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Author Topic: [Sorc / Mu ] Necromancy on Marr'd  (Read 2623 times)
James_Nostack
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Posts: 726


« on: May 27, 2008, 06:41:22 PM »

We're gearing up for season 2 of our "Dictionary of Mu" game.  A player is brainstorming character concepts, and says, "Undead Conan..." and everyone around the table says, "Hell yeah!  Undead Conan!"  Perfect opportunity to bust out the rules on Lich characters from Sorcerer & Sword that nobody ever uses.

Questions:
1.  Demons on Marr'd are the spirits of dead & dying things.  Necromancy, in Sorcerer & Sword, is meant to be something a lot different than plain ol' regular sorcery.  I can certainly see that maybe all sorcery on Marr'd is necromancy, but this is a big global change.  Anyone see any way of keeping these two things distinct, in a way that makes sense thematically?

2.  Sorcerer & Sword says flat-out that a character shouldn't start play as a lich: rather, it's something you perform in play.  Any problem starting out as a lich, and just reserving the "transformation" for a prequel by using Sorcerer & Sword's stories-out-of-order technique?
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James_Nostack
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« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2008, 06:50:31 PM »

Also:

3.  By the rules, a lich is a demon.  This means that they cannot practice sorcery, correct?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2008, 06:31:09 AM »

Hi James,

Quote
1. Demons on Marr'd are the spirits of dead & dying things. Necromancy, in Sorcerer & Sword, is meant to be something a lot different than plain ol' regular sorcery. I can certainly see that maybe all sorcery on Marr'd is necromancy, but this is a big global change. Anyone see any way of keeping these two things distinct, in a way that makes sense thematically?

I'd like to get Judd's take on that one for sure. I could see that becoming a Marr'd lich is ... wow, becoming a memory or rather legend. How might that work? I can think of a variety of disturbing ways. Thematically, it seems to me that it's a rejection of many of the other forms of Lore - clearly one would be opposed to getting off the rock; one would also be opposed to changing the rock for the better or even in any significant way ... might it mean, possibly, that one would be all about Marr'd as memory only, i.e., committed to the idea that not only is the planet possibly dying, but actually dead already and better that way? That is distinct, isn't it? It'd be a form of power through negating all the other ideals associated with the existing power-seekers - a nullity.

That's merely one person's view, though. I'm interested in what others might come up with, and it's fair to say that the player in question should be considered the ultimate authority - and to a very great extent, via play itself.

Quote
2. Sorcerer & Sword says flat-out that a character shouldn't start play as a lich: rather, it's something you perform in play. Any problem starting out as a lich, and just reserving the "transformation" for a prequel by using Sorcerer & Sword's stories-out-of-order technique?

H'mm! That is interesting and valid. I think it would put some rather intensive narrative constraints on the chronologically-earlier, played-later scenario, but that can be a good thing. It reminds me of the "way past the edge" material in Chapter 7 of the core book, so you might want to review that section too. I personally think constraints on "what can happen" are an under-explored element of role-playing practices, having been limited in the past to story-before railroading. It'd be neat to see them used as a tool rather than as a means of (un)creative head-locking.

Quote
3. By the rules, a lich is a demon. This means that they cannot practice sorcery, correct?

That's true, but nothing stops it from using necromantic tokens. As far as I can tell, that's what typically happens in the literature. Even if the lich waves its arms around and black lightning starts crackling all over the place or if demons appear in a puff of smoke, there always seems to be some kind of symbolic object involved on which the lich is dependent.

The classic case for my treatment, incidentally, is Xaltotun in The Hour of the Dragon (often published under the title Conan the Conqueror, which is weird because he doesn't conquer anything but rather led an insurrection, and in this story he defends his nation against being conquered, but never mind). Xaltotun isn't even in contact with the Heart of Ahriman after his resurrection/summoning, but he still relies on it totally for his magic and his existence/persistence.

Therefore a lich character can do a lot of stuff which is parallel to and strongly resembles the sorcerous rituals, through a different mechanism.

Seems like the perfect Kicker for a lich character, especially for this "later told first" approach, is the loss of the necromantic token ... Huh! If Xaltotun were a protagonist, then his Kicker isn't being summoned up, but rather the theft of the Heart! (and funnily enough, Conan didn't steal it; he doesn't even know a thing about it until much later in the story)

Best, Ron
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James_Nostack
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Posts: 726


« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2008, 10:13:08 AM »

I'd like to get Judd's take on that one for sure. I could see that becoming a Marr'd lich is ... wow, becoming a memory or rather legend. How might that work?

So, I really like that idea assuming it jibes with Judd's framework.  It might be a little too strange for the players, and veering too far from Scott's concept, but I just want to run with the idea purely as a rules-exercise.  My off-the-cuff response would be: a special kind of Inconspicuous demon (indeed, an immaterial one), with the telltale that the surroundings/NPC's somehow call the legend to mind.  Totem idea: maybe the lich's fabulous treasure, twinkling in the shadows of the Tomb of Horrors, leading adventurers to their deaths; the bonus dice get explained in-fiction as various magical items in the hoard.  As a legend, the demon has no body/mind/existence, but is simply this free-floating malice twisting everybody up and subtly influencing the physical environment.

I think GM'ing a PC who influences the fiction entirely through thematic resonances would be both really cool and extremely difficult.  At some point, a player just wants a pair of hands, y'know?

Quote
I can think of a variety of disturbing ways.

I'd be interested in hearing them.  What I described above sounds a little bit like the Psyche Demons described on page 119 of Sorcerer.  How did those work out in play?
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angelfromanotherpin
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Posts: 135


« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2008, 10:24:35 AM »

On the subject of becoming a legend, the Sandman story 'Ramadan,' seems like it might be useful to think about, where the mythic age of Baghdad, djinn and flying carpets and all, used to be factual, but was made mythic, leaving behind a shabby mundane historical version in its place. 
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-My real name is Jules

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Judd
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« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2008, 08:44:14 PM »

Wow, so many neat ideas.

I love the idea of a lich being someone who has embraced their own legend and become a living memory.  That is neat.

But I also dig the idea of the player not knowing exactly what it means and the definition coming up through play.

I think it fits, if for no other reason than because I can clearly picture a red-sandstorm with a faint outline of a figure walking out of the waste and into the frame is this undead warrior, come to bring his own brand of justice to Mu's Bed.

I can't wait to see what comes of this game, James.  Please do post up the new definitions created by it.

Idea that just hit me: The player's first definition could be the word - Lich, defining what it means in this setting after the first kicker is resolved.
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wreckage
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Posts: 18


« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2008, 08:05:02 PM »

I hate to mention a fairly third-rate Conan rip-off (The Scorpion King) except to say that track 1 of the "soundtrack" CD would be pretty much the perfect theme song for Undead Conan.
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....but you can call me Sam
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