*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
August 12, 2022, 07:14:35 PM

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: 76 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: [Sorcerer] Mythical West, Humanity help needed  (Read 3855 times)
Per Fischer
Member

Posts: 203


WWW
« on: October 11, 2005, 03:54:51 AM »

I am not sure this is meaty enough to present in Actual Play, so at the moment I am doing it here, as I need some comments or suggestions how to proceed.

I was invited to present Sorcerer to a group of gamers yesterday evening. They have been playing together for a while now, and are very interested in trying "experimental" rpgs. I guess that means they are willing to try new stuff, which is good. The group just finished a 13 episode PtA run, which they all thought was great, though emotionally tiring because their roleplaying was being challenged, or focused on, all the time. I tried to explain that Sorcerer is at least, if not more, intense than PtA, but they all seemed to go along with that.

I don't know any of them, as the contact has been established through a mutual aquaintance. They are four guys and a girl, and I can only remember half of their names so far. They play in a private home in Edinburgh, and this was the first time I played privately since moving here, except from when playing at my place. A couple of the male members sipped beer while playing. There was a good vibe altogether, and I felt very welcome from the start.

Nobody knew anything about Sorcerer, so I started by presenting the game and its possibilities. I mentioned the wide range of ways the game has been implemented, briefly describing a couple of mini-sups and one-sheets. The group decided to agree upon their own setting/playing environment, and we started by coming up with suggestions.

To make a long story short, we agreed upon, after very good debate arguing for and against the most popular candidates, to play in a "mythical western" kind of setting. Two of the participants were originalle opposed to play in a western setting, but came around after we discussed what we could do with Sorcerer.

I tried to keep mainly two things clear: that we didn't have to play in a "party", but that we could play 5 individual character stories, and that Humanity was central to the game. And that we needed to define Humanity in our game. Two of the guys simply could not accept that Humanity wasn't an indicator to define your roleplay. I stood my ground and explained that their character's possible actions were the same whether the Humanity score was 1 or 7. That Humanity was an indicator to the Player, not the character.

We had trouble agreeing opon a Humanity definition. I explained the different versions from Sorcerer's Soul, but none of them really hit the spot. We kind of accepted to define Humanity as reality/physical life, as opposed to the magical/spiritual world. 0 Humanity would then mean the character stopped being a physical reality and entered the spirit world. I asked for examples of situations where a Humanity check would be needed (except the usual ones), but wee couldn't really come up with good ones. That worried me slightly.

Demons in this western settings are spirits, mythical creatures, totems or magical items.

Let me give you an idea of the characters, which we started chatting about.
A questing magician, searching for "the grail" (which we don't know what is yet). I forget his demon suggestion.
A sheriff with a demon star. The sheriff is also keeping an eye on any sorcerers in town, as well as enforcing the "normal" law.
A doctor/surgeon from the east. His demon is the spirit/ghost of a man he accidentally killed on the operating table.
A guy with a raven demon that leads him to shiny things.
An unmarried woman (played by the groups's female player) living on ranch outside town. Her demon has helped her managing her ranch.

Any ideas for Humanity in this?
Ideas for fitting descriptors would be appreciated as well, but Humanity is what really bugs me.

Any other comments and/or warnings would be greatly appreaciated :)

Thanks,
Per
Logged

Per
--------
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
jburneko
Member

Posts: 1351


« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2005, 09:37:35 AM »

I have thought extensibly about Humanity in a Western setting.  I actually ran a Space-Western Sorcerer game and my group has been talking about returning to an old Deadlands campaign and I've added the stipulation, "only if I can run it using Sorcerer."

Here's my caveat.  I'm not sure if you want to address Western issues OR if your Western setting is sort of a backdrop for addressing mystic/spirituality issues.  Given your first pass on Humanity I'm leaning towards the latter, so I'll address that first.

Your "reality": definition is definitely do-able.  The crux is this, "mysticism", "spirituality", "enlightenment", "zen insight", even "grail questing" means jack if you can't apply it to the here and now.  Humanity becomes dealing with life issues through your mystic insight rather than being in denial or obtaining some sense of being "above it all."  The preacher who has his parish kneel down and pray while they get executed by a band of bloodthirsty outlaws because "god will sort it out" is on the fast track to Humanity loss.  Same for the knight who turns his back on starving villagers because "nothing is more important than the grail."

It's about finding strength to deal with life, not a method of escaping to "a higher plane of existance."

Alternatively, you could shift the emphasis to what I consider to be Western issues.  When I ran my Space-Western game I defined Humanity as "being civilized" which can also be interpreted as "respecting the rule of law."  But I see it as more subtle than that.  The example I usually use is the man who tips his hat to the local whore gains Humanity because it's the right and decent thing to do.  Violence of any kind, even understandable, justified violence calls for Humanity loss.  The opening scene of the Magnificient Seven when the two guys fend off the angry mob to give the half-indian guy a decent burial in the cemetary is a humanity gain momment.

Do these make sense?  Do either of them fit the bill?

Jesse
Logged
Per Fischer
Member

Posts: 203


WWW
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2005, 12:21:15 PM »

Jesse, that's good stuff, really.

When you describe it like you do, I could actually accept with both versions of Humanity, and now I have handy examples of actions that trigger Humanity checks. I have a feeling the majority of the group would go for the spirituality/enlightenment type of Humanity, while I personally would prefer the 'being civilized" if it came to that. I just thinkg the actions triggering checks in your last example are more intriguing and interesting.

But, as I see it, they would both fit, yes :)

Per
Logged

Per
--------
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Andrew Norris
Member

Posts: 253


« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2005, 12:39:45 PM »

I'll throw in my vote for "Being civilized", since it fits the genre so well (it's a core point of almost any Western), and it's somewhat similar to "empathy", which is one of my favorite Humanity definitions.

I think the most important thing to think about is not so much what you want to model, but what you want to be a crux of play. There's tons of Western-themed conflicts I can think of that put "What a civilized man should do" at odds with "What I must do".

The problem with Humanity dealing with the physical/mystical split is that it makes it harder to find "grabby" situations outside of Sorcery itself that could call for Humanity gain/loss.

One possible compromise: "Being civilized", by definition, requires a connection to what is real over what is mythic. You could decide, for example, that at Humanity 0 a character either becomes an uncivilized brute and remains in this world but not of it, or "transcends" into the mythic realm.
Logged
Old_Scratch
Member

Posts: 128


« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2005, 03:10:29 PM »

First off, I'd like to point out Paka's amazing Western setting he suggested a couple of years ago:

http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?t=14513

As for moving on to the actual Humanity definition, when it comes to humanity, I try to forget the Demons for a second and look at the setting and its themes, and then introduce the demons into it to see how they complicate them.

People have touched upon the "civilization" vs "savagery" bit, which is sort of the frontier, a transition zone between civilization and the unknown. Its cool.

But when I think of Westerns, I think of High Noon, Shane, The Unforgiven, and the like, and I'd argue that the strongest themes running through the Western is the place of a person who has been marginal and lived on the edge. How do they fit into society? Having lived by the gun, can they give it up? I think that it might be worth looking at the Dust Devils motto:

"There comes a time when you got to shoot or give up the gun."

Its worth using that as Humanity. In this sense, all Demons are Guns. Not pistols or rifles (although they could be), but rather are the violent and marginal means by which the character made their living. Perhaps they're getting old, perhaps they're conscience is getting the better of them, and they want to settle down, but their demon keeps inching them forward towards a blood end.

Humanity = Fulfillment of your Long term goals
Demons = Mystical Entities bound by Sorcerer

Humanity Zero = the Demon has pushed you to your end, and last scene is provided: the player getting lynched, getting killed in a duel (perhaps never even drawing their gun, as they are so tired of life), last seen talking to their gun by lamplight in a small shed in the middle of nowhere, etc... etc...

Humanity Loss Checks: Every time the character is frustrated in pursuit of their goal (I'm thinking here about "Montana" from Deadwood). Every time the Sorcerer reverts back to their old livelihood of living by the gun (Munsey from The Forgiven). Every time a person from their past shows up and complicates their lives. Every time a rumor about their past gets around.

Humanity Gain Checks: Every time another person's demons is exorcised by aiding them in pursuing their goal. Every time the Sorcerer uses a solution different from using their Demon.

Possible demons: Sure, they can be totems, but what if the demon is your former business: a trashy saloon or house of ill repute that you own but can't wait to get rid of? Your demon could be an opium pipe, a hanging judge's gavel, a rail baron's railroad network, or a gunfighter's gun. I'm not talking in a metaphorical sense either (although that could be possible as well), perhaps these things are alive and thirsting for human failure and human souls.

Anyhow, just a few ideas, as I've toyed around with Sorcerer in a Western context a bit as well. Like to hear more about your ideas and your eventual play as well!

Logged
Eric J-D
Member

Posts: 187


« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2005, 04:57:21 PM »

Hi Per,

At the risk of appearing to waffle, I would have to answer "It depends."  Really, I think defining Humanity in a western inspired version of Sorcerer is best approached by thinking about the source material you are drawing on.

Humanity (and losses or gains to it) in a film like Unforgiven is very different from Humanity in a film like The Searchers.  Perhaps a good way to think about it is to think about that staple of so many westerns, gunplay.  In a film like Unforgiven gunplay (i.e. violence) of any kind incurs serious Humanity loss whereas in many other westerns gunplay is not really morally problematic or jeopardizing of Humanity.

So I would say that you and your group should think about the sources that really most interest you and then try to arrive at a definition of Humanity via that route.  Westerns are so various I fear that this is probably the only way to arrive at satisfying definition of Humanity for your group.

Cheers,

Eric
Logged
Per Fischer
Member

Posts: 203


WWW
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2005, 04:26:38 AM »

Thanks for the feedback all, it's very helpful.

I now realise that I had Unforgiven and also (my favorite western) Once Upon a Time in the West in mind when I was jamming on this Sorcerer game. I was no way near The Searchers.

I need to get back to the group and present what references I think are the groundwork for our game, and hopefully they think it's cool as well. I'll post a more detailed one-sheet and eventually actual play when we get so far.

Cheers,
Per
Logged

Per
--------
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
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!