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Author Topic: Help me with my Sorcerer Idea or I'll Shoot This Dog!  (Read 9883 times)
Andy Kitkowski
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« on: April 14, 2002, 03:05:37 PM »

Hey all. This is the first time I've really gotten involved with The Forge since early 2000 or so... or at least involved enough to post questions and the like. I'm an RPGNet regular, and after hearing Jared go on and on about Sorcerer and Sword (SnS) in the RpgNet chat room, I finally ordered it from my local store on a whim...

I had two weeks previously purchased Socerer's Soul, and while it was an interesting tool, it really didn't "speak" to me about what I wanted to do with Sorcerer. SnS, after reading most of it Friday afternoon, "spoke" to me. Actually, it didn't so much speak to me as grab me by the ears, lean forward, and scream at the top of its lungs directly into my face, "YOU WILL USE ME TO DESIGN YOUR GAME". It kicked my creative-ass so hard that I was up all night on Saturday thinking about ways to bring the Sorcerer rules into my game.

But I'm stuck on a couple points, and I'm looking for some help. In fact, even though I've all but convinced myself that Sorcerer is the tool that I want to write my game, I'm not entirely sure that it fits what is reflected in the game.  You'll see why in a sec.

First of all, if I may entertain you with a story not about the game setting itself, but rather how I came to make it, you might understand a little bit of the problems I'm facing.

A few years ago, I was planning on making a "Fist of the North Star" RPG for an Indies Manga/RPG convention in Tokyo (the Comiket). I don't know if you've been exposed to the FotNS anime or live action movie, but the original manga itself is... well... kinda dumb. Storywise, that is. It's an epic, but very repetitive, story about a powerful martial artist in a post-holocaust hellworld who kills tons of gangs of bad guys and their bosses.  Utterly forgettable. However, the background and setting of the story is VERY compelling (hey, it's martial arts and post-holocaust. That's a better combo than chocolate and peanut butter), as well as many of the main characters (very few of the "bosses" are faceless psycho killers, although ALL of the mooks are) and ideas that are presented in the manga.  So I was going to take that core and make up a game for people to run their own interesting stories.

At the time, the d6 system ala Star Wars was the perfect fit for this game IMO for the following reasons:
1) Players naturally roll lots of d6es. Throwing tons of dice is a metaphor for power, which is a central point of the game.
2) There's a doubling effect in the rules ("Force points"), which works well in the FotNS setting; How the fighters in this world can concentrate and do quick, unbelievable acts of strength and speed.
3) Most of the "boss" bad-guys in the comic originally had some decent or relatively noble or humane goal that they set out on, but became totally twisted along the way. It SCREAMED "Dark Side Points"
4) Finally, there's a mistique in FotNS of "People only use 12% of their potential, but followers of the XXXYYYZZZ Martial Art Style use all 100%"... certain heroes and villians can train their bodies or minds to such a degree that they're comperable to WW's Aberrant or Exalted. Their martial arts "score" adds on to all of their abilities across the board.  If you're familiar with the d6 rules/Star Wars WEG, I was going to make a "force-like" ability (called XXXYYYZZZ Martial Art, instead of the 3 presented in SW) that's much harder to raise, but every die of that score would add a die to EVERY roll that character makes. It makes the game /seem/ powergamey, but I was planning on limiting even the most powerful heroes and villains in the setting to no more than 3-4 dice for this ability.

So that's what it was going to be. Then the opportunity at the Comiket fell through (my friends lost the table-lottery for that season). Instead of letting the game die, though, I just mutated it into something more interesting.  And instead of using the d6 system, I decided to go with Fudge.

Don't worry, I'll get to Sorcerer in a sec.

Anyway, now that I think about it, Fudge maybe wasn't the way to go.  I mean, not "as is"; I'd have to think of some really tricked-out Fudge-compatible mechanics to make the game do what I want it to do (reward certain activities, enhance and focus on certain areas of play. The typical The Forge core ideas here).

After reading Sorcerer and Sword, though, I realize that the game I'm aiming for is VERY much seeped in pulp, and not only that, a lot of the vocabulary, rules ideas and the like presented in that book really spoke to the kind of game that I'm creating.

However, I'm having some problems setting the game up with Sorcerer, and I'd love some help if you have a sec.

***

The game in a nutshell: A couple hundred years after the collapse of modern civilization (don't ask why, it's kinda long and it really doesn't matter for the purpose of the questions I want to look at) things are starting to pull out of the ashes. The world is still pretty much a barren wasteland ala FotNS, Wasteland/Fallout, and the first-second parts of Canticle for Liebewitz. Groups of people are starting to communicate with each other again, and of course the usual folks who can take whatever they want by force are doing so. That's the setting backdrop.

In the game, there's going to be 4 "powers" of sorts: Martial Arts, Stealth/Obfuscation, a sort of mind control/suggestion (inspiration drawn from the two X-Files episodes about the guy with immense powers of suggestion), and a kind of telekinesis/astral travel which allows you to leave your body (falling on the floor in a heap) and wander around invisible, even interacting with the environment.

To answer Jared Sorensen's 'universal' questions:

>What is your game about?

It's about people who try to make the barren world a better place. They do so by using special abilities (above) to punish and thwart those who would stand in the way of the betterment of the world.  Characters must also balance their powers with their goals ("If I kill all the 'bad guys', am I any better than a killer?"... Light Side/Dark Side of the Force kinds of stuff). Conflict is the main theme of this game.

>How does your game go about it?

Conflict: The rules and themes create many opportunities for conflict (external and internal).

>What behavior does your game reward or encourage?

It rewards internal conflict with opportunities to do incredible things (ie giving up a point of Humanity to double a score- see below for Humanity).

It encourages players to kick bad-guy butt by providing plenty of opportunities to do so.

It encourages characters to keep the future of the world in mind (and thus put their abilities to "higher purpose") by offering them glimpses of the far future- ie the character's names and deeds end up in common folklore 1,000+ years in the future.  (I'm working on mechanics to give story-based rewards for experience, rather than the typical advancement-based rewards... but this as well falls outside the realm of the questions that I had in mind).

It encourages the GM to focus on the stories by keeping the rules quite light (so that adventure planning can focus on adventure/plot set-up rather than crunching numbers in advance).

***

And now on to my actions and questions involving the Sorcerer rules:

1) Lore, in this game, will be familiarity with how human potential can be actualized- Martial arts (pressure points, healing, etc), suggestion (commanding, detection of use of suggestion, etc), out-of-body travel (telekinesis, astral travel, etc).

2) Humanity, in this game, will be the character's "Passion"... for making the world a better place to live. If they run out of humanity, the character becomes just another figure "getting by" in the world, most likely a villain. This will reflect the kicker: If a character's family was killed by gangs, then the Character with 0 humanity will not stop until all gangs are mercilessly killed, and will probably try to set up some sort of oppressive regime to make sure that the freedom required for such gangs dosn't exist.  If the kicker involved environmental restoration, then the character with zero humanity may "give up a losing battle" and just retreat into the wilderness, or focus on one small patch of land and lose sight of all others.

3) Demons.

The demons.  The core of the Sorcerer game. This is where things start to fall apart.  I just can't reconcile the powers that the players have with the archetypical "demons" as presented in the Sorcerer game.

Why?

1) The powers are more like tools than personas of their own.  At the most, using the powers might warp the characters while in use: Martial Arts put the character "in the zone", Obfuscation can make the character forget that she exists... or what she started hiding for in the first place. I could think of similar ones for the other two powers. However, I can't think of anything "bad" about these powers that could negatively affect the character as using demons in traditional Sorcerer games would.

Is that a bad thing?  I mean, I could just gloss over that whole "Need" thing, the whole "demons have their own agenda" thing. But, on the other hand, the very fact that I'm looking for something implies that I'd like to consider the thought that these powers could be more "demonlike".

The other point of this, of course, is how can a "tool-like power" evoke Humanity/passion loss?

Anyway, this whole "demon thang" is sort of the last piece in a puzzle that I'm trying to sort out.

Anyone have any ideas, or better yet, any questions that could help me focus my thoughts?

Thanks in advance for any insight you may have to offer.

-Andy
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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2002, 03:22:06 PM »

Welcome to da Forge, Andy.

Here's one thought:

What if the difference between martial artists of XYZ school and normal humans (12-percenters) is that tapping into these "forbidden fighting arts" causes the practitioner to become a "demon" (ie: something without humanity than can be summoned/bound/etc).

So the characters are essentially demons, starting at 0 Humanity. And the quest is to raise your Humanity back up to where it should be (presumably by fighting the other demons and their masters). This would explain the bad guys: they're like the characters, except they have no desire to regain what was lost (for whatever reason). You could even (because nobody has a Humanity 10), make the quest to surpass normal Humanity (in a nod to some kind of "spiritual enlightenment"). Then the bodhisattva (sic) element can creep in where at Humanity 10, you either "go away" or you stick around to guide others (the classic wise old mystical figure).

Looking at it this way, Mad Max is about a guy who lost his Humanity and became no better than the scum he preyed upon...but then regained his humanity by setting aside that life and trying to help the inhabitants of the fortress refinery that was under siege.
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Andy Kitkowski
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« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2002, 03:31:41 PM »

Just realized that you may be reading this, thinking, "Well, why not just use the d6 system, which sounded like it did exactly what you wanted to do in the game? It sounds like the only reason that you moved away from it to Fudge is because the Comiket thing fell through."

There's a number of reasons I moved away from D6:

1) Most importantly for me, I wanted to publish the game (on paper or by PDF).  The D6 system cannot be licensed.  By changing like two bits of the D6 system, I could still release a "D6-like" game (since rules can't be copywritten ang all), but it seemed like a lot of work and potential hazards that going with another system I liked, namely Fudge (or Sorcerer, now, as a Mini-supplement) would circumvent.

2) Too many dice.  Yeah, it's a good power metaphor, but having that metaphor slapped in your face every 30 seconds as you tally pips on 5 to 10+ dice... yech.

3) The system didn't have anything internal that portrayed the "humanity" ("Passion", here) struggle save for a "Dark Side Point" analogue. And that system wasn't satisfying to me.

4) Less number crunching to do with Sorcerer and Fudge-based games (or at least the kind of Fudge game that /I/ would make), which not only leaves the GM with more time to focus on the story over number-balance, it also frees a large burden from me, as a designer wannabe, since I probably wouldn't have to make the token charts for all sorts of encounterable perils (radiation, poison, paralysis, shock, falling, acne, explosions, etc) for the game.

5) I'm much better at taking something that's out there and "Andyifying" it rather than starting from scratch.  Thus "rules toyboxes" like Fudge are ideal.

-Andy
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Andy Kitkowski
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« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2002, 06:50:26 PM »

Quote from: Jared A. Sorensen

What if the difference between martial artists of XYZ school and normal humans (12-percenters) is that tapping into these "forbidden fighting arts" causes the practitioner to become a "demon" (ie: something without humanity than can be summoned/bound/etc).


Hhhhhmmmm...

It's kind of hard to convey what I'm going for, but I'm pretty sure that I don't want to go this route. I was thinking about that as I was going through Urge, but I decided against it for now... Dunno, it's just a matter of taste, I guess.

Anyway, you got me thinking more about the "demonic" parts of the power I'm working with:

The four aspects of the power that I mentioned are actually just four faces or concentration of one ability- To maximize/complete your potential.

In both cases below, the Need may be to "push your limits" or to "be the best XYZ you can be".

* One source of humanity loss/demon-control/alienness involved with this Power and it's four aspects (primarily martial arts) is that this power basically puts you into "The Zone" (ala basketball, martial arts, writing, etc): Your whole being becomes aimed at completing a task that's only barely on the edge of your conscience ("defeat this foe", "lift this tree", "run to X Oasis by noon"). Maybe the more you engage the power, the more introverted/cold you become. After awhile, you get so caught up in that task that you end up doing it forever, until you die. Many folks like this would retreat like hermits. For others, their conscious takes a "back seat" as "The Zone" takes over (ala Indy Jones from Temple of Doom after drinking the mind-control blood)

* Maybe, since "The Zone" helps people maximize their physical, mental and social potential, it could also maximize their emotions as well.  Drive folks crazy from "chemical imbalances", push them over the edge, etc.

In either case, or if any new cases arise, I'm thinking that this game would introduce a "Kinder, Gentler Demon" to Sorcerer. In Sorcerer, there's the distinct feeling that "it's only a matter of time" for the majority of folks who commune with demons before they lose all their humanity. Or, at least that's the core struggle of the game.

What I've just realized a second ago (heh), though, is that my game does have a focus on this (The Humanity Struggle) as well, but  not as much at the core of my game as it is with a standard sorcerer game. In fact, I'd say that it's in the Passenger Seat as a theme, the core theme for my game being Conflict (most likely) and Historical Change.  I've started to make up some mechanics for these themes within Sorcerer, but I'm not going to talk about them here* until I think about them a little more.

*OK, I'll talk a teeeny bit about the Conflict thing.  When I had this game idea tied to Fudge, one of the core concepts of the game from the get-go was Conflict: Namely the conflict involved in the setting to set things right, to create the foundations for a lasting society, and how to negotiate conflict so as not to succumb to it.  So I brought it into the chargen process as well: When the players (note: I intended this game to be played by NO MORE than 4 players with GM, actually looking more at 2-3) make up their characters, there are NO guidelines for how many "points", etc to spread around (there are examples of how to create characters, though, mind you, just not how many points to use, what abilities to take, etc). Therefore the chargen process itself was the first conflict in the game: The players make the characters that they want at whatever power level/skill levels they want, and negotiate with the GM (who has a certain amount of vetoing power, etc according to the rules). Thus, conflict and compromise. For example, if there are fewer players they might want to make more powerful characters.  It's up to the negotiation process with the GM to create their characters, with the GM having the final say. In Fudge terms, this is called the "Subjective Character Creation", but I also threw some bolts into the system that make the players want to tweak out some powers, and thus are forced to enter into negotiations with the GM as to what sorts of abilities they have.
With Sorcerer, however, things are going to run a little differently; they're probably going to have to, since there's only like 5 ability scores to play with. Still, though, I'm going to convert some of these cheesy Conflict-bits into the Sorcerer system.

So again, the main focus will be on conflict, and THEN on humanity.

Question is, I guess, "Is it then a Sorcerer game"?  I mean, it seems like taking the Humanity Struggle out of the spotlight of a Sorcerer game would be like taking the magic out of Dungeons and Dragons. Maybe.  What do you think?

Quote from: Jared A. Sorensen

So the characters are essentially demons, starting at 0 Humanity. And the quest is to raise your Humanity back up to where it should be (presumably by fighting the other demons and their masters). This would explain the bad guys: they're like the characters, except they have no desire to regain what was lost (for whatever reason). You could even (because nobody has a Humanity 10), make the quest to surpass normal Humanity (in a nod to some kind of "spiritual enlightenment"). Then the bodhisattva (sic) element can creep in where at Humanity 10, you either "go away" or you stick around to guide others (the classic wise old mystical figure).


Hmmm, yeah, the thing that I don't want to do is bring in the typical array of bad guy boss types who laugh a lot, wear red, and are base and evil. And as soon as we start bringing in the demon-as-evil into a game, that's the way it starts to turn, I think.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but Lord Humongous (from his stirring solliloque) seemed to be just a guy who wanted to unite everyone into one big peaceful family (a noble goal)... He just went about it by killing anyone who stood in the way, and by running from resource pool to resource pool like a pack of locusts.  I want to create more bad guys like him, rather than bad guys who are demons themselves... (I guess when I hear demons I immediately think of the classic Demon guys, and maybe that's a mistake in interpreting your post, Jared).

Still open for feedback.  Bring it on!

-Andy
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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2002, 10:03:46 PM »

Quote from: Andy Kitkowski
Question is, I guess, "Is it then a Sorcerer game"?  I mean, it seems like taking the Humanity Struggle out of the spotlight of a Sorcerer game would be like taking the magic out of Dungeons and Dragons. Maybe.  What do you think?


No, it'd be like taking experience points and character improvement out of D&D. Humanity (in some form) is the crux of Sorcerer.

Quote
Correct me if I'm wrong, but Lord Humongous (from his stirring solliloque) seemed to be just a guy who wanted to unite everyone into one big peaceful family (a noble goal)... He just went about it by killing anyone who stood in the way, and by running from resource pool to resource pool like a pack of locusts.  I want to create more bad guys like him, rather than bad guys who are demons themselves... (I guess when I hear demons I immediately think of the classic Demon guys, and maybe that's a mistake in interpreting your post, Jared).


Lord Humongous and The Toecutter (from the first film) were both just really eloquent thug-warlord types. And who's to say they're the demons?  What if the members of their gangs (like the Night Rider and Bubba Zanetti from TC's gang) were the demons? And what if Papa Gallo (or better yet...Feral Kid!) were the summoners of Max?

Although you shouldn't try and force a square peg into a round hole, it is interesting to examine the problem from many different angels, just in case there IS a way to make things fit together.

- J
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Valamir
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« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2002, 04:20:37 AM »

It seems to me that there is only one "problem" with porting Sorcerer to your vision.  In Sorcerer the act of Sorcery itself challenges Humanity, while in your game it may not.

Everything else seems well suited.  The Demon Powers are of similiar calibre to your XYZ martial arts powers and easy to make more of.

There are probably quite a few possible solutions, but I'm thinking of 2 at the moment.

1) Make the Humanity struggle core to your game but don't make Sorcery cause Humanity checks.  Instead rely on the Humanity checks from actions to drive Humanity.  Defeating "Bosses" would be the equivelent of gaining Humanity from Banishment.  Humanity checks from actions could be a variety of things (I'm not familiar with the FotNS setting) but it would seem to be easy to manifacture hard choices for the players -- take the easy way out and kill all the baddies using superior XYZ Fu, or actually try to avoid excess killing and give them a chance at redemption.  Taking the easy way out would be your Humanity check.

2) Redefine your notion of Humanity into something more akin to the undefined concept of Humanity from the Sorcerer rules.  Humanity only uses 12% of their potential, XYZ Martial Artists use 8 time more.  That's not just Human, thats Super Human.  Using ones XYZ powers (i.e. Sorcerer Rituals) results in Humanity rolls because the more the power is tapped the more Super Human the character becomes.  Sure his mission and goal is to make the world a better place for humanity, but which form of humanity.  Clearly the "normals" are grossly inferior.  Even the "good" normals can't defend themselves.  0 Humanity then becomes falling into the "Master Race" trap.  The belief that what you've become is so superior to mere mortals that you know what is best for them.  You will protect and care for them because they cannot protect and care for themselves.  This might mean that a few of them must be sacrificed, but its all for the greater good, and they're inferior anyway.

This seems to me to tie into the bosses as you've described them.  They all have good intentions but have become twisted and corrupt.  I don't know if all of the bosses can (or should) be characterised as "fallen" XYZ marital artists, but there can be other routes to acquiring Demon Powers (pre holocaust technology could be a means of obtaining Demon Powers...its use, likely zealously guarded, would cause Humanity Checks for the same reasons).

In fact, this kind of logic would make for a great Thundar the Barbarian type setting as well.
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« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2002, 12:18:59 PM »

Quote from: Valamir
This seems to me to tie into the bosses as you've described them.  They all have good intentions but have become twisted and corrupt.  I don't know if all of the bosses can (or should) be characterised as "fallen" XYZ marital artists, but there can be other routes to acquiring Demon Powers (pre holocaust technology could be a means of obtaining Demon Powers...its use, likely zealously guarded, would cause Humanity Checks for the same reasons).


Having seen the movie (pass on it if you have the chance), yes this describes the major villain (played by Costas Mandylor no less) to a T. He even kills his own minions as being worthless on his single-minded road to building a tomorrow that looks like today, but with him as ruler of all. As soon as I started reading this, I assumed that would be the definition of humanity. I'd say that #2 is definitely the way to go. In the end it is then very much like the Light/Dark force stuff that he was going to use from D6.

Mike
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Andy Kitkowski
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« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2002, 01:16:21 PM »

Hey all- Sorry I haven't replied: Busy at work and home, and my huge post I thought I posted here yesterday disappeared... Well, it didn't so much disappear as "Andy hit the Preivew button and thought that it was submit" thing.

From Jared:
>>>
Humanity (in some form) is the crux of Sorcerer.
>>>
 
Yeah, that's one of the things that I'm struggling with.  Sorcerer and Sword presented interesting play styles that, while still Sorcerer games, didn't put Humanity into the dead center.  Maybe like one foot to the left, but not dead center as the core book was.  I'm still thinking if such a game is still a Sorcerer game. I want to believe that it can be, since the rest of the rules fit so well for the game I wish to emulate...
 
From Vladimir:
>>>
It seems to me that there is only one "problem" with porting Sorcerer to your vision. In Sorcerer the act of Sorcery itself challenges Humanity, while in your game it may not.
>>>
Yeah, that's what I'm struggling with as well.  Originally, it didn't, save it tweaked out the natural tendencies the characters started out with: Vengeful folks become more vengeful, recluse characters become more reclusive, etc.  But that just doesn't settle very well with me.
 
Vladimir, I like your points 1 and 2 in your post, particularly the latter.  I'll need to think about that idea for a few days to digest that idea.
 
From Mike:
>>>
In the end it is then very much like the Light/Dark force stuff that he was going to use from D6.
>>>
In some ways, yeah: agressive characters certainly perform evil deeds, etc.  But I see the antagonists as being "caught up in themselves": Not only do they lose sight of the rest of the world in relation to their goals, they lose sight of themselves as well. This would effectively make the Kicker into the antagonist/0-humanity characters's Need.
 
Unfortunately, the animated movie and especially live-action movie didn't show the sides that reflect this well.  Allow me to demonstrate with pictures, if I can find them:
 
Ahhh, work just picked up. Give me another day or so and I'll post some examples.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2002, 01:55:27 PM »

Quote from: Andy Kitkowski
In some ways, yeah: agressive characters certainly perform evil deeds, etc.  But I see the antagonists as being "caught up in themselves": Not only do they lose sight of the rest of the world in relation to their goals, they lose sight of themselves as well. This would effectively make the Kicker into the antagonist/0-humanity characters's Need.

Neat, that's the same, but better. You're right, it's not being caught up in your mutantness, it's being caught up in your greatness. Humanity is humility. Get too caught up in your fancy powers and suddenly you are a Zero Humanity Megalomaniacal Costas Mandylor bent on creating a world of his visions without regard for anything else. That brings it all together, and works perfectly with what little I've heard of the setting. Very Zen/Tao, too, which works with the Eastern Mysticism/Martial Arts angle. Cool...

Mike
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Valamir
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« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2002, 02:03:34 PM »

Yeah, Mike.  Thats exactly what I was trying to say in my #2 which I completely talked around without actually saying it.  

BTW Andy, Is Valamir not Vladimir :-)

Vlad was a Vampire.
Valamir was a Goth (a real Goth, not the modern color challenged kind)
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Andy Kitkowski
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« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2002, 10:29:54 PM »

Oops, sorry 'bout the name mistake, Valamir!

Sounds like a was (finally) able to convey a little bit what I was hoping to do with humanity (hope I can do a better job when I write up my game!). It's a good thinking exercise here as well, trying to really get into what humanity means in this game. The more that I think about it, the more I'm comfortable with leaving Humanity at the core (and not even "one foot to the left") of the game.  I guess it was all a matter of vocabulary: I just had to find the words that worked for me.

Anyway, here's some more examples, from the original series. Again, I'm not making "Fist of the North Star Meets Sorcerer" (even though that's conceptually pretty much how it started <minus sorcerer>, some 2 years ago). They are of course written "the way I see them" (iow Overanalyzed), as the core of the story itself was little more than Endless Ass-kicking plus a dash of mysticism:

http://www.konami.co.jp/am/punch/image/hkf_ken.gif">
This gentleman, with a neck bigger than two of my thighs, is Kenshiro, the hero of the series.
Sorcerer-wise, his humanity is on "the cusp". On one hand, he dedicates his martial arts to saving people, righting wrongs, and avenging the deaths of good people.
His "Demon Need-as-Kicker", or how he crosses the line, is this: One old man will be killed, mercilessly of course, by some random gang leader. Kenshiro will trapse off and wipe the entire gang off the face of the Earth. Usually when Kenshiro gets to the "boss" (sorry for the overuse of this word, but it SO WELL describes the kinds of characters that appear in this series: Like "bosses" at the end of chapters of Final Fantasy or other CRPG, they are powerful, sinuglar leaders who exist seemingly only to be knocked over by the hero<es>), the boss realizes that he's in trouble. He may be even genuinely sorry he did it. But Kenshiro deals out swift vengence whether the antagonist is pleading for his life or begging for forgiveness.

When an opressive leader rolls into town, Kenshiro puts himself in a position where he'll "receive the first punch", and uses that to escalate the situation into a slaughter of dozens of antagonists and their carefulyl constructed plans.

So, while Ken is very humane, kind and gentle to his friends and the innocent, he seems to "straddle the line" when it comes to what he does with his powers- He'll use the attack of one person as an excuse to murder dozens of folks in anger.

One of my favorite stories in this manga involves this gentleman:

http://www.konami.co.jp/am/punch/image/hkf_sou.gif">
This man is Souther. He doesn't appear in the anime or live-action movie. He proclaims himself the ruler ("emporer") of an expanding "empire". He's also got some class, too, but he's a cold MFer. When Ken first meets him, he rolls into the post-holocaust town in a motorcycle cavalcade. Souther's goons, of course, kill some innocent or other and Kenshiro jumps out and wipes out like 20 guys and faces off against Souther. He can't beat Souther, though, because his body has a "secret" (unimportant to this example, though). Kenshiro is battered senseless.

When Ken wakes up and, expectedly, goes after Souther with his single-minded fervor, he sees his "empire" firsthand. Souther rules in a throne overlooking a courtyard... in which stands a pyramid high enough to rival Giza. The pyramid is being built with innocent slave labor (of course), and he only started it a few years back. He finishes it just as Kenshiro arrives.

Souther kills one of Kenshiro's martial-arts friends just as he arrives (buries him in the capstone of the pyramid... long story). Kenshiro, burning with "Humanity-lowering" rage, says harsh stuff like, "I won't leave a single hair of yours left on this world" (ok, ok, it sounds cooler in Japanese). They duke it out. Kenshiro figures out Souther's body's secret, and basically tears the 'foo apart. But, of course, leaves him enough time to give a long, passionate solliloqe.

Souther tells his story to Kenshiro. Turns out that the HUGE pyramid (again, as big, if not bigger, than the one at Giza) was built for one person: His Deceased <martial arts> Master. Souther loved and respected him so much that he started building this pyramid to him. Then, he wanted people to recognize that master's greatness. Love of his master was his kicker.  As his humanity slipped away, one thing led to another and... well... he became the emporer of a slave nation that was bent on conquest to fuel that one goal that was always there in the background: The building of the temple to honor his master. Souther let his kicker (his goal) get out of hand, and while following it, he lost sight of it and himself. Turns out, this cold-hearted bastard originally was a decent guy not too different from Kenshiro.

Kenshiro listens to his story, understanding his motives and even weeping for his loss.

Tears streaming down his face, Kenshiro forgives Souther for his deeds. Then Souther dies violently (Kenshir pressed his "Your body will explode in one minute" <"...After, of course, You Give Your Final Solliloque"> Pressure Point). Hey, Kenshiro's got his own 'issues' with his own humanity vs his drive for vengence, right?

Anyway, that's how it goes in the game that I'm making. I think that, looking at these examples, Humanity can and does play a central role in this game after all. I hope to make a list of several ideas for the players to create creative Kickers, and for those characters destined to lose sight of their humanity, for ways those Kickers can become their inner demon's Need...

Thanks for your help, all. I think I'm back on track.  Any further ideas and suggestions, as well as questions, ("How will you handle ABC?", etc), are totally welcome.

-Andy

EDIT: fixed a bunch of typos. Probably dozens more.  Last time I post here after 2:00AM!
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2002, 05:58:34 AM »

Sorcery in this case would be getting new powers through life changing events. Essentially, when a moment in the story came around in which the character could have his mindset altered permenantly (for example, the loss of a loved one), he could then perform the sorcery rituals. The newly bound Inner Demons would be related to the event, as would their Need. So, in the example, you could get a demon with a need for vengance for the loved one's killer, or a need to honor the dead like souther, or whatever.

Sample Character in Brief for Mutants of the East Wind

Jarn Estenbok was a trusted and feared warrior of the Kolari tribe. In one battle defending his settlement, had an arm ripped off in a fight. Jarn "summoned and bound" an Inner Demon about the horror of the situation, which imparts a Need to reexperience the surreality of the horrific situation, and revel in a fascination with it. So now, while otherwise honorable in his continued defense of his tribe, he sometimes irrationally performs acts of extrteme gore to satisfy this Inner Demon. He fears that one day he will be lost in what he refers to as "the majesty of blood".

He'll have a high Stamina and Will. His lore will be low (lore represents control of ones mutations and the emotions related to them).

Replace Cover with Tribe or Village or something like that (perhaps Place). The player then has to describe what members of the tribe are good at, which affects what sorts of skills that he will know, etc. Perhaps one important skill from before the Destruction is known to each tribe.

So Jarn as a Kolari knows how to farm the wheat and raise cattle, etc, as his tribe is fairly rustic, but more importantly knows the Kolari forging techniques, which have been passed down since the Destruction.

His Demon "Majesty of Blood" (all are parasites or possesors of a sort, no?) will have Vitality, and Boost to Stamina. Given his low lore skill the Demon probably will have the upper hand on the binding, and only Jarn's great strength of body and will keep him from rapidly slipping into a megalomanic state of constant horrific slaying.


Yep, I'd say it's doable. The "Mutants must Rule" megalomania would be just one possible Inner Demon Need (and posibly a really good one).

Mike
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2002, 07:57:59 AM »

Hello,

Ah, I'm seeing this nicely. Kind of a mix between Urge and The Clicking Sands ...

Kanaka
Tribe/Place 5: secret enclave of hooded scholars
Stamina 2, Will 5, Lore 3, Humanity 5
He left the secret enclave long ago on what was to be a short pilgrimage, but became activist against the bosses rather than return to safety. His knowledge has become warped and changed through use, so that he probably wouldn't be welcome there any more; he can now shred people apart with his weather powers and command over his two hooked knives, as well as generate great insight from terrifying visions (also good as attacks).

I'm thinking the classic wild/whipped hair of the anime sorcerer hero, brooding gaze but very attractive, delicate features.

What you really need now is a good set of descriptors to pick from for each score. I strongly recommend not including martial arts, as that would be a given for any protagonist character.

Best,
Ron
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Blake Hutchins
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Posts: 614


« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2002, 08:23:07 AM »

For an additional pinch of variety, you might also drop in a Mononoke take, wherein the possessor demon is like a disease.  Kill a demon or a "sorcerer" and run the risk of "infection."

Best,

Blake
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2002, 10:07:03 AM »

Ooohhh, Blake, that's very good. I was thinking that life-changing events don't come around often enough to make sorcery happen with reasonable regularity. But if you can bind when you kill another sorcerer, catch his mutation as it were, or become infected with his spirit, that would increase the number of opportunities considerably. Given that one of the tropes is tracking down other sorcerers, anyhow. And you would become what you hate to an extent (I am assuming thta you'd catch whatever demon that the other sorcerer had; doesn't even require summoning), which makes sense with the genre I think.

So if the character I made was killed by Ron's character above, Ron could have his character bind my character's blood Demon rationalizing that in the final conflict he too encountered "the Majesty of Blood". The ritual would no doubt involve bathing in the entrails of my character (with bonus dice for a suitably gory description!).

And if the tables were turned, my character could catch the bug to contiue his character's quest during his death soliloquy. In fact dying soliloquy's should be mandatory under almost all circumstances (rationalized as the demon's strength keeping the character alive if necessary) so that the player with the dying character can try his best to pass his demon on to his slayer.

Cool.

Mike
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