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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 24 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Amazing Series of Sorcerer Threads on SG  (Read 13798 times)
Marshall Burns
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« Reply #15 on: March 14, 2008, 01:31:48 PM »

Okay, okay, so, based on the Sorcerer text itself and Jesse's posts, here's the way I'm getting that it works:

1.  The players recognize an incipient conflict and grab the dice, state intents, and roll.
2.  Based on the outcome of the rolls, stuff happens.
3.  Because that stuff happened, the circumstances have changed.
4.  Said changes inform the characters' next actions, which are either going to be further conflict (return to step 1) or someone deciding to have their character acquiesce (resolving the conflict).

Is that it?  'Cause if it is, that's, well, that's actually pretty damn simple.  Straightforward, even.

-Marshall
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #16 on: March 14, 2008, 06:28:15 PM »

Hang tight, Marshall. Still composing.

Best, Ron
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #17 on: March 15, 2008, 03:18:18 PM »

Here are my thoughts on the Sorcerer stuff across all those threads.

1. The default use of the dice mechanics is to resolve a stated intention and action - i.e., it's closure. Rolling means you find out how it goes.

For the dice to be involved at all, a character is after something, or "directs himself or herself toward it" if you want to phrase it that way. I found myself wishing, when writing the game, for more forceful words in English besides "volition" and "motion," and unfortunately "motivation," although etymologically perfect, has taken on a passive and internal meaning that is totally not suited. Think of the body launching into action, but not actually having quite yet moved, and you'll have the right idea.

Again, rolling the dice occurs only when dialogue during play establishes that action. The dice then establish whether that particular way of getting that particular thing either does or does not happen.

Jesse, I think you got wrapped up in a couple of nuanced applications of this idea in such a way that you ended up saying something incorrect , or that could be read in a way that is incorrect. To get it totally clear, we have to start with this concept here, in #1, and work forwards.

2. Conflict, conflict, conflict ... of interest! Dice are only involved when the intention + action mentioned above are interpretable in this way. ("I jump over the fence" in abstract isolation is not a roll in Sorcerer. You don't even have a "100% chance." It merely occurs.)

Boy, I can say this 'til I'm blue in the face ... I feel like the Secret Sacred Wars Roach in Church & State, pummeling his henchmen to teach them the ropes ... Roach (roaring): "Praise conflict!!", Drewroach (muffled by the Roach's mighty hand manhandling his lower face): "Pwaise conflift!" *

What does that mean, "of interest?" It means a couple of things, primarily that something is also in motion, reactively or simultaneously, which opposes that action mentioned above. Or to put it another way, it's just like "opposed task" in all those RPG texts, because every example I read of them turns out to be a conflict of interest anyway. It's accurate to read Sorcerer as using dice only to resolve "opposed tasks" if you're more comfortable with that terminology.

The reason I make such a big deal out of it is that the opposing roll needs to represent the opposing interest, not some detail of the situation such as what the character is performing as a task. Those details may (i) be treated as Color, (ii) generate a bonus die according to any of the Ch. 1 points, or (iii) act as a more formal dice modifier.

(All of this is best illustrated or initially learned by considering what oppositional conflict, as opposed to orthogonal conflict. To bring orthogonality into it doesn't change anything I say, but examples are necessarily more complex.)

Putting #1 and #2 together leads to this idea: picking up the dice is always, always based on players' responses to "what do you do?" And in this sense, the GM is very definitely one of the players. And whose dice are used as opposition is always, always based on the issue of interest: the character's agenda-in-launch, and whose interest is opposed to it happening. (On rare occasions when no immediate score presents itself, then the table in Chapter 4 should be used. Again, this is rare, and it might interest people to know that the "difficulty" text accompanying that table annoyed me even as I wrote it.)

3. Influence on another's behavior is a relatively special case, but not because it's exceptional - on the contrary, the results of #1 and #2 above make it necessary to handle such things in the way I'm about to describe. Most importantly, as above, actions (with associated in-moment intentions) are the issue, not what someone wants or how they feel. Every roll will indeed conclude those actions.

Since dice in Sorcerer cannot solve future conflicts, only the one in action, the losing character's next action is still decided by the player, not forced to do what the winning character said. If the new action calls for a roll, then that is a new conflict and cannot be any sort of do-over or repetitive extension of the earlier one - why "cannot"? Because there's a new action in the dialogue now, by definition. By "cannot" I do not mean that people should be nice and not do it, I mean that it's literally impossible. Sorcerer play always moves on. The resolution system does not get stuck on whether A happens or not.

I probably don't need to dwell on it much for people used to playing the game, but the key effect on play is that the player of a loser of an order/influence conflict really has an interesting choice. I may be playing a strong-willed, arrogant character, but if my roll to defy some order fails ... well, that's sort of a signal. I can choose not to obey, and probably set up a new conflict with my new action at some sort of a penalty, or as a player, I might find myself prompted, artistically or whatever you want to call it, to obey the order. It's not identical to Giving in Dogs, especially since it is best understood as following a roll (and before a potential one), but it's a distant cousin for sure.

(So yeah, Marshall, you got it.)

3'. Let's take Josh's example which has prompted a lot of unnecessary verbiage. It's nonsensical in pure rules-terms, with no need to invoke social contract or shared aesthetic standards. Because, after a failed defense against an influential roll ("come home with me"), stating "no she doesn't" is not itself a cause for a roll. That statement does not include what the character is now narrated to do, and toward what end. In fact, that sentence is only interpretable as table-talk and thus, although obviously allowable as such, cannot itself be utilized as any form of play.

The dice established that the guy's suggestion has indeed had its effect. That's entered the fiction and it got narrated by someone. This narration and then, whatever the player now has the woman do, may or may not form the basis of a new conflict. If it does, then roll, with the victories from the first roll almost certainly becoming relevant as modifiers. The phrase "no she doesn't" isn't any part of that, and the only possible response to it by the rules is to wait and see what the player really says, when he or she begins playing again.

What does not happen is any sort of re-negotiation, re-play, or re-interpretation of the initial conflict. This is what Jesse flubbed a bit in explaining initially, and what Josh exploited rhetorically. Jesse and Christopher were both sucked into nonsense-talk and were forced to flail there. All the dialogue about that example (or non-example) was stupid.

4. A final point that Jesse did not address: the scope of actions and effects. How much does a given roll encompass? Can one topple an empire with a single roll? Assassinate a president? Conversely, might many rolls be necessary to make an omelette, supposing that this action were somehow interpreted as a conflict with the eggs?

The answer is set fairly early in the resolution process, as a function of all sorts of things already established in the scene. It is really the most variable element of the resolution system, and probably the single most glaring absence in the text although in practice it hasn't caused any trouble that I know of.

I do think that's a fascinating absence in the text, although not, oddly, any sort of problem for play itself as I've done it and read about it. Perhaps such things are so easily arrived at during play that no one notices doing it. I think that must be some feature of how the explicit parts of the game operate, producing no hassles in this particular real, but non-explicit part of the decision-making of play. By contrast, Trollbabe cried out (speaking of the internal experience as the author) for that feature to be explicit and central, so I built Scale into the rules. How did I know to do it in the one and not the other? I don't know. Maybe some non-articulate component of the design process, or maybe dumb luck.

That's definitely a useful topic for separate threads. I'll be interested to look back over my last few Sorcerer games to see what in the world we did to establish our spins on that variable. If anyone else wants to post along those lines, please do.

Best, Ron

* If you have no idea what I'm talking about here, shame on you.
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jburneko
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« Reply #18 on: March 15, 2008, 03:43:14 PM »

Ron,

Your post confirms something I've been struggling with for a while in Sorcerer.  The Sorcerer rules get easier to apply when there is concrete motion on both sides of the conflict.

For example: "He runs for the door!" vs. "I stop him." is much harder to adjudicate than "He runs for the door!" vs. "I tackle him!"

Going to the bar example, "I seduce her" vs "she doesn't want to be." is much harder to adjudicate than "I seduce her" vs. "she tries to give you the brush off."

Jesse
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #19 on: March 16, 2008, 06:17:20 AM »

Hi Jesse,

It's more important than easier or harder. It's actually-playing vs. table-talking (itself not a bad thing) or outcome-negotiating (which in this case is a bad thing).

Quote
"He runs for the door!" vs. "I stop him."

"I seduce her" vs "she doesn't want to be."

You say that this sort of phrase is harder to adjudicate. I'm saying it's not harder at all. When someone says anything like these when playing Sorcerer, everyone else should merely wait for the real statement which is soon to follow. "I stop him" is not such a statement; it's a projected outcome. "She doesn't want to be" is not such a statement; it's a description of a character's internal state. Either, when spoken, is not itself play. Dice only concern what is happening in play.

Therefore there is no "adjudication." Not any.

I think what you're struggling with is the idea that a GM must run with whatever someone at the table says,and interpret it into some kind of meaningful imagined action, on his or her own, no matter what it is, for everyone. That's nonsense. That means the GM generates all the imagined material, the players generate objections in terms of how things turn out, and the dice are a shuttlecock in this ongoing power-struggle.

Sorcerer is written for people who want to do Story Now through everyone providing imagined input. It's not written for adolescents pulling power-trips on a designated goat, whose imagined input is always in demand and always at risk.

Best, Ron
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jburneko
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« Reply #20 on: March 17, 2008, 09:57:13 AM »

Ron,

This has been extremely helpful.  It mostly confirms stuff I already knew or at least was beginning to suspect but it's nice to see it spelled out.

When I GM Sorcerer I deal with the "I stop him" statement all the time.  Hell, all my GMing life I've dealt with the NPC tries to leave player cries, "Wait, Wait, I stop him!" situation.  This discussion confirms that I am not out of place asking, "How?"  and that, "by whatever means will work" is not an acceptable answer.  Although, that reply is increasingly rare these days.

A second issue is players mistaking GM statement of intent for fiated resolution.  Player says, "I flirt with her."  GM replies, "she brushes you off."  Player says, "Oh. Well then I do..." skipping over the die roll cause the GM said she brushed him off.  This has lead to me rarely stating reactions for NPCs and just calling for a roll, immediately.  I realize now this is a bad habit and I should simply be more vigilant over when a player mistakes my statements as outcomes rather than intentions.

Thanks again.

Jesse
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Marshall Burns
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« Reply #21 on: March 18, 2008, 11:23:25 AM »

To make an observation that isn't really functional for the discussion, I'm thinking that this whole thing is something that only roleplayers could be confused about.  I include myself in that statement, and I don't mean it as an insult to anybody; I just have a strong suspicion that, were I to show the rules to my writer or improv friends who don't roleplay, they would get it pretty quickly.  It really is simple and straightforward once you look at it squarely.

-Marshall
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Moreno R.
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« Reply #22 on: March 21, 2008, 12:07:59 AM »

Another one:

[Practice: Sorcerer] Demon Abilities
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Ciao,
Moreno.

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #23 on: March 26, 2008, 09:35:38 AM »

Josh and I had a long and enjoyable phone conversation to clarify the workings of the Sorcerer rules.

I've moved the few posts which prompted that conversation away from this thread.

Best, Ron
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jburneko
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« Reply #24 on: April 02, 2008, 09:27:52 PM »

This has lead to me rarely stating reactions for NPCs and just calling for a roll, immediately.

Last weekend I played Sorcerer and walked away realizing this statement was a lie on my part.  There was a scene where a Bishop (PC) goes to the Mother Superior (NPC) of a convent and asks to see a young woman staying there.

I say (as the Mother Superior): "I can tell you the woman is well, your grace, and that you needn't bother yourself with such a trivial matter."

The player (as the Bishop) responds, "Something is my business if I say it's my business."

Clearly a conflict.  But before calling for the roll I thought, "Okay, now we have to come up with something concrete."  But then I realized we just did.  The Mother Superior is claiming the girl is not worth the Bishop's time and The Bishop is pulling rank. 

Jesse
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #25 on: April 03, 2008, 05:00:58 PM »

Hey, you know, I was serious about the Sorcerer Unbound thing. I think with some refinement based on this thread, some play examples, and some illustrations could make it pretty damn good.

Best, Ron
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jburneko
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« Reply #26 on: April 14, 2008, 04:00:05 PM »

Ron,

I don't want to let your offer go unacknowledged and say that I'm thinking it over.  I have been received A LOT of positive feedback both publicly and privately regarding my posts including some useful advice on how to present it in printed form.

Jesse
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