[Sorcerer] A Night at the Opera Bizarre

Started by Christoph Boeckle, December 09, 2008, 12:08:04 AM

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Christoph Boeckle

This is session number three from our on-going Carnival Bizarre game. Last session was about getting involved in the Carnival Bizarre, this session is about taking the bull by the horns, as we say in French.

If you're not listening to anything right now, dear reader, and your immediate environment allows for music, consider listening to the band that was provided this session's official soundtrack: Alamaailman Vasarat (alternatively you can also check out their MySpace site). It's really appropriate music to this game, and it's very good. Julien introduced us to this music after his stay in Finland.

Our buy-in

Joel's recent posts about the halt of his Cascadiapunk campaign had got me thinking quite a lot about what was happening at our table. I had felt some floating attention in previous sessions and I was starting to wonder what was more important for us: meeting up or playing that game? And my suspicion was legitimate, as at one point when Thomas and I got up to get some drinks, he told me: "You know, till now, I was wondering what was more important... but now it's really interesting!" I told him that I had been thinking about our commitment to the game too and that this was really the confirmation that there's something uniquely worthwhile in this play. And we went back with the drinks. We didn't talk about that topic any more, and the other two guys didn't mention it either. The rest of the session confirmed our engagement.

How this session rocked

I think it was all about crosses. Great technique Ron, I really love it, it's a good thing you documented it in Sex and Sorcery. I'm going to try and illustrate why.

Julien decided that H.P. Locke was going to buy the whole stock of cylipine (the poison used to kill his father and uncle) off of Ewald, so that he'd have to order some more, allowing Locke to track where he got it from. He arrived disguised as Death and presented himself as a new customer (Ewald was a bit suspicious, but Locke pulled it off in a Will conflict). Locke was operating on bluff mode, he is silver-tongued (one of the Will descriptors for this setting) after all. He told Ewald he was trying to avenge the death of innocent victims of food poisoning, by eliminating a whole gang who was distributing food that had gone bad despite knowing it. He needed lots of cylipine. Ewald was wary, but interested anyway. At this scale, he wasn't interested in money (not a lot of people are interested in money in this city anyway) but rather in an exchange of service: a friend of his happened to be interested in exerting influence on the South Quarter, where that supposed gang was working. He should return later to meet the friend and discuss it. Locke left and went off to seek Falcrest.

At the Avant-garde Opera, where Goete (Jérôme insists that this guy has his name spelled without an 'h') had prepared the first presentation of a new work, lots of interesting people were gathered. Falcrest was here, since he was quite interested in the discussion about expeditions outside the city that was to follow the presentation, Gianluca Torricelli (the director of an opera in the South Quarter), and Arthur, who was on a mission to spy on Falcrest. Jérôme decided to have his demon possess Torricelli just before the end of a scene. Up to now, his demon was living inside his mind, kind of hibernating (not quite standard Possessor I understand). So Goete walks up to Torricelli's box, shakes his hand and sits down beside him. That hand-shake was what allowed the demon to Hop over to Torricelli. The demon went into immediate Need and so Torricelli stood up and applauded like a mad-man. Good thing Jérôme had timed this with the ending of a scene in the play. Arthur was seated in a box opposite to the two and by chance (a successful Lore contest), noticed the Hop and the brief glow in Torricelli's eyes. Jérôme conceded the Lore check for identifying Goete as a sorcerer, considering the act as way too obvious. So, now Arthur knows that Goete is a sorcerer!
That's about when we went to fetch the drinks and had that discussion with Thomas.
Torricelli went on scene at the end of play and made a speech about how brilliant the show had been and relayed the information Goete had given him about the philosophical discussion that would take place on the theme of travel and that everyone was invited.

After that, most of the public left. Arthur left Alyssia to spy on Goete and Falcrest while he went off to infiltrate Falcrest's mansion. Going out, he passes Locke without noticing him. However, Locke identifies his telltale (a large black cape) and doesn't give a shit.

There he talks to Brian Falcrest and asks him who is in charge of the food distribution in the South Quarter. It's a man named Regazzoni, and indeed, Falcrest has some ideas about extending his influence down South... On his way out, Locke meets his mother coming to the ball. She's happy to see him, but he can't stay and he'll come visit her on the following day.

In the meantime, Goete barely (actually, the roll succeeded quite well) catches a glimpse of a waiter dropping something suspicious into his wine glass (WTF?). He suspects Falcrest, as he's the guy in charge of the banquet, so he proposes him the glass. As Brian is about to drink it, the possessed and completely drunken Gianluca Torricelli crashes on him, spilling the poisoned wine. A Hop is attempted on the waiter and fails! By the time Goete asks Falcrest about that waiter, the poisoner has disappeared.

Back at Ewald's, Locke meets his contact... and it's of course Oskar the clown (problematic anecdote: Locke had sent one of his assistants dressed up as a clown earlier on to get some mundane medicine, so that the demon lock could get her need satisfied... this might bring up some interesting situations later on). He asks some questions for which neither Julien nor Locke were prepared and basically invents some bullshit. For some reason, Oskar seems to buy it all and is ready to get into the deal, so as to take over Regazzoni's market share.

At the Falcrest mansion (okay, always Falcrest this, Falcrest that, but Julien promised that he'll kill him soon, and he has very good reasons for it, read on:) Arthur gets in unnoticed and starts looking for some papers. We roll, three victories for Thomas: an unsigned letter written on the same paper as the one he had gotten himself from the Scarlet Jester, congratulating Brian for his good work in the "Neuveville" region of the city. Also, a letter from a woman named Elizabeth saying that after her husband had died, she needed some time to think about the proposal, but why not... (Julien: OMG! the BITCH! she's gonna die too!)

Ok, so, that was another buttload of fiction. What a nerd I am! But look at all the crosses (says he, trying to justify)! A major element of the success of this session. Everybody was hooked at one another's scenes because it's now very obvious that a lot of characters are important to at least two PCs in different ways.

Updated map of characters

So, very little new stuff this time: a poor Regazzoni which isn't clearly tied to the other characters yet (but who seems to be in the focus of Locke, the Clown and Falcrest!) and a new relationship revealed between Falcrest and Elizabeth Locke. However, quite a few characters were brought to the foreground and linked to the player-characters' stories. The situation is like a tightly wound spring, I feel, and soon everything is going to go up in flames!

Humanity and particularities of the Carnival Bizarre

Jérôme rolled Humanity for Goete's gratuitous command to possess Torricelli (which we affectionately call "Mr. Bling Bling") and lost: 2 left! Yeah, Friedrich is starting to forget that even Gianluca is a human being and not an object after all.
Locke will surely be rolling soon for the upcoming death of Regazzoni (he really is a straw man in this whole affair).

One thing that keeps coming up is this: nobody is really in need of money. Okay, some people are more comfortable than others, but that's just the way things are... So, how do you get somebody to do something? You help her. Or manipulate him. You don't just give out heaps of cash. Interesting, but challenging. If Locke had had lots of money, he needn't be trying to manipulate Ewald and Oskar and kill Regazzoni, just to know where the poison that killed his dad and uncle came from. Julien promised he'd kill the Clown and Ewald, too.


Hmm, I just need to play on the consequences, really. I've got some "secrets" up my sleeve: for example, why is everybody so mean to Goete? Will the Clown screw Locke? What is the Scarlet Jester's organization? And now that all the character's stories have been innocently woven together, I just need to pull one string and see how everything falls together.
I also want to play out the consequences for Torricelli having been possessed and appearing in public completely drunk (his fiancée might not appreciate), the upcoming discussion between Locke and his mum, and Arthur realizing that some things are very fishy in the organization (the guy he spied on seems to be working with him).

I think everything is clear, the anxiousness I was talking about before has gone down drastically. Sometimes I'm not quite sure about some points, for example, do demons roll Lore to detect a sorcerer's telltale? (The only rules question I have for the while being.)

Ron Edwards

Hi Christophe,

Crosses are great fun. I don't know what I'd do without them. I'm really glad they're working well for your group, and given the setting concept, I think they're absolutely necessary.

Regarding the upcoming sessions, you're absolutely right that consequences are your main task. I suggest being quite generous regarding the answers to the questions you listed. Or to put it differently, pull the string.

In my experiences, one of the most interesting aspects of a Sorcerer story at this stage is that there is no way to tell how many sessions remain. Sometimes it's one. Sometimes it's ten. Just play hard and well, and everyone will find out.

QuoteSometimes I'm not quite sure about some points, for example, do demons roll Lore to detect a sorcerer's telltale? (The only rules question I have for the while being.)

I'm 99% sure that the rule is, demons automatically identify sorcerers for what they are. (If you find a place where the text says different, go with the text. I'm running off memory.) Demons' Telltales, though, work the same for demons to perceive as they do for sorcerers: Lore vs. a single die.

Best, Ron

Christoph Boeckle

Hi Ron

Thanks for the feedback. I've found a reference to the rule you're 99% sure about in the Training Run, p.83, and it does indeed confirm your thoughts. I find it interesting that demons don't necessarily spot each other as demons (couldn't find the reference to this one, but it has obviously informed the writing of the example scenario).