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Author Topic: [Sorcerer] Dictionary of Elric  (Read 8452 times)
Paiku
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« on: January 17, 2011, 12:30:19 PM »

Hi folks,

I am writing a mini-supplement for Sorcerer that enacts the novels of The Elric Saga by Michael Moorcock.  If you have read Sorcerer & Sword then you know that the Elric novels were a major inspiration in general for the game and that supplement.  My mini-supplement, working title: Dictionary of Elric, specifically codifies the world of the Elric novels as a setting for a Sorcerer game.

Here is the current ashcan for download: Dictionary of Elric v5.3b(click).
(note to future readers, since we can't edit posts: look to my most recent post in this thread for a link to the current version)

I invite comments, discussion and suggestions.  I am continuing to add content as we prepare for our Elric/Sorcerer playtest, due to begin in about 2 weeks.

Some notes:
  • Coming next: a bunch more NPCs such as rulers and ambitious sorcerers, for the PCs to mix it up with.  I'm writing some right now.  Suggestions welcome.  I also need to flesh out some more locations in the Young Kingdoms.
  • This isn't meant to be a faithful reproduction of the books in exacting detail.  I don't expect players, especially those who are unfamiliar with the fictional works, to memorize a whole world of people, places and things.  I want to create something that will help players to tell great Sorcerer stories - their own stories.  So I'm not looking for help in "correcting" my rendition of the Elric canon, thanks.
  • I'd especially like to see some discussion of the new rules contained in Part-III.

I'll continue to post updates of the Dictionary of Elric for as long as there is interest here.  Thanks to all respondents!
Cheers,
-John

PS: I know that others currently own the rights to RPG usage of the Elric stories.  Therefore, this being unpublishable, it is nothing more (and nothing less) than a labour of love.  It will see use with my own gaming group, and perhaps other Elric fans and Sorcerer players will find it useful as well.
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Paiku
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« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2011, 07:38:56 PM »

One thing I'm struggling with at the moment is defining Humanity.  We (the gaming group) have had some discussions preliminary to the planning-and-character-generation session, and we like the Humanity = Self-Determination definition (see the ashcan, linked in above post, for details).  Sorcery involves promising to serve the demon's faction of the Cosmic Struggle, zero Humanity means becoming a mindless champion of Chaos or Law.

What I'm finding challenging is defining actions that warrant Humanity loss/gain rolls, besides the obvious sorcerous ones.  We have linked the definition of Humanity pretty specifically with sorcery.  What does Humanity mean to non-sorcerers?  In a world in which half the mortals (ie. the Melnibonéan half) lack a human conscience, this is an important question.

What if we generalize the definition of Humanity a bit?
Self-Determination = your ability to act independently from powerful entities and groups, or from those who have power over you

Humanity loss/gain rolls when?
  • receiving a command that goes against your desires, values or best interests, from a person/group that has some hold over you (the family patriarch, your emperor, your captain, the guy who is holding your kids hostage, etc).
  • promising loyalty to, or to perform some service for, some powerful person or group (that goes against your own values or desires), in order to secure their service or favour.
  • enabling some powerful entity or group (that goes against your own values or desires) to increase its influence over this world or a group of people.
  • following or defying traditions

Not sure if I'm on the right track here.  Any suggestions/comments?
-John
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5niper9
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My name is René.


« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2011, 12:42:02 PM »

Hi John,

at first I have to say that I read the ashcan and think it's really nice. I really like most of the things you mention under "Sorcery - Additional Rules", though I hardly see them as additional rules. Most of them are just interpretations of existing rules and the alignment score is a clever idea.

Well on to my real point:
Your definition of Humanity seems to do you no good in the current definition. I think working with self-determination is fine, but the possible checks/gains look strange.

Humanity loss/gain rolls when?
  • receiving a command that goes against your desires, values or best interests, from a person/group that has some hold over you (the family patriarch, your emperor, your captain, the guy who is holding your kids hostage, etc).
  • promising loyalty to, or to perform some service for, some powerful person or group (that goes against your own values or desires), in order to secure their service or favour.
  • enabling some powerful entity or group (that goes against your own values or desires) to increase its influence over this world or a group of people.
  • following or defying traditions
I have a problem with the "goes against your desire, values or interest" part. I propose it would work more fluently if those were left out.
You could gain checks by
  • obeying a command.
  • promising loyalty to somebody.
  • giving someone else power over something you controlled.
  • accept help[\li]
This would make it a bit easier for the GM to prepare bangs.

What do you think about that?

Best,
René
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Paiku
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« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2011, 10:01:32 AM »

Thanks René, you're right that the language was a bit cumbersome the way I had stated it.

But I don't want to be too general, either.  Certainly, it's not a moral decision every time one obeys a command!  Well, for protagonists concerned about self-determination, maybe it is?

I was thinking that obeying a command, for example, only affects/threatens your self-determination if the task disagrees with what you would do in the absence of a command.  I think there has to be some misalignment of desires or values, there, for it to be a Humanity issue.  On the other hand, if the character and his commander are in complete agreement as to the goal of their actions, then the character's self-determination is not really in question.

If a PC takes away a person's self-determination by ordering them around, would that require a Humanity-loss check too?  I think 'yes.'

A high-Humanity person is -- what -- someone who disapproves of hierarchies and authoritarian rule, defies the vain gods, is anti-establishment, wants everyone to be free to choose their own path in life?

And to take a step back: is this an "interesting" basis for a game of Sorcerer?

Thanks for your comments,
-John
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Chris_Chinn
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Posts: 280


« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2011, 10:05:37 PM »

Hi John,

I've always read the Elric stories as being closer to Ron's interpretation, but linking to your idea of Self Determination in an oblique manner:

Humanity as Friendship & Love; Gains are rolled when you protect those you care about, Checks are rolled when you risk or abandon them.   

Thing is, the giant war of Law & Chaos?  Threatens everything.  And both sides keep saying they'll be able to protect your friends, or at least, help you protect them.  The war itself generates lots of rolls both ways, and then both sides end up forcing you to make ugly choices between those you protect.

Self determination isn't what you roll, it's what you choose in that horrible environment.  To use your analogy of the mafia- it's the fantasy version of "one last job" where no matter how hard you try to get out, they keep pulling you back in.

Chris
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Paiku
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« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2011, 05:04:36 PM »

I had to ponder this for a while.  I'm pretty committed to running a game in which the Lords of the Higher Worlds are playing chess with mortal lives, and I want Humanity to reflect that.

So, I see your point: I can still get that with Humanity = Friendship and Love.  And the rituals of Sorcery still involve the demons extracting promises of loyalty, ie. demanding priority over the sorcerer's loved ones.

I'll put it to the players.  And I'll add your post to my Dictionary of Elric, if you don't mind, Chris  :)

Cheers,
-John

PS: Updated version posted: Dictionary of Elric v5.4
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Finarvyn
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« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2011, 04:15:13 PM »

I remember a thread about this a while back. I thought it was an awesome idea back then, and I like what you've done with it! I think my group would enjoy this.
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Marv (Finarvyn)
Sorcerer * Dresden Files RPG * Amber Diceless
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OD&D Player since 1975
Paiku
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« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2011, 07:02:02 PM »

Thanks Marv, glad you like it.  I'd like to hear any thoughts that you have.

2 weeks til the character generation session.  I'm pouring over my R-maps, trying to generate some interesting Young-Kingdoms rulers, Melnibonéan potentates, and tensions between them.  I know this'll be so much easier once I have the PCs' kickers.  On the other hand, the players will have more to work with in generating those kickers if I can give them some detailed NPCs first.  Catch-22!

Cheers,
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Paiku
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« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2011, 12:20:11 PM »

Ten days left til our kick-off / character-generation session.  As a compromise to the catch-22, I've decided to send out brief NPC character sketches to the players, one per day until kick-off.  Any of these which the players incorporate into their backstories or kickers will be developed into full NPCs and added to the Dictionary.

I will post the NPC character sketches to my gaming blog too, starting with this one: Duke Senodjar (Melnibonéan).

For your enjoyment / Comments welcome.  Cheers,
-John
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Paiku
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« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2011, 08:08:34 AM »

One of the PCs just Contacted, Summoned and Bound ARIOCH.

This game is going so awesome!

We're seven sessions into our Elric/Sorcerer game, and I'm loving every minute of it.  I haven't been posting AP or new content because I'm busy just keeping up with the inter-session prep.  Once the game wraps up, I will put a bunch of the game assets (new NPCs, locations, demons, plots, secret societies, etc) into an updated version of my Dictionary of Elric.

I could also post my running synopsis of the in-fiction events, eventually, if that would be of interest to anyone out there (personally, I find plot summaries of other people's games terminally boring, but, you know, I think mine are good ;-) and might be of interest to Moorcock fans or anyone thinking of running an Elric-over-Sorcerer game).

Mainly I was just excited about Arioch's appearance in the game and had to tell someone.  :)  Cheers,
-John
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Judd
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« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2011, 09:12:34 AM »

"Blood and souls if you aid me now, Arioch!"

Rock on.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2011, 03:26:17 PM »

Wow.

You are fulfilling a personal dream of mine, held since our not-as-fun-as-we-wanted game of Stormbringer in 1985 or so.

Details please. When you know that writing them for us won't interfere with the inter-session work of the game.

Best, Ron
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