Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.

Main Menu

Sherman tank demon (split)

Started by James_Nostack, November 23, 2007, 10:46:12 AM

Previous topic - Next topic


Quote2. The demon's actual impact on play will be defined by its abilities, and upon its Power score. One might have a Sherman tank demon, but if it has a Power of 2, so what?

Ron, I want to follow up with this because it's one of those rules-questions that comes up often on the forum. 

Let's say we're playing Sorcerer, and I'm GM'ing.  Your insecure teenage sorcerer summons a demonic Lamborghini with the ability "Cover (confers to master): Totally Hot Guy" with, say, Power 2.  No "fast," no nothing.  As a GM, my take would be that the demon, as a car, is a perfectly ordinary Lamborghini unless the demonic stats say otherwise; it would probably give a +1 die bonus in chase scenes because it's simply better equipment.  (I'm basing this off an old thread where Jesse suggested giving a demonic space station the ability "Big" to represent that it's a space station, and you talked him out of it because a demon doesn't need abilities to be what it is.)

So, let's say you grow tired of the demonic car, and want a demonic tank with the ability "Armor (confers to user of tank)".  Again, power 2.  Does this "stack" with the innate armor of the tank?  Does the demonic tank still have a cannon?  What happens when this demon-tank gets into a fight with the local National Guard called up to put down your teenaged sociopath: mundane tanks presumably have stats of some kind.

I guess what I'm saying is that where there's a distinction between a demon's supernatural abilities (which are hugely important and story-relevant), and its incidental color (the demon sports car might be fast, but you summoned it in order to look cool for the ladiez), normally I'd handwave the color as its irrelevant to the story.  Trick is, there's always the possibility that the incidental color might become relevant unexpectedly.

Ron H., if I'm confusing the hell out of you I apologize.

Ron Edwards

I split the above post from Why would I even want to play this game?

Hi James,

The solution is very simple: use the rules. I'll go through several of the angles on the question.

1. Here's a small one. Jesse didn't need the Big ability for the space station because he realized he didn't need or want the mechanics of Big to apply to that demon. Taking that one step farther, or more accurately, taking it to the level where it matters most, you should conceive of a demon as always being at the default effectiveness of a human with its scores, in addition to its abilities.

2. Here's a demon tank with Power 2. It's an Object demon. Let's say it doesn't have the Special Damage ability. Can its cannon shoot? Sure it can. What sort of damage will it do? Check this out.

a) If there is a physical tank involved in the demon's presence, i.e., the summoner started out with a real tank and "demonized" it in the process of summoning, or summoned the demon into the tank, or however you want to say it, then the tank can indeed shoot just like a real tank, because at baseline, without the demon, it is in fact a tank.

b) If, prior to summoning the demon, there was nothing there, and now that you have the demon, goodness, you also have a tank, then the damage will be based on the dice of a Stamina 2 human using the Fists table, at close range only. That's the default striking damage of any demon, and that's all it gets without a damaging ability. You do indeed have the object called "a tank," but it isn't really putting much of a footprint on reality with the Power and abilities to back it up.

Is there a grey area? Yes, there is. I mentioned in another thread that if one turned into a wolf using Shapeshift and bit someone, with no other ability use involved, that the bladed weapons damage table should be used. I also mentioned the grey area that applies to changing into a bird and whether the flight should be as good as the real bird's. In the case of the tank, I freely admit this is the same grey area, especially as it might apply to the range of the tank's cannon - I'd probably not be such a hard-on as the above paragraph implies, and go ahead and acknowledge that the tank's blast is ranged.

Here's a really, really good way to look at this, though! Again, it all goes back to the fundamentals of the system, which is that the dice are only used to resolve conflicts. OK, it's a tank, and it's an Object demon, and so it's really a tank. Got it. You can put it through any tank paces and blow the shit out of the target in your back yard and whatever ... as long as there's no conflict involved. When a conflict is involved, though, you must work with the capabilities of the tank as a demonic entity, and that entity has a Power of 2 and a Stamina of 1. Good luck.

(The trick in such a case lies with narration. In describing actions and what happens, everyone has the interesting task of describing actions that a tank could indeed do, but having the effectiveness even of a successful strike be limited to the wussy-level. How one does this depends on the look & feel of sorcery in that game. I can imagine three or four ways off the top of my head.)

In the case of Jesse's space station, this issue didn't really come up. I answered Jesse's concerns as if the space station had already existed prior to being demonic; i.e., it was haunted or something. The key point was that he didn't want the mechanics of Big, so he didn't need the ability.

3. So let's look at that demon Lamborghini.

QuoteYour insecure teenage sorcerer summons a demonic Lamborghini with the ability "Cover (confers to master): Totally Hot Guy" with, say, Power 2.  No "fast," no nothing.  As a GM, my take would be that the demon, as a car, is a perfectly ordinary Lamborghini unless the demonic stats say otherwise;

That only works if the teenage sorcerer had a Lamborghini to start with. If he didn't, then that Lamborghini can move about as fast as a trotting human. (Oh, and if you want it to go fast, you want Travel, not Fast, anyway.)

The Lamborghini might indeed go really fast and do all manner of Lamborghini things when not in conflict. That'd fulfill its "object = Lamborghini" quality granted by its demonic Type. But in a conflict? Sorry man - its available dice are going to be piss-poor.

Does that help? It's consistent with my discussion of Shapeshift in [Sorcerer] Potpourri of mechanical questions (injury, waiting, shapeshift).

4. As a minor point relevant to something you brought up as well: as far as normal objects are concerned, no, they do not have scores like Stamina or whatever. What they have are damage columns and however many dice seem relevant toward resisting their destruction in some way. To be clear, if a human attacked a tank with his fists in Sorcerer play, there would be no roll. It's not like his "fists damage is resisted by the tank's armor" in a GURPS or other model-physics system. It's resolved by the fact that a human can't hurt a tank in this way, so there is no conflict which could be solved via the dice. Narrate the ouchy effect of banging at the tank and move on. Now, if something that could hurt a tank attacks it, then grab dice just as you would for any other resolution without a specified score to go by.

Best, Ron


Well for me the discussion was a big help.

I will probably run the game straight, and I will probably do a game where you can get away with the incredible, summoning tank, demon and all... but as early in the going as it is, I think I'll stick to the default setup for now.

Better than knowing how it is, I feel much clearer about why it is.
-Ron H
-The Thing In The Mirror
-(Absolutely not related to The Thing In The Closet.)


Hey thanks: it's been an issue that crops up reliably, if infrequently, on the forums, and I figured it'd be good to nail it down.  The answer is a little more doctrinaire than I'd expected, but I'm happy to get an answer on that.  I think that's basically how I would handle it too once, if the issue showed up in such a bald way, but like you say it's a grey area.

For anyone following along at home, note what the system is actually resolving, once there's a dice-worthy conflict: you've got your Power 2 "purely demonic" tank that doesn't have the Special Damage ability.  It's cruising along doing "Fists" damage based on its Stamina 1 when there's a meaningful fight.  But you can narrate that in a lot of different ways -- including, a real no-fooling blockbusting cannon that just happens to never get a solid hit on its intended target.  Even if your demon-tank is Power 2, that doesn't have to mean it's impotent: the other guy is just really lucky/agile/something else comes along and screws up the shot so that the target only takes an insignificant amount of damage.

Ron Edwards

Sure, you could do it that way, depending.

Given that this conversation isn't arising out of an actual instance of play, my next comment needs to be understood in its most general form, based on past games of default (our world right now) Sorcerer. It is, I'd go ahead and say a Power 2 tank is one limp dick of a tank, and its performance will reflect that in an obvious way.

Maybe I'm just mean today.

Best, Ron