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Internal States & Humanity

Started by jburneko, January 13, 2003, 01:31:26 PM

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In another thread Ron wrote, "Again, to be perfectly clear, I strongly recommend never defining Humanity according to an internal state of a character."

This struck a cord with me in terms of my own Sorcerer play and I'd like a little clearification.

Let's say there's this guy and he wants to impress this woman.  So, he gets himself all dressed up, he brings her flowers and takes her on a nice date and he does all these thing for her that she really likes and from a purely external point of view he does all this stuff perfectly in accordance with her personal feelings.  (We'll call Humanity Empathy for simplicity).

Now, when a player has his character act like this in play I tend to squint one eye and tilt my head and ask suspciously, "Why?"

If the player says, "Because my character's really interested in and care about this woman and I want to make her happy."  Bingo, Humanity Gain.

If on the other hand the player says, "Because she's the personal secretary of my political rival and I'm trying to manipulate myself into a position of trust to hopefully glean party secrets from her."  Bam, Humanity Check.

But if we're working on your recommendation then I suppose the character wouldn't net a Humanity Check until he actually DOES something that demonstrates the "pawn" nature of the woman.  Okay, I can see that.

But what of the initial romancing actions.  Are those Humanity Gain situations JUST because the character is outwardly caring towards the woman REGARDLESS of his motivations for doing so?  That doesn't seem right to me.

Just curious.


Ron Edwards

Hi Jesse,

This is a key question and you're illustrating excellent Sorcerer GM habits ... but in this post, you're actually confounding the issue with your phrasing in the example.

During play, when this or a similar event isn't clear to me in Humanity terms, here's how I get the clarification. I say, "Are you manipulating her with your dazzle or are you appealing to her in a human-contact way?" Which is exactly what you mean, I think, when you say "Why?" in your example. I just specify it a little, and translate it a little bit into "How?" instead - and not superficially How either, really How.

Please note - contrary to how you might read it - that I am not asking about the character's internal state. I am still focusing on the actual behavior, and the player's answer helps everyone at the table get a better visual/imagined notion of what's going on, as well as giving me what I need in terms of Humanity information.

Once you get that rhetoric about motivations and internal states out of there, the problem disappears. You never needed them in the first place.

Aside from that subtle conceptual point, your example is ... well, it's exactly how to do it.



Whoa... That is subtle.  But I think I get it.  Thanks.