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[Sorcerer] Character Concept: Demon Ability Question

Started by nyhteg, February 21, 2010, 07:38:01 PM

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I'm just warming up for my first game of Sorcerer and I'm trying to find the best Demon Ability for a player's concept of his demon.

His demon is a parasite which replaces his tongue, and manifests as a great chaotic mass of clawed black tendrils spewing out of his mouth. So far, so icky.

The slight puzzler I have is that the player has this vision of his character where his demon is hurling aside obstacles - smashing down doors or walls, flipping or shoving cars, et cetera - and I can't quite arrive at the Demon Ability (or mix of abilities) to nail it.

I've been thinking maybe this is a sort of 'special effect' version of Big.
Perhaps some form of Boost Stamina (can demons Boost themselves?).
A form of Psychic Force maybe?
Or just a demon with a plain old massive Stamina?

I guess it may not actually matter.
I know I can, of course, simply decide arbitrarily and say 'there, *that* is how it will work', but I'm curious to get the thoughts of folks with experience running the game.




Gethyn, can you describe what the interaction between the Human and the Demon is supposed to be?

* Typically, a parasite demon's powers are used by the host.  So it's not that the demon is tossing cars around (at least, not directly).  The host is doing it, and the demon just supplies the host with enough strength to do so.

* A possessor demon lives inside its host, but the demon uses its own powers, the host usually doesn't get anything.  So in that situation, the demon suddenly takes over, and it's demon's own strength that's knocking things around.

* Demons are the only ones who can use Boost, and they cannot target themselves with it.  When using Boost, the demon's Power drops to 1 for all other purposes.

If I were building this as a Parasite (telltale: tongue is a dusting tentacle-blob)...
* Big: endure lots of punishment (host)
* Boost Stamina: super strength (demon, target host)

If I were building this as a Possessor
* Big: endure lots of punishment (demon)
* Special Non-Lethal Damage: super strength (demon)
* Warp: demolish scenery via brawn (demon)


Hi James, thanks for the reply

At the moment the demon confers a couple of powers on the sorcerer - Command, and one other I think - but retains a lethal ranged attack and 'scenery busting' for its own use. In that sense it's an 'attack dog' rather than a 'handgun'.

The simple fact that the player wanted this thing to replace his character's tongue made me go with parasite rather than inconspicuous, although the appearance in play will I expect be very similar (ie you don't notice it unless it 'does its thing').
The inconspicuous/parasite decision has also been an interesting one.

I've been thinking of the changes in appearance as merely special effects associated with the use of an Ability - 'the demon attacks...blaaaarghhhhrrllll...!!' vs 'now it's a tongue, now it's a mass of black tentacles'.
Would going with a parasite suggest the need for Shapeshift, strictly speaking?

I forgot to mention Warp on my list in my first post but I do have it as an option and I didn't consider the idea of Special Damage so that's interesting too.


Ron Edwards

Hi Gethyn,

We should probably review a number of rules and concepts. Strictly speaking, parasite demons cannot use their abilites "all by themselves."

That said, the discussion in Chapter 2 of The Sorcerer's Soul allows for relaxing the distinction between Possessors and Parasites, especially in terms of momentary control of abilities. That text would appear to be crucial for your purposes.
Here's what you need to know: when the demon "takes over" in order to hurl aside obstacles and basically wreak havoc, is the host entirely helpless in terms of actions? James was exactly correct in focusing on this issue. The answer is the foundation for all other decisions.

1. If the host 'goes demonic,' unleashing the demon voluntarily, this will work well in one of two distinct ways. (i) Boost, in which case the host is still the primary actor and the whole "demon does it" fictional content is merely the Color of the demon's Boost. Boost is always transitive, performed by the demon toward another character. (ii) High demon Stamina, in which case you're utilizing the "bent rules" from The Sorcerer's Soul and temporarily permitting a Parasite to act as a Possessor.

2. If the demon is effectively rebelling to do this, and the host must helplessly and involuntarily watch, then it's a lot like (ii) above, in terms of the rules (in conjunction with the rebelling rules from the core book). If you combine both (ii) above with this as well, then you have a classic Hand of Corum situation.

That would be my choice: a Parasite demon with high Stamina, which is utilized effectively by the demon when and if the host relaxes 'control' voluntarily, and when the demon gets rebellious and occasionally hijacks the host's body for specific, one-time actions.

You could add Big to that, which seems quite reasonable to me. In Sorcerer, it's perfectly all right to define certain abilities as subordinate to the use of others (cost is unchanged). Psychic Force isn't appropriate; it only works on people's minds/bodies. If you want horrendous damage involved (and with a demon as hefty as this one seems to be, you may not need more, but if) then Special Damage is the way to go. If you want to be absolutely sure that the actions involved will, in addition to whatever Color is going on, clear a path or opening,, then Warp is a good idea. Shapeshift isn't necessary; that's reserved for literally altering one's body into something entirely different, not just the weird appearance of a body part.

I'm liking this demon! Most of the time, it's a tongue which allows you to Command something (what, by the way?), and then when things get funky, it gets funky too and starts busting up the place. Cool.

Best, Ron



I think the player is aiming for case number 1 - the character is the one doing the unleashing rather than the demon rebelling.
Some combo of Boost, Warp and Big sounds fitting.

Quote"In Sorcerer, it's perfectly all right to define certain abilities as subordinate to the use of others (cost is unchanged)."

I'm not sure I get what you're saying, there. Could you share an example of that (and the associated costs)?

QuoteMost of the time, it's a tongue which allows you to Command something (what, by the way?)"

Well the setting we're batting around has zombies as part of the scenery.
They're not demons, they're not the focus of the story, they just exist as a constant environmental hazard. (Keep doors and windows shut at all times. Don't go outside at night.)
The character in question is a 13 year old kid, living rough. He can Perceive and Command zombies, at range.


Ron Edwards


Whoops, didn't intend to get confusing. I'm talking about certain concepts in which one ability is conceived to be linked to the operation of another. So for instance, a demon has Big, and the concept is that when (and only when) it gets Big, it can do something else too, ohhh, let's say a Hold attack.

The rules for this are easy: just get Big and Hold exactly as usual (i.e. subject to the total number of abilities not exceeding its Lore), and in playing the demon, it only uses Hold when it's Big, and at no other time. In the fictional content, it's not using Hold at other, non-Big times because it can't, but the rules for that aren't any different, in terms of 'buying' the ability in terms of Lore points, from a demon who has Big and Hold entirely independently of one another.

It might help to know that a lot of this precision in speech is born from a rule in the game Champions, called "Linking," in which one power is subordinated to another, like Mind Control becoming a side-effect or tandem effect of zapping someone with an Energy Blast. In Champions, this relationship between the two abilities generates a cost break for the second (smaller) one; in Sorcerer, it doesn't and is left entirely to the agreed-upon constraints of simply how the ability is introduced/utilized in play.

Let me know if that makes sense. It's not a huge issue for understanding the rules, but understanding it is quite helpful when dealing with neat demon concepts like this one.

Best, Ron


Ah, so.
Yes, that makes perfect sense - I'd already inferred that feature from other examples I've seen here abouts, so all is well.

Thanks James and Ron for your help.
I'll let you know how we get on. :)