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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 87 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: [Sorcerer] Prep, Swedish 19th century folklore  (Read 4013 times)
Jonas Ferry
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« on: August 10, 2006, 12:15:10 AM »

Next weekend I'm playing Sorcerer with three friends, and now I'm preparing for the character creation session. I have suggested three different settings in an email, and the players were most interested in the 19th century setting.

All three settings, which is not the right word since they were described most briefly and more in terms of film inspirations, were set in Sweden. I want to do a Swedish game for two reasons: first I like the local color and second I want to avoid the "American action-movie syndrome". I want to make things more real and relevant by keeping it closer to home.

The game will take place in and around a small village somewhere in the Swedish countryside. Deep forests, black lakes, hidden meetings in light summer nights, with a village of farmers and woodsmen. The demons will be creatures from Swedish folklore, and I want to use real mythological creatures as a basis for the demons. See the Wikipedia article on Scandinavian folklore for an overview. I'll link the creatures to Wikipedia articles, so you know what I'm talking about.

A demon could be a troll, a skogsrå (huldra), a tomte, a mara or Näcken (the Nix), or any other creature from folklore. I have a couple of ideas for them. They could either be Inconspicuous, since they are mostly invisible to humans, or Passers with suitable telltales. A skogsrå, for example, looks like a beautiful female that lures people into the forest to be lost, but her back looks like a rotten tree. That sounds like an obvious telltale for a Passer. I don't think Parasites or Possessors would be very common, except for the possessor mara. Artifacts are not hard to imagine – magical objects that both helps and hinders.

Another option is to use the Black Forest from Sorcerer & Sword as an inspiration, as it seems like a quite close fit. In that case, most demons wouldn't be summoned or banished as they're already here. They live in the forest or in the lake, but don't show themselves to normal people. People would be superstitious, but they wouldn't really believe that anyone could contact the Nix and get favors from him. Lore would obviously be the knowledge of how to do exactly that.

So what's Humanity in this setting? Humanity is "Involvement in the community", and demons will consciously or by nature separate the sorcerer from the community of the village. Humanity gains could come from securing ties to the community by marriage, by getting an official position of responsibility or by taking part in community events. Humanity checks would come from severing the ties to the community by making enemies, doing unpopular things, avoiding community events like ditch diggings or barn dances. Sorcery would require spending time alone in nature, away from people, or provoking disorder in the village. Hopefully this will lead to conflicts between the Self and the Kin plus Community circles in the diagram in Sex and Sorcery.

In one way I'm introducing a value judgment that Kin plus Community is good, and that focusing on Self is bad, and I don't think that's the point of the diagram. On the other hand it seems perfectly suitable to have this conflict, with Humanity 0 meaning that the sorcerer leaves the community and either wanders the "human" forests until he dies, or joins the demons as a mythological creature of his own.

I would be happy for comments or questions.

- Jonas
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One Can Have Her, film noir roleplaying in black and white.

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