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Author Topic: some conceptual stuff  (Read 8727 times)
Bailywolf
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« on: August 09, 2001, 07:43:00 AM »


Hey all.  I may be a bit premature here, seeing as how I don't even have the book yet, but let me run some conceptual stuff by you for a planned Sorcerer setting I am toying with...

Inpsirations:  Clive Barker (Imagica, Hell Bound Heart, The Great and Secret Show, WeveWorld... NONE OF THE HORRIBLE MOVIES).

Concepts:  Demons are very very wierd.  They don't seem to 'fit' into any kind of human belief system, scientific explination, or rational world view.  They are terribly alien... and not just to humans, but to each other as well.  Demons rarely if ever even come from the same 'place'  and have as much insight into each other as they have into humanity.

Sorcerers are those humans who- through whatever methodology- can breach the subtle barriers which divide the realms and contact... something.  But here is the kicker- by doing so they open themselves up to summoning by alien sorcerers in twisted dimensions... and in those bizare realms humans are the demons and the natural talents of man- the ability to walk, to manipulate objects by hand, to speak, to think rationaly- are powerful supernatural abilities which defy the local laws of reality.

Needless to say, being summoned to alien service does nothing for a sorcerer's sanity.

When sorcerer's blow 'magic' rolls, they increase the chance that they will be summoned away... disapearing for seconds, minutes, weeks, years... only to return, covered in unspeakably slime with memories so abstract and odd that most can't keep them straight.



From Barker I want the viscreal wierdness, the utter reality of flesh and matter... the conjunction of spirit and bone.  No abstracts, no pure floaty 'souls' to loose- the reality that there is nothing that can be done to a mythical soul that can't instead be done more painfully to a living body... especialy by creatures with very clever knives.


I'll let sorcerers accomplish lots of fairly minor effects (basicly, make em up stuff) by briefly summoning tiny, mindless creatures, but the real power is (as always) in the summoning.



More tom come as the concepts mature... but for now, any comments?
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joshua neff
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« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2001, 08:30:00 AM »

Baileywolf--

I like it a lot--the idea that a "demon" is basically "you from another dimension, & when you're in their dimension YOU are the demon". When you actually get the rules, there will be lots of good stuff to help crystallize your concept, especially in terms of defining Humanity (although it already sounds as if you have a good idea as to what happens when a sorcerer's Humanity reaches zero). Very cool.
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--josh

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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2001, 08:38:00 AM »

Wowwww ... so, if I'm understanding correctly, very little or no actual play would occur in the "demon worlds"? Most or all experience of them is retrospective, reflected in Humanity loss and similar things?

Neat. A while ago, I mused about running a 13th/14th-century Italian version of Sorcerer, in which getting swept off to Hell was possible. However, one would have to make Lore vs. Humanity rolls in order to remember one's experiences there, and at THAT moment, the GM would reach into a little card-file at random and give you "what you remember" (all awful, of course). The demon ability

I like your thoughts and references a lot. With a little thought about what sorcery and demonics were like on THIS side of the veil, this could be a great starting concept for play.

Best,
Ron
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2001, 09:23:00 AM »

Hey Bailywolf,

When sorcerer's blow 'magic' rolls, they increase the chance that they will be summoned away... disapearing for seconds, minutes, weeks, years... only to return, covered in unspeakably slime with memories so abstract and odd that most can't keep them straight.

What this says to me is that you're defining Humanity as "that which anchors us in our reality"...and that's as cool and compelling a definition of Humanity as I've seen advanced in online discussions of Sorcerer. I like it quite a bit.

Paul

 



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greyorm
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« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2001, 10:08:00 AM »

Quote

More tom come as the concepts mature... but for now, any comments?

Sounds excellently freakish...I was wondering at first: "How is he going to describe a world where 'rational thinking' is a supernatural power..." then you cover yourself with "Nothing but disjointed memories and a slimy coating."

Unexplained, frightening supernatural effects...Right up my alley!  (You should see what I've done to 3E magic along these lines)
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Bailywolf
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« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2001, 10:37:00 AM »


I've been thinking in terms of avoiding the stereotype "if it is nice, it is human" BS that White Wolf seemed obsedded with in their "heirarchy of sins" systems.  Being human means living in a flesh-sack driven by all sorts of ugly, humiliatiing, often filthy, occasionaly enjoyable biological impulses, drives, and needs.  The drug-addled maniac hobo who hacks up and eats fellow rail-bums is no less human than the typical tax lawyer- bith are firmly rooted in human reality (though, the laywer is certainly the more healthy and well adjusted of the two).  

No if Mr. Smith, atourny at law, learns a few simple sways (minor cnatrips) which make him more charming, better in court, and happier with the ladies... then he digs a bit deaper, picks up an actual summoning... then hikjacks some wierd otherworldly creature, forces it to live in our utterly terrifying world of 4 dimensions and cause and effect...

Exposure to the Unnatural (for my concept of Demons is just this- they are UTTERLY unnatural to out reality) begins to erode Mr Smith's connection to this world... and eventualy he... just... slips away for a couple of minutes, while spending a subjective hundred years bound into the eyesocket of seven dimensional proto-slug serving as a parasitic demon.

The more powerful the sorcerer, the more frequent the slips.  

But some sorcerers learn from their trips into the wierd realms, pick up some strange tricks, take a little bit of alien reality back with them.  Become genuinely inhuman.  And driven by irrational Needs.


Loosing your humanity isn't as simple as hitting zero in an ability score, but an actual slow process of antivolution where by the anchoring to external reality is first lost, then the disintigration of internal reality follows.  What remains, is horror.

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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2001, 10:51:00 AM »

I smell a Sorcerer/Whispering Vault crossover...

This kicks ass. For real.
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jared a. sorensen / www.memento-mori.com
Bailywolf
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« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2001, 11:59:00 AM »


I'm just riffing now...

Remember that movie Fire in the Sky?  About that famouns alien abduction case?  

Remember the scene in which the abductee sees the syrup spilling off the table and just freaks out, remembering the needle-in-the-eye skin-crawling horror of what had been done to him?  

In a sorcerer's slip memories, thist is the kind of rapid-fire gut twisting memory flash I want to generate.  Concrete images drawn from an alien nightmare.

I wish I'd dropped acid back in college... might have some good ideas for this kind of thing.



But how to simulate a sorcerer's breakdown with rules... first the connection to reality goes... then the identity goes.  

What if characters had Ties (or Roots, or Touchstones, or Links)- specific character traits/loves/hates/perceptions which help root them firmly in human reality.  These need no be nice, but they must be essential human.  

Now, as a sorcerer becomes more powerful (ie boosts Lore) he looses these rooting traits-

he doesn't like ice cream any more
he becomes indiferent to his familiy
he no longer cares for opera
he no longer hates black people
he doesn't think he's fat and ugly anymore
he stops washing his cherry red 63 vet
he no longer votes or cares about politics.
he no longer wants to murder women

Once all his touchstones are gone, he can no longer resist Slipping... he has nothing to 'grab onto'.  If he isn't killed during one of is slips, or doesn't kill himslef, he begins to take back bits of other realities... he starts to 'grab hold' of alien worlds...

These slip-knots tie him down, make him harder to summon... but they arn't native to our reality, and manifest as wierd obsession, twisted irrational needs, and unnatural abilities.

The slip-shod sorcerer now is defined by these ties:

Must observe the workings of living internal organs or eyes burn and itch uncontrolably, eventualy bursting loosing and fleeing on nerve-tendril feet. (can see through matter to a depth of seven inches).

May only consume own flesh for sustenence. (regenerates almost instantly from any injury).

Asks everyone he meets the same question, and if he recieves the wrong answers is crippled with bursting stigmata (can discern lies from truths perfectly, regardless of what the speaker believes).

Developes a horrific aversion to corporate logos just like a vampire confronted by a cross (gains a High Finance cover rated as high as his Lore).

Obsession with the shape of human ears- photographs them, measures them, compares them, catalogues them (can understand any spoken language).





Eventualy the stresses created by being tied to multiple alien realities will tear a sorcerer apart.

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Clay
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« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2001, 01:03:00 PM »

Quote

On 2001-08-09 15:59, Bailywolf wrote:

I wish I'd dropped acid back in college... might have some good ideas for this kind of thing.



I've read your ideas.  I never hallucinated anything so whacked when I was studying for my recreational pharmacology degree.  Please don't try acid--it'll probably ruin your twisted creativity, and that would be a tragic loss.


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Clay Dowling
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Bailywolf
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« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2001, 01:40:00 PM »


Hey all.  Just came up with a bit more on resisting a Slip.

Depending in the intensity of the screw-up that opened the sorcerer up to the Slip, he will have a variable amount of time before the Slip catches him.  

It could be seconds in the event of a realy major blow, but hours for a relatively minor botch-it-up.  

When the Slip begins, it grates across a sorcerer's mind, leaves a metalic tang on the back of his tongue, stinks like sweat and pepermint in his nostrils.  Always different, always unmistakable.  And once begun, will always result in the same disjointed lapse from reality... unless the sorcerer can somehow grab hold of this reality.

So, a character blows it.  The clock is ticking.  He has to lock onto one of his ties, grab a handful of reality, until the Slip passes.  He has to put Wagner on the stereo and blast it at maximum volume until his Love of German Opera grounds him back in reality.

As a sorcerer slides further away, his options for avoiding Slip get fewier, and its more likely he'll loose it more often.

Once he has lost all his Ties, he Slips with no chance to resist.

But then, he begins to acquire new ties- but twisted, alien ones.  More like a demon's Need.


This places resistance to the degenerative slip firmly in the realm of character action, and not based on the success or failure of a die mechanic.  

Not to mention the delight of seeing a desperate character break into a Starbucks at 4 in the morning hoping his Lust for Coffee will save him from an alien hell.


 
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greyorm
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« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2001, 01:50:00 PM »

Here's the problem as I see it: by deciding to define anything any human does as human as Humanity, you end up boxing yourself out of inhuman results.

Frex, what's so inhuman about having to photograph human ears?  Some folks, in real life, have weird obsessions, and we can't excuse them away as the result of alien realms.

Almost anything on a list, barring truly supernatural things like seeing THROUGH flesh or consuming oneself without disappearing, could be racked up as "human."

I'm not saying to go the "niceness" route, as hate, anger, arrogance, jealousy, obsessiveness and a variety of other "not nice" mental states are part of the human experience.  However, I would divorce from humanity the idea that anything based on sociopathy/psychopathy is human.

Why?  Simply because these states, as defined, are inhuman...not human...they are "broken human."  They aren't part of the the human experience, they are outside it, which is why they are classified as mental diseases.  Their very nature is an inability to connect to or understand human experience.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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Bailywolf
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« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2001, 02:30:00 PM »


All valid points.  You're making me think (and on a Friday!).  I'm angling in on Humanity from a different dirrection.  

Both the psycho and the college student live in the same reality, and despite their radicaly different perspectives, compared to a demon (as I've concieved them in this running concept) they are mentaly virtualy identical.

Even the most wildly insane mundane human is still firmly grounded in reality- perhaps through intense obsession and delusion- even MORE firmly grounded than a clear-thinking "normal" person.

What I'm getting at is that the occult forces a sorcerer fools around with are so outside the human understanding, that even the worst human perversions and insanities are pattently normal when compared.  Even worse, they can distort and warp even the hardest, most world-worn person because they are beyond all human experience.

Even nuttier, a sorcerer who starts out insane and psycho can actualy become a better person as his dangerous insanities (his Ties) are erroded by increased occult lore... but just when he finaly starts thinking clearly... he Slips off to something horrible.

I've never been one to use rules to penalize players for character actions ("Make a conscience check to avoid humanity loss!")... as a GM I always figured a character's actions carry their own consequences.  This is why I'm delibretly swerving away from a placing any human-possible actions off limits.

But by the same token, I'd have to insist that players avoid creating characters which screw up the group dynamic or make the other players sick in their dice bags.



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Bailywolf
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« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2001, 08:24:00 AM »


Real quick, some system ideas for the concepts I've kicked around here.

Humanity equals a total of one's Will and Stamina, minus Lore.

Each point of humanity is represented by a Tie (or root or link or touch... can't figure out the best name).  A tie is a definite defining characteristic which roots a person in reality- an obsession, love, hate, mental illness, addiction, alergy, style, or quirk.  

When a point of humanity is lost (by increasing Lore or screwing up a binding) one of these ties also vanishes.  The GM can randomly kill them off, pick the one's he finds most anoying, or the palyer can arange them into some kind of hierarchy- the most trivial to the most deeply significant.

If a sorcerer totaly fails a magic related check (to compell/bind/banish demons or when trying to pull a sway), he brings on a Slip.  The only way to avert a slip is to focus on a tie- the more ties a sorcerer has, the more options for averting Slip, and the more likely to avoid it.

Depending on low the die totals on the blown check are, the sorcerer will have a variable amount of time to ground himself (divided into vague catagories like 'minutes' 'about an hour' several hours' 'a whole day'.  If the slipping sorcerer looses consciousness with an impending Slip, he slips automaticaly (a very slippery sentence).

Grounding with a Tie is a roleplaying element, and if the player can't convince the GM and the other Players that his character is realy grabbing hold of reality with both hands, then it might not work (or a simple check with the most apropriate score- stam or will- might be in order for those groups that prefer a system-oriented resolution).

No single tie can be used to Ground more than once per day (defined as the time between sleep/unconsciousness during which the mind can 'reset').  The Guy with only 1 tie is in trouble, and should watch is ass.

Bad behavior won't cost you any ties, but can certainly get you in trouble (and piss the GM off at you).


When you run out of ties... you vanish from reality.  MIA.  

But sometimes you can come back.  A kind GM may let you make a Will or Stamina (which ever is LOWER) check against your own Lore.  Failure means you are pretty much gone for good (until some story event intervenes).  Make a new character.  Success means you return to reality after a period based on your victories.  5 victories, and you're back in hours.  1 victory may get you home in months.

When you return, you have a new trait which replaces humanity- Twist.

Twist works just like humanity, except when you Slip or improve Lore or blow a binding you gain a new point of Twist.  Each Twist represents an elements of alien reality you've dragged back with you from one of your aweful Slips.  A Twist acts like a Demon's need- the wierder the better.  You must indulge the Twist every so often, or suffer, and to avoid Slip, you must wallow in it.

Each Twist also grants a single power the equilivent to a medium strength demonic ability- GM aproval required.  Every such power must relate in some thematic or symbolic way to the nature of the Twist.

When Twist is greater than the better of either Will or Stamina, the sorcerer is shredded across multiple realities, but continues to live as a fractured, spectral horror.



More to come... I'm toying with the Sway rules.



Thoughts?




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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2001, 08:38:00 AM »

Hey,

My thought is that you're starting to play without actually playing, and coming up with all sorts of implications and permutations that are too weighty. I strongly recommend that you skip back a few posts, and start play from that perspective. If you keep up what you're doing, the players won't have anything to do or contribute - which in practice means they will, appropriately, be uninterested in play themselves.

Best,
Ron
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Bailywolf
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« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2001, 12:00:00 PM »


Ron,

I don't quite follow... could you explain your angle a bit more?  

thanks

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