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Author Topic: [& Sword] Elder Isle Onesheet  (Read 3727 times)
Frank T
« on: July 26, 2006, 01:19:55 PM »

So I played Sorcerer & Sword with Ron this weekend and now I'm all jazzed about it and want to play it with my girlfriend straight away. Maybe one on one, or maybe we get some other hot goth chick to join in. So I'm thinking about a setting inspired by early Hungarian history, and then I think to myself: What the fuck am I doing here? As Ron most fittingly put it: I forgot whom I have before me. Check out:

The Elder Isle

Cold. Harsh. Deep woods of looming cedars and oaks and crouching willows. Ponds of deep, dark water. Towering grey rocks and stormy shores. Epic stalactite caves. And, oh, the cities. Cities of old. Withering stones and massive Gothic architecture. Huge cathedrals in which the people worship cruel, unforgiving gods. Forest graveyards that stretch for miles and miles. The people of the Elder Isle are divided into rulers and slaves since ages. The rulers are tall and pale, with black hair and light eyes. The slaves are small and brawny, with darker skin and haunted looks in their eyes. You'll see priests in magnificent robes of violet and silver. Knights in sophisticated armor with lots of thorns and demon grimaces. Dark Mistresses of seductive and dangerous beauty.

Inspirations: The Gothic scene. Melniboné. The Orkney Islands.

Sorcerers on the Elder Isle: Sorcerers on the Elder Isle might be elusive wizards hiding in dark towers or deeper woods. They might be power-hungry priests, knights or noblemen that have delved too deep into the elder secrets. Or they might be desperate slaves that stole forbidden knowledge from their masters.

Demons on the Elder Isle: Demons come in the full variety mentioned in Sorcerer & Sword. They are always Gothic-style, though. An actual creature will be black, have lots of thorns and claws and gleaming eyes and stuff. A sword will be black and silver, serrated and decorated almost beyond recognition. You get the idea.

Sorcery on the Elder Isle: Sorcery is a very old and fearsome art, usually involving scriptures from the dawn of time, horrific incantations and a lot of blood-spilling. Sometimes torture, sex, or both.


Hard Labor - as a slave, you had to work hard all your life
Dark Rituals - you practice meditation and rituals of priesthood or sorcery
Graceful - you have the natural grace of the ruler, and you probably are an expert dancer
Trained Warrior - you are a knight or guard of the ruling class

Born To Rule - your will is command
Hungry - you always want more
Compassionate - you have an artist's and lover's soul
Rebel - you will not be ruled by anyone

Naďve - you stole or stumbled across some elder secrets (Lore 1)
Apprentice - you learned something from a cultist or wizard (Lore 1-2)
Cultist - you not only worship the Elder Gods, but also command their lesser servants (Lore 1-3+)
Wizard - you are no ones servant and wield terrible power to behold (Lore 3-5+)

Priest - you are a servant of the Gods
Knight - you are a knight serving the High Magistrate, or a guard to a noble house or temple
Noble - you are of pure blood and destined to rule the rulers
Slave - you are nothing

as in the book, "arrogant" comes to mind quickly...

Any comments, suggestions, mockery and such?

- Frank

Posts: 158

« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2006, 02:38:03 PM »

Frank, it looks really good, I get a great feel for what the setting is from this onesheet and would definitely sign up to play. I like the idea of the haughty masters of the isles and their Elric style vibe, I also like the idea of slaves sorcerers with forbidden lore. The Will Descriptor - Hungry is very evocative. The Whole thing is very evocative.


Sydney Freedberg

Posts: 1293

« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2006, 07:19:08 PM »

That's very excellent.

One small suggestion:

Compassionate - you have an artist's and lover's soul

I'd suggest "sensitive" instead of "compassionate", since in this kind of setting "artists and lovers" can be, uh, less than compassionate. (Arguably Elric has this descriptor for his early stories until he gets so pissed at Stormbringer he switches to "rebel").

And one big question:

What's Humanity???

You've gotta define this, or else it'd be like, heck, playing a D&D campaign with no actual monsters. ("I check for secret doors." "You find one!" "I open it!" "Nothing's there!" "Okay, I go 10' down the corridor and...") And the "Honor" idea that gets tossed around a lot for & Sword settings doesn't seem to grab people in practice.

Some of the standard options from the original book, as elaborated in Sorcerer's Soul, seem pretty apt for this setting:

Empathy - do you retain a glimmer of feeling for others as human beings, rather than mere pawns in your unspeakable intrigues or fiery vengeance? Elric struggles with this a fair bit. This is especially good for (stereotype alert!)  female gamers, especially Goth ones (pseudo-sociological rhetoric alert) !who are socialized to be more attuned to human needs, compassion, nurture, social isolation, emotional pain, and personal tragedy compared to (counterbalancing stereotype alert!) knuckle-dragging adolescent-wish-fulfullment male power-gamer types, for whom "so now the NPC's crying. So?" often doesn't constitute the same kind of kick in the gut.

Sanity - do the unspeakable demons drive you stark, raving, gibbering mad? The Elric baddies tend to hover around Humanity zero by this definition. This interests me less, personally speaking, if only because these characters all tend to be sufficientlycrazy to start with that "do I go more crazy?" doesn't strike me as an existential threat.

Control - do the unspeakable demons freakin' eat your eyeballs and drag you screaming down to hell? An option for gleefully ethics-free gaming, like Heathers blended with Hellraiser: Killing, rape, torture, and betrayal don't undermine your Humanity here, but letting someone else take your rightful place at a banquet table does.

And one I'm pondering for a "so, you wanna be a Ringwraith?" S&S campaign of my own:

Ego - What makes you human is your loves, your hates, your obsessed-over memories, your emotional attachments. Demons have none of this: They're pure, efficient, one-dimensional evil. They're not flamboyant villains: They're boring. Think of the Mouth of Sauron, or the Ringwraiths, or the almost persona-less figure of Sauron himself; now think of Saruman, obsessed with his revenge on the hobbits and joined at the hip to Wormtongue even after all his power has been stripped away. Humanity is not about good and evil at all, here. It's about being the unique and special asshole that you are. It's about all the petty desires that made you turn to summoning demons in the first place. To twist an old phrase from the Cold War: "I may be a bastard, but I'm my bastard." Every time you sacrifice your personal likes and dislikes to the Greater Evil that has provided you your power, or even to more efficiently further your own long-range agenda, you roll for Humanity loss. Every time you are willing to risk the ultimate victory of good over evil, or the diminition of your personal power, to better gratify your personal desires, you check for Humanity gain: spare your honorable foe; betray your rival commander in the legions of evil just as the hosts of good are closing in; try to make the beautiful and virtuous princess marry you; try to sway your son, the last hope of good, over to the side of evil; tell your captives all your plans over a lavish dinner and then leave them in an elaborate deathtrap instead of just killing them -- it's good for you!

Frank T
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2006, 11:43:14 PM »

That... oh... screw me... I forgot Humanity!! How can one forget Humanity?

Cheap excuse: The books are still in a packing case.

Pseudo-psychological explanation: I was unsure about it myself and subconsciously hoping for Sidney to come up with some excellent suggestions. Well, thank you, man!

I like your Ego, which actually reminds me a bit of Spione and “the Cold”, but I think I’ll stick with the obvious and go for Empathy. That’s nice and simple and most fitting!

I'd suggest "sensitive" instead of "compassionate", since in this kind of setting "artists and lovers" can be, uh, less than compassionate. (Arguably Elric has this descriptor for his early stories until he gets so pissed at Stormbringer he switches to "rebel").


- Frank
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