*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
December 22, 2014, 04:53:53 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 29 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: Mundane Lore  (Read 2227 times)
Christopher Kubasik
Member

Posts: 1159


« on: October 05, 2008, 05:46:48 AM »

Hi Ron,

A few threads have brought up the question of Sorcerer without demons; a mundane version of the game, and what that would be like.

Here are some of them:

Humans with Desires and needs: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=19791.0%22
Humans as Demons and The Matador: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=19805.0
Sorcerer Without Demons: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=25499.0
And my own thread on using the rules of Sorcerer and Sorcerer & Sword to play Traveller: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=26693.15

I'd like to know more about what happens to Lore in a mundane game of Sorcerer

Specifically, I'm asking if you have any ideas what you would do with Lore in such a game.  If so, what would that look like?

And then, in my Traveller thread thread, you wrote: "Lore is a game mechanic, not a thing that the mechanic models. The descriptors are how the thing is expressed in the SIS. Therefore you need only consider the variety of possible descriptors. As I see it, they would include the Beyond (including both savagery and uber-alienness, or maybe you can split these apart), the Law (for the duty stuff you're talking about), and possibly Psionics if you think that might still be a good fit."

How would you imagine, as an example, using The Beyond in such a game.

Thanks!

Christopher
Logged

"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 17707


WWW
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2008, 07:29:42 PM »

Hi,

For starters, what I'm about to describe both will and will not be Sorcerer. It will be, in the sense that when I see the movie Live Flesh or read the book The Goodbye Look, I say to myself, "Wow, that's Sorcerer." In those stories, people objectify one another, or discover one another; decisions are made that seem inexplicable to the people nearby and sometimes to the person doing the deciding; also, those decisions occur in the heat of the moment, often a moment when the very bedrock of a person's identity has been shaken. Also, it will not be, because the raw metaphysical power of "breaking the universe" which defines a sorcerer has a certain weight in pure story terms that I'm pretty sure is not duplicated any other way. There's something disquieting about such characters and stories which include them, giving rise to the common distaste or impact that attends using the word "demon" in a conversation when you're not talking about a fantasy novel or movie. I am convinced that mythology, legends, classic literature, and modern literature/film all include such content in the same way for a good thematic reason.

So what's going on with the naturalistic stories I mentioned, and others like them, in which there's still a Sorcerer-esque chill ... or for that matter, a rush of passion which is anything but chilly? I think it's a distinct feature, but it's hard to do - one of those things which you must get right and be very good at it in order to do it at all.

The rules features of Sorcerer that match to those stories include: Humanity, the Price, the Kicker, and the rituals. No demon, no Lore, but a lot of the other stuff remains. The rituals would be so altered that they'd become, effectively, a branch of interactive conflict among people, and their actual manifestation in play could vary widely. But most of them would work just as in the rules. Punish might not exist, as no one would have a Power score. Contact and Summon would be very topical to a particular story. Contain would, I think, work pretty much as written, although again subject to the creative constraint of being naturalistic.

Would Lore be necessary? That's a really important question but it's perhaps not answerable as yes-or-no. In non-metaphysical terms, Lore is the effectiveness derived from alienation. For Victor in Live Flesh, that might seem to be his ex-convict status at first glance, but that is too glib, to the point of inaccuracy. Victor is alienated from the moment of his birth (the first scene in the film); he's "off" long before he goes to prison. Conversely, take Archer in The Goodbye Look and the rest of the novels (but especially that one) - is "private investigator" basically code for "powerful because alienated?"

The trouble is, in the naturalistic story-setting, such things overlap considerably with the other scores' descriptions. The power derived from the alienation is emergent from a number of different aspects of the character, not just a single thing, i.e., specific arcane knowledge and insight. Christopher, I think that your "Rift" is a good solution, but its plural nature illustrates my point. My take would be, if you as a group can hit upon a term which does it, then that's great, but if not, then it's also great to recognize that it's a necessary emergent feature of how all the other descriptors come together conceptually.

Power and Desire are out of the picture, but Need remains an interesting idea - the point being that in this case, Need would be "created" in game terms through the process of Binding. (That doesn't mean it might not be present as a feature of the character-in-play prior to that point; it might.) The consequences of not getting one's Need would be a problem, without Power in the picture, and that's something that bears considering. One really gets away from the Sorcerer design at this point - it could be left as a kind of open door for some rules-interpretation, or it might require essentially powering up a new rules subset. After all, the game was written entirely to embrace the stories which do contain the metaphysical element, so a certain amount of game-messing is necessary, if not the extent of a wholly new design, at least pointing an arrow or being a play-probe toward doing so.

Anyway, that's what I'm thinking about. I guess we try it and see.

Best, Ron

Logged
Per Fischer
Member

Posts: 212


WWW
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2008, 04:08:48 AM »

Very interesting indeed. I'm just trying to follow here, let me know if I'm completely off the ball. In the light of your last post, Ron, is it the case that there are actually three kinds of Sorcerer, of which the naturalistic, mundane kind might not be Sorcerer at all?

A. Sorcerer by the book, with all its supernatural trappings, demons, transgressions, metaphysical stuff. That includes most of the one sheets and mini supplements out there already.

B. Sorcerer by the book, but with toned down colouring - it looks mundane, but it's true Sorcerer with demons, Lore, the lot. Judd's Blood Simple one sheet belongs here, and possibly Christopher's Traveller version. There are no supernatural imagery, a demon might not even be called a demon, but behind the scenes everything is working as Sorcerer per se.

C. Mundane, naturalistic Sorcerer, as per Ron's post above. It might be a whole new subset of the Sorcerer rules, with central mechanics like Lore, Power and, I assume, demonic abilities removed.

Is this a functional way of looking at it? So if no demons in C, what do you objectify or discover and bind? Other people - could it be things as well? I assume the Will trick for player characters is working under C as well.
Logged

Per
--------
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 17707


WWW
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2008, 09:11:35 AM »

Hi Per,

I suppose. This is an inexact discussion, not a rules clarification. We're in un-designed, speculative territory. For all I know, Sorcerer will be a disaster for these purposes, or it might be just right as written. So breaking it out into well-defined categories as you describe seems too conclusive to me.

To clarify my post, yes, I thought of Binding as being among characters. This would be especially interesting in combination with the fact that in Sorcerer, you cannot be 100% sure that anyone will actually do as you tell them.

Best, Ron
Logged
Christopher Kubasik
Member

Posts: 1159


« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2008, 09:47:48 AM »

Hi Ron,

Thanks for the response.

I, too, think my Traveller game is journeying into unknown waters... and the whole thing might tank.  Two other possibilities that leap to my mind are:

1) The Rift becomes a flabby, vestige appendage left over from a previous design -- sitting on the character sheet, forgotten and unused and eventually, simply, removed from Play and the character sheet

2) Using Sorcerer's flexible application of mechanics, we end up creating something new -- which would -- over several weeks of play end up being re-worked and formalized.  More work would then produce cleaner mechanics that could be communicated to other people (and not just remain a shared-understanding "we know how this works at this table.")  In this case, I'd be building a variation on Sorcerer that is might or might not be Sorcerer.  What these solutions/sorting out of ideas might be I simply cannot predict at this time.


Which brings me to a rumination:  While Schism, as an example, removes Demons, adds the definitive fate of PC death, allows mind control and other Abilities precluded in Sorcerer, it retains the themes of alienation.  Which are vital to the fiction that Ron drew from for Sorcerer and in Sorcerer itself.

I might be stepping off a limb here, but it seems to be that when one compares Sorcerer to Sorcerer & Sword, Sorcerer & Sword comes off as a warmer game.  (I'm speaking especially of a Robert E. Howard Conan style game.  Jesse's Gothic Fantasy games using Sorcerer & Sword are pretty much Sorcerer with funny clothes and swords... so there's a big dial on color and tone.)

My point is that alienation is a given in Sorcerer; it starts with PC creation and permeates the whole tale.  I would say that in the Conan stories alienation is a threat, but not a given.  Conan is warm hearted, full of life, a good friend.  He bumps into the objectified interactions other people have with each other, and might even be touched or troubled by them, but he himself is able to recover, have a drink, laugh, and continue being a good and faithful friend.

It's significant in this regard that starting demons in Sorcerer & Sword are an option -- and a PC might never get around to binding one.  Sorcerer may be about dysfunctional relationships, but Sorcerer & Sword offers such relationships as a threat or possibility.  In my view, especially in light of the recent threads about Sorcerer & Sword Humanity definitions, the game is not about, if you will dysfunctional relationships, but about Friendship, and the fact Lore is there is offer tension and threat to Friendship.  In the Conan stories we are not following a point-of-view character dealing intimately with alienation.  Conan simply isn't alienated.  The world has dark corners of alienation -- and those corners hold deep threats.  But it doesn't hold a candle to the starting conditions and thematic thrust of a Sorcerer game.

This is one of the reasons I keep invoking Sorcerer & Sword specifically for my Traveller game.  Friendship is the point-of-view norm, as it is in Howard's tales.  Dabbling in Lore (or, for my game, The Rift), can threaten Friendship and destroy it.

Without Lore is a metaphysical "reality" that can easily plug this thematic element via specific roles of dramatic color (Demons and Rituals) I'm not quite sure how we'll engage these opportunities for the PCs to threaten their own Humanity.  My guess is we're going to find ways.  But we'll have to see.
Logged

"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 17707


WWW
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2008, 10:45:41 AM »

In discussing protagonists, my response would be "yes." However, themes arise from protagonist actions in context, and I think the context for Howard's stories, and nearly all of the material I talk about in the book, is more brutally existential than I'm reading in your post.

Conan is a hopeful figure. The actual realization of that hope is not, as I see it, fully affirmed by the stories. Sometimes it's even overtly squelched, as in Beyond the Black River. Even the final in-chronology Conan story, Hour of the Dragon, ends with only a hope for sustained civilized rule in Aquilonia, with no guarantee.

I'll be curious to see how this works out in your game.

Best, Ron
Logged
Christopher Kubasik
Member

Posts: 1159


« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2008, 02:53:00 PM »

Hi Ron,

Would it make sense if I were to reply, "Yes?" 

In other words, I think you're reading in some sort of contradiction that we don't, in fact, have.  Did I seem to suggest I see Hyboria and all the events of Howard's story as rosy?  If so, I'll be clear now: I don't think such a thing.  Do I think Conan avoids being bruised upon the heart by the world he lives in?  Nope.  Did I gave the impression I think Conan’s good nature and sense of camaraderie changes the nature of the universe one iota?  Because, if I did, let me be clear: No, I don’t think that.

I am saying, simply, that Conan doesn't start with a dysfunctional relationship with a demon.  That the stories don't depend on such a relationship on the part of the protagonist.  And you built a game, Sorcerer & Sword, which, in contrast to Sorcerer, allows exactly that.  This doesn't mean the "world" of either setting is a nicer place. But I find the difference between the two games profound.
Logged

"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield
Finarvyn
Member

Posts: 133


WWW
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2008, 06:20:57 AM »

Mundane, naturalistic Sorcerer, as per Ron's post above. It might be a whole new subset of the Sorcerer rules, with central mechanics like Lore, Power and, I assume, demonic abilities removed.
Using Sorcerer's flexible application of mechanics, we end up creating something new -- which would -- over several weeks of play end up being re-worked and formalized.  More work would then produce cleaner mechanics that could be communicated to other people (and not just remain a shared-understanding "we know how this works at this table.")  In this case, I'd be building a variation on Sorcerer that is might or might not be Sorcerer.  What these solutions/sorting out of ideas might be I simply cannot predict at this time.
These quotes got me to thinking that it would be interesting to have a “core rules” book or two not specifically arcane in nature. In other words, it would be possible to create a Detective Noir RPG or a Space RPG or the like, based on the general mechanics of Sorcerer but at no point actually mentioning demons as supernatural entities.

I know that such books might be really similar to some of the content found in the various Sorcerer supplements, but at the same time they might really open up to a whole new audience. Kind of like the Trollbabe and/or Elfs niche, these would be essentially self-contained RPGs.

Just my two cents.
Logged

Marv (Finarvyn)
Sorcerer * Dresden Files RPG * Amber Diceless
Forge Member since 2004
OD&D Player since 1975
Christopher Kubasik
Member

Posts: 1159


« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2008, 07:59:17 AM »

Hi Marv,

Well, we'll see.

My own view is that while the core conflict mechanic might be ported, the pieces of Sorcerer work really well together and have been balanced carefully.

My own guess is that I might be about to break the game with my Traveller play, and end up going under the hood and having to do a lot of work.  Or not!  It's a very good question (in my view) -- how far can a stretch Sorcerer before it snaps?  Maybe very far, maybe not so far.

I was on the phone two days ago with Ron, and he was giving me the run down of games he tinkered with and was inspired by when designing Sorcerer.  My own guess is that this would actually demand a lot of thought and time for each kind of story.
Logged

"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 17707


WWW
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2008, 11:19:01 AM »

Hi Christopher,

I don't want to have an adversarial exchange about what "my/your post meant." My goal was to agree with your post and add nuances to it, not to oppose it. When you say that Sorcerer & Sword is a warmer game, I am saying, "Because the protagonists are warmer, not necessarily the stories as wholes." Again - this is agreement. Let's not fight over how we agree.

Best, Ron
edited to alter an annoying typo - RE
« Last Edit: October 13, 2008, 11:30:45 AM by Ron Edwards » Logged
Finarvyn
Member

Posts: 133


WWW
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2008, 09:06:12 AM »

I was on the phone two days ago with Ron, and he was giving me the run down of games he tinkered with and was inspired by when designing Sorcerer.
Say ... now that would be a fun list to look through! (I assume it's not quite the same as the "source" inspirations given in any of the supplements.)
Logged

Marv (Finarvyn)
Sorcerer * Dresden Files RPG * Amber Diceless
Forge Member since 2004
OD&D Player since 1975
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 17707


WWW
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2008, 09:28:37 AM »

It was pretty much the same as given in the core book, actually. None of this is secret knowledge; the conversation was more of a review than a revelation, in the context of how carefully Christopher has been reading and playing lately.

In 1990 I was wrestling with the principles I liked in Champions, Cyberpunk, and The Fantasy Trip, and had written many pages of very raw manuscript, including a fair amount of character creation and ritual rules in Interlock (Cyberpunk) terms. Yet in 1987 I'd written and played a rather quick and dirty, very fun fantasy game which was kind of like Champions stripped 'way down to the simplicity of TFT; it had little to do with demons but "summoned creatures" turned out to be really fun. In 1991-1992 I found myself noodling around with the Fighting Fantasy solo books a lot, especially while I was sick with the chicken pox, and I kept finding myself saying, "How does this work while staying so simple?" The TFT influence got a huge boost during this time with the impacts of reading Amber, Prince Valiant, and Over the Edge, the first in terms of author attitude and the latter two in terms of design principles. Eventually I remembered and carefully reviewed my1987 design,  and all the ideas came together, such as the no-target-number concept from Prince Valiant and some of the character creation concepts from Over the Edge. The first really solid alpha for Sorcerer was finished in December 1994. Ongoing playtesting plus play of many other games ensued, and the one which ended up providing the most help was Zero. I've probably missed one or two as I compose this from memory, but these are the main titles involved.

The tricky thing in the first stage is how much I liked the spunky, creative elements of TFT and early Champions while throwing out every shred of their hex-map, facing-based, regimented combat systems, and how much I liked the stark alienation of the first-edition Cyberpunk game and changing its Humanity rule into something very different. All the way through, my guide was 1920s-1930s pulp horror and fantasy, plus a few later authors like Leiber. All of that was resolved by 1994; after that, the tricky thing was to realize how solid my dice-concept was and to keep removing crusty leftovers; you can see this process in action by looking at the confused combat rules in the Apprentice and comparing them with the core book.

As I said, the most important titles are acknowledged in the core book, and I've described it a few times in interviews and articles over the years.

Best, Ron
Logged
Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.16 | SMF © 2011, Simple Machines
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!