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Author Topic: [Sorcerer] Ritual Questions...  (Read 1804 times)
The Dragon Master
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« on: October 02, 2008, 10:50:46 PM »

These questions came up during my one shot, the AP of which is here. For those with no interest in flipping through an AP, the one shot is the Training run out of the main book, and at the top of the AP is listed the definitions for everything.

Rituals, and Failure: One of my players couldn't roll a success on ritual rolls to save his life. He rolled to contact, and failed, rolled to summon, and failed, rolled to bind, and failed. I flipped through the section on rituals, but didn't notice much on what happens when you fail the ritual roll. I saw reference to failing the stamina roll if you used hallucinogens to assist with Contacting, and reference to failing the Binding roll, but nothing regarding the others. Since we were nearing the end of the night, and of the session, I chose to have the margin of failure count as bonus dice, to the opposition on the next roll (and no, it wouldn't have helped him on later rolls if I hadn't) in order to keep in line (sort of) with the binding rules. I told him that I think a failure is just a failure, but that for the purposes of this evening I'd call it an added die against him on the next roll and look it up later. But is that how it is meant to be played out? Or is there a reference in the book I missed?

Sacrifices, and Binding: In another instance (different demon) he performed a blood sacrifice in order to bind a demon (specifically, it was the house). I didn't see reference to it in there, but used the Summoning/Blood Sacrifice rule and applied it to Binding because it made for a better scene, but again said that I would check and find out the right answer. Was that a proper interpretation of the rules?

Page numbers would be helpful if you are going to reference the book. Thanks for any help you can provide.
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"You get what everone gets. You get a lifetime." -Death of the Endless
The names Tony
jburneko
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« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2008, 10:12:51 AM »

Failure on Rituals is an interesting topic.  The only ritual that "works" regardless of the die roll is Binding.  Failure just means the binding is in the demon's favor.  Which makes failure on the other rituals tricky and the book is a little weak on this matter.  The thing here to remember is that when performing a ritual the Sorcerer is trying to violate the laws of reality.  And in Sorcerer reality is filtered through the Humanity score.  So whatever Humanity means to your group should backlash against the Sorcerer really hard when a ritual fails.  What form that backlash takes is informed by the details of the ritual the player describes.  Simply saying, "I contact a demon" and grabbing the dice is insufficient.  The player needs to give the GM the context for the ritual.

Here's an example from my own play.

We were playing a game set in New Orleans right after the Katrina Hurricane.  The Humanity issues were heavily tied to respect for family traditions.  The daughter of one of the player's character's ended up getting kidnapped by some people the character owed money to.  The player decided his character would summon a demon for help.  What described his character doing was gathering things that belonged to his daughter and piling them into the center of his daughter's bedroom.  He did things with pictures of her and locks of her hair and her toys and stuff like that.

Roll dice on the Contact.  Whopping failure.

And there the dude is.  With all this junk piled in the center of the room.  And his wife walks in him and she flies into rage.  THEIR daughter is OUT THERE somewhere because of what HE did and THIS is his answer?  Crying over a pile of JUNK in the middle of the room?  That's the BEST he can do?  Some hoodoo nonsense?  How pathetic.

That's what happens when you fail a ritual.  Reality bites you.

Jesse
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angelfromanotherpin
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« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2008, 02:12:59 PM »

Howdy!

Okay, first the sacrifice part.  As written, the sacrifice mechanic only applies to uses of the Summoning ritual.  However... if the sacrifice is appropriate and cool in the context of the Binding, it is totally worth bonus dice just under the general bonus dice rule.

To address your first question, something that comes up a lot in discussion of the rituals is that they never, ever, 'whiff' or 'fizzle.'  Something always comes out of them, and it's usually interesting.  A lot of the specifics of what happens is dependent on the specific setting you happen to be playing in.  The classic 'generic' example is a failed Contact roll putting you in touch with a Demon besides the one you were trying for, like in the first issue of Sandman.  My favorite examples of failed rituals are the Elric Brothers' origin story from Fullmetal Alchemist, and Sparrowhawk's calling up the horrible thing (gebbeth?) in A Wizard of Earthsea
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The Dragon Master
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« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2008, 02:09:10 PM »

I want to thank you both for your reply's. I've talked with the players, and gone over what notes I had on the evening, and I think part of the problem was a disconnect between humanity and sorcery/demons. And that made it hard to come up with the "why" for the humanity backlash with rituals, though this has helped in figuring out how to handle this type of thing in the future.

One of these days I'll get just how related to those starting definitions (humanity, sorcery, demons, etc.) everything is and it will make sense, till then I'm glad the forum here is so willing to provide assistance. I'm going to be running a series of one-shots in a style I've termed "genre walking"* which hopefully will help me get a grasp on just how integrated it all is.

*Same system being used first for a medeval one-shot (demons as demons), then a modern one-shot (demons as enablers), then near future one shot. I'll be running it at RandomCon (phoenix, az may 8th - 10th) this year and should be playtesting the oneshots in late November, I'll let you all know how it goes and will probably be back with more questions.
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"You get what everone gets. You get a lifetime." -Death of the Endless
The names Tony
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2008, 06:44:48 AM »

I've been thinking about this thread a lot, and I hope the following will be helpful.

Yes, the mechanics and imagined content for the game are linked - Humanity, sorcery/demon look & feel, the rituals (both rules and imagined actions), demon abilities, Binding strength, and more. However, one of the most important features of the game's overall design is to allow all these connections to ... loosen and tighten, as compared across groups and sometimes as an ongoing dynamic in a single group.

You can probably see that as a designer and author, I never really bolt any two such components together tightly. I tried to write The Sorcerer's Soul, especially, to show that Humanity indeed operates centrally, but not necessarily as either a determinant for or determined outcome of any other component of play. Instead, I have tried hard to maintain the consistent message that this "structure" of components only takes on its fullest-formed identity during (a) the appearance of genuine conflicts and (b) the absolutely necessary point of the dice hitting the table, plus the subsequent decisions/role-playing until the dice go away.

It's much like the fully-trained fist used in fighting: all fingers and thumb in place, with the thumb wrapped far around and the two first metatarsals aligned with the ulna. What the link doesn't show, though, is that once it's formed, the dozens of muscles involved are not clenched, they merely work together at minimal strength apiece, opportunistically, to maintain the position. Any single muscle at any given time is probably relaxing, not tensing. That also applies to the whole limb when one's hands are up in a guarding position, as the shoulders and arms, all the way to the fists, feel quite relaxed, as if they were hanging from the fists.

All of which means that a strike with that fist benefits from exactly and only the muscles needed, in combination with other things like body posture, to deliver maximum force through those two knuckles, conducted through a specific alignment of bones.

So describing and thinking of only that micro-instant as play is a bad idea: it results in an over-determining, over-linking of the various components of characters and play. Which in the fighting analogy means a locked-up arm and fist, which must relax and then strike in an attempt to strike, rendering it slow, telegraphing its intent, depriving it of power, and basically failing to do its thing.

Try to think of all the different rules in Sorcerer as the muscles. Don't lock any of them together too tightly.

Best, Ron
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The Dragon Master
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« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2008, 08:28:54 AM »

To continue the analogy, our game was more like the thumb was sticking off to the side rather than wrapped around the other fingers (taking the thumb as the definition for humanity). For the players, new to the system, humanity seemed very effemeral, and not having played before myself, I wasn't able to make it more substantial, so after discussing the different options (and finding that one of the players didn't want to play the kind of character you'd root for, nor understood why anyone would want to) we went with empathy as the definition for humanity, ancient lore/superstition as the definition for sorcery, and demons were demons/beings from another plane including "The Devil" himself (wearing leather high heels that were themselves a demon). Still, for a first session and all it didn't go as bad as it could have.
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"You get what everone gets. You get a lifetime." -Death of the Endless
The names Tony
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