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Overt Sorcery

Started by Bailywolf, April 30, 2002, 05:12:36 PM

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Most implementations of Sorcerer share the common element of secrecy.  Whether by hook or by crook, sorcery, demons, and sorcerers do their thing in secret.  Even the nature of the Cover score- by definition, what is it you do which serves as a cover for your sorcerous activities.  

Now, what about Sorcerery right out there in the open.  Sorcery right up in everyone's face, breathing it's fetid breath across everyone's cheeks.  Sorcery on the 11:00 news.  Sorcery on our streets.  Our kids, hooked on sorcery by evil demon pushers.  Or perhaps, sorcery the respectable career a combiation lawyer and priest.

Anyone have any thoughts on this scheme?  The thematics of such a campaign could vary wildly with the circumstances which lead to common knowledge of sorcery.  On one hand (in 'To Cast a Deadly Spell' mode) Sorcery is just The Next Big Thing.  Like the Internet, it begins with a few dedicated hardcases scribbling away in their books of shadow and encanting with half-translated sumerian rituals...then it grows, blossoms, becomes comercialized, becomes the new comodity.  The Pentagram Economy takes off...any company with "Arcane" in its name is golden on the market...until some kind of market bust... then you have thousands of unemployed Spell Designers and Occult Engineers looking for work...

Or a world wobbling on the edge- The President of the US is assassinated by a floating jellyfish demon while addressing the legislature on national TV.  Occult civil war immediatly breaks out openly.  Demons suddenly don't give a crap about secrecy anymore..why?  Why?  for the love of God, why now?  Old rivalries taken to the streets.  Reality warped.  Neighborhoods destroyed or folded over into hell or swollowed by really Big demons.  National Guard troops called out to supress the rioting...but the rioters have no faces, the streets bleed, the crows...Jesus god make them stop! make them stop calling my name...I just want to go home...   But eventualy things settle down...the worst of the horrors are supressed...but nothing is the same again.  Sorcery is thrown out into the open, and those who practice it gradualy come out into the light.  Feared, hated, respected- sorcerers must deal with the social stigma they carry as well as the expectations that they are both responsable for the dark days and responsible for keeping them at bay.  A thankless, soul destroying position- alienation from your fellow humans behind you and a world of horrors and evil fucked up insane sorcerers in front of you. me ID the thematics inherent in an overt sorcery setting.  Help me come up with a good definition for Humanity.  

and Thanks all.

Joe Murphy (Broin)

This reminds me of a couple of different pieces of source material. I'll brainstorm a lot here:

Firstly, the Tharkhold realm in Torg has a couple of similarities. Various horrible technomagical beasties have come through a rift from a post-apocalyptic world and now trash LA. So you've got your nanotech zombies, rocket powered pterodactyls, electro-yeti, and so on.  

People have adapted somewhat. If you see some critter with red laser painters going through your garbage, lock your doors. Don't leave your car out of the garage, or a nanotech disassembler will eat it. Avoid gang territory, as the gangs might be cyber-enhanced undead. Life goes on.

This is a *loud* setting. In Sorceror terms, sorcery, the occult, demons and ghoulies are common enough that they're on the nightly news. You might get up in the morning to watch the Gremlin Index at the end of the weather report, or have traffic diverted to avoid a Kl'aaarthu demon on the bridge.

If Sorcery became overt in a world like this, it would be exploited in a  thousand different ways, and so it's tricky pinning down specifics.

You could play a combat heavy game with PCs playing members of an anti-sorcery SWAT team - Humanity would describe how decent and wholesome an operative was. You could take the route, with Humanity becoming, oh, Job Security or something. Perhaps Demonic Americans push for political representation, and Humanity becomes Political Integrity. I quite like that idea, actually. Aswell as the politicos' usual hangers on, bodguards and lackeys (a bunch of demons), you could abstract various Special Interest Groups as 'demons' themselves.

For a less overt setting, the Astro City comic describes a suburb called 'Shadow Hill'. That's the part of town where a lot of Eastern European immigrants have settled. The locals mark their territory with mystic wards, daub glyphs on their doors, hang a lot of garlic up, and so on. In one issue of the comic, the mysticism and superstition of Shadow Hill becomes a metaphor for a girl's difficulties in making a life for herself.

In this setting, it would be much easier to come up with a consistent mythos and method by which sorcerors employ sorcery. Perhaps sorcery is a devolved religious practice (lots of chanting from books, sacrificial lambs), and demons are the devolved angels of an older age. Humanity becomes a kind of 'karma' score, measuring how favored the character is by the universe.

You could also throw in a 'Fame' or 'Reputation' score, by which sorcerors rank each other. Perhaps Rank is known to ordinary people too. Thus, your Sorceror might have a lot of people knocking on his door, asking for help with gremlins, hereditary curses and their sorcery-dabbling son.

You could even add a system whereby the sorceror needs to balance the needs of local people with his own occult experimentation. Local people would become a demon with a Desire to run the sorceror out of town, which can be appeased by their Need for occult problem-solving.  

Random thought: Being a sorceror in this world could be thematically similar to being gay in the 1950s.


Joe Murphy (Broin)

According to a knowledgable flatmate, gay men were referred to as 'sensitive' in the 1930s and 40s, as in 'he's a bit sensitive'.

And Alan Moore uses that slang in 'V for Vendetta', where a character says 'there's a lot of sensitives in the media'.