*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
October 22, 2014, 07:46:50 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 36 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: [Sorcerer] One Sheet (help needed): Season of the Witch  (Read 3915 times)
James_Nostack
Member

Posts: 726


« on: September 04, 2011, 07:57:23 AM »

In a few days I'll be meeting with some friends to play Sorcerer.  My goals are (1) to confirm everyone's got the necessary agenda, (2) seed the discussion of setting with a few ideas and firm things up based on brainstorming, (3) make characters, (4) work out scheduling.

Here is one of the possible settings.  It's my shot at doing a modern-day game, essentially coming up with a modified one-sheet for the "core" Sorcerer setting, and I've been struggling with getting it exactly right for several years off-and-on.


SEASON OF THE WITCH
Inspirations: David Lynch's films, notably Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, Eraserhead.  Darren Aronofsky's Pi and Requiem for a DreamThe Exorcist (film).  Arturo Peretz-Rivera's The Club Dumas.  Samuel Delany's Hogg.  Maybe Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas; certainly Steadman's illustrations, at least.  Dick's VALIS and Confessions of a Crap Artist are more tangential, at least in tone, but fit in nicely through Morrison's Invisibles.  I haven't watched Cronenberg, but it sure sounds like Videodrome belongs in here.  Synechdoche New York hits several good notes emotionally. 

Modern World, Specifically: I want to present a "slice" of the modern world, but I need help articulating it.  (I have tried to write this part of the post about ten times.)  To me, sorcerers are people who can achieve things--both because they're insanely determined, and because they command magic p0werz.  On the other hand, in almost all of those inspirational works, we've got marginalized figures driven by intense anxiety: there is something wrong somewhere, and they can't figure out where it is, exactly.  I'm thinking about stuff like intractable problems of our civilization - nuclear war, global warming, the continuing crises of global capitalism - which in our daily lives we concentrate on instead of looking at deeper personal anxieties about class, fertility, and self-worth. 

Most of the time we can suppress these anxieties (personal or global) but concentrating on our own day-to-day grind.  But sorcerers are staring the "wrongness" in the face, and trying to draw power from it.  They are, if not complicit, than parasitical - but they also can't suppress that knowledge. 

Here's something I wrote in 2007 or 2008:
Quote
Sorcerers are very much like our own elites, except they're fully conscious that they can flout reality as they please, and they personally, must do dreadful, harrowing things for the power they command.

I don't know, I'm having trouble phrasing this right. 

Humanity: Let's just go vanilla with this: Humanity is empathy.  (I suspect that all fancy humanity definitions boil down to empathy if you squint hard enough at them.)

Demons: Body-horror madness type stuff; a demon's consciousness is alien and strange, but very much keyed into nightmarish symbolism and our emotional weak points.  Telltales are usually surreal and disturbing.  Although these demons look freaky and "modern," there's an inescapable sense that they're old and have been interacting with us for a very long time. I'm toying with the idea of having "angels" as a kind of New Age crystalline consciousness ala the Monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey, though I haven't decided whether these will use the special rules from Sorcerer's Soul or just be a different skin of demon.

Sorcery: Again, vanilla: sorcery is transgression, simultaneously against human social norms and the laws of nature.  Travel to extremely disquieting Mystic Otherworlds, per Sorcerer & Sword is kind of common with high Lore or an appropriate demonic ability.  The Mystic Otherworld is some kind of transit point permitting time travel, brief visits to parallel earths, consciousness-swapping like in Being Jon Malkovitch, etc.

Lore: The core rules provide good examples here, but Wikipedia (and 1970's horror comics) have lots of other ideas for inspiration.

Over here I worked out a slime-god ooze type of thing in the contest of AD&D 2e, but I think it works as one branch of sorcery, think Jubilex and Cthulhu and all of that jazz:
Quote
To the anti-priests of the cult, we weren’t created by any gods in the service of a divine purpose.  We crawled into the sunlight after countless eons of muck for no discernible reason.  If you’re puzzled and confused by the world you live in, that’s perfectly understandable: it’s not supposed to make sense.   We’re just globs of muck, doing what globs of muck do: eat, shit, puke, ejaculate, and die.  There’s no relief from that: it’s the bedrock of our existence.  And if the social institutions of the surface world appear corrupt, hypocritical, and historically contingent–almost as if there was no divine plan at all–well, that shouldn’t come as a surprise .  If you’re expecing our society to be pure and wholesome, you’re misunderstanding who and what we are.  There’s no destiny.  There’s just the continuous consumption of rotting flesh to shit out nightsoil to keep the thing going.

Amid all that mindless biological twitching, there’s a lesson to be learned.  Don’t let people tell you to do stuff on the basis of some goofball ideology.  Here and now is what matters.  Being left alone, and leaving others alone even if it means they’ll drink their own piss, is a cardinal virtue: you don’t have authority to tell others what to do.  And that applies to yourself too.  You have to reconcile yourself to the fact that your life and its attendant suffering is pointless.  Don’t have hopes, or daydreams, or wishes for anything other.  Just this: over and over, just this.

Descriptions: As in Core Sorcerer.
Logged

--Stack
James_Nostack
Member

Posts: 726


« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2011, 07:35:45 PM »

I'm not sure, and not particularly interested, about what happens when a mundane hits Humanity = 0.

When a sorcerer hits Humanity = 0, here's an idea lifted from Soul: you can still play the character, except you're a non-person...
  • you have 0 Humanity and cannot conduct any rituals that involve Humanity in any way (right now can't remember which, if any, these might be)
  • you have a demonic Need
  • you have a demonic Telltale instead of a sorcerous one
  • you can be Bound, Punished, and Contained just like a demon; you don't have a Power score but can substitute Will or Stamina as appropriate
  • you cannot be Summoned or Banished
  • you have no demonic abilities; still, your new master might simply need an extra pair of hands or some slave with a good Cover
  • maybe we'll see about how you bounce back from this predicament, but jeez it ought to be hard.
Logged

--Stack
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 17707


WWW
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2011, 06:44:13 AM »

Hi James,

I see exactly where you've run into trouble. Going by my two-statement model in the GenCon threads, your first statement jumps too quickly into talking about sorcerers, who they are, why they're that way, how that relates to other stuff, and so on. Whereas that statement shouldn't involve sorcery or demons at all: it's pure atmosphere and focus regarding "here and now."

Look at my examples again: successful suburbia, New York City!, urban decay/Rust Belt. Not a thing about sorcery or demons in any of them, and also, no complicated clarifications. What I'm not getting from your post is anything about "here and now" that grabs you personally and lets me know instantly, if it were a movie, what kind of atmospheric or stylistic impact it has, or if it were a older paperback novel, all kinds of information about its content or potential content from the mere physicality of the cover. (Assuming in both cases that there was no deception or incompetence in producing those exterior or immediate impressions.)

Best, Ron
Logged
James_Nostack
Member

Posts: 726


« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2011, 09:49:50 AM »

Hi Ron, yeah, that's it exactly, and that's what I was having trouble articulating in a succinct way.  I want the game to reflect the world I've been living in over the last 5-6 years, but I've covered a lot of social geography in that time.

Thematically, "What is the good life?  What will you do for the American Dream, and what is it worth once you've got it?"

Physically we're talking about current-day New York City and its tri-state area, ranging from eastern Pennsylvania through Connecticut.  If you want to slip the borders a little bit to stretch from DC to Boston, that's okay.  East Coast Establishment stuff.  (The players and I are from this general area and live in NYC.) 

Socially, it's a bit harder to pin down, because there's this ridiculously steep class gradient.  I'm squinting at:

* My former law school classmates.  Very privileged upper middle class.  Intelligent and extremely ambitious.  Politically liberal, but socially conservative and career-minded.  Many of them are doing well for themselves, at least financially. 

* My girlfriend's friends and family in Connecticut, who (mostly) are trapped in some dystopian version of the middle class suburbs, overwhelmed by divorce, bankruptcy, madness, drug dependency, PTSD, spousal abuse, abandonment, terminal illness, etc.

* My clients, mostly drug defendants.  Overwhelmingly lower class; almost always black or illegal alien (or both).  Typically an impoverished high-school drop-out from a very unstable or abusive family life.  Pretty much everything in society is against these guys.  Generally I meet them because they've made bad decisions in pursuit of a better life for themselves or their children.  They are likable and, in some cases, admirable people, but I wouldn't trade places.

* (At various points along this spectrum, you can also insert freewheeling gamer buddies, committed social justice activists, some jet-set U.N. aristo's, and my own more-or-less happy people in the Philadelphia suburbs.)

But what is mainly running through this is a bunch of people, of all walks of life, desperately trying to improve their situations in hard times.
Logged

--Stack
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 17707


WWW
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2011, 06:08:15 PM »

Now you're getting somewhere. But it's exactly those things you're presenting as exceptions or iffy points which should be front and center, and arguably, not accompanied by much else.

Let's see if I can paraphrase in the way I'd find most compelling and focused as a player.

-----

It's the East Coast Establishment everyone in this room knows so well, but specifically including the steep class gradient we pretend isn't there.

Take me, for example, the people I know:

* My former law school classmates. Very privileged upper middle class. Intelligent and extremely ambitious. Politically liberal, but socially conservative and career-minded. Many of them are doing well for themselves, at least financially.
* My girlfriend's friends and family in Connecticut, who are trapped in some dystopian version of the middle class suburbs, overwhelmed by divorce, bankruptcy, madness, drug dependency, PTSD, spousal abuse, abandonment, terminal illness, etc.
* My clients, mostly drug defendants. Overwhelmingly lower class; almost always black or illegal alien (or both). Typically an impoverished high-school drop-out from a very unstable or abusive family life. Pretty much everything in society is against these guys. Generally I meet them because they've made bad decisions in pursuit of a better life for themselves or their children. They are likable and, in some cases, admirable people, but I wouldn't trade places.
* At various points along this spectrum, insert freewheeling gamer buddies, committed social justice activists, some jet-set U.N. aristo's, and my own more-or-less happy people in the Philadelphia suburbs.

This is our world. A bunch of people, of all walks of life, desperately trying to improve their situations in hard times.

What is the good life? What will you do for the American Dream, and what is it worth once you've got it?

-----
If I've done any violence to your goals with this, then please ignore it, but my take at the moment is that this phrasing/emphasis is closer to what you want to do.

The question is whether what you write makes people at the table grunt in acknowledgment.

If so, then ask for one-sentence or one-phrase look-and-feel statements about sorcery. In my experience, simply go with whatever the first person who says anything says; it's not like requiring everyone to say something and then tediously comparing them.

Looking over my rearranged version of what you said, and even barely beginning to contemplate what someone might say to describe sorcerous/demonic look-and-feel, I'm shuddering already.

Best, Ron
Logged
James_Nostack
Member

Posts: 726


« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2011, 06:24:01 PM »

Thanks!  I very much appreciate the time and effort.  We'll see if they dig it!
Logged

--Stack
Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.16 | SMF © 2011, Simple Machines
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!