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Author Topic: Responsibility for your demon  (Read 2976 times)
lachek
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« on: April 15, 2008, 11:20:57 AM »

Quoting again:

Quote from: Jesse Burneko
Another important aspect is moral accountability. Demons, even when acting supposedly on their own, are an extension of the Sorcerer. A Sorcerer can not escape moral accountability because his "demon did it." The demon is only here, because he WILLED it to be here. In real world terms he can not escape the consequences of the real world by shunting responsibility on to the demon. If the police can find even a shred of evidence linking the Sorcerer to a crime (even one that the forensics team can't quite explain) they are coming after the Sorcerer.

If a demon were to challenge their Binding and disobey a sorcerer's orders, doing something dreadful (=Humanity-losing) as a result, does the sorcerer have to roll for Humanity loss?

If no, what if the sorcerer ordered them to do something and they chose to carry out the orders in a morally repugnant fashion?

If no on the first and yes on the second, why not?

If no on both, what point is Jesse making above?
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lachek
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« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2008, 06:59:54 AM »

(Dang, I thought that was a really straightforward question)

Is it as simple as: it depends on what a Demon actually is in the fiction?

Have you ever (or asked the other players to) rolled Humanity in response to an action carried out by a demon independently of the sorcerer's orders?
What about an action you ordered the demon to do, where the action itself would cause a Humanity loss?
What about an action you ordered the demon to do, which the demon chose to carry out literally in a Humanity-losing fashion, Wishmaster-style?
If "yes" on any of the above, does your answer hinge on your specific interpretation of what a Demon is (and what was it?)

Do you play Humanity "loose and fast", where what does and what does not warrant a Humanity roll is fluid and arbitrary?

Who calls for a Humanity roll in your game? Is there an "ultimate authority" in case of disagreement?

Thanks!
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2008, 07:42:21 AM »

I am kind of busy and will get to this soon.

I also think it'd be interesting for Jesse to answer it first, as I can't speak for what he was driving at.

Best, Ron
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jburneko
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« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2008, 10:16:58 AM »

Okay, I've been thinking about how to answer this as I realized I paraphrased something on the wide-open internet that was originally said in a private conversation with some more specific context.  But let me answer the general cases as I would run them and then flesh them out a bit.

1) A Sorcerer's Demon runs out all on its own and does something Humanity threatening.  No Humanity Roll for the Sorcerer.
2) A Sorcerer's orders his demon to do something non-Humanity threatening but the demon carries it out in a Humanity threatening manner.  No Humanity Roll for the Sorcerer.
3) A Sorcerer orders his demon to carry out something Humanity threatening for him.  Yes, Humanity Roll for the Sorcerer.

In some sense this conforms with the idea that demons are a cosmic dodge which may seem contradictory to my original point but let's talk specifics.

This never happens during a game of Sorcerer:

Sorcerer Joe: "Hey, Drax, I'm a little hungry go get me a ham sandwich."
Drax (upon returning): "Hey, boss the line was kind of long so I killed everyone, hope you don't mind."

This, on the other hand, does happen:

Sorcerer Joe: "Hey, Drax, I have an important meeting do you think you could pick up my kid from school."
Drax (upon returning): "Hey boss, your ex-wife had already picked up your son.  I tracked him down at her new boyfriend's place, and uh, I had to get a little rough with him, I hope you don't mind?"

See?  Sorcerer Joe is now going to have to answer to, his son, his ex-wife, her new boyfriend if he's still alive, maybe the police if he isn't.  And, "I'm so sorry, I didn't mean it, it's that damn demon" probably isn't going to cut it.  I mean Sorcerer Joe CAN say that and think that way but look how whiny and wimpy it makes him look.  Joe is still accountable for the changes in the Situation caused by the demon. 

Does that help?

Jesse
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lachek
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« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2008, 12:45:41 PM »

Yeah, that helps. It's a little different from what I thought you were saying. Can this in any way be affected by the type of demon you're dealing with? I mean, if you have a demon who acts "through" the sorcerer?

Let's say "Demons are: subconscious urges".
Let's say this one demon (I'm thinking something Urotsukidoji style here) is: "Sexual dominance (Parasite) - Big, Boost Will, Shadow, Spawn, Taint. Need: Sex. Desire: Power."

...

Hm. Okay. In putting this demon together, I think I see what's going on. Given the definition of a Parasite demon, there is no way for the demon itself to act independently of the sorcerer. Assuming the demon was in Need, and the sorcerer didn't provide, the demon couldn't attempt to "get some" on its own. And if the sorcerer did provide, and the Parasite demon wanted to turn the experience into a horror show, it couldn't use its powers (like "Taint", or "Spawn") independently of the sorcerer.

Thus, any Humanity-threatening actions would still be reliant on the sorcerer.

Similarly, a Possessor demon is unable to confer its powers, so I can't think of any good reason why a reasonably sane (?) sorcerer would actually call a Possessor demon into himself.

Object demons cannot carry out physical acts independently of the sorcerer, much like Parasites.

Inconspicuous and Passer demons are too "separated" from the sorcerer to cause the sorcerer to internalize their behaviours.

Did I get this right? Does Sorcerer accommodate for this problem by disallowing demons to act "through" the sorcerer, making it obvious which actions are the acts of the sorcerer and which are the acts of the demon, at least to the sorcerer himself?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2008, 01:52:02 PM »

You're absolutely right about the principle in question; it was a central design consideration. Jesse, thanks for taking that discussion-specific point into the general level and also into the context of real play.

Also, some in-play decisions and tweaks add layers or new angles of attack regarding Possessors. For instance, yes, most times that I've seen a player choose to have his or her sorcerer Bind a Possessor, it's with some other host or hosts in mind besides the sorcerer's own body. However, at times, there are exceptions. Some of the concepts in Chapter 2 of The Sorcerer's Soul are drawn from actual play, in which, for any number of reasons, a player-character ends up hosting a Possessor. Sometimes what you want is so urgent that you are willing to give the reins over to something which promises to get it for you ...

Finally, here is a thread about playing Sorcerer without the Otherness of demons factored in: Sorcerer without demons, magic or demons. One of my posts is essentially my answer to your question about demons as unconscious urges. The linked threads might be interesting to read too.

Best, Ron
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Hans
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« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2008, 12:55:40 PM »

2) A Sorcerer's orders his demon to do something non-Humanity threatening but the demon carries it out in a Humanity threatening manner.  No Humanity Roll for the Sorcerer.

and...

Quote
This, on the other hand, does happen:

Sorcerer Joe: "Hey, Drax, I have an important meeting do you think you could pick up my kid from school."
Drax (upon returning): "Hey boss, your ex-wife had already picked up your son.  I tracked him down at her new boyfriend's place, and uh, I had to get a little rough with him, I hope you don't mind?"

See?  Sorcerer Joe is now going to have to answer to, his son, his ex-wife, her new boyfriend if he's still alive, maybe the police if he isn't.  And, "I'm so sorry, I didn't mean it, it's that damn demon" probably isn't going to cut it.  I mean Sorcerer Joe CAN say that and think that way but look how whiny and wimpy it makes him look.  Joe is still accountable for the changes in the Situation caused by the demon. 

Jesse, your example seems to be a item 2 example from your list, yet your discussion seems to imply it requires a humanity check and is more similar to item 3.  Unless Joe has a restraining order against him or something, I think I am missing your point.
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James_Nostack
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« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2008, 01:28:32 PM »

Hans, in Sorcerer there's a distinction between having to "pay a price" in terms of the overall situation, vs. having to make a Humanity Loss check. 

The sorcerer in Jesse's example isn't directly morally responsible for the demon's anti-social behavior, so there's no Humanity Loss check.  However, because it's his indirect moral responsibility, some issues are likely to arise as the other NPC's react to what he's done--and these could cascade into Humanity-threatening choices.
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Piers
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« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2008, 01:49:14 PM »

To put what James says more concretely:

But let me answer the general cases as I would run them and then flesh them out a bit.

1) A Sorcerer's Demon runs out all on its own and does something Humanity threatening.  No Humanity Roll for the Sorcerer.
2) A Sorcerer's orders his demon to do something non-Humanity threatening but the demon carries it out in a Humanity threatening manner.  No Humanity Roll for the Sorcerer.
3) A Sorcerer orders his demon to carry out something Humanity threatening for him.  Yes, Humanity Roll for the Sorcerer.

In some sense this conforms with the idea that demons are a cosmic dodge which may seem contradictory to my original point but let's talk specifics...

As Jesse's reference to the specifics of play suggests, these aren't static situations.  In abstract they may be different and distinguishable, but, in practice, the deniable situations tend to transform into the undeniable as knowledge leads to responsibility.

In situation 1) we ask, how long does it take before the Sorceror realizes that not banishing the demon means that these things will keep happening?

Then we are in situation 2) and we ask, how long the Sorceror can justify using the demon  before (s)he takes responsibility for the carnage?

Finally, we are in situation 3), and the group probably agrees that (s)he is responsible immediately.

In practice, this is like challenging a belief in BW or DitV: If as a group you are unsure if a humanity check is appropriate right now put it off, but ask yourselves how what has happened pushes the Sorcerer to a clearer awareness of his or her responsibility.  And as a GM consider how the demon will act with the knowledge that its master is letting it get away with things. 

Not taking responsibility allows the Sorcerer to evade humanity checks, but restricts the player's ability to take action letting you up the ante.  Eventually, the Sorcerer' and the Demon's actions will come into conjunction with the group's agreement, and the humanity checks will engage.   
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Hans
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« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2008, 08:23:06 PM »

James and Piers...got it.  Makes sense to me now.
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