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the Hite report

Started by Ron Edwards, September 07, 2001, 12:20:00 PM

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Ron Edwards

Hey folks,

The book's received its first review, and I for one am vastly relieved - much as I attempt to ignore reviews, this one's pending appearance did give me qualms.

It's at

Too bad he didn't get the Kicker, though - its integration with the improvement mechanic seems to address his concern nicely.


P.S. Thanks to Gareth H for the heads-up about the review.
P.P.S. Clinton, don't EVEN start up about my interaction with Ken Hite during GenCon.

joshua neff

Wow, that was a pretty cool review. Except for the Kicker. (Contrived? Huh? It's essentially PC backstory, with some immediate story-generating "kick" to it--sorry about the pun--so how is that "contrived"?)

Quotethe fact that people have given Ron
Edwards enough good money for a fairly (not to say extremely) setting-light and minimalist PDF RPG to support a really snazzy hardcopy (and hardcover) version is almost a recommendation in itself.

Sh'yeah! Interesting that people misunderstand that, as well. Or at least, they notice it & see it as a sign of Sorcerer's strength as a game, but they don't seem to see it as a viable, or even crucial, sales model. There doesn't seem to be a lot of vocal notice on the connection between Sorcerer &, on one hand, S. John Ross & Monte Cook, who established themselves in the game world & then went to direct sales via their websites &, on the other hand, Jared, who has developed a following of people who continually tell him they'd shell out their own money for stuff he offers on-line for free. There's still that idea that you have to put out a physical product (costing you lots of money) & then work your ass off trying to get people to buy it (& get your initial investment back).
Oh well. The night is young.

[ This Message was edited by: joshua neff on 2001-09-07 16:12 ]

"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes

Ron Edwards


The trouble with the sales model is avoid giving the incorrect message that the PDF sales actually funded the print costs. That's not true; my profits for the PDF were measured in the hundreds and print costs are measured in the thousands.

What the PDF stage did do includes the following:

1) provide a perfectly viable "stopping point" for the game, without ever going to print. I didn't plan to take Sorcerer into book form until GenCon 2000 (it's Jonathan Tweet's fault, by the way; he steered me to the Obsidian booth and I was consumed with jealousy).

2) put the material through the market of raw demand - does it stand up? Do people like it? Do they like playing it? This also established commercial ownership of the material for good and all.

3) similarly, put the material through savage testing and critique; hopefully MOST of that occurred when it was free, but of course many issues continued to come up or develop through the second phase too.

4) generating a fan base, finding whether people are  willing to enlist their time and effort in the game's support, establishing that Sorcerer is expressing not only its basic content but also a principle, and using it as a banner to encourage others' applications of that same principle.



I suspect thats because the Kicker is probably the least developed (in the actual rules)of the major game mechanics. In all honesty if I had not spent the time I did on the GO forum where this idea came up frequently and again here, I wouldn't really understand it from the attention its given in the rules either.

Humanity as a concept threads through the entire text reaching every corner of the game.  The Kicker as a concept is largely relegated to a single section of the character creation rules and recieves scant attention after that.

Its also stands out as it and telltales are the only character rule that doesn't have a game mechanic effect.

Stats lead to dice rolled.
Descriptors for stats lead to earning bonus dice.
Price...must be tied to a die penelty or it doesn't count.

Kickers have no actual game mechanic to them, which can (without the benefit of extended forum coaching) make them seem like they were tacked on as an after thought.  

Unsurprisingly, telltales also seem somewhat out of place to me.  Like Kickers they have no dice mechanic associated and like Kickers do not thread their way through the text.

I think perhaps if there was some die roll benefit to scenes involving ones Kicker, or some die roll modifier associated with noticing tell tales (the way the die roll modifier for Price is emphasized) they would tie more seamlessly into the rules.

Note: I love the Kicker idea.  Not only is it a powerful motivator but I know of no other mechanic that supports In Media Res play so well.  I'm just saying that most of my understanding and appreciation of it comes from these forums and not the actual rules.  I'm not surprised that Hite didn't "get it" simply from reading the rule book.

Ron Edwards

Good point, Ralph, regarding the Kicker emphasis ... although I still say its role in the character development is central to play, ONCE you get going.

RPG rules are necessarily written to grab and introduce the reader to the game. It's much harder - and arguably, less useful pound for pound - to discuss issues that only arise AFTER play has occurred for a while.

How does one articulate, in a rulebook, the considerations for improving relationships instead of sword-skill in Hero Wars? Or the fact that Swashbuckler's improvement mechanic graphs at an exponent between 0 and 1, instead of greater than 1, as in most games? Or the fascinating effect of the Zero experience system (which NO one seems to catch), that if you improve your existing abilities you have zero-sum improvement, but if you broaden them via new experiences, you DO get net improvement.

A lot of games don't have such things - e.g. Unknown Armies, which is a GREAT short-term game but awfully thin in the long term (Avatars or no Avatars).

Ideally, I'd love to see such concerns arise in an RPG rulebook. In practice, 99% or more of the text is going to be about startup concepts and considerations instead.


P.S. The Telltale may be spotted with a Lore roll - this ends up being a big deal during play, a lot of the time. Make sure you keep that in mind for Saturday's game, as Yzor's and Yvonne's Telltales can play a big role in getting the player-characters to be proactive.