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Author Topic: Sorcer and Soldiers  (Read 6096 times)
Jake Norwood
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« on: August 25, 2005, 02:48:48 PM »

So I'm packing my "A" bag for the big flight into Iraq, trying to decide if it's even worth bringing an RPG. I haven't played in about 2 years--not really, at least--and I'm sure that I'd have more success finding players out in the sandbox with, um, Star Wars or something. But then I'm looking at my library, and I see Sex and Sorcerer ("Little, Yellow, Different..."). Sorcerer. Yeah. All those d20 goons can kiss my camo'ed ass...

So I'm bringing sorcerer. And I know that I don't really need this post, but the fact is that I miss the Forge and I miss games a whole bunch, so this seemed as good of an excuse to post as any.

What approaches to Setting and Premise, preferably using the Sorcerer core book only, might most powerfully engage soldiers in a combat situation? Not that any of us knows, of course, but since Sorcerer--like all good games--is about *players*, not *characters," it seems to me to be a pretty deeply relevant sorcerer question.

What are your ideas? And why?

Oh, and Ron, we should chat. Gimme a call--I can never get a hold of you.

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Darcy Burgess
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Posts: 476


« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2005, 08:14:05 AM »

well, I'm not sure whether they'd like it (because that's in large part a matter of where your head is at when you hear about "it"), but I can't imagine that it would fail to grab one by the short & curlies...

setting: an idyllic, enlightened environment.  Think "ivory tower" or "near-utopia".

premise: violence is never an acceptable solution to adversity (with the corollary that those who use it are "wrong" or "evil")

this obviously would play to the notion that civilians just don't "get what it means to be a soldier", something that I know was a pretty intense feeling my dad expressed on more than one occasion.
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2005, 09:36:55 AM »

Hi Darcy.

Thanks for replying.

I think your idea, which is sooo far out from what I would have come up with, is exactly the kind of thing that I needed. Let me see if I get this idea right.

The premise being that "Violence is Bad, No Matter What" is exactly the kind of thing that throws people off. It's good.

Now, here's the issue, then. What are demons? I see sorcerers here as the few that find themselves embroiled in some kind of violence--it has to be. Thus Humanity is defined along the lines of pacifism--respect of life and limb above all, perhaps. Demons are a manifestation of fear, anger, and those elements that inspire violence.

Is that what you're seeing, or is that 180 degrees off?

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2005, 09:40:39 AM »

Hi Jake,

Another approach is plain old war-story - the brotherhood of the combat team vs. the necessity of seeing some of them die. All sorts of things play out from that, like guilt over surviving and so forth.

But I am not sure that would precisely be my choice for play while actually engaged in a combat zone.

Arguably, it might even be interesting to abandon the war context entirely, for purposes of the game. Pure suburban soccer-mom Sorcerer.

Best,
Ron

P.S. I was in Sweden for a while and most recently at GenCon. Hooking up has definitely been difficult. Send me ALL your contact info by PM, so I have it in one place, and we'll take it from there.

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Darcy Burgess
Member

Posts: 476


« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2005, 11:41:45 AM »

Now, here's the issue, then. What are demons? I see sorcerers here as the few that find themselves embroiled in some kind of violence--it has to be. Thus Humanity is defined along the lines of pacifism--respect of life and limb above all, perhaps. Demons are a manifestation of fear, anger, and those elements that inspire violence.

To be honest, I hadn't given the nature of Demons much thought.  But if I had, I'd like to think that your idea would have been mine.  I like it.  The concept of an individual summoning the rage and pain from within fits beautifully into the premise.

It's got a "Hulk Smash Puny University!!!" vibe.  But less silly.

Or not...
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Darcy Burgess
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« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2005, 01:48:37 PM »

as an afterthought/aside, I can't think of utopia/dystopia without having flashes of Moebius' artwork dance through my skull.

I believe the venn diagram would be: [Heavy Metal [Taarna ["We have captured a Terrakian!"]]]

ain't colour grand?
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2005, 06:44:19 AM »

Yeah, I thought about the plain old war story--you know I'll have an RPG of "real war" at some point coming out of all of this. One of the reasons I joined the Army, you know. Life Research.

That being said, I think you're right that it probably isn't the best way to go--something more escapist is probably a better idea. Soccer mom sorcerer is, well, something I hadn't thought of, though.

I want to start puting together this idea of a "safe" world. The problem is that I keep on ending up with "Demolition Man" in my head--this sort of goofy, unpleasant sort of fakey-fake peace. The idea of a soccer-mom world, oddly, appeals to me. How to make the "soccer mom world" the safe world? That's my question.

Humanity: Non-violent solutions
Demons: Rage, anger, and violence
"Setting" (for lack of a better term): A sort of Modern european/suburbian hybrid. Cafes, soccer, SUVs. Violence is simply, totally not acceptable.

But how is that enorced? And how do I make that a catalyst for conflict without making it *the* conflict? The whole idea of "there's a bad man using violence...who's going to stop it? Ah! The sorcerer PCs, who harness their violent urges to defeat evil...AARGH!" Seems way too easy to me. Too Marvel.

Jake     
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Peter Nordstrand
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« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2005, 07:38:13 AM »

I was in Sweden for a while

So you were in Sweden, huh? Well where is my fucking drink?

For that post alone, I plan to buy you a drink if we ever happen to meet.

Sure, you had something more "important" to do ... you weren't even in my part of the country ... Bah! I know you type, full of empty promises. You're avoding me, you cheap bastard!

Cheers,
Code:
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The_Tim
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Armchair Game Theorist


« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2005, 07:45:48 AM »

Change violence to deviation.  The suburban life is thick with rules and standards, and without these it cannot exist.  Demons threaten that by violence, crime, different ways of thought, and so on.  Demons don't just assault humanity but the idea of humanity having value.  People crave things that cannot be found in the safe, standardized suburban world.  Hence demons.

I would define Humanity in two ways.  The first is conformity.  Submission to society for its good.  Following the rules.  Obeying the home owner's covenant.  The second is identity.  Understanding of oneself.  Ability to maintain personal beliefs in opposition to the majority.  Humanity is expressed primarily in the latter way by younger individuals, who switch to the former way in adulthood.  Demons do not just break one's connection to society, but to oneself.  At humanity zero sorcerers end up understanding themselves as well as they understand demons.

Instead of setting up a fight fire with fire situation just let the players decide why their characters are violating their world.  I would suggest putting a bit of dirt under the carpet already.  Cults enslaving demons to heighten status in the community.  Disaffected teens fumbling with learning sorcery on their own.  Lodges of various fraternal orders summoning to show that they can.  Basically a lot of cocky "I can force a demon to aid me in my perfectly socially acceptable activities" attitudes.

I'd have demons be things that integrate well with the surface of placidity in the community.  Passer relatives and college buddies, Posser fads and trends, Item status symbols, and Parasite plastic surgery/medical treatments.  Things that seem normal, except for the tell.
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Larry L.
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Posts: 616

aka Miskatonic


« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2005, 05:40:06 PM »

this obviously would play to the notion that civilians just don't "get what it means to be a soldier", something that I know was a pretty intense feeling my dad expressed on more than one occasion.

I channeled this sentiment pretty hard in our final Polaris playtest session. In that game, it provoked a pretty serious defeatist sentiment in the other player. Like "Fuck all these ingrates -- Let the demons destroy them." Because that game is all about knights who are ultimately fated to lose their souls defending a way of life that the civilians who live it could care less about. The game mechanics there say your knight becomes jaded at point X, but the player was jaded long before that.

So I think the trick is creating contempt for that sort of naive, pacifistic society but while also very firmly establishing that the value of that society is worth sacrificing oneself for -- even if the society is competely oblivious to that sacrifice.

So maybe sorcerers are vigilante types in that suburban niceville (filled with apathetic cops), who believe they are justified in using violence, even if it costs them their Humanity. Because, hell, if you don't do it, you know there are other fuckers out there who don't have any qualms about it. Fuck if you're gonna let them come out on top. The demons would be the actual violence, whether it's in you or a weapon or your hired thugs.
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Darcy Burgess
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« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2005, 05:35:15 AM »

sweet idea Larry!  that makes so much sense.

You've conjured up images of walled-in burbclaves with the slavering unwashed hordes throwing themselves at the walls.

The breakwater is crubling, and the PCs are the only ones who've got the cajones to do something about it.

Sounds like the Sorcerers in this game might be rebellious teens.
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2005, 12:38:03 PM »



Sounds like the Sorcerers in this game might be rebellious teens.

Interestingly (if that's even a word) I was thinking the same thing. Sort of.

I think it started with "American History X" and "Believer," both of which are about young, charismatic, intelligent White Supremacist ring leaders that decide that their way of life isn't what they really believe, and certainly that they aren't fighting for what they thought they were fighting for. The whole neo-Nazi movement has some very, very powerful imagery (all the black white and red, the stark lines of the old SS logos and eagles, the bald heads, etc. etc.), and--at least in film--is rife with lots of pretty solid logic about why they believe what they believe...up to a point (the films usually showcase the logic slowly being eaten away by irrationality, anger, violence, and hypocrisy).

ANYWAY, I can see some very powerful themes there--group identity, anger, mob mentality, logic that seems right (up to a point), etc. So now put a couple of reforming skinheads in Europe-suburbia with the walls coming down. Their demons are thier own, personal inner demons--those things that were harnessed to become leaders in the twisted goose-stepping "revolution" that they were once part of. Now, as they identify humanity as the preseveration of life--even that of their so-called enemies--they struggle with letting the demons that enable them to be saviors of these people but which (demons) have needs and desires of subversion, bigotry, hatred...

Okay, so it might all be a bit heavy for wartime play, but I think it's a powerful weight--something worth working on.

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Darcy Burgess
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Posts: 476


« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2005, 09:17:21 PM »

Well, if the direct imagery is too intense, take those themes, and transplant them.

The whole premise/direction you're going in would make a kick-ass game of Sorcership Down.  Fucking right.  Sorcerer bunnies.

Burb=warren.  Go!
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