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[Sorcerer] Player AP

Started by CedricP, February 21, 2010, 06:38:53 PM

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My playing group decided to try Sorcerer, so far we have done a "session zero" and played our first session.

I was really eager to try Sorcerer, but after playing our first session I feel like I need some advice as a player.
I asked Jason if he could post a AP here, he suggested that I post one myself as a player.

Our group of three have meet via the web for the purpose of playing story games. So far we have played Shadows of Yesterday, Zombie Cinema, With Great Powers, Capes, Mouse Guard and Hero's Banner. Our most successful games were with Capes and Hero's Banner.

For Sorcerer, Jason (Jumanji83) is the game master. The players are myself and Dominic (Dominic Claveau).
Jason like low prep games and Dominic is a big fan of burning wheel.

After our one-shot of Hero's Banner, Jason wanted a other round in the GM seat. He hesitated between PTA, DITV, Inspectre and Sorcerer. Since me and Dominic wanted to play any of those games, we told Jason to simply choose the game that inspired him the most. Jason told us in a email that he had dreamed about Sorcerer, and that he was enthousiast about the game. So we said, nice, go for Sorcerer!

During our session zero we talked about the game, together we determined the setting and created our characters.
Jason told us he was interested in having many demons getting unbound after the dead of their powerful master.
We choose for setting a small suburban town in Quebec. We talked about humanity and the idea that zero humanity was a drone like empty conformity came to float around, but later it was kind of decided that humanity was just the sorcerer soul. As for demons it was decided by default that they were standard infernal entity and that sorcery was standard sorcery.
Our session zero are usually tepid, no one really want to push forward a personal vision and we often end up with a vague and generic setup.

I came to the table with zero experience with Sorcerer beside having read a lot about it on the forums and being very curious about it. But when I came to create my character I felt lost. I hesitated for a long moment, finally I decided I wanted to play a character inspired from Cronenberg movies like Naked Lunch or Videodrone (like how the insectlike typewriter in naked lunch would make a interesting demon). So I came up with the idea of a door to door saleman, to finally end up with a voyeur who sell and install security systems.

My character: Dave
Telltale: can't remember any first names (he need to use notes and photos like in Memento).
Stamina: 2 clean living (very clean in fact).
Will: 4 system of believe (you can learn and grow by watching people, the more you watch them, the more you become like them)
Lore: 4 madness (obsessed with the medias, he see patterns in everything and have a theory about demons living in tv/radio/cell wavelength and in the existence a growing "tv zone")
Cover: security system & cable technician
Price: distracted (consume too much media) -2 perception.
Demon: Xiltilt (insect like parasite. Dave think it came from the TV zone). Need: cleaning things. Telltale: static.
Kicker: I have acquired a video recording showing the murder of my former master.

Dominic character: Gabriel
Telltale: weird eyes hidden by normal glasses
Stamina: 2
Will: 7
Lore: 1
Cover: student
Price: (I don't remember)
Demon: Cassandra, passer demon who look like a dead love interest. Need: affection. Desire: Mayhem.
Kicker: His former dead love interest have come back to him in the guise of Cassandra.

At the end of the character creation session I was mildly satisfied with my character, I felt he lacked focus. I figured that his main drive was "quest for knowledge" since he was obsessed with his theory about the nature of demons. Once back at home I though he lacked a down to earth goal, and I wrote a email to Jason to tell him that the former student of the murdered master figuring on my character sheet diagram will be a ex-girlfriend and that my character will want to get back with her.

Jason started to prep his NPC stats when we arrived. While we waited for him I asked Dominic some questions about the game mechanic.

We played our kickers. During a student party, Dominic character ended up in bed high on drugs with the passer demon and binded her. He freaked out in the morning to find out in his bed his past love interest who died a year ago. The demon acted like a very affectionate girlfriend.

For my part, scared by the murder video recording, my character went to his former master house to remove his hidden cameras before the police show up. And he quickly contacted his ex-girlfriend (now a teacher at Dominic character university) to show her the murder tape.

Jason fed us some informations about the murder via the news and my character ex-girlfriend. Soon the master wife was murdered and new murders showed up in the news. My character was nervous, he wanted to learn more about the murder to find out if he was a target, he also wanted to find the loose demons to bind them.

Dominic character tried to figure out how his former love interest came back from the dead and how come she was now so willing to please him. Cassandra being in denial about her alter ego dead, Gabriel took her with him to visit her grave and to dig up her corpse.

I tried to investigate a little, but there was no real clue to follow, and I ended up with some dead-end scene. My character ex-girlfriend identified the attacker on the video record as Cassandra, one of her student and as a demon bound to our dead master who was passing for his daughter. She also told Dave that the master was using a possessor demon to possess his wife since she asked for divorce.

Dave traced back Cassandra and contacted Gabriel, he figured out that Cassandra was now bound to him and told him some crazy stuff about sorcery and television wavelenght. Later Gabriel confronted Cassandra about demons and she confessed that she was one and that it was Xanadu, the possessor demon who was the murderer (but maybe she was lying).

Now I was bored with the investigation aspect of the game. I dint want to play a investigation game, so I decided to use sorcery to quickly get rid of the mystery and to concentrate ourself more on our characters. Since I wanted to explore more my (kind of vague) character issues, I thought it would be nice to have a supper scene with my character ex-girlfriend. I described how Dave meticulously prepared the supper, doing the shopping and stuff. But the supper scene was quickly roleplayed, Jason simply told me that the ex-girlfriend was not open. So the scene quickly turned out being about the murders and the loose demons.

To get rid of the investigation, I tried to use my demon power Hint to ask him if Cassandra was the murderer. But the dices failed me. I decided after to summon a demon to locate Xanadu (the possessor) to avoid more investigation scenes. I asked the ex-girlfriend and Dominic character for help for the ritual. (I also wanted to try the summoning aspect of the game). For the ritual, I described some weird stuff involving hypnotic strobe tv watching. I asked for a object demon with the power Perception who can point toward or locate other peoples or demons. I ended up with a demon with a power of 6 bound with 1 success. I used drugs and I also lost two point of Will (permanently) and 2 point of Humanity (now down to 2 point). (A demonic monkey who live in a compass and who need lullaby).

We ended the session after the ritual.     

After the session:
Beside the investigation scenes, I enjoyed roleplaying with Jason and Dominic. But I felt we where really far from touching the interesting potential of the game.

Jason told us he was too nice with us and that he should push harder our characters.

Dominic noted that we dint roll often the dices. He rolled them once, when he asked his passer demon to help digging up the grave and it was of no real consequences. I rolled a lore test to perceive a demon, I rolled for my Hint power and when we played the ritual.

The dices told us that the ritual ended up being a very bad experience for my character, but it dint feel it and it dint show in the fiction. I was just "ok I have lost 2 points of Will and of Humanity..." The lost felt flat.

I have started to read Jesse postings about Sorcerer on Storygames for everybody and I am getting more and more interested by the game. Since my group want to try many other games, after this game, I don't know when I will have the occasion to play Sorcerer again. So despite the shortcomings of our first session, I want to try to get the better out our next session.

What are my tools as a player to get interesting stuff out of the game?
Should I suggest Bangs to Jason? For now, I want to tell him that I am not really interested in investigating, and that I want to focus on my character relationship with his ex-girlfriend. I will aim for a mix of scenes where he try to get back with her, and to stalk her as a voyeur (in hope that it will head toward a bang).   

Cedric P


Hi Cedric, welcome to the Forge! 

QuoteOur session zero are usually tepid, no one really want to push forward a personal vision and we often end up with a vague and generic setup.
Yes, it does sound tepid.  But that's not always a problem.  Sorcerer is about people in desperate situations.  Most of the action and excitement is going to come from the player-characters.  In Shadow of Yesterday, the setting has a lot of energy: the kingdom of Ammeni has enslaved the people of Zaru, which might lead to a conflict between two players who get tangled up in that part of the world.  In Sorcerer, conflicts usually come from inside the characters, rather than from the setting.  (Am I being too abstract?)  A Sorcerer setting ought to be interesting to the players, but it shouldn't be "busy" in that it distracts from the characters.

So, the setting can be tepid so long as the characters are interesting. 

QuoteMy character: Dave
OMG this character is awesomely perfect!  What a creep!

QuoteDominic character: Gabriel
This character is less imaginative, but still a very solid concept.  This character is heading for tragedy!

QuoteKicker: I have acquired a video recording showing the murder of my former master. . . . For now, I want to tell him that I am not really interested in investigating, and that I want to focus on my character relationship with his ex-girlfriend

So, two big issues.

1.  You don't care about your Kicker.  That's okay, but it means that you need to re-write the Kicker in a way that matters to you.  The GM is trying to introduce tension around the Kicker (who killed my master?!  am I next?!), and because that's not where your heart is, there's no energy.

2.  The GM's scenario is passive (right now).  The master is dead.  The wife is dead.  A few demons are involved, but they're pretty quiet.  At this point, it seems pretty simple.  Find the demons, and banish or bind them.  The GM needs to increase the pressure somehow, in a way that is relevant to what you and Dominic are doing.  It shouldn't be "behind the scenes" or "over here where nobody sees it."  It should be, "Oh wow, now I have a problem I can't ignore, and I can't solve it without putting things at risk."  And each new risk, leads to new problems of some kind, until the Kickers get resolved.  (Still, this isn't really a problem . . . yet.  It was the first session, and Sorcerer often needs a session to really build up speed.  So I suggest giving it some time, and maybe the second session will have more tension and excitement.)

The background needs to provide potential energy, but the real energy comes from what the players do with that information.

A little issue:
Quoteit dint feel it and it dint show in the fiction. I was just "ok I have lost 2 points of Will and of Humanity..." The lost felt flat.
This is where the tepid setting will cause problems. 

In order for the result of the roll to mean something, you need to describe what was going on in the ritual.  What was Dave doing, and why did that action carry a risk of Humanity loss?  Let's imagine that Humanity = a person's soul, and Demons = demons from Christian Hell.  Then the rituals should be described in a way, that makes it clear you're endangering your soul (which is why you're rolling Humanity vs. Power to see if you lose points).  So, a Contact ritual might involve a blasphemy - maybe going inside a church, dressing a statute of the Virgin Mary in prostitute's clothing, and then praying to it with 666 black candles formed from piss and shit.  Maybe Summoning a demon would involve molesting a child, and then pulling the demon out from inside their body.  Etc.  (This is very extreme and kind of disgusting, but I'm too lazy to come up with really good examples.)

So part of describing how sorcery works in the setting, means figuring out what do the rituals look like?  What's involved? why does it endanger your humanity?  You don't need to do that before play begins.  You can come up with it during the game (and get extra dice for good descriptions or exciting ideas).  Without that step, it will just be, "Oh, I lost a point of Humanity.  Okay."


Hi James, thanks for the reply.

Your comment on how in Sorcerer, conflicts come from inside the characters, rather than from the setting make perfect sense.
Maybe I should have think first about my character as a normal person who have to deal with a problematic situation instead of starting to think about him as a sorcerer.

For the kicker, I find the situation interesting. I don't mind the mystery, it just that I don't like investigation scenes. I would prefer to deal with the kicker in some other way than investigating on it. Maybe somebody could want the tape, blackmail my character, follow him, etc. It just that I have a bad experience with investigations games and how investigations scene tend to be boring dead ends. Well maybe I would be ok with investigations scenes if somethings was happening when we investigate. Like if the goal of the investigation scene was in fact to showcase a issue between my character and his ex-girlfriends. 

I agree with your comment about describing sorcery and rituals. I felt very lost here. I invented stuff on the go, but it was not very satisfying since I was feeling like I could just came up with anything and that it was just color. I dint feel like my character could prepare himself, or use something we could have defined before hand in a creative way, or that he could dread some actions that he would need to do.

But as for being a player in Sorcerer game, what are my tools? I mean, the way that for example in a Burning Wheel game you push your believes or go again them. In Sorcerer, as a player, my role is to interact to a maximum with what is on the diagram of my character sheet so that the GM will have the occasion to throw a bang at me? In a sense, I have to wait for the GM to throw bangs at my character?   


If you, as a player in Sorcerer, don't know what to do next, it seems to me that it probably means that your kicker was a bit flat for you. 

Just looking at your kicker:

  • Contact one of your former master's demons to find out what happened to him.

    Go find a mess for your demon to clean so that he will be pliant when you ask him for help in investigating your master's death.

What and who is on the back of your character sheet?


Hi Paka,

I don't really have problem to find what to do next for my character. I wonder what to do as a player, not as my character. :)

I got that I need to interact a lot with what is on my character sheet diagram, and that I need to follow my kicker. But beside this, is there some other stuff I could do, like suggesting some scenes, bangs, stuff to the GM?


(sorry for double post)

For example, should/could I try to trigger a chain reactions of dice rolls to get things more interesting? With how each dice roll influence the next one, maybe some interesting escalation could come out of this? Like when my character had his supper with his ex girlfriend, maybe if we started rolling dices, the scene would have gained some importance? (my character was trying to befriend her, but nothing special happened).


Cedric, I agree that investigation scenes aren't very interesting. 

One of the tricks I use: "Of course you find the information eventually.  But let's roll the dice to determine (something connected to the investigation - like, whether you owe a favor to a gangster, or whether you find the information in time to protect the next victim)."

Don't worry about what you need to do next.  Keeping you on your toes is the GM's job.  If you really want to make trouble for your character, have him try to seduce Cassandra away from Domenic's character.  "She's too good for you, Gabriel.  She deserves to be with someone who understands her kind."  Then start Punishing her (maybe by reenacting her death?) until she agrees to help break Domenic's binding.

As for the details of the rituals, I really like your TV wavelengths idea!  Contact might be arranging several different TV's to different static-frequencies in a particular interference pattern, so that you can talk to demons on the other end.  As you tune the TV's to this frequency, the soap-opera and sit-com happy families become perverted and monstrous... etc.

P.S.  I know who killed your master.


Thanks James, it is so evident, I dint think about it!
Interacting with what is in the other player character diagram is bound to bring up interesting situations! (even with no bad intentions, there is a good chance that things will get complicated).

Also I was thinking: A happy demon is a boring demon? I mean, as a player, I hope that my demon will get at least a little bit rebellious. If not, I will feel like I am missing a part of the game. Is it interesting to get into "author stance" and to stage your own demon rebellion, or should this be fully left to the GM?
Maybe I am thinking too much ahead of the game?


Sorry, misunderstood.

Quote from: CedricP on February 22, 2010, 01:06:03 AM
I don't really have problem to find what to do next for my character. I wonder what to do as a player, not as my character. :)

I got that I need to interact a lot with what is on my character sheet diagram, and that I need to follow my kicker. But beside this, is there some other stuff I could do, like suggesting some scenes, bangs, stuff to the GM?

As a player, just play your character.

There is nothing wrong with saying, "Oh man, I'd love to start the next scene in Z doing Y."

But authoring or suggesting bangs is right out.  Your GM should be doing that.  They should be birthed from your kicker interacting with the game's fiction and the back of your sheet and the way the GM puts them together should be a delightful surprise that makes sense given all of the pieces in play but still shocks you.