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Where is "Not-Here"?

Started by Tar Markvar, February 04, 2003, 09:06:45 PM

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Tar Markvar

A question arises: What defines Not-Here as mentioned above? One situation occurred that I was wondering about.

A demon is Contacted, Summoned, and Bound. Its Master dies, so it's still Bound. Another sorcerer wants to talk to the demon. Can the sorcerer Contact that demon, even if it's still in "the real world"? Once Contacted, can the sorcerer Summon the demon to where he is?

I suppose I'm hung up on two possible definitions of Not-Here:

1) Not-Here means not in this reality; the demon is in Hell, or whatever the analog is in your game.

2) Not-Here means, literally, not here. The demon is not in your direct vicinity, though it may be in Detroit or Pittsburgh.

In the second case, can the demon be Summoned? Could I, in San Francisco, Summon the demon that's in Detroit?


Ron Edwards

I split the above from the Quick Summoning question thread.

Hi Tar, and welcome! Here's my response.

"Not-Here" is a concept that many role-players and modern SF/fantasy fans are going to have a hard time with. At least as I see it, if you can define it in any sense that carries explanation, you're still talking about "Here." "Here" is the explainable, or even conjecturable, in metaphysical as well as physical terms.

Hell? Here.

Some other dimension? Here.

The seething Collective Unconscious? Here.

In other words, as soon as you give demons' origins/nature a context in the human scheme of things, you've missed the point. Not-Here cannot, by definition, be accounted-for.

Now, if one wants to use terms like "Hell," "other dimension," or "Collective Unconscious" for that concept, then that's cool. That works. But in gamer-terms, that's not what's happening. For most gamers, using terms like that tames demons; it makes them "belong" in a set of boxed-universes or boxed-concepts, such that they skip from one part of Here to this part of Here. And that is boring. They might as well be trolls in caverns, for all of that.

Think of Not-Here as something that not even the Creator, if any, would acknowledge or include in reality of any kind. Then you see that even using the word "something" is not appropriate in that sentence. Yeah. It's that freaky.


Tar Markvar

So in that case, I couldn't Summon that demon from Detroit to San Francisco. Can I Contact it, then? Or is Contacting limited to demons who are Not-Here as well?

This thread has planted a seed of giving some schools of sorcery the ability to Contant, Summon, and Contain humans. Summon meant, of course, in the old "You feel a nigh-irresistable urge to head in that direction" way, not the "POOF! You're there!" way.

Thanks for the welcome, Ron. I've been lurking off and on, and looking at the game more closely lately has planted some questions in my mind. Thanks for being so accessible. :)


Ron Edwards

Hi Tar,

Well, my post above covers the default concept of the game. I think that there's wiggle room depending on the definitions in play.

For instance, Immanent demons (Sorcerer & Sword) are always Here anyway, so Summoning them brings them across space, not from some Horrific Otherness.

I've also been known to permit Contacts to operate as phone calls, but I try to avoid that. As a general rule, I try to avoid creating a "demonic ether" through which characters and their demons can communicate as a regular thing.


Jared A. Sorensen

I always thought that demons don't exist until summoned...? That's the way it works in SCHISM for sure. But in Sorcerer as a whole, I always treated a Contacting as a "Okay, I need a demon" and Summoning as bringing it into existence.
jared a. sorensen /

Ron Edwards

Hi Jared,

Yeah, that's how I see it too. But when something that "doesn't exist" then does, and it seems to have an identity, then funky music starts up. Either it's being formed from some whacked process (manifesting childhood terrors, e.g.), which is bad enough, or that is one messed-up metaphysical badness. The former is very good for highly focused play (e.g. Schism) but the latter provides maximum philosophical crawlies for more generalized play.

'Course, it's not like there's the whole first half of a supplement all about this issue. Oh, there is! The Sorcerer's Soul. Fancy that ...


Tar Markvar

That would explain where my confusion is coming from, then. I was seeing demons as denizens of a Hell-type dimension that have existed throughout time and have possibly successfully been Contacted et al. in the past. So there are texts about specific demons, and a sorcerer can make Lore rolls to remember/research information about particular demonic entities that might fit the criteria the sorcerer is looking for in a demonic servant. This as opposed to the sorcerer in effect creating the demon at the moment of Contact/Summon. In my mind, the Here/Not-Here deliniation is between "real world" and "other dimensions."

Haven't read Sorcerer's Soul. Should do that. ;)


Ron Edwards

Hi Tar,

Well, you could play Sorcerer like that, with the Hell-dimension and so forth. The mini-supplement Hellbound certainly takes that approach, whereas Schism, with its highly localized psychic-powers demons, takes the opposite one.

I think the only important insight is to recognize that either of these approaches, as well as my preferred "Agghh! Scary" concept of Not-Here, are presented as your personal choices about how best to enjoy play.



Quote from: Ron EdwardsFor most gamers, using terms like that tames demons; it makes them "belong" in a set of boxed-universes or boxed-concepts, such that they skip from one part of Here to this part of Here. And that is boring. They might as well be trolls in caverns, for all of that.

It also makes them more sympathetic and subject to human compassion.  They become either animal like, enslaved human like beings or just plain misunderstood.  This is the exact issue I was trying to wrap my head around in this thread:

Contemplating this definition of Not-Here is a little bit like trying to contemplate the concept of True Nothingness.  Even, infinity is easier to wrap your head around.

This would also, explain why I've never gotten that first section of Sorcerer's Soul.  Why is Ron going on about mating with demons?  Sure, it's weird but not worthy of a whole freaking chapter of this book?  And what's this got to do with the rest of the book which is all about Humanity definitions?  

Having sex (and children) with alien beings = Weird but, hey different strokes for different folks.

Having sex (and children) with things not acknowledged to exist by the very fabric of the cosmos = FRIGHTENING.


P.S. Still not sure I can wrap my head around it in a practical game-play sense.

Le Joueur

Quote from: jburneko...The concept of True Nothingness.
Woo Hoo!

I love that episode!
      [Nothing Lasts Forever!][/list:u]
      [Nothing is Worth Fighting For!][/list:u]
      [Yes; We Have No Bananas!][/list:u][/list:u]
    Dang Langford
    Fang Langford is the creator of Scattershot presents: Universe 6 - The World of the Modern Fantastic.  Please stop by and help!

    Tar Markvar

    That sort of thing falls into a category I like to call, "Things Easier To Deal With By Not Thinking Too Much About Them." :)

    Seriously, I can accept fairly easily. These demons don't exist, and by Contacting them and Summoning them, you create them in a fashion. It's sorta like Schroedinger's Cat (spelling?)--Does the demon exist before anyone perceives it? In some cases the answer is, "no."

    Thinking about a place that is No-Place and an existence that is Not-Existence and interacting with these not-beings from that nowhere--not to mention that you have the power to touch that space and bridge the gap between the world and Oblivion--is where the mind lights its fuse. :)

    I have an image of demons as the descendents of Satan's original rebels, existing in a realm of nothingness and itching to make the Creator's Creation as hellish as the void in which they exist. They were never born, but communicating and interacting with the human mind as they're Summoned and Contacted defines them in human terms and limits them somewhat. But that's all beside the point.

    I can see the desire to avoid a Demonic AT&T communication network, as it seems a bit convenient. Still, I think I like the idea of being able to tug the ol' Bond strings if my demon gets too wander-y. :)



    I have some notes... somewhere for a game I never got to run called Astral Talents- the occult temp agency.  In this game, Contacting was ALWAYS through a phone call... or a beeper...or an email.  Demons were contacted, summoned, and bound through the processes of normal bureaucracy, and through the mediums of normal human interaction and transport- you beep a demon, and he arrives by cap.  Now, this is not to say that the fetid pool of corrosive jelly you faxed about a job is waiting by the machine hoping for work... the Sorcerer dials strange and occult numbers into his phone, types his emails full of nasty arcane gibberish.  And the demons come...from somewhere.

    A bit off-topic, but back on with this:  

    One thing I actually did during a game was to screw with the player's idea of what "not-here" was.  They started off thinking literally- demons are "demons" from "Hell".  They were convinced by one they summoned that "Hell" was just a Human name for this dimension where some demons come from- but only one out of many.  Then an NPC sorcerer & shrink explained how concepts like "hell" and "demon" and even in more recent times "alternate dimensions" are only reflections of universal archetypes.  By this time, they didn't believe a damn thing.  I made it a point to hit them with a different "not here" every chance I got.  The demons lie about it, other sorcerers are confused or deluded about it, and no one really has any useful answers.  At some point, they figured it just didn't matter.  


    Ron Edwards

    Hi Ben,

    Yeah, like that. Especially the second part of your post.