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Author Topic: [Sorcerer] Various Questions  (Read 5876 times)
Bill Cook
Member

Posts: 501


« on: April 13, 2004, 12:59:37 PM »

Good news!  My group has agreed to let me run a four-session Sorcerer campaign.  Now the pressure's really on to understand the wormy details.  Or at least be 70%+ settled in my mind on the fundamentals.

Here's a log of questions from my personal combat testing.

Demon Abilities
    [*]Does the defender of a Cloaked attacker incur a penalty?  (cf. Invisibility.)
    [*]The metaphysical nature of a Hold is just a narrative implementation, right?  (e.g. Lobster claws, snaking tentacles, psychic stasis field, etc.)  Is a demon required to take multiple Hold abilities to put a 2nd and 3rd Hold on the same target?  Successive Holds must be separate actions, right?
    [*]More an observation.  The ability, Big, seems all wonky.  I mean, if I grew to twice my size, that'd be twice my punch.  

    Now if Big is a placeholder for a passive ability to the inconspicuous type, then it makes sense.  (e.g. Gizmo grows to a werewolf.)  But really only in that context.

    Secondly, that embedded feature of tolerating greater damage penalties really should be extricated, IMO.  Call it Endurance.  I can totally see players choosing Big for this feature, and not really giving a whit about the size change.
    [/list:u]

    Demon Type Distinctions
      [*]Can a Posessor use another demon for its host?
      [*]This is just nit-picking, but I found myself making the following designations:
        [*]Posessor: Stamina = Host Stamina.
        [*]Object: Stamina = not relevant.
        [/list:u]
        Thoughts?
        [/list:u]

        Dice Mechanics
          [*]6, 5, 4, 3, 3, 1 vs 6, 5, 1.  How many victories?
          [/list:u]

          Damage Penalties
            [*]For purposes of ascertaining death for a non-sorcerer (esp. demons), is the comparison of Total Penalties to 2x Stamina also made after combat?
            [*]Do a character's next action penalties fade after that round even if they don't take an action?
            [/list:u]

            Timing in Combat
              [*]Are command actions required for vital, continuous abilities like Vitality, Armor and Protection?
              [/list:u]

              *********

              I'm having some Narrativist angst, thinking about how to prepare for the campaign.  The section on organizing a game (pp. 68-73) is helpful.  I'm tending towards doing less beforehand.  I think I'm going to have the players develop their concepts in a round, i.e. treating prep as game play.  That includes a web of relationships for each character, as well.  I'm considering imposing a constraint that the next player's character must be in the previous character's web.  I'll probably use a list like this: family, friends, associates, enemies.  And I'll require this detail: name, age, sex, relation, profession, association, disposition.  I'll constrain that the kickers must be referencial, as well.

              I'll start off with some pre-gens and throw them into combat as a way of teaching the basic mechanics.  Then we'll do what I imagine will be a tedious bit of paperwork.  

              Next session we can field ideas for the sorcerous technicality, the back-story and the ending.  Then we'll kick in.

              In the following sessions, we'll get to banging.  After I explain the basic mechanic for driving story, I'm going to prompt for player improvized bangs.  I think I'll have three bangs on hand, just in case no one has any bright ideas.  But even those I'll probably field for approval.

              It occurs to me as I write this that I will have to prepare my group for a big investment on the front end.

              *********

              One last question.  After I read that, it occured to me: the campaign organization may ideally inform kicker composition.  Maybe it should be done prior to chargen?
              Logged

              Ron Edwards
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              « Reply #1 on: April 13, 2004, 02:15:34 PM »

              Hi Bill,

              Various questions indeed.

              Quote
              Does the defender of a Cloaked attacker incur a penalty? (cf. Invisibility.)


              Nope. Once you attack, no Cloak. There's no true "invisibility" in Sorcerer. In all of the source literature and film, invisibility during combat is just a special effect; the opponent may look desperate and scared, but somehow he can always "see" the attack just in time to parry or fling himself aside.

              Quote
              The metaphysical nature of a Hold is just a narrative implementation, right? (e.g. Lobster claws, snaking tentacles, psychic stasis field, etc.) Is a demon required to take multiple Hold abilities to put a 2nd and 3rd Hold on the same target? Successive Holds must be separate actions, right?


              Right - Hold works in-game however you say it works. You can put additional Holds onto the same target although you took Hold only once (much in the same sense that you can hit a target several times with the same single Special Damage). Each additional Hold-shot is indeed a separate action.

              Quote
              More an observation. The ability, Big, seems all wonky. I mean, if I grew to twice my size, that'd be twice my punch.

              Now if Big is a placeholder for a passive ability to the inconspicuous type, then it makes sense. (e.g. Gizmo grows to a werewolf.) But really only in that context.

              Secondly, that embedded feature of tolerating greater damage penalties really should be extricated, IMO. Call it Endurance. I can totally see players choosing Big for this feature, and not really giving a whit about the size change.


              See Jesse's impassioned ravings (I mean, acute questions) in Questions about how to read the demon powers. The "tolerating greater damage" part is the actual mechanics-content of Big. Never mind the "getting bigger" part; it's just Color, so tailor it to fit.

              Quote
              Can a Posessor use another demon for its host?


              If the other demon has a "body," yes (Objects and Passers probably yes; some Inconspicuous yes but others decidedly not; other Possessors, no). However, this ruling is highly subject to your local aesthetic look & feel for demons in your game.

              Quote
              This is just nit-picking, but I found myself making the following designations:

              Posessor: Stamina = Host Stamina.
              Object: Stamina = not relevant.


              Well, not quite. See Possessors and Questions on Fast and Parasite Stamina.
               
              Quote
              6, 5, 4, 3, 3, 1 vs 6, 5, 1. How many victories?


              The first roller has three victories over the second. Cancel the 6's and 5's out of the picture, and you functionally have 4, 3, 3, 1 vs. 1.

              Quote
              For purposes of ascertaining death for a non-sorcerer (esp. demons), is the comparison of Total Penalties to 2x Stamina also made after combat?


              Yup. If you want, just halve it in your mind to anticipate whether it's enough to kill him, and if so, kill'im straight up. This often occurs with Special Damage, point-blank gunshots, or with swords that are benefiting from a whole handful of actions that rolled victories into its latest roll. Bodies all over the place.

              Quote
              Do a character's next action penalties fade after that round even if they don't take an action?


              Nope. "Not taking an action" is still an action during complex conflict resolution (e.g. combat). So they'll be rolling no matter what, typically with a +2 "full defense" action. See [Sorcerer] More on complex conflict, Yet, more on conflict, and [Sorcerer] Thinking about initiative.

              Quote
              Are command actions required for vital, continuous abilities like Vitality, Armor and Protection?


              Well, hold on here ... command actions aren't "required" for any demon abilities, if the demon wants to use the ability on its own. But once that's settled, and if we are talking about when the demon receives an order, then see if Demon abilities in combat answers your concern. If not, re-phrase and I'll try again.

              Quote
              I'm having some Narrativist angst, thinking about how to prepare for the campaign.


              Have you perused the Art-Deco Melodrama threads linked at the bottom of the Actual Play page? And there are a whole bunch of actual play links there, most of which are about nothing but Narrativist angst.

              Quote
              I think I'm going to have the players develop their concepts in a round, i.e. treating prep as game play. That includes a web of relationships for each character, as well. I'm considering imposing a constraint that the next player's character must be in the previous character's web. I'll probably use a list like this: family, friends, associates, enemies. And I'll require this detail: name, age, sex, relation, profession, association, disposition. I'll constrain that the kickers must be referencial, as well.


              I dunno, man, I suggest that you're over-controlling. Why not go into the room with something really basic: hey, I want to see a lot of vengeance stuff, this 'Humanity' business is your ability to keep revenge from ruling your life (from any angle), and I figure demons are always foggy and cause headaches. And who knows, maybe something in your own head like, "Twisted old man never leaves his office building, hates everyone, all eaten up by vengeance." That's it! Let them take it from there, and don't try to tie all kinds of things to one another.

              Quote
              I'll start off with some pre-gens and throw them into combat as a way of teaching the basic mechanics. Then we'll do what I imagine will be a tedious bit of paperwork.


              Wow, this sounds old-school to me. It sounds like you're assuming that a role-playing system reaches its fullest expression in combat. In Sorcerer, it's the rituals, the Humanity rolls, and demon interactions. And remember, without a conflict, the whole system just falls flat and becomes bad Sim. You will get nowhere with a passionless ("I wanna keep my guy alive" type stuff) combat example. Furthermore, character creation is extremely exciting if you follow this outline.

              1. Present the vague basics such as I came up with above.

              2. Discuss where and when the game will be set - like establishing a movie's setting. Take suggestions if necessary; let the players know that you do indeed have an idea, but are also able to bend it if they really want.

              3. Explain Kickers - that the Situations their characters are trying to resolve are partly or wholly of their (the players') own making. Explain that you can write a sketchy Kicker that gives the GM lots to beef up, or a relatively detailed one that basically puts the player into the GM-preps-scenario seat.

              4. Do the numbers and descriptors. Do not get bogged down by discussions of how much a Cover covers, or whether you can be a SWAT guy + rocket scientist.

              5. Do the demons, including a basic idea of the rituals. Insist that the characters wanted/i] to Bind their demons, and demand to know why. Do all the Binding rolls and write down the results.

              Repeat, revise, and mix #4 and #5 as needed. Use the diagram on the back of the character sheets. When it's getting meaty, grade into Kicker writing. Again, you might find yourself revising #4 and #5.

              The whole point is that each of these steps should be done together. Do not have anyone disappear into the basement and wander back eventually "all done." Solicit opinions among one another. Be willing to take an authoritative role, as your comfort level with the material is just as important as anyone else's.

              Quote
              In the following sessions, we'll get to banging. After I explain the basic mechanic for driving story, I'm going to prompt for player improvized bangs. I think I'll have three bangs on hand, just in case no one has any bright ideas. But even those I'll probably field for approval.


              Way too training-wheel. These techniques work - trust me. Just Bang'em yourself. As for player-provided Bangs, you have them in the Kickers, right there. There's no need to explain and debate and tiptoe.

              Best,
              Ron
              Logged
              Bill Cook
              Member

              Posts: 501


              « Reply #2 on: April 13, 2004, 09:19:24 PM »

              From Questions About How To Read The Descriptions of Demon Powers

              Quote from: Ron Edwards
              Today, I think the abilities rules should all be stripped into pure "rules-notions" rather than in-game descriptions. That's a failing of the text, that it doesn't reflect that desire.


              This is helpful.  A little more credible than implied permission to change rules to suit.  I like it.

              It looks like your stuck on a loop of new guys showing up here and re-hashing this stuff.  Well, itís your own fault for writing such a compelling game:)

              ***********

              Re: Possessors

              So although Possessors may not confer abilities to their host, they are using their host as a medium to execute their abilities.

              From Questions on Fast and Parasite Stamina

              Quote from: Ron Edwards
              The Parasite has its own Stamina score and the host has its own as well. Use the demon's Stamina for all demon abilities, no matter who the user is (which in the case of a Parasite is supposed to be the host anyway).


              Ok.  (Employing my parasiteís Will to use its Perception to digest these implications.)

              ***********

              Iíve read Jesseís conflict threads before.  (He really loves this game.)  They deal with being firm about announcement and . . . what constitutes conflict.  I donít find these to be helpful to my issue.  The initiative thread is kind of weird.  I think the defining feature of the round procedure is the option to abort.  But thatís not on target, either.

              I get your point that everyone acts, even if itís an action of nothing, so next action penalties will fade after the next round, though it remains due to the execution of a characterís next action.  In this case, nothing.  (Pauses.  Breathes deep.)  Kind of sounds like what the definition of "is" is.

              Hereís what Iím struggling with: thereís this demon I created for personal play testing that looks like someoneís retarded, older brother.  (Think "Thereís Something About Mary.")  Itís a Passer.  I want to implement dropping its passive Cloak with the Color of a physical transformation.  I further impose the requirement of a one-round action on this feat.  For purely aesthetic reasons.

              Its true form is a cluster of eye stalks mobilized by a tripod of spider legs.  It attacks by rotating in a counter-clockwise pattern above its prey and lunges down, targeting their heads or shoulders with the gaping maw that lines the belly of its cluster.  Yuck!

              Letís say he gets commanded to break into an installation.  Two security guards draw guns and say, "Hold it!  Get your hands up."

              Announce: Guards fire at the demon.  Demon erupts from its human shell.

              Surely the sight of this drooling, Boschian nightmare invokes the Will check described on p. 110.  However, it doesnít have to roll to accomplish its transformation.  But I need to get score dice to match against the guardsí Will rolls.  How to time?

              ***********
               
              Quote from: Ron Edwards
              Well, hold on here ... command actions aren't "required" for any demon abilities, if the demon wants to use the ability on its own.


              Yes.  Thatís the reminder I needed.

              ***********

              Will respond to the rest later.  Must rest.
              Logged

              kwill
              Member

              Posts: 167


              WWW
              « Reply #3 on: April 14, 2004, 05:55:08 AM »

              just quickly, the Actual Play link Ron gave above didn't work, I found it at

              http://www.sorcerer-rpg.com/brochure.php/actualplay.html
              Logged

              d@vid
              Bill Cook
              Member

              Posts: 501


              « Reply #4 on: April 14, 2004, 11:23:48 PM »

              Ok.  I just finished reading through the Art-Deco Melodrama threads.  That was a bit of work.

              I didn't realize how much Sorcerer prep centered around the BACK-STORY.  Good grief.  And your focus on "not too much, not too little" in overseeing character creation.

              It seems you (1) proposed a setting and premise, (2) managed chargen as a group, (3) requested an impersonal connection to the setting or character group, (4) retired in seclusion to arrange a highly relational back-story (but not with respect to the player characters) and (5) ran the first session for the purpose of connecting the players' characters to the back-story.

              I find it fascinating that the relationship map is more of a nervous system of the back-story than a chain of causality, used to hook the players' characters, as I had imagined.

              Quote from: Ron Edwards
              If it appears that the player is doing that friggin' thing where they want to role-play walking to the car, getting in the car, starting the car, etc, then there are some long-term tactics I can bring into the game.


              One of the players in my group does this routinely.  Please end my suffering with your enlightenment.

              ***************

              Quote from: Ron Edwards
              Wow, this sounds old-school to me. It sounds like you're assuming that a role-playing system reaches its fullest expression in combat. In Sorcerer, it's the rituals, the Humanity rolls, and demon interactions. And remember, without a conflict, the whole system just falls flat and becomes bad Sim.


              Well, I am old school.  Or rather, my only schooling is now old.  Ok, you've got me cornered.  Yeah, I like combat.  Specifically, I like to expand and escalate it to the point that it becomes chaotic.  All at a blistering pace.  I don't know why.  Probably for the same reason I still enjoy whee bumps on major highways.

              Anyway, to turn the coin, I've had my heaving fill of passionless play.  I want to adopt a "no player left behind" policy, and I see player-driven story creation as a means to that end.  There are a couple of things clicking in my head:

              [list=1]
              [*]Though back-story will contain a partial or complete sequence, it must be delivered as potential to allow co-authorship.
              [*]The goal of play is not to resolve the conflict of the back-story.
              [/list:o]

              If I pontificated on that second point, in all honesty, I would be parroting rhetoric that does not reflect an ingrained understanding on my part.  If I had indulged that urge, I would have continued like so: "That conflict offers opportunities to develop the player characters' kickers, which is the goal of play."

              So now I can snob it up and blend in with the rest of the penguins.  But I feel like Jesse, saying how, how, how?

              Well, so much for the limits of knowing.  I'm just airing a private struggle within myself.  No need to respond to this part.  [/moody tone]

              ***************

              Thx for writing that procedure.  Between that and the one I gleaned from the Art-Deco Melodrama thread suite, I feel like I'll be closer to design intent.

              ***************

              Yes.  I'm sensing another revelation.  I've heard it said that kickers are bangs or that kickers are the first bang.  I disagree.  Kickers are the whole deal.  Like, campaign-wide.  Bangs are opportunities to develop the kicker.  All IMO.

              ***************

              Here's a list of some of the highlights of the Art-Deco Melodrama threads for anyone who's following this thread, is curious about those references but doesn't want to invest the time to read every stitch of them.

              Art-Deco Melodrama

              p. 2
              Quote from: Ron Edwards
              . . . my very next point was to suggest some interconnection among your characters that permitted positive interactions . . . I would prefer that the interconnections be one-on-one between characters, and not some blanket thing like all being triplets or some such thing.

              p. 3
              Quote from: Ron Edwards
              I am definitely not looking for connections as intimate as those in Soap (long-lost brothers, e.g.). Nor am I looking for EACH character to have a connection to BOTH other characters. Just a little something, is all.

              The "ready to start" criteria for Sorcerer are very, very explicit. The Cover implies stuff, status, and locale. The Lore implies paraphernalia, associates, a demon, and a very intense effort. The Price and the Binding roll results imply some history. The Will and Stamina descriptor together imply "self" as well as more stuff and status . . . All we're doing right now is putting any aspect of the above a little, teeny bit "closer" between characters. Not a story, not a history, not a justification - just a bit of recognition or setting-based overlap.

              I look at any effort spent on character creation and if ANY of it is going off the beam of this outline, whether too little or too much, then I give the donkey a thwack, so to speak.


              Art-Deco Melodrama, part 2

              p. 2
              Quote from: Ron Edwards
              I can give a fat rat's ass for character motivations; those are a matter of player creativity and authorship. My task is to interest, even fascinate, the PLAYERS . . . Character motivations are the most debased, useless elements of play from a GM's perspective. Once the players are genuinely interested in ANYONE'S situation in play, then they will move to put their characters into some aspect of that situation.


              p. 3
              Quote from: Ron Edwards
              in the first Star Trek show, the characters and much of the "ideology" of the show developed only over time, in an ongoing feedback loop between scripting and production. In the ST:NG show, they use the "Bible" method in which relationships, motivations, backgrounds, and more are all mapped out beforehand. I strongly recommend that the former method is vastly superior if we are talking about setting up a foundation for FUTURE authorship [in this case, the foundation is character generation, and the actual play is authorship]).

              Kickers in particular may be permitted to be shallow . . .  The very dangerous places for spotting shallowness are the "bump on the head" sorcery and the utility-demon.


              Quote

              Quote from: Tor Erickson
              Did we ever determine what stats would be appropriate for the initial binding roll?


              Quote from: Ron Edwards
              . . . that would be something Iíd probably ask right at the beginning of the first session, to get some role-playing of sorcery into the picture . . . thus putting a solid boot into the idea that everyone is hiding stuff from one another.


              Quote from: Ron Edwards

              . . . I know not to over-prepare, because it's exactly what turns into railroading, in turn because I will begin to "play" the character in my mind as I prepare. That is horrible and disastrous. Instead, as soon as someone wants to talk to [the sketchy NPC], I'll offer various personal details (statements of fact, as well as mannerisms) about him AS THEY SPRING TO MIND AT THAT MOMENT, and the player will be creating a whole set of personal desires and opinions as I do so.

              . . . various evil (grubby and pathetic really) schemes only exist to make the player-character hooks more solid and valid - to mature them into personal character conflicts which the players care about.

              That's Character-based Premise prep. I have no GM-based interest whatsoever in the murders being "solved," or a crime being prevented, or any aspect of the back-story being resolved in any way at all.  Instead, I am interested, profoundly, in [story developments that pertain to the PCís kickers].

              And to clarify - in those matters of interest I stated, I am leaving them WHOLLY up to the players. I am not committed to any SPECIFIC outcome of all those decisions. My job is to bring all of these relationships into center stage via the "pressure" of dealing with the scenario's other elements.

              The elements of GM prep exist only to bring the player- characters' kickers into maximal player emotional commitment. Nothing else matters - most specifically, not outcomes of any elements of back-story conflict. The only desirable outcome of play is that a player-character addresses the moral conflict at the heart of his kicker. The back-story exists to "heat up" that conflict.


              Art-Deco Melodrama - the Final Chapter

              Quote from: Ron Edwards

              The first session is about [deciding how the characters connect to the relationship map and back story] and making sure that the players' own decisions are involved in that process.

              Why did I wait until the first session? Why did I not simply [make these decisions] prior to play? Because - bluntly - that is excluding the players as authors for a bunch of important stuff. Well, then, one might ask, why didn't I include the players in that part of the prep? Because that almost always results in playing-before-playing, which has a counterproductive outcome, in that the desire to role-play at all diminishes sharply.


              Quote from: Ron Edwards
              . . . one of the big dangers as new connections spring up left and right during play is locking the PCs too tightly together and into the relationship map . . . I like Sorcerer play to have a certain looseness . . . that keeps the map more emotionally satisfying, rather than too obviously contrived.


              Quote from: Ron Edwards
              . . . by spiking the Kicker, I mean introducing material that makes it harder to resolve than the character originally perceived (I choose the word "character" advisedly). This is a fine early-in-game option, especially for first-time players, who tend to be less good at developing the Kickers by themselves . . . perpetually making the Kicker harder and harder to resolve is stupid. The point is that interest in the Kicker opens up the can o' worms about everything else, too . . .


              Quote
              Quote from: jburneko
              . . . there's a chance the player will latch on and not let go.


              Quote from: Ron Edwards

              My solution? I never quarrel with the Word of God.


              Edited for links, layout.
              Logged

              Ron Edwards
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              « Reply #5 on: April 15, 2004, 07:53:30 AM »

              Hi Bill,

              Quote
              Hereís what Iím struggling with: thereís this demon I created for personal play testing that looks like someoneís retarded, older brother. (Think "Thereís Something About Mary.") Itís a Passer. I want to implement dropping its passive Cloak with the Color of a physical transformation. I further impose the requirement of a one-round action on this feat. For purely aesthetic reasons.

              Its true form is a cluster of eye stalks mobilized by a tripod of spider legs. It attacks by rotating in a counter-clockwise pattern above its prey and lunges down, targeting their heads or shoulders with the gaping maw that lines the belly of its cluster. Yuck!

              Letís say he gets commanded to break into an installation. Two security guards draw guns and say, "Hold it! Get your hands up."

              Announce: Guards fire at the demon. Demon erupts from its human shell.

              Surely the sight of this drooling, Boschian nightmare invokes the Will check described on p. 110. However, it doesnít have to roll to accomplish its transformation. But I need to get score dice to match against the guardsí Will rolls. How to time?


              'K, this is easy. If it's a Passer, then it doesn't have a passive Cloak. That's an Inconspicuous demon thing. So most of your conundrum is dealing with that little rules-mismatch.

              Option 1: Passer. It will need Shapeshift for its icky form and (if you want) Cloak that it uses in its basic human form in order to appear most especially not-menacing.

              Option 2: Inconspicuous. It does not need Shapeshift. Its passive Cloak is defined as "looking nebbishy human" and is automatically dropped when it swings into action, such that the transformation is merely Color. This definition is cheaper, but the demon is less flexible in its Cloaked form than the Passer version is in its "basic" form - it can basically hang around without causing heart attacks, but not much else.

              Quote
              I didn't realize how much Sorcerer prep centered around the BACK-STORY. Good grief. And your focus on "not too much, not too little" in overseeing character creation.

              It seems you (1) proposed a setting and premise, (2) managed chargen as a group, (3) requested an impersonal connection to the setting or character group, (4) retired in seclusion to arrange a highly relational back-story (but not with respect to the player characters) and (5) ran the first session for the purpose of connecting the players' characters to the back-story.

              I find it fascinating that the relationship map is more of a nervous system of the back-story than a chain of causality, used to hook the players' characters, as I had imagined.


              Yeah, all of this is the core of The Sorcerer's Soul, especially in terms of how Humanity can become an extremely active score during play: (a) in how it's used and (b) in how it changes. The Art-Deco threads emerged from a variety of puzzled and skeptical responses to that supplement's contents, all of which arose from readers' habits entrenched during AD&D2, White Wolf, Shadowrun, Cyberpunk 2020, and AEG play.

              I should point out that Sorcerer play does not have to rely on a back-story of this sort of complexity. However, I do recommend that you prep a damn good one, rich with lies and kin/sex ties, even if it's nice and simple. Think of the better X-Files episodes (with NPC kin/sex ties, localized to single episodes, not "Fox's sister" episodes) as well as all the good Hong Kong action movies (Woo, Lam, Yu, from the early 90s); they're excellent models.

              Quote
              Quote
              If it appears that the player is doing that friggin' thing where they want to role-play walking to the car, getting in the car, starting the car, etc, then there are some long-term tactics I can bring into the game.


              One of the players in my group does this routinely. Please end my suffering with your enlightenment.


              All right, let's see what I can do. Bear in mind that these are long-term tactics, each one requiring only seconds in actual play, but intended to be repeated through many sessions. No single one of them will do the job in isolation, and the "job" is actually twofold: (a) the most important, to reduce your pain and that of the others at the table, and (b) merely potential and not to be looked-for, to encourage the player to play differently.

              1. Use the "space" created by this player's announced actions as cues for demon interaction. Think of the Need as being a function of real-time (screen time) for that character, not in-game time, and have the demon get Needy accordingly. This isn't intended to be a punishment for the player, if he or she is only doing it for a sense of verisimilitude - it's simply converting empty time into useful time, and if you make sure that screen time is spread around equitably, this tactic will only improve the experience for everyone.

              If, however, the player conducts play like this as a form of "turtling," which is to say, my guy does Boring Thing because Boring Things are not Dangerous Things, then feel free to use the equation that Screen Time = Bang Time. Think in terms of movies - the more we see the character carry out the steps of making an omelette, 1-2-3, then the more we know that Big Bad X is about to happen. He's basically providing tension build-up for you and everyone else, so use it fully.

              2. Cross, cross, cross. This is a term from Sex & Sorcery, which means to introduce NPCs and events from the scenes that were just played, featuring other player-characters, into this guy's scene. Let's say you ask, "Whadda ya do?" and the player responds that the character is "driving to my office." All right - have him cut off at the intersection by NPC-Man, who just had an angry confrontation with another player-character in the previous scene. This guy pulls a hard left across the current player-character's bow at the intersection, flips him off, and drives on.

              Does this mean the player-character has to follow him, or start a whole scene with this NPC? No! That would be class-action railroading cues, and that's not the point. The point is simply to make this guy's scene "happen in the same story" as the previous scene. You can even make it far less interactive; as the player-character leisurely drives to his office, he passes the NPC getting ticketed by a cop and handling it poorly. Sure, he drives on - no big deal. But you'll be surprised at how often this very simple, very basic technique often results in outstanding player proactivity.

              3. Cut like Roger Corman on speed. This is a positive version of the advice given in the game Feng Shui (which in my opinion is phrased a little abusively): when he says, "Driving to my office," respond, "In your office, you are behind your desk when a blonde walks in with two 45's and a big pistol in her hand." Now, it's fair to ask, "all right?" upon cutting like this (after "in your office"), to make damn sure that he didn't have a plan for something to do when driving. But if you're reasonably sure, based on past experience, that he didn't, then this is a fine way to play.

              4. Steam-roll him with plain and simple interaction at the Social Contract level, enlisting the other players. That's right: "Bob, these kinds of announcements are wasting my time and everyone else's. Don't fuckin' do that, please." And cut to the next player. Yeah, I really talk like this during play. Clearly it's reserved for players who haven't responded well to #1 and #2, in the sense that they wriggle out of the opportunities somehow.

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              I like combat. Specifically, I like to expand and escalate it to the point that it becomes chaotic. All at a blistering pace.


              I like combat too, and exactly the way you like it. But I hope you can see that no game system ever can actually deliver that sort of freewheeling intensity unless the Creative Agenda is firing at full-guns-a'starboard. If it's Gamist, then the strategy and tactics and guts are in full expression; if it's Narrativist, then Premise is on the line. So I do think that Sorcerer combat will float your boat, but it cannot do so in isolation in the classic, "well, let's run a combat to see how this game works" sense. That's the old-school attitude I'm talking about, not the interest/fun of combat per se, which, as I say, I share in full. Sorcerer combat will show its colors when Kickers have developed a bit and when players have become invested in the situations of play - not before.

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              I've heard it said that kickers are bangs or that kickers are the first bang. I disagree. Kickers are the whole deal. Like, campaign-wide. Bangs are opportunities to develop the kicker. All IMO.


              Maybe so. I guess I see that as an over-fine distinction, and not really a big deal. If that works for you, conceptually and procedurally, then it's fine with me.

              Bill, these are great dialogues. Thanks for all your posting, questions, willingness to dig in the old threads, and general enjoyment of this stage of the game.

              Best,
              Ron
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