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Independent Game Forums => Adept Press => Topic started by: Valamir on September 08, 2001, 09:28:00 PM



Title: My first Sorcerer game
Post by: Valamir on September 08, 2001, 09:28:00 PM
Ok, just got back from my first Sorcerer game.  The results were somewhat mixed.  First let me say, that a good time was had by all, so the issues raised below should not be taken to imply the session was not a success.  In fact, I'll try to post some of the really cool moments in the Actual Play forum, but since this is fairly mechanic specific I figured I'd post this stuff here.  Bear with me, this is long.

1)  The first issue I ran into was the rules for Spawn.  It appears from the description of the ability that the Power of the Spawn is based on victories rolled on the dice.  However it does not say what the roll is.  I assume that the demon is rolling its Power (as for most demon abilities) but what the heck is it rolling against?  I'm not sure I like the idea that Spawn power is randomized in this way.  The number of victories from this roll is also taken as lethal special damage?
   The demon house has Power 5 Spawn.  According to the damage table, Lethal special damage is 2X instant, and X+Power lasting.  The demon house's Power is 11 and Stamina is 10.  In order to get a Power 5 Spawn, the house must have rolled 5 victories (something I don't see happening but once in a collasal blue moon statistically, but which the house pulled off twice).  This, however translates into 10 Instant, and 16 Lasting wounds, well over double the house's Stamina...Apparently the Spawn power is not one you use in an emergency (cause its likely to flat out kill the user); but is only useful if you have all the time in the world to try for a decent roll and all the time in the world to recover from the huge amount of damage.  Why?  This renders the ability VERY limited for use in actual play...

2) Combat.  This did not go all that great.  Some of it I'm sure is just the usual, first time with a new system snags.  However, overall the feel was very jarring.  It was kind of the effect of flying down the highway at 80 miles an hour (the story leading up to the combat) and hitting a speedbump (starting to roll dice).  I'm not sure exactly what it was but I know my players spent alot of time trying to avoid combat just because they found the mechanics annoying.
     The first problem is something I hadn't noticed in just reading the game but came out in play (score 1 for the Forge's "must play before reviewing policy").  It is either a HUGE rules issue, or a HUGE area where I just don't get it and need to have it broken down for me.  The amount of dice you roll in combat is based on Stamina (which after a couple of wounds is very few).  You get more dice by coming up with really cool roleplaying descriptions and tactical stuff to get lots of bonuses.  HOWEVER, this didn't seem to work out for us for the following two reasons.
    Reason number one is that with no specific order for who gives their cool descriptions first, players were reluctant to announce them.  This part of the round became a confusion of "I'm not saying what I'm doing because then he'll just come up with something to counter it and get more dice then me...so who has to declare first".  I finally resorted to adding Will into the combat situation by saying the declarations are made from low Will to high.  This REALLY makes a difference because otherwise players were very passive and wouldn't risk declareing cool moves that would leave them vulnerable out of fear that someone declaring later would take advantage of that vulnerability.
   Reason number two is that the added dice for really cool tactics seems entirely at odds with the absolute limitation on 1 action and 1 action only per combat round.  Even a basic tactic such as "I duck and swing" is ruled illegal as its two actions.  There is a collosally limited number of cool descriptions you can make that involve only single actions.  I resorted to scrapping the whole 1 Action only rule and allowing each victory to be described as a single action.  Thus players became able to "duck under the swing, shoulder roll across the bed to the other side, and make a run for the door" all in a single move (with 3 victories).  Otherwise each of these actions requires rolling a seperate dice pool and led to one player declaring that "man this game requires more dice rolling than D&D".

3) Combat seemed to be extremely deadly which isn't really a good thing in a game where the bad guys are really damn powerful, and the game is supposed to be story driven.  My players came up with truely amazingly cool sorcerers but because they didn't create min maxed combat gods (for which I was quite proud of them)it took a vast amount of fudging just to keep them alive.  A gun can do 2X Instant and X lasting damage.  Demon Special Damage (which the Demon House & spawn had) adds another +demon Power to either instant or lasting damage.
   A mere two successes with a gun will leave a normal 3 Stamina guy with 0 dice and 1 wound away from dropping hard.  Even if he doesn't drop, he has a 50% chance (assuming a Will of 3) of being down a bunch of dice the next round.  Throw in demon power (5 from a Spawn and 11 from the house) and good night Irene.  Special demon damage from a Spawn will immediately drop just about any non macked out character with a single hit.
   Why do I mention this as a problem?  Because Sorcerer is billed as a narrativist game.  Maybe I'm confused, but a game mechanic which allows a random roll a very high probability of killing the story's protagonist "blam, you're dead" (without even a fate point to save him) seems driven alot more by simulation than by narrative needs.  Sure, takeing a shot with a hand cannon should drop a guy in the real world...but how does that mesh with idea of story first?  My game would have ended with the first confrontation with the demon spawn due to some very unlucky defense rolls, if I hadn't stepped in and fudged.  Something doesn't seem right here to me.  Damage seems WAY too simulative given the utter lack of simulative support in other areas.  It just seemed totally out of place in the game.

4)  Humanity.  WAY WAY too many Humanity checks for summoning demons.  A typical Sorcerer (who spent any real points on Lore and didn't absolutely short anything) has what 3-6 starting out.  My guys had 4 and 3.  The Summoning roll is virtually impossible to pass due to the -humanity component without resorting to Sacrifice (something even the Summoning example acknowledges).  Thats FOUR humanity checks for each demon, most of them against a Demon's Power.  Given the way power is figured, a typical demon is going to be 3-5 Power.  Thats a 50/50 shot for most characters...worse once Humanity starts to drop.  I can't imagine even trying to work sorcery with a Humanity of only 1 or 2.  It would be instant game over.
     I think 1 Humanity roll for the whole enchilada is more than sufficient.  Why?  because otherwise the characters aren't sorcerers they're pokemon masters.  They each have their initial demon and that's it, because its way to costly to risk summoning more.  Both of my players immediately recognized that they had a better than 50/50 shot of hitting Humanity 0 if they tried to summon up a demon to help them with the demon spawn in the house.
    I want my game to be about sorcery.  Have a problem? Whip up a demon custom made to deal with that problem.  I had envisioned 3 or 4 demon summonings in the game, instead I got 0, and after crunching the numbers I couldn't blame them.  Something is wrong in a game about sorcerers which discourages sorcery.  I'm definitly going to investigate the Pacting rules.  Maybe that will help.
     Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but here's how we had it figured:  Unless you start the game with a REAL high humanity (5 at least, 6 or 7 preferably), the odds of losing it all and becoming an NPC after even 1 binding (and especially after 2) is very high, and thats without accounting for assorted evil acts.  However if you get your self that much humanity, your other stats are shorted to a crippling extent.  The only combo we could see capable of working is 6 Will, 3 Lore, 1 Stamina.  The 3 lore is just barely enough (with the aid of drugs) to get a decent Contact, and the 6 Will provides the Summoning and Binding power with a decent Humanity score.  It would be pretty boring to have all sorcerers start with these scores, but with only slight variation they seem to be by far the most superior combination for sorcery.
    I also decided I really don't like the idea that Humanity is based off of the highest of Will or Stamina.  It makes sense that Lore doesn't count (so the higher the Lore the lower your Humanity is likely to be, this is a typical Cthulhu Mythos vs. Sanity tradeoff).  But, by making it either or, you force players to maximize one rather than seek balance.  Perhaps its just the L5R player in me, but it seems much more Zen to encourage players to seek balance rather than become what David Farland would call "a man of unfortunate proportions".  
     I'd use the L5R tactic of Humanity equals the LOWER of the two, but Humanity starts low enough already.  I'm thinking a good solution is to start it as the SUM of the two.  That would give players a few more points of Humanity to play with.  Passing Humanity checks would be easy enough to encourage frequent summonings and bindings.
     Also, the calculated Humanity method doesn't account for past history.  One of my players past histories was truly vile, but his humanity was ok because his stats were ok.

5)  That brings up the idea of truely evil sorcerers.  According to the game rules its virtually impossible to play an evil sorcerer, with constant evil acts and few attempts at redemption the character will become an NPC in short order.  At the very least there should be the idea that what level of Evil Act requires a Humanity Check is related to the level of humanity.  A Humanity 1 character should be so desensitized to evil that "routine" cold blooded murders should have little impact.  Either that or Humanity should be allowed to go negative without losing the character.

6) Aside from the above Humanity issue, the biggest concern my players had with the game is that they immediately recognized that it was a game meant to be played only for a few sessions until the current stories / kicker is resolved, as opposed to an ongoing perpetual campaign.
     Why was this a concern?  Well, because "I spent more time thinking about this character and who he was and what he wanted then just about any game I've played.  If I only get to play him for a couple of sessions I'm going to feel very cheated".  Basically with throw away characters like those in Paranoia or Toon they have no trouble with short "campaigns".  But the more they invest in the character, the more they feel they should be able to continue to explore that character.

I realize that alot of the above sounds like fairly harsh criticism, so I want to reiterate that we all had a great time with the game and the game session.  The above reflects those areas where things just didn't seem to click.
   


Title: My first Sorcerer game
Post by: Supplanter on September 09, 2001, 06:33:00 PM
Hi Ralph: Interesting account. In some ways it confirms things I'd wondered about, in others, it surprised me. Item by item some questions and thoughts:

1) Actually, I have nothing worthwhile to say about Spawn.

2) Combat.

On declarations. Your solution seems neat and effective. Wouldn't another approach be that going first need not be a disadvantage if you want to get really "narrativist" about it? I am thinking that if I'm being karmic (Tweet-speakily) in my approach to awarding bonus dice, following someone else's declaration could indeed be a huge advantage. Since karma's domain is "what should happen" then if player A says "I do X" and player B says "I do the perfect counter to X," then under karma, the bonus dice favor B. But if I'm being dramatic in my approach (original, unimproved Tweetian sense) then going first could be a positive advantage: player A has the first crack at entertaining the GM, and if those who come after A are simply reacting to A's lead, they look much less prothagorean (or whichever word it is) than A does and get fewer dice - if A's declaration truly seizes the momentum of the story.

Mind you, I could be misunderstanding the narrativist esthetic here.

On the one-action limit and its inhibition of cool declarations. Um, this one I don't have an answer for. I think I'd do what you did.

3) On the deadliness of combat. Were you playing with the stated rule that a sorcerer is never "dead" no matter how negative his scores unless GM and/or player decide? And were you using the "Kemsa Rule" that lets sorcerer's use Will victories as temporary stamina? (Not rhetorical or loaded questions: I really am wondering.)

I'm not so bothered by the apparent brutality and savagery of the combat resolution system in and of itself, even in a "story-driven game." Some stories are just about worlds where combats are brutal and savage. The "quick & bloody" aspect of Sorc combat seems to be a design goal.

But something that does make me wonder is that it seems to be a quick & bloody system where the rich get richer fast, and the poor get negative. It's cool for flow that victories this round equal bonus dice in the next, but it seems like it puts a premium on getting the first great roll of the combat, especially since your roll is initiative and effect both. IOW, win the first round and you're home free. Lose the first round and you're screwed. Did you find that it worked that way, or not?

What about other people who have played Sorc - is there much hope of coming back if you take it in the shorts in round one?

4) Number of humanity checks. I sort of thought (worried) that your experience was how it worked in practice. The game seems set up to be less about summoning and binding lots demons than living with the one(s) you've got. A lot of the examples convey a game whose flavor might be described as Neil Simon with pentagrams. Summoning a new demon seems like a very very very big deal, for all the mechanical reasons you adduce.

This may be quite intentional on the designer's part. I can see why one would expect and want something different though. (Perhaps if Ron uses "Like Neil Simon with pentagrams!" as a blurb on the second edition the expectation clash won't be a problem...) In your sovereign role as User, reducing the number of humanity rolls per demon transaction set seems like a good quick way to enable more sorcerous activity.

Don't look for much help from the pacting rules though. IIRC, pacting reduces the total number of Humanity rolls you need to make by - one. In exchange for that, you pay serious opposition die penalties depending on what you want the demon to do, because it's another activity where karma controls the mechanics. It's harder to pact because demons would rather be bound - it's more fun for them to be out in the world with you and me in an open-ended sorcerer/demon relationship, so it "should" (karma alert word!) be harder to pact than to bind, and it is.

As a major karma chameleon in my own gaming preferences, I completely understand why the rules are written that way. But it means pacting is even harder to succeed at than binding, and almost as hard on the Humanity score.

Speaking of changing how starting Humanity is figured, for my &Sword setting, Humanity will be the average of psyche and somawill and stamina, but there are reasons for averaging that don't obtain in a straight Sorc game. Making Humanity the sum of - you know, those attributes, makes sense if more sorcery is what you're after.

I suspect you get a whole lot of sorcery if you reduce the total number of Humanity rolls in a demon transaction chain to one and make Humanity a sum value too. Did you get to play with both mods at once?

5) Truly evil sorcerers. One purpose of the Humanity mechanic, I think, is to somewhat control the distastefulness of the proceedings. I find that in reading about Sorc characters and their actions, I am often repulsed. (The second of the two characters from your session in the other thread, frex, sets off my gag meter.) I don't care if they have the willful initiative and story-generating potential of true protozoans; I don't care if "author stance" distances me from them - you can't distance me enough from these people and their squalid actions, and I say this as someone who just put an on-stage miscarriage in my campaign and may soon get stuck describing a ritual execution.

So Sorc is for people less fastidious than I, but I think the design assumes (hopes?) that everyone has their limits. Since it's entirely possible to imagine role-playing an irredeemably evil sorcerer, I can only conclude that the design is the way it is because the designer doesn't want you to do that.

6) I think the rules suggest that when a kicker is resolved, the player should write his character a new one. Beyond that, I take your point.

Best,


Jim


[ This Message was edited by: Supplanter on 2001-09-09 22:34 ]


Title: My first Sorcerer game
Post by: Rod Anderson on September 09, 2001, 06:57:00 PM
About the Humanity checks during sorcery:

Confessedly, I haven't played the game yet (except for resolving my one and only player's initial Binding roll), but surely players are meant to roleplay for extra dice on their Humanity checks, just as with anything else? Personally, I'm even open to allowing my player to convince me that his successes on (for instance) his Summoning roll should roll into his subsequent Humanity check  rather than his Binding check. That might be going too far -- guess I'll just have to play the game and find out.

--Rod Anderson


Title: My first Sorcerer game
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 09, 2001, 08:19:00 PM
Hi Ralph,

First of all, I’m obviously pleased that the pack of you had a good time. That’s the key thing. Given that you had both the best situation (people showed up with enthusiasm and good will actually to play) and the worst (low prep time for a game that explicitly requires major input pre-play), I’m not surprised at some of your comments.

On to them.

“… the rules for Spawn. It appears from the description of the ability that the Power of the Spawn is based on victories rolled on the dice. However it does not say what the roll is. I assume that the demon is rolling its Power (as for most demon abilities) but what the heck is it rolling against? I'm not sure I like the idea that Spawn power is randomized in this way. The number of victories from this roll is also taken as lethal special damage?”

The idea is that the “mother” demon is incapacitated by spawning. Lethal damage is damned hard on a demon, and it keeps a demon from being a demon-factory. Although Vitality is a fine compensator, if you WANT a demon-factory. As with many of the demon abilities, a given desired effect is usually achieved by combining abilities.

The opposing dice for the Power roll of the demon is equal to the number of existing Spawn, including the one being produced. So it’s easy: vs. 1 die for the first Spawn, vs. 2 dice for the next, etc. THAT did not make it into the rules text for no good reason that I can see, so it can hop right into the “rules questions” section of the website that I just created today.

Now, bear in mind that the Spawn rules are best applied to a PLAYER’S DEMON’S actions, and its details, which are a bit laborious, might easily be shunted into Drama mechanics for a GM’s demon. Remember, conflict resolution, conflict resolution – NOT task resolution. If it’s not crucial to a conflict whether Yzor can pop out another Spawn, but rather CREATES a cool conflict if it does so, then don’t worry about and pop the baby-demon out.

So the way I play it is that Spawn are automatic for early in the scenario, and the rules applied only later, when Yzor’s tactics will vary depending on how hard-pressed it is: whether it “pulls back” to fight as the house or “extends” to fight with its Spawn.

“Apparently the Spawn power is not one you use in an emergency (cause its likely to flat out kill the user); but is only useful if you have all the time in the world to try for a decent roll and all the time in the world to recover from the huge amount of damage. Why? This renders the ability VERY limited for use in actual play...”

Right. It’s a bitch of a huge, outrageously abusable ability. It’s therefore extremely limited in its “raw” form and only found in its “developed” form (demon factory) for big demons and in combination with other abilities.

”2) Combat. This did not go all that great.”

Uh-oh. Sorcerer combat flows smooth as silk and delivers shockingly dramatic bits. Something’s wrong here.

“Reason number one is that with no specific order for who gives their cool descriptions first, players were reluctant to announce them. This part of the round became a confusion of "I'm not saying what I'm doing because then he'll just come up with something to counter it and get more dice then me...so who has to declare first".”

The problem here is that the GM needs to tell the players two things.
A) Disclose all NPC intent that directly affect the characters (one could even use Story Engine style to disclose NPC action that the PCs cannot perceive, although I tend not to do this; it’s very weird). In other words, the players don’t have to worry that you’ll hose them once you know what they’re up to. You’ve already given that “advantage” to them. This is a during-play consideration.
B) The announcement phase permits any amount of non-limiting suggestion or verbal consideration of what to do. Much role-playing history has ingrained in players that if they say it, they’re stuck with it, and that leads to a lot of caginess and waiting until the precise micro-second before rolling before announcing the action. In Sorcerer, during the announcement phase, you can talk all you want about what you might do, and if that turns out (given others’ announcements) to be silly, you can amend it. As long as “OK let’s roll” hasn’t happened yet, everyone can work out what they want to do in a free-and-easy, not-in-stone-yet, sort of way. Yes, it’s totally new to most role-players (I discovered it in Zero). This is a before-play consideration.

“Reason number two is that the added dice for really cool tactics seems entirely at odds with the absolute limitation on 1 action and 1 action only per combat round.”

Hmmmm … here we have a conceptual tangle. Your description of diving, rolling, and shooting is, to me, an action. I would not have this handled by three rolls across one round. “Duck and hit” is an action, not two actions. I believe we are still in the arena of distinguishing task resolution from conflict resolution. The 1-action rule in Sorcerer is aimed at CONFLICTS, not TASKS. An "action" is something to accomplish, not a given set of muscle-motions.

“3) Combat seemed to be extremely deadly which isn't really a good thing in a game where the bad guys are really damn powerful, and the game is supposed to be story driven. My players came up with truely amazingly cool sorcerers but because they didn't create min maxed combat gods (for which I was quite proud of them)it took a vast amount of fudging just to keep them alive.”

Fudging? Now wait a minute … let’s move on and see what’s up here. I hate fudging.

“A mere two successes with a gun will leave a normal 3 Stamina guy with 0 dice and 1 wound away from dropping hard. Even if he doesn't drop, he has a 50% chance (assuming a Will of 3) of being down a bunch of dice the next round. Throw in demon power (5 from a Spawn and 11 from the house) and good night Irene. Special demon damage from a Spawn will immediately drop just about any non macked out character with a single hit.”

Yup, he said, smiling broadly. Sorcerer combat kicks your ass hard. In my opinion, it only gets good when players are grunting along with a couple lasting penalties and anywhere from 1 to 5 temporary ones. Your example above is just what I want. It leads to two things (three, really):
A) Characters must begin to time their actions and tactics relative to one another. The real take-downs occur in combination, when a foe takes a shot from someone while the foe is suffering temporary penalties from one or more previous shots. When players learn to do this, combat becomes a very different proposition (and I’ve never seen a group pick it up absolutely immediately, by the way).
B) Will rolls become the crucial element of violent action. Remember, a great deal of damage evaporates after combat, if the character survives. Barring instant splatter, Sorcerer PCs do live through fights, and their long-term injuries are much less nasty than the in-fight pain and suffering would indicate. What gets them through those fights, however, is almost always the Will roll. And that’s how it should be.
C) Bluntly, Sorcerer players are to be weaned away from the long-standing RPG notion that their guy is invulnerable. Call that a personal bias in the design.

“… takeing a shot with a hand cannon should drop a guy in the real world...but how does that mesh with idea of story first?”

This is a more general topic. I suggest that story-first comes in many flavors and some of those flavors include violent death. I agree that Sorcerer is skewed FAR more in this direction than most of the Narrativist games we discuss here (Story Engine, Prince Valiant, etc). But you're right that protagonists should not be disposable. I think my next point helps keep Sorcerer from being as brutal as, say, LimbQuest.

“My game would have ended with the first confrontation with the demon spawn due to some very unlucky defense rolls, if I hadn't stepped in and fudged. Something doesn't seem right here to me. Damage seems WAY too simulative given the utter lack of simulative support in other areas. It just seemed totally out of place in the game.”

Let’s back it up and take a look at what the Spawn were up to. Remember, Yzor’s goal is to eat other demons. It’s not stupid – it’s not about assassinating all and sundry that any Spawn comes up against. It would much rather lure a sorcerer and demon into its maw, away from the mass of people at the party, than instigate some brawl, at least early in the scenario.

So, you as GM need to consider the rules-reality that a demon does not HAVE to employ every inch of its Power in a given act. If a Spawn bites someone, well, what’s wrong with using only 1 point of Power for its damage? And if the Stamina difference between Spawn and victim is hefty, than why not strong-arm the victim into one of the walls, rather than savagely rend him?

This is a form of fudging that I find far more tolerable – pacing the damage offered and the extremity of combat to the appropriate moments of a given entertainment-piece.

“4) Humanity. WAY WAY too many Humanity checks for summoning demons. …  The Summoning roll is virtually impossible to pass due to the -humanity component without resorting to Sacrifice (something even the Summoning example acknowledges). Thats FOUR humanity checks for each demon, most of them against a Demon's Power. Given the way power is figured, a typical demon is going to be 3-5 Power. Thats a 50/50 shot for most characters...worse once Humanity starts to drop. I can't imagine even trying to work sorcery with a Humanity of only 1 or 2. It would be instant game over.”

I wouldn’t go so far as “game over.” Summoning becomes a whole lot more viable with serious role-playing bonuses (up to four dice in many cases), extra time, and group help. My design philosophy for this mechanic is based on Summoning being mainly an element of long-term play (about which, see more below).

“Both of my players immediately recognized that they had a better than 50/50 shot of hitting Humanity 0 if they tried to summon up a demon to help them with the demon spawn in the house.”

Fine by me. If they want to do that, they’d be best off allying with one another and with Yvonne, coming up with truly shit-kicking role-playing bonuses, and yes, given the extremity of the situation, making very hard choices about whether to sacrifice a guest or two.

“I want my game to be about sorcery. Have a problem? Whip up a demon custom made to deal with that problem. I had envisioned 3 or 4 demon summonings in the game, instead I got 0, and after crunching the numbers I couldn't blame them. Something is wrong in a game about sorcerers which discourages sorcery. I'm definitly going to investigate the Pacting rules. Maybe that will help.”

Well, sorcery is not synonymous with Summoning … in the source literature and myth for the game, Summoning is not a snap-it-off type of thing. I suggest that if you are aiming in a slightly different direction, as indicated by your point, then do two things: (1) encourage small but very well-designed demons, in that the RIGHT two abilities that complement one another and the rest of the demon perfectly are often incredibly effective; and (2) be Mr. Generous with role-playing bonuses for Summoning.

“Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but here's how we had it figured: Unless you start the game with a REAL high humanity (5 at least, 6 or 7 preferably), the odds of losing it all and becoming an NPC after even 1 binding (and especially after 2) is very high, and thats without accounting for assorted evil acts. However if you get your self that much humanity, your other stats are shorted to a crippling extent. The only combo we could see capable of working is 6 Will, 3 Lore, 1 Stamina. The 3 lore is just barely enough (with the aid of drugs) to get a decent Contact, and the 6 Will provides the Summoning and Binding power with a decent Humanity score. It would be pretty boring to have all sorcerers start with these scores, but with only slight variation they seem to be by far the most superior combination for sorcery.”

Why is the wide constellation of modifying bonuses being eliminated from this paragraph? And no, I don’t mean appalling acts, either. I mean role-playing bonuses, rolled-over victories, cooperation, any number of customized elements like True Names, and more.  

“I also decided I really don't like the idea that Humanity is based off of the highest of Will or Stamina. It makes sense that Lore doesn't count (so the higher the Lore the lower your Humanity is likely to be, this is a typical Cthulhu Mythos vs. Sanity tradeoff). But, by making it either or, you force players to maximize one rather than seek balance. Perhaps its just the L5R player in me, but it seems much more Zen to encourage players to seek balance rather than become what David Farland would call "a man of unfortunate proportions".”

I’ve seen every possible combination of scores for player-characters, and all of them are functional. Starting with low Humanity only means that the player has incentive to build it up a tad before going hog-nasty with sorcery; starting with high Humanity only gives the player plenty of rope to lose it. Contrary to your prediction, my experience with Sorcerer players is to see (1) equal Stamina and Will, 4/4 or 3/3; (2) high Lore with a cheerful recognition that Humanity issues are accentuated for this character; and (3) naïve characters with hefty Will.

No one seems to worry about these characters being differentially good at the rituals and so forth, in my experience of play anyway.

Furthermore, characters' scores do improve in Sorcerer. Low-Lore characters tend to bulk it up pretty fast, in particular.

“I'm thinking a good solution is to start it as the SUM of the two. That would give players a few more points of Humanity to play with. Passing Humanity checks would be easy enough to encourage frequent summonings and bindings.”

A perfectly viable solution, especially if it’s integrated with a setting or context for sorcery which matches your stated preference for a lots-of-Summoning game.

“Also, the calculated Humanity method doesn't account for past history. One of my players past histories was truly vile, but his humanity was ok because his stats were ok.”

Seems fine to me. This matches many protagonists in literature and film, in which the character is presented as a real fucker in the past and in the first scene or two, but (for some reason) accords well with a typical protagonist's behavior once the story kicks in.

“5) That brings up the idea of truely evil sorcerers. According to the game rules its virtually impossible to play an evil sorcerer, with constant evil acts and few attempts at redemption the character will become an NPC in short order.”

The filthy secret of Sorcerer – it’s a very moral game. Basically, whatever the limits of what the players and GM consider to be acceptable are, they become enforced rapidly. That’s what the game DOES. If we’re talking about “truly evil” characters, then I as a co-creator in the Narrativist mode of role-playing am all ABOUT not having them be protagonists.

This is where Dav Harnish and I differ as game designers when it comes to evil-scary stuff: he is interested in leveling good and evil as a foundation for protagonism, whereas I take sides. I appreciate his approach in Obsidian, and think it’s bold and challenging as a player; he appreciates mine and rather enjoys the moral force as a Sorcerer player.

What I like about Sorcerer in this regard is that we are not talking about POWER, but protagonist roles. A vilely evil sorcerer can be astoundingly powerful – but he or she is not a valid protagonist.

“At the very least there should be the idea that what level of Evil Act requires a Humanity Check is related to the level of humanity. A Humanity 1 character should be so desensitized to evil that "routine" cold blooded murders should have little impact.”

Well hold on there. I state again, very strongly, that Humanity does not track HOW MORAL a person is, but rather his POSITION relative to consequences. A person with Humanity 10 can perform hideously heinous acts; a person with Humanity 1 can perform virtuous and meritorious acts.

Humanity in Sorcerer is NOT like Sanity in Call of Cthulhu or Humanity in Cyberpunk for exactly that reason. No value of Humanity corresponds with any particular value system or range of behaviors.

By beginning with a high-Humanity character, you are not establishing the PC as a good or nice guy, but as someone with a lot of leeway before the fall into utter disaster.

“Either that or Humanity should be allowed to go negative without losing the character.”

That’s an option in The Sorcerer’s Soul, in a variety of ways.

“6) Aside from the above Humanity issue, the biggest concern my players had with the game is that they immediately recognized that it was a game meant to be played only for a few sessions until the current stories / kicker is resolved, as opposed to an ongoing perpetual campaign.”

??!

This shocks and puzzles me. Sorcerer is intended for long-term play. (I also call attention to your equating “long-term” with “perpetual,” which I think is a troubling thing as well. I am only referring to long-term.) The development rules are very, very effective at playing a character through Kicker after Kicker, with a great deal of attendant growth and increasing depth. Why in the world would anyone think of this situation as intended for temporary play?

“But the more they invest in the character, the more they feel they should be able to continue to explore that character.”

I agree entirely. That’s why Sorcerer is built for long-term play. It’s fine for short-term too, insofar as starting PCs are not incompetent, and maybe that has led you into perceiving that it SHOULD be short-term. But look again at the development section. The re-write rules for Kicker-resolution to new-Kicker are one of the most enjoyable and important element of the game.

Ralph – thanks again for the full disclosure on the game and your take on it!

Best,
Ron


Title: My first Sorcerer game
Post by: Valamir on September 10, 2001, 07:38:00 AM
Well, I've kind of suspected for a while Ron, that the way you actually play Sorcerer is different from the way the actual rule book reads.  I was somewhat disappointed when you let on that the hard cover was basically going to be the PDF, edited for clarity and with some extras thrown in.  I have to say that I think it would have been far better (in the long run, not necessarily practically speaking) for you to have sat down and rewrote Sorcerer entirely without refering to the PDF at all.  I think alot more of the last 4 years of evolution would have made it into the game that way.

Alot of your comments and suggestions below fit with what I've heard from you on the forums, but aren't really reflected in the actual rules.  I was attempting to play as much by the actual rules found in the HC edition as possible.  I don't have the book with me currently.  I'll try to pop on later tonight and add citations where necessary.


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Remember, conflict resolution, conflict resolution – NOT task resolution. If it’s not crucial to a conflict whether Yzor can pop out another Spawn, but rather CREATES a cool conflict if it does so, then don’t worry about and pop the baby-demon out.


I'm thinking this is one of those areas highly developed in your play and entirely (or virtually so) missing from the actual rules.  I don't recall seeing anything in the rules encouraging this sort of thing.

Now one might say "hey, you're a veteran GM, you shouldn't need to be told stuff like this".  On the other hand, if this game is to appeal to players other than people who already play this way, this sort of thing  really demands some detailed commentary.

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The problem here is that the GM needs to tell the players two things.
A) Disclose all NPC intent that directly affect the characters. In other words, the players don’t have to worry that you’ll hose them once you know what they’re up to. You’ve already given that “advantage” to them. This is a during-play consideration.


I'm reasonably positive this is absolutely NOT in the rules in any fashion.  I read that section so many times I can almost quote it verbatim, "no particular order" is the only guidance I could find regarding declarations.


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B) The announcement phase permits any amount of non-limiting suggestion or verbal consideration of what to do. Much role-playing history has ingrained in players that if they say it, they’re stuck with it, and that leads to a lot of caginess and waiting until the precise micro-second before rolling before announcing the action. In Sorcerer, during the announcement phase, you can talk all you want about what you might do, and if that turns out (given others’ announcements) to be silly, you can amend it. As long as “OK let’s roll” hasn’t happened yet, everyone can work out what they want to do in a free-and-easy, not-in-stone-yet, sort of way. Yes, it’s totally new to most role-players (I discovered it in Zero). This is a before-play consideration.


Another area that would benefit greatly from having been elucidated in the rules.

Even I can't get my mind around this one though.  This flys in the face of every sense of pacing combat that I have.  I can't see how any sense of action or tension can be maintained if every round involves extended OOC chat sessions.  It would feel more like a bunch of script writers sitting around and brainstorming ideas about how to set up an action scene rather than feeling like actually being a part of one.

How do you convey a sense of horror at facing a supernatural creature if you insert such OOC breaks into the scene?  


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“Reason number two is that the added dice for really cool tactics seems entirely at odds with the absolute limitation on 1 action and 1 action only per combat round.”

Hmmmm … here we have a conceptual tangle. Your description of diving, rolling, and shooting is, to me, an action. I would not have this handled by three rolls across one round. “Duck and hit” is an action, not two actions. I believe we are still in the arena of distinguishing task resolution from conflict resolution. The 1-action rule in Sorcerer is aimed at CONFLICTS, not TASKS. An "action" is something to accomplish, not a given set of muscle-motions.


It may be all one action to you now, but it wasn't when you wrote the rule.  If I had the book with me I could cite you the exact page where "duck under his punch and hit him with a right cross" is absolutely forbidden because it is two actions.

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A) Characters must begin to time their actions and tactics relative to one another. The real take-downs occur in combination, when a foe takes a shot from someone while the foe is suffering temporary penalties from one or more previous shots. When players learn to do this, combat becomes a very different proposition (and I’ve never seen a group pick it up absolutely immediately, by the way).


I humbly submit that one reason why its not picked up immediately is because there aren't sufficient combat examples for even the GM to figure this out and be able to offer suggestions to players.  Perhaps when you next add stuff to your web site, you might wish to include several of these "combat combo" type moves that have been developed.  Perhaps even a transcript with game rule commentary of a complete fight in more useful detail than Frag vs Thugs A, B, & C.


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B) Will rolls become the crucial element of violent action. Remember, a great deal of damage evaporates after combat, if the character survives. Barring instant splatter, Sorcerer PCs do live through fights, and their long-term injuries are much less nasty than the in-fight pain and suffering would indicate. What gets them through those fights, however, is almost always the Will roll. And that’s how it should be.


I'll have to take your word on that one.  That is absolutely NOT how Will rolls worked out in my game.  And crunching the numbers I have trouble seeing how they do.

I have a Stamina of 4 and a Will of 4.  I'm down to 0 dice because I have 4 penelties worth of wounds (according to the rules the Will Roll option is not available until you've been reduced to 0 dice).  Thats 4 dice vs 4 dice.  a 50/50 shot of getting all 4 dice or getting 0 (according to the rules there is no partial recovery of dice from a roll).

When the 50/50 roll fails the character is left open to total smackage.

Yes, you could attempt to recover fewer than the full 4 dice, but then you're still suffering a good number of effects.

Now I know what you're going to say: "role playing modifiers".  Well that's all well and good, but the game resorts to that suggestion in the rules FAR FAR too often without providing much in the way of examples.

What for instance is a suitable role playing modifier for such a Will Roll "I start thinking about my mother and all of the things I'd promised her I'd do that I haven't done yet"?  Fine...how many times can you go to that well before you run out of non cheesy non repetitive ideas?

Without some very clear examples and suggestions as to what makes a good modifier and what doesn't, these modifiers DON'T fly as fast and furious as you seem to believe they do.  Or rather, for a group of more traditional players attempting a game like Sorcerer for the first time, they don't fly as fast and furious as they do for you.  

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C) Bluntly, Sorcerer players are to be weaned away from the long-standing RPG notion that their guy is invulnerable. Call that a personal bias in the design.


This notion while true, doesn't apply to my game at all.  My players are used to having their characters die.  They have no sense of invulnerability.  In fact, they went out of their way to avoid confrontations that they could have won because they were well aware that neither of them were macdaddy combat gods.


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Let’s back it up and take a look at what the Spawn were up to. Remember, Yzor’s goal is to eat other demons. It’s not stupid – it’s not about assassinating all and sundry that any Spawn comes up against. It would much rather lure a sorcerer and demon into its maw, away from the mass of people at the party, than instigate some brawl, at least early in the scenario.


Sure, and that's what they did.  Although I pretty much had the entire guest list make its way to the dinner plate before the evening was over.

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So, you as GM need to consider the rules-reality that a demon does not HAVE to employ every inch of its Power in a given act. If a Spawn bites someone, well, what’s wrong with using only 1 point of Power for its damage? And if the Stamina difference between Spawn and victim is hefty, than why not strong-arm the victim into one of the walls, rather than savagely rend him?


Well, there is no rules support (please cite the page if I'm mistaken here) for using combat successes as anything other than "X" in the damage formula.  Nor is there any for "pulling punches" with "Power or less".

Yeah, I figured that out, and used it because I'm used to thinking in those terms.  But I think this is another area where the Sorcerer game in your head is not being reflected in the Sorcerer game on paper.
 

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I wouldn’t go so far as “game over.” Summoning becomes a whole lot more viable with serious role-playing bonuses (up to four dice in many cases), extra time, and group help. My design philosophy for this mechanic is based on Summoning being mainly an element of long-term play (about which, see more below).


Again: "such as".  The HC has earned alot of props for effective and efficient layout.  But one of the big issues I have with it, is that its virtually devoid of useful examples to help out first time players.

BTW:  In reference to the "why is chapter 4 in the middle" question from a previous thread.  In my first read through of the rules I was entirely in agreement with you on the decision.  Now, however, after actually using the book as a rules reference during play...its very much in the way stuck in the middle like it is.  

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Fine by me. If they want to do that, they’d be best off allying with one another and with Yvonne, coming up with truly shit-kicking role-playing bonuses, and yes, given the extremity of the situation, making very hard choices about whether to sacrifice a guest or two.


Tried that.  The rules for Group Sorcerer either 1) really don't work, or 2) I really misused them.  

Consider.  Start with a roll that is unlikely for any sorcerer to succeed at individually.  Group sorcery DOES NOT allow the sorcerers to combine their efforts into one giant dice pool which thus has some better chance of succeeding (though I think it should, because that would work much better).  Instead each sorcerer makes individual rolls against an opponent that they aren't likely to beat anyway.  If, as expected, they don't get any victories, then they don't contribute (at all) to the ritual. If they actually do get lucky and pull it off, the odds are HEAVY that they'll only get 1 victory (multiple victories against superior numbers of dice are very very rare).  This adds 1 die to the lead sorcerer.

We had both PCs, Yvonne, AND an NPC sorcerer whose stats I boosted to make him better than any of them, and the dice rolls were still a shot in the dark.  Mostly it was the NPC sorcerer's rolls and MAYBE a die or two extra from the other 3 sorcerer's help.
 
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Well, sorcery is not synonymous with Summoning


Err?  Ok.  See that doesn't really seem right to me.  For some of the mini sups like Schism and Urge...yeah that model makes alot of sense.  But as the default?

You have a guy.  A guy whose stats and abilities place him firmly in the realm of normal person of the sort you can find in ANY game.  What makes the sorcerer situation different from any game, and what makes this guy NOT just average joe is that he's a sorcerer, he summons demons.

Take away the summoning and you're left with a guy and his pet monster.

Limit the summoning to big efforts in between "adventures" and you've basically reduced the entire concept of summoning to a between dungeon crawls shopping spree with dice rolls instead of gold pieces.

In one you go down to ye olde magic shoppe and buy boots of speed, a girdle of giant strength, +2 platemail and a bunch of extra healing potions using gold pieces as currency which you acquired through many tests and travails.

In sorcerer you summon up a demon with Fast, Boost Stamina, Armor, and Vitality using your Humanity as currency which you acquired from many tests and travails.

Obviously that ISN'T the image you're going for.  But once again, there isn't really enough "setting" in the rules to figure out exactly what the image IS.  I realize the setting is largely absent intentionally.  BUT (and I'm coming to decide that this is a big but), you had a set of specific design goals when you decided how these things are going to work.  The book, however, does a poor job of conveying those goals to the reader.

For instance, the Spawn rules would have been greatly improved if the explaination you provided above as to WHY you wrote them like that was actually in the book.  Most RPGs don't put their design reasoning right into the text like this.  BUT most RPGs also have a setting.  In the setting (possibly through some story fragment) it would be established that Spawning demons is a horribly debilitating act.  Therefor, when the reader sees the rules, he knows "ahh, yeah that's how its supposed to work".  Since you don't have a setting, it becomes more important to share the logic behind some of your design decisions.

In your mind the mechanics you've written mesh perfectly with the "image" you have in your head from the "source literature".  Since there is little of that image shared in the book, I'm left to come up with my own image. Your mechanics (in some areas) DON'T mesh well with the image in my head.

I happen to be one who equates the quality of a game to how well the mechanics mesh with the image (which is why Pendragon is my all time favorite).  This makes it difficult for me to judge the success of Sorcerer in this regard.  Comparing it to MY image is clearly unfair, but you've provided too little of your own image to compare to.

Yes I know.  You did provide an ample bibliography.  But you can't actually expect every purchaser of Sorcerer to run out and start reading them in order to figure out how Sorcerer is supposed to be played.  I've read enough of them to know that your and my taste for books are vastly different (here's a little heresy for you.  I think Sprague DeCamp's Conan is vastly superior to the original disjointed collection of stories).


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Why is the wide constellation of modifying bonuses being eliminated from this paragraph? And no, I don’t mean appalling acts, either. I mean role-playing bonuses, rolled-over victories, cooperation, any number of customized elements like True Names, and more.


Let me turn that around.  Why are descriptions and explainations of these things largely eliminated from the rules?  Yes I know there are examples, but they are pretty sparse.  In your sample sorcery summoning you used virtually none.  From memory your example included: drugs, aid from a mentor, and animal sacrifice.  Where in your example are the "role-playing bonuses, any number of customized elements like True Names, and more." you're now asking me about?

You're asking an awful lot and not providing much support (in the book, I mean.  Your support in the forums is, oc, phenomenal).  You have mechanics that basically guarentee failure without these items, but there are very few suggestions, and examples of them.

I'm not talking about lists of "+1 for kicking with a steel toed boot, +2 if to the head or groin" type examples.  I'm talking actual game play situations where the sorcerer is in a jam, and has way too few dice to hope to succeed.  What kind of "shit-kicking" roleplay modifiers have you used/seen that would bail this character out?  Show me, don't tell me.

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I’ve seen every possible combination of scores for player-characters, and all of them are functional. Starting with low Humanity only means that the player has incentive to build it up a tad before going hog-nasty with sorcery; starting with high Humanity only gives the player plenty of rope to lose it. Contrary to your prediction, my experience with Sorcerer players is to see (1) equal Stamina and Will, 4/4 or 3/3; (2) high Lore with a cheerful recognition that Humanity issues are accentuated for this character; and (3) naïve characters with hefty Will.


You misunderstand.  I'm not talking about interesting characters.  I'm sure compelling characters can be had with any combination of scores.  I'm talking sorcerers designed to take advantage of the dice mechanics for sorcery.  1 Stamina, 6 Will, 3 Lore is just about the most effective demon summoner you can get with a starting character (optionally dropping Lore to 2 and boosting Stamina or Will by 1).

Any other combination is just NOT GOOD at contacting summoning, and binding multiple demons.  I will point out that my players DID NOT min max their character stats either for sorcery or for combat, but rather in line with their concept of the character.  This is why they had so much trouble with those things.

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"I'm thinking a good solution is to start it as the SUM of the two. That would give players a few more points of Humanity to play with. Passing Humanity checks would be easy enough to encourage frequent summonings and bindings.”

A perfectly viable solution, especially if it’s integrated with a setting or context for sorcery which matches your stated preference for a lots-of-Summoning game


Perhaps an idea for a third supplement is a collection of such suggestions.  Alternative demon abilities, alternative ways to derive stats and an analysis of what effect this would have on the game.

i.e. changing the rules for Group Sorcery so that all the dice are added together, explaining how this would encourage covens and allow the regular introduction of REALLY REALLY powerful demons.  One advantage, built in "party glue".

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The filthy secret of Sorcerer – it’s a very moral game. Basically, whatever the limits of what the players and GM consider to be acceptable are, they become enforced rapidly. That’s what the game DOES.


Its not much of a secret.  Both of my players immediately realized that after the first session.

Unfortuneately both come from the "its my character I should be able to play whatever I want" school and saw this (and the "no player should ever be allowed to keep a character with 0 Humanity")as negatives.


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Well hold on there. I state again, very strongly, that Humanity does not track HOW MORAL a person is, but rather his POSITION relative to consequences.

No value of Humanity corresponds with any particular value system or range of behaviors.

By beginning with a high-Humanity character, you are not establishing the PC as a good or nice guy, but as someone with a lot of leeway before the fall into utter disaster.


This is the strongest example of the divergence between Sorcerer as played by you and Sorcerer as published by you.

I will when I get home cite pages and paragraphs refuteing the above.  The rules in no less than 3 places equate humanity with empathy and morality.  In one spot that I can almost quote verbatim but for now will settle for paraphrasing "If you want your sorcerer to be a nice guy you'd better bulk up his humanity"


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“6) Aside from the above Humanity issue, the biggest concern my players had with the game is that they immediately recognized that it was a game meant to be played only for a few sessions until the current stories / kicker is resolved, as opposed to an ongoing perpetual campaign.”

This shocks and puzzles me. Sorcerer is intended for long-term play. (I also call attention to your equating “long-term” with “perpetual,” which I think is a troubling thing as well. I am only referring to long-term.) The development rules are very, very effective at playing a character through Kicker after Kicker, with a great deal of attendant growth and increasing depth. Why in the world would anyone think of this situation as intended for temporary play?


1) not one example of kickers being resolved and replaced and the character rewritten.  Only a brief mention in the rules in the context of "you might want to do this".  Where is the ongoing example of a PC and his kicker?  Where is the dramatic scene where the kicker finally gets resolved?  Where is the after math where the character is rewritten. reshaped by his experience, and a new kicker developed?

2) the whole idea of premise requires a limited time focus.  Premise, like kickers get resolved.  The question gets answered, its time to move on.

3) I could SWEAR that buried in one of the many many threads on relationship maps are statements that quite decidedly come down on the side of campaigns of limited duration.  I will acknowledge this as a tenuous claim though so if you disagree with my characterization here, I'll take your word for it, as I have not the time nor desire to actually dig out the reference.

4) I think it likely that our definition of Long Term is different.  You seem dismayed that I linked it with Perpetual.  I see them as synonyms.  My play experience and group's experience is for campaigns that last years.  D&D, Top Secret, Pendragon, Cyberpunk 2020, Ars Magica.  All campaigns that spanned years of real time (some with characters who survived the duration).  None of these campaigns ended "because it was time to end them" (though had we reached the end of the Pendragon time line it would have ended that way).  All ended because people moved, the real world intervened, or we just got bored with the game and moved on.

THAT is what most players mean by long term campaigns.  6 or 7 sessions and then retire the characters and move on to something else is not long term.

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The re-write rules for Kicker-resolution to new-Kicker are one of the most enjoyable and important element of the game.


Its been mentioned on this forum several times that the area you concentrate on in the game rules is the area the players will concentrate on in play (I know Mike Holmes is a cheer leader for the "no seperate combat rules" faction for just this reason).  Combat gets several pages.  The Kicker rules get a couple of paragraphs...


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Ralph – thanks again for the full disclosure on the game and your take on it!



Allow me to reiterate that I really love the game.  I know the above may sound like rather harsh citicism in places.  I am relying on you (and other readers) to understand that it is so only for the sake of brevity and clarity.  I endeavored to try to laser in on the issues as succinctly as I could rather than potentially confuse things with caveats and belabored niceities.

Insert "In my opinion", and "with all due respect", and other such things as appropriate :smile:

[edited for rampant and embarassing typos]

[ This Message was edited by: Valamir on 2001-09-10 12:05 ]


Title: My first Sorcerer game
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 10, 2001, 07:44:00 AM
Ralph,

Oh yeah, I remembered something else. It's not really a justification, but at least a little historical explanation for why the Spawn are so dangerous in the haunted-house scenario.

It's basically a con demo. A lot of people playing in cons want to see what it's like to fight, and a lot of them don't mind if a PC goes down in a splatter of gore; in fact, they seem to like it. Also, the character generation method I used for it (the basis for the demo pack you got, Ralph) always yielded at least one hard-ass, either the hitman or biker or both, usually armed with one of the sanzoku weapons, and these guys were more than capable of taking on a Spawn.

Again, I'm not trying to refute your valid point that the scenario can be pretty deadly. But that's where it comes from, anyway.

Best,
Ron


Title: My first Sorcerer game
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 10, 2001, 08:54:00 AM
Ralph,

Ending with stating how much you love the game was good, because with very little effort, it's easy to append "This game fuckin' SUCKS" onto the end of several of your paragraphs. It took a lot of effort to get through your post without reading that into it; I had to stop a couple of times.

I don't really want to go through all the examples here, or at least not now. Some of your points about the text are valid and some are contestable, but it's hard to get motivated about that. At the moment, it feels as if my above attempts at helping you to improve the game into what you'd most enjoy are being rejected, in favor of pinpointing how I failed to do it previously.

One customer emailed me with a big wad of rules questions and I have posted the questions and answers onto the website in "The Game," under the item "Rules Questions." It takes some time, so bear with me on that, but I will get all or most of your points and concerns into that section as well.

I'm sorry the game isn't perfect. My only defense, without sarcasm, fully sincerely and with respect, is that it cannot be expected to accord with exactly how you wanted it to be written, or exactly for your expectations (which are NOT unreasonable, they just happen to be yours and not mine).

The best I could do is to have the rules available for all and sundry to check out, play, and comment upon BEFORE the book went into production. I did do that, and I think it was a big improvement on the common method of presenting a half-baked game as a "first edition." But evidently it wasn't enough.

Best,
Ron


Title: My first Sorcerer game
Post by: jburneko on September 10, 2001, 11:30:00 AM
Quote

On 2001-09-10 12:54, Ron Edwards wrote:

The best I could do is to have the rules available for all and sundry to check out, play, and comment upon BEFORE the book went into production. I did do that, and I think it was a big improvement on the common method of presenting a half-baked game as a "first edition." But evidently it wasn't enough.


Hey Ron,

I think I know what Ralph was getting at but I have a slightly different way of putting it.  I think Sorcerer very acurately portray's its mechanics and how they work.  What I think is missing, and personally I think this is missing from ALL RPGs, is YOU.

I've corresponded with you both publicly and privately and when I read Sorcerer I have trouble believing it was written by the same person.  The hard factual rules of Sorcerer are conveyed neatly, cleary and consisely but the subjective and subtle applications of those rules as precieved by the human being behind the game's design is completely missing.  And as I say, it's missing in ALL games.

People think I'm insane when I say this but I'd pay good money for a source book that was nothing more than transcripts of the DESIGNERS actual play sessions.  Not just ANYONE's transcripts but specifically the designers.  I want to see how the rules are used and interpreted by the people behind the game.  And preferably I'd like this book annotated so it's clear what was pre-planned, what was adjusted during play, what elements were added by players, at what point the GM railroaded and so on.  Such a book would give you a perspective on the entire game as machine and not just out-of-context indivdual gear examples.  

I've said this before: The instruments in your band are really cool now show me some of your tunes.  I used to think that purchasing scenarios written by the desingers would solve this problem but it doesn't.  It only raises more questions.  However, the pre-planned scenario WITH an anotated transcript from a game or even multiple games run by the designer would be useful.

In my opinion the RPG industry is WAY too caught up in the 'it's your game, make of it what you will' mentality.  No, it isn't.  It's the DESIGNER'S game.  They designed it because they thought it was a good idea.  I'd rather have the designer ram lots of "pretentious", 'this is how you play the game or else you're doing it wrong' stuff and then choose to ignore it then not have it there at all.

(I know, I know, others really hate this.  You can't satisfy them all.  This is why I think a secondary sourcebook with 'how to play my game my way' material is an acceptable compromise.)

When I read an RPG I want to gain insight into the mind and soul behind it.  That's just not there in Sorcerer (the writing not the actual game) or ANY game on the market.

Jesse


Title: My first Sorcerer game
Post by: Mike Holmes on September 10, 2001, 01:40:00 PM
Interesting. I think that Ron did a far better job of conveying the feel and way to play the game than most games ever will. I think that Ralph has just had way too much contact with Ron, and therefore had great expecations of things that just weren't slated to be in the text (would have been twice the size and possibly unreadable if all that had been in there, anyway). Ralph, yes, this edition of Sorcerer just might not be perfect. We'll be very lucky to do as well, though.

That having been said, I think that your idea, Jesse, of annotated transcripts is really fascinating. I have often felt the same desire (which is why it was so way cool to get to play so many games at GenCon with the designers this year :smile: ). No idea if you could sell such a thing, but such a transcript would make a great free aid for downloading from a game's web site. Sort of a combined adventure and example of play all rolled together. Ralph and I had considered putting in short transcripts as examples into our new game, but now I'm thinking that we should include more, posibly a whole session. I might post the question in the publishing forum.

Thanks,
Mike


Title: My first Sorcerer game
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 10, 2001, 03:20:00 PM
My thanks to everyone who's posted on this thread. I mean it. I feel pretty run-down and low-grade at the moment, but I do mean it.

As for FINALLY addressing Jesse's long-term query for play examples/transcripts, a new service at the Sorcerer site should be in place for exactly this purpose (or similar anyway) by the end of the year.

Best,
Ron


Title: My first Sorcerer game
Post by: furashgf on September 10, 2001, 04:17:00 PM
Hmm...  I'm thinking for an extra $5 over the cover price of the hardback, Ron should come by your house and hang out and discuss your rules :wink:

Just kidding.

However, all this good stuff would make a nifty F.A.Q.  Hmm... any takers?

Gary


Title: My first Sorcerer game
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 10, 2001, 04:39:00 PM
Gary,

It's going onto the Sorcerer website as soon as I gather the strength.

Best,
Ron


Title: My first Sorcerer game
Post by: random on September 11, 2001, 08:22:00 AM
Quote

On 2001-09-10 11:38, Valamir wrote:

Quote

B) The announcement phase permits any amount of non-limiting suggestion or verbal consideration of what to do. Much role-playing history has ingrained in players that if they say it, they?re stuck with it, and that leads to a lot of caginess and waiting until the precise micro-second before rolling before announcing the action. In Sorcerer, during the announcement phase, you can talk all you want about what you might do, and if that turns out (given others? announcements) to be silly, you can amend it. As long as ?OK let?s roll? hasn?t happened yet, everyone can work out what they want to do in a free-and-easy, not-in-stone-yet, sort of way. Yes, it?s totally new to most role-players (I discovered it in Zero). This is a before-play consideration.


Another area that would benefit greatly from having been elucidated in the rules.


I don't mean to reopen a can of worms that is best left alone, but this /is/ actually in the rules.  Look:

Quote

(p. 103)
1.  Everyone states intended actions in no particular order. Statements may be amended freely until everyone is satisfied.


That second sentence results in everything Ron said:  "everyone" means the players and the GM, and the ability to amend one's statements freely means that order really /is/ insignificant.

Cheers,

Random


Title: My first Sorcerer game
Post by: Blake Hutchins on September 11, 2001, 10:00:00 AM
I haven't played yet, but I'm working up something for my playtesting group. I will say that the writing for Sorcerer is excellent. I have no complaints, and reading the rules and ideas in the book is like putting a live wire into my imagination. Can't wait to get going with actual gameplay.

As a computer game designer (of late, since the corporate masters closed my company last month), I have first-hand experience with customers who find reasons to be dissatisfied with whatever goes out the door. It's easy for many people to fall into the trap of offering criticism without kudos. Valamir, I'd like to hear details about what worked. You mentioned the group had a lot of fun. Tell us about it, wouldya?

Best,

Blake


Title: My first Sorcerer game
Post by: Clay on September 16, 2001, 07:51:00 PM
Just thought I'd throw in some examples from my own game, to give a counter-point to Ralph's comments.

First, combat is extremely deadly, especially when demons are involved.  My player's characters regularly get their asses kicked.  Nothing inspires high-speed demon summonings so quickly as regaining consciousness as the Inquisition drags you through the street by your heels and while collecting faggots.  Combat also moves very quickly, even when we do have extended strategy discussions about what we're doing.    We aren't trying to simulate being in a fight, we're trying to tell a story about a very dramatic fight.

As for needing examples of good conditions for handing out role-playing bonuses, watch a movie in the style that you're interested in emulating.  Think of cool things that the characters in the movie did in a fight to give themselves an advantage, and use that as your base.  That's how we did it, and it worked very well.  We did something similar for sorcery, although here we worked from books that we had read, not movies (so few movies really get into the whole human sacrifice issue--you really need greek tradgedy for that).

Truth be told, we haven't had a whole lot of summonings and bindings; aside from their starting demons, the players only called up demons for short-term assignments.

We didn't have Ron here to show us the game, and we got going very well just by reading the basic rules and applying our imaginations.  We're also very grateful that Ron didn't supply us with a detailed setting.  We've had fun building our own worlds.  

If you're needing a world pre-built for you though, head over to www.sorcerer-rpg.com and pick up one of the mini-supplements.  They're the cheapest game setting supplements you'll find anywhere for any game, and you have unprecedented access to the designers right here on this forum.

Good luck in your game, Ralph.  My advice is to forget about the game's shortcomings and make the most of its strengths.  You'll be hard pressed to find a game with these strengths; games with shortcomings are a dime a dozen.




Title: My first Sorcerer game
Post by: random on October 22, 2001, 06:41:00 PM
Quote

On 2001-09-10 20:39, Ron Edwards wrote:

It's going onto the Sorcerer website as soon as I gather the strength.


Did it?  I just looked over the website and couldn't see it.

-rnd


Title: My first Sorcerer game
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 22, 2001, 07:49:00 PM
Hey,

Nope. I did get most of the rules questions and errata up there. Most of my energy has been taken with the new GNS essay, dealing with its fallout, and also with prepping Soul for its layout production phase.

Thanks for coming by the site, though. How's it look to you? I don't get much feedback about it.

Best,
Ron