*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
August 11, 2022, 03:12:33 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 65 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: [Sorc] The Celebrity Machine  (Read 8635 times)
hix
Member

Posts: 531

Steve Hickey


« on: March 26, 2005, 06:58:12 PM »

The Celebrity Machine

The characters are either celebrities or working in the Hollywood movie industry.

Humanity is your connection to your genuine multi-faceted and unpredictable self.
* Zero humanity means you’ve adopted a one-dimensional star persona. You finally get your Big Break.

Humanity loss results from choosing the superficial over the real, glamour over family and friends, believing in simple answers, going commercial or selling out. It’s buying into the Celebrity myth.

Demons are instruments of the celebrity machine. They want you to adopt your Star Image (permanently), which will make you famous, rich and loved by millions.

Object Demons = Endorsements
Parasite Demons = Cosmetic Surgery
Passer Demons = Entourage (Agents, managers, PR)
Inconspicuous Demons = Your Aura
Possessor Demons = Lovers with power and prestige. Star struck people who don’t see you, they see your image – and they reflect it back to you.

I think I’m trying to ground this setting in the Real World.

Inspirations
The Player, Project Greenlight, Rebel without a Crew, Easy Riders Raging Bulls, E!
Logged

Cheers,
Steve

Gametime: a New Zealand blog about RPGs
Larry L.
Member

Posts: 616

aka Miskatonic


« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2005, 09:47:24 PM »

I like it! So the demons are in no way insinuated to be supernatural, right?

The only flaw I see is with the Humanity definition. So at zero humanity you lose your soul AND you get what you want? Where's the conflict? Why don't they just walk away? What's the temptation?

I'd suggest that it is not necessary to lose all your humanity to get your Big Break. This slim hope of succeeding without being consumed is what drives all Sorcerers. So what everyone tries for (and few attain) is to make it big while remaining a normal, balanced human being. Conversely, some lose all their Humanity without ever quite getting what they wanted, joining the ranks of countless washed-up actors.

Where are the drugs, man? Cocaine! Heroin! Gary Busey!
Logged

hix
Member

Posts: 531

Steve Hickey


« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2005, 11:24:46 PM »

Larry, yeah you're right. I mixed 2 ideas into that Humanity definition. The central conflict is: your genuine personality vs. a media-constructed image. The Big Break is independent of that - I just think zero humanity represents a moment when you can't go back to the real you. Whether that's by selling out or buying into the myth or believing your own hype, I don't know.

(But I think there's something in the idea of B-movie stars who are happy to just do character work, never get really famous and keep their Humanity positive).

re: Drugs
I certainly see a drunk Matthew McConaughey naked on his lawn playing bongos as a desperate attempt to gain Humanity. But drugs are bad.

Any other thoughts you have, share man, share.

The Supernatural
Grounded and realistic is the way I'd like to go. The Demons still have Needs and Abilities. Not sure how to reconcile those.
Logged

Cheers,
Steve

Gametime: a New Zealand blog about RPGs
angelfromanotherpin
Member

Posts: 132


« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2005, 08:10:20 AM »

Just a few thoughts.

To separate Sorcerers from just anyone in the show-biz industry, say that Sorcerers are those with actual 'star quality,' those who really have the ability to make their work meaningful beyond entertainment.  The people to whom older folks say: "You, kid, you have real talent."  So the tragedy of that talent wasting away is highlighted.  I think Brando's an excellent example of a Sorcerer in that instance.  

I think, to keep people from going the safe route of B-movie character work, you make some level of success also a Humanity component.  Either use a dual Humanity (Success/Individuality) or adjust Humanity to Expression or something.  So that there's a real drive to get one's talent expressed and seen.  Otherwise, it's just another form of wasting away.

Quote from: hix
re: Drugs
I certainly see a drunk Matthew McConaughey naked on his lawn playing bongos as a desperate attempt to gain Humanity. But drugs are bad.


This could be one of those simultaneous check gain moments, where, for instance, joining the cocaine culture is part of the stereotypical self-destructive hollywood scene, but it gives you the energy/crazy to express yourself more freely.  Hence the desperation of such attempts.
Logged

-My real name is Jules

"Now that we know how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, how do we determine how many angels are dancing, at a given time, on the head of a given pin?"
"What if angels from another pin engaged them in melee combat?"
J B Bell
Member

Posts: 267


« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2005, 08:30:28 AM »

Cintra Wilson's A Massive Swelling:  Celebrity Re-Examined as a Grotesque, Crippling Disease and Other Cultural Revelations, besides being gut-bustingly hilarious, is totally required reading for this.  Totally.
Logged

"Have mechanics that focus on what the game is about. Then gloss the rest." --Mike Holmes
Larry L.
Member

Posts: 616

aka Miskatonic


« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2005, 09:15:02 AM »

Okay, how about if there are basically two ways rituals manifest. One being The Contract, which has long been the Devil's modus operandi. The other (more fun) one is drugs. Say you drag the suits/demons down to the Viper Room and produce a punch bowl of premium Colombian blow. After all, anthropology tells us that hazing creates a Bond between the participants, no? Of course, those rituals can cost you Humanity. And what in this world is so destructive upon one's inner well-being than drugs?

As a bonus, you can have "Party Animal" as a Stamina descriptor.

Regarding the supernatural, I think it gets really creepy if you handle it so that there is no evidence for or against the demons being something "other than human." "No, Bob's a normal guy. He's got a wife and kids. Not that I've ever met his wife and kids."
Logged

hix
Member

Posts: 531

Steve Hickey


« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2005, 08:46:14 PM »

I wanted to explore the issues around the Humanity definition a little more, just to make sure I get what everyone’s saying:

Quote from: Miskatonic
So at zero humanity you lose your soul AND you get what you want? Where's the conflict? Why don't they just walk away? What's the temptation?

Doesn’t the conflict really stem from ‘what you want’ being either bad for you OR not what you ‘should’ want?

In Sorcerer terms, “What you want is inhuman and you’re prepared to use inhuman means to get it.” Playing it this way means the player’s desires (the reason they became a Sorcerer/Celebrity) and the effects of their sorcery work together – meaning a player could quickly bottom out their Humanity and turn into an NPC. To me, that seems like it could make for an interesting game of Sorcerer.

I guess I’m saying, ‘You lose your soul AND you get what you want’ does seem like a conflict. I mean, isn’t that normally how it (Faustian bargains and Sorcerer) works? The point is whether losing your soul is worth getting what you want. It just means that you have to draw the real, non-celebrity side of a character’s life as being almost as desireable.

Quote
I'd suggest that it is not necessary to lose all your humanity to get your Big Break. This slim hope of succeeding without being consumed is what drives all Sorcerers. So what everyone tries for (and few attain) is to make it big while remaining a normal, balanced human being.

OTOH, this is saying you can get your Big Break by zeroing your Humanity, but can you get your Big Break without it costing all your Humanity? Right?

Larry, does that mean the lack of conflict you're talking about is "What happens when zero Humanity seems like a desireable state?"

***

At the moment, we seem to have three possible definitions for Humanity:
* Success. (Joe Schmoe vs. Big Star)
* Art. (Hack vs. Genuine)
* Individuality. (Genuine vs. Constructed)
Logged

Cheers,
Steve

Gametime: a New Zealand blog about RPGs
Michael S. Miller
Member

Posts: 846


WWW
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2005, 04:01:48 AM »

A project on my back burner that works better as a Sorcerer setting? I guesss Limelight will never get green-lighted.

But this is too cool, Steve. Do you have players lined up, or is this a thought experiment?

My suggestion on the Big Break is: Don't tie it directly to Humanity at all. Have it something that Demon Powers can get for you. It's been nearly a year since I ran Sorcerer, so my rules-fu is rusty, but tell me what you think of this. Physical conflict is going to be minor in a setting like this--even something as bloody as The Player has only the one fight scene. Many of the Demon Powers are focused on help in combat. However, Sorcerer's "combat system" is really a "complex conflict system" which means you can use it just as easily for Will-based conflicts where the stakes are not "Do I beat this guy up?" but "Do I convince them to give me a screen test?" Temporary penalties gained from "reputation combat" if you will, are bad press or bad word-of-mouth.

This will make the Sorcerers NEED the demons to get what they want. Sure, they could just roll their own Will, but Boost Will is so tasty!

And keep this in mind no matter what Humanity definition you settle on. In "traditional" Sorcerer, there are Humanity-relevant actions you can do in combat (i.e. if Humanity is Empathy and I declare that I'm shooting the guy that beseeched me for aid, that's a Humanity Check). Keep close watch on what *methods* they use to win their "schmoozing combat" and assign Humanity Checks as appropriate.
Logged

Serial Homicide Unit Hunt down a killer!
Incarnadine Press--The Redder, the Better!
Larry L.
Member

Posts: 616

aka Miskatonic


« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2005, 07:14:21 AM »

Pretty much, Steve. I'm saying that no one would intentionally set out to lose Humanity as their goal. That would just be stupid of them. If you say that by losing one's Humanity, one succeeds in becoming a superstar, well, then there's no point to the game; everyone just says, "Sure, I sell my soul! Hooray, now I'm famous!"

Humanity, as I read Sorcerer, is more like something you gamble with on the road to gaining "what you want." You never try to lose Humanity, but you're willing to risk it.

So yeah, it's possible that you burn your last bit of Humanity and with it gain your Big Break. But they shouldn't have to go hand in hand; that would be something of a fair exchange.

The goal is to get what you want (fame) without throwing away your last bit of Humanity. i.e. Have your cake and eat it too.

Like Michael said, it's not loss of Humanity that gets you what you want, it's the demons that get you what you want. And dealing with demons just happens to have a toll on one's Humanity.
Logged

gorckat
Member

Posts: 39


« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2005, 08:18:52 AM »

very wicked setting- it's an excellent 'alternate' take on the world of sorcery.  i hope you play this out and give us some actual play to read- it's sure to be a riot and enlightening
Logged
hix
Member

Posts: 531

Steve Hickey


« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2005, 02:38:55 PM »

Thanks for all that feedback. This is how it seems to me:

Both the Demons and you want to get that Big Break (after all, that’s why you became a Sorcerer).

The Conflict is that the Demons don’t want you to stay yourself while getting there … whereas you have a choice.

So, Humanity is still a ‘connection to your genuine multi-faceted and unpredictable self’. High Humanity favours genuine, passionate connections with others and the work you’re doing. Low Humanity favours artifice, hackwork and relationships that are based on professional expediency or your power in the industry. Humanity combines those ‘Individuality’ and ‘Art’ definitions from above.

The question is, “What are you willing to sell out on your way to fame? Your friends? Your art? Yourself?”

The Big Break gets decoupled from this definition of Humanity. Maybe it becomes a separate mechanically determined issue (for instance, if you roll a Total Victory when your film gets released).

Zero Humanity = the moment when you can't go back to the real you. Whether that's by selling out or buying into the myth or believing your own hype, probably depends on how you hit zero. It could be you’ve adopted a one-dimensional star persona. It could be you’ve become completely resigned to doing hackwork instead of creating art or having fun. Or joining the ranks of countless washed-up actors who can only hit one-note.
Logged

Cheers,
Steve

Gametime: a New Zealand blog about RPGs
Larry L.
Member

Posts: 616

aka Miskatonic


« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2005, 02:59:56 PM »

Quote
Zero Humanity = the moment when you can't go back to the real you. Whether that's by selling out or buying into the myth or believing your own hype, probably depends on how you hit zero. It could be you’ve adopted a one-dimensional star persona. It could be you’ve become completely resigned to doing hackwork instead of creating art or having fun. Or joining the ranks of countless washed-up actors who can only hit one-note.


Or maybe you are recruited by the Church of Sc... uh, I mean, Mindhead, which (in exchange for huge sums of money) proclaims you more spiritually enlightened than Buddha or Christ. :-)

Right on. I think you've got it now.
Logged

Valamir
Member

Posts: 5574


WWW
« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2005, 05:42:36 PM »

Quote
The Big Break gets decoupled from this definition of Humanity. Maybe it becomes a separate mechanically determined issue (for instance, if you roll a Total Victory when your film gets released).


However you do the Big Break, it must be something that the Demons can help you achieve.  There has to be that temptation to embrace what the demons have to offer (and risk the humanity slide) in order to accomplish the Big Break.

I don't think Total Victory will work mechanically, because it actually get's harder the more dice you roll (so Demonic Boost will make it less likely rather than more).

The first thing I thought of when I read this setting idea was Eminem's "Lose Yourself"
Logged

hix
Member

Posts: 531

Steve Hickey


« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2005, 09:39:49 PM »

Quote from: Miskatonic
How about if there are basically two ways rituals manifest. One being The Contract, which has long been the Devil's modus operandi. The other (more fun) one is drugs.

I wanted to explore Larry’s idea. I’d call these two different ways ‘The Industry’ and ‘The Scene’ . The Scene is anarchic and self-destructive. The Industry is clinical and manipulative. I guess they represent different types of demons and different rituals surrounding them.

The ideas below are very much on The Industry side of things:

Object Demons = Endorsements, gifts from the wardrobe department, iconic props and costumes (Indiana Jones’ whip or fedora). To CONTACT them: Express an interest; SUMMON: Meet ‘The Man’; BIND: Adopt the product.

Parasite Demons = Cosmetic Surgery
CONTACT: Book the appointment, have the psychological testing. SUMMON: Consult with the surgeon. BIND: Have the operation.

Passer Demons = Entourage (Agents, managers, PR)
CONTACT: Get the appointment. SUMMON: “Lunch”. BIND: Hire them.

Inconspicuous Demons = Your Aura
CONTACT: Ask for help. SUMMON: Meditate or practice the relevant techniques. BIND: Test them out.

Possessor Demons = Lovers with power and prestige. Star struck people who don’t see you, they see your image – and they reflect it back to you.
CONTACT: Go somewhere (with the intention of cheating on your current partner). SUMMON: Eye contact. BIND: Ask them home.

Some other ideas for things that could be demons: a movie you've done, drugs and alcohol, maybe the need to lose weight.

**

Michael, thanks. That reminder about complex conflict is exactly what I needed. It’s very much the conclusion I was coming to about this setting, that there probably won't be that much physical violence in it. … And this is somewhere between a thought experiment and a definite appointment to play. Like Toon Town Confidential, it’s a setting idea that grabbed me when I first got Sorcerer.

**

Quote from: angelfromanotherpin
I think, to keep people from going the safe route of B-movie character work, you make some level of success also a Humanity component. Either use a dual Humanity (Success/Individuality) or adjust Humanity to Expression or something. So that there's a real drive to get one's talent expressed and seen. Otherwise, it's just another form of wasting away.


angelfromanotherpin, has that revised Humanity definition addressed your concerns?
Logged

Cheers,
Steve

Gametime: a New Zealand blog about RPGs
Larry L.
Member

Posts: 616

aka Miskatonic


« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2005, 09:17:02 AM »

"The Scene" and "The Industry"... Nice dichotomy!

I think a cool Need for a Hollywood demon would be for the sorcerer to "stay in character" from that one famous role he got, long after the production has wrapped. I see actors doing this all the time, and it's so painful to watch. (i.e.  "I'm not a doctor, but I played one on TV.") Short term financial gain, long term career suicide.

So maybe you've gotta have the strength to boot the demon associated with that role, or it'll slowly suck you dry.
Logged

Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!