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Author Topic: [Sorcerer] Fullmetal Alchemist and Modern Necromancy  (Read 3494 times)
angelfromanotherpin
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Posts: 135


« on: May 09, 2008, 04:45:31 PM »

I've been deep in fantasy and fairy-tale gaming for some time, and I have a hankering for some modern-day stuff, where the players can use contemporary slang and reference television shows without breaking character.  I've also wanted to do a game inspired by the Fullmetal Alchemist anime (not the manga), which I regard as a perfect Sorcerer setting, if you can get past the super-power stuff and focus on the horrible relationship-fraught necromancy.

So, things I know:
Setting is the real world, the present day.
Sorcery is something very much like bringing back the dead; Passers are doppelganger-homunculi, Objects have spirits attached to them, Possessors and Inconspicious types are flavors of ghost.  I don't think there's a place for Parasites.  All the necromancy from S&S is in play. 
Humanity is respect for the boundary between life and death (both directions).

Things I'm not sure about:
Fullmetal Alchemist sorcery frequently maims its users, sometimes creatively, and the maiming seems to function as both Price and Telltale.  I'm not sure if it should function as an initiation, where the first Summoning always maims but later ones do not; or if (in the spirit of 'nothing never happens') if each failed Summoning roll still brings the Demon, but comes with a maiming.  The second option will make players more cautious with their Sorcery (which is less fun), but will seriously encourage the use of sacrifice and Tokens (which is great fun), so I'm torn. 
FMA also has a strong thematic focus on family and history, which helps to keep the conflicts close to the bone.  That strikes me as a job for the Will and Lore Descriptors.  I'll have to think about how to set those up.  It would be nice to get some resonant Stamina descriptors as well, relating to life and death. 

More as it comes to me...
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-My real name is Jules

"Now that we know how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, how do we determine how many angels are dancing, at a given time, on the head of a given pin?"
"What if angels from another pin engaged them in melee combat?"
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2008, 07:16:04 PM »

Hi Jules,

You know about the modern necromancy Sorcerer game I did a few years back, right? If not, then run a search in this forum using "necromancy" and you'll find a few threads.

I recommend the Tanith Lee novel "Kill the Dead," too.

As far as maiming goes, one thing to consider is that one can be maimed as Color. A lot of characters in a lot media, but comics and movies especially, are horribly injured or crippled in ways which don't seem actually to impede the character. As long as the player is consistent with announced actions (and if the player defined the maiming, why wouldn't he be?), that should be fine. For really heinous maiming, for which a mechanics effect is desired, I suggest adding Prices (a minor rules-tweak) in the inter-Kicker portion of play.

Best, Ron
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angelfromanotherpin
Member

Posts: 135


« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2008, 01:05:33 PM »

Hey, Ron.  It's taken me a while to respond because the group I had lined up to do this with dissolved temporarily and I lost motivation for a while. 

Yes, I did see the threads for your game a while back, and I think 'modern necromancy' stuck with me as a phrase.  I've re-read them recently.  Cool stuff.  I deeply approve of the 'no unknown demons' bit.  The homunculi whose origins went unexplained by the end of Fullmetal Alchemist were far less satisfying as characters than the others.

I had a hilarious misadventure with the Tanith Lee book, and only got about halfway through.  Still, one thing it immediately shares with the Fullmetal Alchemist source material is the importance of the mortal remains.

I like maiming as Color, that's a very good thought.  My mind immediately went to Blind Pew and Long John Silver. 

So, on to Descriptors.  I was having a problem separating the Will and Lore Descriptors, because I wanted Lore to be tied directly to the characters' motivation, what they cared about enough to commit cosmic rebellion; in addition to the source of and lens for their knowledge.  e.g. Edward Elric's Lore descriptor is Blood Ties, he learned his stuff from his absentee father's books, and he Summons demons based on his brother and his mother.  Eventually I decided to run with that idea and just roll Lore into Will when it came up, and keep Will Descriptors as the way characters exerted social force.  Then I based the Will Descriptors on the five stages of grief, 'cause that's how I roll.

This is what I've got so far:

Stamina:
Clean Living
Reckless
Lean & Scarred
Trained to Kill
Vitality

Will:
Angry
Bargainer
Egotist
Heartless
Tranquil

Lore:
Allegiance (specify)
Blood Ties
Lover
Narcissism
Vow (specify)
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-My real name is Jules

"Now that we know how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, how do we determine how many angels are dancing, at a given time, on the head of a given pin?"
"What if angels from another pin engaged them in melee combat?"
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2008, 04:51:22 PM »

I like those descriptions.

As far as I can tell, your Will ones are based on modes of interaction, and your Lore ones are based on specific commitments. That's a reasonable split, I think.

Best, Ron
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Frank Tarcikowski
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« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2008, 01:33:45 AM »

FMA also has a strong thematic focus on family and history, which helps to keep the conflicts close to the bone.   

Hey Jules, this screams "double Humanity definition" to me! Especially as I'm finding your initial Humanity definition a little hard to grab. IIRC, the original example in Sorcerer's Soul (or was it Sex & Sorcery?) for double Humanity even has something very similar to your "family & history" in it.

In my games, I've found it incredibly useful to add to the abstract Humanity definition a very conrete description of what is a Humanity check and a Humanity gain. Could you do that for your "respect for the boundary between life and death"?

- Frank
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angelfromanotherpin
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Posts: 135


« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2008, 06:22:10 AM »

Frank, that's a really good idea, and I like it a lot.  The thing is, I'm not sure the group is ready to handle a plural Humanity.

As for concrete examples, hmmm...

Loss Checks:
Killing in cold blood.
Putting the memory of a dead person ahead of the interests of living people.
Taking deadly risks lightly.
I assume how the Contact/Summon/Bind rituals inherently transgress is obvious.

Gain Rolls:
Saving a life.
Removing the undue influence of a dead person.

I always find that this sort of thing is like porn: far easier to recognize in the moment than to define on a page.
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-My real name is Jules

"Now that we know how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, how do we determine how many angels are dancing, at a given time, on the head of a given pin?"
"What if angels from another pin engaged them in melee combat?"
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2008, 07:18:11 AM »

Hi Jules,

It's true that coming up with an exhaustive do's and don't's list for Humanity rolls doesn't work well. But it's also true that imagining instances which you, at this point, consider to be nearly-unequivocal is very helpful. So your answer has served its purpose well, I think.

It may be interesting in your setting to note that killing one person to save another might merit both a check and a gain roll, at least sometimes.

Best, Ron
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angelfromanotherpin
Member

Posts: 135


« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2008, 08:57:00 AM »

Oh it was definitely helpful, and I'll put the list on a handout.  I just had to think long and hard about most of those, while in actual play there's almost never any need to. 

My first response to the 'kill one to save another' scenario is that it would almost always be a one-or-the-other check or gain situation, but the more I think about it, the more ways I can see that working.  Which is cool, because

Something that interests me is that in the Fullmetal Alchemist source material, while Banishments have the usual connotations, actually killing a Bound Demon seems to be as Humanity-threatening as killing a human.  I think that plays into the deliberate indeterminacy of whether or not the Demons actually are the dead person come back, and I like it, but the connotations are a little weird.
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-My real name is Jules

"Now that we know how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, how do we determine how many angels are dancing, at a given time, on the head of a given pin?"
"What if angels from another pin engaged them in melee combat?"
angelfromanotherpin
Member

Posts: 135


« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2008, 09:16:25 AM »

Had a character creation session on Sunday.  I'm very pleased with the results. 

Okada Shigeru was an up-and-coming salaryman in Japan, the son of Okada Ogai, who owned the company.  Then Ogai did a questionable business favor for an old friend, Abe Kosho, who turned out not to be trustworthy.  The deal went bad, and the Okadas were reduced to poverty while Kosho became wealthy and powerful.  Ogai committed suicide in despair; Ayano, Ogai's wife, went mad with grief; and the family of Kaede, Shigeru's arranged (but still loved) fiancee, called off the engagement. 

And Shigeru?  Shigeru went into the basement of the Okada Corporate building and, reading from the Okada Scroll of Ancestry backwards, cut out his own heart with the ancestral Wakizashi and promised to take revenge and rebuild the family's reputation and wealth.  (Usually, role-playing dice aren't granted for the initial Binding, but I had to give it up for this guy).

Shigeru's circulatory system seems to have 'somehow adjusted' for his lack of a heart, and the motions of his breathing and other muscle action serve to push the blood around in his body, but it's just not as good.  Shigeru was trying to summon the soul of a great warrior of the Okada line into the Wakizashi to help him take vengeance, but what he doesn't know is that he got Ogai's soul (the player knows, but Shigeru doesn't).  Ogai was an excellent strategist and swordsman, though, so he's not far short.

Okada Shigeru
Stamina: 2 (Trained to Kill)
Will: 6 (Heartless Bargainer)
Lore: 2 (Blood Ties)
Cover: 6 (Corporate Officer)
Humanity: 6
Price: -1 (Missing Heart; applies to rolls involving physical exertion)
Telltale: No heartbeat/pulse
Kicker: Shigeru's low blood pressure has made coitus problematic since the Binding, and the Okada family needs an heir.  He has just received a letter from Kaede, saying that she's pregnant with his child... and that her marriage has been rearranged, to Abe Kosho.

The Okada Wakizashi (Object)
Stamina: 4
Will: 5
Lore: 4
Power: 5
Abilities: Cover (Swordsman), Perception (Danger), Perception (Deception), Special Damage (Lethal)
Need: Cruelty
Desire: Revenge
Telltale: A blood seal etched on the underside of the tsuba
Bound: 2 (Shigeru's favor)

Nasty!  I'll post the other PCs when I have more time.
Logged

-My real name is Jules

"Now that we know how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, how do we determine how many angels are dancing, at a given time, on the head of a given pin?"
"What if angels from another pin engaged them in melee combat?"
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