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Author Topic: Good discussion about NaN (split)  (Read 6421 times)
Plotin
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« on: July 14, 2007, 01:26:10 PM »

This is nog a strict reply to the opening of this post, and I also hope that you (Ron!) don't think I am neither hairsplitting nor nitpicking, bit this aspect of your answer intrigued me:

Quote
just say "no" to diversity. The need for "Seven worlds!" "Two dimensions!" "Four schools of magic!" is an artifact of gamer history, and it's a blight and a curse. Sorcerer works best when there's one fictional setting and one basic look-and-feel for sorcery.

I am thinking about your generic setting from the main rulebook - are the two schools of both Classicists and Ragicals not very different "schools" of sorcery, with cery different "flavours" to them? How does this compute with your answer to Krul's question? Just being curious and wanting to play your game the way it is intended to.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2007, 02:45:46 PM »

Hi there,

That is a good question. The full answer is actually found in the first chapter of the supplement Sex & Sorcery.

Let's work with the information in the main book first. None of the approaches to sorcery (basically death, sex, madness) described in Chapter 7 of the main book are based on different metaphysics or any other setting elements, as in "types of magic" as usually construed in role-playing texts. Instead, they only reflect different ways that people in the setting have formalized sorcery according to their understanding and needs.

More profoundly, not only are not several ways sorcery works, there is no actual way that sorcery "works in the setting," in fact, it's fundamental to the concept of the game that there is no magic, and that demons do not exist. That's why Sorcerer is not about hidden secrets about the universe that only a few people know; it's about the few people who have defied the universe they live in. That's also why types and styles of sorcery, in a given setting, do not reflect setting but rather characters.

Now, when looking at the first chapter of Sex & Sorcery, you can find a lot of text which refers back to that same chapter 7 (in the main book), in which transgressions against sex, sanity, and death are interlinked on a diagram. All of them represent paths of insight through breaking accepted boundaries of behavior. For instance, transgressions against death are utilized as a path toward justice. But each path or approach is also capable of becoming "stuck" and each can also be confused or tainted with either of the other paths.

I first wrote that diagram long before Sorcerer was first made available in 1996, let's see ... back in 1994 and early 1995, when we were playing the game a lot. I wrote the diagram on a piece of scrap paper in a roadside restaurant in Florida, while eating lunch, because I was thinking about all the ways the player-characters were dealing with the concept of Humanity, and how they were clearly interlinked into one thing. That is, I was realizing that we only needed one definition of Humanity, not three or four, despite the radically different styles and approaches to sorcery represented by the characters.

I used that game as my model for Chapter 7 in the main book, and was able to revisit it and to present the diagram for the first time in Chapter 1 of Sex & Sorcery.

Best, Ron
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Plotin
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« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2007, 10:54:06 PM »

Hello Ron,

and thanks for the clarification. But first, please accept my apologies for the horrible spelling in my previous post; I was incredibly tired when I wrote it.

Quote
Let's work with the information in the main book first. None of the approaches to sorcery (basically death, sex, madness) described in Chapter 7 of the main book are based on different metaphysics or any other setting elements, as in "types of magic" as usually construed in role-playing texts. Instead, they only reflect different ways that people in the setting have formalized sorcery according to their understanding and needs.

More profoundly, not only are not several ways sorcery works, there is no actual way that sorcery "works in the setting," in fact, it's fundamental to the concept of the game that there is no magic, and that demons do not exist. That's why Sorcerer is not about hidden secrets about the universe that only a few people know; it's about the few people who have defied the universe they live in. That's also why types and styles of sorcery, in a given setting, do not reflect setting but rather characters.

Let me paraphrase this to see if I got your ideas right:

This might be different in other settings, but at least in the setting from the main rulebook, the core belief of real-world occultists holds true: Belief Defines Reality. The reason that Black Wheelers summon Objects and Parasites and Dark Ladies summon Passers and Possessors is really not a difference in their lore (though they might believe this themselves), it is due to the personalities of the sorcerers, their drives and wishes. They do not so much invoke the demons (from dimension X) as they e<inner
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2007, 05:12:04 AM »

Hi Michael,

Actually, that's not correct. In Sorcerer, belief doesn't mean shit. Reality, whatever it may be, cares nothing for human belief. Such belief is limited to within the human experience and can only "talk to itself."

So where do demons come from? The answer is, they don't. There aren't demons. They don't exist. Reality doesn't permit demons to exist. Demons are not in the setting, not in another dimension, not in Hell, and not in any sort of alternate or even psychological space.

Demons don't exist.

So that means that not only do demons not exist, they aren't created either. You can't explain them as psi-manifestations or psychological effects on reality either, because all of that is just more "this is why they exist" explanations. You have to throw out any and all justification of demons' presence, at the level of understanding the setting.

That's what I mean by defying the universe to be a sorcerer. You don't just whip into existence some sort of "thing" which you happen to believe in. That's boring, just more magical thinking. Magical thinking is expressly stupid and meaningless in Sorcerer.

No, to get a demon and Bind it, in Sorcerer, means the character stepped fully outside any and all explanations of any kind. The character had to break the universe to do it. No one can explain it, most especially anything resembling "order" or "purpose" in the universe, if indeed there is such a thing, and equally, anything like "the power lies within you" as well.

Sorcerer settings are full of rationalizations of sorcery, but that's all Lore is. I want to emphasize that this sentence applies fully to faith-based and emotion-based explanations too.

Best, Ron

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Plotin
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« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2007, 08:23:37 AM »

quote]
So that means that not only do demons not exist, they aren't created either.

Okay, this is<
Quote
not only do demons not exist, they aren't created either,

and that

Quote
(r)eality doesn't permit demons to exist,

and that

Quote
to get a demon and Bind it, in Sorcerer, means the character stepped fully outside any and all explanations of any kind

does sound to me like another kind of rationalization, as if you said: "Demons don't exist in our reality and are not created  in it; instead, they are brought into existence from some other place by the ultimate act of defiance."

This would seem to me like some other "Dimension X" explanation; but maybe my mistake is trying to understand this as anything but a deliberately unsolvable paradox
Quote

So that means that not only do demons not exist, they aren't created either.[/quote]

Okay, this is<
Quote
not only do demons not exist, they aren't created either,

and that

Quote
(r)eality doesn't permit demons to exist,

and that

Quote
to get a demon and Bind it, in Sorcerer, means the character stepped fully outside any and all explanations of any kind

does sound to me like another kind of rationalization, as if you said: "Demons don't exist in our reality and are not created  in it; instead, they are brought into existence from some other place by the ultimate act of defiance."

This would seem to me like some other "Dimension X" explanation; but maybe my mistake is trying to understand this as anything but a deliberately unsolvable paradox.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2007, 11:45:02 AM »

Hi,

It's OK to keep all of this in one thread for now. I might split it later, or not, either way is OK and not a problem.

I think you'll like this thread: Not-Here, Not-Here plus demons, and NaN, in which Jesse lays out his insights about this very issue. Please feel free to ask anything you'd like about it.

For purposes of respecting your post:

Quote
Quote
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Plotin
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« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2007, 01:40:56 PM »

Quote
I am also keeping in mind your original question, concerning "types of sorcery" and whether that's an indicator of different metaphysics (i.e. core setting elements) in play. I am not sure whether that's been answered to your satisfaction, or whether the current demons-don't-exist topic is a necessary subroutine for that answer to be completed.think<their
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lumpley
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« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2007, 02:34:48 PM »

It seems to me that this is a big difference between fantasy fiction and horror fiction. You'd say of Underworld, for instance, that it's set in the real world except for vampires and werewolves exist. However, you'd never say of The Ring that it's set in the real world except for magic exists. The freaky stuff in the ring is transgressive, not (just) fantastical, if that makes sense.

-Vincent
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2007, 03:44:30 PM »

Hi there,

I think that's a great personal paraphrase of the issue. You've rounded it out with emotional details ("and that's all there is to it," for instance), which is what any of us does with a personal paraphrase, and that's fine. As far as strict content goes, yes, we agree.

I would like some feedback about my answer to you about the different sorts (or rather, not-different sorts) of sorcery. You said my answer was "satisfactory," but I do not know whether that's because you see my point and agree with it, or because you see something that's not my point and agree with that, or because you disagree with my point but understand it, or because you think I'm full of shit, or anything else. Please let me know.

Hi Vincent! I can't speak to the horror/fantasy distinction because I think both terms have been co-opted by marketing, movie tie-ins, and the need for agents to sell books to distributors, as opposed to authors selling to readers. But in terms of content, without reference to labels, I do think the distinction you're making is valid.

Best, Ron
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Moreno R.
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Posts: 389


« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2007, 08:00:06 PM »

Hi Ron!

Thinking about Vincent's post about horror and fantasy,  I would like to ask you if demons don't exist in Sorcerer & Sword, too...

(because I have read at least a couple of supplements - Charnel Gods and Dictionary of Mu - where demons have a role in the setting, and I would like to know if they are exceptions, or this is a normal difference between playing Sorcerer and playing S&S))
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Ciao,
Moreno.

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
Plotin
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Posts: 27


« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2007, 11:06:37 PM »

Quote
I would like some feedback about my answer to you about the different sorts (or rather, not-different sorts) of sorcery. You said my answer was "satisfactory," but I do not know whether that's because you see my point and agree with it, or because you see something that's not my point and agree with that, or because you disagree with my point but understand it, or because you think I'm full of shit, or anything else.are actually there<as demons do not exist.
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Plotin
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« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2007, 11:47:55 PM »

i]is a thing that is there and does not existis[/i] a thing that is there and does not exist.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2007, 04:55:05 AM »

Hi there,

All of my interest in the subject applies only to the process of role-playing in the Sorcerer sense, or loosely, Story Now - people in the act of creating fiction. As far as what the "here but doesn't exist" might mean or how it might pertain to real people's experience of life, real lives, actual existence, and anything like that, I don't know and don't care. I'm clarifying that because your last post, Michael, may have wandered off the reservation, so to speak.

Anyway, looking through the last few posts, I'm seeing all sorts of phrases and points which spawn conversations in group environments, which is fine, but I also think that pursuing them will result in more and more dense posting about less and less relevant stuff. I'm pretty sure that somewhere on the internet people are discussing NaN and God in the same posts, and probably it's better to take further concerns about it (or them) to those sites.

Here are a couple of things to wrap up about playing Sorcerer.

1. Regarding the original question about the types of sorcery in the core book (and in Sex & Sorcery), thanks! I appreciate that.

2. The issue of various Sorcerer settings in which demons do, in fact, seem to be "here."

Many of them are like that, actually, including my Demon Cops and the Azk'Arn setting in Sex & Sorcery. In my settings, though, if you hunt through them, you'll find phrases and points which always clarify that demons are not features of the landscape like cats and lampposts, but something other, even if the setting is already pretty damn "other." That concept is also upheld by Charnel Gods. (Electric Ghosts, Schism, and Urge are definitely more in the primal Sorcerer zone, in which demons are stylistically well-defined but otherwise inexplicable, particularly in terms of control.)

As for Hellbound, the same still holds, which gives the whole thing a certain disturbing fillip. Just because a demon appears in a fiery blaze and seems to be obsessed with the sorcerer's "soul," and just because it insists on speaking [pick Biblical-language-of-choice], and just because it has a tail with a little point on it, doesn't mean there's a Hell and God is in his Heaven and everything they told you in Sunday school is true (i.e. in the game-fiction). Not even if the character sees it with his or her own eyes. Not even if the demon believes it. Not even if Humanity is defined verbally as "soul." No one ever knows for sure.

I think that if you examine the source literature, whether horror-fantasy (e.g. a lot of Fritz Leiber), myth, or sword-and-sorcery, you'll also find that those stories do not support the notion that "magic works in this world," or "the gods exist!", in the same way that modern fantasy and role-playing games typically do. There are some fantastic magic-really-works books out there - the Earthsea trilogy is usually my touchpoint for enjoying and talking about it, for instance. But Sorcerer isn't based on that material at all.

3. Michael, one part of your post still seems a weeny bit schizophrenic to me:

Quote
Plotin
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Posts: 27


« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2007, 05:54:07 AM »

If my post seem a weeny bit schizophrenic, that's due to me twisting and jumping through some mental loops.

Quote
As far as what the "here but doesn't exist" might mean or how it might pertain to real people's experience of life, real lives, actual existence, and anything like that, I don't know and don't care. I'm clarifying that because your last post, Michael, may have wandered off the reservation, so to speak.Quote
There's a verbal difference between me saying "it's an important device," and you saying, "it's just a device." Let's try to erase that verbal difference. I didn't say "just," and I didn't dismiss the issue by using the term "device." The device is hugely important, in the sense that the device called a piston is hugely important to an engine.Quote
Rather than thrash it out and hash it out with any number of agonized, semi-metaphysical posts, I'm pretty sure that I've managed to summarize what I do not mean and what I do mean concerning playing Sorcerer. I don't want to shut the conversation down, but let's be attentive to the points that (a) we're talking about creating fiction, not "how things are" in any larger philosophical sense; and (b) it's easy to get wrapped up in a verbal knot based strictly on linguistics.Quote
Is there any chance that we can talk about this issue specifically in regard to actual play? I'd like that.
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