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Author Topic: A Dying Sorcerer - newbie confused  (Read 3233 times)
AXUM
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« on: September 02, 2009, 06:55:20 AM »

Hello!

Not quite sure on the rules for dying in Sorcerer:
1.  What happens when a creature hits 0 Stamina?
2. Is the game set up to always recover even from the most grievous wounds (ie. you always recover a bit from the lasting damage) - thus creatures (except demons) never truly die; or is it just very hard for creatures to get killed (massive amounts of lethal damage)?


Thanks
Ax
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2009, 07:43:23 AM »

Hi there,

The best older thread to read about this is Special Damage less lethal, which began with some misunderstandings about damage but turned into a good discussion of character death.

The basic answer to your question is: after a fight, the character's lasting penalties are halved. If, after that point, those (remaining) penalties exceed twice the character's Stamina, he or she is officially dying. The rules fall silent at this point except for the descriptions in the most extreme row of the table on page 109, which includes "needs intensive care." I intend for groups to tune how to handle what happens next as they see fit, but the way I do it is, if there is no relevant means to help the character already present at that moment in that scene, then he or she dies. By "needs intensive care," I implied (probably too softly) "or else."

Demons are slightly easier to kill relative to their Stamina alone, as you've noticed. But it is possible for other characters, including player-characters, to die through injury. It takes a lot of work to do it unless you're using insane guns and/or demon abilities, but it can be done.

As a bit of advice, try not to think of Stamina or of any other score as being literally reduced; instead think penalized. So Stamina, for instance, does not "drop to 0" based on damage, but rather the dice rolled for Stamina of (say) 4 are subject to penalties which reduce the dice being rolled to 0. It's a subtle point which helps a lot across a number of rules. The character sheet is set up to help preserve this point, because the numbers don't change, only the marker on the edge of the sheet.

I hope that helps. Let me know!

Best, Ron
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2009, 07:55:50 AM »

Wait, there's more.

I need to review your question about "hitting 0 Stamina." First, my advice in the last post should show that the phrase itself is misleading. Second, I need to break it down in terms of real game mechanics in action.

1. If the character has taken some combination of temporary and lasting penalties which exceed his or her Stamina, and we're in the middle of a fight, then look at the table on page 107. This is not the same one as the table I referenced in the first post, which is to be used after a fight. Going by the one on page 107, you'll see that the character's immediate state is described, but not in terms of clinical damage.

So if those penalties sum to, say, 9, when the character's Stamina is 4, then the character is at this moment in dire straits, possibly out of the fight. In play, you can describe this however it makes sense - it might be very bloody if certain weapons were involved, or it might not. But there is absolutely nothing in that table that says he or she is genuinely damaged badly.

2. After the fight, we are only looking at the lasting penalties, and what's more, half of them. This is what you might consider the "real" damage the fight did, that the character must live with, or possibly die from if they are very high.

Again, let me know if this is making sense. If by "hitting 0 Stamina" you are talking about the first case, right there in the fight, when the temporary + lasting penalties exceed Stamina, then the middle line of that table needs to be used - and you can see it's actually not too terrible. The character is at a distinct disadvantage in the fight, but that is all. The lowest line (based on exceeding twice Stamina) is worse, but again, not lethal in the typical role-playing game sense.

I suggest impressing these rules upon your players. Stamina is not hit points. Penalties are not literal wounds poking holes in your character. "0 Stamina" is not a useful game term. Penalties exceeding Stamina do matter in terms of options, and doubly so for exceeding twice Stamina. The actual damage done to your character is calculated after the fight is completely over.

Best, Ron
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AXUM
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Posts: 69


« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2009, 08:15:32 AM »

Thanks for the aswers!!! - I'll review 'em carefully. 

Now, some background on how the questions came about:
I used a demon's ability as Special Damage Lethal - Explosive when these questions popped up.  I went like, hey, PCs can't die in Sorcerer, much less in a Sword & Sorcery setting!  Is this for reals? Pulp to the maax! (lol)

That's what prompted me.

Thanks again
Ax
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AXUM
Member

Posts: 69


« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2009, 08:17:11 AM »

Thanks for the aswers!!! - I'll review 'em carefully. 

Now, some background on how the questions came about:
I used a demon's ability as Special Damage Lethal - Explosive when these questions popped up.  I went like, hey, PCs can't die in Sorcerer, much less in a Sword & Sorcery setting!  Is this for reals? Pulp to the maax! (lol)

That's what prompted me.

Thanks again
Ax

"I used a demon's ability as Special Damage Lethal - Explosive when these questions popped up" (after revueing the damage rules I should say).
Ax
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jburneko
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« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2009, 10:43:27 AM »

This is a good thread for me to ask a follow up question and confirm something I've been doing.

Let's say a person has a Stamina of 4.  At some point in the fight they have 6 lasting penalties.  They are not a Sorcerer so they can't use the Will trick.  When the fight *ends* they'll be at 3 lasting penalties.  However, right-here, right-now mid fight they're screwed.  They can't do anything.

At this point if the opponent wants to flat out kill them, they just do, so right?  This assumes no other intervening forces such as someone trying to defend the helpless person. This seems in line with the idea that killing is a calculated moral act in Sorcerer.  The person described can not fight back.  If you're committed to killing them, do so.

Is this correct?

Jesse
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2009, 08:13:55 PM »

Hey Jesse,

Almost. In terms of announced action, absolutely, yes.

However, in terms of resolution, this is all still occurring in the context of formal combat rounds, so the targeted person still gets a single die (with a corresponding increase of the attacker's roll by a single die). If that die does not prevail vs. the attack, then you can treat those rolls pretty much as an ordering/sequence determinant. Also, the actual damage done should be calculated formally by the system, but (assuming the attacker is using the weapon in question in an especially nasty way) use one of the more evil weapon types for damage effects.

You may well wonder what it would mean if the defending die beat the attacking dice. Call that the vagaries of a heartless universe. Yes, you step up and slit the throat of the helpless person. But it's still in the heat of the kinds of moments which the Sorcerer combat system is built to reflect and produce. Things can go badly for you anyway. You may have to cut twice. And he may wake up (i.e. the temp penalties vanish) between cut #1 and cut #2.

Best, Ron
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AXUM
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« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2009, 07:37:31 AM »

R:

The system is so nuanced (is that the word for a full spectrum of tones, options & surprising results?), yet incredibly simple.  How much is serendipity & how much deliberate?


Ax

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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2009, 12:14:21 PM »

Hi,

Thanks for the kind words about the system. I don't think I can answer your question, except to point out two things. First, I underwent a self-directed, very determined, focused re-orientation about the hobby itself in the early 1990s. A lot of it involved extensive play of a very wide range of games. Sorcerer evolved from its first notes in 1990 or so through its first real draft in late 1994, to its first published form in 1996, until its final form in early 2001, and every step was marked by playing its current form as well as other games.

All that is to say that every detail of the game was baked not only in direct experience, but also direct comparison to the games I'd played in the past and was playing at the time. I can fairly state that the process was probably 60 or 65% based on stripping off crap from my assumptions, and only 35 or 40% about what I would actually use. I can't think of any rule in the game that did not come from some specific, known instance of that experience, and I can probably also point to any number of assumptions that I had to recognize and strip down in reference to keeping or losing any part of the rules. (In fact, that's why I kept the Apprentice version available for so long; it was a good record of late-stage Sorcerer design that in comparison with the final version, showed what specific things were abandoned to make the rules better.)

However, it's also the case that every version of Sorcerer opened my own eyes in playtest, to the extent that through the course of those ten years, I often felt as if it were teaching me to write its next version. I was designing just ahead of my own competence almost throughout the entire process. So you can see that as an ongoing serendipitous element, if you like.

Best, Ron
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AXUM
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Posts: 69


« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2009, 11:31:40 AM »

However, it's also the case that every version of Sorcerer opened my own eyes in playtest, to the extent that through the course of those ten years, I often felt as if it were teaching me to write its next version. I was designing just ahead of my own competence almost throughout the entire process. So you can see that as an ongoing serendipitous element, if you like.

Best, Ron

So... could the game be your own demon, it's desire is to be publicised (?), it's need to be published & be worshiped/talked about?

Da Ax
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2009, 02:32:46 PM »

It's a long-standing joke that the book is a demon. One reason is what I've mentioned in this thread, that it "led" me through a design process. Another is the often-observed phenomenon that someone asks me a question, sometimes in a state of anxiety or frustration because what they want to know isn't in the book, and then I tell them it's in the book, and they look, and sure enough, it's there after all.

Best, Ron
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AXUM
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Posts: 69


« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2009, 08:35:32 PM »

It's a long-standing joke that the book is a demon. One reason is what I've mentioned in this thread, that it "led" me through a design process. Another is the often-observed phenomenon that someone asks me a question, sometimes in a state of anxiety or frustration because what they want to know isn't in the book, and then I tell them it's in the book, and they look, and sure enough, it's there after all.

Best, Ron

You gotta be careful.  What would your tell tale be?

I already know the Price (maintaining this forum)!

D' Ax
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