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Author Topic: The riddle of sorceror?  (Read 2651 times)
Brian Leybourne
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« on: January 06, 2003, 07:15:27 PM »

Hmm.. now that's an interesting thought.

The Riddle of Steel is a cool game. Sorcerer (the Ron Edwards one; I'm not talking about the White Wolf game) is also a cool game.

Magic, in TROS, I have always felt wasn't quite up to the standard of the rest of the system. It's good, but not great.

Everything BUT magic, in Sorcerer, is fine for the system, but lacks the meat of TROS' system. Magic is damn fucking cool though (summoning demons and convincing them to do stuff for you).

You can see where I'm going here, right?

So, how about the concept of stripping the vagary system from TROS and implementing something based on Sorcerer? The basic concept of magic in Sorcerer is "what are you prepared to do for power", and I can envision that slotting really well into TROS's SA system et al.

Thoughts? Opinions? Derision?

(Side note: Is there a Forge rule that prevents me from cross posting this in the Sorcerer/Adept Press forum as well?)

Brian.
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Brian Leybourne
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RPG Books: Of Beasts and Men, The Flower of Battle, The TROS Companion
prophet118
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« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2003, 08:41:42 PM »

well you could always implement something like this: no one starts out as a gifted human, should they want to play a sorceror, they must buy there race as fey, or siehe.. a natural magic using race... then, what that leaves open, is for humans, who wish to learn and wield magic, the chance for dark pacts, legendary quests, and epic journies...

maybe it sounds dopey, but you do seem to come from about the same train of thought as i try to...lol
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2003, 08:02:13 AM »

Hiya,

First, as far as Forge rules goes, posting one thread to one forum is probably the best policy rather than trying to manage two threads beginning with the same post.

Second, let's see ...

One of the neat things about modern game design is the degree of parallelism going on. Jake and I are continually surprised at the ways that TROS and Sorcerer represent different answers to very, very similar concerns with a particular kind of play. You can especially see this when you take the supplement Sorcerer & Sword into account, but it's all through the core rules when you understand them for both games.

I'll go over some issues for both combat and magic.

COMBAT
Since Sorcerer doesn't have (e.g.) hit location charts, people sometimes get the idea that its combat system is vague. It's not. It's one of the most rigorous, least ambiguous combat systems in all of role-playing, challenged in that position perhaps only by TROS and Swashbuckler. The "meat" takes some time to learn, especially since the order/announcement of actions is handled differently from most games (it was inspired by Zero, by the way) and the text doesn't offer many examples.

So TROS-ifying Sorcerer combat is perhaps less easy than it looks. Sometimes the games are so alike that adding/combining their parts is redundant, and at other times, they "solve" certain problems in different ways, and so it's not easy to pick and choose elements from each in combination. I'll clarify.

Same: In TROS, one gets dice bonuses based on maneuvers, according to a set of listed criteria. In Sorcerer, the very same thing happens - but it's handled without a list. If the stated maneuver is either logistically advantageous the bonus applies. In this sense, the games are identical. [Notice that since TROS uses target numbers and opposed rolls, and since Sorcerer uses only opposed rolls, a single die "goes farther" in Sorcerer.]

Same: Another way they're alike is damage: a temporary penalty (one action in Sorcerer) based on pain and reaction, and a lasting one based on actual damage. The only substantive difference in this issue is that, in Sorcerer, lasting damage is somewhat cinematically reduced after combat is over.

Different: In TROS, one allocates offensive and defensive dice prior to the exchange's rolls. In Sorcerer, since everyone can see everyone else's offensive dice simultaneously, each player can choose whether to abort the character's action and go into "yikes, avoid" mode, or to roll a single die in defense and maintain the stated action. In other words, it's still a dice-allocation system, but the roll takes place "between" offense and (potential) defense allocation, rather than afterwards.

Same: In TROS, SA's provide a substantial bonus to ... well, everything, but especially combat. In Sorcerer, bonus dice play the same roll, based on role-playing and "significance." They operate at about a 2:1 scale to the logistic/maneuver advantage.

MAGIC
This is tricky - can you "do" Sorcerer magic using existing TROS rules? Sure. Lots of power in Summoning and (what's it called) the Containing equivant will do it, plus perhaps a lot of thought among the group members about demons and what they want, or say they want. To a very great extent, you'd have to cut out some existing rules, specifically the other Vagaries, or mediate them through the actions of a demon. And how would the aging factor in? Good question.

Can you "do" TROS magic using existing Sorcerer rules? At first glance, it doesn't look like it, but actually, using the demon abilities in combination can give you some shocking effects. Warp, Travel, and Boost are remarkably flexible. Also, realize that the Damage ability can be defined in any way - such that squishing someone's head with their helmet is perfectly do-able in Sorcerer if you understand this freedom of definition.

But really, it's a question of theme, isn't it? Let's look at the limiting factors. In TROS, it's mainly aging; in Sorcerer, it's mainly Humanity. These limiting factors are both effective, and both present advantages and disadvantages - or, let us say, both present specific and differing impacts on the experience of play.

1) Aging almost always happens unless the player is veeerry careful; Humanity loss happens more randomly but there are more ways for it to happen at all.

2) More importantly, aging is an in-game limiter, whereas Humanity is a metagame-limiter. The first applies mainly to character-effectiveness, and the latter applies mainly to character-fate (i.e. the player's large-scale choices relative to the character).

3) Related to #2, aging carries no "judgment" among the actual, real group members upon that character, and Humanity is absolutely nothing unless it's such a judgment.

In conclusion: Theme in TROS magic is expressed mainly by SA's making magic less dangerous in terms of aging, and theme in Sorcerer magic is expressed mainly by in-play standards for when Humanity check and gain rolls are made.

SO ...
Well, to me, both games carry immense weight in the following things: "meat" of combat, including its internal logic and the difficult choices among risk and victory (in ways that are more similar than they look); theme of magic, including risk to the character's playability (in different ways). Therefore it's a bit difficult for me to imagine combining them, as both redundancy and differing "languages" for resolution are going to offer a lot of problems.

Best,
Ron
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Valamir
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« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2003, 10:00:16 AM »

Mechanically I think it would be a fairly easy port if the idea was to completely delete the chapter on sorcery from TROS and replace it with a version of Sorcerer sorcery.

While it is true that Sorcerer's die pool is purely opposed and TROS's is a target number and cancel successes system, it really doesn't matter for porting purposes.  One can pretty much use Sorcerer rules for determining die pool size and TROS rules for evaluating the roll.  One thing that would need to be done is to map Sorcerers 4 attributes into TROS attributes for purposes of which TROS attributes to use in place of Lore, Will, and Stamina in calculating the die pool.

One could easily replace Humanity checks with Aging Checks so that Sorcerers thematic Humanity mechanic doesn't clash with TROS's thematic SA mechanic.  Basically scrapping Sorcerer concepts of mechanically enforced theme for TROS concepts.

In the end you'd have TROS where sorcery works by summoning demons and ordering them to do your bidding.  It wouldn't be too difficult from there to start to culturify the demons.  For the Arabian analogs the "demons" might become Djinn and Efreet.  For the Western European analogs the "demons" might be literally pseudo-christian devils.  For other societies they might be ghosts of ancestors, or nature spirits or what have you.

The rough descriptions of what each level of vagary is capable of is pretty similar in scope to the rough descriptions of Demon Powers in Sorcerer, so it wouldn't be to hard to map / expand the list of available Demon Powers to include these vagary powers.  I'd suggest treating each vagary like a power that can be chosen for a demon multiple times (to get to the higher level abilities) which would increase the Power (and hense danger) of the demon proportionately.

I think it would be tremendous.  I suspect there are probably some good rules in the forthcoming Of Beasts and Men that could be used for when Sorcerers send their non Passer demons into combat with rending claws and dripping fangs.
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Brian Leybourne
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Posts: 1793


« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2003, 11:53:13 AM »

Ron,

Thanks for your comments. I think you slightly got the wrong end of the stick though.

Firstly, let me say, I wasn't meaning in any way to suggest that Sorcerer was inferior or no good etc, I happen to love the game (although admittedly have not had a chance to play it yet), and its system is very good; different from TROS but really no better or worse.

I perhaps didn't explain myself very well, but Valamir more or less hit the nail on the head as to what I was TRYING to say. My post was more a commentary on TROS magic than anything else, occasionally I get a bit frustrated with it, and then my head turns and I consider the coolness that is Sorcerer's magic concept, and I like the idea of TROS where magic works not like in the rulebook, but by summoning and binding demons (using Sorcerers powers etc as a guide) and getting them to do stuff for you. Actual mechanics such as aging vs humanity or die pools etc are easy enough to work out later, I was more intersted in peoples thoughts as to porting that demons-as-magic idea into TROS (completely replacing the current system).

Sigh, now Jake will probablt get the wrong idea as well :-) Let me reiterate, both games are damn fucking cool, I just like to mix things up for interests sake. Throw in a bit of this and a dash of that, simmer, and add salt to taste. What you end up with might be unpalatable, but it also might be a tasty and satasfying broth.

Brian.
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Brian Leybourne
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RPG Books: Of Beasts and Men, The Flower of Battle, The TROS Companion
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2003, 02:50:24 PM »

Hi Brian,

No blood here, my friend. I think you raised a good question, and as you know I'm a big TROS fan. I've been waiting a long time to offer a rundown of some of the ways that both games accomplish unusual RPG goals through different dice-pool designs and slightly different relationships between statements and die results.

Best,
Ron
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2003, 10:39:01 PM »

Quote
Sigh, now Jake will probablt get the wrong idea as well :-) Let me reiterate, both games are damn fucking cool, I just like to mix things up for interests sake. Throw in a bit of this and a dash of that, simmer, and add salt to taste. What you end up with might be unpalatable, but it also might be a tasty and satasfying broth.


Actually, Brian, I asked Ron's opinion on porting Sorcerer-style magic straight into TROS, like what you're trying to do, a long long time ago. I think it's a damn cool idea, and something that I would love to see (although I think Ron wants Sorcerer to hide out where it's at...).

Jake
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Brian Leybourne
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Posts: 1793


« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2003, 11:47:16 AM »

Quote from: Jake Norwood
Actually, Brian, I asked Ron's opinion on porting Sorcerer-style magic straight into TROS, like what you're trying to do, a long long time ago. I think it's a damn cool idea, and something that I would love to see (although I think Ron wants Sorcerer to hide out where it's at...).
Jake


Fair enough. Tell you what, when I get some free time inbetween my other projects (and if Ron isn't opposed to the idea) I'll write up a sorcerer-esk magic system for TROS for the webpage.

Brian.
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Brian Leybourne
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RPG Books: Of Beasts and Men, The Flower of Battle, The TROS Companion
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2003, 01:39:36 PM »

Hi Brian,

I'm not opposed at all. I guess I'm still puzzled as to how it would differ simply from applying the already-existing Vagaries of Summoning and whatchamacallit, the "Banishing" one, but whatever it turns out to be, go for it.

Best,
Ron
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Brian Leybourne
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« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2003, 02:55:42 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Hi Brian,

I'm not opposed at all. I guess I'm still puzzled as to how it would differ simply from applying the already-existing Vagaries of Summoning and whatchamacallit, the "Banishing" one, but whatever it turns out to be, go for it.

Best,
Ron


Ron,

I'm talking about those vagaries not even existing. Folk with an aptitude for it (Priority B in race off the top of my head) would be able to summon demons. Those demons would have various powers (based off the kinds of powers you have in sorcerer, such as armor and inflict damage and cloak et al) which they can use, or transfer to the sorcerer-as-user etc.

Basically the whole sub-system of sorcery lifted from sorcerer, jiggled a bit to fit, and then plonked down on top of chapter 6 of TROS :-)

No real reason, other than because playing with stuff like that is cool. We once transferred the magic from White Wolf's Mage, invented point costs for the levels of the spheres, and used it to replace pattern initiation in an Amber game. Just because we could (and it worked pretty well, really).

Brian.
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Brian Leybourne
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RPG Books: Of Beasts and Men, The Flower of Battle, The TROS Companion
Henry Fitch
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« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2003, 03:18:27 PM »

It'd be fun, though quite different from Sorcerer as-is, to have separate Proficiencies (treated just like Vagaries) in each of the "Sorcerous Actions." So one guy might have a pool of 4 in Summoning, but only a 1 or 0 in Banish. This guy would lead a dangerous life.
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formerly known as Winged Coyote
Asaraludu
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« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2003, 05:42:48 PM »

I guess to respond to Brian's original question - what don't you find satisfying about TROS's magic system?  I'm always trying to garner others' opinions in an effort to better my gaming experience.

I've been running TROS now for a few months on regular Thursday nights.  The group includes one Fey character, and while it's a challenge for me to strategically plan for scenarios when the Fey character can effectively ruin my best-laid plans, I think the magic system's fluidity (some people might say vagueness) is what makes it so great.  The fact that it can so easily unbalance the game only makes it that much more interesting.  It keeps everyone on their toes.  There's an even mix of players in my group that are used to D&D magic and more amorphous systems like Mage: the Ascension.  The player controlling the Fey comes from the former group and TROS's system has really challenged his basic assumptions about what he can do.

I can't really comment on Mr. Edwards' game, as I've only leafed through it (though it looks very interesting), and by no means am I trying to "defend" TROS.  I'm only interested in hearing more on why Brian feels its only "good" and not "great", and what frustrates him about it.

As I understand one of Brian's motivations for the post, it has to do with the Sorcerer concept of demons affecting all magical effects.  If I wanted to accomplish this in my game while preserving the basic mechanics (unless these are the meat of your frustrations), I could simply consider demons to be the transport for all magical effects.

My friend Scotty and I have been developing our own campaign world (The World of Myria - www.protoreality.com/myria) for over 10 years now, and when TROS came to our attention, we both knew it was what we'd been looking for all along.  That world has many different cultures that approach magic in different ways.  Most of the "modifications" that we've made to TROS's approach are more in role-playing aspects.

For instance, some sorcerers in our world might sing their spells into being like Vainemoinen (sp?) from Finnish legends, and those from more Arabic settings might use lesser genie spirits to cast/summon/fetch their magicks.  And I can see how the existing rules can support all of the transport methods under the sun to bring about magical effects.

So far, while there have been some concerns in the group about the overall effect of magic in our campaign (which has been light), it's nothing we couldn't work out.
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Brian Leybourne
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« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2003, 06:51:30 PM »

Don't get me wrong - TROS magic is interesting and fun and I do like it.

However, I also like the idea of sorcerer style magic in a TROS game. Why use TROS over sorcerer itself? I don't know, because I'm a raving fanboy I guess. I happen to love TROS more than any other game at present, so want to keep using that, but I'm also very keen on sorcerer's magic system and want to use that. Answer? Combine them.

I did say that TROS magic frustrates me at times, so I should explain that.

Hmm.

ok.

In a game like mage, characters can do almost anything, but that's ok, because they're all like that. In TROS, sorcerer characters can do almost anything, while the other characters can't. It's hard making a game that'll challenge and engage non sorcerous PC's while there are sorcerous PC's around who can get around any obstacle, discover any secret, kill any foe from a distance, etc. You sound like you're managing that fine, and all power to you, but it's not for me.

Now, a group ENTIRELY composed of Fey and/or sorcerous humans, that would be very cool (and in fact Jake is or was recently running just such a game), but when you mix them I wince.

Does that make sense? I'm not down on TROS sorcery, I'm just kind of down on it when mixed with no sorcerous characters. Your mileage may (and probably does) vary.

Brian.
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Brian Leybourne
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RPG Books: Of Beasts and Men, The Flower of Battle, The TROS Companion
Asaraludu
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« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2003, 08:45:38 PM »

Perhaps it boils down to what the campaign is all about.  If magic is a huge theme in the game, then it gets examined much more closely.  In mine, its more subdued, and I prefer that the players get a more superstitious bent on the whole subject.  Even the sorcerer in the group is constantly finding out the implications of his magic by trial and error.  With no mentor to guide the character, I've pretty much left the player up to his own devices to figure out what his character can do (safely).  He's already figured out how easy it is to age, and has begun to act much more cautiously.  In fact, he refuses to use his magic unless absolutely necessary.

This is the ideal situation for my campaign, because the rest of the group has no magic and very little knowledge of its true applications.  Thus the Fey character works with the other characters for mutual benefit, so that he doesn't have to exert himself constantly, driving himself into an early grave.  Conversely, the rest of the group realizes his potential, so work with him for the same reasons.

I'm not sure what kind of game you're running (or thinking of running), but I've found that I can strike a happy medium between the magician and the other characters.  I really let the players dictate the flow of the game.  Since it's somehow become much more intrigue-laden, the Machiavellian gamer is now in the spotlight most of the time.

If you're running a game made up of all sorcerers, the balance problem seems moot, although to me it seems to overbalance the game as I think it was meant to be played.  If you play with no PC mages at all, it can seem even more shrouded in mystery, leading to some great drama in your game.  

I'm generally against cobbling systems together.  It usually seems to make things somewhat sloppy, which is where I'm coming from.  Mr. Edwards mentions the many similarities between the two systems, so perhaps a transplant would be more feasible, though the ideaology of magic between both systems seems the fundamental difference.

Humanity is a large theme in modern day life, and so in Sorcerer its a perfect counterbalance to magic's prolonged use (I see this as very Lovecraft-ian).  This isn't necessarily a strong theme in the basics of TROS's magic system.  Do you then change that counterbalance to reflect TROS's aging for magic use?

Just some more thoughts and questions, since the magic system and it's applications are a huge part of the continuing development of the world of Myria.
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Henry Fitch
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« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2003, 12:27:20 PM »

Marginally on-topic:

I've been mulling over the idea of converting the Ars Magica magic system (with extensive alterations) into TRoS. Would anyone be interested in seeing some notes about that?
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formerly known as Winged Coyote
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