questions for you here...

I haven't picked up Urge yet, so I'm not familiar with any rules mods it may have within it... But....

From what it sounds like you are describing, the point of play is "using and controlling your character's emotions" at which point the character's emotions sound more like the demons in play for the characters.  In Sorcerer, demons are both the "kewl power" of empowerment, and the key to a character's downfall.  The possessing alien/demons you're talking about sound a lot like "bad guys" to me, which doesn't make them under the character's control.

So let me make sure I'm understanding you correctly:
-PC's use/control their emotions to fight the bad guys(alien/demons)
-going "loked" on the bad guys too much costs humanity(ala Rage)
-Losing all humanity leaves you in permanent rampage....

Correct?

If this is the case, then recognize that you still have to define what "sorcery" is, because what it would be is some form of controlling/channelling your rage to become a werewolf/stop from becoming a werewolf.  Demons, as far as the player characters are concerned would be their emotions.  And anyone who was a werewolf and had some means of controlling their emotions(and most of the human, adult population has even a little bit) would have at least a Lore of 1.

Wulf, I highly suggest you take some time and really, really read the rules.  As much of a nightmare Werewolf might be to you, you can kludge a lot of rules and drift it as you see fit.  Sorcerer may be in a thin book, that doesn't mean its "rules-lite" or easy to play.  

Take a very close look at:

-What humanity means, and what its supposed to do in play(its more than simply sanity hitpoints)
-What demons are(the ones the players control) and how they empower pc's while at the same time literally fuck up their lives.
-What is sorcery?  Is it nifty shapechanging available to the werewolves?  Is it different for folks who are possessed by the bad guys?  How does each type work?
-What the hell is so important that the PCs are risking their humanity for?

Chris


Title: Getting the Sorcery urge
Post by: Mike Holmes on March 10, 2003, 11:21:54 AM
--Edited to note that this cross posted with Chris' post. What he said.--

Wait, wait, wait. Here's the problem. How quickly are the players going to learn what Sorcery is, and what Demons are?

See, this contradicts a lot of what, to me, makes Sorcerer work like it does. That is, the players are supposed to understand well the nature of the actions that their characters take. Sure, the characters might not get it, but the player does. This is how the player uses the rules to frame up whatever conflicts he thinks need to be framed up.

See, if I'm playing in this game, all I know is that I have a demon and it can do xyz. I don't know what I need to do to summon more demons to get more power, and get myself into more trouble.

I can see doing this for a short while, maybe. But you're denying half of the power of the game by making Sorcery unavaliable.

If Humanity is avoiding your bestial side, then Sorcery should be embracing it. All you need do to summon and bind more demons should be to do something in concordance with your "nature". See, that's cool. Want to get the ability to see in the dark? Go howl at the full moon all night long. Want to be able to Mark your prey? Go wrestle with a pack of wolves to learn their ways. Want to be able to take out the Black Spiral Dancers with terrible claws? Then go out and kill, kill, kill like a beast. Whatever.

The characters can't get into all this fun stuff until they're aware that this is what Sorcery is, and that's how it works (if indeed you go that rout). Worse, how did they become werewolves? What sorcery did they perform to summon a demon and become werewolves in the first place?

Because if they're not the driven sorts of people that are supposed to be Sorcerers, then they'll not want to use Sorcery anyhow, and the premise is shot again. You need driven sorcerers to drive the plot. Also, I can't imagine a Kicker that's going to somehow supercede "You wake up covered with hair, and an urge to kill things." All the initial play is going to revolve around finding out "what's going on." Likely followed by, "How do I stop?"

Essentially, you have to make the players complicit in hosing their own characters or it all doesn't hang together correctly.

Why not just do the standard setup? Say the PCs are all the guardians of a particular woods or something. Then they have to all decide why they became wolves (hence the driven), and what's going on here and now (kickers), in order to get the plot moving.

Sounds to me like it'd work.

Mike


Title: Getting the Sorcery urge
Post by: Wulf on March 10, 2003, 12:01:07 PM
Quote from: Bankuei
I haven't picked up Urge yet, so I'm not familiar with any rules mods it may have within it...

Bits here & there.
Quote
From what it sounds like you are describing, the point of play is "using and controlling your character's emotions" at which point the character's emotions sound more like the demons in play for the characters.  In Sorcerer, demons are both the "kewl power" of empowerment, and the key to a character's downfall.  The possessing alien/demons you're talking about sound a lot like "bad guys" to me, which doesn't make them under the character's control.

My ideas are evolving, those aliens are getting more tenuous. Current idea is of a 'rift' of some form leaking energy and allowing people to tap potentials previously unattainable.

The purpose of the PLAYERS and the game will be an exploration of the character's emotional control, and their willingness to risk drowning in emotions. Demons will be those emotions, captured, put in a box and set to work.

The CHARACTERS' goals are up to the players. They will create their characters, with my advice and background, and decide how the characters' will act, and what they want. I HOPE they will decide to find out What Happened? then try and stop it. How much will characters become reliant on their powers? Will they use and embrace them, or try and find out how to get rid of them? Will they act selfishly for their own desires (either way) or use their new abilities for the greater good?

And yes, maybe Lore 1 makes more sense.

To Mike: Sorcery, in terms of being able to contact, summon, etc. demons, will be available as soon as PCs begin to explore their powers. The dangers of using Sorcery will be evident first time they try and use Lore to Contact demons (or whatever their first deliberate contact of other demons is). I erred in my explanation by stressing the CHARACTER knowledge - I agree the PLAYERS must know this, at least in general terms, from the outset.

By the way, some of the things suggested don't quite gel with the Urge rules. For a start the Urge-type demons don't have to be bestial as in nasty teeth-and-claws bestial, they can be a variety of sorts, Wolverine and the Hulk are prime examples, both highly destructive, but neither revelling in it. Even without releasing the dangerous, Humanity-destroying, Primal Urge the inner demon gives advantages based on it's power. Urge covers that. Likewise, in Urge, there IS NO Lore stat (it's replaced by the Urge stat), so there is only ever one demon - I'm adding that back in.

Wulf


Title: Getting the Sorcery urge
Post by: Ron Edwards on March 10, 2003, 02:07:25 PM
Hi Wulf,

Have you considered skipping the "origin story" aspect of your idea? Just figure everyone's been a werewolf for however long, and take it from there? I like a lot of what you've presented but that's the part that just seems to keep tripping me up.

The way I'm suggesting, you don't have to work with the "what am I, what is happening to me," but rather, "what do I want, what can I do to live with myself."

Best,
Ron


Title: Getting the Sorcery urge
Post by: joshua neff on March 10, 2003, 02:56:50 PM
A lot of old werewolf lore involves people who directly performed a ritual to become a werewolf. None of this "I got bit by a werewolf & now poor me is one, too" or White Wolf's take on it ("You were born this way, & there's no way to be anything else"). You become a werewolf by intent. Just like in baseline Sorcerer.

So, make the werewolf condition a Possessor demon with werewolf-y powers & werewolf-y Needs & Desires. You could even, if you were so inclined, make the other kinds of demons werewolf-y or "primal."

And then, as Ron suggests, skip the "origin story" (which is the part that trips me up, too) & assume that the PCs know all about this "becoming a werewolf" jazz, have done it, & now have to live with it. Jump ahead to the real meat (*ahem*) of the story.


Title: Getting the Sorcery urge
Post by: Wulf on March 10, 2003, 03:16:07 PM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
Have you considered skipping the "origin story" aspect of your idea? Just figure everyone's been a werewolf for however long, and take it from there? I like a lot of what you've presented but that's the part that just seems to keep tripping me up.


I have considered that, in fact, as I said, I would leave the PC origin story up to the players. I could extend that to just briefing them by saying "Werewolves are just a Hollywood myth, but you are one. Why?"

Unfortunately (or is it?) since at least one of them is a W:tA player, I do want to make sure they don't end up trying to play that game with Sorcerer rules, so I did want to make it plain from the start!

Oh, and I've now pretty much decided that 'Werewolf' is just a handy catchall term, each player may decide on a bestial form according to the Aspects of their Urge. An Urge with Attraction, Perception and Skulk may be more feline than lupine, for instance. Just as long as we don't end up with a remake of "Howling V: the Marsupials"...

Wulf


Title: Getting the Sorcery urge
Post by: greyorm on March 10, 2003, 08:21:38 PM
The demons-as-your-emotions works well. It's something I can immediately sympathize with and understand -- it isn't some weird spookiness like "aliens have taken over your body" or Marvelesque "this energy-rift-thing here gives you heretofore unknown abilities."

I understand being overwhelmed by emotions and being used by them, being out-of-control, and I think most other people do to. Use that to focus on, IMO -- it adds a reality to the situation that players can identify with and easily riff off of.

The alien-spirits/energy-rift thing doesn't -- at least, not as written.

Also, it seems to me that if you wanted to be more true to Werewolf (my second favorite WoD game) as written, you could use the emotions-as-demons idea to really reinforce the idea of Spirits (capital "s") in the game.

Since as players, everyone knows that demons are just your emotions, and sorcery is the control of those emotions, what about those funky Werewolf rituals, the Umbra and all the spirits and such?

Mystic rites are always performed alone, and deal with spirits and such...so, does Luna exist only in your mind, on a psychological/emotional level? Because you just created her in your mind due mob-mentality/social-spiritual-kinship (take your pick)?

And the Umbra becomes a sort of psychological mindscape, haunted by demons, yet existing as a sort of ur-reality that can effect your physical reality.

And rites..."Rites are the outward forms of the Garou's rituals and celebrations. Rites form and reinforce the spiritual and social ties binding the Garou to each other and to Gaia herself...without the continuous practice of such rites, the Garou would lose their ties to Gaia herself...and become something less than their true selves...devolving into wolves or men."

This is probably the most important passage in the whole damn book! What's Werewolf about? Ultimately, it's about the above: the social-and-psychological aspects of being; the importance of our shared sociomythic reality in the face of: destructive emotion and uncaring logic. The fact that you get fur and claws is just Color.

It's religion, baby. More than that, it's about what religion is: communal social-bonding. Religion is one of the best ways to focus or manipulate human emotion, for good or ill. Our shared communal beliefs can either serve us, or turn us into a bloodthirsty mob.

Thus, I might start a Sorcerer game of this in the following fashion: you are a TRIBE in the wood knowing secret rites that allow you to control and manipulate your emotions. You are bound to one another by the rituals you enact and the shared psychological landscape they produce: this is your society.

There are other tribes who know the same things you do...and many of them are very, very bad. They have given into their emotion and run wild rites in frenzied, impassioned possession by that power. Savage packs of one-minded frenzy.

Humanity is loosely defined, and I can see two seperate definitions being used, depending on what kind of game you want to run (there may be more). This seperates it out from being a "game world feature" and makes it a "this story" feature:

If taking the communal aspect, Humanity is seperation from the community. When you lose enough Humanity, you schism from the community: you've become an outsider, hunted, hated, ostracized, ignored. Yes, if there were others like you, you could become your own tribe...but in context, you are no longer one with your community, your shared space of beliefs no longer resonate with one another and you become an outsider. This isn't attractive as such, since you're out of the game...far better to bring the community to your interpretations of those shared beliefs!

If the religious aspect, Humanity is the abandonment of reason to emotion. So becoming a dangerous fanatic, letting the shared beliefs of your community block out rational thought or alternate action -- manipulated by your invested emotions and ruled by the religious-social mechanism, is the end of your Humanity. You are no longer human, but a myth-driven force...and damn if it isn't attractive to be such!

There's something else I really like, too: without emotion, without the shared sociomythology that the tribe focuses on, you've got no power. It speaks to the necessity of a body of shared social beliefs by a community (religious or not). A high Humanity leads to more difficulty in sorcery (power), and helps you destroy the emotion empowered belief (Banishment). So it all plays nicely to the idea that pure intellectualism and unemotional rationalism is equally as bad as the wild abandonment of such (note how the loss of the rites causes someone to devolve into either wolf or man). This is sort of an echo of that whole war between the Weaver, the Wyrm and the Wyld.

And, like I've noted, it also speaks to the dangers of a body of shared social beliefs by a community (religious or not). It's spooky because it's gray rather than dualistic...it's very real in regards to not saying, "This is good, this is bad; this the path to follow" but requring every social-community to try define what that path is and what IS best.

Well, I like it, and I think I just hijacked your thread, Wulf. Sorry about that. I hope you'll get something you'll want to use out of this for your game!


Title: Getting the Sorcery urge
Post by: clehrich on March 10, 2003, 09:21:07 PM
In your original description of the concept, you said that "Everyone suddenly discovers they are werewolves (or whatever). HOW they got that way, how they discover it, is up to the players."  Seems to me that you could readily make this precisely the issue and the problem.  If the players all understand how Sorcerer works, the characters do not -- and they also don't know what they have become, or at least, not its implications.  They don't know how it happened, either, and presumably are somewhat interested in finding out.

So now you've got the characters trying to find out what's happened to them and why.  Now for the Premise, why not simply turn the whole WoD thing upside down?  There, being a werewolf is a good thing, because you're all about saving the earth and whatnot.  Why not make it horrible and nasty, but really really powerful?  So the Premise becomes a matter of characters being tempted by the Beast Within, as opposed to wanting to get rid of it and stay Human.

What's sorcery?  Whatever makes you into a Beast, or allows you to draw on your Beastly powers.  So for example if a complete Werewolf is immune to harm except from silver, supernaturally strong, untiring, and has amazingly keen senses, then you can draw on these things at any time by something akin to Sorcery.  The more you do this, the more you lose Humanity.

I think the problem is that you're leaning too much on (1) White Wolf and (2) your backstory.  Let them figure out the backstory as they go along, and write it as well.  Chuck out the "being a werewolf to serve the powers of Gaia" and bring back werewolves as monsters.  You said somewhere that you'd like to expand from just wolves -- go for it!  I mean, take Vampires, right?  Why do cheez-whiz angst (a la WoD) when you can have the real thing?  The more you get the advantages of being a monster, the more you become a monster.  Sounds like Sorcerer to me.


Title: Getting the Sorcery urge
Post by: Wulf on March 11, 2003, 06:34:53 AM
Interesting... in two messages we have one vote for WW and one against :-)

I'm siding against, not because of any problem I have with WW or W:tA, but because I want it made clear that my world is NOT the world of W:tA. One potential player knows MUCH more about the WoD than I do, and I don't like starting a game with that situation. Plus, I'm worried that players may decide "there's nothing wrong with giving yourself over completely to pleasure"*, and messing up my ideas on struggling against their base nature :-)

I'm still favouring the idea of an overall plot in the background rather than relying totally on the players to provide motivation, be it aliens, dimensional rifts, Gaia or whatever. I'm more comfortable with this than totally player-driven plots, but we'll see. I'll start with a session of character development and expanding my ideas and brainstorming with the players. Everything may change. But it's not likely to be for a few weeks anyway.

Wulf

* - just don't eat the meatloaf. Mighty Marvel No-Prize to anyone who recognizes the quote...


Title: Getting the Sorcery urge
Post by: dunlaing on March 11, 2003, 07:27:05 AM
Quote from: Wulf
I'm still favouring the idea of an overall plot in the background rather than relying totally on the players to provide motivation, be it aliens, dimensional rifts, Gaia or whatever. I'm more comfortable with this than totally player-driven plots, but we'll see.


You might want to create the "overall plot in the background" but just not bring it up for the first three sessions or so. That way, if you still feel uncomfortable about totally player-driven plots, you can spring it on them. On the other hand, if you find yourself liking the player-driven aspect more, you can just never bring up the overall plot, or even change it to fit the player-driven stuff.

Also, the part about what kind of lycanthrope you are being driven by your emotions brought to mind the image of a serial date-rapist who turns into a skunk with a french accent whenever the moon is full. I hope you can live with the guilt.


Title: Getting the Sorcery urge
Post by: Ron Edwards on March 11, 2003, 07:34:15 AM
Hi there Wulf,

Problem. Big problem. You're talking about "big plot in the background" in a way which is extremely dysfunctional for playing Sorcerer. I also think you're working from a dichotomy between "GM-generated plot" and "players-generated plot" that the game explicitly defies.

In Sorcerer, "plot" is what happens, not what's planned to happen. It is constructed almost solely of player-characters' decisions. However! This is often misunderstood by people, especially those with White Wolf backgrounds. They think I'm saying that the GM does nothing, which is not at all the case.

The GM plays aggressively. The NPCs are up to stuff. They are committed both to and against various player-characters. There is back-story, there are Bangs.

Plot emerges from player-characters' meaningful decisions when faced with Bangs. This is so counter to most people's training in role-playing that many cannot even fathom what I'm saying. It is so straightforwardly related to the process of writing a story or directing a film that I have trouble spelling it out to people.

Have you read the Art-Deco Melodrama threads? I strongly suggest them; the links can be found at the bottom of the Actual Play page (http://www.sorcerer-rpg.com/brochure.php/actualplay.html) at the Sorcerer website.

Best,
Ron


Title: Getting the Sorcery urge
Post by: Wulf on March 11, 2003, 07:35:34 AM
Quote from: dunlaing
Also, the part about what kind of lycanthrope you are being driven by your emotions brought to mind the image of a serial date-rapist who turns into a skunk with a french accent whenever the moon is full. I hope you can live with the guilt.


If none of the players think of it, it'll be my first bad guy :-)

Wulf


Title: Getting the Sorcery urge
Post by: Wulf on March 11, 2003, 07:44:36 AM
Quote from: Ron Edwards

Problem. Big problem. You're talking about "big plot in the background" in a way which is extremely dysfunctional for playing Sorcerer. I also think you're working from a dichotomy between "GM-generated plot" and "players-generated plot" that the game explicitly defies.

Well, my terminology may be off, but I don't feel I'm off the track yet.
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In Sorcerer, "plot" is what happens, not what's planned to happen. It is constructed almost solely of player-characters' decisions. However!

That's not a problem to me, it's the 'almost' bit I'm filling in. When players don't drive events, I want a framework to base my GM events on. What you are terming Bangs, I think (must get my copy of Sorcerer back before I get too involved with the game's specific terms). What I'm saying is, I want the players to be able, should they take the bait and investigate, to believe that there is this strange plot (as in, people plotting, rather than storyline plot) that may well involve them.

Wulf


Title: Getting the Sorcery urge
Post by: Valamir on March 11, 2003, 08:31:39 AM
Hey Wulf, I definitely think you'd be very well served to put all your planning on the back burner until you read Sorcerer very thoroughly and then reread a bunch of threads on this forum (like the melodrama one) armed with actual "from the book" knowledge (the supplements wouldn't hurt either).

Bangs are powerful.  Bangs are not plot hooks.  Bangs are decision points where the players are making choices...but those choices must be meaningful.  For example "A bad guy attacks you" is ususally NOT a bang, because the choice is almost always made for the players by virtue of there being a definite (and usually obvious) right answer.  Either the PCs can take him in which case the right answer is "fight" or they can't in which case the right answer is "flight".  In either case...not a bang worthy decision in most cases.

To understand the nature of the bang is to understand how Sorcerer must be played.  Without this understanding Sorcerer is just a sim light rules set with some unusual and potentially problematic mechanics without even the benefit of a High Concept setting to hold it together.

The way I envision bangs makes them actually pretty easy to understand conceptually.  Start with the traditional GM set up plot routine that underlies all Illusionist (or even railroaded) play.  At various points in the story there will be choices and the GM during prep will be thinking to himself "If the players do X...GREAT...that fits perfectly".  "But if the players do Y they'll screw the whole thing up".

At this point the Railroady GM will simply not offer Y as a choice.  The Illusionist GM will find a way to disguise Y so that it looks like Y but really is just another variation of X.

A Bang...a real Bang is just presenting the option to the players in the game and letting them choose X or Y.  But first the GM must understand that choice Y ISN'T screwing anything up, because the GM didn't create anything to BE screwed up.

This is what Ron means when he says the plot gets created in play.  To be a bang the choice has to involve giving full ability to the players to make choices that make anysort of GM prepped plot impossible.  If the choices given allow a GM prepped plot to continue than they aren't bangs.


Title: Getting the Sorcery urge
Post by: Bankuei on March 11, 2003, 11:16:36 AM
This is obviously one of those cases where words like "plot" hold as much definition as "story" or "roleplaying-oriented"....

Wulf, I think everyone has a different idea of what you're saying, so instead of trying to guess it, I'm going to present a couple of possibilities...and you tell me, "Yeah, that's what I mean", "No, that's not what I mean"

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I'm still favouring the idea of an overall plot in the background rather than relying totally on the players to provide motivation, be it aliens, dimensional rifts, Gaia or whatever. I'm more comfortable with this than totally player-driven plots, but we'll see.


1) The plot is a set of events the GM plans that "happens" to the players.  The players jobs are to react to the events, hopefully uncovering the "bad stuff" and foiling it.

2) Player driven plots are where the GM comes up with nothing and the players "just decide what to do"

3) Overall plot in the background means npcs are doing stuff, requiring the players take action
or:
4) Plot in the background means a "hidden plot" that the players must uncover

Here's a key question to ask:  Is your plot contingent upon the players making a limited set of choices?

If it is, then you're talking about #1, which is what Ron is concerned about.  Sorcerer is definitely not designed for games where there's flowcharted plots, or any kind of predetermined plot at all.  

This doesn't mean that the GM doesn't come up with stuff, but the GM's job is to push the players into making hard decisions without any preconceived notion of how it should go down.

Realize that in Sorcerer, folks can always choose to push themselves to try to hold on to Humanity, or slide on down the hole, and there's no "alignment" rules to restrict them from doing so.  What good is it to plot out a 6 month long campaign when most of the crew is at Humanity 1 or 2 by the second or third session?

Instead, come up with goals and motivations for your npcs, but no "predetermined" ways for them to carry out their actions.  If Alita(npc) loves Bill(PC), and Charlie(npc) loves Alita, what does he do to pursue her?  What happens if Bill goes rampage and accidentally kills Alita?  Does Charlie go on a revenge trip?  What if Bill gets sick of Charlie stepping in and kills him, what happens if Alita finds out?  What happens if Bill just decides he doesn't want to be part of scenario?  How far will Alita go to pursue him?  or perhaps he has an even bigger secret, he loves Charlie?  Between 3 characters you've already opened a pandora's box of possibilities...

Bangs are the scenes where characters are forced to make meaningful choices.  For that to occur, first there has to be more than one viable choice to take.  "Getting attacked" doesn't count as a viable choice really. Finding out your wife has killed somebody because they were a werewolf, and hasn't found out about you...well, there's some serious decisions to be made there.  Stay with her or leave is the basic choice, with lots more possibilities.  The meaningful part occurs when that choice  says something about the character.

We could all be on the same page here already, or we could all be talking about different stuff.  The only thing I can say for certain, is that it is a good idea to sit down, and literally read through the book 3 times, giving yourself time between each reading.  Sorcerer looks easy, and people skip over a lot of key material...check out how all the threads on combat or sorcery that folks miss over, and that's not even Ron's stuff on "what the game is about".  

Chris


Title: Getting the Sorcery urge
Post by: Wulf on March 11, 2003, 12:00:03 PM
Quote from: Bankuei
This is obviously one of those cases where words like "plot" hold as much definition as "story" or "roleplaying-oriented"....

Wulf, I think everyone has a different idea of what you're saying, so instead of trying to guess it, I'm going to present a couple of possibilities...and you tell me, "Yeah, that's what I mean", "No, that's not what I mean"

Okey doke...
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3) Overall plot in the background means npcs are doing stuff, requiring the players take action
or:
4) Plot in the background means a "hidden plot" that the players must uncover

A bit of both of these. NPCs have their own agenda, and their situation will change according to what the PCs do (and how they do it). Meanwhile, there is a conspiracy (that's not quite the word I want, but I'm trying to avoid 'plot') to further the nefarious ends of the bad guys, which will illuminate the PCs situation.

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Here's a key question to ask:  Is your plot contingent upon the players making a limited set of choices?

Well, I hesitate to say there are NO limits, since I have no idea what they might come up with, but I am not going to prepare the entire storyline in detail in advance. Possibly session by session I will produce some detail of locations, happenings, dialogue or extra NPCs.
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Bangs are the scenes where characters are forced to make meaningful choices.  

 The meaningful part occurs when that choice  says something about the character.

Yep, I get that, I was really thinking that anyway, but working at a lower level than you are talking about (being attacked isn't a Bang, but deciding whether or not to 'change' to bestial form WOULD be since it incurrs a loss of Humanity, so even a simple combat can end up becoming significant if the player/character takes rash actions).

Wulf


Title: Getting the Sorcery urge
Post by: Mike Holmes on March 11, 2003, 02:20:40 PM
Hmmm. On one hand, I think that the W:tA world is very cool, as does Raven, and I'd go with that, personally. But I do understand the potential problem with the players associating setting with previous rules.

So here's what I'd do. Change everything slightly. Just enough so that it can't be mistaken for the WoD, but not so much that you lose the cool elements. Here's how I'd write it up:

1. PCs are still a Tribe, but drop the moon phase stuff. Your idea about different kinds of animals melding to form a single unique creature is a great way to introduce differentiation (and just plain cool sounding).
2. The tribe is dedicated to the idea preserving nature, theoretically. Let the ethics/morals of this position remain entirely murky and up to play to determine. Is it OK to kill a human if they threaten nature? Who knows? But you'll have to make a humanity die roll if you do.
3. Sorcery is binding more animal spirits that speak to the character's inner nature, and becoming less human, and less of the time, likely, as they probably all require you to be in your animal form once in a while (need). Perhaps summoning more spirits is a personal thing (and not ritual like Raven points out it is in W:tA). But mayhap it's political, with tribal members constantly vying for control of the tribe.

Lots of potential.

BTW, you never have to worry about the "pleasure" problem in Sorcerer. In fact that's one valid way to play a character. The point is, that if the players do this, they simply become more and more animalistic until at Humanity zero they become animals completely, and run off into the woods never to be seen again.

Which happens in some werewolf films and is a powerful statement.

Or they can continue to try to retain some humanity which means less power and less freedom. In fact a Sorcerer could banish their last demon and simply become human again as another powerful statemtent. If the players know that rule, how would you prevent them from using it?

And that's the point. You seem to have some particular direction that you want the story to go in. But that's just anti-thetical to how Sorcerer works. The game just alows players to mess with everything so much that there's no controlling where the story will go. If you want that, I'd suggest playing W:tA which supports it a bit better.

But I see a real opportunity to do werewolves up right.

I'd stay away from the Urge thing, actually. While a good concept in it's own right, I'm not sure that it's as applicable here. The Hulk is existential in his continual existence as the Hulk. Werewolves seem like they should be allowed to make the wolf or man decision at some point. Or be struggling to walk the line between the two.

Well, that's got a lot of my own preference in it. But I see a really neat concept, and I gotta call it like I see it. I think you have an opportunity to play W:tA like it's written and like the mechanics do not support.

Danm. Another game on the list of ones I want to play.

Mike

P.S. does any of this sound like HW Animism to anyone else?

P.P.S. Oh, and I see the Black Spiral Dancers as simply embracing another whole set of demons. Just clouds the whole moral issue. When they go to zero, they instead become insane raveging beasts.


Title: Getting the Sorcery urge
Post by: Wulf on March 13, 2003, 01:22:03 AM
Thanks for all responses, I have loads of ideas now (mostly incompatable, but still...). I have to drop out of the discussion until

a) I get my rulebook back & have a good read again
b) I get this Saturday's Donjon ideas down on paper
c) I rewrite my Donjon review
d) I get to discuss ideas so far with the players

Wulf