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Author Topic: [Sorcerer] Convention scenario  (Read 2324 times)
Per Fischer
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« on: June 12, 2004, 03:06:01 PM »

In Denmark there is a long tradition of scenarios written for conventions, able to be played by a GM other than the author, and with complete and extensive player characters. I have done a few of them, and I am writing a Sorcerer scenario for a big Danish con next year.

Now, to make sure to follow the intentions imbedded in Sorcerer, one of the big problems are the player characters and the fact that there will be no time for the GM to discuss extensively before actual play (4-6 hours). There has to be a comprehensive player booklet for each player, explaning basic rules, rituals, Humanity and of course the PC. My problem is how well it will fare if the characters are written completely with Kickers and all, would it work, or work against my intentions?
Needless to say there will be everything the GM needs as well, R-Map, Bangs Galore, Premise etc.

I have different ideas:

Let other roleplayers write a character each, as if we were going to play ourselves, including Kicker, and use those characters for the scenario. (To make sure the PCs are as diverse as possible).

Write the characters myself (as I would normally do), but leave out the Kickers. The first hour of the session would then be set aside for the GM to explain the basics and for the players to come up with Kickers for their characters (I like this option, but I wonder how it would be perceived by players).

Write Kickers for the PCs, but only give the appropiate Kicker to a player if s/he fails to come up with their own, or their suggestion is too weak.

I think it's possible to do it, and still uphold the ideal of player authoring their characters, but am I wrong? I would be willing to work on the scenario openly, ie here on the forum, to examine it and hopefully make good use of your input.

Per
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Per
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Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Judd
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« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2004, 03:49:03 PM »

Per,

I would be very interested in seeing and helping design an adventure or an adventure format playable at conventions, perhaps easily downloadable.

Neat, I've got a few ideas brewing that I will post after they have marinated a bit.

Judd
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Per Fischer
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« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2004, 03:55:29 PM »

Quote from: Paka
I would be very interested in seeing and helping design an adventure or an adventure format playable at conventions, perhaps easily downloadable.


Judd :)

Just to be absolutely sure: I am not after a generic adventure format, but a specific scenario/adventure using Sorcerer. But now you mention it, it's probably inevitable that some generic guidelines emerge during the brainstorm and actual writing. That's even good :)
(I hope that wasn't all babbling nonsense)

Per
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Per
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Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Judd
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« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2004, 03:58:29 PM »

Nope, I understood and hear ya.

Rock on.

I'd reccommend using the idea from Sorcerer where an old Sorcerer has died and his Demons are running rampant.  

Perhaps Demons are based on the Seven Deadly Sins somehow and he had seven Demons when he died.

Perhaps the PC's are all mentioned in the will and have gathered to get what they were granted.  This could tie into the Kicker somehow.  

Hm.

Tossing stuff about.
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sirogit
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« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2004, 04:16:38 PM »

Personally, I would say that Kicker should be pre-generated. To make a Kicker really good, I think the GM needs some -time- to think about it, not nessecarily focused time, but time where it's bubbling around in their head, so in the middle of work on tuesday, *snap* He's got a great idea for how to handle that issue or sudden insight for what needs to be tweaked. Unfortunately, this does subtract the best part about kickers. It's a limiation of the medium.

Somewhat random snippets of advice:

*Diversify the Lore descriptors.

*If you can, try to make the scenario something that you can progress in Stages, like with the example scneraio in the Sorcerer book, it makes it alot easier to handle it's progress.

*Communicate clearly that nothing on the character sheet tells the player what moral decsisions their characters will make.
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Per Fischer
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« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2004, 06:13:01 AM »

OK, guys, excellent thoughts :)

Quote from: sirogit
Personally, I would say that Kicker should be pre-generated. To make a Kicker really good, I think the GM needs some -time- to think about it, not nessecarily focused time, but time where it's bubbling around in their head, so in the middle of work on tuesday, *snap* He's got a great idea for how to handle that issue or sudden insight for what needs to be tweaked. Unfortunately, this does subtract the best part about kickers. It's a limiation of the medium.


Exactly what I initially was thinking. But then I thought on the other hand, the reason for the powerful emotional binding (no pun intended) between players and PCs in Sorcerer seems to derive from the fact that Kickers are player-authored and thus very involving. That's why, if I wrote all the Kickers, no matter how brilliant the were, there would always remain a risk that one or more players wouldn't take ownership of the character. Or wouldn't care enough, so to speak. Maybe I am just seeing ghosts, but I'd like to be clear on this :)

Sirogit said stages, and that's exactly what I'm going to do. Apart from being one hell of a scenario, this is also going to be promotion of the game, so I think I'll go for a modern setting, or at least a post-WW2 one. I am thinking Don Delillo and Elroy here.

Per
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Per
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Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2004, 06:42:27 AM »

Hello,

Chapter 3 in Sex & Sorcery is a convention scenario which essentially puts the players in charge of characters well after they are in motion.

It includes a number of points describing why the game is almost uniquely poorly-suited for such play, and how, if one must, these points can be set aside. However, in doing so, the game is robbed of nearly everything that makes it powerful, leaving only a few stylistic things to show off during the course of a fairly blah play-experience.

I've learned quite a few things about playing this and other con-style scenarios for Sorcerer.

1. You must make it absolutely clear that the players are not expected merely to "depict" the characters they have been handed. This is not acting class - their job is to justify the statement that the Kicker is the single most important transformative experience in the character's life.

As part of this point, clarify that the descriptors are not how the characters are "supposed to act," but rather are how the character usually deals with problems. Off-descriptor behavior is encouraged if it is produced during an ethical or otherwise-engaging crisis.

2. There is no designated villain. Characters may choose to ally with one another, with any of the demons, or with any of the NPCs. They are similarly free relative to one another.

This is so foreign to most role-players, and most especially regarding my introductory Lincoln High reunion scenario, that they frankly don't believe it. Their logic goes, "If that's true, then he can't have a big showy fight-scene planned with us banding against the bad guy. But since he must have such a thing, then he's lying. Look out, he's a tricky GM. Be on your guard, everyone!"

How you deal with this is up to you, but it often involves re-orienting the players openly during crisis scenes. It's astounding how often, halfway through (say) the Demon House scenario, people are shocked when I say, "Remember, the villain is only whoever you choose to place in conflict with your character's goals." They might, for instance, have noted how much I enjoy playing the NPC Sophie, and thus have earmarked her as "can't be touched GM pet." You must break this kind of thinking openly.

3. Characters in Sorcerer are not at their maximum effectiveness as written on the sheet. Again, this is foreign territory for most people - they figure the sheet represents the character with a full gas tank, so to speak, and anything that happens to the character is a reduction in effectiveness. So bluntly, they play like pansies.

I strongly recommend that you point out opportunities for all the little fun details of Sorcerer resolution. Remember that a player does not have to be trying to get bonus dice, but may well get them legitimately anyway. Do so, and point it out verbally as you go.

Most especially, point out that all the characters know all the rituals, and that any sorcerer may match Wills with any demon, to tell it what to do.

Roll all the dice openly and abide by the system at all times. (This is also fun, when players simply cannot believe that you aren't tweaking outcomes toward planned effects.) Learn the multiple-roll conflict resolution and use it over and over, across multiple scenes if necessary.

With any luck, one or perhaps two new players will flash onto the "oh! I get better when I do this!" principles of play.

Best,
Ron
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Lars M. Nielsen
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« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2004, 12:06:30 PM »

Which con might this be. VikingCon? Because if it is, I'd be happy to run it as well. Unless, of course, you'd prefer only to run it yourself. Even if it isn't VikingCon I would stille love to help.

Lars M. Nielsen (resides in Copenhagen)
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Per Fischer
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« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2004, 12:49:09 PM »

Quote from: kallisti_dk
Which con might this be. VikingCon? Because if it is, I'd be happy to run it as well. Unless, of course, you'd prefer only to run it yourself. Even if it isn't VikingCon I would stille love to help.


Hi Lars :)

I was thinking of another con, actually, but maybe I should reconsider. The thing is, I won't be able to be there (unless they invite me as special guest of honour ;) as I live in the UK. Thanks, I'll count on you :)

Per
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Per
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Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Per Fischer
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« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2004, 01:20:30 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Chapter 3 in Sex & Sorcery is a convention scenario which essentially puts the players in charge of characters well after they are in motion.

It includes a number of points describing why the game is almost uniquely poorly-suited for such play, and how, if one must, these points can be set aside. However, in doing so, the game is robbed of nearly everything that makes it powerful, leaving only a few stylistic things to show off during the course of a fairly blah play-experience.


Cheers, Ron

See, though I haven't bought the Sex supplement yet (the only one I haven't got yet), that was what I was fearing. I mean, "almost uniquely poorly-suited for such play" is pretty un-misunderstandable. That clearly spells "don't do it" to me.

But what about letting players, after introducing them briefly to the game stresssing the points you mention, Ron, get a character without a kicker and ask them to write one? (Still, perhaps having a set of Kickers ready for players who say: "HUH?")

Anyway, now I have to get hold of the third Sorcerer book asap.

Per
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Per
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Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Fabrice G.
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« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2004, 03:43:47 AM »

Hi Per,

Two things really helped me when I designed a Sorcerer convention scenario.

The first thing that helped me greatly in the design of a convention scenario was modeled after Ron's "Hight School Reunion" demo scebario: it was posing some important facts of the character life (maybe two or three)  and asking why and/or how it hapened to the player.

The benifits were a) each player had a chance to really make the characters his own, thus really having an emotional investment in the character ; and b) with the same basics, you can have very different characters, thus different stories for each characters.


The other thing was to follow the advices in the rulebook. That is, coming with a sorcerous crisis, then building a long term backstory and a setting to flesh it. The way I did it was starting the story near the end of completion. Most of the built-up was done in the backstory and in the kickers.


Take care,

Fabrice
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Michael S. Miller
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« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2004, 06:46:22 AM »

Hi, Per.

I've been down this road: running Sorcerer at conventions. I first tried Ron's Lincoln High Class Reunion. It didn't gel in my head properly and it wasn't very good (although a number of the players enjoyed it immensely). I then wrote a scenario centered on a society ball, which also went poorly.

What I finally ended up doing was adapting the Sorcerer monthly game I was running into a convention-style event. The actual play thread is [Sorcerer] Urban Squalor And it rocked!

I used the same design technique that Ron did in designing "In Utero" in Sex&Sorcery. it's called "the world's smallest relationship map" technique, Make sure all your PCs are bound by blood or sex, with Kickers that bring the other PCs into potential conflict.

Follow all the advice Ron gives above about breaking gamers of their standard assumptions. And also remember one immutable rule of conventions: TIME IS YOUR ENEMY. It would be great to be able to have players generate a Kicker right there at the table, and then weave them all together masterfully, but it's doubtful that you'll have enough time to do such a thing. Christopher Kubasik tried it in this thread: My First Sorcerer Game: Orccon 2003 -- actually, that's the prep thread, but I seem to recall a recounting of the actual play, and it not coming off so well, but I can't find that thread now. Any help?

Good luck and let us know how it goes
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Per Fischer
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« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2004, 10:04:20 AM »

Thanks, guys, great stuff.

The Highschool Reunion, is that from Sex & S or around on the forums somewhere? I tried to look for it, but couldn't find it.
Per
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Per
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Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Michael S. Miller
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« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2004, 11:05:18 AM »

Quote from: pfischer
The Highschool Reunion, is that from Sex & S or around on the forums somewhere? I tried to look for it, but couldn't find it.


Lincoln High School Reunion is a convention demo scenario Ron wrote. If you e-mail him, he might send it to you.
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