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How many modes of resolution in Sorcerer?

Started by James_Nostack, November 13, 2008, 01:31:47 AM

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I'm gearing up for our new game, and thought I'd ask a few really simple questions.  How many broad "types" of roll-worthy conflits are there in the Sorcerer rules?

By which I mean:

* Chapter 1 introduces the basic Sorcerer die mechanic.  My score is X vs. your score of Y.  I roll X dice, you roll Y dice, and we each place our rolls in descending order.  After removing the "leading ties," whoever has the highest roll wins, possibly using the margin of victory to influence narration.  The text's examples refer to "conflicts" of various kinds, including physical combat, sorcery, and social activity.

* Chapter 4 introduces the specific rituals of sorcery, which typically (not always) involve the Sorcerer's attributes vs. Demonic Power.  From the text, it seems like the ritual itself, as distinguished from any "helper" rolls, is decided with a single roll of the dice.  The margin of success or failure activates Sorcerer's currency, giving bonuses or penalties to a subsequent roll, but aside from the Binding strength this is seldom permanent.  (I might be forgetting other special cases where it would be permanent.)

* Chapter 5 introduces "Rules for Everything Else," specifically, Rules for Everything But Combat and Rules for Combat.  I'll discuss each separately.

* Rules for Everything But Combat appear to be structurally similar to the Rituals of Chapter 4.  Player identifies the relevant attribute; GM selects either the relevant attribute of the NPC or (where there is no NPC involved) decides on a suitable difficulty, usually 3 dice.  Aside from any "helper" rolls, everything appears to be decided with one throw of the dice.  Success or failure leads to short-term bonuses or penalties; IIRC there's no possibility for lasting damage here.

* Rules for Combat is a modified form of the basic procedure.  First, the throw of the dice represents not only performance, but speediness: so if you roll really well, you're going first in the round.  Second, whoever is the "direct object" of the first person to act must make a defense roll of some kind, possibly by aborting his or her action.  Most participants will have to roll dice two or more times each action: once to attempt to perform their actions, and potentially several other times to resist.  Success or failure can lead to both short-term and long-term penalties.

So my question is: somewhere, ages ago, I got the idea in my head that the Rules for Combat pretty much applied in any parallel conflict situation: not just crazy combat situations, but also really intense multi-person arguments or debates, where someone might refrain from making their own best arguments in order to prevent someone else from getting their way (i.e., aborting their action to defend).  I have no idea if this is right or not; it's just something I thought I picked up on the forums.

My questions:

1.  Do the Rules for Combat apply outside actual combat situations, as that term is commonly used in RPG's?  (I.e., my guy wants to wallop your guy.)
2.  If they do apply outside of combat, when do we use Rules for Combat, and Rules for Everything But Combat?
3.  If the Rules for Combat apply outside of combat situations, do lasting penalties still apply?  That is, if you lose an argument bad enough, does it mess you up for a long time?
4.  Is there a place for lasting penalties in Rules for Everything But Combat?
5.  Can a Demon unwillingly subject to a ritual, abort to defend?
6.  If I remember right, dice - particularly in the Rules for Everything But Combat - don't really decide anything in Sorcerer: they just end up resulting in enough cumulative penalties that anyone with sense should give up.  Is that right?


My take on the subject, keeping in mind that I'm only at about 70% confidence any time I sit down to play this game.

By the numbers, now...

1. I think you're broadly correct, in that the Combat section might be better titled 'Conflict,' since its for specific people opposing each other, and not the more general difficulty that the Everything But Combat set-up deals with.  It totally applies to heated debates and political maneuvering as much as punching.

2. Combat is used whenever one characters' actions are directly opposed by the efforts of another character.  So a punch/parry obviously qualifies, but so does trying to penetrate the security setup that another character programmed a month before.  Everything but combat applies when failure would be the result of a general 'difficulty,' if there's genuine and relevant concern about a characters' success in the situation, even in the absence of an active opponent.

3. 'Argument' is not a weapon, and so can't inflict lasting penalties... but if you have lasting penalties from being knifed earlier, you will debate less well.

4. Sure, it's harder to identify suspects while you're busy thinking about how much your testicles hurt.  Also, failing to climb the cliffs of insanity may well cause lasting injury.

5. Yes, absolutely.

6. Sort of.  I mean, if you roll to grab the enchanted gem and succeed, you now have the enchanted gem.  All sorts of important things can be *decided* by the rolls.  The big restriction is that at no point can you actually compel another character (except a Demon) to do anything, you can only make certain decisions less optimal.

-My real name is Jules

"Now that we know how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, how do we determine how many angels are dancing, at a given time, on the head of a given pin?"
"What if angels from another pin engaged them in melee combat?"

Ron Edwards

Hi there,

Everything Jules wrote is correct, but I'll try to answer in my own way - maybe it'll be useful to see it from different angles.

1. When two characters compete for something, or if one tries to get something and another tries to stop him, you roll and interpret just as in Chapter 1. These are effectively zero-sum situations; if A succeeds, then B must fail at competing with or blocking A.

Clarifier: sometimes inanimate and/or non-living thing things act as if they were characters in stories. When this is the case, treat them as A or B above. This is when you use the table of oppositional dice, as if you were were "subduing" the cliff you're climbing. However, in most cases, you'll find that this is unnecessary because often someone else's score is relevant after all.

In all such cases, the roll settles the immediate in-fiction concern, at the very least for that scene, and usually for good. The most obvious example is a race. Once the rolls are made and assessed, the fictional race is over. If you're dealing with a situation composed of distinct steps, say an election, then assigning different roles to meaningful steps is something to consider among the group.

2. When two characters are struggling in any way in such a fashion that both might succeed, or both might not succeed, or only one might, then use the so-called combat rules. Everyone rolls at once, order is set by high values, then, in that order, defensive rolls are considered and possibly result in aborted actions.

Clarifier: if, in the fiction, it is indeed a physical confrontation, then add in the damage tables, which also carries the implication of continuing the conflict into additional rounds. Otherwise, treat it as a one role per character situation and make sure to settle the immediate in-fiction concern(s) as in #1 above.

3. Sometimes actions that fit #1 are carried out in the middle of a mess of other characters whose actions fit #2. In that case, place the action into context by including it as another roll. Use the high value for ordering purposes and roll defensively against it when its turn comes.

Does that help?

Best, Ron