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Author Topic: looking for some help with several small ideas  (Read 3346 times)
Bailywolf
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« on: April 20, 2002, 04:00:00 PM »

I've had little flashes of ideas over the mast few days- nothing intresting enough to account for a whole thread, but combined might fill one out.

These things are pretty off-the-cuff and embrionic, and don't hinge on any single premise or implementation of Sorcerer.  Hell, it is entirely possible they've been done and I've manged to miss them.  They all hinge on a more gamey Sorcerer style though...anyhow, here's what I've been thinking about.


One-demon Sorcerers
Many of my sorcerer concepts hang off the Lore 1 single-demon sorcerer.  Guys who won't ever really do any sorcery during play, but who's initial demon is significantly importiant to their character- so much that loosing the demon would in many ways destroy the character's most vital dynamics (or kill him).  

Here is a quick and dirty example of what I mean:

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

Holcroft Klien II
Scores
Stamina 6 (Bursting with vitality)
Will: 3 (Stubborn)
Lore: 1 (clueless)
Cover 3 (College Student)
Humanity: 5
Price: -1 Old Fashion (when dealing with anything terribly 'new': the internet, gangsta rap, equality for all people ect)

Sorcery

Telltale:  Scaring from open-heart surgery which looks vaguely like occult diagrams.

Klien's demon has no name.  It is his heart- or rather the heart he had transplanted when his old ticker gave out after years of four-egg and cigeratte breakfasts.  The transplant he recieved turned out to be the heart of a Passer demon his sociopathic sorcerer-surgeon thought would make for an intresting experiment.  The heart reversed his aging process, returning the 65 yer old to an idelized 19-year old physique.  It enhanced his senses, his physical prowess, and his ability to heal and recover...but it also enhanced his apetites.

The Heart
Parasite
Stamina: n/a
Will:  5
Lore:  5
Power:  5
*Perception (Enhanced mundane senses confers)
*Perception (demons- heart beats furiously the first time a new demon comes within 10 yards)
*Boost (Stamina, confers)
*Vitality (confers)
Desire:  To be who it was
Need: Satiation of Apetite

The Heart visits Holcroft in his sleep, apearing as the thick-neck enforcer-demon it used to be.  It tries to convince Holcroft to give up his humanity and become a demon himself. It feeds off Holcroft's satisfying an apetite- hunger, sex, sleep, drink ect- and to make sure it always has a ready meal, it enhances his apetites.  He can eat enough food for 5 people, and as soon as he feels full, he immediatly gets horny.  As soon as he 'releives the tension', he feels lazy as hell.  He never feels satisfied.  


Kicker- Holcroft's son- the real Holcroft the 2nd- disapeared soon after his father recieved the demon heart and began to retro-age.  Holcroft has assumed his son's idenity (they could have been twins at 19) and gone off to become a freshman at college in an effort to locate his son.  All he knows is that the night his son vanished, his new heart pounded furiously for half and hour strait, and he has learned what that means...

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

Ok, longer example than I intended, but what the hey.

This guy has just the one demon...and I can't really see him acquiring more or doing more than punching other demons right in the brain.  

How can I continue to chalange a character like this?  Can the Summoning rules be tweaked to allow such a one-trick character to alter, enhance, or diminish his one demon?  Instead of summoning a new one, could he instead learn to imbue his first and only demon with new or greater Abilities?  

Has anyone else worked with one-trick sorcerers?



next topic


Demonic Permutations


In a from-the-box Sorcerer game does a demon always have to be a demon?  

I ask because I was thinking aboutt the magical style you see in Buffy... demons get summoned, but frequently "spells" instead create temporary effects/abilities after they are ritualy cast...

My thought on this is that these can be treated exactly like normal demon summonings...except there is no "demon".  Rather a mystical force/anima/spirit whatever is summoned.  Nothing with the sort of personality or character wich would make it an NPC, but as far as the rules were concerned- is just a summoned and compelled demon...but one unbound.

Spells can simply be treated as demons- or as the invoced force of godlike beings.  Desires can be the sort of ritual environemen best used to invoke them, and Need the sacrificial gobbleygook.  Using the Pacting rules might also be benifitial.  Other sorcerers can defend against these spells with normal banishment and contain actions.  

Here is a possible example (I'm sure the inspiration will be familiar):

Spell of Revenge (effectively a parasite)
Will 5
Stamina n/a
Lore 5
Power 5
Travel (levetation- confers)
Hold  (thicked air)
Harm (bolts of pain- lethal)
Range
Desire- black candles, circles drawn in blood, evil incantations
Need- personal destruction (the Spell eats you up inside the longer it is used)  


Not exactly a demon...but certainly a force which could shape a character's life.  You summon this thing up in a fit of rage, compell it to obey you for a time (or pact with it in effect), then go and put some supernatual whupass on someone.  

You permenatly bind this thing, and it's IN you...always there just under the surface, a force for destruction waiting to be opened up...

Perhaps all this is just semantics- flavor- but has anyone else toyed with this sort of thing.  Demons w/o intelligence or personality.


last one (I'll keep it tight)

Demonic Limitations

I can only assume Ron had a good design reason not to include a limitation system for his demons.  But it seems fairly obvious to me (again, not the guy who designed it) that a series of limitations similar to Abilities might be intresting.  Yer basic vulnerabilities.  Each one could ballance an Ability which wouldn't add to Power...with some kind of minimal number or max limitations.  A demon who gets fried alive in the sun, or a demon who can't enter 'holy' sites (or is that bastard just lieing to you?)...this sort of thing.  With two of three of these, it would be a snap to create vampires as demons-within parasites.  

Anyhow, thanks if you've read this far...

thoughts?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2002, 04:21:45 PM »

Hey,

Wow ... I really, really like the Holcroft character.

Here are my thoughts on the three things; others' responses are very welcome.

ONE-DEMON DUDE
It seems to me that there's no reason to think that this person's story will be any longer or any shorter than a character with lots of demons over the course of time. The length or depth of a Sorcerer story depends on other variables, ranging from the immediate Premise embodied in the character concept, to the extent and pacing of the interactions throughout the sessions.

You see, it's not about the guy and his demon in the larger sense of things. It's about the guy and his son. The demon is an enhancer, commentator, or complicator - and of course, potentially a devaluing agent that may subvert the character's goal to something negative - but it is not, in and of itself, "the story."

As a final note, part of The Sorcerer's Soul deals with demons that change their Type over the course of time, which may also result in shifts in their abilities as well.

DEMONIC PERMUTATIONS
You've described a demon. The only reason you don't see it as a demon is your own preconceptions regarding the term. This is another example of what I'm beginning to call the "Sorcerer Rorschach effect," in which a person reads X when the text provides a range all the way from A to Z (and another person may well read B or R or something else).

Bear in mind that the Will roll required to "tell the demon what to do" is what will determine the "success of the spell."

DEMONIC LIMITATIONS
Any and all such things can be built in as customizations using the principles in Chapter Four and Chapter Seven. I think gamers get a little hung up on formal limitations as "defining elements" of play, such that they forget that such limitations are always an option during play.

Say that I wanted to play a wizard in an D&D game who had one leg. I could, couldn't I? "Efrem has one leg." Boy, that was easy, wasn't it? And yet somehow, at this late date, people get into the mind-set that if that's not on a list somewhere, or somehow incorporated into a cost-benefit framework, or somehow part of "wizard options," that you ... can't do it.

Another aspect of this is important for Sorcerer readers - again and again, people talk about what can be done with the game ... but they forget that such customizing is supposed to be occurring at the social level, to a significant extent. In other words, if the pack of you want demons to burn and char in sunlight, then they do. Since it was established through social contract interaction, that's how it is.

Best,
Ron
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Bailywolf
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Posts: 729


« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2002, 05:52:31 PM »

Thanks for the rapid comeback Ron.  Holcroft popped into my head earlier today...I get a kick out of the old-guy-turns-young schtick.

Agree on the blindspot thing for the demon-as-spell issue.  'demon' is a VERY loaded word...it's laced with cultural implication & personal interpretation.  I do tend to get stuck on it sometimes.  it is nice to hear The Man Responsible justify my "new" way of thinking about them...  Hell, a demon could be a half-remembered childhood song, and by "compelling it to action" you just hum it correctly...causing supernatural result.  A demon could be a rare and complex martial art you spent your whole life trying to master..., by "comanding" it you simply execute a perfect technique....but in persuing it with such dedication, you sacrifice your social connections...

(please forgive me for being 'mr. obvious' here)  In the Sorcerer scheme, a Demon is anything you derive power from-power which puts you at an (unfair) advantage over others...and it always carries a price.  Oh, what a prison of words I dwell in.  Nice to get a visit to the exercise yard once in a while.  Thanks Ron.



As for the limitations... Sure, I can see how these may arise from the actual process of play...but why not formalize them a bit?  What I mean is, why not make- in a gameist sense- the limitation worth it?  Your demon will fry if he touches silver...but in exchange he can fly...

As I thought of it, the bad thing is, if any of his abilities Confer to you...his Limitations confer as well...  so learn to say "keep the change".




Now I'm going to HAVE to pick up Sorcerer's Soul.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2002, 06:33:45 AM »

Hey man,

You wrote,
"What I mean is, why not make- in a gameist sense- the limitation worth it? Your demon will fry if he touches silver...but in exchange he can fly... "

This is me, looking at you funny. I figured out that it comes from your use of the word "make" in your sentence. By "make," you evidently mean, "include in the written text of the game." Whereas by "make," I mean, "customize into existence via the social contract of your group."

Providing any such benefit/limitation in the rules of Sorcerer is antithetical to the entire existence of the game as text. However, customizing any such thing into the play of Sorcerer, per group, is precisely what the text is written to help you do.

I think there's kind of a funny circle going on here. Instead of (1) reading the book, (2) customizing in your own mind as well as with the group, and (3) playing, you're going 1-2-1, i.e., back to the book. Why is this?

Best,
Ron
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Bailywolf
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Posts: 729


« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2002, 07:21:07 AM »

See what you mean.  Let me try...

It was more a "why did you not make" question rather than a suggestion that reality be rewritten.  Sorcerer is one of the tightest games I've ever read- nothing extraneous to the basic drive of the game- so I was wondering why this particular rule-supported aspect is not there.  Esentialy I'm asking (not so clearly) a design question- was there a practical reason for leaving this out/never intending it in the first place?  And if  it was something you considered then ditched, why?  Does it make the system unstable during play?  Create a headache to keep track of?  Or is it simply a complication best ignored until it actualy comes up during play...
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2002, 08:27:56 AM »

Um. The real answer is, "Balancing benefits and limitations is a destructive element of game design." The aspect you are asking for (in retrospect) is not a desirable aspect.

Robin Laws put it very nicely in Feng Shui, for one of the few elements that I like about that game: any character's attributes or abilities may be reduced as the player sees fit. In doing so, no advantage is gained for other points or aspects of that character.

Speaking as a long-time player of Champions and GURPS, which in combination defined and refined the "benefits-limits" paradigm of character design in role-playing, I have concluded that these two games were Very Wrong and that Robin, in Feng Shui, is right.

Other games have provided a way of looking at it that solves the problem. The functional method, I think, is for descriptors to carry an open-ended, multivariate range of ways to have an impact on the game, some negative, some positive. Furthermore, descriptors do not have to be equivalent in their positive/negative potential. A Sorcerer character like Harry Scarborough, from the main book, has "FBI agent" as his Cover. This is a good thing; it is also a bad thing. "Arrogant" as a Will descriptor is a good thing; it is also a bad thing. Everything about a Sorcerer character is like this - the "value" of a descriptor is a strict function of immediate context (much of which has been provided by the player in the Kicker, or gets developed out of the Kicker during play).

So your question, "Why didn't you," becomes to me, "Why the hell would anyone?" Please don't answer using the standard "balance" argument; it's a circle: you balance to be balanced. I've written and playtested many, many games that Forge folks have never seen. Almost all of them were direct children of Champions, and they all used "one benefit costs one limitation" in some fashion. Eventually, after reading Over the Edge, I went, "Oh!" and realized that this method was fundamentally flawed given my design goals.

The design you are seeing in Sorcerer is entirely integrated with my goals, with no exceptions. The concept of rules "supporting" the existence and extent of limiting factors on the characters (player, NPC, whatever) is completely absent, except for the Flaw - which is a protagonist-thing, entirely metagame in its purpose. The philosophy is this: provide rules to play the game without any "balancing" factors, beyond the power-struggle issue which is the core of the game. Any limits, constraints, or parameters that people want in addition to that should be customized in, exactly in the same sense that Robin presented in Feng Shui.

You said it yourself: it's a Gamist element. It's an element of strategic management of Currency, and I can't imagine why it would seem appropriate in any aspect of Sorcerer. If I could venture a guess ... this has a lot to do with the fact that you like to imagine settings and detailed instances of stories, but don't actually play much ... thus the more a game permits you to imagine "how it'll go," the better - but Sorcerer won't let you do that. Over and over, it says, "Quit daydreaming and start playing."

Best,
Ron

P.S. I apologize for bein' kind of harsh on you in this post, especially since you are second to none in your support and enthusiasm for the game. The hope is to provide a bit of a kick-start to move from "Wouldn't it be cool if ..." to "It was fuckin' cool when we ..."
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Bailywolf
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Posts: 729


« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2002, 08:58:52 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
.

You said it yourself: it's a Gamist element. It's an element of strategic management of Currency, and I can't imagine why it would seem appropriate in any aspect of Sorcerer. If I could venture a guess ... this has a lot to do with the fact that you like to imagine settings and detailed instances of stories, but don't actually play much ... thus the more a game permits you to imagine "how it'll go," the better - but Sorcerer won't let you do that. Over and over, it says, "Quit daydreaming and start playing."

Best,
Ron

P.S. I apologize for bein' kind of harsh on you in this post, especially since you are second to none in your support and enthusiasm for the game. The hope is to provide a bit of a kick-start to move from "Wouldn't it be cool if ..." to "It was fuckin' cool when we ..."



You pretty much hammered the nail flush with this one.  My semi-regular group is..er...how to put this...entirely conventional in its gaming preferences.  Champs & D&D.  If I tried to convince one of this crew to play the one-legged wizard, I'd get blank stares, followed by "Hmmm...I might, If I got (insert rule-supported payoff here)".  So basicly, I can't get anyone to bite when I throw out Sorcerer (what?  Only three stats?)...Amber (what, no dice?)...Over the Edge (what, even less stats than Sorcerer?)...hell, anything that doesn't involve point-squeezing, piles of different kinds of dice, or levels is too wacked out for them to take seriously.  I have fun, but I don't much strech myself as a gamer or GM (one of the crew still buys all the new Rifts stuff... best left unsaid).

Hince the barage of "damn it would be cool if." style posts I tend to, and the menagerie of Demons and Sorcerers I've got scribbled all over the place.  

And no worries about sounding harsh.  You answered my question...  Now if I can come up with some way of packaging Sorcerer to overcome my groups prejudices and get them into it before they realize they've slid down the axis into Narrative territory.  They're bright guys...I think they would dig it if they would give it a fair shot.  

The advanced combat guidelines from Sorcerer and Sword are attractive...and I might swipe a page from Donjon Krawl... allowing elements of setting and story to be won... hmmm...they might just bite that one.  

Anyway, thanks Ron.
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leomknight
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« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2002, 01:18:34 PM »

I found "Sorcerer's Soul" at Dream Wizards in Rockville, and put "..and Sword" on order. Woo-hoo! Great ideas, Ron, and this forum is terrific.

Bailywolf,
Seems like you're right on track. I'd been thinking along the same lines, but I love the way you handle spells as unbound, one shot demons. Beats my ideas, and doesn't mess with the rules. Love the revenge spell. "I owe you pain!" Zap! A sneaky idea: if a spell is unbound, it could linger depending on its power. I'm thinking of Willow's "my will be done" spell, where everything she said came true. Since demons are so literal minded (when it suits them) something unbound could cause all sorts of fun.

You're also right on with how to get you players interested. My group has been gaming since the D&D white box days. They seemed really interested in the feats in the new D20 games. Of course, Sorcerer does the same thing with so much less fuss. The rule that grants bonus dice for tactics or roleplaying would allow players to try any feat or special move from any other game, or movie, or TV show, and maybe get a bonus for it.

By the way, Ron, that's my favorite rule in the game. I think most good referees do this anyway, but it's nice to see it as an official rule. Too many refs quash their player's creativity by saying, "You can't do that. It's not in the rules." Most of my worst experiences as a player or ref have stemmed from that approach, and most of my best were from allowing and being allowed the freedom to try something fun. Thanks for the great ideas.
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