Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.

Main Menu

Humanity opposed to the Truth

Started by jrients, December 30, 2002, 10:17:00 PM

Previous topic - Next topic


Here’s my first, highly derivative crack at putting together something for Sorcerer.  Feedback is greatly appreciated.

Lovecraft and Call of Cthulhu plus maybe the eastern concept of “maya”, the world-as-illusion, are the inspirations for this idea.  Oh yeah, a special thanks also goes to my bad attitude about being polite to customers at work.  Without it, I wouldn’t be so down on human society as I write this.

Anyway, Humanity is defined as buying into the lies that serve as the infrastructure of civilization.  From little things like saying “Have a nice day” when you don’t mean it to big things like believing that humanity has a special role in Creation.  Everything you know and believe is absolute crapola.  (Depressing, ain’t it?)  Incomprehensible laws and alien logic guide the universe, not our primitive idea of “science” and not some white-bearded guy in the clouds.   Dealing with the demonic peels back the wrapper we’ve put around the universe, exposing us to a dreadful speck of the truth about things.  Even our concepts “the universe” and “the truth” whitewash the chaotic jumble that is reality.  There is no universe, no truth, no reality as we understand the terms.

Besides trafficking with demons, the other main way to lose humanity is to share the truth with others.  Publish that monograph on how patterns in the stars form the Enochian alphabet and you risk losing more humanity.  Sure, your peers will mock you.  The Amazing Randi and Carl Sagan will “expose” you as a fraud.  The sane of the world will heap lie upon lie to obscure your insight.  But somewhere someone will be exposed to the disease that is the Truth and only you are to blame.  Spread the disease and lose your own grip on Humanity.

Zero Humanity means losing track of the hypocrisies and fibs that society is built on.  In short, you are a nutter.

What do you think?  Does it have enough oomph?

PS:  Got Sorcerer and S&S for Xmas.  I love it that my wife lets me order my own gift.  These fine tomes join Nobilis and the first edition DMG as the only gaming books I’ve enthusiastically read from cover-to-cover.

PPS:  As I read Sorcerer and then S&S I kept thinking about the ‘81 D&D Basic/Expert set and Traveller books 1-3.  Neither game was generic in the GURPS since of the term, but both sets were toolboxes for constructing your own game in a way that most products today seem to have lost.
Jeff Rients

J B Bell


I think it's a lovely retort to the postmodernism seen in modern magic roleplaying games popular nowadays.  The flipside of "reality is what you make it"--"'reality' don't count for shit.  Nothing does."  Tasty nihilism.  I'd play it.  Heck, I'd run it.

--JB, who also has a bad customer-service attitude even though (because?) he's really good at it.
"Have mechanics that focus on what the game is about. Then gloss the rest." --Mike Holmes

Ron Edwards


Yeah, that is right on target with the kind of games I ran in Sorcerer's early days. Humanity 0 = "You're dead right. You're also a raving asshole." Pretty harsh Modern, not postmodern at all.

What do you think about the completely different approaches to presentation and prose style between Sorcerer and Nobilis?

Regarding your PPS - yes. Yes indeed.



Quote from: Ron EdwardsWhat do you think about the completely different approaches to presentation and prose style between Sorcerer and Nobilis?

Man, you have a knack for asking simple questions that require great thought to properly answer.

First off, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the physical objects.  Both books go a long way in my mind to help support the notion that roleplaying really can be a serious, mature, adult hobby.  Even though everyone in my life knows how silly I am, it's nice to have a game with something besides guns or swords on the cover.

For sheer utility, Sorcerer scores big points.  Its the size of a real book like you see people casually reading in a cafe or on a long bus ride or somesuch.  Remove the excellent dust jacket and you have a subtle book as well.  It doesn't even say that its a roleplaying game on the book exterior.  I like that.  It suggests to me that Sorcerer is a subversive text.  It can sneak up on you.

I don't think I need to elaborate on how gorgeous the Hogshead edition of Nobilis is, but I would note that the full page illos seem like an ultra classy approach to layout.

Now about the texts, Nobilis reads like a siren call: here's my setting, come explore it in all its mystery and luxury.  Exemplar NPCs are referenced with the conceit that somewhere out there, these people and events already exist for you to tap into in your own game.  It's a credit to the author that for once I buy into this charade.  I want to play in her world.  I don't normally go for other people's NPCs, but she does a great job of presenting them as tools for my own use.  I don't get the creepy vibe I do from some author's pet NPCs.  (Am I the only one that gets the heeby-jeebies from Elminister?  Back when he was just the old coot in Pages from the Mages I liked the guy.  Something went horribly awry after that.)

That being said, running Nobilis intimidates me.  It's just so damn big.  I am trying to put together a group to run a one-shot of it and I am shaking in my sneakers.  The rules are so artsy-fartsy that I feel like my own game has to be some sort of artistic statement.  I'm hoping actually running the thing will help me get over it.

Stylistically, Sorcerer seems to take the approach that it doesn't have to try to impress me.  Deep down its got it where it counts and doesn't need to flaunt it.  I like the straightforward tone.  The text cuts an entertaining course between casual conversation and formal instruction, occasionally landing on one or the other shore but mostly just making its own way.  Less flowery (ahem) than Nobilis, but also easier to comprehend.

I also get the feeling that the author has played some of the same RPGs as I have, particularly CoC and older versions of D&D.  At some point we've been in the same trenches, fighting the same battles.  The text of Nobilis sometimes seems to read like its primary audience is World of Darkness players.  (Not a problem, just not the case for me.) Even as I enjoy reading Nobilis, I'm often left wondering if terms like "story" and "chronicle" don't have deeper resonances of which I am unaware.

Not having actually played either game, I wouldn't be able to state a preference for one game or the other.  I get the feeling that I will get a lot more long-term use out of my copy of Sorcerer.  Nobilis probably wins as a thing, but Sorcerer comes out on top as a thing to do.  Dig it?

Now to get back on topic for a moment:  Ron, these early games of yours, what kind of definition for demon did you use?
Jeff Rients

Ron Edwards

Hi Jeff,

The example demons in the book are much along the lines of the demons in our first games: hip, flip, kind of toon-like in a carnivorous way, with occasional flashes of really surrealistic horror. I tended to run games based on Hong Kong action movie aesthetics, not the Shaw Bros but more like A Better Tomorrow or perhaps God of Gamblers. My combat scenes, back then, had a more Champions-style feel to them, with powers shootin' off left and right, with tons of movement-oriented tactics. Other big influences were Mortal Kombat and the book Practical Demon-keeping, neither of which can be seen as the more psychological, brooding suspense of most of my Sorcerer stuff today.

Thanks for answering my question about Nobilis/Sorcerer, too - it always strikes me as odd how similar the two games are (probably in their common influence by Amber) and yet so, so different.