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harsh humanity

Started by kwill, November 26, 2003, 08:01:18 AM

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so I thought you took victories off humanity in humanity checks, and in my first roll ever in a Sorcerer game reduced someone to Humanity 1; you can imagine I was hesitant to call for checks for the rest of the game

(I think I just got stuck on victories and rollovers, don't ask me how)

now looking back on the game I can see a *lot* of character actions that could have called for Humanity checks (and very few Humanity gain rolls)

given that asking for checks would temper behaviour on its own, how do
people handle handing them out? I recall but can't find in the books that it can (should?) be a group issue rather than a GM issue

related: "Pushing the Humanity question is one of the chief learning-steps of the Sorcerer GM." - to push the humanity question the GM needs to a) make sure the players know that's the point b) frame scenes that get to these choices c) call for Humanity rolls! d) anything else?

Michael S. Miller

Quote from: kwill(I think I just got stuck on victories and rollovers, don't ask me how)

Very understandable. The entire rest of the system is driven by the victories & rollover mechanics, so it can easily strip a few cognitive gears to remember that Humanity rolls work so differently (They only go us [gains] or down [check] and only by 1).

FWIW, the very first time I ran Sorcerer, I was stingy with the bonus dice & didn't stress rollovers and, thus, the game just kinda sat there, glaring grumpliy at us. Luckily I figured out what was what by the second session, which went very well.
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Ron Edwards

Hi there,

Right about the time people start talking about "player power" in Sorcerer, and stuff like Kickers and demon creation start to be seen as the meat of play, with the back-story being an engine or key to "open" them instead of the point all by itself ...

... the GM might be saying, "But what do I do? Am I the humble manservant to the Mighty Players? Shit, might as well play Universalis; at least that way I get to say what things are about once in a while."

And then I smile verrrrrrry wickedly and say ...

"You are the moral core of the story being created."

That's right. No one calls for Humanity checks or gain rolls except for the GM. Shouted suggestions are welcome, but they're just suggestions. He or she is where the buck doth stop for this issue especially.

The primary social skill is to make sure that you're making sense to everyone at the table with your judgment in this regard. When you are making sense, their commitment to abide by your judgment is absolutely steadfast, regardless of whatever grimaces or cries of dismay might arise when the check comes along. And in many cases, no such demonstrations arise anyway; usually the reaction is a grim acceptance of the moral "reality" of the fictional events.

The primary creative skill is to care: about the characters, about the demons, about the NPCs, about the history of the situation ... in short, the Premise of the moment. When you watch a good movie or read a good book, you care, right? And if, halfway through, the author fucks up and it all becomes lame? You feel betrayed, right?

In GMing Sorcerer, you have the unique power to ensure that that never happens. Cherish it.


Mike Holmes

Don't be afraid to make a statement on your end. That is, yes, if a character is at one, and the player makes a roll, then he might lose the character. That's what the game is about. If you don't make them make the roll when your moral sense tells you it's appropriate, then you're inadvertently shifting that moral center.

In fact, if you're really worried about the player losing the character, say this after they say that their character is doing something that ought to require a Humanity roll:
"Are you sure you want to do that? Because I'll be assigning you a Humanity roll if you do."

Then let them reconsider. It's the fact that the player is risking losing the character that makes the act so dramatic if they choose to do it anyhow, or dramatic if they choose not to and instead hold on to what little Humanity they have left. It's what the game is all about, IMO. If you don't push rolls at appropriate times, like Mike said, the game will just sit there.

This is so important. In most games you don't have any mechanical repercussions as a player for having characters do morally outrageous things. Sure, there may be in-game repercussions, but these only have to be taken as seriously as the player likes. Sorcerer forces you to take the morality of decisions into account. Which means that you really feel the importance of those moments. And, interestingly, you back off at times as a player that you might not have otherwise. You might even spend some time trying to highlight the human side of the character to get some Humanity points back (so that you can then more easily do immoral things, interestingly).

Now, I get that this particular problem happened due to an accident in rules interperetation. But that's not to say that some player won't dive down to zero with the proper method in no time in correct play (happens to me all the time as I have the character go off on a Sorcery jag). When that happens you have to be able to look the player in the eye and say that their next action might be their last. Which means being consistent about it. The players will thank you.

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excellent, this really clarifies things, thanks!