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Author Topic: [Sorcerer] Soulseller - The Game I'd Run (or the Supplement I'd Write?)  (Read 3030 times)
iago
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« on: August 16, 2006, 03:55:20 PM »

This might be an old idea, or it might be a new one.  If it's old, tell me! I'd love to go digest said old idea and make babies with it.  If it's new, tell me!  I'd like to know if as a new idea it has legs, or if it sounds more like an amusing one-off.

Soulseller
A Game About Making a Difference

The 'cover' image for this game of Sorcerer would be a little something like this: The room is not well lit.  On the wall is a poster.  It's a little old; its edges are a bit mussed and folded and torn.  A man in a suit is on the poster -- hale, hearty, smiling, coiffed.  Waving at an audience.  Over his head is ELECT JOHN ROBBINS and underneath the picture PRESIDENT 2008. 

A table is in front of this poster.  A man, half-conscious, is slumped upon it, one hand loosely gripping a glass of hard liquor.  Another glass, a wine glass, has tipped, and is spilling deep red wine across the papers on the table, dribbling onto the floor.  An ashtray is overfull with still-smoldering cigarette butts.  A gun lies on the table, temptingly close to his non-drinking hand.

The man at the table is the man on the poster.  He's a bit older now, with dark circles under his eyes.  Stubble.  And here's the kicker: someone's put a post-it note on the poster, before the word 'ELECT'. 

The post-it reads, in bold black marker, 'RE-'.

What is Humanity?

Humanity is idealism.  It's the good reasons why you got into politics in the first place.  It's that cause that you just can't let die.  It's a reason to make some unsavory deals.  You use your Humanity to pursue those good reasons and causes in the face of people and things that would ask otherwise of you.

What are Demons?

Demons are special interest groups, shadowy power-brokers, and necessary evils of doing business in a political world.  They are dealmakers, heartbrakers, lifetakers. They are, in other words, compromises -- compromises that carry debt. Usually unrepayable debt.

What is Lore?

Lore is political acumen and experience.  Extending the idea of demons, Lore is the ability to compromise -- moreover, to see where the most effective compromises can be made.  Who to talk to.  What palms to grease.

What are the Rituals?

Back-room deals.  Closed-door meetings.  Cloak-and-dagger phonecalls.  Fearmongering.  Shadowy handshakes.  Gambits involving blackmail; maybe even murder.  Kissing babies.  Reorganizing departments under Homeland Security.  Raising the terror threat level to orange.  The State of the Union address.

...

So.  Seen it, done it?  Or am I onto something newish?
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iago
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« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2006, 04:00:57 PM »

Cross-posted at my livejournal.  Comment here or there, as suits you: http://drivingblind.livejournal.com/168653.html
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2006, 05:50:52 AM »

Hi Fred!

To make me happy, how 'bout posting one little point of inquiry that's different here from what's at your LiveJournal. I'd like this to be a unique discussion with points of its own, not a control/experimental mirror of some other one.

As for the material, it's neat. I like the whole Premise and it resonates with me as a frustrated American probably as much as you might imagine. I've seen a number of suggestions about abstracting demons into non-individual entities with no metaphysics, notably corporations and similar ... but you know, I really think you'd do best to have demons.

That's not just because I prefer to see people play the game as written. It's because the content (demons as individual, active entities, which do not exist) is extremely important. It allows people to put issues they care about into play without really admitting it. It also allows outcomes regarding these issues to be freed up for decisions during play, not moral judgments prior to play.

How's that sound?

Best, Ron
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iago
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« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2006, 06:11:21 AM »

To make me happy, how 'bout posting one little point of inquiry that's different here from what's at your LiveJournal. I'd like this to be a unique discussion with points of its own, not a control/experimental mirror of some other one.

Not a problem; I'll evolve towards that shortly (below).  (Allow me to make the case, however, that my LJ respondants aren't liable to be able to address the opening question -- whether or not this is a Been There, Done That idea -- much at all.  The different audiences themselves guarantee different conversation.  But! I'll take a swing at your directive shortly.)

Quote
As for the material, it's neat. I like the whole Premise and it resonates with me as a frustrated American probably as much as you might imagine. I've seen a number of suggestions about abstracting demons into non-individual entities with no metaphysics, notably corporations and similar ... but you know, I really think you'd do best to have demons.

That's not just because I prefer to see people play the game as written. It's because the content (demons as individual, active entities, which do not exist) is extremely important. It allows people to put issues they care about into play without really admitting it. It also allows outcomes regarding these issues to be freed up for decisions during play, not moral judgments prior to play.

That gets me some clarity on part of the whole set-up I was going for.  My friend Rob Donoghue had the idea, a while back, of doing a sort of Illuminati-verse version of the West Wing, called the South Wing (a wing that doesn't exist), which had all the cadence of a WW TV show, but was dealing with the supernatural, conspiratorial, etc.  One potential player who's seen my idea suggested tossing the two together in a blender, and I have to agree with him that it's a reasonably good idea. 

Taken as an approach to multiple Sorcerer games rather than as an individual Sorcerer game, it looks pretty clear to me that that indicates the main dial to be tweaked: going anywhere from demons as metaphor (it's a lot like the present day politics, and the forces that work on the politicians are demon-like, but not demons) to demons as very non-abstract power brokers, forces behind special interest groups, etcetera.  I have to admit that as much as my idea was centered on the former, at least in its pitch, the latter calls to me more strongly -- largely for the reasons you're pointing at.

I want to keep an awareness of that dial active in the discussion of the game, so I'm going to be contemplating thought-paths that sit at both ends of that continuum when answering some deeper questions about it.  And questions that now blossom in my brain include:

* Given the focus of this premise, are there any demonic abilities that should be especially on the table, or especially off the table?  (I suspect this is less relevant in the demons-are-actually-demons end of things, but if you even pull a little away from that end, the "metaphorical pressure" suggests, to me, that some things are less "believable" ... I'm thinking about things like, all demons are passers, or telltales are less transfigurations than they are motifs, etc.)

* What sorts of changes (of perspective) occur with a Sorcerer game when the focus of play is strongly or exclusively on the political arena?  For example, does new or special attention need to be paid to how the Sorcerers of the game sway the opinions of millions? What sorts of Needs are more appropriate to a political demon than a "traditional" one?

(Thus, my general take on the difference between the LJ chat and this one; on LJ, it's sort of an acid-test, does-this-idea-fly thing; here, we can pop the hood, get our hands in there, and get greasy with the particulars.)
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Dav
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« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2006, 06:40:28 AM »

Just a quick note, and not necessarily an extremely useful one, but one that managed to swing through my do-not-post filter:

I was picturing your demons more as Possessing demons that are decentralized into many hosts at once.  Thus, your demons are idealism (i.e. Warbird mentality in the vein of Curtis LeMay and such) and your humanity is more on the vein of compassionate awareness (as, for me, idealism is always a bad idea).  I would think that would be rather kickass.  Some sort of memeotype possessing demon with an inescapable nihilistic need and sadistic want that results in this infectious display of such wonderful policies such as M.A.D. and what-not.


Dav
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iago
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« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2006, 08:41:27 AM »

I was picturing your demons more as Possessing demons that are decentralized into many hosts at once.  Thus, your demons are idealism (i.e. Warbird mentality in the vein of Curtis LeMay and such) and your humanity is more on the vein of compassionate awareness (as, for me, idealism is always a bad idea).  I would think that would be rather kickass.  Some sort of memeotype possessing demon with an inescapable nihilistic need and sadistic want that results in this infectious display of such wonderful policies such as M.A.D. and what-not.

Definitely a possible direction.  I do sort of like the idea of demons as (essentially) corrupted ideals flitting from head to head within a particular cause, movement, or organization.  This lets them be specific and definitely demonic, but keeps them in a sort of incorporeal space that I find appealing.

Whether humanity sits on the 'compassion' or 'idealism' end of things seems to me to be an individual player choice based in the descriptor they choose for their Humanity score.  Yes?
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Dav
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« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2006, 08:47:21 AM »

Sounds good to me.
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