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[Sorcerer] Our first session: Part One: Player Characters and Demons

Started by Lisa Padol, November 29, 2005, 02:21:23 AM

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Lisa Padol

The actual write up will follow in the next post on this thread.

Character: Andreas von Ouranenburg
Player: Dave Demast

Appearance: Normal, Average, Perfectly Non-descript
Telltale: Small animals flee or cower

Stamina: 4 Athletic Regime (Hunter)
Will: 2 Lover
Lore: 4 Mad
Cover: 4 Professor of Natural Sciences (Biology)
Humanity: 4, now 3

Price: In Denial: -1 to first interaction with demons
Kicker: Falling in love with Sebastian's niece, Ysabel

Andreas is a seriously disturbed man. He was abused as a child, as was his sister, who died. She had lovely cornflower blue eyes.

Andreas dissects human corpses suppled to him by a peddlar who does a bit of moonlighting as a grave robber. About 3 years ago, after the plague, he brought Andreas a book that someone had discarded, the Book Bound in Fur. Andreas tempted himself with it for two years, Contacting a demon, but going no further. Then, he cut into a man who proved to be merely unconscious, not dead. He completed the dissection, and, if I recall correctly, turned it into something of a ritual act, summoning and binding Orion. He and Orion are well known to the other members of the exclusive Hart and Horn Hunting Lodge, a group of men who hunt animals in the woods.

[The above simply does not do justice to Dave's telling of how Andreas first came to summon a demon, or to the back of his character sheet, which is nigh full everywhere, and a little scary.]

Demon: Orion
Demon Type: Passer: Dog
Telltale: Human eyes: cornflower blue -- like an innocent girl
General appearance: Dog, mutt, grey, snarly, drooly
Bound to: Andreas
Binding Strength: +4 in Orion's favor

Stamina: 5
Will: 6
Lore: 5
Power: 6
Desire: The Hunt
Need: Eating small animals


Big (self)
Travel (self)
Transport (must be in the act of hunting)
Vitality (conferred by licking)

Character: Ingrid von Pfender
Player: Beth Bartley

Appearance: Pox-scarred woman, often veiled
Telltale: Scars in the shape of an eagle, amid other scars (but to a sorcerer resolve and stand out)

Stamina: 2 Clean Living
Will: 7 Aristocrat, Disciplined
Lore: 1 Instinctive
Cover: 7 Noble
Humanity: 7

Price: Scarred: -1 to all social interactions
Kicker: Found out a secret: Sigrid, the acknowledged bastard daughter of a noble, has just been kidnapped.

Beth's development of Ingrid was a perfect demonstration of the reason to do group character generation and of how Sorcerer is like jazz. While trying to figure out a price, Beth started with "scarred by smallpox", then said that she wasn't set on it being smallpox in particular. "A plague?" I asked. Suddenly, things clicked. Three years ago, the plague had swept the city, explaining how Andreas was able to get a copy of his book. A year earlier, it had missed the Mantuo lands, but killed the fiance of the youngest daughter of the Mantuo patriarch, explaining why she was ripe for Niccolo's charms. It worked very nicely with the R-map I was developing and tweaking.

In Ingrid's case, it was the catalyst for her summoning a demon. As she lay sick, the rats sniffed at her to see if it was safe to eat her. She decided that she would not be food for the rats. She pinned one to the wall with her knife, and used what folk knowledge she had to call up a demon. The fact that she was feverish probably helped. (No, this is not a case of "I didn't mean to do it", more the equivalent of taking hallucinogens to make the initial contact.) Aquila arrived and ate the rat. Ingrid's great grandfather made her his heir, something her uncle is contesting.

Demon: Aquila
Demon Type: Passer
Telltale: Light weight
General appearance: Eagle
Bound to: Ingrid
Binding Strength: +1 in Ingrid's favor

Stamina: 4
Will: 6
Lore: 5
Power: 6
Desire: Secrets / Rare Knowledge
Need: The Hunt


Special Weapon (claws / beak)
Perception -- detect lies / truth
Travel (self, flight)

Character: Niccolo di Tarci
Player: Julian Lighton

Appearance: 25. Handsome. Dark, curly hair. Piercing brown eyes. Small and thin.
Telltale: Eye color is never quite what you remember it being.

Stamina: 2 Natural Vigor
Will: 6 High Self Esteem, Inquisitive
Lore: 2 Scholar
Cover: 6 Artist
Humanity: 6

Price: Indecisive: -1 when he needs to work quickly. (In other words, long or
preplanned tasks and sorcery. Can be avoided by taking much extra time.
Spontaneous action doesn't suffer the penalty.)
Kicker: My demon is pregnant

Niccolo was the last student of the great artist Carlo Garozzo. Julian's comment on Niccolo: If he knew about Leonardo da Vinci, that's who he would want to be. After Garozzo's death, Niccolo gained a patron in Antonio Mantuo. Mantuo's youngest daughter, Teresa, fell in love with the dashing young artist, and they became lovers. They discovered a rotted fragment of an old book in a cave on Mantuo lands.

Julian: It's not the same book that everyone else is using. I'm the only one with a possessor demon.

I dubbed this book The Book of the Heart of the Beast.

Niccolo was curious and wanted to try the ritual described in the fragment. Teresa agreed to help. Julian described the results as follows:

Contact: Niccolo stips naked, discarding all the trappings of civilization. Then he attempts to make contact with an animal spirit. To help achieve the appropriate altered state of mind, he burns some leaves of a plant with mind-altering properties.

Summoning: To lure an animal, you offer it food. Animal spirits are no different. Teresa released a rabbit that they'd captured previously. Niccolo then caught and killed it using only his hands and teeth.

Binding: The sorcerer must engage in wild, animalistic behavior. Eating the rabbit raw would have done. Niccolo and Teresa decided that wild, animalistic sex sounded like a better idea.

[I loved this detail. It sounded so plausible. "Well, we should eat this animal raw." "Nah, let's fuck instead." "Sounds good to me!"]

At the end of the ritual, Niccolo passed out briefly. When he came to, he found Teresa eating the rabbit raw. He discovered the demon had possessed her, and that, if he banished it, he'd be left with nothing but a dead body.

After a brief pause for panic, he obtained some food and horses, and they left. Not having any better ideas, he headed for the University.

[Niccolo is thus the only player character Not From Around Here.]

Demon: Teresa
Demon Type: Possessor
Telltale: Her hair's taken on a reddish tinge
General appearance: 18. Long wavy chestnut hair. Absolutely gorgeous, almost begging to be painted. Dark, almost black eyes.
Bound to: Niccolo
Binding Strength: +2 in Teresa's favor

Stamina: 4
Will: 5
Lore: 4
Power: 5
Desire: Love
Need: Physical Intimacy


Confuse -- demon uses
Fast -- demon uses
Perception -- enhanced scnses -- master uses
Boost Lore

[The combination of Teresa's Need and Desire, and Niccolo's revulsion at the whole situation makes for a very tense relationship.]

Character: Herr Doktor Sebastian Black, aka Sebastian von Black
Player: Joshua Kronengold

Appearance: Age 55. Jet Black hair.
Telltale: One leg is twisted, looking more like a bird's than a man's.

Stamina: 1 Wizenned
Will: 5 Aristocrat, Magnetic Personality
Lore: 4 Adept
Cover: Professor of Philosophy: 5
Humanity: 5, now 4

Price: Arrogant: -1 on all social roles when dealing with social superiors
Kicker: Gets a letter from his younger brother Edmund, asking him to aid and abet his niece, Ysabel, the heir, who is attending the university.

Sebastian is actually the oldest son of Graf Garamond von Black, but was disinherited about 30 years ago due to his deformity. Unlike Andreas, who insists on the "von" even though he isn't nobility himself, Sebastian insists on dropping the "von" even though he is nobility. He married late, and married a woman from the rising merchant class who had been one of his students and had argued passionately with him. She died a few months ago (not of the plague), and his father refused to allow Sebastian to bury her with the von Blacks.

Furious, Sebastian summoned 'Elena. We spent some time wondering whether the rules mandated that 'Elena had to be the first demon Sebastian had ever summoned up, but realized that it really doesn't matter. 'Elena is the only demon Sebastian has. He used the Book Bound in Fur to summon her. His copy comes from the University's library. Sebastian took it a long time ago, to keep it safe from people unwise enough to use it.

Sebastian sent 'Elena to kill Garamond, but someone got to the man first. Sebastian would like to know who, but Ysabel's presence at the University, not his father's death, is his Kicker.

Demon: 'Elena
Demon Type: Passer
Telltale: Feathers crumble to ash when removed
General appearance: Raven
Bound to: Herr Doktor Black
Binding Strength: +3 in Black's favor

Stamina: 3
Will: 4
Lore: 3
Power: 4
Desire: Praise
Need: To be sung to


Flight (self)
Special Damage: (claws + bite, lethal)

Character: Sophia von Winterhagen
Player: Pamela Gutman

Appearance: Hm, still need this.
Telltale: Slightly elongated canines

Stamina: 6 Swordsman, Athletic Regime
Will: 3 Hunter / Predator
Lore: 1 Folklore
Cover: 6 Swordsman
Humanity: 6, now 5

Price: Cynical: -1 to all Humanity checks
Kicker: Hired to kill a powerful sorcerer

Sophia is a scandalous woman. Her older brothers, Frederiche and Fritz, decided to teach her to use a sword. When she was 16, she turned down a proprosal from the widower Edmond von Black, to her parents' fury. She left their house, and is now living with Fritz's mistress. Now 22, she is a swordswoman, otherwise known as a professional duelist or an assassin, depending on your point of view. When she learned that her current target was a sorcerer, she went to the University to try to learn about sorcery. It's not that the University is known for having books on sorcery. It isn't. It's known for having books. Some references in old ballads and a few lectures by Herr Doktor Sebastian Black gave Sophia enough of a clue to summon up a demon of her own, although she isn't sure it will be strong enough.

Demon: Nariya
Demon Type: Passer
Telltale: Eyes glow even with no light
General appearance: A small, obviously well cared for black cat with gold eyes
Bound to: Sophia
Binding Strength: +1 in Sophia's favor

Stamina: 4
Will: 8
Lore: 7
Power: 8
Desire: Knowledge (n.b.: This is general knowledge, as opposed to Aquila's desire for secrets and rare knowledge)
Need: To be scratched


Boost Lore
Perception (self)
Perception (Sophia)
Special damage -- claws + fang


Lisa Padol

Hm, I'm still running past the maximum length of a post.

November 18 Session

Before play came the perhaps inevitable question: Who knows who is a sorcerer? Josh and Dave maintained Andreas and Sebastian might know about each other. I okayed this, and they rolled the dice. (Lore vs Humanity) Both knew about the other.

Lisa (anxious to avoid too much backstory): You've never talked about it, have you?

Josh: Certainly not!

Dave: No.

Julian: "I see you are committing unspeakable acts against the universe. Me, too." No, I don't think so.

Much relieved, I set the opening scene.

It was the first day of the Spring Term at the Vindabona Royal University.

Niccolo prepared to go to the University, with Teresa "helping" him dress. She said that it was good that he had a job, as they'd be needing money for three.

Niccolo: What do you mean?

Teresa: Don't you know? When two people...

Niccolo (flatly): You're pregnant.

Teresa: Yes! Isn't it wonderful?

Julian: I walk out.

Niccolo met Rainer Schwanhausen en route.

Flashback to Siegfried hiring Sophia to kill Rainer, explaining that he is a vile sorcerer.

Sophia (to herself): Hm. I'm going to need some help.

Flashforward to Sophia joining the two men as they approach the university. She tried to see whether Rainer was actually a sorcerer, but she could not tell.

Herr Doktor Professor Sebastian was in a tower that was now part of the university. He sang to 'Elena as he looked over the grounds. To his surprise, he saw his niece, Ysabel, approaching.

Sebastian: Fly. 'Elena, my swift one, and see where she is going.

Josh was consistently good about having Sebasitian praise 'Elena, at least, when he wanted something of her.

'Elena followed Ysabel until she went inside the building where Sebastian would give his lecture. He called the demon back.

Sophia went to the room where Sebastian would lecture. Rainer headed off on his own. Niccolo was escorted by the head of the University, Herr Doktor Professor Einhardt Schilderote, to a room where Herr Doktor Professor Andreas von Ouranenburg was waiting. Schilderote thought von Ouranenburg might like someone to draw his dissections for him. As Schilderote left the room, Ysabel walked by in the hall outside. Andreas, seeing her for the first time, followed her with his eyes.

The two men talked. Andreas realized that Niccolo was a sorcerer, but Niccolo did not realize that Andreas was one.

Sophia had Nariya with her for the first time. She recognized Ysabel as Sebastian's niece and the daughter of the jerk who'd proposed to her.

Sophia: I'll try not to hold it against her.

Sebastian recognized Nariya as a demon, but did not recognize Sophia as a sorcerer. He suspected that she was unaware of Nariya's nature.

Ysabel gave Sebastian a letter and put money on his desk.

Lisa: It says:

My daughter has taken it into her head to attend the university. Please keep an eye on her and assist her in all her endeavors.

Someone: Nice of him to ask.

Josh: Oh, that wasn't asking.

Sebastian (to Ysabel): In this class, you will be treated no differently than any other student.

Ysabel (gesturing to the coins on the desk): I brought the fee.

Sebastian: Don't be ridiculous. I don't take fees from family.

Lisa (filling Pamela in): Sophia sees the professor and his niece having one of those anime style staring contests.

Pamela: Oh, I like that description.

Ysabel: Perhaps you want to wait until after the lecture to return it, so that this isn't in front of everyone?

Sebastian: Certainly not!

So, Ysabel took the money back and sat down again. Sebastian introduced all the new students.

Sebastian: And, finally, my niece, Ysabel von Black.

One student asked if it were true that the holder of the Philosophy Chair, Herr Doktor Professor  Volkert Horsenfelt, was dying. If so, would Herr Doktor Professor Black be the next holder of the chair?

Sebastian verbally slapped him down hard and began the lecture / discussion.

Herr Doktor Professor Rainer Schwanhausser made a dramatic entrance into Sebastian's classroom, letting his old rival know that he was back after an absence of nearly 30 years. The two men traded jibes, and agreed to meet for lunch. Rainer left Sebastian to teach his class.

Andreas discovered Ingrid von Pfender in his class. The young heiress was frantically trying to learn all she needed to know to handle her eventual inheritance, presuming her uncle didn't get the bulk of it. Her great grandfather, Sophia's current employer, Graf Siegfried von Pfender, insisted that she would be his heir, but he was in his 90s, while Ingrid's uncle, Horst, was in his early 40s. The professors would have giggled about Ingrid, except that she was horribly scarred from the plague and was clearly in need of every advantage.

Andreas explained to Ingrid that

a) he was to be addressed as Herr Doktor Professor von Ouranenburg

b) his class was not for the faint of heart, involving, as it did, dissections and vivisections.

Ingrid said that she'd be fine with the first, but was not sure about the second. Andreas relented and said that there probably would not be a vivisection that term.

Sometime during this discussion, Aquila showed Ingrid what the demon saw: Sigrid being hustled into a carriage. Aquila followkd it to a small house in the woods and then returned.

As I recall, after class, Ingrid had Aquila return, or maybe the demon did this on its own. Ingrid sent it to keep an eye on the house, promising to let Aquila know of any secrets she encountered in town.

[Any reason a sorcerer can't perceive through a link constantly, while going about her business? I think that would prove distracting. But, any reason a sorcerer can't go about her business, checking in at frequent levels, apart from annoying the GM?]

[Aquila's flight to town and back gave me opportunity to note I had a window of time, if I wanted anything unobserved to happen. At first, I thought I'd need it. Now, I'm not sure I do.]

Ingrid went to eat lunch at a somewhat more upscale establishment than a typical student pub. We dubbed it The Gilded Swan. Ysabel asked to join her.

The von Black heiress sounded the von Pfender heiress out delicately about the possibility of becoming her father Graf von Black's second wife. Sophia had turned this position down about 6 years earlier, and Ysabel's father wanted to know his suit would be encouraged rather than put himself in an awkward position, again. Ingrid was intrigued, though she noticed Ysabel's mind was elsewhere.

Ysabel explained that she and her father thought her uncle, Sebastian, might have killed her grandfather, the old Graf, Garamond. After all, Garamond died shortly after refusing Sebastian permission to bury his non-noble wife with the von Black dead. And, Garamond had made it clear for decades that Sebastian, though the eldest son, would not inherit title or lands because of his deformity. And now, not only was her grandfather dead, but she had not been permitted to see the body, she who had witnessed her grandmother and her cousin dying from the plague!

Ingrid listened sympathetically, then tried to figure out how to held Sigrid. She did not like women being mistreated, even, or,  perhaps, especially noble bastard women. However, she didn't want to reveal more of Aquila's secrets than she had to, and she didn't want folks knowing that she was a sorccress, or that Aquila was a demon.

Still, an anonymous note to Frederiche von Winterhagen, Sigrid's father and Sophia's brother, seemed to fit with Ingrid's scruples. She changed clothes and veil before sending such a note via messenger.

[I told Beth I wouldn't require a roll to disguise Ingrid's handwriting. This may have been a mistake, but one I stuck to even when, much later in the session, Josh decided to have Sebastian play Holmes on the note. I may rethink the next time it comes up. Not sure how to handle this mechanically. Treat like a Contain ritual, rolling only when tested? What if multiple people try to recognize handwriting (or decrypt a code, or...)? Use Cover or Will?]

[We talked about how many people were likely to wear veils in the aftermath of the plague and how long it would take for veils to become fashionable.]

[Josh said that I was pulling people into Beth's Kicker. To a degree, he's correct, but as Beth said, she herself did much of this. She wanted Ingrid not to be stupid. Ingrid didn't want people knowing she was a sorcerer or that Aquila was a demon, and she didn't want to blow Aquila's secrets unless necessary.]

Schiderote gave Niccolo a tour of the university, showing him the work of Schilderote's brother-in-law, Paolo di Silvestri, who had died of the plague. Like Niccolo, Paulo had studied under Carlo Garozzo. Niccolo noted to himself that he was a better artist than Paulo, and Paulo's style was too derivative of the master's.

One picture had a flawed corner where Paolo's son, Ludwig, had proved, as a child, that he was not a talented painter.

Niccolo went out to buy painting supplies.

[to be continued in the next post...]


Lisa Padol

[Part Three and final]

Andreas went to the library and bribed the librarian to tell him what Niccolo looked at.

Then, Ysabel entered the library. Andreas tried, in a fumbling way, to introduce himself.

Ysabel: You are a professor? You want the books? (moves aside, gesturing at the books)

Someone: She's giving -all- of them to him?

Introductions were made, and Ysabel explained that she was taking her uncle's class, and, as he was determined to treat her as any other student, she felt the need to study hard. Andreas, of course, had the perfect book for her to study.

He did not bring up the Book Bound in Fur, but did offer to help her study. She considered asking about taking his class. He warned her, a bit more gently than he'd warned Ingrid, that there were dissections. She said that she'd seen people die of the plague.

Andreas: The outside, yes. Have you seen the inside of a body?

Ysabel: No. Do you not think it is time I did?

[People seem to like Ysabel. This is good.]

Meanwhile, Sophia sent Nariya to spy on Rainer, who was having lunch with Sebastian at the Ratthaus. They had an informal, but quite public, debate about the nature of men and animals. Sebastian was the clear winner.

[We agreed that this was cause for a Humanity gain roll.]

Sophia was disappointed that Rainer hadn't given himself away.

[Josh noted that she had probably earned a roll to increase her Lore, given that she was following the debate quite closely. Okay, that's not how the experience rules work, but it makes a nice in-game explanation for such a roll.]

Rainer left, saying he needed to see to his horse. Nariya and 'Elena followed.

[Rainer saw neither demon. Do I make rolls to see if demons notice other demons, or not, or only if their masters ask?]

Rainer rode to the house where Sigrid was being held, which meant that Nariya could follow, as the horse was much faster, but 'Elena could. Rainer went into the house for a couple of minutes, then rode away. As per their respective instructions, Aquila stayed put, while 'Elena followed Rainer.

Linking through their demons, Ingrid recognized Rainer's horse and 'Elena as demons, while Sebastian recognized Aquila as a demon.

[The players noted that the characters are more likely to assume that there is one very powerful sorcerer than to assume that there are several moderately powerful sorcerers.]

Sophia got a note from her brother Frederiche asking her to come to his house. She did.

Graf Rupert von Ouranenburg (32 year old bachelor) was there.

Sophia: What's this all about?

Rupert (being flip): I was thinking of proposing.

Sophia (genuinely missing implications and joke): Oh, congratulations. Anyone I know?

Rupert: Ah, no, I was joking.

Frederiche showed her Ingrid's note. Rupert said he'd contact his cousin, Andreas, who had a great hunting dog.

[And, yes, there is a reason Rupert was the one Frederiche contacted.]

Niccolo went to the library, finding a fascinating treatise on optics and another book with tantalizing references to the Book Bound in Fur. The librarian noted that others had looked at that -- notably Ludwig. Niccolo sent Ludwig a note asking if there were any books Ludwig might recommend to him.

Niccolo returned home tc find not only Teresa, but also Teresa's second youngest brother, Marcello. Marcello assured Niccolo that he understood everything, and could easily leave, with or without Teresa, as Niccolo saw fit, and he could make sure that his younger brother, Leonardo, who was not quite so understanding, left with him.

Marcello: But, first, I believe you have something of mine.

This was the fragment of the Book of the Heart of the Beast. To my mild surprise, Niccolo gave it back to Marcello, although he made sure that he had a blunt object ready in case the sword-wearing Marcello proved not to be as understanding as he claimed. (It really shouldn't have surprised me. As Julian pointed out, Niccolo already knew what was in the fragment, and he neither needed nor particularly wanted to keep it. Also, there was the implicit threat of violence, and, as Ellen Kushner once explained, a man with a sword in the Middle Ages and Renaissance generally got treated with the kind of respect one treats a man with an uzi today.)

Marcello asked if he should take Teresa back with him. Teresa cowered behind Niccolo.

Marcello: We'll name the child after you.

Someone: Tempting, isn't it?

Julian: Yes, very.

Niccolo decided to resist the temptation to dump the possessed, pregnant Teresa on her slimey, sorcerer brother.

[And we all agreed that Niccolo had earned a Humanity gain roll. It occurs to me that he would have been less likely to earn such a roll had he been less tempted. Or, is that off base?]

Marcello (clearly aware that his sister is possssed): I understand. I've never tried it with someone so old, myself. (leaves)

Teresa pressed against Niccolo, who did not object. She did not try to press her luck, but did sob in his arms.

Niccolo decided to go out for a drink. Rainer joined him, trying to make an alliance with a fellow outsider, telling Niccolo that Andreas was bribing the librarian to learn what Niccolo was reading. He babbled about his philosophical theories to Niccolo. In a truly ironic roll of the dice, Niccolo figured out that Rainer was a sorcerer (which Sophia and Sebastian would have dearly loved to know), but Rainer did not realize that Niccolo was a sorcerer.

Sebastian visited a Respectable and Discreet Establishment, known as The Veiled Lady, partaking of the favors of a mature woman named Skuld.

Later, he sent his niece a note asking if he might call on her the following afternoon.

Dave: When is Andreas helping her study?

Lisa: Let's say the following afternoon.

Ysabel sent a note saying that she was studying then, but perhaps the following evening would do. Sebastian agreed.

Andreas was eating dinner at the Ratthaus when Rupert's messenger found him.

Dave: I wolf down the rest of my dinner and go with him.

I pushed Josh to get Sebastian in on the resulting action, which we later agreed was a mistake. As he pointed out, Sebastian's focus is Ysabel. Still, he played along, I think deciding to have 'Elena watch to see if Sophia knew she had a demon. Or perhaps watching Andreas. Regardless, he saw enough of interest -- Andreas following a man in von Ouranenburg livery to the home of the von Winterhagen heir -- to intrigue him sufficiently to take a carriage there himself.

Meanwhile, Ingrid told her great grandfather about the maybe-proposal from Graf Edmund von Black. Siegfried said he'd talk to the man. He warned Ingrid against Rainer, who, he said, should never have returned, and whose return was just before Garamond's sudden death.

Siegfried asked after Ingrid's classes. While a bit surprised that she wanted to do dissections, he decided that this would be all right because the class was being taught by Andreas von Ouranenburg, and he approved of the von Ouranburgs.

Meanwhile, Sebastian arrived, and, while Frederiche said he was dealing with a family matter, and Rupert assured him he could count on von Ouranenburg support for the Philosophy chair (Someone: I'll give you what you want. Now, go away.), as Sebastian pointed out, he -is- family to the Ouranenburgs through his mother.

Sebastian and Andreas now both knew that the cat was a demon, and each man thought that the other had planted it on the unwitting Sophia. Sophia recognized Andreas was a sorcerer, but not vice versa.

The fight in the woods was annoying. It was time for dinner. At least, Pamela and I were starving. We didn't want to break until we'd wrapped the scene, and we all wanted to wrap it quickly. Now, what I should have done was said:

Hm. 3 sorcerers, 3 demons, 2 additional very competent people vs, what, half a dozen moderately competent guys who don't know you're coming? Okay, what do we want the results to be here? (Some negotiation follows.) Great! Now, let's eat.

As it was, we did initiative rolls, tried to protect dice and character sheets from cats, leading me to write rolls down so that this wouldn't be a factor...

Josh did have Sebastian give a pep talk to inspire his side. I forget what we rolled for this, but it turned into a bonus die for everyone, as I recall.

I accidentally invented a mook rule. This might have been okay if I hadn't misunderstood Josh's comment thereon. I thought he was saying, "You need to play by the rules", whereas he was saying, "I don't mind you doing this, but if you are trying to play by the rules here -- which I don't think you should, as we all want food -- then play by the rules." So, there was a lot of confusion and reinterpreting results and building hunger.

Question: If combat rolls involve rolling over successes as bonus dice, how do you figure a target number for the initial roll? That is, let's say you have:

Stamina 6 (military training)
Cover 6 (soldier) or Cover 6 (swordsman) -- you get the idea

What is it that you roll in combat? In other words, what does one do when faced with a situation where Thing A should logically roll over into Thing B, but both are, well, combat rolls, and there's only one roll for combat?

In addition to all of this, I plumb forgot that you reroll when you abort to defense. Important, that.

Julian felt that the whole combat in the woods felt overly fiddly. He suggested that, next time, I put out a card for each NPC, and put counters on the cards for their wounds. Players would track their PCs' wounds. I'll give it a shot.

Josh said that my main mistake was to slow down during combat in a way which works for OTE, but is utterly antithetical to Sorcerer combat. I think he's right. Alas, his attempt to demonstrate what I should have done didn't work. (He tried to demo Weapons of the Gods, and, like me, had to do a lot of flipping through the rules, though, unlike me, he remained calm. I dozed and wrote up the Sorcerer session while he flipped, but this would have been really annoying if there were 4 other people waiting on rulings.)

And, the fight qua fight wasn't the important thing. It generally isn't, which is why it has to run fast and sharp. Regardless, the basic results are fine.

1. Sigrid was rescued
2. At least one of her captors was taken alive for questioning
3. Orion killed one of her captors, despite Andreas' order to the contrary

Overall notes:

Folks do want to play again.

I cannot GM at Pamela's place. The cats and my allergies are a bad combination.

The cats are insanely cute, especially when Ali wraps herself in her paws and wraps her paws in her tail.

Next time, folks may want to tinker with stats and demon abilities, and we may want to rethink some of the descriptors.

While the build up to a combat at the end was a disgustingly typical mistake (or so it seemed to me), no big. It's my first time running Sorcerer, and I am going to make mistakes. The important thing is to review the characters' Kickers, review the R-map and my notes about what's going on, and to add more bangs as needed, and to work on crosses and weaves.

Josh's advice: Use the characters' weaknesses against them. Review the backs of the sheets again.

Julian's advice: Play the demons more actively.



Whoa, I would like to comment but that's a lot of stuff to sift through.

1.  You had FIVE players?  Wow.  I still haven't had a chance to run Sorcerer yet, but based on first impression it looks like it works better with smaller groups.  (Have no idea if that's true.)  With that large a group, you've got 10 important characters running around, not including various NPC's.  You're brave to try it!

2.  Kickers-- I am totally not the guy to talk about Kickers in any way, because I have no clue what good ones or bad ones are really about.  The ones involving Ysabel, and the kidnapped heir, don't seem especially "grabby" to me, (but maybe that's because ya gotta be there?).  I kind of gather that a Kicker features (a) a status quo, (b) that changes totally / is under threat, and (c) this cannot be ignored.  But again, I'm kinda dopey on this.

3.  "Question: If combat rolls involve rolling over successes as bonus dice, how do you figure a target number for the initial roll? That is, let's say you have: Stamina 6 (military training) and Cover 6 (soldier) or Cover 6 (swordsman) -- you get the idea."

I'm not sure if I understand the question.  But there are two ways to get rollover bonuses during a fight--
(a) Successes from the previous round, if it's logically connected to what you're doing now
(b) Successes from "a little something extra" this round, which is mentioned somewhere in the rulebook.  In this case, I'd use the "challenge" chart, which is somewhere in the Everything Else Chapter.

So, like, let's use that Cover to dope out the enemy's tactics and seize the initiative.  This guy has 6 dice with a Soldier skill set, and we'll assume that this is difficult but not unreasonable--so, less than the full 6 dice.  I'd say maybe 2-4, depending on how coordinated/clever a mundane enemy might be.  Any successes would give you bonuses to the actual performance part of the combat round.  (Do I have that right, Sorcerer experts?)

Lisa Padol

Quote from: James_Nostack on November 29, 2005, 09:24:38 PMWhoa, I would like to comment but that's a lot of stuff to sift through.

Yes. I hadn't realized until now that there was a limit on the size of a single post.

Quote1.  You had FIVE players?  Wow.  I still haven't had a chance to run Sorcerer yet, but based on first impression it looks like it works better with smaller groups.  (Have no idea if that's true.)  With that large a group, you've got 10 important characters running around, not including various NPC's.  You're brave to try it!

I believe the technical term is "fucking insane".

Quote2.  Kickers-- I am totally not the guy to talk about Kickers in any way, because I have no clue what good ones or bad ones are really about.  The ones involving Ysabel, and the kidnapped heir, don't seem especially "grabby" to me, (but maybe that's because ya gotta be there?).  I kind of gather that a Kicker features (a) a status quo, (b) that changes totally / is under threat, and (c) this cannot be ignored.  But again, I'm kinda dopey on this.

Okay, Ysabel is actually fairly central in many ways. The fact that Andreas is falling in love with her means, um... Okay, put it this way. Dave is very loosely basing Andreas on a guy from the Serial Convention from Sandman, one who explains that he knows it's not normal to want to tear apart someone he loves. Andreas hasn't actually done that -- the only person he killed is someone who wasn't quite as dead as the grave robbing peddlar had thought -- but he's walking the edge. His only sexual experiences to date have been the ones where he was abused. That Kicker is doing what it's supposed to do.

For Sebastian, Ysabel represents an interesting moral dilemma. She is the heir of the family. Sebastian as the oldest would have inherited, but he was cut out of the succession by his father, because of his deformity, so his brother is now the pater familias. And his brother's only heir is Ysabel. Ysabel is now attending the university, and Sebastian has to interact with her. And, his brother just told him to keep an eye on and help Ysabel, who is the heir to the position that might have been Sebastian's. And, Sebastian's price is arrogance towards those socially superior to him. The one scene where Sebastian and Ysabel interacted crackled with tension, far more so than the fight at the end. I'd say that means the Kicker's working.

As for the kidnapped Sigrid, this gets interesting. Beth is playing Ingrid as a canny, intelligent woman who doesn't want to get into trouble, whereas Beth does want the character getting involved six ways to a Sunday. Whenever I was not actively tossing things at Ingrid, Beth played her as trying to help Sigrid without being seen to be involved. She still wants to know what the heck was going on, as Ingrid doesn't approve of kidnapping young noblewomen, even -- or especially -- those born on the wrong side of the blanket. The Kicker's still playing out.

Watching what happened last session, the way Beth dealt with the Kicker got a little voice in my head talking. It says, "Okay, Ingrid's demon loves secrets. Ingrid has a protective streak towards women in trouble. Milk this for all it is worth. Aquila should toss secret after secret at Ingrid, forcing her to decide between helping people and staying in the shadows. This has the potential of the kind of co-dependent relationship I gather demons and their sorcerers are supposed to have."

Quote3.  "Question: If combat rolls involve rolling over successes as bonus dice, how do you figure a target number for the initial roll? That is, let's say you have: Stamina 6 (military training) and Cover 6 (soldier) or Cover 6 (swordsman) -- you get the idea."

I'm not sure if I understand the question.  But there are two ways to get rollover bonuses during a fight--
(a) Successes from the previous round, if it's logically connected to what you're doing now
(b) Successes from "a little something extra" this round, which is mentioned somewhere in the rulebook.  In this case, I'd use the "challenge" chart, which is somewhere in the Everything Else Chapter.

Okay, I'll reread that bit.

QuoteSo, like, let's use that Cover to dope out the enemy's tactics and seize the initiative.  This guy has 6 dice with a Soldier skill set, and we'll assume that this is difficult but not unreasonable--so, less than the full 6 dice.  I'd say maybe 2-4, depending on how coordinated/clever a mundane enemy might be.  Any successes would give you bonuses to the actual performance part of the combat round.  (Do I have that right, Sorcerer experts?)

Ah! I think I get it. We'll see soon, assuming the session we're planning for this weekend goes off. Thanks.


Eero Tuovinen

In some situations it's also appropriate to roll against the actual action roll of the opposing player. So first he rolls, then you roll your first roll, then you roll your second roll. This might be intuitive when f.ex. the Cover and Stamina of a character overlap perfectly for a task, and you don't really have any "supporting" action you're doing with one of them, but are just augmenting. In which case, of course, the GM is within his rights if he insists that you only use one or the other of the scores.

If both parties want to roll several scores in the above manner, it's probably most sane to first roll the "support scores" against one another and only let one of the players get bonus dice. You could do it by first rolling the primary scores, then rolling the support scores against the primaries, and then rolling more dice into the primary rolls based on the bonuses... but that would probably be against the rules. I tend to play pretty fast and loose with the die mechanics, stringing rolls, saving successes, leaving die pools waiting and doing other wacky things. The only holy rule is the rule of currency.
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