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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 41 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Sorcerer] Wealth in a Campaign in the Depression  (Read 2275 times)
Mackie
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« on: June 28, 2009, 03:10:39 PM »

New to the Forge, and, by and large, RPGing.. I jolly well hope this is the right sectiom to post..

After recently being indocutrinated into Sorcerer, I am about to try a daunting task of GM'ing a campaign - experimentally at first.Im a fairly creative chap, and in conjunction with a more epxerienced player, we knocked up a "world". Its an "alternative history" setting, basically set on a fictitious Island in the Bahama's (geography unimportant) that is American, in the depression, with a "film nior" kind of quality. Voodoo/Hoodoo flavours, exotic drugs, corruption, gangs, femme fatales, etc etc.

My Idea was this: Humanity is a "code of honour" - dont shoot a man in the back, dont hit gals, pay your debts, look after your family, respect the old, take care of the young... and so on. The setting is really crumbling - its a real bad depression. Everyone is in a pickle, but the player had got a hidden resource, sorcery, which means hes got a huge advatage in keeping afloat and looking after people. I totally get where Sorcerer is coming from in terms of wealth: Either being "Broke", "Ok", or "Flush". However, this dosent quite do justice to the campaign. I want characters to feel the hunger, the debts, the loan sharks, the starving sister and her babies, etc etc. On the other hand, I dont want a ghastly system of "17 gold peices, 362 copper peices, and a partidge in a pear tree."

So, we are going to experiment with the following system: Any comments would be appreciated: we are introducing a "Para-ability" called Resources, which is intially equal to cover. This figure represents, loosely, wealth, reputation, charity from others, free drinks at the bar, singing for your meal, even your patch of ground outside the restaurant for picking up scraps. Every so often (perhaps like a need), Im going to ask for a Cover vs Resources check to stop Resources going down 1. At 0, its gonna be desperate, hungry, exposed, frightening. So, this forces a few situations: Use your demon to give you the fiddle of the devil at a show, and you walk out the joint with more resources, respect, and applause. But, you gotta look after a demon. Or, you could deliberately loose some resources to getyour sick  ma into hospital (and gain humanity), but now you are hungry and the local loan sharks want your kneecaps... who you gonna call?. The player "got this" and with a smile on our faces, his Drifter Blues Guitarist has got a shadow (inconspicious demon) whose need is: Fine food, wine, and cigars.

I wonder if anybody has comments, advice, or experience to share? would this "para attribute" work?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2009, 05:10:14 PM »

Hello, and welcome to the Forge, and to this forum!

It's not a bad idea. I'm not sure it's necessary, but it's not silly or misguided either.

Here's another interesting idea that doesn't involve any new values added into the system. You could say that current cumulative demon Binding strengths equal Resources. It wouldn't matter whether the binding favored the demon or the sorcerer. So basically, the more demons you Bind, the more stable, resilient, and enjoyable your wealth is.

As I'm seeing it, Resources wouldn't be used as a score, i.e., a number of dice to roll as an action. You would still use Cover as your primary "dealing with money" score. It might be a defensive value, though, against someone trying to ruin you or rip you off, used as a number of dice.

Also, as I'm seeing it, exactly what the wealth consists of would still be assessed in terms of Cover. The Resources are distinct from that - again, as you describe, being a matter of what the player can reasonably do to keep his character's finances stable, and also a guide to how other people's lives can be connected (and imaginably either helped or exploited) by those finances.

One point about Humanity: don't make the definition overly technical, nor always/only in terms of the spoken values of the characters. If you, the GM, think that a particular action really stinks, ethically, then call for a Humanity check and that overrides any other definition. Same goes for an action which makes you personally impressed with the integrity or protagonism of that character, for a Humanity gain roll. Your written definition is very good, but don't treat that as a legal document - it's a framework that should at most be providing context for judgment calls of your own.

Best, Ron

P.S. "Indoctrinated?" Shit, if my game indoctrinated people, I'd be a lot richer than I am. Plus the girls and bubble bath, which have yet to appear.
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Mackie
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« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2009, 07:09:59 PM »

Thanks Ron, helpful  comments (and yep, Humanity is very much a "Framework")

And  yes, A Lawyers resources would be very different from a Bum's resources. You could  also have a high Cover, Low Resources toon (Skilled, but given too much away, called in too many favours, gambled on cards, and loan sharks want his teeth), or a Low Cover, High Resources toon (Mediocre skill, but Demon boosted last big case, charmed the Judges Daughter at the last society event, and is a complete scrooge).

The reason we thought of resources as a fluctuant score (as opposed to your cunning idea on a static one based on binding strength) was to very loosely add something tangible to acts of charity (potentially raising humanity) or clever acts giving some material reward. In addition, with passage of time, Im going to do Cover vs Current Resources Checks: Fail, and its -1 Resources: This is to represent  the insidious effect of the Great Depression, and to drive the show. The player really "got" the feel of the campaign by having his demon need fine food, wine, cigars etc! Oh, and Resources at 0 is  going to represent "desperation" - and you know what  that will mean for a sorcerer...

Im calling it a "Para ability" because I could potentially see it as a score  to roll against, but not like the other attributes. Maybe resources checks, with roleplay bonuses, maybe not. Maybe use it to help persuade the loan sharks for "one more week", maybe not. Im always keeping in mind its definition is vague and  tied to cover. A Lawyers way of helping the Orphanage (money) would be different from a Jazz Pianist (setting up a free charity gig). Its going to me as much of a "narrative shorthand" or "game aid" as it is a "attribute", even if it is a number.

Will be  interesting to see  how it works out
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Mackie
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« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2009, 07:34:04 AM »

Pardon the slight derailment, but Im also wondering how to handle (voodoo stylee) Summoning a demon into a corpse. This feels most like a Possessor type demon, but I note the rules say that Posessors cannot "confer" abilities - and I would kind of like the corpses to have some abilities like armour (bullets just embed themselves in the flesh). Any reason that was probhibited?
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greyorm
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« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2009, 11:13:40 AM »

Pardon the slight derailment, but Im also wondering how to handle (voodoo stylee) Summoning a demon into a corpse. This feels most like a Possessor type demon, but I note the rules say that Posessors cannot "confer" abilities - and I would kind of like the corpses to have some abilities like armour (bullets just embed themselves in the flesh). Any reason that was probhibited?

"Confer" doesn't mean what you think it does here. The corpse IS the possessor for all intents and purposes. It just can't give those powers to anyone else.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2009, 11:47:51 AM »

Hi there,

Raven's right. The corpse is for all intents and purposes merely a medium for the demon.

In fact, although Possessor is a conceivably workable type, one might make a case for Inconspicuous to be better. Meaning, although a corpse is a disturbing and often intrusive object, no one knows it's a demon (and able to get you) unless the demon is actively doing so. Plus hiding (i.e. collapsing), plus lying on the morgue table with no one noticing anyone (until ...), and so on.

It depends a bit on what you want this particular zombie demon to be doing and how it would approach its activities.

Best, Ron
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Mackie
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« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2009, 02:51:04 PM »

Thanks again, thats helpful.

Im looking at  the classic(well, there isnt really anything uniform, but still..) Zombie. A fresh corpse infused with a demon (in this case, the spirit of the dead  person). Combined with drugs and superstitious hocus pocus, of course.

I think a Passer demon might actually be most appropriate, seeing as they can pass off for "live" humans in an odd way... Perhaps with the tell tale "Not alive" or something...
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2009, 03:18:38 PM »

Exactly. If the zombies are more like voodoo guys and less like shambling rotting things, then yeah, Passer works too. In fact, mannnn, that is creepy.

Best, Ron
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Mackie
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« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2009, 08:03:48 AM »

It strikes me that zombie labour would be most helpful in a depression... no food, no wages...
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Mackie
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« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2009, 11:04:19 PM »

Forgive me for continuing  on an allready derailed thread regarding this, but some advice would be nice with regardss to above. First GM nerves I guess!

The setting we are playing uses "dead spirits" as demons, whose desire will be a reflection on what was unresolved in life. We are intending to make rituals RPG heavy, so laying on lots of rolls and penalties - knowing the persons history and having important sentimental items (that includes the corpse, folks) giving bonuses. Nothing like some graveyard shenannigans, I reckon. In addition, the setting will  have a "noirish", "hardboiledish" quality, so contacting the spirit of a murder victim could gain you vital clues (for instance). Its a shame your boss walked in while you where mumbling jibberish to yourself and drinking the blood of the corpse...

I would appreciate some advice on how Ron's ideas regarding Demons  being from "not-here". How to keep an area of mystery about demons when some of the play will be about finding out about the demon beforehand.

My thoughts are: Where they come from, nobody knows, but they arent meant to come back. The dead have no humanity, and an incomprehensible outlook on life. Their needs and desires are corruptions of their former life. They are only some unfathonable "reflection" of what they were when alive.

Im working with the idea they can be inconspicuos (ghostly types), possessors (the same, but..well...they possess), and objects (residing in an object). Parasites dont fit. Passers im not sure about (they cant form their own bodies?).
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Plotin
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« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2009, 03:44:39 AM »

I would appreciate some advice on how Ron's ideas regarding Demons  being from "not-here". How to keep an area of mystery about demons when some of the play will be about finding out about the demon beforehand.

My thoughts are: Where they come from, nobody knows, but they arent meant to come back. The dead have no humanity, and an incomprehensible outlook on life. Their needs and desires are corruptions of their former life. They are only some unfathonable "reflection" of what they were when alive.

The way I understand it, the people in a Sorcerer setting can well have a pretty decent understanding of demons, of their origins and their agendas – they can even be totally certain that they have these things figured out one hundred percent. But just because they think they have doesn’t mean they have. Every once in a while, a demon does something that goes counter to the ideas of sorcerers. Because, in the end, demons can’t be figured out.

In your setting, demons might behave like the spirits of dead people and finding out about the deceased and his specific unfinished business might well grant you bonus dice on your rituals – but that doesn’t mean that they really are such spirits. It’s enough that the players are aware that the demons might well be something entirely different, the characters can think they know demons backwards.

But if that distinction is not enough for you, maybe you could introduce the “not here”-ness with demon Desires. Sorcerer&Sword names the “Deliberately Incomprehensible” category of Desires, and something that can’t be comprehended might just fit the bill for demons that otherwise seem too mundane.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2009, 05:56:11 AM »

That's good advice, but another way to look at it would be that everything about demons being "the dead" may well be the case ... but all cosmologies, explanations, justifications, and narratives about why they are here, what happens when you die, and how it is that one's sorcery works, have exactly as much weight in the fiction as such things do in reality. Which is to say, none.

All this really means is that you, as GM, say consistent with the look and feel of demons as initially conceived for the game, but don't ever constrain yourself to play them according to an in-game, character-based understanding of what they are.

One of the most important Will descriptors, which I think gets overlooked nearly all the time, is Belief System. This means the character has relied upon an explanation or narrative, not only about demons but pretty much everything. It could based on faith or a reasoning-process or anything else.

What I want to emphasize is that "Belief System," the Will descriptor, is not particularly different in content from the Price "Mad."

Best, Ron
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Mackie
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« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2009, 01:29:08 AM »

Im always struck by a qoute from one of the major characters in the City of Heroes RPG, an undeady supervillainess: "I am dead, and the dead cannot change".

Conceptually, the demon/spirits will be only reflections of their living self: Stuff in a rut, distilled, and quite different. They will only behave in distorted ways from their "living selves". Is this enough?. Hopefully, some stories and situations may generate with this situation. A possible NPC might resummon his departed wife, not resolving his greif. However, the demon is just a reflection, and he remains stuck - unable to "let go", but driven to more internal strife by the mockery of the wife he has summoned.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #13 on: July 08, 2009, 03:43:46 AM »

That's definitely what you need. You have it.

It's time to stop scribbling notes and to see what sort of characters the players make. That step will provide much more material for you as GM, and it's best to get to it as soon as possible so you don't accidentally start making more (and too much) material on your own.

Best, Ron
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Mackie
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« Reply #14 on: July 08, 2009, 05:31:26 AM »

Thanks Ron,

Being GM inexperienced, im gonna kick off with just  one player - heck I may be to bad at it to warrant further GMing.

The character is allready done (bar name); a blues guitarist/drifter with his shadow as a demon (its need is to eat  fine wine / cigars  / food). Kicker done (body of Blind boy williams the guitarist found dead in the players shack), and famiy and aquiantanced drawn up (spent a little more detail on family tree as he may be summoning / contacting them - perhaps to much time).

All thats left now is to play, and see how the "resources" para-ability works out (its set in the depression after all). Maybe  ill post in the "Actual play" thread once done (or carry on here?)
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