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Sorcerer, Embraced by the Dark

Started by Trevis Martin, August 04, 2003, 07:37:54 AM

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Trevis Martin

This was an idea I had for a Sorcerer game, mainly inspired by Flatliners and the progressive demon option mentioned in Sorcerer and Soul.

Embraced by the Dark

Inspirations: Flatliners, The Crow, Wraith, Embraced by the Light.

Embraced by the Dark is a setting for Sorcerer in which your character wanted something enough that they were willing to die for it...and then come back.

Sorcery

There are essentially three methods of sorcery in this setting.

There is the traditional mode passed on from master to student or in covens.  It involves a lot of obscure ritual and extreme concentration targeted towards focusing the mind so that it maintains its integrity in the nothingness of NDE.  The basic act of sorcery though is to kill oneself by specially prepared poison (although there are other methods, consecrated daggers and such).  If you contact and make appropriate arrangements with the demon, its power will bring you back.

There is a naive mode, which happens during a naturally occurring NDE.  This sorcerer has so much drive and will to live that it makes a deal with an unknown entity to bring him back into the world to pursue his goals.

The last is the modern medical mode (ala Flatliners) In which people with the appropriate equipment and knowledge essentially kill and revive themselves medically.  This depends on a coven because you have to have people operating the equipment to bring you back.  (Though the entities power will assist as well.)

Lore/Humanity

Humanity in this setting is related to abstraction vs. concrete attachment to the world.  The experience of going beyond is one of experiencing a nothingness so vast as to make moral codes meaningless, and everything else for that matter.  Your humanity degrades because in the face of annihilation, things just don't matter.   The opposite side of that coin is to make meaningful empathic connection to human beings and the world.  Complete loss of humanity (twice, see below) results in the annihilation of the self.

Humanity rolls would be called for in neglecting empathic connections to other human beings and for refusing to recognize when experience contradicts theory, for living completely in a world of abstract thought.

Lore then is the ability to tolerate the abyss.  The ability to use constructs of order to stand in the face of the meaninglessness so that you as an individual entity don't dissolve.  At the same time, the sorcerer is inviting a piece of this abyss inside himself.

Demons

The concept is that the demons are brought back as hitchhikers with the sorcerer's spirit/life force/psyche

Demons are abstractions, pieces of the abyss that seek definition before they dissolve again.  They seek to drive your humanity down so that they can fuse with you permanently and they can maintain an existence in reality.

The first demon that all sorcerers must have is a parasite.  This demon rides back with you during the resurrection then acts as a conduit for you to summon other demons.  A little piece of the nothingness inside you. This demon is special in several ways.  First after you've summoned and bound it, and it has brought you back, your life is tied to its existence.  If you or someone else banishes this one, you will die.

Second is that this demon changes with humanity loss.  The first time you hit 0 Humanity, you get to renegotiate with the demon.  If you choose not to agree with it, (i.e. bind it again) you will die.  Other bindings are cancelled as normal. If you do choose to bind it again, you come back for a second time and it digs deeper.  Now its a possessor.  Normally part of this stage is negotiating when it will be in control of your body.  Sorcerers who don't do this risk a constant fight with the demon for control of the body.

The second time you hit 0 humanity, you and the demon fuse completely and It becomes a Passer.  Passing demons in this game are immanents.  They can be contacted, bound, pacted, punished, contained but not summoned or banished. The 'call' for them is something sent out by the demon inside you.

The life cycle of these demons is such that if they are banished, everything that you knew and experienced becomes part of them.  Most demons are huge chaotic amalgams, not only of the core being/nonbeing but also of all the previous sorcerers that died while attached to them.  Talking to them in the beyond is like trying to talk at a packed party where everyone is speaking at once.  Only none of the conversations ever complete.

Object demons are really specialized forms of contain.  The sorcerer must prepare the object they will inhabit and then channel the demon into it. They serve the sorcerer but will often be more rebellious because they'd rather be going through the regular cycle.  They are also ambivalent because, like the rest of the demons in this setting, they seek embodiment.

Inconspicuous demons in this setting are really limited.  They function as subsets of objects or passers.  The only difference being that they usually have an operative cloak power.



Comments?  Suggestions?


regards,

Trevis

Delta1

This has hooked my interest.  So when are you going to write it up and charge $5 for it :)

Ron Edwards

Hi Trevis,

Cooll! I always thought Flatliners' Premise deserved a better movie wrapped 'round it.

Let's see. Do I understand correctly that the second time a sorcerer's Humanity hits 0, he or she is now "gone" (dead-dead, as we used to say about Champions characters), utterly replaced by the demon?

Also, I think that this framework permits a good discussion of how a GM could work with (a) the player-characters' backgrounds and Kickers, (b) the basic demon/sorcery concepts, and (c) all sorts of GM-originated events and back-story in prepping the game. I'm concerned that the skill of having all three fire in concert over the course of several session is remaining elusive to most people playing the game.

Best,
Ron

Trevis Martin

Delta:

I'm thinkin about it.

Ron:

I agree about Flatliners.  The movie was kind of a dud with some neat bits.  But I always liked the premise, which is what got me going on this.

It was also partially inspired by a character in my current Sorcerer game which is the first for my group.  The character was a hardline atheist who had begun to question that belief when his best freind committed suicide.  He inherited his freinds stuff and found that the freind died trying to do a sorcerous ritual (I had the skeleton of this idea at that point.)  He tried experimenting with some of the rituals but they didn't work until he was in a head-on collision with a tractor trailer.  He was comatose and at that point was contacted by the demon (though in our game it was an inconspicous.)

You are correct.  The second time your character hits zero Humanity he is utterly gone,  replaced entirely by the demon.  

Another thing that I liked was the redemption angle.  You can try to stay on the path of sorcery, but if you decide to give it up you are going to die.  The question becomes are you going to face annihalation on your terms or on its terms?

A note that I forgot to include is that you can also still bring in other parasites or posessors, but to inhabit other bodies (probably not human or you risk them rebelling and then renegotiating with thier hosts so they can gain a permanent foothold here.)  They are in the same boat as the objects.  They are glad to be embodied but upset that they cannot go through the normal cycle.  Like objects they will be more surly and rebellious.

regards,

Trevis

Trevis Martin

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Also, I think that this framework permits a good discussion of how a GM could work with (a) the player-characters' backgrounds and Kickers, (b) the basic demon/sorcery concepts, and (c) all sorts of GM-originated events and back-story in prepping the game. I'm concerned that the skill of having all three fire in concert over the course of several session is remaining elusive to most people playing the game.

Ron?  I'm not quite sure if this was an idle comment or if you wanted me to pursue it somehow.

regards,

Trevis

Ron Edwards

Hi Trevis,

I put it out there to see whether it rang a bell for anyone, so it's kind of up to you.

Basically, I'm talking about a process which begins with a GM's one-sheet. You've pretty much provided one already ... but not quite. What about setting, now? Modern day? What about tone, atmosphere, color? What descriptors would you list for the player-characters' scores?

Best,
Ron

Tim Alexander

Heya Trevis,

First off, I love this concept.

Second, are you planning any functional difference between the different methods of Sorcery? The most striking difference seems to be in the third method, since the demon isn't the only power bringing the character back. Is this going to translate to something systematic? Additionally, what about after the first demon? You mention channeling in object demons etc. but how does that fit with the death for demon, facing the abyss action of the first? Does the character somehow open himself to death with each interaction?

-Tim

Trevis Martin

Thanks Tim,

I apologize for the delay in answering this thread.  I started a new job and my time has been curtailed somewhat.

Hmmm...functional differences.

Since all PC's must start with the parasite demon there would be no functional rules differences for the begninning demon aside from color and description of how the PC bound the demon.

After that however.

The parasite demon doesn't benifit at all if you die before full integration.  If you do die, then it has to start from square one again.  Its also very interested in seeing you summon others as the more humanity you loose the more it gets control.

The only siginificant changes would be in summoning/ressurection.  I would allow your familiar demon to roll its power vs. the summoned demons power.  Those victories translate to bonus dice for your summoning roll.  In the case of the medicoven/flatliners groups I would say that they get to roll their cover vs itself and add those bonus die to your summoning roll.  Alternativly or additionally they could be using an experimental drug (which would have a power score like a demon) in which case the roll is the same as above.

In both cases if the summon roll fails, then the player rolls his Will + his Familiar's  Power/medical treatment (cover as above)/Ressurection drug vs. 2x his stamina.  If he looses that roll my preference would be that the character dies.

To answer your questions about channelling, Demons are not really discrete from the abyss, I see them as pieces of it.  You still have to bring it back with you, so the whole abyss thing applies every time.  The difference in the end is that you channel the demon out of your body and into some other body/object/contain.  That would be part of the binding.

Ron:

I see the setting as moden day, city.  Old cities preferably.  Most of the research I've done for this is on Boston.  Philidelphia, New York or DC would work as well.  

I see the coloring being grey and gritty.  Similar to the color palette in films like Unbreakable,The Matrix, and Flatliners,  as well as the washed out tones of NYPD Blue.  Lots of corruption.

The score descriptor thing is harder.   Most of the scores in the main book still seem to apply pretty well.

I don't see any changes to Stamina.

For Will Descriptors I include
Brush with the Unknown
Vengence or Vow
Survivor
God Complex
Existentialist

Lore would still be standard except for Medicoven ( a coven specifially of the medical variety)

That scores thing is kinda tough.  I hadn't thought of them until you mentioned it.

Anyone have ideas for others that would work?

regards,

Trevis

Tim Alexander

Hey Trevis,

Quote
The parasite demon doesn't benifit at all if you die before full integration. If you do die, then it has to start from square one again. Its also very interested in seeing you summon others as the more humanity you loose the more it gets control.

I get the first part, but don't entirely follow the second. I mean, on the one hand you're losing Humanity which would be good for the demon, but on the other it could be looking at competition. Are you limiting them to a single parasite? If that's the case then I can see your point, though I have to admit that perhaps it'd be interesting to see the repurcussions of a demon being able to hurt and/or help your summoning.

Also, in the mechanics would you allow medicoven folks the bonus of the cover and the demon's power roll, or is strictly one or the other? If it's not exclusive, it certainly could give a strong advantage to medicoven folk. I'd also be a bit worried about the summoning failure=death, that perhaps it forces a renegotiation with the parasite the first time instead? This would also force players to be awfully careful on consulting the demon before summoning others, which may or may not be an attractive game feature for you.

-Tim

Trevis Martin

Hi Tim,

Quote from: talexAre you limiting them to a single parasite?

I wasn't thinking of that limitation but I do imagine that what I'm calling the familiar (the first parasite demon) is kind of the alpha demon of your little horde.  The reason being that it is the only one tied to your life and the only one that benifits from your humanity loss.  I hadn't considered if other demons could challenge it for that position, though it might make it interesting if they could.  That's probably why it would be highly against any other parasites in your body.  You could give a parasite or possesor to another body and the direct competition wouldn't be there.  Plus I'm not sure how interested anyone would be in having two fighting demons contained within them.  On the other hand...

I've waffled back and foth on the character death issue.  On one hand the setting has a lot of focus on death so it seems appropriate that the risk should be there.  I know that Sorcerer combat was originally run very harsh, i.e. lasting penalties at 2x stamina and you are toast.  The death thing kind of goes back to that.  Its not even that bad a risk depending on the power of your demon, but its there.  If I were to soften it I would say that the loss of the summoning roll means that the character is comatose for week equal to the vicotories he lost by or something similar.

I wouldn't want to force the renegotiation on a summoning failure.  The renegotiation/evolve process is explicitly linked to the humanity loss and I like it that way.  I think you'll still have to consult your familiar carefully because its pretty hazerdous to do things it doesn't like.

On the mechanics, the coven would use its bonus rolls rather than the demon power I think.  That's the obvious 'balance' to it I suppose.  On the other hand I could see building a plot around antagonized traditional sorcerers because of something like that.

Thanks for all the discussion Tim, its making me think through this a bit.

Anything else?

regards,

Trevis

Tim Alexander

Hey Trevis,

It sounds like you're thinking through most of the issues I see, so I think you're good as far as I go. I'm excited to see some actual play stuff from you when it gets going.

-Tim

Ron Edwards

Hi Trevis,

Same from me, which is actually the same advice I gave Tim a couple of days ago ... your next step is Other Real People and getting prep into its more social phases.

Best,
Ron

Tim Alexander

Hey all,

Yep, it was Ron's advice the other day actually that made me realize that when it comes to this sort of prep it's useful to have a clear, but not entirely complete picture. It's good advice, since I tend to overthink things sometimes, which can lead to 'how I think it should be' sort of behavior.

-Tim

Trevis Martin

Ron and Tim,

Thanks much for your comments.  I will definately take this to the next phase when the group is ready for it. We are just finishing up our first Sorcerer Game and getting ready to do Donjon for a few sessions.   After that I'll probably try this. (Though I've got MLWM, Dust Devils, Universalis and Trollbabe yet also.)  I will say being at the forge these few months has definately lit me up about trying games.  We've got enough stuff to do for many moons.

I will post in the Actual thread on my first Sorcerer game.  I ran it kind of vanilla as I hadn't quite grasped all the stuff (and the group hadn't quite grasped it either, I'm sure due to my own shakey hold on the system.)  Actualy playing it once that way helped pin down a lot of things for me and I'm sure this new game will Rock, on toast.

Anyways, thanks again, both of you.  Ron you get an A+ for game support.

regards,

Trevis