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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 32 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: How can I best run a game of sorcerer?  (Read 3124 times)
weaselheart
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Posts: 19


« on: May 02, 2009, 01:38:19 PM »

Hi,

I've been a lurker on these boards for a year or so, and have thought about posting a couple of times, but only recently worked out what to say. I'm posting here in the hope someone can tell me something that gives me a bit of a nudge forward, as I feel I'm missing something in the way I run sorcerer but I'm not sure what it is.

Some background. I've GM'd for more than twenty years, starting with red-box D&D. My favorite games (other than sorcerer) are Amber, Everway, Houses of the Blooded and Mortal Coil. I've found I really like games where the players are active contributors to the plot as well as the gm.

I've recently finished running a sorcerer campaign set in the far future. The characters were people who for one reason or another had become trapped in the space between downtrodden peasant and corporate drone. Essentially, they were fighting to preserve their freedom. The game's over now and we all had a lot of fun, and yet I can't help thinking I didn't use the full extent of sorcerer more. For example, the players only rolled against their humanity two or three times in the whole 8 sessions, which makes me feel I didn't challenge them enough in that arena.

Here's where I think the problem is. I know two quite different ways to run a game:

1. I write up the scenario in advance. The players enter scene 1, play it out. Enter scene 2, play it out. Etc.
To be honest, I haven't run games this way in ages, although I might if it was a pre-gen for a one-nighter.

An example of this approach would be,

"You are in a dungeon - there is a corridor in front of you with a door to the left and a door to the right. Which one do you open?"

2. I stat up baddies, decide what the main forces of antagonism in the world are, and how they will hit the players on day one, then wait to see what the players do. More or less, I wing it from there. If the characters run, I send people after them. If they attack, my people flee, regroup, etc.

An example of this approach would be,

"You are sitting in the cafe opposite when you see the secret police break down your house door and run in with dogs. What do you do?"

Now I think this one is closer to the spirit of what sorcerer wants, and the one I used, but I'm beginning to believe I'm still not getting it fully. For example, the players are still pretty reactive and expect me to have a coherent reason why everything happens worked out beforehand. At the moment it feels like I'm using sorcerer to run a game the way I always have, and all I'm taking from it are funky demons and a cool dice mechanic - yet I know from reading around that there's a lot more to it than that.

So, my question is, is there a third way of running a game that I don't yet understand, and which would make more sense when running sorcerer? Or, put another way, how do you prepare the world-stuff for a game of sorcerer and how much freedom do you give the players to add to it?

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John Adams
Member

Posts: 90


« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2009, 04:42:52 AM »

Hi Weaselheart,

I'm in the middle of my first Sorcerer game, coming at it from a situation similar to yours.

You're well on your way with your second style of prep. Now make it a story about the PCs. Take Sorcerer's Premise and build it into the PCs and your prep. Use Humanity.

Premise: You have tremendous power. So, what do you want? How far will you go to get it?

Your players answer the first question up front when creating thier Sorcerers, often right in the Kicker. The GMs job is to make them answer the second question again and again though play (usually through bangs) until that character reaches a satisfying conclusion. This is where Humanity comes in. "How far will you go?" is almost always a challenge to whatever Humanity is in this particular campaign. If Humanity = Love, getting what you want means risking something you love and will usually trigger a Humanity check.

There's a feedback loop. A player tries to get something, the GM challenges the Sorcerer's Humanity in order to get it. Sometimes the player will turn aside and say, "not worth it"; sometimes he'll say "HELL YEAH!" and drive right on through. Now the GM has a better idea of which buttons to push. "Oh, you jumped at that huh? Well how about NOW?" Escalating, upping the ante each time until the Sorcerer is destroyed or gets what he wants. There is no sytematic way to stop short of Humanity = 0, the dramatic arc will go where it goes and when everyone agrees it's over, it's over. Usually there will be an obvious climax.
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Alan
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« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2009, 05:45:05 AM »

Hi Weaselheart,

Yes, go with the second approach. Be sure to use Sorcerer's character creation and game preparation to support this. Each character will have a kicker that you should use as the center of each PCs involvement in the game. Each character sheet has a diagram on the back for the player to write what people and things are important to their character. Make sure they fill this out (and they can add to it during play). Use that as inspiration. Also, between character prep and first session, make a relationship map of the NPCs -- such a map is great for knowing how PC actions will push NPC buttons and who the NPCs will pressure.
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- Alan

A Writer's Blog: http://www.alanbarclay.com
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2009, 07:11:15 AM »

Hello! You've received some good advice so far.

Your second way is partway there. I'll add these points to it and maybe you'll see how to get further.

1. You don't have to prepare a story, or even half a story, and then figure out how the characters "are involved." Instead, before character creation, consider only very basic notions about NPCs or images that you find compelling, for yourself. Then, after character creation, begin with their Kickers. Use those as your primary preparation material, bringing in your stuff to round it out and deepen it.

2. The diagrams on the backs of the sheets are a big deal. They're the main reason I don't like to prep and play in the same get-together. They're also hard for new players to understand, because the things they're used to using as benchmarks (the scores, the descriptors) do not act as constraints for what the character is like or what he or she can do. Instead, the diagram is more of an indicator of where the character is at and what he or she is "about" at this time.

3. Think of every demon as a driving, fully present NPC. The best way to do that is to understand the difference between Desire and Need.
- Desire is an obsession, an ideology. The demon likes it, wants to do it, wants to be around it, and promotes it for others when possible. The sorcerer has no obligation regarding the Desire and the demon doesn't suffer if it doesn't get it.
- Need is an addiction. The demon can't get it for itself (and if it did, it doesn't count!), and relies totally on the sorcerer just like a pusher. If it doesn't get it, it suffers.

At the beginning of every session, punch the demon's behavior up regarding these two things. You can relax on the Need if it's just received it recently, but otherwise, play that demon according to the Desire and Need, as if it were your own favorite player-character.

And finally, please put aside the Apprentice. That is not quick-play Sorcerer. Many of its rules are obsolete. It is available only because people have found it interesting to see the game's design history. If you try to read and apply it as if it were the game, you'll get a clunky, con-oriented GM's-scenario play that is not especially compelling compared to what the game can really do.

Best, Ron
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weaselheart
Member

Posts: 19


« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2009, 08:17:05 AM »

I've put in answers to Ron's specific points, but all the answers so far have helped clarify things. Thank you, it's very much appreciated.


... after character creation, begin with their Kickers. Use those as your primary preparation material, bringing in your stuff to round it out and deepen it.

I did use the kickers in order to create my bad guys, but I wonder if I let this slip in play. For example, each character had nanites to keep them healthy. One player's kicker was that someone cancelled her ID's so her nanites went out of date and she started to get the plague. At the start of the game I described black veins running along her hands, but then went for several sessions without referring to it again.

Should I be returning to the kicker time and again in play? I.e. is that "what the game's about?"



The diagrams on the backs of the sheets are a big deal. <...> the diagram is more of an indicator of where the character is at and what he or she is "about" at this time.

That's very interesting, and not at all what I used the diagrams for. I used them to tie up the NPC backgrounds at the start, so that where one character had someone he hated, that npc worked for the corporation that turned off another characters nanites. But the idea of using the diagrams as a window into the character's mind is very thought-provoking...

In fact, this brings up a question that I think I've struggled on with a number of "indie" games and I'm beginning to think may be part of the reason we as a group are not getting the most out of them - how much do the players have to define up-front to make the game run well? Put another way, is a clearly stated character ambition required for sorcerer? The reason I ask is that it became clear during play that most of the characters didn't really want anything. The girl who had the plague simply wanted to get back to being healthy, while her friend wanted nothing more than a quiet life. In fact one player told me that he usually finds out during a campaign what his character wants and thinks rather than defining it up front.

I think my biggest confusion with running sorcerer may be the quote "how far will you go to get what you want". I think we usually start games without defining the "what you want" part, and in order to compensate in sorcerer I ran it like I would an ordinary rpg. At least that's the way I'm feeling now after reading your answers. Would you say that I'm nearer understanding, or have I missed the point completely?


What I'm wondering is if I really need to ask my players to define a burning character ambition as well as a kicker. I.e is it:

  • A finds his credit cards cancelled and house repossessed (kicker only), or
  • A longs to defeat B, and then one day he finds his credit cards cancelled and his house reposessed (ambition + kicker).


Think of every demon as a driving, fully present NPC. The best way to do that is to understand the difference between Desire and Need.

This is interesting. I think I managed the first point, mainly because one of the characters died in play so I let him play the demons. He's a great actor and managed to give each one a different personality and character. I also managed to get the desires in there. One character had to watch the news every game, while another had to cause trouble. But I don't think I pushed need at all. We probably played for eight or nine games, and I had need come up in two or three of them. That's something I'll watch out for when we play again and try to put it more centre-stage.


And finally, please put aside the Apprentice.

I haven't used it. I have the main books (sorcerer, sword, soul and sex) and a number of different settings. I think my problem is that I've never played in a game of sorcerer I haven't run, so I haven't seen any good habits to learn from.




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Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2009, 09:30:42 AM »

I think one of the most important points you've mentioned in your last post is the wants/needs thing.

These can't be half-assed. They can seem easy to fulfill, but if you can't think of some way to put the thumbscrews to the sorcerer with their demon's wants and needs, they're weak.

I've only really played the game a few sessions, as a player. I don't recall all the details of my demon, but I do remember its want. It wanted pleasure. My dude was a college-jock turned cop after a weird college incident made him wind up with a parasite demon. We drifted the rules slightly and allowed the parasite to communicate directly with my PC... by using the PCs own lips. The GM put this to wicked use a few times. My character was proactive about feeding his demon's need.. regularly eating the best foods, buying the most luxurious clothes, bedding and housewares, and frequently went clubbing so as to find himself bringing home some young thing.

But the demon was never satisfied. My PC went to the bathroom, where the demon used his lips to proposition some guy. My dude wasn't all that interested in the idea of man-sex, but the demon's ideas of pleasure were different. We didn't play long enough for me to really rub against the strictures, but that beginning was enough to make me realize the cost of consorting with demons. I'm dead certain Alex (my GM) was going to have all sorts of fun in store for me.
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jburneko
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Posts: 1429


« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2009, 12:22:15 PM »

Hello.

Ambition is VERY important to Sorcerer.  It's probably one of the bigger beginner mistakes.  People create characters who "stumble" into demons or some how have demons thrust upon them.  The game doesn't really support that.  In many ways the game is about arrogance.  So one of the questions you should ask your players is WHY did your character summon a demon.  What was SO important that violating the laws of time and space seemed like a "good idea at the time."

I'm struggling with this a bit in my current Sorcerer & Sword game.  I have a player who is having trouble keying into this.  Her character is very "Whoa is me.  I never asked for this!  I must suffer the burden of my demon!"  And I have to keep re-orienting her.  I say phrases like "Demons are a means to your ends.  What are your ends?"  I also said something like "Imagine what percentage of the population are CEOs of fortune 500 companies.  Now what percentage of THEM are willing to rip holes in the fabric of existence to bring forth a Thing From Beyond to help them get there?  That's the kind of person your character should be."

That said "ambition" here doesn't have to be world shattering.  For example "settling down to a quite life" isn't all that bad *if* the character yearns for that solitude so badly that they're willing to summon a demon to get it.  So it's more like "God, if I could only have some *fucking* peace and quite!"  Here, demon, clean my house!  Go to work for me!  Take care of me!  Notice how one is sort of reasonable and the other borders on an childishness.  The key word there is *borders.*  It may not be and play should look at that point carefully.

Does that make sense?

Jesse
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weaselheart
Member

Posts: 19


« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2009, 01:55:40 AM »

Hello.

Ambition is VERY important to Sorcerer.  It's probably one of the bigger beginner mistakes.  People create characters who "stumble" into demons or some how have demons thrust upon them.  The game doesn't really support that.  In many ways the game is about arrogance.  So one of the questions you should ask your players is WHY did your character summon a demon.  What was SO important that violating the laws of time and space seemed like a "good idea at the time."

...

Does that make sense?

Yes, that makes a lot of sense. I have lightbulbs going off in my head at the moment, because I've just realised that one of the players took a weak demon so as not to be beholden to it, while another chanced upon her demon instead of summoning it deliberately.

In fact this resolves another of my confusions about the game, which was - why should I be constantly hitting the players with demon needs and desires? They felt like a diversion from the story, rather than the actual meat of it. I was always asking internally:

  • why should I keep tormenting the character with this demon?

whereas I think now the question I should be asking is more:

  • What do they want so badly that they are prepared to put up with all this crap to get it?

Strangely enough, I've just been back through the rulebook and it's all in there. There's advice about making a character with arrogance and playing demons to the hilt. Like most things in life, though, I guess it's hard to see the subtleties the first time round, so thank you for that. Now I need to go talk to my players about playing arrogant and willful characters :D

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jburneko
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« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2009, 10:40:52 AM »

Strangely enough, I've just been back through the rulebook and it's all in there. There's advice about making a character with arrogance and playing demons to the hilt.

That isn't strange at all.  That's a normal experience.  Around here we frequently make the joke that the book IS a demon and rewrites itself when you're not looking.  I've been playing the game for around eight years now and have read the book cover to cover numerous times.  Each time I find something I swear wasn't there before.

Jesse
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chance.thirteen
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Posts: 211


« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2009, 10:54:43 AM »

So what is it you want so badly that you summon Sorcerer?

Experiences like with the rulebook are what make me really enjoy reading essays where the author tries to take you from a typical RPG approach or experience then mold it to the newer ideas that have been discussed here and elsewhere these many years. I see where they are coming from and where they are trying to get to, so all the little decisions build nicely into a larger change and you fell like you have it all down.
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weaselheart
Member

Posts: 19


« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2009, 11:23:04 AM »

ok, I've been thinking about the answers people have been giving on this thread (which have been excellent and very much appreciated by the way), and I think I'm nearer to getting it. To check my understanding, please feel free to comment on this straw man of how to run a game:



The first session

1. Everyone gets together and we mash out ideas for a world.

2. We define humanity and what demons are in the game fiction. Humanity is what I'll be challenging the characters with later, and demons will be my prime tools. This is because in taking a demon, the character has given themselves access to a source of great power but has to constantly satisfy a relationship to do so.

3. Players generate characters. They do this with a lot of talking between themselves and me, so some of the details on the back of the character sheets can be connected as the characters coalesce. It's not important if the characters know each other or form a "party", because their backgrounds and relationships will be interrelated anyway.

3. Players generate demons for their characters. An important question here is: what's so important to the character that they've meddled in sorcery to get it? The character should be arrogant. In at least that one issue, nothing should be more important to them than what they want. That's why they're a sorcerer.

4. The players come up with kickers. This has to be something important enough that it changes their life into "before it happens", and "after it happens". It should also allow them many different ways to respond. It's a bonus, though not essential, if the kickers are interrelated in some way too.

Session one ends.

5. I start with the kickers, and look at ways to generate major npc's and world pieces out of them. Each kicker also gives me a good idea of what is important to that character.

6. I then look at the backs of the sheets, which gives me an insight into how the character relates to other things and people. This also lets me know what's important for the characters and hence what I can put pressure on.

7. I connect up some more of the bits on the back of the character sheets. Some connections will be overt, and discussed in the second session. Some will be covert such that the players will only find out that Uncle Albert was in the drugs trade when it comes up in play.

8. Armed with all this, I come up with a load of bangs to throw at the characters next session. These can be set-piece action things (two guys burst in with guns) or surprises (it's your cousin's head in the bin).

Session two begins

9. I check with the players that any overt connections I made between the items on their character sheets when they weren't present are ok to be used.

10. Play begins, by asking each player to react to their kicker.

11. Whenever there's an opportunity, I put pressure on the character's humanity by giving them a choice between, for example, power or humanity.

12. I drive the demons hard onto the characters by getting them to insist their needs be met. Needs are those things each demon MUST have or it will rebel.

13. I also ask for the demon's desires to be met, so the demon who likes fighting will constantly whisper that the guy at the end of the bar is drinking his pint in an insulting way. This can be ignored, but it's psychological.

14. If play lulls, I cut to the bangs.

more sessions occur

15. I keep returning to the ramifications of the kicker. If a character manages to resolve theirs, that part of the game is over for them. They adjust the character to show its effects, come up with a new kicker and begin again.

16. I drive the players into synchronous relationships with the game material by using their backgrounds and connections so that they see patterns in each other's stories even if they never formally meet.

17. If possible, I drive towards a game where all players resolve their kicker in the same session, ending this series for now.



Now, assuming this is ok, and bears some resemblance to the truth, do I have to add a line about character motivation? I ask because I've been reading this thread about kickers, where Christopher Kubasik said:

The way I look at stories is this:

There's this guy. And there's this thing that matters to this guy more than anything. And he's not acting on this thing, because either he doesn't have to because he's kind of got what he wants and there's no threat. Or he doesn't have what he wants, but the opportunity to get it hasn't arrived, and this guy's desire seems improbable anyway.

And then SOMETHING HAPPENS. A threat or an opportunity arrives. And BAM! the story begins!

... and it strikes me that I look at stories the same way too, and that may be why I'm confused. I've always thought that stories are about what the protagonist wants or needs, and that the kicker is the change in their life when they finally have a chance to go for it. But, reading that thread and having written the prep list above I'm now not so sure. I can in fact think of two possibilities:

  • As the quote says, there should be another step which is what the character wants.
  • There's no other step. Resolving the kicker in the way given above is sufficient to generate story by itself.

i.e. must the character's desire be stated up front, or is it emergent in play?

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jburneko
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« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2009, 11:56:31 AM »

Hey,

It's generally sufficient to understand why the character summoned the demon and for the kicker to "touch" that in someway but it can be a very light touch.

Here's an example from the game I'm playing right now.  The character is Valmori.  Valmori has a parasite demon tattoo.  Valmori is a soldier in an organization that hunts and captures (and if necessary kills) other sorcerers.  This order also acts as a training ground for other sorcerers who wish to help in the cause.  Valmori's tattoo helps be an effective soldier.  That's what he wants.

His Kicker is that a group of young trainee Sorcerrers (like teenagers) have started a rebellion within the organization.

See, that Kicker doesn't get in the way of Valmori wants.  He wants to be an effective soldier fighting demons and because of his tattoo he basically has that.  But it does challenge it in that people on his own side have turned against him and they're kids.  His demon is  powerful enough that he could go in there and splatter them all over the walls no problem.  But does he want to do that?

Things I added before play:

On Valmori's character sheet lists a noble who has a grudge against him.  So I made one of the three rebelling students the son of this noble who basically considers Valmori to have kidnapped his son for folding into this society.  So now if Valmori DOES go in there and splatter them all over the walls he's just ramped up the anger of this guy who was already pissed to begin with.

There's another PC named Lillia who is also a member of the order.  She's much closer to the training side than the soldier side.  On her sheet she has listed a close friend and adviser named Morena.  I decided that three students have kidnapped Morena and placed a possessor demon in her named Malfrond the Devourer.

Also on Valmori's sheet was a rival soldier named Gradil.  I decided that Gradil and Morena are in love.  I decided that Gradil is already on the scene when Valmori arrives.

So when Valmori shows up he discovers that the son of the noble who has a beef with him has placed a possessor demon in the lover of his rival who is already there all worked up and ready to kill someone.  We played this scene last night.  It was awesome.

But you can also see that this scene has nothing to do with "standing in the way" in terms of the specific reasons he has a demon.  It is not threatening his opportunity to be a solider.  But it has EVERYTHING to do with the priorities of having that power and position.

Jesse
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weaselheart
Member

Posts: 19


« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2009, 03:50:40 PM »

Hi,

That's very illuminating, and not just because it's shown me how to prep very clearly. You've also made me wonder how to get my players to play this way. To paraphrase what I think you've done, I'd say you've linked up elements from the back of the sheets in ways that make a powerful story. You've taken whatever the players wrote as givens in the game and made them into moral choices. But for me there's an unstated corollary - the players have to commit to what they write. And that's where I think we've been going wrong. You see, usually we do something like:

Hi, I'm Ulric. I'm a dwarven bard. My hobby is waltzing. I have a long grey beard and a tall sharp axe. My brother has a fishmongers on Trade Street and my Uncle collects elderberries.

... whereas several sessions later it would be

I am Ulric Na Thorn, spurned lover and vengeful poet. I spend endless hours with sycophants at court, learning their secrets in order to one day bring down the whole rotten dynasty. I've spent the last twenty years waiting while my beard has grown long and grey, but in my chamber I have an axe with a blade like a razor, ready for the night that will finally avenge my sister. My Brother and Uncle may be content to act like serfs, but not me

What I mean is, Sorcerer appears to require a character that players are committed to from the off, and with details written down that are important about that character, but many of my players have told me they prefer to make vague characters and see how they develop later. It looks to me that if we think this way we're heading for difficulties.

Two examples:

a) A player adds something in later, like a sister that wasn't on the sheet.

This probably won't be as woven into play as those things he started with.


b) A player who, after the game has begun, wants to delete something he's written. eg not having an uncle any more.

This could well break the way plot develops out of character elements.


In other words, I have to tell the players they have to define a lot more than they have been doing up front, and not change it. Also, if something goes onto the back of their sheet they have to act like it's important to the character. Up to now they've been seeing it as just colour, something they could go back on if a better idea came to them.

So... interesting. Thank you.

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jburneko
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« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2009, 09:43:02 PM »

What I mean is, Sorcerer appears to require a character that players are committed to from the off, and with details written down that are important about that character, but many of my players have told me they prefer to make vague characters and see how they develop later. It looks to me that if we think this way we're heading for difficulties.

I suggest that this is a habit born of a long history of... well, NOT playing the way Sorcerer is designed to be played.  Most people who are either new to RPGs or have kind of mixed or short play history tend to build characters ready for Sorcerer play very well.  However, people with long and particular play histories do not because they're used to having whatever priorities they set for the character from the on-set being ignored or marginalized in favor of whatever priorities the GM needs them to have in order to make the plot he has in mind work.

Such players are therefore trained to make "sketchy characters" who then key into whatever cues the GM gives them about what they "should" care about.  It's basically a trust issue.  They have to trust that if they say, "I have a romantic rival" that you as the GM are really going to commit to playing that romantic rival in challenging and productive way and not just as manipulative tool to get them to do what you want.

And even when you do have that commitment players sometimes misread the situation and assume you're trying to get them to do something specific.  In my own example having Morena possessed could be an example of that.  In my mind ANYTHING could have happened to Morena.  If she had been killed that would be fine.  If the demon in her had been banished that would have been fine.  If the demon had been re-bound to someone else that would have been fine.  ANYTHING would have been fine because the situation is compelling in its own right.  In our specific case the demon ended up taking a pretty bad beating and managed to run away.  So possessed Morena is still out there somewhere.

This is the second story I've played with these people so they're pretty keyed into how the game works.  But had they not they might have misread the situation and jumped to conclusions like, "Ah, you obviously want me to kill my rivals lover so we'll fight each other" or something like that.  Didn't happen with this group but I've run into that outlook before.  Where the play keys into something in the scene and assumes that's what I "want" them to do and then sits there kind of uncomfortably because they'd really rather to something else but are trying to "play along" like they're supposed to.  I usually point out other courses of action or flat out ask them, "Well, what WOULD you like to do?"  I have literally been met with responses like, "Well, I'd really like to do THIS but that would clearly ruin your story."  I usually just say, "No it wouldn't.  Go for it."

I'm not saying your players are like this.  I don't know them.  I'm just pointing out something you might have to look out for.

Jesse

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Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2009, 10:45:51 PM »

That's a concern that isn't in any way particular to Sorcerer. I ran into this frustratingly time and again with Riddle of Steel and other games which give the players particular license to blaze their own trail. Even in D&D, when I've played it in a "feed me something I can use" manner, I've run into this issue.

"So, yeah.. I've tried to put this dude from your Spiritual Attribute in your path on numerous occasions, but you keep turning aside. What gives? You clearly HATE him."

"Oh, he's too badass. I want to become more powerful before I go after him."

"Then why do you have him on your list of 'THIS is what I want to do right now'?"

"Because my character hates him."

"I did tell you that just because it's not one of your SAs, it doesn't mean it's not important to the character. It just means it's not important to you right now, didn't I?"

"Yeah."

"So...?"

::shrug::

::Scream of frustration::

It's like Jesse says, players often try to take leads from the GM. When you tell them that you want to follow their lead, many of them stare at you blankly, like they can't comprehend that you're asking them to do your job for you, or they think you're using some sort of weird psychology-nouveau thing to hose them over, so they'll write down what you tell them to write, then watch you for cues for what you *really* want them to do.

I'm not a big one for the whole idea that the character doesn't exist except as an extension of the player's will. I think the best characters take on their own reality. They have motivations, goals, dreams and personalities separate from your usage of them. BUT I do definitely agree that when you're playing, it's not the character motivations that are important; It's the player. If it's important to the character, but the player is less than enthusiastic about it, then they are not going to commit to it.

 The best situations is when the player and the character needs are both addressed, even if it's in different ways. It may be important to the character that another character is safe, but it's important to the player that the other character is put at risk, so their character can save them.

Shit. I think I may be rambling a bit, keyed off by the points made here.

To summarize: Yes, this is definitely an issue. It's not unique to Sorcerer. Simply asking your players may not be enough to get past it. I'm not sure what is more effective. Where someone really truly gets it, some amazing things can happen, though.
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
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