Sorcerer Sci-fi: Demons of Mercury

Started by Judd, November 22, 2008, 04:49:19 PM

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I've got a bunch of Sorcerer setting ideas that I want to tinker with and this latest, set a few hundred years in the future, in a recently colonized solar system, is a google document that grew a bunch all at once and now grows a little bit every day.

Pete and Aaron are old buddies, both recently returned to Ithaca.  When they got back and I realized my Friday night gaming slot was wide open, I proposed that the three of us jump on that slot with both feet.  We play at Pete's place, so he can put his daughter to sleep before the game and not have to deal with a baby-sitter, which is great, Pete's house is always a hospitable place.

It is a nice thing when you introduce two friends whom you knew separately and they become friends on their own and Pete and Aaron seem to have bonded well, getting together without me, which I love.  This is all to say that we are a nice, tight crew.

So, we played Burning Wheel for a few months and when we got to a good chapter-ending spot, with the usurper-duke dead but Pete's bastard's ducal throne possessed in name and title but not in hand, enemies on the kingdom's soil for Aaron's knight to deal with, etc.  It was a good place to rest, knowing that we would get back on it.

I asked the guys if we could play some Sorcerer, as this sci-fi setting was brewing in my head and I wanted to see it in action.  They were down with it and off we went.

Pete had an idea for a demon and a visionary scientist.  Pete sat down and got to writing, as he was more familiar with Sorcerer than Aaron.

QuoteDr. Gabe Kusonova

Humanity: 3

Telltale: Constant tactile reinforcement

Stamina: 2 Average Urbanite
Will: 3 Revolutionary
Lore: 5 Science / Hack

Cover: 3 Wetware Specialist
Price: -1 to all die rolls unless under physical attack Paranoid

Kicker: The doctor finds actual alien tech in the Phaethontias Gap (area on the dark side of Mercury).

Back of the Sheet


Bjorn Swalbrdsson: wetware mentor/visionary
Fonteas Feed: online digest that rants about alien finds around solar system and the cover-ups
Phaenthias Gap: Area of Possible Alien Tech


Guilome LaFleur: Boss who stole idea to get ahead
Emerssion Technology: The ultimate in solo gaming
Mr Caldor: Gray Market Connection


Doug Thoreau: Long suffering technician in my department
Darlene Nguyen: Bookish girlfriend who is a huge conspiracy theorist and is turned on by wetware
Neural Interact Tech: Wire-heading humanity
Coughy Corporation: company that employs me, wetware giant


Demon Name: Sense-Web
Demon Type: Inconspicuous
Telltale: Slight shimmer at certain angles

Stamina: 4
Will: 5
Lore: 4
Power: 5

Desire: Sensual Gratification

Need: Regular to constant intense stimulation causing master's neuro-humor levels to fluctuate.


Perception: vastly improved senses, 360 degree sight
Special Damage: hyper-sonics to disable an opponent
Ranged - short for hypersonics

Aaron had a harder time.  After talking to Paul Czege about it, I think it is a kind of Positioning vs. Resource kind of thing.

In Burning Wheel, everything on your character sheet has a concrete mechanical bonus, everything gives or takes away a die in some roll at some point.  With Sorcerer, most of the character sheet is there to provide context to the rolls, but not necessarily adding or taking away from the rolls themselves.

As I said, Stamina descriptors do not take or add dice, but they do say how you will use your Stamina.  If you are an Average Urbanite, you are not going to make a stamina roll in order to do a gun disarm and chop to the throat that you might do if you had the Military descriptor, for example.

Also, science fiction isn't Aaron's bag quite as much as fantasy is, so we all needed to talk a bit about the look and feel of the setting, what space-ships look like, how things work, etc.  I realize that with Burning Wheel, Aaron and I have a short-hand that we rely on, the games we have mostly played together are BW and Dogs in the Vineyard.

That said, I was happy with the way it worked out and the back of his sheet came out well, with even more detailed just in us talking about the various names and places.

QuoteCaptain Ignatius Solomon

Humanity: 6

Telltale: Burned-out eyes

Stamina: 1 Fragile
Will: 6 Revolutionary / Psionics
Lore: 3 Nexus

Cover: Corsair Captain of Asshur
Price: -1 to all casual interactions Scarred

Kicker: Confederate Patrol found Black Rock.  We have to gun them down before they get word out.

Back of the Sheet


Void Corps - responsible for Project: Primarch

Black Rock - solar base

Hand of Khaine - ship


Asshurian Springs - training site

Carolyn - ex-wife


Sons of Confederacy: pirates, all former confederate military

Senator Allasian - 1st son

Admiral Cendar - mercury station

Demon Name: Khaine
Demon Type: Parasite
Telltale: Black oil in eyes and veins

Stamina: 2
Will: 4
Lore: 3
Power: 4

Desire: Power

Need: Destroy ships


Command: space ships, when its host is in a command center of said ship
Perception: radiation

So, the idea of using the solar system as a science fiction setting has been in my head for a good, long while.  I proposed to Joshua that we play a Shock: game with each game being a different planet.  Schedules and such, gamers spread among different states, the game never came together but the idea of a solar system sci-fi setting stuck.

And here we are.  Next up, looking things over and coming up with the Bangs.  I feel like I have plenty to work with and I'm happy with the toys Aaron and Pete have given me to play with.

Also, I have some ideas of what I want to put in the text for this, if it ends up being something publishable.  We'll see.

Not sure if this is AP or PT, Ron.


Ron Edwards

Hi Judd!

One quibble: a score's Descriptor is best understood as the way the score got to where it is. What you said, that it determines narrations of actions, is true as far as it goes, but it should not be treated as a full determining constraint.

A character with the combat background you describe can haul off and slug someone in an unsophisticated way too, for instance. Or more extremely, a person described as arrogant may, in play, use Will in a different way entirely. The limits apply only from weak/limited outwards, such as an untrained person not being played as throwing sophisticated martial arts techniques.

Again, to be absolutely clear, playing off-descriptor (logically, as I hope to have made clear) uses exactly the same dice as playing on-descriptor.

I'm glad you reminded me about the Darkpages thread, because I'm embarked on that route myself.

Best, Ron


Quote from: Ron Edwards on November 23, 2008, 05:11:39 PM
Again, to be absolutely clear, playing off-descriptor (logically, as I hope to have made clear) uses exactly the same dice as playing on-descriptor.

Yeah, having he descriptor effect the dice is a mistake I made in the first year or so of playing Sorcerer but it cleared up upon a re-read for a later Dictionary of Mu session.

Quote from: Ron Edwards on November 23, 2008, 05:11:39 PMI'm glad you reminded me about the Darkpages thread, because I'm embarked on that route myself.

I am curious to hear what you think of that one.  I am sorry I didn't write about our game when it was more fresh in my mind.

Marshall Burns

Hey Judd, I just want to say thank you for including the back of the sheet in the character writeups.  I've been looking for examples of that for quite some time.



Quote from: Marshall Burns on November 24, 2008, 09:06:38 PM
Hey Judd, I just want to say thank you for including the back of the sheet in the character writeups.  I've been looking for examples of that for quite some time.


Man is it important.

What I really wanted to make clear in this AP write-up is that different people process that kind of background info differently.

Pete and I are so much in tune with one another after years of discussing books, movies, comics and such that he just flipped his sheet over, grabbed a pencil and started writing.

Aaron needed to talk it out and then write it out.  His ideas were in his head but if I just left him there to write it, it was not going to happen and that is fine.  We play these games in groups so that we can bounce shit off one another.  All of Aaron's great ideas were locked in his head and just needed a touch of coaxing and lots of fun conversation.

My dad, who is not playing in this game but made up a Dictionary of Mu character a few years ago, would sit there, processing for a few minutes - asking some questions about the setting after reading a dictionary entry, then write furiously, not wanting to be interrupted.

With the back of the character sheets, we need to watch out for these different methods and let the context get out into the world however it needs to.


Just ran across this thread:

Character Concept Brainstorm with my Girlfriend

And not only do I love it because of personal reasons, it seems to line up with some of this thread's ideas about the process of making shit up together, particularly making up that player character.

David Berg

I'm really curious to hear how Sense-Web and Khaine were Contacted!
here's my blog, discussing Delve, my game in development