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Author Topic: Madness & Grace: Jesse's Gothic Fantasy Part 2  (Read 2886 times)
Christopher Kubasik
Member

Posts: 1153


« on: July 22, 2002, 11:07:39 PM »

Hi everybody,

Well, this was just swell.  I've had other sessions that were as much fun, but none so compact, engaging and compulsively "what the hell's going to happen now?"

We played a little over two hours, but got in an amazing amount of story.  Thankfully I'm too exhausted to go near a "and, then" recap, so:

In short: Tich (stolen as a boy to be raised by a band of thieves by a brutal bandit leader "father" escaped from a lord's keep in Part 1, and kidnapped both his bandit father and the lord's daughter, dragging them out to the haunted woods to get his vengeance on the bandit);

and my guy, Count Reingard (who's son ran away twenty years ago, who's wife was murdered a couple of years after that, who summoned a demon to avenge his wife, and then came to love his "eight year old" demon as his own son, was confronted by his son's returned and framed his son as the murderer of a village girl).

HUMANITY

Humanity is defined as emotional stability.  

Tich made humanity rolls doing creepy things like asking his bandit father to tell him a goodnight story (the kind that had been denied him during his childhood when he was kidnapped); beating the girl the more upset she got and so on.  He also rolled to gain humanity when, after he pushed the old man into a river with a spirit who asked him to bring the old man to her, he saw the spirit about to embrace/drown him, saved him, and set the man and girl free.

Karl made a roll to see if he could remember the name of the inn-keeper in his town (he's been locked up in his castle for the most part, doting on his demon boy).  He made checks for Humanity loss for declaring over his son's corpse that he had disowned the man years earlier and giving thanks that the villagers had lynched and burned him for killing the dead village girl, for making a donation to the town by paying double for a piece of craftwork that was really a present for his demon "son", and for contacting and summoning the dead girl's spirit to stop his son's ghost after one of his man servents was killed in the middle of the night.

(I think I made more, but that's all I can remember right now.)

STORY STUFF

Tich's player left last week asking, "Do you guys sense how I have no idea what I'm doing with my character?"  (He was mostly wandering around his hostages.)

So before play I asked, "Did you get a chance to think about what you want your character to be doing?"  And he said, "Well it's what my character wants to be doing."  And I said, "No, it's about what you want to be doing.  But, okay... what does your character want?"

And he said, "Vengeance.  Against the guy who kidnapped him when he was a boy."

Well, I asked, do you want him dead? Insane? What?"

"I want him dead."

"But you could have killed him already."

"I want to drive him insane."

"Great.  And this matters, because now you and I can watch and see if Tich is getting closer to or farther away from his goals."

And damn if it didn't help.  By the time Tich asked for the bed time story, I couldn't tell if he was the smartest sadist in the world, or going insane himself.  But man I wanted to know if he was going to get what he wanted before he cracked.  

And later, when he saw the man he wanted to harm for so long almost killed by a horrible creature (the river spirit), it was like he saw what he had been doing from the outside and the change of heart was completely motivated.

My guy: Note that Karl started the session with a Humanity of 3, and I happily drove it into the ground.  We're playing with S&Soul optional humanity rules, so I could go to 0 Humanity, drop my number, rework my character for the worse, and then start the character in new circumstances.

After my faithful bodyguard was murdered in the middle of the night, Karl decided my son's ghost was behind it.  I returned to my dark library full of emotional and magically laden tales (my source of Lore in Jesse's Gothic Fantasy world), doing researching with my demon to find a way of putting down my vengeful son't spirit for good.

Unfortunantly, the only lesson to be learned was making amends, making peace, and doing the right thing.  All other roads led to disaster.  Karl wanted none of that (I think I made Humanity check here), and decided that my son really did kill the girl, that I should raise her spirit and let her avenge herself on my son.  (The lie had become real in my mind.)

My "boy" and I went out into the rain and thunder, and as my character stood stooped and hunched with his cadavor like body over her grave, my young demon Brom dug her up.

By the time I was doing sorocery to get her demonic spirit to serve my needs, I had a humanity of 2 against her Power of 9.  I dropped another point for the contcat, and the last one on the summoning.

The demon was a Possessor demon, and Jesse ruled that when I hit 0, she entered me, Brom became unbound, and smiled as he vanished, his work done.

So, now I'm going to knock my stats down, add a Price or two, take a Humanity of One, and have no idea what has happened when Karl next opens his eyes.  Karl never even made it to the binding, so really, the dead girl's spirit could have done anything with my body.

I haven't discussed this with Jesse yet, but I see Karl finding himself aware of himself again after his possession like this:

Naked, bruised, his frail skin tight on his bones, stripped of his wealthy robes, weeping on his knees, a road side shrined of the Holy Mother holding the murderered Messiah in her arms behind him.

What comes after that, I have no idea.  But a major turn has come for Karl (has to, in fact, if I'm not going to just do this Humanity 0 thing again and again), and I think he has no memory of his sorcererous dealings with Brom, what he did to his son, and is actually a good guy now -- who's about to enter hell as he uncovers what he's done (both as himself and as himself possessed).  Will he get his humanity up?  Or fall into final oblivion?  A couple of more sessions will tell.

Jesse did a great job.  And the bang of my murdered man servent, after I thought my real son dead and buried was great.

Take care,

Christopher
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"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2002, 04:46:59 AM »

Hi there,

So just the other day, I was thinking to myself, "Geez, if these characters find themselves opening a grave at some point during this game, then we'll know it's a raving success."

As you've probably guessed, that's a lie, I'm not that precognitive, but it was that moment of reading Christopher's post, that I decided Jesse and Group should be teaching me how to play Sorcerer. With this game, Scott's Charnel Gods sessions, and the Blood Sun going on, what's there to say ... amazing. Dreams come true.

I think one of the strongest elements of playing the game is the potential of "moral turnaround" no matter what one's Humanity score has sunk to - and with the addition of the rules in The Sorcerer's Soul, which Christopher's using, that includes Humanity 0. Now that I think about it, those rules essentially use the Humanity-0 status as a "new Kicker," which is an interesting concept.

Best,
Ron
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Christopher Kubasik
Member

Posts: 1153


« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2002, 06:53:11 AM »

Hi Ron,

We actually spent a bit of OOC discussion at the end of the game addressing this issue of moral turnaround.  Apparently some people see Sorcerer in the same term of Death-and-Madness Express as, say, CoC.  But I don't think this is the case at all.

When you start thinking in terms of story (rather than mechanized behavior: alignment, CoC Insanity), the human tendency is to seek reversals and revelations (see the "Poetics" for more on this dramatic narrative).  I truly think that it's human nature in narrative *not* to expect consistency, but change.... So you go one way for a while, and then you're going to want to go another way.  The coolest moment for me was when the water spirit rose up to drown the man Tich had wanted to drive to madness... because at that moment I saw a crisis point for Tich arriving -- I didn't know he'd make a change of heart -- but the opportunity had arrive.  When he did sieze it, I thought, "Okay, now where's Tich going to go?"

As for the Kicker... we talked about this too.

We decided the Kickers hadn't really changed --  Tich's Kicker was that he was free, Karl's that his son had arrived.  

Now, the situation is, Tich just released the Lord's daughter -- but he did kidnap her.  Is he *free* yet?  Or still on the run?  We don't know. And we decided that until Tich resovles his past life with a new life of true freedom, his Kicker is still in play.  

Same with my guy: His son came home, he had him killed... Clearly, this issue is still in play....  Because he's now in a whole new place in his heart.  How, ultimately, will he deal with his son's arrival-death-mourning-and final whatever....

The way I think of these two situations for the characters is this: sort of Self-Imposed Bangs.  The overarching Kickers are still there, but we, the players have said, "And now this happens!"  And now we've got to find out how we respond to the new circumstances.

*****

Oh, a final note of OOC discussions.... As you have suggested in other posts about your own games, there was a lot of it.  But all of it about the game: we sometimes suggested Humanity checks for each other or ourselves; we asked for more details or images from each other; we egged each other on to gain more bonus dice.  All of it was about the game, and all of it was about intensifying the experience.  It didn't derail the session at all -- quite the opposite.

(When Tich struck the whimpering girl to shut her up, and then she starting bawling, and the HE HIT HER AGAIN! -- I practically jumped forward, saying loudly, "Okay, that's a Humanity check!"  I, at least, loved them -- and I think I startled Jesse early on by constantly asking about Karl's behavior, "Isn't that a Humanity check?"  But when you're playing a guy who buys a bauble at double price as an offering to the village that lost a young girl to (apparently) my son's hand, but really plan on giving the bauble to my demon to feed his need for luxury, whisphering to my demon as we leave the jeweler's shop, "I love you," Humanity checks are going to come at you like iron filings to a magnet.)

Anyway, thanks again Ron for designing such a swell game.

***

Oh, and we've got a raft of rules questions for you.  Jesse said he was going to post them, so I'll leave that to him.

Take care,
Christopher
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"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield
jburneko
Member

Posts: 1351


« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2002, 08:33:52 AM »

Well, Christopher pretty much covered the game from the player angle so I think I'll just throw my GM thoughts in here.  The biggest moment for me as a GM was the scene with the Water Spirit (Winona) because it put to rest all my fears about accidentally making bangs that are too Random Encounterish.  The Water Spirit was a half planned bang.

It was half-planned because I new that I wanted to get in a moment with the Shadow Fey for Tich and Company but I didn't know what form it would take.  And then Tich decided to cool off and lie down in a stream and I was suddenly struck with the image of the river forming a naked woman beneath him and wraping its arms and legs around him.  Then I just had it asked, "Why are you here?" in this sort of wattery whisper.

And the whole scene went from there.  I had no idea what was going to happen from there.  None.  Between player and system the scene took on significance all by itself.  I felt good about that.  

Oh, and rain, thunder, eight year old demon boys digging up graves.  Yeah.  I've been trying to run a game like this for YEARS.

Jesse
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Christopher Kubasik
Member

Posts: 1153


« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2002, 11:44:19 AM »

Jesse,

Here's my proposal for the new write up:

(Ron, note that Jesse gave me broad latitude with the descriptors)

Karl Reingard

Appearance: A man of bones

Telltale: His heart beat very, very slowly

Stamina: 1 (Gentle)

Will: 3 (Brush with the Unkown: Karl is left only with the memories of the love he once had with his wife and son, and feels the same love for all the world; he wants to increase this *sensation* of love and share it with others)

Lore: 3 ("Touched")

Past: 3 (Noble: he remember and acts on the habits of his station, but no longer expects the same deference as his now gone Past: 4 Comte)

Price: -1 all interactions: No sense of touch, no sense of taste; his skin is as soft and pale white flour

Kicker: Jurgern has returned after being gone for twenty years

And now to you, chief.

Take care,
Christopher
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"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield
Christopher Kubasik
Member

Posts: 1153


« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2002, 11:44:48 AM »

Jesse,

Here's my proposal for the new write up:

(Ron, note that Jesse gave me broad latitude with the descriptors)

Karl Reingard

Appearance: A man of bones

Telltale: His heart beats very, very slowly

Stamina: 1 (Gentle)

Will: 3 (Brush with the Unkown: Karl is left only with the memories of the love he once had with his wife and son, and feels the same love for all the world; he wants to increase this *sensation* of love and share it with others)

Lore: 3 ("Touched")

Past: 3 (Noble: he remember and acts on the habits of his station, but no longer expects the same deference he once commanded from his now gone Past: 4 Comte)

Price: -1 all interactions: No sense of touch, no sense of taste; his skin is as soft and pale as white flour

Kicker: Jurgern has returned after being gone for twenty years

And now to you, chief.

Take care,
Christopher
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"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield
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