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Author Topic: [Sorcerer] British Empire Steam Punk setting  (Read 10404 times)
The Magus

Posts: 33

« Reply #15 on: September 02, 2009, 04:00:40 PM »

There's tons of discussions out there about whether the text is explicit enough in conveying its design goals. From reading lots of CK and Jesse posts, my working answer is "what you want is in there, but it might only be in there once." That's why CK is writing his Play Sorcerer, which should be very shiny when it comes out.

I'm the sort of person who needs to be told several times in different ways and with examples.  I'll be one of the first in line to drop the cash when Play Sorcerer arrives.  However, Jesse's posts on Story Games have been really helpful.  Thanks for the pointer, James - your username is way off the mark as far as I'm concerned.

There is some stuff about GMing and social contract that is pertinent in Chapter 4 of the text. Along those lines, what have the demons been up to so far in the game?

You've got me thinking about demons - I think I've GMed them rather two dimensionally.  At its worst they are like a technology that gives you abilities and then you just pay attention to the need (Smash something up, Kill a virgin etc.).  I feel that I'm having a lightbulb moment in that they could well be played as living entities (Well, D'uh, they are!!).  No questions about "are you meeting my need?"  Rather, "what the fuck did you do that for?  Are you trying to ruin this relationship?"

2. You guys are being way too abstract. I recommend slowing down, coming up with details, enjoying the visual or other sensory experience, and basically providing a lot more immediate physical context for the events. I understand why you're doing it the way you're doing it, because it's happened with me and others quite a lot. Once the actual dynamic power of the decisions/actions of Sorcerer characters gets under way, there's a strong temptation to "rock hard" with getting to those points and making them flip the emergent plot further along. And that's fine, as a phase of learning the game.

But now, I recommend basking in the knowledge that the game really does make wide-open story creation work, especially in terms of illuminating a character in terms of raw plot outcomes ... and now that you know it does work, you can dial down the "get there get there" factor and enjoy the process in greater imaginative detail. Furthermore, you'll find that material introduced as Color has a way of becoming System-relevant, more often than not.

3. I think you should play the game further to see how the characters besides Quentin play out. You're right that they haven't really worked through their various Kickers yet, nor experienced a full arc (which is sort of the same thing). Piers, I suggest giving some thought to playing relatively low-pressure but possibly illuminating scenes for Quentin during the next session, to extend and examine the conclusion of his Kicker. After that, Max may or may not want to start a new Kicker for Quentin - it's allowed, incidentally, for people to resolve Kickers at different times and thus experience the reward cycle non-synchronously.

Yes Ron, I think I'm beginning to get this a bit more now.  I'm still left with the questions about System influencing this but slowing down is something I'd like to try.  I'd like to play some combat-free Sorcerer sessions to get under the skins of the characters.  Perhaps the characters can do less and be more.

I feel I'm flipping into therapist mode a little.  In a way I'd like to sit down with the players in characters and ask them lots of personal questions:

Quentin, what is your cowardice all about?
Daniel, why are you so ambitious?
Jarvice, what happened that made you so disillusioned with people?

This is highly surprising - I came to this game to take a break from being a therapist and now find I may start using much the same techniques.  I think for me there are ethical considerations to hold in mind.  I know that it's alluded to in the Rulebook and also in Graham Walmsley's excellent 'Play Unsafe' book.  Which brings me back to the social contract.  How far do you go?  Graham mentions something difficult for him about bringing issues around a character's father into the game (p.12).  I feel obviously it would be extremely cruel if I knew a fellow player's father was ill to then set a scene where a character was at his father' death-bed.  However, somethimes you don't know.  Sometimes both of you don't know about your buttons.

I spoke with Max (Mackie) this evening and he said that I was being too hard on myself.  Max, I disagree - I think we've barely tapped the potential of the game.

Hmm - need to go to bed - am still pondering.

Curse you, Ron Edwards ;-D

My name is Piers
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Posts: 16490

« Reply #16 on: September 03, 2009, 12:01:18 PM »

Hi Piers,

What you're calling the therapist mode is a good thing for the game, but might undergo some tuning and perhaps re-orienting.

Since the characters are fictional, the beneficial context of therapy can be put aside. The questions you listed are there to be represented in a kind of attack mode, via the circumstances of play. So it's not you as a person and the characters as people, it's you as a particular kind of co-author in a state of goosing and firing up the issues that your fellow co-authors have brought to the table. You've listed the principles which can now be used as a really solid foundation for making your Bangs, both before play in prep, and during play through inspiration and current events.

You've also brought Social Contract issues into the picture, quite rightly. I've discussed Lines and Veils here in the forums and also in my book Sex & Sorcery, but I don't know whether you've seen those points. Lines demarcate things that one or another person at the table simply does not want to have happen in play; Veils demarcate things that are OK to happen, but not to depict explicitly. One thing we've found over the years is that Lines and Veils typically should not be pre-set through discussion or pre-assumed for others. People always shrink their comfort zones smaller than they really are in those circumstances.

Then there's the question of what to do with them. You may be familiar with the distinction Meg drew between two social modes at the table, "I Will Not Abandon You" and "No One Gets Hurt," which are incompatible. If you haven't seen this before, then hold on - it's easy to react to that claim based on their names alone, so I ask that you read the discussion in Sex & Sorcery: rereading it; Meg's original presentation is linked in that thread. I'll be interested to see what you bring back from those.

Sorcerer is written directly from an I Will Not Abandon You perspective. This means, not that there are no Lines, but rather, that we are going seek the Lines to a great extent, in the awareness that doing so will bring shit up, and not to shrink back from it out of fear.

Best, Ron

Posts: 304

« Reply #17 on: September 03, 2009, 04:08:57 PM »

Which brings me back to the social contract.  How far do you go?  Graham mentions something difficult for him about bringing issues around a character's father into the game (p.12).  I feel obviously it would be extremely cruel if I knew a fellow player's father was ill to then set a scene where a character was at his father' death-bed.  However, somethimes you don't know.  Sometimes both of you don't know about your buttons.

The same is true of any conversation between people. The only thing about gaming is that it actively pokes at things that we normally shy away from (demons, murder, sex, etc.) in discourse. But, if you were chatting with your friends and accidentally stumbled on a sensitive area, they'd probably say "ouch" and you'd go "oops, very sorry" and everyone would move forward with no real harm done and a bit more shared awareness.

James R.

Posts: 23

« Reply #18 on: September 04, 2009, 09:44:40 AM »

I wil have to consider the above posts more, but they do feed into some previous thinking I have about RPG's.

The first is that I am opposed to a therapeutic stance or mode in RPGs. It is a game, not therapy. If players have the wisdom, motivation, and insight to use it as "Therapy" then good (?) for them. This is not to say that powerful unconscious forces are at work (which psychotherapeutic theoretical architecture you use is probably academic) - they almost certainly are, but that dosen't make it therapy.

The next point, which follows on, is my inclination that RPG's are the natural habitat of a (probably malign) beast. I don't quite have a name for this beast, but it's two heads are sado-masochism and narcisism (hey, maybe thats three heads and we can name it Cerberus). This feeds into the whole issue of control in RPGs.

I haven't fully worked this out, but perhaps it is worth embryonically articulating the possible threats of Cerberus: (please note that all these "threats" are probably largely unconscious)

GM Sadism: The desire to make the players suffer. Playing "to the line" of adventure is one thing, but this motivation can be the disguise of a sadistic quality. If a player is doing "well", with clever ideas or good dice rolls, is the GMing reacting sadistically? is the player doing what he wants / exerting control or is the GM? is the negotiation of this unduly affected by sadism.

GM: Masochism: Yes, I think this can happen. Especially in the context of adopting a "Therapuetic stance" - many therapists find, in the course of their own therapy, a masochistic drive to become therapists - the "wounded doctor". In such a case, the GM may act in a similar way to sadism (yes, I know the two are related), playing an emotional gut-wrangler to satisfy own needs.

GM: Narcissism: the exertion of control for the sake of the ego. This need not be the "GM is god" rule lawyering, but subtle ways of bending the course and flow of the game to satisfy the ego. Again, this is related to sadism and may result in "Punishing" successful characters.

Player: Sadism. This can be played out to the GM, the other players, or the game itself. I think it most often is related to narcisim and the power struggle with the GM. EFfectively, I think it is quite difficult to effect sadism as a player directly in the "Role", but uneffected, it could lead to resentment and undermining of the social gathering.

Player: Masochism. Jumping into the Gut-wrangler. "Look how I bleed" em/cut my veins. This can provoke feelings of guilt and abuse in the GM. Other players may feel uncopmfortable. Is this a projection of an underlying death wish? self loathing?. I wonder if characters played to deliberately "fail" are succumbing (?) to this. I find it odd myself; in real life, every individual (bar those with serious mental illness) wants to "succeed", and I find it hard to roleplay anything other than a desire to succeed (maybe this is my narcisism) - at least broadly succeed.

Player: Narcisism. Here we enter the realm of wish - fufillment. On one level, this is a universal experience, and everybody who has yelled "Yes" as a movie hero impales an particularly odius baddy is "guilty" of this. However, it can lead to power-gaming and sadistic impulses against other players. Power Gaming is related to this.

This is all my initial vague ramblings, so forgive me if they aren't well articulated.

In Piers example, for instance, I would suspect that a GM introducing a father scene to Graham would be due to sadistic (And possibly narcistic and masochistic) impulses from the GM. Perhaps Graham has indicated he would like this (and perhaps this is a masochistic impulse on his part). There is, perhaps, nothing wrong with this; but the danger is that unless these impulses very closely "dovetail", the beast Cerberus will be well fed. Sorcerer may be a relatively safe way of exploring oneself, but psychotherapy is the proper and safe way.

Incidentally, I fully accept that I, along with every human, have sadistic, masochistic, and narcisistic qualities (Piers would probably emphasise the last quality when describing me!). Eliminating these from a game is impossible. However, minimising their malign effect on a game is worthwhile.

I'm just reflecting on my previous statement that every scene needs "Violence" in it to succeed. I still stand by that. In fact, thinking about it, I think every GAME does (with the possible exception of purely solo ones). All games allow violence to be expressed in a safe and socially acceptable way.
The Magus

Posts: 33

« Reply #19 on: September 06, 2009, 04:49:58 PM »

quote]"It's very hard to live in a studio apartment in San Jose with a man who's learning to play the violin."  That's what she told the police when she handed them the empty revolver.[/quote
"It's very hard to live in a studio apartment in San Jose with a man who's learning to play the violin."  That's what she told the police when she handed them the empty revolver.

My name is Piers
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