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Author Topic: Character ideas  (Read 8910 times)
Nev the Deranged
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Posts: 741

Dave. Yeah, that Dave.


« on: February 27, 2003, 05:10:05 PM »

Alright, since I don't know when I'll get to play, my brain has been brewing up character ideas on its own.  I know that when I finally do play I will more than likely make up a new on from scratch to fit whatever milieu the GM sets out, and to weave the kicker in with that of the other PCs.  Which is fine, I can always come up with new stuff.  

 At any rate, here are some of my preliminary ideas.  I have quite a few "conversion" ideas (already existing characters from other paradigm sets I could easily transfer to Sorcerer mechanics) but I'm concentrating on the new ones, so the idea gremlyns will shut up for a minute.

 The first one I actually wrote up in Word as a character sheet:

Sorcerer Character Record
Player Name:    Nev
Character Name: Milenko (Ivan Milenkovic)
Appearance: 6'2" with short dark hair and perpetual stubble.  Wears a black leather (non-trench) coat over a button down shirt and slacks.  Dark casual socks and shoes, ray-bans in the inner breast pocket of the coat.
Telltale: The fingernails of his left hand are black, as if they were polished.  But they're not.
HUMANITY: 4
STAMINA: 4   ( Military Training ( KGB ) )
WILL: 5   ( High Self Esteem ( Megalomaniac ) )
LORE: 1   ( Na´ve ( Accidental Discovery) )
COVER: 5   ( Russian Mafia Soldier )
PRICE:-1   ( Wrathful ) (Applies to any situation which requires calm or patience in the face of adversity.)
Bound Demons
Name: Brutzka   
Type: Passing
Telltale: Never gets wet, dirty, or reflects light.
Need: Human fingernails.
Kicker: ...?
 
 Sorcerer Demon Record
Name: Brutzka            
Type: Passing
Telltale: Never gets wet, dirty, or reflects light.
Appearance: A black leather coat with no designer label.
Bound to: Milenko   BINDING: +1
STAMINA: 5      WILL: 6
LORE: 4      POWER: 6
Desire: Domination
Need: Human Finger/Toenails. (Special: Milenko's black fingernails on his left hand are especially potent for sating Brutzka's Need.  However they require a Will vs Stamina check to remove, and take a week to grow back.)
ABILITIES
1. Armor ( Master )
2. Boost Stamina ( Master )
3. Cloak ( Master )
4. Vitality ( Master )
BINDING
  Milenko took Brutzka off the body of a drug czar he had assassinated for his boss Jackie Drago.  The demon had betrayed its former master, whose will had been weakened by sampling his own product too often.  Immediately afterwards Ivan came upon the whimpering, fearful girlfriend of the czar, whom he savagely beat and raped, making her grovel and call him Boss before executing her with a bullet to the back of the head.  Brutzka was well pleased at the Dominating personality of its new wearer, and Bonded itself to him… for now.
  Milenko had no idea of Brutzka's true nature at first.  A bizarre series of fortunate occurrences soon after taking the jacket prompted him to call it his "lucky coat", but he didn't really ascribe any superstitious value to it.  Following each of these fortunate happenings, Ivan developed severe headaches that took several hours to fade.  Unbeknownst to him, it was the demon's own pain radiating through the Bond, as it's Need continued to go unmet.  Finally, the demon's Need become intolerable, and when next Ivan reached into the pocket of his "lucky coat" to pull out his shades- Brutzka ate off all five fingernails of his left hand.  As he collapsed in agony, clutching his bleeding, tortured appendage, his prisoner of the moment escaped.  This was Ivan's first brutal, humiliating wake up call that something very, very strange was going on.

 * * *

 Alright, that's the very first Sorcerer character I came up with, book in hand, to test my understanding of the character creation process of the game.  I remember having to search for several minutes to complete it, because the actual sequence of character/demon creation and the initial bonding weren't layed out in sequential order, or even in the same chapter.  Once again, I am a victim of the expectations gleaned from previous RPG experience.  But I think I did okay.  Except for the small fact that although I can certainly play a pathologically dominating man with a demonic coat, I haven't the first clue how to play a Russian or a Mafioso. =>

 Next, I had an idea about a Victorian era stage magician and mesmerist (I don't think Mesmer lived until well after the Victorian era, but I'll ignore the anachronism if you will).  Originally I had thought that it would be cool to have a stage magician who was doing real magic, unbeknownst to his audiences, a la Swann from Lord of Illusion.  But then I thought, no, that's too unoriginal.  So, just now, in the shower (I do a lot of my best thinking there, which is why I have waterproof notebooks), I was thinking about him (no name yet).  Don't worry, I put pants on before I started typing (but only just barely).  So, I'm thinking about a stage magician who somehow stumbles upon a real spell that conjures up a real demon.  How would he react?  What if, instead of using it in his act, he just wants the damn thing to go away?  I took a different tack and decided that this man is an entertainer, a tradesman, a showman extraordinaire to be sure, but one who isn't subsumed by his own showmanship.  He's a good magician, not because he believes in mumbo jumbo, but because he's logical and thorough and methodical and has good timing and an impeccable sense of how to use reality to create illusions.  He professes the mystique of the stage magician to his audience because it's what they expect, what they demand, and because it sells tickets.  And of course because it aids his tricks by providing ample misdirection and promotes willingness on the part of the audience to let the magic seem magical.  But he knows he's a performer and deep down he believes that the audience knows too.  So when things in his show start going awry, thanks to the demon, it really throws him.  He relies on predictability and consistency to perform his illusions, and demons don't make for either of those.  His audience, of course, thinks it's all magnificent new stunts.  Yet as things keep getting stranger on the set, the magician himself starts to lose it.  At first he covers it up with his inimicable showmanship, but as the occurrences become more commonplace, more bizarre, and more dangerous, he finds himself at a loss for how to put a stop to it.  As a counterpoint to this dilemma, there is the fact that while before he was quite comfortable with his role as a grand sham artist; his increasingly impossible to ignore brush with real magic has ironically planted in him a gut twisting sense of the hypocrisy of what he does.  Where before the lie was a matter of agreement between himself and the audience, now the illusions he performs are revealed to be real lies.

 I don't know how well I articulated it, since I'm trying to vomit all these ideas down onto my keyboard before they fade from my etch-a-sketch of a mental slate.  But I think the potential for this character is great.  Ideally I'd give him a really showy, mysterious name in the tradition of old stage magicians that played upon the lack of knowledge and naivete of the times.  Although his real name would probably be something rather banal.  The demon, I think, should have a sort of oafish name, something a comedian's none-too-bright sidekick would have.  At first, the demon would be trying to help his reluctant master, but I have a feeling that as time went on their relationship would spiral out of control, and methinks even the most oafish, clumsy seeming goof of a demon has rather a darker side than anyone cares to hear from.  Of course, the demon's actions and motivations would be up to the GM too.

 Phew.  I love coming up with characters, can you tell?  Unfortunately it's been so damn long, I seriously doubt my ability to play any more than a shallow, cartoonish persona.  But I'm dying to find out if I have what it takes.

 Oh yeah, one other idea I had at work today.  A young girl has a really really really shitty life.  Just look around at any of today's disenfranchised kids who've been through the wringer and take your pick of tragedies.  Incest, abuse, welfare, DCFS nightmares, you name it.  Her only refuge is sleep, and the vivid, fantastic dreams she has.  She writes them down in a journal.  It's the only thing she owns, and she keeps it carefully hidden, often going to great length and sacrifice to hold on to it as she is moved from foster home to halfway house to foster home (or maybe she still lives with her own shitty family, I don't know).  It's all she has, it's her most precious and sacred possession, it holds everything that keeps her sane and gives her a sense of self.
 Naturally, at some point, some shitty person in her life finds it.  Ridicules it.  Defiles it.  Destroys it.  Of  course.
 Pushed over the edge, she retreats into her dream world to the point of seeming catatonic.  Weeks go by and she can't be reached.  With no outlet, her dreams become more vivid, more real, more intense, until she's essentially entered a state of astral projection.  Somehow, in this state, she releases a demon.  
 To depart slightly from standard horror flick fare, the demon doesn't make its way to the physical plane until the girl is in her 40s or 50s.  Then it starts wreaking predictable havoc on the people who abused her... or perhaps just on anyone convenient, or perhaps all the cliches could be avoided and something new could be come up with, I'm all for that too.  The main thing is that now she's got to go back and deal with the thing she set loose, whatever "deal with" entails.

 I'm thinking that a game could be set over the whole span of this ordeal, or at any point in it, or as a campaign, or whatever.

 Really, I'm just an idea guy.  I can spew ideas like nobody's business.  Using them is another thing... I lack the focus and discipline to follow through most of the time... my cerebral gremlyns have a short attention span and are constantly on to the next caper.

 Okay, now that I've bored you all to tears, feel free to post telling me off =>
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2003, 06:59:36 PM »

Hi Nev,

This "not clearly laid out in order" thing is getting to me. At the beginning of Chapter 2 and at the beginning of Chapter 3, there are numbered steps for both character and demon creation.

More notes on the character soon to come.

Best,
Ron
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clehrich
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« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2003, 10:45:50 PM »

I kind of like the Victorian stage entertainer, but if it were me I'd want to look into Maskelyne and Houdini on this, since both actually spent quite a lot of time debunking spiritualist mediums (who claimed to be in contact with spirits, but could commonly be shown to have used sleights of various kinds).  So if this guy were like this, i.e. he's already got a strong opinion that the magic stuff is bunk, then the discovery that some of it is real may start to create an interesting cycle; this would be particularly intriguing if he uses the demon's powers to discern the fakery of mediums and unmask them more easily.

Incidentally, Mesmer is well before the Victorian era (Frederic Antoine Mesmer, 1734-1815).  But I'll forgive the "anachronism" anyway. :)
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Chris Lehrich
Nev the Deranged
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Posts: 741

Dave. Yeah, that Dave.


Hmm
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2003, 03:55:34 AM »

Yay!  So he can be a mesmerist without cheating =>  Eeeexcellent.  Although honestly, I included that more because I thought it was a cool/useful skillset to have, but the more I developed the character, the less it fits.  After all, this guy is logical and (for the time) scientific, and even now I don't think anyone is completely sure how hypnotism "works".

 As far as the rest, yeah, this guy already "knows" that real magic is a bunch of crap.  That's why finding out it's not completely knocks his world off kilter.  Originally I intended for him to use his demon as part of his show, and the debunking idea you suggest would have fit with that.  But as he's conceptualized now, he doesn't want to have anything to do with the demon.  It's ruining his life, his career, and his sanity.  

 I suppose his goal would be to Banish the thing (and as it realizes this it probably becomes more and more hostile toward him and those around him... perhaps his family/friends/love interest?  Although I can quite easily see this highly egotistical guy not having many relationships of the positive kind), but in order to figure out how to do that, he's got to learn about real sorcery, real magic.  And the more he learns about that... well, the more it f*cks his head up, to put it bluntly.
 
 Like I said, even though I can come up with deep, interesting characters all day long, I have no idea if I have the ability to play one with any alacrity.  Time will tell.

 Thanks for the comments =>
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Nev the Deranged
Member

Posts: 741

Dave. Yeah, that Dave.


« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2003, 04:04:03 AM »

Oh, and Ron, the main part I seem to recall having the most trouble finding was, once you have created your character and their demon, how to link them, IE the initial Bonding.  Maybe it was somewhere obvious and I just missed it, <shrug>  The absence of the typical charts and tables just makes you have to work a little harder to find what you want.  But hey, I can read, so it's all good =>  And I did find what I wanted, so as far as I can tell all the information is there.  I say as far as I can tell because without having actually played I can't tell what might be missing, if anything.

 <chuckle>  Don't sweat it, Ron.  Maybe you're just working on a higher level than us mere mortals are ready to comprehend =>
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2003, 07:18:02 AM »

Hi Nev,

Dude, I'm not sweating "it," I'm sweating you. Practice some self-moderation. When I show up to the forum and there's ten new posts from the same guy, it's like suddenly being shouted at from many different directions.

Here are some thoughts on the characters and discussion so far.

1. I'm not seeing much protagonist potential, which is to say, the characters look like assholes. The reason for this, I think, is that they've been created in isolation. They are plausible but not interesting, because to be interesting, they can't be floating in a void.

The assumption about role-playing that Sorcerer breaks the most is the notion that the GM has "created the world and adventure" and that the player "creates the character." This is ... well, it has to go out the window. It's not like four people each make up a character and then bring them to the first session of play.

Individualized character creation, by oneself, for fun, is a fine thing. But it cannot be mixed with group game creation, which itself then generates character creation either individually or communally.

2. These are "Oh man! Demons! I'm a sorcerer!" origin stories, and nothing more. They are ... well, I'll put it this way. The whole experience of playing the first versions of Mage and Vampire was predicated on "Sweeping aside the veil of mundane reality, as you enter the mystic world that lies beneath and take your place in it." Nightbreed stuff.

Sorcerer doesn't do this at all. The default setting is here and now. Not a fantasy version of here-and-now. Not a here-and-now plus demons.

That's right, so I'll say it again. Sorcerer is not here-and-now plus demons. All the discussion about the stage magician guy discovering that "some of the magic is real" is totally off the mark for the default version of Sorcerer. None of it is real. Demons aren't magic. Occultism, mysticism, and magic is all crap.

And this is a demon, and you've Bound it. Not, "Oh, no, I'm Bound to it!" but ... you Bound it.

Why? That's the question that begins Sorcerer character creation at its most productive.

Best,
Ron
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Bankuei
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« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2003, 12:08:10 PM »

Nev, I'm glad to see your enthusiasm, but I think you might want to take some time and really read, and check out the rules before trying to take any ideas anywhere with it.  The character creation rules I had 0 problems with, the subtleties of sorcery are usually what throw folks for a loop.

Here's some key points you might want to consider in playing Sorcerer:

-Setting matters
What is the idea behind the game?  If this was a movie, what would the big 3 blurbs on the back say?  Is it a gangster flick, a scary Hellraiser thing?  Figure that out, then fit the characters and demons in it.

-Characters are driven, even desperate
All sorcerers have violated reality.  This is somebody who decided, that for whatever reason, things like the laws of physics and such needed to be broken to acheive whatever they need to acheive.  And they're risking more than their own life, perhaps their sanity, their soul, but ultimately, whatever it is that defines them as human.  And they decided that was a risk worth taking...think about that.

-What's at risk here?
What's humanity exactly?  Even with my Pandora's thoughts campaign, the first thing I looked at is, what makes you human?  How do the demons threaten that?  What happens when you become not human?  It says alot about the sorts of things you value as a person, in real life, based on how you define that and how you feel about that.  

-Demons are not your friends
For whatever reason, interacting with demons drives people to being less human.  What is it that they do that makes that happen?  Is it intentional, or simply an inherent trait?  

-Heroism matters

Either in the tragic hero sense or the "I'm actually good at heart" sense.  In the first case, you have a character like the protagonist out of 12 Monkeys, who, despite his best effort, still loses.  Same with Chow Yun Fat out of the Killer.  Second case, you have heroes who took the desperate route, and yet still won, somehow.  This could be anything the various "maverick cop" type movies to Bruce Willis or Samuel Jackson in Pulp Fiction.  

To give you an example of a character idea(specifics forgotten to me) that I had that worked out well:

Esteban Giatano
A young punk mafia type, whose family had served as guardians and hitmen to the Don's family for generations.  His father passed down a secret which kept their family strong...They used sorcery.  His father died, and 19 year old Esteban took up the mantle.  Sounds easy enough, right?
But the Don's family is ultra traditional Catholic, and know nothing of the truth of the matter, if they were to find out...well, things wouldn't look good for the Giatano family.   Not only that Esteban has fallen in love with the Don's daughter, but he's part of the "shadow side" of the the family, not supposed to mix with the good folk...

Here we've got someone who's loyal, yet violating the heart of those he's loyal to(Catholic beliefs), and is torn between duty, a secret, and a forbidden love.  By himself he's got a lot of nasty conflict going on, not to mention whatever occurs when the other players get in the mix.  And this hasn't even really defined Humanity, stats, or his powers.  

Does this give you a better insight into characters and Sorcerer, Nev?

Chris
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clehrich
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« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2003, 12:42:14 PM »

Following up from Bankuei's comments, I think you're too quick to make sharp divisions; blurring and bridging divisions is what makes the whole Sorcerer thing work.

For example, your concern about mesmerism (now that it's not historically impossible) seems to be that the guy IS scientific/rational, BUT mesmerism isn't, so it's not cool for him.

1. Mesmerism is arguably a science (Mesmer certainly thought so); at any rate, hypnosis seems to be a real effect.  But what really causes it?  If this guy is very serious about scientific reason, then he's going to want there to be a nice hard-science reason for it.  But what if he's wrong?  What if he's just deluding himself?

2. Following up from that, the demon thing throws him for a loop, right?  But why?  Why won't he just try to squeeze it into an increasingly incoherent pseudo-scientific rationalism?  This would perhaps have the effect that he tries harder and harder to lie to himself about what he's doing with demons, and at the same time he keeps justifying it on ends-means grounds (it helps him debunk frauds or whatever).  As his Humanity slips away from him, what's disappearing?  Is it his recognition that sometimes a logical reason isn't the only thing that's important?  Is it his ability to recognize that he's lying to himself?  Is it his moral sense that sometimes ends do not justify means?

I'd say start by distilling the moral question or problem out of this character, then rebuild around it once identified.  That's what will drive the character in play, and drive you to push his limits.  Slow down and think it through very carefully.  If this character can reach a stable equilibrium, he may be coherent but he's not going to work as a Sorcerer.
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Chris Lehrich
Nev the Deranged
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Posts: 741

Dave. Yeah, that Dave.


« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2003, 04:22:30 PM »

Wow.  First off, thanks muchly for all the replies.  Moreover, thanks for replies that are more well thought out and posted than "dude, that's cool" or "lame-o!"

 I am noticing a lot of things.

 1 - I really need to PLAY Sorcerer.  

 2 - Sorcerer is not like anything I've played before.  Which is a big reason why, (see #1).

 3 - I'm among peers (huzzah!) and perhaps even superiors, as opposed to looking down on halfassed wannabe players who think ripping off characters from their favorite cartoon show is roleplaying.  So, consequently,

 4 - I need to up the ante.

 For what it's worth, I did know (and say that I knew) that I'd need to start from scratch on chargen when playing with a group.  I'm really looking forward to that synergystic interweaving of ideas... with a mixture of glee and trepidation.  Like I've said, I'm used to holding the reins, and relaxing that grip will be a relatively new thing for me.  One thing I'm depending on Sorcerer for is to provide a caliber of player who is in my league, and probably even above it, giving me something to improve and aspire to.

 To be perfectly honest, I've been out of the loop so long I may very well be a crappy roleplayer.  I dread that possibility, but I want to find out so I know how much work I have to do to get back in the game, so to speak.

 The above posts have shown me that I have a lot to learn about the dramatic focus of the game... not on the characters so much as on the theme... as you can probably tell, all my drama is character driven.  I usually take a set of character concepts and weave their backgrounds together into a plot, and go from there.  Which sounds similar to group Kicker creation, and probably is to an extent, which is partially why I'm looking forward to it.  I want to see if it's an idea I'm already familiar with, or if it's a different spin on said idea, or if it's just a new thing entirely that only sounds like the idea I'm used to.  The plots I come up with rarely have any sort of central driving theme, just a lot of dynamic driving relationships.

 As for Humanity... well, I understand it insofar as it's designed to be the central cautionary/limiting mechanic of whatever milieu the players come up with, but as for using it to drive a story... well...  see #1 above =>

 Ron, you're totally right about the whole "not here and now with demons" thing... It's so easy to slip into the more traditional gamist idea of "this is cool, what now?" as opposed to Sorcerer's more "whoah... what the f*ck?  This ain't cool!... what now?" (and I'm probably even getting that wrong).  So, once again, back to #1.  Gotta do some serious set-breaking to shake these crusty gaming habits.

 I really want to play >.<
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2003, 07:41:05 PM »

Hi Nev,

Wow back at you. You are dead on in your perceptions of the game, and I want to emphasize this part:

Quote
all my drama is character driven. I usually take a set of character concepts and weave their backgrounds together into a plot, and go from there. Which sounds similar to group Kicker creation, and probably is to an extent, ... The plots I come up with rarely have any sort of central driving theme, just a lot of dynamic driving relationships.


If you enter into such play (a) with the willingness to create theme via the play-decisions themselves, and (b) with others who are as excited about your character as you are, then ... that's what we're aiming for, and frequently achieve.

"The story" and "the theme" are emergent and in many cases deliberate on the basis of the events being played at the moment (as opposed to pre-game planned). I think you know about this already, and believe me, I know what it's like to be the only person in a group, or even a community, who's willing to make this aspect of play central.

I'd like to focus on that (b) especially, because my solution for a long time was to play a character who "meant something" in this sense ... but the only audience, it seemed, was me. Although we played in a group, each of us was an isolated audience for our own creative efforts - except insofar as we cooperated with the all-too-obvious "follow these breadcrumbs" instructions of the GM.

Sorcerer was built from the desire to make that creative effort a functional, social, overt point of play. It's not the first role-playing game to do this, but I humbly suggest it's one of the least compromising about it.

Good to have you here, Nev.

Best,
Ron
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