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Author Topic: Getting Started  (Read 31492 times)
Lisa Padol
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Posts: 365


« on: September 20, 2005, 08:49:18 AM »

One of the games I want to get good at running over the next year is Sorcerer. (Josh was like, "Well, duh, of course it should be on your list. It's important!" Only sweetly.)

Okay, I'm trying to figure out where I start. Is this about right:

1. Reread the book and the supplements.
2. Decide on a setting.
3. Make the one sheet. Don't overprep. Don't underprep either, but definitely don't overprep.
4. Have a plot in mind (which one expects to get thoroughly trashed).
5. Have an r-map.
6. Get players together to make up characters.
7. Take a few days to look over everything and let it gel.
8. Run the first session.

Is this about right? Or is it more 1-3, then 6, then worry about r-maps, plots, and such? This is one of those games that's -- well, it's like a haiku. You don't need fewer words than necessary -- you need precisely as many words as necessary. That is, preparation is vital, but it has to be the Right Sort of preparation, as Pooh would say.

-Lisa
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Trevis Martin
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Posts: 499


« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2005, 09:08:24 AM »

From my experience I would say #1-3 and wait until you have characters for the rest.  I usually make up r-maps after I have a nice passle of NPC's from the players to work with.  After you get characters remember too that your prep between is to author a 'bandolier of bangs' for use in the game.  (I'm sure that was implied in your 'let everything gel' but I thought I'd make it explicit.)

best

Trevis
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2005, 09:21:08 AM »

Hi Lisa,

I'd modify a couple of your steps a little, which may merely be a phrasing thing.

Quote
4. Have a plot in mind (which one expects to get thoroughly trashed).

Re-write: consider what all the various NPCs & so on might be up to, what they'll drive toward during play. I'd also put this after the r-map stage (i.e. reverse #4 and #5).

Quote
6. Get players together to make up characters.

Re-write: Get players together to discuss the one-sheet and basic ideas of the game in full, moving into character creation.

Quote
7. Take a few days to look over everything and let it gel.

Rewrite big-time. This includes:

Internalize all Kickers into your understanding of play as a whole, spike them if necessary, use them as the basis to revise everything else.
Embrace all characters' demons as if they were your own, favorite, desperate-to-be-played NPCs.
Refine, finish, and possibly totally revise or even replace the r-map you started with.
Rewrite one-sheet.
Come up with nifty collages built of pictures and words (I love doing this for Sorcerer stuff), just as arty handouts.
Totally revise the "what NPCs are up to" stuff, beef it up with steroids and meth, and make sure to include the demons now.
Construct a bandolier of Bangs, realizing that the first session will almost certainly make more use of your prep than any other session.
Consider possible Crosses and Weaves in the same way as Bangs, i.e. a bandolier.

Quote
8. Run the first session.

Yup ... add the concept "the players are only building trust and interest at this stage" to this one.

Plus, add step #9 after the first session, which is to do the NPC and demon steps again, in detail, and to make Bangs that are really engaging based specifically the consequences of players' choices during the session.

Best,
Ron
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John Harper
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« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2005, 11:09:45 AM »

I also recommend some time with the Sorcerer Wiki:
http://random.average-bear.com/pmwiki.php/Sorcerer/HomePage

Much wisdom can be found there.

And it's a long one, but the Art Deco Melodrama threads are an excellent guide to Sorcerer game prep:
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?t=770
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?t=828
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?t=876
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Agon: An ancient Greek RPG. Prove the glory of your name!
Lisa Padol
Member

Posts: 365


« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2005, 12:12:03 PM »

Thanks. It sounds like steps 1-3 are solid enough to give me enough to start with.

Quote
4. Have a plot in mind (which one expects to get thoroughly trashed).

Re-write: consider what all the various NPCs & so on might be up to, what they'll drive toward during play. I'd also put this after the r-map stage (i.e. reverse #4 and #5)

Okay, step 4 is like what Lee Gold said: Have plans, not plot. That is, the NPCs should have plans, but the GM doesn't have a plot per se.

Either reverse 4 and 5 or add sort of a 3.5: Get an overview.

That is, before I create an R-map, I probably need a a vague overview like "Intrigue in the King's Court for a Sword and Sorcerer setting" or "A Wolfram and Hart kind of plot involving an inheritance". Nothing I'm going to stress over, just mentally breaking down the process. Also, I seem to think in R-maps to a degree, so that should help.

Either way: NPC Plans, not GM Plots. R-map before serious details.

Quote
Quote
6. Get players together to make up characters.
Re-write: Get players together to discuss the one-sheet and basic ideas of the game in full, moving into character creation.

Got it. Like the Pitch for PTA, it isn't just "roll up some characters" or even "create carefully crafted characters". It's "Are we all on the same page here?"

Quote
Quote
7. Take a few days to look over everything and let it gel.

Rewrite big-time. This includes:

Internalize all Kickers into your understanding of play as a whole, spike them if necessary, use them as the basis to revise everything else.
Embrace all characters' demons as if they were your own, favorite, desperate-to-be-played NPCs.
Refine, finish, and possibly totally revise or even replace the r-map you started with.
Rewrite one-sheet.
Come up with nifty collages built of pictures and words (I love doing this for Sorcerer stuff), just as arty handouts.
Totally revise the "what NPCs are up to" stuff, beef it up with steroids and meth, and make sure to include the demons now.
Construct a bandolier of Bangs, realizing that the first session will almost certainly make more use of your prep than any other session.
Consider possible Crosses and Weaves in the same way as Bangs, i.e. a bandolier.

Okay, Step 7 = Do not worry about Step 7 until you've done Steps 1-6. Then, re-read what Ron said about Step 7.

(YMMV. This is to protect against bad habits of worrying about steps I'm not yet ready for.)

Quote
Quote
8. Run the first session.

Yup ... add the concept "the players are only building trust and interest at this stage" to this one.

Plus, add step #9 after the first session, which is to do the NPC and demon steps again, in detail, and to make Bangs that are really engaging based specifically the consequences of players' choices during the session.

Thanks! Where I expect to dither right now is the setting.

-Lisa
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Andrew Norris
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Posts: 253


« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2005, 02:54:34 PM »

Hi, Lisa.

I ran Sorcerer for a dozen or so sessions this spring and summer. Here's what I'd go back and tell myself to do if I had the chance.

- Don't let anyone make a character who "just happened" to end up with a Demon. If they do, then understand that they're still sort of going to be doing character creation for the first couple of sessions. Now, I'm a big fan of sorcerers who have serious reservations about what they're doing, but they should "get it". (It's okay if that "getting it" happens on the player level but not the character level -- for instance, the sample "con-man" character in the main book. Yeah, he accidentally bound his Demon, but he knows he uses people, and his sorcery is an extension of that.)

- Similarly, "Uh oh, I have a Demon now" isn't a good Kicker. It can be part of one, though.

- Make filling out the back of the character sheet a necessary part of character creation. We thought it was optional, but I really wish I'd had those diagrams when I was prepping the R-Map and Bangs. Our game didn't start to "pop" until I did that (after Ron haranguing me about it here, for good reason.)

One reason it's so important is that it shows you player priorities, which are exactly the kinds of things you want to force them to deal with with Bangs.

- If a player isn't interested in dealing heavily with raw power, that's okay. For instance, the "haunted by the ghosts of her daughters" PC I mentioned in another thread. Her Demon gave her a few abilities that didn't really grab her. What I realize now is that just having them there was pretty powerful. Their thematic power was way more important to the player than their Abilities. Along the same lines, if a player has an interesting concept for a Demon but isn't sure what their Abilities should be, it's okay to keep them vague.

I'm not sure how good this advice is for Sorcerer GMs in general (except for the back of the sheet thing, never skip that), but they're things to think about.



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Judd
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« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2005, 04:23:09 PM »

Take it easy and trust the book.  The steps are really laid out there for chargen especially, take it 1-10.

Don't forget to breathe and have fun.

I think too many people play Sorcerer and wait for Ron to jump out of a cake and burn their old gaming books while doing a dance that changes their world.  It really is just a fun RPG, an intense RPG but a fun one. 
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Lisa Padol
Member

Posts: 365


« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2005, 05:07:10 AM »

There's one question I have about the R-map. I recall Ron explaining on the Forge that the R-map is supposed to contain only lines of sex and blood, nothing more.

Flipping through The Sorcerer's Soul last night, I came across this passage:

====
A relationship map lists all but the most minor characters in a story as little bubbles or symbols, with ties of (1) marriage, parentage, romance, and (2) employment or other obligations drawn to link them together.
====

No actions, no feelings or intent -- this is not what the R-map is for, and this I understand. But, is #2 correct? Did I misunderstand Ron on the Forge, or is this something that represents a change from the text? As Le Guin once wrote, one of the problems with a text is that it cannot change to reflect the author's changing experience.

-Lisa
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Peter Nordstrand
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« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2005, 06:01:06 AM »

Hi Lisa,

There is really no need to worry about this. You will do fine. The r-map is only there as a tool to help you prep and run a better and more exciting game. You want to include all important characters on this map, but some important characters will not have a blood or sex relationship with any of the other. You write them in there anyway, since anything else would be inconvenient. It is pragmatism, that's all.


All the best,
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2005, 08:52:49 AM »

bangs head on wall

Why does no one ever get this? I say it again and again.

First build the map based on ties of kin and sexual contact.

Then add other characters as necessary.

It is not difficult. The prep-and-play potential it offers is hugely significant. It is the basis for many, many, many of our stories, throughout human history and across all cultures. It is radically different from all other prep-and-play advice given by any other role-playing texts prior to The Sorcerer's Soul, even from the ones which used similar-looking diagrams.

Yet people interpret the "first" step as me saying "nothing more." And then perceive the second step as being contradictory, or backsliding on the first step, or God knows what.

The conclusion I'm forced to draw, based on the constant and consistent reactions to the relationship-map material, is that people are fully cognizant of the potential consequences (i.e., we'll have to make Story Now if I do that), then shy away from it and go into full denial, characterized by mental tailspins.

Lisa - do the "first" and "then" exactly as presented above. Don't listen to anyone else or come up with any "but but I thought" or "didn't I remember so-and-so saying" notions.

Best,
Ron
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Peter Nordstrand
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« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2005, 10:56:48 AM »

Lisa,

Please note that, despite what Ron seems to believe, his post and mine do not contradict each other. Except, of course, for the ridiculous notion that you shouldn't listen to anyone but him.

Finally, let's not get upset about the tone in Ron's reply. I am confident that the fair and friendly moderator will tell him to be civil or shut up.

Good luck with playing Sorcerer.

All the best,
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2005, 03:44:59 PM »

Oh, that's right.

Except for Peter, of course.

Best,
Ron
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Lisa Padol
Member

Posts: 365


« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2005, 06:53:10 PM »

Ah, okay, I double checked the other text,  <http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=9969.0>this thread[/url]. Ron, you're absolutely correct, not that I think you doubted that. I was remembering a conversation something like this:

Lisa: I've got a complicated R-map.

Ron: No, you just use ties of sex and blood.

Lisa: Huh? That's it?

Ron: Yep.

Lisa: No, I mean, that's it?

Ron: Honest, that's it.

Lisa: But -- that's it?

Ron: Do we have to around again?

Lisa: No, but -- that's really it?

What Ron actually said included some very crucial words: "for the first pass". These words were utterly absent from my mind.

As for why no one gets it, this is standard human behavior, I'm afraid. I've seen it when I taught. Sure, sometimes my instructions sucked. But, sometimes, they were clear, and people still didn't get it. I saw it when I was a grad student, when I asked my professor how long a paper needed to be -- this after boggling that my students didn't see the paper length I'd requested Right. On. The. Sheet. My professor, who may have been teaching longer than I'd been alive, was quite patient, and merely turned the course syllabus to the page I'd read at least twice, where the paper length was Right. There. And, as far as I knew, I had genuinely searched the syllabus, had nothing I was consciously aware of to make me not want to find this, and had managed to miss it.

And, no, I'm not offended that Ron snapped a bit -- it is also standard human behavior to go "Ahhhh! Why don't they get it?"

I am trying to get it. I've finished rereading Sorcerer, and am starting on the supplements. I've found some stuff unclear in Sorcerer, and will reread the passages -- it's all mechanics, so at least there will be a simple answer, even if it's "Reread the text again, twit."

-Lisa
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2005, 07:41:54 PM »

All questions welcome! I may occasionally do a little dance of rage; pay no attention.

Best,
Ron
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Lisa Padol
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Posts: 365


« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2005, 09:02:18 AM »

Okay. Apologies in advance for lingering cluelessness.

1. For demons, the number of abilities they get is equal to their Lore, correct? I was counting up abilities for the demons in the main book, and sometimes the number of abilities was greater than the demon's lore. Manicus, on p. 60, has 10 abilities -- 4 listed, plus instructions to the GM to choose 6 more -- but his will is 9. On p. 81, Yzor, with a Lore of 9 also has 10. L'il [Name of Master] has a Lore of 4, and either 4 or 5 abilities, depending on whether the two types of Perception count as one or two.

Am I being cluelessly anal here? That is, is it actually a Rule that # of abilities = Lore, and the book is actually in error, or is it, as Pirates of the Carribean would have it, more of a guideline?

2. For Summoning, the player of the sorcerer rolls (Will - Humanity) dice. In the unlikely event that this number is 0 or negative, what happens? My assumption would be that the player rolls 1 die.

3. Demons get a 5 die bonus when something contradicts one of the three rules. I understand how something contradicts the Rule of Secrecy, but I'm not sure what sorts of things contradict the Rules of Need and Binding. Could I have a couple of examples?

I may have a couple more, but I'll start with these.

-Lisa
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