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Author Topic: [Sorcerer] no-pain prep: tell me how!  (Read 7507 times)
Moreno R.
Member

Posts: 389


« on: March 01, 2007, 06:55:06 AM »

Hello!

Sorry for my English, it's not my native language (I'm Italian)

I already asked some question in this forum about a "Dictionary of Mu" sorcerer game that I'm going to GM's . This time the kind of help I am searching is more general, so I think it's better if I explain the situation in more details.

I play weekly in a "normal" gaming group, in which I am one of 3 GMs (six players in total,  2 men and 4 women). The three GMs all read (more or less frequently) the Forge, and we like to try new games (and talk theory) all the time. The other 3 players are instead totally disinterested in theory, dislike the changes in the games we play and are more into "traditional" gaming.  It's not that they don't want to try new games, but there's a resistance to them, and every time a new game don't deliver a lot of "fun" right there, right now, it become difficult to convince them to try others, instead of returning to the "old fun games where we kill monsters and take their stuff" (not really, they are not really putting it like that. But if FEELS like that sometimes). So we can't really afford to play very experimental games with them (for example, we got very good results with DitV, and for a while with PTA, but not so good with MLwM, that I think they didn't consider a "true game"), and even with more "traditional" games we need to try them elsewhere to avoid mistakes that could ruin the first impression with the other players.

So we three began to organize a monthly "gaming day" with 2 friends who live too far to attend a weekly game, to try games we think are unsuited to our regular group, or that we would like to try before.

One of the games we tried (two times already) in a "gaming day" was Sorcerer. The GM was, both times, one of our friends from afar, the only one with a little experience with the game, having played it a little with HIS gaming group. The first time was in the setting they used in their game (a version of today's Italy with demons behind the curtain), and the second time was, a couple of weeks ago, in the "Dictionary of Mu" setting.

Both time the rules were heavily drifted. The first time we played with their "home rules", the ones they used in their games. The second we all wanted to try with the "real rules" but (as I wrote in a previous post) we had a lot of difficulties FINDING them in the books, and at the end we gave in and got to the end of the session with a lot of "GM's call" decision, almost ruleless. [and, loooking back after re-reading the rules another time, we drifted them again from the beginning withoit noticing]

Now, after these two times, the group has not a lot of faith in the rules. (the GM hadn't any from the beginning, and this compounded the problem. Talking about the rules before playing, he did consider the game "unplayable as written" from the beginning, and did try to play it by-the-book only because we asked him. For a bit of context, this GM is a bit a forge-skeptic. He like very much to try new games - he was the first one to GM a lot of indie games in gaming conventions in Italy, for example, games like DitV (I learned that game existed in that convention, at his table), The Mountain Witch, Nobilis (1st edition), The Riddle of Steel, etc. - but at the same time he dislike fortune in the middle and conflict resolution, and I discussed with him for a long time narrative games without really convincing him that they really existed...)

I think, instead, that we didn't really gave the game a chance. I see many things, in the rules, in the books, in the actual-play write-ups, that I want to try, and didn't get to in the game.  But at the end I have to face the simple fact that, if I want to try the system I want, in the manner that I want, and with the rules that I want, I have to be the GM.

And there is the problem. Because, you see, I am the poster child for "GM's burnout". More like "the ashes that remain after the twenty-years burnout of a GM in burnout" to be exact.

I began to game in 1986, with a friends of mine as the GM. The game was, obviously, D&D (the only rpg sold in Italy at the time). We "upgraded" in a few weeks to play AD&D (from the American books) in his regular gaming group who played AD&D from the '70 (they began with an American barman as the gm) and needed more players. That group was a perfect example of everything that can become dysfunctional at a gaming group:  power-playing, rules-lawyering, power-mongering between the players, no playing in-character EVER, and more. After less than a year, half of the gaming group (me included) did breakup to play "real AD&D".

The problem was that I was the only one of them that could read English. So I was the only one that could read the AD&D manuals (or any other rpg manual), and the only one who could be the GM in the new group. (even if I DIDN'T WANT TO. I always preferred to be a player than a GM) A group of people already set in a "AD&D is the only one true rpg" mindset from before I began to play with them.

Thinking about it now, I was at fault, too.  Without any "real-life" example of a good GM, I trusted the gaming manual. The AD&D 2nd edition gaming manual. You know what it mean: "punish the player" and all that.

So, imagine this. A group of people who really had a lot rubbish ideas about rpgs, "led" by someone who don't want to be the GM, but has to, that hasn't the first idea to what "a good gm" do, and try to find the answer in books like "The DM and catacomb guide".... The result, predictably, was less and less fun. With the gaming group torn between the people that like wanted to change SOMETHING, to try to return to having more fun, and the people who wanted to return to the "fun of old D&D" (meaning, having me design a lot of dungeon full of monster and treasures) without giving any weight to the fact that I was dead tired of doing that.

This "tug of war" between me (trying game system after game system, from Runequest to Ars Magica to Harmaster, and being forced every time to ruturn to AD&D) and the "moaning players" (who sabotaged every attempt to turn away from D&D) lasted, incredibly, more than 16 years (the were all friends, "we must keep the group going", and all that...), in which I think I didn't have any fun GMing for the last...   15,5 years or so. (thank god for the game conventions, where I could go by myself to play with other people...)

At the end, the gaming group crashed at last (taking all the friendship with it, when I said "I will never play with you again" to some people ten years too late), I took ONLY the 3 girls of the group (it was not a sexual choice, they were simply the only good players I had) and began to play with other friends (the others 2 GM), in the group I play now. A group that I founded with 2 simple (nonnegotiable) requests: (1) we will NEVER play D&D again, and (2) I will NOT be the GM.

I relented on the 2nd condition when I discovered the Joy of No-Prep Games!  MLWM,  DitV (half an hour to compile a city for me IS no prep...), etc.  I enjoy PLAYING the NPCs (and seeing the rules "click"), it's the preparation that I can't stand.

Some time ago I even tried to be the GM for a TSoY game, thinking that "after all this time, maybe I can do it again..." BIG mistake.  The game crashed, I disliked so much prepping again that in a month I did only enough to last an hour of play, and it was enough to suck any fun from playing the game for me.

So, after all this, I am stuck with being the GM with Sorcerer. A game that has many virtues, but "no need to prep" is NOT one of them. And I am more than a little scared to have the fun of playing it sucked dry by the "monster of prepping time".

So, what I am asking? I am asking for every dirty trick you know that can make Sorcerer "low-prep" WITHOUT losing the things that make the system "sing", that would be usable in the "Dictionary of Mu" setting  Something like this page for DitV (that saved me A LOT of prep time). Relationship maps, lists of "Mu-ready" names, a "bang generator", "tricks" to do these thing in less time, anything!

Thanks!






.



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Ciao,
Moreno.

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
Eric J-D
Member

Posts: 187


« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2007, 05:32:58 PM »

Hi Moreno,


I am no expert when it comes to prepping for Sorcerer, so take everything I say here with a grain of salt.  (And to the folks who are experts, please feel free to jump in and call bullshit on anything I say that strikes you as wrong).


The short answer to your request is this (and you're not going to like it): there really are no shortcuts to Sorcerer.  No one can point you to a bang generator, or something equally time-saving for the following reason:  Sorcerer is one of those games where you have to take what the players give you in advance of play and build on it.


Now, there are some pretty clear steps that you can go through in order to give you and your group a solid shot at having fun in play, but there are no guarantees anyone can give you and no real shortcuts that I know of.

So what do you do:

1. Get your group together and talk to them about the Premise of the game.  Explain that they'll all be playing sorcerers, that you play their demons, that each of them is responsible for building the kind of character that they would like to see in a movie/read in a book, and that each of them has to come up with something that has just happened to them that they (the players) are interested in resolving through play (this is the Kicker).  So, they've got to be willing to do some heavy lifting if the game is to be a success.

2. Talk about the kind of setting you have in mind, and be sure to get their input. You want them to make it something that they are invested in, so you've got to be willing to share it. Let them contribute to making it theirs as well as yours.

3. Have them make characters together. Stress the fact that their characters need to be people whose story (which will be created in play not prior to play) they (the players) care about. Get them to make the characters together so that they think hard about making their characters appealing not just to themselves but to the other people at the table. The Kicker is a very important part of character creation, so be sure you are familiar with that section of the book. Make sure to stress that these characters are people, not lame, stereotypical adventuring loners without any ties to anyone or anything.  This is important: the stuff that they declare is important to their characters (people, etc.) are the things that you (as GM) will eventually need to come to care about too.  Don't let them get the impression that all of their characters need to be tied to each other and inseparable---Sorcerer doesn't need the "we're a party of adventurers" idea to work, in fact you should probably discard that idea altogether.

4. Okay, so once they've got  their characters, you'll need to make demons.  The players need to think a bit about why they are sorcerers (i.e. why have they summoned demons?) What did they want that led them to bring That Which Does Not Belong Here into their present circumstances?  What do they still want?


5.  Now, here's the big step. You've got their characters, their demons, their Kickers, the people and things who are meaningful to them, etc.  Now you stop. You take that stuff, and you spend some time (maybe a couple of days, maybe a week) in order to let it percolate in your head.  You think about the people who are important to the players' characters, their Kickers, and you allow your mind to simply work on how this stuff could all come crashing together.  Now, you should also read over the great stuff Ron has written about using relationship maps as play prep in Sorcerer's Soul.  This is basically a relationship tree of a completely different set of people and their own problems, usually stolen from great sources like Raymond Chandler or Ross MacDonald and reworked to fit your setting and genre. Note: This is NOT the adventure, or any such thing. This is simply a fucked up situation that comes breaking into the lives of the players and their own problems.  The players' problems and how they deal with them are the Story, but how they deal with the problems of these other folks throws light on  their Story.  I hope that's clear.



As you can see, this takes time and prep.  The Kickers are obviously the Bang that kicks off a whole host of other Bangs that will eventually move play toward resolving the Kicker, but you have to have the players create characters before you can even think of Bangs.  Why?  Because Bangs aren't generic--they are player-specific.  That's why there is no Bang generator for Sorcerer. It is designedly impossible.



I know that probably isn't what you were hoping for. I'm sorry for that. Perhaps other folks have come up with magic solutions that I haven't.


Cheers,

Eric
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Eric J-D
Member

Posts: 187


« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2007, 07:13:50 PM »

D'oh (sound of head slap)



I just thought of one shortcut (of sorts).


Once the players have created their characters (following very carefully Ron's very clear and good advice in the book about how to do this), then post those characters (and whatever you can tell us about the setting) here.

Be sure to give all the details you can about the characters (Kickers, the characters' demons and their needs & desires, significant people to the characters, etc.)

In short, share your ideas for prep (Bangs and such) and see what folks have to say.  Ultimately, you and your group however will be the ultimate authorities on what works and what doesn't. People here can give you some ideas (like: "That Bang seems like it will force the player down a single path rather than presenting an interesting issue to which the player could respond in lots of cool ways") but actual play will be your real teacher.


Cheers,

Eric
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Judd
Member

Posts: 1641

Please call me Judd.


WWW
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2007, 11:38:48 PM »

Dictionary of Mu, page 140-141, titled How to Use This Book.

That is all I've got for ya.

There's a whole lot going on in your post that should probably be discussed but you asked for low prep and those pages explicitly say how to do just that.

Good luck.
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James_Nostack
Member

Posts: 642


« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2007, 06:06:28 AM »

I agree with everything Eric said, though I'm not an expert either. 

I suspect that Sorcerer works best with a Humanity definition you care very, very strongly about.  Just picking any particular word--"Honor," "Love"--at random, won't be as strong or as intense. 

1.  Make a list of some people you personally know and admire.
2.  Make a list of some people you personally know and despise.
3.  Make a list of some people you feel ambivalent about.

Figure out what's behind those value judgments.  That's your Humanity definition.  If you have time, go through some of Sorcerer's Soul and see whether the ideas in the first few chapters appeal to you more, now that you have a serious definition of Humanity.

Make sure your players are familiar with your source material.  If you're doing modern day Italy, make sure the players enjoy "modern occult" books/TV shows/movies.  If you're doing "Dictionary of Mu," make sure your players know and appreciate sword & sorcery stories and post-apocalypse movies.

When creating characters, make sure each player answers these questions:
A.  How did you discover this lore?
B.  Why did you make a deal with the devil?
C.  How has sorcery made your life worse?
D.  Why should anyone care about my character?  (If the answer is, "They shouldn't.  This is a dark, edgy world, and I'm a dark, edgy guy" then the character sucks and you gotta start over.  He'll make a good NPC though.)

I actually don't think you need an R-Map based on another novel.  Since you don't know whether your players will like this game at all, construct a brief R-Map from the NPC's listed on the Big X on the back of the character sheet.  (No need to involve everyone they list.  2 from each player is enough.)

Then figure out how your players' kickers interact with the R-Map.

Then--you're almost ready for your first session.  All you need are a handful of bangs.

Figure out a couple of important, yes-or-no questions that are implied by the kicker and the character concept.  (A good way to do this is to challenge parts of the concept.  Like, if the character is a homeless bum, the mayor for some reason offers to step down and put him in the mayor's office.)  A good bang has these qualities:

X.  It's immediate: you cannot ignore it safely. (i.e., doing nothing makes things worse.)
Y.  It's important to the story.
Z.  You as the GM don't really know what comes next.

(This last part is hard.  From my days of GM'ing traditional games, I always wanted to be prepared.  So when I ran Sorcerer, there were bangs, but I had a big story in mind, with a set-piece ending, etc. 
The game was a failure, because I kept trying to fit the players' actions into the "behind the scenes" story.  No!  Don't do that!  Having a secret plan up your sleeve is bad in this game.  Deliberately going in un-prepared is probably an extreme solution, but it's better than shoe-horning everything in.)

Good luck!  Tell us how it goes!
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Eric J-D
Member

Posts: 187


« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2007, 08:20:45 AM »

Moreno,

Listen to James.  That post of his contains pure gold, man, particularly the first point about making a Humanity definition that absolutely grabs all of you (the participants). The golden thread running through all the advice so far is this: there needs to major buy-in from everyone at the table about what this game will be about. They need to share a sense of excitement about and investment in the setting, the Premise, Humanity, the characters, their Kickers, all of it.


For the first session (when you create characters and such), you need to pitch them the setting and the general idea of the game (i.e. this is a game where we create stories about powerful people who control demons, discover what they will do to get what they want and how it will change them) with lots of enthusiasm, but then you need to let them make it theirs too.



Oh yeah, and getting to "Z" often requires breaking entrenched habits, but it is worth it. In fact, I'd say that if you can regularly get to "Z" you just might find that the difference between GMing and being a player isn't...well, all that different.


Cheers,

Eric
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Moreno R.
Member

Posts: 389


« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2007, 08:45:06 PM »

First, I would like to thanks everybody who answered for the help.  I will have to do a little cut-and-paste to answer everybody in one message, I hope it's all right.

Judd said:
Dictionary of Mu, page 140-141, titled How to Use This Book.

That is all I've got for ya.

There's a whole lot going on in your post that should probably be discussed but you asked for low prep and those pages explicitly say how to do just that.

If you want to discuss anything on my post, please do so, even in this thread. If the discussion become too long and distracting for the main topic we can always branch in another.

About your "how to use this book", we used that the last time (it was the second try with the sorcerer rule, the first one with sorcerer of Mu). The GM sent us by email the list of kickers to choose. But ALL the players had already read the book (we all ordered a copy each after seeing the reviews and previews on line. Everybody fell in love with the setting and wanted to play in it at the first chance), so what happened was that everybody choose the character, not the kicker. And in play we pretty much ignored our kickers.

At the end, we had fun playing, but I feel that we didn't engage the setting. We celebrated it, as a very scenic background, playing a very "cinematic" race to reach a lost city. But it was not "thematic playing", it was pretty much sim.

The sense that we could do much more with the setting, and a sense of dissatisfaction with the rules we used, were shared by pretty much everybody at the table. So when I proposed to play it again, but with me as the GM, to try the "real sorcerer rules", everybody agreed.  But make no mistake, what is making them try again, the thing that is getting the players buy-in, is the setting. They accepted to try again another time Sorcerer to play in Mu again, and hopefully get more "inside" the setting,

Now I am answering Eric and James, too: I can't (and don't want to) choose another setting, with another humanity definition and other demons: I would lose the first reason they are coming back to try again.  I believe that using the real sorcerer rules, I can get MORE from Mu, and at the same time, show them that these rule work. But I must do this in Mu.

So, I have to work with "humanity"="hope". But,returning to Eric's point:
there needs to major buy-in from everyone at the table about what this game will be about. They need to share a sense of excitement about and investment in the setting, the Premise, Humanity, the characters, their Kickers, all of it.
I am a little worried about this definition of humanity.  The example of humanity loss (or gain) in the Dictionary of Mu book are for big events, that would change the setting. Now, I read the DelRosso Law, but I don't think that I can make the players "kick the setting in the teeth". They like it too much. Oh, I can (and I will) try. Maybe with some success. But not enough, I think, to make them do enough humanity rolls. Not in a single session (even if all-day long). I need a better handle on thing that could lead to humanity rolls on a more PERSONAL level. And, at the same time, I need to make "hope" a more personal thing for the player and the character.

I already planned to use half of the next "gaming day" to make them do the characters and fill the back of the sheets with npcs I could use [I asked them to play in Mu not in the next gaming day, but in the following one, playing a shorter game - someone proposed "Carry" - next time, and using the rest of the day to make the characters, giving me a full month to prep the game], but the list of questions posted by James gave me some other idea to use. So, this it that I think I will do:

At the end of the next "gaming day":
1) They will create the characters, or choose them from the Dictionary of Mu. In any case, I will ask them to create new kickers, that they will care about, and don't use the one in the book.
2) I will ask them, for every characters, the question listed by James, and for every answer that use some npcs, I will ask them to write the name on the back of the character sheet and give me more information about them, who they are, what they do, etc
3) I will ask them to explain HOW the rituals they did to contact, summon and bind the demons could hurt "hope" in themselves (by the nature of the demon or the nature of the rituals) and use the answers as a guideline on how to use humanity in a manner meaningful to the players.

Maybe I could even ask them to write kickers that center about "hope": do you think it could be useful, or it's overkill?

I like the idea proposed by James, to link a couple of NPC in the back of every sheet to create a relationship map. To tell the truth, the relationship map was the part of the prep time that felt more like "work" to me, and being something of a "external" thing that has to be modified after being written to include the character and their kickers, I still don't understand why I couldn't modify a pre-made relationship map. (the way Ron explain how to do them in "Sorcerer's Soul" feel much labor-intensive to me. But maybe it's my fear of prep-time talking now)

This would leave only the Bangs on the "to do" list.  It  shouldn't be an hassle, if I ask the right question to the players at the character's creation I should get SOME idea about what would "bang" them. But I confess that, after reading many times the Sorcerer book and all the supplements, I am still a little unsure about "driving with bangs".   Oh, I understand (or, at least, I think I understand) the concept. But I saw very little practical examples of this. There is some thread that explain how to do this, in practice, with some good example? (i am reading some actual play from the site but there is really a lot to read, and it's difficult to find the right threads...)

What do you think about this? There's something that I missed? Something that wouldn't work? Something that I could do to make it work?
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Ciao,
Moreno.

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
Eric J-D
Member

Posts: 187


« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2007, 09:04:42 PM »

Moreno,

I'll have to keep this brief, but I'll try to come back to your comments this weekend. 


For now, I want to point you to a set of threads that you will want to make your close companions. I've returned to these threads many times--they are pure gold.


These are the "Art-Deco Melodrama" threads where Ron basically shows you how he preps for play. Got a question about bangs: read these threads. Unsure about how you are going to create some sense of coherence given the different Kickers the players will be creating: read these threads. 


They are all available in the Actual Play section of the Sorcerer website, but for your convenience I've reposted them. In order they are:

1. http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=753.0

2. http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=770.0

3. http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=828.0

4. http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=876.0


Enjoy!

Eric
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James_Nostack
Member

Posts: 642


« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2007, 07:20:52 AM »

Moreno, when I first started visiting the Forge, and first started reading Sorcerer, I thought that Bangs were very mysterious.  They sounded interesting, but they also sounded a lot like what I was doing anyway.  "I can't have gotten this all by myself.  Ron's a smart guy, he published a book and everything.  So there must be some secret that I'm not seeing."  It drove me crazy.

There's no secret.  When you GM, there are "crisis scenes."  Or, possibly, cliff-hangers at the end of one session, to make everyone excited for the next one.  Those are (or could be) Bangs.  You've been doing it all along.  Figure out what makes an exciting crisis for these characters, and that's all.

Just make sure that you respect players' ways to solve the problem.  (In Sorcerer there are always at least two options: do the obvious thing, or summon a new demon custom-built to solve it.)  And make sure there are consequences if they choose to do nothing. 

In one important respect, Bangs are even simpler than "crisis scenes."  When I GM'd, I connected all my crisis scenes into a big flow chart.  Crisis 1 led to solutions A and B.  Solution A let to Crisis 2 (with solutions C and D), and Solution B led to Crisis 2' (with solutions C' and D'), and so on--until everything connected back into a Big Finale.

That's a lot of work, and that's not good Sorcerer GM'ing.  Don't bother listing all the consequences.  Just come up with a whole bunch of crisis scenes, preferably all kind of independent from each other.  Don't connect them into some Master Plot.  Use a bunch of your best Bangs in the opening session.  As each Bang resolves one way or the other (or gets ignored), it suggests new Bangs.  Improvise.  If you can't think of something, ask the players, "What do you want to achieve?  [Note: "what do you want to achieve" is very different than "what do you do next?"] Okay, you achieve it.  Now what?" and repeat until   you have an idea for a new crisis scene.  Use the time between sessions to invent new crisis scenes.   

It's far less prep than D&D, and even less prep than most traditional GM'ing.  (But you still have to do some prep.)

The key points to GM'ing Sorcerer--
* Make sure the players build great characters, not just adequate ones.
* Make sure you can really go wild with their demons (they're the best tools in your toolbox)
* Build a strong relationship map
* Come up with lots of Bangs (i.e., open-ended crisis scenes)
* Improvise, and don't be afraid to say "yes"
* Come up with more Bangs between sessions.
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Moreno R.
Member

Posts: 389


« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2007, 11:38:40 PM »

Hello!

I would like to thank again all the people who answered my questions. I didn't reply until now because I wanted to read the "art-deco melodrama" links before (good stuff... but scary too! What Ron call "low prep" is much more that I did even when I GM'd entire AD&D campaigns!), and after that I continued to read a lot of older post about relationship maps and sorcerer.

The long-term (we will play next month) problem that I am searching to solve is how to build a relationship map "in tune" with the setting (Dictionary of Mu). Sorcerer's Soul don't talk much about to adapt the relationship map concept to "sorcerer and sword" (and the way it teach to build relationship map it's useless to me anyway, I never read any of the literature used), and "Dictionary of Mu" is a setting that I think should have a somewhat different kind of relationship map... but anyway, I am still reading about this and maybe I will launch a new thread about it.  But if there is already a thread where this is discussed, please let me know.

(Talking about relationship maps, I found this blog post by Mo Turkington: Relationship Web Builder: I still think I will get better results linking the npc in the back of the player's sheets, but I think I will give this a try, too. Do you have any advice about its use?)

If I have a full month before playing, I have much less time until chargen. The next "gaming day" will be this sunday, we will play Nathan Paoletta's "Carry" and after the game I think I will have some time (two hours at most, I think) to do  together the player's characters for Dictionary of Mu.  As I said in my last post, I hope to get enough answers and ideas from the player to utilize for prepping the game. So I posted this to ask for a last round of advice about other things to ask to the players about their characters, or in general about the character generation. (I still don't know if they will choose to play new characters or some of the characters written in the Dictionary)

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Ciao,
Moreno.

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
Eric J-D
Member

Posts: 187


« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2007, 05:38:31 AM »

Welcome back, Moreno!  I hope the reading was fruitful.


Before I make a suggestion to you regarding relationship maps, let me quickly address something you said about the relationship map technique used in the Art-Deco Melodrama thread (and later in The Sorcerer's Soul).  You said:


Quote
The long-term problem I am searching to solve is how to build a relationship map "in tune" with the setting (Dictionary of Mu). Sorcerer's Soul don't talk much about to adapt the relationship map concept to "sorcerer and sword" (and the way it teach to build relationship map it's useless to me anyway, I never read any of the literature used), and "Dictionary of Mu" is a setting that I think should have a somewhat different kind of relationship map



Although I can't quarrel with one part of this statement (i.e. the fact that you don't read detective fiction), I think you might be missing an important point. A "sorcerer and sword" setting does not require a different relationship map from one derived from detective fiction.  The difference in setting is manifestly not that important here.  Not at all.  Ron makes a very good point to address this in the third of those threads ("Art-Deco Melodrama, part 2) when he says:


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As long as we are talking about relationship maps ONLY, they are infinitely adjustable. Money is money, fraud is fraud, murder is murder, property is property, suicide is suicide, marriage is marriage, infidelity is infidelity, parenting is parenting, and all attendant emotions are always the same.


That's all simply to say that you should not spend a lot of time trying to find the relationship map that seems "right" for a "sorcerer and sword" setting.  The ties of sex and blood and some basic problems going on in the back-story are all you need.  Remember that you are going to be taking this stuff and fitting it to the setting anyway, so things will change.  If it is a "sword and sorcery" setting, the disreputable but charismatic real-estate developer ripped from a piece of detective fiction can easily become the charismatic head of a new and expanding religious sect.  Easy as pie.



Okay, but what do you do if you aren't familiar with the detective genre?  Well, you'll need to either mine other useful sources for r-maps or come up with them and back-story elements on your own. I'd recommend theft from another source rather than invention.  Here's why: when someone spends time creating an r-map and back story on his/her own I think there is a greater temptation to lapse into the false and (for Sorcerer play) problematic assumption that play/story is about that stuff (i.e. backstory/the NPCs) than when one has stolen it from a source.  Now, I could be dead wrong about this, but it brings up the crucial point that the r-map/back story is not the point of play.  It is an element of play that facilitates the creation of the players' stories, nothing more.

With that out of the way, let's get back to your real issue: finding an appropriate source from which you can take an r-map.  I think there are several types of sources other than detective fiction that can work well, but I'll restrict myself to just one.  What about something like the revenge play?  Hamlet, especially if you retain the Fortinbras elements rather than dropping them as in many contemporary production, has a great r-map and back-story, easily customizable to the "sword and sorcery" genre and to Judd's Dictionary of Mu setting.

As I understand it, one of the big ideas running through the Mu setting is the issue of the past and how one deals with the shadow it throws over the present.  Hamlet is perfect for this. Old Hamlet killed Old Fortinbras and now young Fortinbras returns to avenge his father.  Old Hamlet reveals to his son that he was murdered by his own brother, and imposes on Hamlet the burden of revenge his murder. Etc. etc.  The past has palpable weight and presence here. Plus, there are great ties of sex and blood in the r-map.  Rip this thing off, customize it to your setting, sorcerize it, use the players' characters' relationships and kickers to alter it a bit (remember what Ron did to his initial r-map in the third of those threads), and then let it become the players' "chew toy."


Hope this helps!

Eric
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Moreno R.
Member

Posts: 389


« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2007, 09:16:30 PM »

Welcome back, Moreno!  I hope the reading was fruitful.

Very! But slow! I don't think I will be able to read even half of the total posts before the game. (and the time for the reading of old posts got cut even smaller by the new lumpley's forum...). But I got some ideas from them for playing Sorcerer even with my regular group, if this game go well

Quote
I'd recommend theft from another source rather than invention.  Here's why: when someone spends time creating an r-map and back story on his/her own I think there is a greater temptation to lapse into the false and (for Sorcerer play) problematic assumption that play/story is about that stuff (i.e. backstory/the NPCs) than when one has stolen it from a source. 

Yes, this is something I saw in many occasions in my older GMing.  I disliked so much to work for prepping something for play that these elements HAD to be used. I couldn't justify wasting all that work

Your advice about getting the relationship map from Hamlet was very useful. I can't use exactly that play because at least a couple of the players are reading this thread and they know Hamlet, but the reasons you cited gave me an idea about another book that could be used....

The "Carry" game (and the character generation for Dictionary of Mu after that) got postponed to next sunday, march 25, so if anybody has any other advice for chargen, there is still time (too time. After reading all these old thread I want to play right now!)
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Ciao,
Moreno.

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
James_Nostack
Member

Posts: 642


« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2007, 04:15:33 AM »

By the way, Moreno, you don't have to read all those threads, or do all that work.  Especially for the first session, which is usually just "setting up the chessboard" for later.  If you work too hard, or your expectations are too high, you're likely to feel frustrated.

Sorcerer isn't really a hard game to play, or run.  There are two things you just have to remember:

* It doesn't take a lot of work--just a different kind of work.  The Art Deco threads are so long, because Ron is explaining his style and mode of play to people who may have never done this before.  I bet for Ron, the Art Deco prep would have taken an hour at most.  It just looks complicated because he explained all his steps, including stuff that is mostly instinct.

* Nobody's going to get all the rules right the first time you play.  Don't panic about that.  It's not a big deal and will come in time.

Good luck!  Let us know how the game goes!
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--Stack
Moreno R.
Member

Posts: 389


« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2007, 09:44:31 AM »

Thanks, James, but reading these old thread is fun! It isn't work for me (sadly, it isn't even _paid_ work, so I can't do it all day or I will starve..)

Until now, all what I did was things I enjoy (reading about rpgs, talking about rpgs, thinking about what to do, etc.). And the fact that it wasn't necessary add to their "not-work" status and made it even more enjoyable.  I postponed every "work-like" bit of prep until after chargen, to keep this high amount of enthusiasm for the game (and reading old post and actual play is a big help in this. A lot of time I am thinking "I too want to play this!!").

The problem is that I don't know if I can keep this high enthusiasm when I will have to WORK for the game (It isn't a fatigue thing: there is something about _working_ (as in filling npc sheets, making props, charting places, etc.) for other's fun that really poison my enthusiasm. It derive from years of making all the work by himself with players who stood there doing nothing, I believe, and even now when I have much more proactive (and better) players that sensation didn't go away.

It's for this reason that I plan to work as much as I can at the table with the players (asking questions, making them write on the back of the character sheets, etc.). It's not only to save time. It's for avoiding the discomfort of working by himself alone, and the repulsion that comes with that.
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Ciao,
Moreno.

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
Eric J-D
Member

Posts: 187


« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2007, 10:36:52 AM »

Hey Moreno!


Glad to hear the reading has been a pleasure rather than a chore!  I share your feeling about those old threads too: when I first read the "Art-Deco Melodrama" threads I really wanted to play in that game. 


One last piece of advice (as much for me as for you): as Ron recently reminded me, as Sorcerer GM you are another player at the table. That means that play needs to be about your fun too. It may feel that you have a lot of work to do in advance (prepping an r-map and back-story, generating Bangs for each player, etc.)---although in practice this probably won't take quite as much work as you think---but you want to be sure that when you get together for that first session you relax and enjoy it. You have no idea how the players are going to respond to those first Bangs (their Kickers), so you'll want to stay loose and be prepared to abandon any Bangs that get mooted by a player's response. 


The fun thing about this form of play is that it gives you a chance to really be consistently surprised by the direction that the story takes since it unfolds as the players act (often in surprising ways) and you react to their choices.


Have fun and be sure to let us know how things go in Actual Play.
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