[Sorcerer] Sorcerers in Casablanca

Started by Paiku, January 29, 2010, 02:34:37 AM

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Hi folks,

as promised in an earlier thread, I have posted on my blog the One Sheet and player-character concepts (backstories, demons and kickers) (PC 1)(PC 2)(PC 3) for our upcoming Sorcerer game.  The setting is Casablanca Morocco 1940, the characters are rich and detailed, and we're really looking forward to kicking this off!

As this is our first game, any discussion of the One Sheet or chr concepts would be most welcome.

I'm tying the kickers into a relationship map, and am currently generating bad-guys, NPCs, setting detail, and BANGS.  What's the consensus on resolving kickers, do you guys favour resolving all kickers in a scenario (/story/adventure), or just one kicker per scenario?  We have three PCs, and the kickers aren't related (except through the R-map).



A post by The Dragon Master on the Necromancy thread made me realize that I'm still partially thinking about planning a Sorcerer game in terms of planning an adventure, ie. present the characters with threats and watch them fight their way through.

It's not necessarily that the characters want to achieve something, and I throw increasingly difficult obstacles in their path.  It may be that the characters just want to keep something that they have, and I keep raising the stakes.

For example: Perhaps the character posing as Dr. von Braun just wants to live in peace.  Now, how do I threaten that?  Put his false identity in danger of being discovered.  Keep raising the stakes.  Who will he lie to, to keep his secret?  Who is he willing to kill?  Will he call up a more powerful demon?  Will he share his bed with the dead doctor's wife under false pretenses?  Will he kill her to keep his false identity secret?  Although not as cinematic as a grand battle with an uber-demon, a scene in which he must decide whether to kill the doctor's wife or let his secret be revealed would be a climactic moment in a Sorcerer game.  His life wouldn't hang in the balance, but his Humanity would.

I'm currently re-planning my bangs from scratch...

Christoph Boeckle

Hi Paiku

After a campaign with mitigated results (check out the "Carnival Bizarre" threads in the AP forum), I can only encourage you to ask yourself two questions: (1) are you as a GM ready to go to a session without feeling the need to offer a story to your players, and (2) are your players interested in playing a game where they are expected to author substantial parts of the story?
It's not just a question of "as long as everyone is on the same page". Sorcerer just doesn't work half as well if not used for what it is intended.

In my case, one player responded "yes" to (2), another one "maybe" and a third one "no" (more or less). This shifted me into the position where I had to bring in the story a lot myself (which amounts to me effectively answering "no" to question 1), especially towards the end. And then... it came out rather flat.

Thus, I would beware of a character who does not really want anything. I don't know if it's absolutely necessary, but it's going to help. Seriously, why would you have a demon if you weren't very intent on getting something in the first place? You can't just summon a demon by accident.

Of course, as the GM you do have to frame scenes like a madman (even the Kickers should not be more than a suggestion that the GM actually "implements" when starting play), so you do actively participate in the creation of the story too.

Check out this discussion between Tony (Dragon Master) and Ron, it's quite informative.

Have a great game!

Ron Edwards


The very fact that you talked about Kickers as if you could plan their resolutions, i.e., when they will happen, means that you must re-boot your entire attitude toward GMing. You may have taken a step toward doing so due to the comments in the other thread, which is good. But I suggest you'll need to go further.

Not only must you abandon all thoughts of when any Kicker will be resolved, but most especially of how and about what. It's not up to you in terms of planning. You must relinquish control of any such planning. Typically, you realize that a Kicker has been resolved only after it's happened, when you look at the material you're ready to play with (your NPCs and what they're about to do), and say, "Huh, I guess that whole hassle has been taken care of, and we've seen why it was the most important thing ever to have happened in that sorcerer's life. Oh! Hey guys! We just resolved so-and-so's Kicker!"

Best, Ron

Ron Edwards


You've probably seen this as it's a recent thread, but I think my points in [Sorcerer] How do you play it? may apply here too.

Best, Ron


Quote from: Ron Edwards on January 30, 2010, 02:57:54 AM
Not only must you abandon all thoughts of when any Kicker will be resolved, but most especially of how and about what. It's not up to you in terms of planning. You must relinquish control of any such planning.

Maybe I'd do well to study Zen before Sorcerer night.  ;-)

Christoph, (2) my players are definitely willing and able to participate in the story-telling.  We've been playing story games (and rotating GM duty) for a year and a bit now.  Of the four of us, I'm the most recent convert from the olde D&D ways.  As for (1) whether I feel ready to go into a session without a story to offer... I'd give myself a 5-out-of-10 on that one.  I understand kickers and bangs and author-stance well enough that I know I don't need a dungeon map with numbered rooms, or equivalently a list of pre-planned scenes with each one leading neatly into the next.  But to show up with no preconception of what's going to happen at all?  No I'm not quite there yet.

Ron, thanks for pointing me back towards that earlier thread, I had read it before, but I went over it again at half speed and I think I got more of the intended meaning this time.

Ok, so I shouldn't try to plan how a kicker will be resolved.  But i do have to plan some things.  Here, let's take a specific example.  Backstory: Jacques bound a huge demon, massacred a Nazi occult research team (the NGF) in Paris, and fled to Casablanca where he joined the local resistance.  Kicker: he arrives at a secret resistance meeting to find everybody dead, and an NGF calling card on the table.  What should I plan... no wait, let's say "prepare"... what should I prepare based on this.  I should draw up a villain who is a powerful figure in the NGF organization.  I should draw up a few demons for the villain, and a few NGF agents (most of whom aren't sorcerers).  I should decide how much the NGF know about Jacques at the start of play.  And I should draw up some surviving resistance fighters, and a few other setting details for the players to interact with, like locations and regular folk.

What I shouldn't plan, if I've understood everything correctly, is any specific scenes or encounters with the antagonists, and especially not how or when (or if) the PC will shake off the NGF threat for good, ie. the resolution of the kicker.  No wait - I shouldn't even decide what constitutes resolution of the kicker, right?  I create world details and bad-guys, and we'll recognize kicker-resolution when it happens, is that right?

But what about bangs?   Bangs are the GM driving the story, right?  Not driving the story towards some pre-planned conclusion, that would be the olde way, but driving the story forward, away from the comfort zone, into danger, into confrontation with the antagonist NPCs, into morally complex situations that force the PCs to weigh their Humanity carefully. 

If I do it on the fly it's facilitating player storytelling, but if I plan them the night before then it's railroading? 

And what about what the Sorcerer rulebook has to say about the final bang?  "Envision a climactic set piece... The nice thing about well-planned set pieces is that they are the only time during the run when all the characters have to be in the same place at the same time...  The final Bang of a run doesn't always have to be a violent set piece, especially if your game is more oriented towards moral dilemmas or problem-solving.  These are much harder to establish as true climaxes, though,..."  All of which suggests to me that the GM is meant to pre-plan the final conclusive confrontation with the main villain, no?

I feel like we're drawing lines in the grey zone between railroading and purely extemporaneous play, and that somehow my line isn't close enough to the latter end of the scale.  Am I close?  What's the key point that I'm missing?

Thanks all,

Ron Edwards

Of course you prep. What you don't do is plan is the outcome of anything that happens which you or anyone else has introduced during play.

You can write up all the NPCs you want. But you can't earmark one as the worst and most important of the bunch that they'll fight at the end. You can add depth and content to any of the Kickers you want, inventing tons of characters and fifty years of back-story. But you can't commit to one particular reaction or approach that the player-character is going to take to his Kicker, or even to 'nudging' him there.

I'm distinguishing between prep and plan. I said, "let go of planning what will happen." I didn't say, "let go of prepping what to introduce."

All of this is reminding me very greatly of Jesse Burneko during the Art-Deco Melodrama. As long as we were making up back-story, he was perfectly happy and excited. But when I refused to say what a given NPC was going to accomplish for the story, or to plan how the story "went" up to three-quarters of an upcoming session, he freaked. "How, how, how, how?!" he screamed, right here in this forum.

Jesse, hop in. Please help P see that this is absolutely nothing Zen, nothing mysterious, and nothing hard. In fact, it's exponentially easier than what some of his prep statements have (strongly) implied. It's not a mystery or a contradiction.

Best, Ron

Ron Edwards

Um, a little more.

1. I loathe fully extemporaneous play. I consider that to be a way for someone to tacitly control and bully others into making up a story with them as color men. Nothing I'm saying moves "toward that end." Both ends of your stated spectrum turn into railroading in my experience.

2. Preparing Bangs the night before isn't railroading. It's absolutely required. What's not required are (a) actually using any one of them unless you want to, and more importantly, (b) what cannot work is thinking of a Bang as a means to some desired end. "And after they kill the hyenas, then they'll find the business card ..." It's also important to know that a lot of the time, what a given player-character does is just as good as a Bang, and in fact is a Bang, and it may well negate one or more of your planned ones, in which case you mentally abandon them.

3. The endings text in Chapter 4 is quite lousy. I was unable at the time of writing to clarify that such endings can emerge from play itself, causally from played events, and that the GM must be alert to realizing this when it happens. In that section, my attempts to explain good Sorcerer GMing fell back on half-railroading and half-emergent effects I'd generated as a GM for a decade or more.

Best, Ron


Quote from: Ron Edwardsthis is absolutely nothing Zen, nothing mysterious, and nothing hard.

Neither is Zen! Ha!

Quote from: Ron Edwards on January 31, 2010, 01:36:26 AMThe endings text in Chapter 4 is quite lousy. I was unable at the time of writing to clarify that such endings can emerge from play itself, causally from played events, and that the GM must be alert to realizing this when it happens. In that section, my attempts to explain good Sorcerer GMing fell back on half-railroading and half-emergent effects I'd generated as a GM for a decade or more.

It occurs to me that some of the advice in Chapter 4, and John's own attempts to puzzle this out, parallel almost exactly the conversations you and I were having in autumn of 2000 about how to run games in a Narrative fashion, which we later decided were...about half-right, but also half-wrong. And which I think we also discussed post-publication, too (though my memory of those later discussions are much fuzzier as that's about the same time my life started sliding down the toilet).

I recall specifically how we talked about set-pieces and throwing this-or-that pre-prepped situation into play when necessary rather than in a linear fashion, about having PCs talk to the important guy to get the important clue just by changing who it was, and so forth. And I don't wonder if John's confusion parallels our own travel through that halfway point, because that all seemed so heady and wildly divergent from tradition at the time, even though it never really quite jumped the gap because it wasn't what you're talking about doing above.

And I know I'm not Jesse, so I hope I'm not overstepping by contributing the following in trying to explain that gap:

John, I don't know if this will help, and I hope it does, but: it's like improv. And by "like", I mean to compare it to how improv shows are not completely random or extemporaneous despite being improvisational. That is: characters are characters. In a place that's a place. They all want something. Things are happening to them. And then the audience gets to say, "Oh, but then!" and see what falls out. That's your Bang. You're the audience.

But so are the other players. You, as GM, just happen to be improv-ing a bigger cast of characters than the other members of the group.

And as a collective you are putting on a weekly, serialized show instead of skits. So when someone drops a Bang during the show, they're things that actor has thought of between shows and planned to drop into the situation based on what they know of the other characters and their character's own relationships with those characters, and then only when (and if) the timing seems right, when it seems that specific Bang will have an impact and make things interesting for the audience, give the other characters something personally motivating to riff off of themselves.

You start off the game going "Who are we? What do we want? Where are we?" and that's all character creation. That's the point in the skit where the improv actors are asking for "a person" "who is a?" "and where is he?" "what's he doing?" And the audience, which is also you, is all, "A fire-fighter from Texas, on a ladder, trying to save a kitten." That's all pre-game, pre-session stuff.

Play is just what happens when then the improv actors are going with that and the audience jumps in and says, "Then his wife shows up because she's in labor!" And the wife character is going "Get down from there and drive me to the hospital!" and the kitten character is going "Meow! Meow!" and we find out if the firefighter is all "Goddamnit, honey, I'm saving a kitten, hold it in!" or "Fucking kitten, rot up here you little beast!" and the kitten player says "Actually, I'm a bear. RAWR." and the firefighter says "Um, that's not a kitten, that's a BEAR! Run honey, run!" to which she replies "I'm nine-months pregnant and in-labor you dope!" and so on, or however it works out.

As GM, all you're really doing is asking yourself, "What would my character(s) do now?" Just like all the other players (the world environment also counts as a character: "I am a desert. Um, I have a sandstorm blocking the protagonist's progress towards the temple of Karnak. Whoooosh!").

So, you don't prep outcomes or potential outcomes, because you don't know what to expect in play. You prep potential situations that may or may not ever happen. You prep interesting potential "how will THIS end?" and "what will they do with THIS" situations based on what you know about the characters, their personal desires and relationships/histories, and the overall situation that has emerged in play thus far. Based on what they want and why they want it.

Here's an example off the top of my head: Chuck is a Catholic physicist with a wife and a daughter. He's been trying to split the atom. It's 1930's Berlin and the Nazis are looking for him because yesterday, he figured it out, and they figured out he figured it out. And they want the bomb. He managed to make it home without Herr Frank and the Gestapo tracking him down...except his wife and daughter were not there. He prayed to God to help him, and God sent him an angel made of fire and vengeance.

Now, if this were a real game, you would have more details about Herr Frank and the Gestapo, the Nazis and the atom-bomb project, Chuck, his relationship with his wife and daughter, and the angel, than I do here. You'll also know where Chuck's wife and daughter are/what happened to them and so forth. And from all that stuff you'll build Bangs.

But here's the thing: he may never find his family. He may never in fact look for them. He may try to get out of Germany first and foremost. Or maybe he won't. Maybe he'll decide to become a crazed Nazi-killing superhero. Or decide to sell the project to them and run off with his mistress. The point is: you can't bank on any of that.

Because who's the uber-bad guy? What's at stake? What's the showdown even all about? We don't know. Not yet.

Yet Bangs are still really easy, easier than prepping scenes and climaxes and plot-points, because we know things about Chuck, and the Nazis, and so forth -- and we'll know more and more each time we play:

Bang: "The phone rings and Chuck is told his wife and daughter are in Nazi hands."
Bang: "Chuck discovers one of his secret project papers is missing."
Bang: "The angel tells Chuck to forget his wife and daughter."
Bang: "It appears Chuck's wife has been killed to send him a message."
Bang: "Herr Frank catches up to Chuck...and claims he wants to help him escape."

And this is all just something I came up with in maybe ten minutes sitting here thinking about it, and is completely pale compared to what you can do and come up with when you have actual characters and an actual game running, but the point is none of those things have to happen at all or may never be used, but they are formed from what I discussed above and inject a whole lot of decision-juice into the experience, such that the audience (that includes you and the other players) sits up and goes "whoa...what is he going to do NOW/about THAT?" and doesn't know where it will lead, even though they can imagine how so-and-so's character will probably react to that moment right there, and so Oooo.

Also those "what?" moments have to be interesting and germane to the character situations, not just "and then a fucking alien with a forehead penis falls out of the sky" or whatever wonky stuff you can think of (and if you do, they may just go, "Clearly, I took acid last night, and this is a flashback" and that's that, or just "No. Not even." -- you also have to be willing to accept that as a response even when they brush off your best, most honest attempts and just move on).

But what you might have noticed is that all you are really doing is prepping is characters. What those characters want. What those characters will do to get it. And where those characters hang out so you have some sets for the action to happen in. Everything follows from this. But note at no time are you prepping what will happen in those sets with those characters as a complete thing. You are not prepping a scene in a movie, you are prepping a set for improv actors to interact with one another in to see where it goes. If that makes sense.

Hopefully you see how that is different from creating a climax and moving towards it, and how prep in Sorcerer works, how it isn't a point on a continuum between railroading and completely freeform play but something distinctly different?
Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio


Guys, this is brilliant. Many thanks!  It really does help to have something explained several different ways.  The improv metaphor brings home the idea that the GM isn't supposed to have any sort of grand plan behind his Bangs -- an improv audience certainly doesn't!

GMing is not as random as an improv audience -- the GM does have NPCs with wants and means (and problems of their own) -- but it's a lot less planned than I was thinking before.  I was guilty of planning to use Bangs as a means to an end, as Ron said.  "Once they finish Bang-A, they'll have the clue that leads them to Bang-B..."  This really does require one to let go of any expectation of being able to plan a plot.  Start with enough interesting characters with conflicting motivations, and have faith that plot will happen.  In this sense, Bangs are just things that I have in mind that my characters (the NPCs and the world) might do.

Jesse, it's not too late to step in swinging with another take on this, if you're so inclined!

I feel like I should keep trying to summarize all the lightbulbs that have come on in my head as a result of this discussion, but I think I'm still digesting.  I'll post again with some analysis after I've tried putting this into practice, probably after the first session of Sorcerers in Casablanca (4 more days).

Again thanks fellas,

Eero Tuovinen

I like this thread. Be sure to let us know how the session works.
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.

Ron Edwards


It seems I have been summoned.  Although Raven's posts and Ron's links do a pretty good job of covering anything I would say.  Let me see if I can hit some basics.

The HOW, HOW, HOW cry I put out years ago was really based in lack of understanding of what to do with NPCs.  Back then I really couldn't conceive of uses for NPCs outside of two functions: things you fight and lock boxes of information you needed to open so you could know who to fight and how to fight them.  Both of these things are actually clearly forbidden in the Sorcerer texts.  You add in that the rules are very volatile and unpredictable it seemed to me that an NPC you wanted to be a BIG DEAL and kind of scary you couldn't actually do anything with because the PCs might just defeat him "too soon."  It seemed like a big giant recipe for either really short games or GM turtle-ing.

Quite honestly, I am still working on thawing my rather "frozen" NPCs today.  See my more recent posts here regarding my reading of Trollbabe and in Actual Play about Burning Empires and Pta.

Step one in beginning to realize what I was supposed to be doing in Sorcerer was recognizing the wider social context of the characters.  Before encountering Sorcerer my strongest GMing skills were rooted in clue-chain style mystery scenarios where you have a disconnected PC and a disconnected NPC villain and then basically a string of "filler" material between them so that the PC doesn't just walk up to the villain and stab him.

Once I began looking the PCs and NPCs in terms of their wider relationships I began to see other ways to challenge the players beyond simply asking for favors, hiding information and being physical threats.  I notice that if a PC has a wife and there are things she wants from the PC then it suddenly becomes exponentially harder for the PC to take certain kinds of actions.  You don't need to kidnap her.  You don't need to have her betray the PC.  You don't need her to do anything other than be a wife with wifely needs.

Similarly, if you give an NPC who is really a bad person in your own estimation it becomes exponentially harder for the PCs just to stab that villain and be done with it.  You don't even have to dial back how vile the NPC is.  Hell, you don't even have to have him CARE about his wife.  He could be out and out abusive to her and that's seriously enough to most players pause about "just killing" the guy.

I saw probably the most extreme result of this in a very recent Sorcerer & Sword game.  This game featured a Lich who was the great-grandmother of one of the PCs.  She was using her Taint ability to drive everyone the PC knew into despair, murderous rages, and suicide.  She was trying to isolate the PC from her friends so that the Lich could bring the PC "back into the family" and most importantly she needed the PC to use her Sorcerous powers to complete the necromantic ritual that would complete the Lich's dead husband into full Lichdom.

Horrible, right?  I mean classic Swords and Sorcery unnatural horror!  The PC ended up using a Contain ritual to lock the Lich in a grave which was awesome but the player expressed a disappointment at the end of the game.  She said, "there didn't seem to be enough opportunity for action.  I really wanted to be a kick-ass fighter."  I said, "Then why did you contain the Lich?  Why didn't you just go kick her ass.  You had the resources to go in there and kill her."  The players response was this: "She just seemed too human."  I was completely shocked because I had gone so far out of my way to make this Lich as unredeemably vile as I could muster.

I've seen this time and time again.  Just having the wider social context to the characters makes even basic actions really complicated.

Lesson Learned: Fill out the back of the character sheets.  Ask questions that produce characters, locations and objects of value to the character.  If the PC is a doctor ask if they have a favorite patient.  If the character is a rich lord ask if they have any servants they admire.  If the character is in love, ask if they have a romantic rival.  If the character owns something they value ask yourself who might also value that thing.

Step Two: NPCs want things and should be proactive about getting them.  So back in the day we talked about a relationship map being "grabby" and how when a PC walks into one the NPCs view the PC as an opportunity.  I originally interpreted this in the extremely unsophisticated manner of having NPCs walk up to PCs and say, "Do this for me" and if I was feeling particularly ballsy it would be, "Do this for me or else."  Now I realize that you don't have to be that direct.  Just having an NPC come to player to cry on their shoulder about something that happened to them is using the PC as an opportunity.

In fact it's better to have the NPCs take their own actions so long as those actions intrude into the wider social network of the PCs.  The NPC never need ask the PCs for anything.  This doesn't even have to be particularly sinister.  Finding out that you best friend just landed himself in jail for drunk driving and that his girlfriend is hitting your wife up for bail money is perfectly fine bang without the need for the friend to even say, "Man, you've got to bail me out of here!"

Step Three: When avenues of pursuit get shut down, escalate everything else.  This one is really hard for me.  I have tendency to set unconscious behavioral limits on my NPCs.  Often those limits prevent me from escalating an NPC's behavior when they face a set back.  Some party thinks, "Well, the PC put him in his place.  Doing anything else would be extreme and unreasonable and I don't really want my NPC to come off as psychotic."  This leads to short very boring games where NPCs get pruned off your relationship map as they get "reasoned" with.

Don't be afraid to pull a gun or have an NPC do something otherwise desperate, bold or risky.  If something happens to them that permanently removes them from the story remember the wider social network.  Who is upset about his demise?  What destruction has he left in his wake that might need answering?  Escalate THOSE elements.

Finally let me say this: A Sorcerer game is about the implied situation in the character's Kickers.  That's it.  A game of Sorcerer is over when the players Kickers resolve.  The Kicker is not a recurring element that spans many stories.  The Kicker is the story.  The GM's primary job is to deepen, test and escalate the situation described in the Kicker.

Hope that helps.



Eero - I surely will let y'all know how the session goes.  After all this generous advice, it's how I can "give back."

Ron - thanks for the recommended reading, I'll take them with me on the bus this AM.

Jesse - many thanks for that essay!  I can see there's lots of room to expand my thinking on what can be done with good NPCs.  This is one post that I'll be re-reading after I GM a session or two.

Last night I put all my prior game prep in the "brainstorming" pile, and started again with:

  • clear statements of what each PC wants
  • a list of the PCs' Demons, their Desires, Needs and personalities - and space to track each Demon's mood - all on one page
  • a one-page list of my main NPCs, and what they want
  • a list of all the supporting NPCs and Demons, and key locations, some of which I still need to spec' (man, my file of chr sheets is getting thick!)

...and then created a bunch of Bangs based on the above.  I'm much happier with the outcome this time round, and finally feel prepared to run this game.

I look forward to deconstructing our play for you guys on the forum.  I'll start a new thread in Actual Play, and link to it from here.

Thanks all,

Christopher Kubasik

Hi Paiku,

Just a final thought -- knowing I fear information overload for you right now.

You wrote: "clear statements of what each PC wants"

Keep in mind that what a protagonist "wants" can change -- sometimes drastically -- during a piece fiction. This happens in movies and novels and long for TV series all the time. 

At the start of Aliens, Ripley "wants" a good night's sleep. Later she wants to help the marines find out why the colony went silent. Later still, she wants to save the life of a little girl... which wasn't at all what she wanted when the movie began.

I just watched the first season of DAMAGES (a great show, and one of those -- "Oh, this could be a Sorcerer game scenarios TV shows"). It starts with a woman wanting to get hired at a law firm. It ends with the same woman struggling to save her live from six different problems. There are a long list of shifting wants in-between.

Luke wants to get off planet and have adventures. Then he wants to return a droid to its rightful owner. Then he wants to rescue a princess... and so on, until he's want to destroy the Death Star in a desperate dog fight...

In all these cases each new "want" grows out of the previous one in ways that are sometimes subtle and sometimes clear. But the key is, the "want" changes.

So, I'm going to tell you to make sure to write down the KICKER instead. The Kicker is the key. (Notice how many times Jesse mentioned it in his post.)

The Kicker is the "launch point" for the tale. It is Ripley being told, "We've lost contact with the colonists on that planet where your crew found the alien egg." It is the young would-be lawyer being warned by a warm, kind lawyer, even before she's hired at her dream law firm, "If you go work for Patty Hewes, she will destroy you."  For Luke it is receiving a message asking for help from a beautiful Princess...

Both of the moments could have been written by the Player has Kickers. 

Because Kickers are written by the Players, they are the Player saying to you, "I want a game about this."  You won't know how it's all going to turn out. You can't. You shouldn't. But you can keep the story being about that thing.

The Kicker is the springboard of the Player's desires.  It MUST matter to the Players. That's why they write it. It must actually interest them, or turn them on, or excite them or something. They should be eager to find out what will happen when the Kicker is activated in play.

Of course, like you, they should not be thinking how it would play out. That's the rule in Sorcerer: Story Now! We find the story as we go.

The Kicker should demand a choice on the part of the Player Character. It should be emotionally grabby... not just to the characters but to the Players. Because, remember, we are creators as well as audience members in an RPG. And we need to be engaged with the premise of the Kicker as much as an audience would have to be caught up in the start of a movie. The Players must be thinking "I want to see a movie/story/comic book/whatever about this -- because this is cool and I care and I want to know what happens..."

As you've noted, every character wants something. Very often, the Kicker provides an opportunity or threat to that want. "I want my happy life to stay the way it is... and my son is kidnapped." "I want a life of adventure... and I receive a distress call from a Princess." And so on...

But once this incident kicks in, there's really no telling where the story will end up or where the character's wants will land. In the two examples above, the tales might end with "I want to raise my son from the dead," and "I want to burn down the whole world with my grief." See?

When we talk about "resolving the Kicker" all we mean is that the thing that jump started the protagonist in a new direction, something emotionally grabby and interesting that demanded a choice on the part of the character when it happened, is arcing across the narrative. The influence of the Kicker, what it means to the the Players (and the Player's Character) might change over time, but the resolution will tie back to that Kicker. That's part of the GM's job -- to keep spinning variations on obstacles and opportunities to the PC's plans and wants that are still tied to the Kicker.

In my prep, and before each session of Sorcerer, I make sure to review:
* Each Character's Kicker
* Demon(s)
* Price
* Descriptors
* Telltale
* And all the items listed on "the back of the character sheet"

I cannot emphasize enough that you MUST continue to review the items on the "back of the character sheet."

In fact, I think that section of the character sheet is so important that I redesigned the sheet and put it front and center.

Remember that the list of Kicker, Demons, Price, Descriptors, Telltale and all the items on the center of the character sheet are the items the Player wanted the game to be about. This is your springboard to review and imagine details for the upcoming session -- whether it is the first or the eighth.  By circling back with your imagination before each session as you prep to these items you can find the unity and variety that will both hold the fiction together and give it strength, while providing variety (the Bangs) that launch the Player Characters off into new, unexpected directions.

Here's a link to an article I wrote about the importance of the center of the character sheet. http://playsorcerer.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/a-sorcerer-character-sheet/

In the first paragraph you'll find a link to a PDF of the character sheet I designed.
"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield