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Author Topic: [Sorcerer] In Sorcery's Shadow - London, England 2009  (Read 3356 times)
The Magus
Member

Posts: 33


« on: March 15, 2009, 03:47:37 PM »

This is an actual play report for a game of Sorcerer. My friend Justin and I have been playing Sorcerer for two sessions now and have established a campaign that we intend to run throughout the year. It is our first time playing the game and we have some limited experience of playing narrative role-playing games, such as Cold City. We are the only two people playing - the rest of our gaming group focuses on board games and has a limited amount of time to play due to family and other commitments.

The members of our gaming group are in their late 30s and early 40s. The majority of us have experience with role-playing games most noticeably Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Runequest and Call of Cthulhu. One of the appeals of narrative role-playing games is that they require little preparation time, although a willingness to actively participate seems to make sessions run far more smoothly.

Justin and I met at university 20 years ago and did some gaming there. However, we lost touch and only re-established our gaming relationship a couple of years ago after meeting at a convention. After some attempts to recruit members of our gaming group we decided to go it alone and start role-playing together our arrangement is that we alternate GM and player, with the GM hosting. We are trying to spend one Saturday a month playing. Usually these sessions last for between six and eight hours.

We had one initial meeting to discuss ideas for campaign and decided a setting of modern day London England, where we both reside. However, the setting differed in that we wanted it to feel more like the England of the 1970s where fuel shortages, strikes and political incorrectness were more prevalent. One notable example that occurred in our most recent session was that an NPC was able to smoke in the pub, something that has not been possible for the last two years due to changes in legislation.

After discussing the world player characters would inhabit we created our characters. Justin's character was David Stanford, a business consultant with an object Demon that resided in a ring he had inherited. My character was Luca Esposito, an Italian former Catholic priest who had attempted to exorcise a Demon but ended up binding her. We both invested a great deal of time fleshing out their personal histories which I won't repeat here.

In our first session I played Luca. This was our first concerted attempt to play in a narrative style. One of the problems that we did not appreciate initially was moving from scene to scene. Often we would spend time discussing how the scenes were linked to such an extent that the links would often lasts a long time. I would be interested to hear the experience of other players. How long do scenes last? When a scene stops how explicit are the links made between scenes. For example, how much time should be spent explaining how did we get from A to B? In our second session we found a more healthy balance: Justin as the PC would state what he wanted from a scene. I would question it I felt further clarification was required. This seemed to work much better. We also experimented with the narrative style, using dream sequences and flashbacks on occasion.

I felt we did well in setting stakes in every scene with a dice roll determining narrative outcome. However, we did not focus on humanity rolls to a great extent and I'm curious to know from other players when they employed them? There was one scene in which Justin's PC humiliated an NPC. I was left unsure whether this was to do with the character's arrogance solely or whether a humanity roll should have been used as the bound Demon's desire was to humiliate people in positions of power.

We both put in a good deal of preparation when each of us took the role of GM. Some of this paid off very well and some of it we felt we could use for future sessions. However, some very good ideas and play came out of spontaneous scene framing with a view to setting up future conflicts. We also spent some time discussing how we could communicate better with one another in terms of getting what we wanted out of the game. We emphasised the need for the GM to be in the service of the players experience. I found myself is GM saying "he is your character, if you want that to happen then that's fine." That felt good for both of us and felt different from a minority of gaming sessions I have been involved in where petty arguments about rules and the physical placement of the character would occur. Nothing particularly contentious arose and the game felt good to play.

One problem I encountered was our setting. Setting something in a modern day version of your hometown is very practical on one level but required looking up certain things for a degree of consistency. For example, I found myself on Wikipedia looking for information on the pre-Buddhist Tibetan religion, Bon. I thought that the advantage of setting up in fantasy or alternate worlds would be that the players could invent all these things themselves and this would be potentially more exciting. In summing up at the end of our most recent session we thought that this campaign was an experiment with the system in order to gain a familiarity with it.

In summary I'm glad I've started role-playing again after nearly a 20 year break. Using a character's story as the central driving mechanism in the game is liberating for a player like me with little spare time. There is no endless pouring over supplements. Rather one can create the world one so wishes. I would be interested to hear how other people resolve situations with dice - how often in a scene are they used and how often in a play session are they used? Also how many scenes to people find themselves playing in, say a three hour session? And how much time is spent in the setup for the next scene and post-scene?

I wasn't sure whether to include what actually happened in our games if people want to read it.  However, I'd like some responses to my questions.  Many thanks.
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My name is Piers
Trevis Martin
Member

Posts: 499


« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2009, 11:32:31 PM »

Hi Magus,

For me the dice come out pretty often.  Whenever there is a conflict of interest between characters in the game the dice come out, which in my experience is a lot.  Want to persuade somone to do something they're not inclined to do?  Bam, dice. 

As far as scenes go, I tend to think very much like TV and movies. You know how the movies don't usually track much how people get from here to there, unless something dramatic happens along the way.   Next interesting thing, we're there.  It sounds like your second session is getting there.  Six to eight hours is a whopping long time to play in my experience, I don't have that kind of stamina (no real joke intended.)  If you guys are able to, awesome.

But I think your account is pretty interesting and I'd like to hear more about it.  So do you each have a backstory and NPC's all prepped out for the other?  Do the two characters stories 'touch' in any way, through NPC's or events, other than being in the same city and thematically?  Did you guys fill out the little grid on the back of the character sheet?  What is your humanity definition?  Are they different for each game?  What does Sorcery look like?  What were the kickers?
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The Magus
Member

Posts: 33


« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2009, 10:31:55 AM »

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My name is Piers
The Magus
Member

Posts: 33


« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2009, 10:42:21 AM »

Character:  Luca Esposito - Back story

Luca was born and brought up the youngest of five children in a small village in the Parco Nazionale di Cilento to the South East of Naples.  His family were devout Catholics and he grew up loving his surroundings and having a deep appreciation of nature as gods wonder work was hard to come by and so he joined the priesthood with a measure of ambivalence. His eldest brother, Paolo was also a priest. Luca was a devoted Catholic; he yearned to explore the wider world  but chose a life in the priesthood more out of duty to his family than through choice. 

He was a capable theology student and on completing his training at the seminary he was given his first post about 40 km from where he grew up he fitted into this way of life, its slow pace with its rhythms of the seasons: the occasional christening, marriage or funeral to perform as well as regular Mass at the church.

Things changed when he turned 30. An old man, Bruno Feruzzi, who lived in a few villages away died. He was known to be something of an eccentric recluse who rarely attended church and had little to do with his fellow villagers. He was visited by a young woman, Angelica, who took him local produce as he was not always able to care for himself. Angelica was recently married to Giulio Di Francesco but on death of Bruno a month later Angelica started to behave seriously out of character. She would demand sexual favours from Giulio with a regularity that shocked him and when this did not appease her she sought with other men. Giulio became enraged and  locked Angelica in a barn. Giulio asked Luca to help - Luca went in and saw Angelica and thought there might be a need for an exorcism. Previous medical intervention by the local doctor had proved fruitless.

Luca travelled overnight to see the Archbishop at Naples. The archbishop gave him permission to carry out an exorcism and pointed in the direction of some texts in the cathedral's collection. He found a book that seemed relevant although there was little in it referring to God. On meeting with Angelica he carried out a ritual that could loosely be translated as 'The Subjugation of the Devil through the Psyche-Soma-Ecstasis.' After reasing this he realised that this was a reference to sexual intercourse of an animalistic, abandoned nature. Luca was deeply shocked. He was torn between his desire to help Angelica and his vow of chastity as a priest. Angelica had been a childhood sweetheart and they had shared a kiss together.

He returned to her village to perform the ritual is described. He was left undisturbed in the barn and followed the ritual to the letter. He and Angelica passed out at the end of the ritual. Dawn came and Giulio entered the barn to find Luca and Angelica entwined naked.  Giulio became enraged and attacked Angelica. Luca woke to the sound of commotion and saw Giulio about to swing at Angelica with an axe. Angelica launched some sort of unnatural attack on him. Giulio was flung to the ground, seriously injured. Angelica and Luca dressed and fled the scene together. Luca knew that word would spread quickly about what had happened and knew he could not stay in the area. He gathered what few possessions he had from his church and fled with Angelica to Naples. They stayed in a very cheap hotel overnight which gave him a chance to talk with Angelica stop he quickly realised that he was not dealing with a woman or a creature of this world. He realised that she was a Demon from another realm although neither his theological studies nor the time he had taken from the cathedral's library gave any information that shed light on this.

He had gleaned from her that Demons took different forms and yet he was unsure what kind she was. She might have been a Demon who could pass as a human, replacing the real Angelica, whose whereabouts was unknown. Alternatively she might have been a Demon who had possessed Angelica's body. The Demon, Malchosia, gave no indication as to what was the case. However, it hinted that if it was banished Angelica would die. Luca was terrified of this outcome. He vowed to return her to her home and try and reconcile things with Giulio. As a priest he would be willing to do whatever it took in the name of the Lord to right these terrible circumstances.
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My name is Piers
The Magus
Member

Posts: 33


« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2009, 10:54:50 AM »


But I think your account is pretty interesting and I'd like to hear more about it.  So do you each have a backstory and NPC's all prepped out for the other?  Do the two characters stories 'touch' in any way, through NPC's or events, other than being in the same city and thematically?  Did you guys fill out the little grid on the back of the character sheet?  What is your humanity definition?  Are they different for each game?  What does Sorcery look like?  What were the kickers?

Thanks for you interest, Trevis.  I've posted the first play session and my character's backstory for you.  I'll post the stuff I prepared as GM for Justin character, David Stanford after this post.

We are hoping that the two characters will meet up in some way.  The Tsalal seem to be important in some way and we are hoping to get them to meet up in some way.  We wanted a Lovecraftian feel to the proceedings and for it to be a bit like Hellblazer.  We were a bit slack about filling in the grid.

Our definition of humanity is a combination of empathy and sanity, to be connected to relationships in the world. 0 humanity may be like a psychopathic state, with relationships being seen purely in terms of their use.  I would like to write more about this definition at a later date.  We also wanted a strong psychological element woven in, possibly with one character being admitted to a psychiatric ward.  Are the voices of Demons an indicator of psychosis? What if there are dissident elements of psychiatry that know of Sorcery?

Sorcery looks like lots of lights and smoke and peoples eyeballs turning white - that sort of stuff.  When it kicks off, it really kicks off.  See the above posts and subsequent ones for kickers.

Regards
Piers (The Magus - after the John Fowles book, not because I'm a brilliant wizard or anything)
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My name is Piers
The Magus
Member

Posts: 33


« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2009, 10:58:33 AM »

David Stanford

Stanford is someone who is very confident, socially adept and self-serving. A cool, distinguished, sharp-dressing 30-something, he is an accountant by training and has built up a substantial network of contacts in the world of finance and business. Working variously as a freelance 'business consultant', his clients span a wide spectrum from the legitimate to downright criminal. As a consequence, Standford has his sticky fingures in a number of pies (both savoury and unsavoury). No one is really sure what Stanford does in his capacity as 'business consultant'(perhaps least of all  himself); nonetheless he seems to come up  with sage advice just when needed; sometimes it just seems to be the case that his very presence around the boardroom table brings about the desired result for whoever is currently purchasing his services. What his clients value most, though, is Stanford's ability to provide them with some useful (and often salacious) secret about their competitors' personal lives or business practices. This makes for all sorts of complications  - occasionally of the life-threatening variety  -  in Stanford's life. Despite his apparent success, Standford's world is built on a house of cards as he plays clients off against one another.

Importantly, Stanford's work has brought him into contact with some of the more unusual aspects of London's financial and criminal underbelly  -  the world of sorcery and demons. This was prefaced by Stanford being the beneficiary of the will of a distant relative, from who he received a small annual stipend, along with a strange old ring.

Motivations: knowledge is power  -  much of Stanford's world revolves around barely restrained chaos; Standford seeks absolute control of things through knowledge. Stanford has an almost pathological fear of uncertainty and of losing control of situations. There are secrets about Stanford's past and his family that he is seeking to uncover  - what price is he willing to pay (perhaps in terms of his humanity) to learn those secrets? How might this be linked to his fear of losing control? How is this connected to the legacy of the ring? Perhaps Stanford inherited some kind of encrypted manuscript with the ring which he has yet been unable to decipher?

Sorcery/Demons: this is connected to the ring, but perhaps some sort of intuitive, innate or inherited sorcerous power. The demon is probably an object (the ring) and is in part behind Stanford's financial success. It may not be something that manifests in any personifed or anthropomorphic way.
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My name is Piers
The Magus
Member

Posts: 33


« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2009, 11:01:25 AM »

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My name is Piers
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