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Author Topic: My First Sorcerer Game: Orccon 2003  (Read 8481 times)
Christopher Kubasik
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Posts: 1153


« on: February 09, 2003, 10:51:44 PM »

Notes for Bibliomania: A Sorcerer Session

I'll be running Sorcerer this weekend at Orccon here in L.A.

I’m posting the notes I drew up today. If anyone sees any red flags, let me know. Thanks.


The Session Agenda

I have no intention of trying to shoehorn this unique game into typical con session expectations.  My goal is not to show off "bits and pieces" of Sorcerer and then explain, "And then there's more."

Insane. Yes. But what the hell.

It will be a "shotgun session," as in "shotgun wedding," with the fucking and ceremony all compressed into an emotional and dramatic whirlwind.

I want character creation.  I want Kickers created by the players.  I wanted Story Now.  I want a climax.  And then I'll do it again.


Major Prep Points

In my view, Sorcerer can't be run without the players participating in character creation.  It will have to be done fast. I've discussed this with Ron and said, "You've often said to people trying to rush PC creation, 'What about a little foreplay?' Well, what I'm looking for is a 'quickie.'  Lubrication is still required, but it is going to go fast."

So, the first half hour of the slot will be devoted to PC creation. I'll come prepared with PC Creation binders for each player.  Each page will be a new step on the process.  I'll be using what a Not-Lot's-Wife approach: Once we turn the page, there's no looking back.  If at the end of creation players are about to freak out with some "mistake" they made, I'll let them make a quick and final adjustment, but that's it.

In regard to this matter, part of my script (and it will be scripted, to move it fast), will be to say, "There are no mistakes in Narrativism. There are circumstances.  These provide the story. The character you have now is not wrong nor right. He or she simply provides you with the opportunity for something you can't anticipate. Remember that, and we'll build something you won't forget."

Players will go, page by page from the binder, down the Sorcerer Creation process.  Attribute descriptors, Sample Covers, Sample Demon Needs and Desires and such will be on their binder pages.

Demons will be pre-packaged, with about five to choose from.  Players will set the Desires and Needs.  Demon Powers will be attached to their Demon sheets.

The final, new point will be the definition of zero Humanity.  Once zero Humanity is reached, players will have some fifteen minutes of play to make sure that their character plays out the effect of this change in their character.  Ron and I think this will do two things: 1) allow players to see the positive effect of hitting zero Humanity ("Oh, I get to do a scene instead of seeing it as a "lose" condition; and 2) let the players see we're heading toward closure of one kind or another within the time frame.

The first Binding roll scenes will be played out to a) let the players practice using the rules, b) set mood, c) focus us out of PC Creation into Story.

The Story will be played fast. I'll make it clear we're shooting for Short Story or single movie (depending on my vibe off the players and the characters they've come up with).  Either way, the distinction will be made between this session (compact, swift) and most RPG sessions (open ended, slow ramp up).


My Prep

I'll be showing up with a blank Relationship Map (boxes, lines), and my swift storyteller imagination.  As the players fashion their characters and references to NPCs, I'll be scribbling away in pencil, filling in boxes, adding definition to the stress points and so on, erasing and changing as necessary.  Once the map's done and play begins, it can't be changed. (No Lot's Wife.)

I'll have the demons ready to god, doing Needs and Desires on the fly as defined by the players.

I see a lot of the R-Map being based on a the solid Lust & Envy in the Academic World of so many late 20th century novels.  But that's open to change during character creation.


Bibliomania Humanity Matrix

Bibliomania is centered on the academic environs of Chicago.  It is winter.  The wind blows sub-zero air down snow plowed streets.  

Premise: Is intellectual knowledge more valuable than other people?

(Quick example: Think John Nash from the movie version of "A Beautiful Mind".  However, another Player might come up with the ten year old who take apart every appliance in the house to figure out how it works.)

Humanity is... emotional connection to other people.

At Humanity zero you are... unaware of the needs of other humans

Rituals are based on ... hermetic and arcane texts, reading, writing, experiments with either modern or ancient lab equipment.  The actual type of work is up to the player: What matters is work that makes the PCs enter the "Zone" in work that they'd have a devil of a time explaining to anyone else.

Demons are... Books. Runes. Strange Letters that can move across pages. The Patterns formed by shadows and objects in an office. Graduate students. Old Professors. Lab equipment. Unfinished Doctoral Thesis.  Drugs used to work "harder."  Librarians.  A library.  A lab rat.  A pickled brain.  A cheerleader.  A set of tools.  A desktop computer.  

Sorcerers don't have to be teachers. They may never have gone to school.  But each is in pursuit of obsessively understanding something.

[Is this too restraining?  Am I stepping over my bounds as GM and into the realm of player choice with this?]

If Humanity reaches zero, the Player has fifteen minutes of session time to produces a scene where his or her PC's utter lack of connection to another human's needs is revealed).


Notes?
This will be my first time getting to GM the game.  Any comments from the gallery are appreciated.

Thanks,
Christopher
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jburneko
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Posts: 1351


« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2003, 12:08:28 AM »

Christopher,

Just a quick note.  Your Humanity-Sorcerer-Ritual-Demon setup is almost EXACTLY what I came up with the very first time I read Sorcerer.  I even have a few notes from a mini-supplement I tried to write called "Publish and Perish." Basically when I first read Sorcerer I thought, "Sorcerer's are all those professors I knew, who made vague references to families but never seemed to go home or look up from their work."  So, I think your setup in terms of the game is dead on.

Your setup in terms of the con evironment is, well, brave.  I'm a little disappointed I won't be at this con because I'd like to see this in action.  I look forward to how it goes.

Jesse
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marknau
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Posts: 35


« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2003, 12:34:18 AM »

Quote

I'll be running Sorcerer this weekend at Orccon here in L.A.


How do I make sure I run into you while you're doing this?
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Christopher Kubasik
Member

Posts: 1153


« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2003, 07:08:37 AM »

I suspect I'll be the guy running Sorcerer.

But we can get more specific about it as well. ; )
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Michael S. Miller
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« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2003, 07:20:15 AM »

Hi, Christopher.

This sounds too cool for words. I hope it goes well. Please post about it. I'm scheduled to run Sorcerer at a con on Feb 21-23, and might follow your example, so I'm very interested in hearing the outcome, along with any cautions.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2003, 07:46:32 AM »

Hi Christopher,

This is amazing stuff.

Quote
I'll come prepared with PC Creation binders for each player. Each page will be a new step on the process.

Players will go, page by page from the binder, down the Sorcerer Creation process. Attribute descriptors, Sample Covers, Sample Demon Needs and Desires and such will be on their binder pages.

Demons will be pre-packaged, with about five to choose from. Players will set the Desires and Needs. Demon Powers will be attached to their Demon sheets.


In my early con games, I provided the following:
1. Sets of Stamina + Will + Lore values, both numbers and descriptors. These were passed out randomly. They included some mid-range sorts (3/4/3, 4/4/2, etc) and some extreme ones (2/6/2, 6/3/1, etc).

2. Cover descriptors. These were treated as a draft - I passed the list to the left, and people chose the one they wanted one by one. They included stuff like "biker," "hit man," "New Age musician," and so forth. Bear in mind that I was pretty heavily into Hong Kong cinema at the time, and that all this was pre-Unknown Armies.

3. Demons. These were fully made up (except for Need) and also treated as a draft, going to the left this time. However, all the players saw were a physical description and a non-rules-version list of what the demon could do; I kept the numbers and so on to myself.

4. Demon Needs were also pre-created and passed out randomly.
After we'd done all this, I then had everyone do Binding rolls and Humanity checks, and that allowed a bit of discussion about what these rules were about, and how to use them during play.

Quote
The final, new point will be the definition of zero Humanity. Once zero Humanity is reached, players will have some fifteen minutes of play to make sure that their character plays out the effect of this change in their character. Ron and I think this will do two things: 1) allow players to see the positive effect of hitting zero Humanity ("Oh, I get to do a scene instead of seeing it as a "lose" condition; and 2) let the players see we're heading toward closure of one kind or another within the time frame.


I like this a lot, as we discussed earlier. It was way off my radar back in the days of the early demos, pre-Soul and pre-Schism.

Quote
I'll be showing up with a blank Relationship Map (boxes, lines), and my swift storyteller imagination. As the players fashion their characters and references to NPCs, I'll be scribbling away in pencil, filling in boxes, adding definition to the stress points and so on, erasing and changing as necessary. Once the map's done and play begins, it can't be changed. (No Lot's Wife.)


I like this idea a lot - although if it's to be public, I suggest showing the players that you are not filling in boxes because they exist, but rather are willing to erase lines if no one happens to have created (say) a third connection to Character X.

Quote
I'll have the demons ready to god, doing Needs and Desires on the fly as defined by the players.


I suggest one or the other, but not both. In fact, on reflection, I suggest passing out the Needs randomly, unless it violates the  sense of player-driving that you're after; people seemed to like that in my con demos. If that's too programmed, then I suggest keeping the Desires to yourself.

Quote
Bibliomania is centered on the academic environs of Chicago. It is winter. The wind blows sub-zero air down snow plowed streets.


I resemble this setting.

Quote
Premise: Is intellectual knowledge more valuable than other people?


Awesome. Immediately accessible. In fact, it's exactly what's missing from my In Utero scenario. The Humanity definition works well with it, and I suggest that Kickers be evaluated mainly on the basis of human, emotional connections within them.

Quote
Demons are... Books. Runes. Strange Letters that can move across pages. The Patterns formed by shadows and objects in an office. Graduate students. Old Professors. Lab equipment. Unfinished Doctoral Thesis. Drugs used to work "harder." Librarians. A library. A lab rat. A pickled brain. A cheerleader. A set of tools. A desktop computer.


That does it, I'm playing.

Quote
Sorcerers don't have to be teachers. They may never have gone to school. But each is in pursuit of obsessively understanding something.
[Is this too restraining? Am I stepping over my bounds as GM and into the realm of player choice with this?]


No, you're fine. This is just nifty. Remember, someone has to lead, and as long as you're willing to get out of the way when the solos/jamming begin, then leadership at this phase is awesome. Think of the bass player's "four" before the drums kick in.

Quote
If Humanity reaches zero, the Player has fifteen minutes of session time to produces a scene where his or her PC's utter lack of connection to another human's needs is revealed).


If you wanted to go more extreme with this, that'd be OK. The Schism notion that the character is guaranteed to die is too far, though - I think for new folks, they'll perceive that as losing, out-of-the-game stuff. So maybe specify what "revealed" means a bit more - think in terms of the final fate of that other human. I'm thinking of the movie Requiem for a Dream, in which the horrific fates of all four protagonists may be seen as failures on the parts of at least one of the other characters.

Best,
Ron
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Christopher Kubasik
Member

Posts: 1153


« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2003, 05:23:52 PM »

Hi guys,

Thanks for the feedback.

Ron, when I thought of the zero-humanity fate, I was thinking of the scene in "A Beautiful Mind" when Nash is out back in the secret base garage while his infant son is in a bathtub filling with water.  At zero humanity, the Sorcerer keeps fidling away while the son dies.

I would have hesitated to use this as an "example" -- for fear of riffing everything the same way.  But now that I've typed it out, I think the player's brains will have a good time working on this and coming up with their own variation.

Also, I'm going to take your advice on Demon Needs and Desires. Everyone's going to be busy enough with their PCs and new rules. No need to get idiotic about this start up process.

Take care,
Christopher
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2003, 09:22:44 PM »

Hi Christopher,

Quote
Ron, when I thought of the zero-humanity fate, I was thinking of the scene in "A Beautiful Mind" when Nash is out back in the secret base garage while his infant son is in a bathtub filling with water. At zero humanity, the Sorcerer keeps fidling away while the son dies.


That's exactly the scene that I flashed on as well, for exactly the same reason, when you were describing 0 Humanity.

Best,
Ron
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Bankuei
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« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2003, 10:15:23 PM »

Quote
Demons are... Books. Runes. Strange Letters that can move across pages. The Patterns formed by shadows and objects in an office. Graduate students. Old Professors. Lab equipment. Unfinished Doctoral Thesis. Drugs used to work "harder." Librarians. A library. A lab rat. A pickled brain. A cheerleader. A set of tools. A desktop computer.


Sounds like a college version of Aronofski's Pi...  12:40 am...press return...

Chris
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Christopher Kubasik
Member

Posts: 1153


« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2003, 11:32:58 PM »

Hi,

I forgot to mention:

Ron wrote about Bibliomania's Premise:

Quote
Awesome. Immediately accessible. In fact, it's exactly what's missing from my In Utero scenario. The Humanity definition works well with it, and I suggest that Kickers be evaluated mainly on the basis of human, emotional connections within them.


This last bit is, I think, the final piece that was holding me up.  I knew the Kicker would be the vector we launched from that would define the adventure, but for some reason I couldn't see the need for defining the Kicker "on the basis of human, emotional connectins within them" as the vector that was going to make it work.

That simply is going to be a non-negotiable frame for any Kicker. Thanks.

Christopher
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Clay
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« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2003, 09:12:37 AM »

Thanks for this idea, Chris.  A week from now I have to do a one-off session with my regular group.  I don't think that I want to pinch your background (although I'm considering it), but I love the setup you're using.  This group has always fixated on the idea that sorcery meant a literal calling of devils, and they weren't happy with that play scenario.  Making sorcery into extreme perversions of the mundane world just seems to me so much more entertaining.

It probably hit home because I'm a programmer on a massive professional certification trip at the moment.  A computer would be my demon, without a doubt.  My system actually does have little stickers with daemons all over it.
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Christopher Kubasik
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Posts: 1153


« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2003, 03:31:52 PM »

Well then.  There it is.
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Christopher Kubasik
Member

Posts: 1153


« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2003, 11:17:02 PM »

Okay,

To help promote my last minute affair, I'll be making and distributing flyers.  Here's my draft.

Imagine a tasteful choice of fonts and a nice layout is involved.  Given that, how's it read?

*****


Imagine you could summon a Demon.
   Imagine it could give you things you wanted.
      Imagine it wanted things in return.

How far would you go?  What would you do?


Ron Edward's
Sorcerer
An Intense Roleplaying Game
Winner of the 2002 Diana Jones Award



In Sorcerer you play men and woman who have tapped unnatural forces to gain their heart's desires.  But there are prices to be paid, choices to be made.  Your very Humanity hangs in the balance.

You choose what matters most to your character.  You decide how he or she pursues that goal.  You create a story by the choices you make.  There is no scenario waiting for you.  Your character's actions are the story.

BiblioMania

Join Christopher Kubasik in creating Bibliomania, a Sorcerer story.

You are Sorcerers in modern day Chicago, obsessively pursuing research that will gain you fame, fortune, love, wisdom—whatever your heart desires.

You are aided in this quest by a demon you have summoned: A book with letters moving across the page; a graduate student newly arrived from a foreign country; or perhaps a burned out and long unused laboratory on a university campus.

No one knows of your secret pact with this creature.  But many are affected by it.  For your demon has needs, and it's needs must be met if you will gain what you want.  The question you will have to answer is: Is Knowledge More Valuable Than Other People?

Each of you is caught in a crisis.  As sub-zero winds rush down snowplowed streets, as a blizzard blankets the city, each Sorcerer must decide: Damnation or Salvation?

Join Christopher in Room:                   Time:
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Fabrice G.
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Posts: 206


« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2003, 01:00:24 AM »

Hi Christopher,

it's just sweet ! It reads like a movie trailer (I can heven ear the voice of that famous guy who make almost 80% of the US trailers).

One small thing, I would just add something about the book, to distinguish more from any other book. Something like... "an obscure medieval book with letters moving across the page"... or something like that. It instantly help to visalize it better.

Other than that, it's just great !

When does that movie coming out here, on the old continent ? ::smile::

Fabrice.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2003, 06:47:07 AM »

Hi Christopher,

Are you sure that "Damnation or Salvation" communicates what you're after? I think that coupled with "demon," people will very quickly assume an explicit soul/Christian context for play, as well as an attendant, damnation = loss puzzle-solving model. I've run into this before due to using terms like these without realizing their consequences.

Best,
Ron
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