[Sorcerer] An observation

Started by lachek, April 11, 2008, 07:55:28 PM

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This is a personal observation, echoed here with the intent of helping Sorcerer noobs like myself - or more accurately, helping experienced Sorcerer players like you help noobs like myself. It is not an insult again the many extremely helpful Sorcerer players who have patiently assisted me over the last few months.

When trying to understand a Sorcerer rule or concept, it is insufficient to explain what the rule or concept is. You also have to explain why that rule or concept works as it does - the underlying design principles. I note that Ron and Jesse in particular have usually used this approach and it seems to work every time.

As an example from recent discussions, take "demons do not exist" - it is not immediately obvious why this would be, or even what exactly it means. But when Jesse explains it in terms of avoiding demonic agendas and supernatural conspiracies, stressing sorcerer (player?) accountability for their actions and preventing fanboi "setting consistency" syndromes, it makes perfect sense.


There was a time I'm going to call 'the bad old days,' when the rules of RPGs were deliberately obscured from the players, and this actually added to the fun, because it took longer to realize what didn't work.  Those days being more-or-less over, I am completely behind open discussion of design principles.  That being said, when something works, it is not always necessary to understand why it works in order to either use or enjoy it. 

When I answer message-board questions about RPGs, I do my best to answer the questions that are asked.  If those questions don't include a why, I try not to infer it.  This is partly because sometimes answering more than is asked leads to confusion, and sometimes is just plain superfluous.  I've noticed that Ron usually has enough insight to see if someone is actually confused by a subject other than what is presented in the text of a post, but I don't trust myself enough to try that.

I really do think it would be difficult to convey the sentiment 'everything in Sorcerer is there for a reason, and if the reason is not immediately obvious, please ask as we love to talk about that stuff and you'll probably find it very useful' more strongly than is already present in the various discussions here.  Maybe if that exact text was put in a sticky.  Maybe. 
-My real name is Jules

"Now that we know how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, how do we determine how many angels are dancing, at a given time, on the head of a given pin?"
"What if angels from another pin engaged them in melee combat?"


Lachek, your link seems broken?
....but you can call me Sam

Moreno R.

Quote from: wreckage on April 13, 2008, 03:01:00 AM
Lachek, your link seems broken?

It's in a member-only category of the story-games forum, you need to sign in to be able to read it.

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)


Quote from: wreckage on April 13, 2008, 03:01:00 AM
Lachek, your link seems broken?
Apologies, it seems like that thread is in a member-only section of Story Games. Log in to SG first and then click on the link.

An excerpt for anyone who can't be bothered:

Quote from: Jesse
The words "hidden world" do not apply to Sorcerer. There is no "hidden world." Sorcerer's do not "see reality for what it is" or anything like that. Sorcerer takes place in the here and now world as you and I understand it.

What that means in practice:

There are no Sorcerer/Demon only agendas. Anything a Sorcerer would be "up to" is anything you and I would be up to. I once played a Sorcerer game set in post-Katrina New Orleans. What the PCs cared about were things like family safety, preservation of property, establishing legacy. The content was supernatural as all get out but what was "at stake" in story terms was everyday ordinary family politics in the wake of a disaster.

Another important aspect is moral accountability. Demons, even when acting supposedly on their own, are an extension of the Sorcerer. A Sorcerer can not escape moral accountability because his "demon did it." The demon is only here, because he WILLED it to be here. In real world terms he can not escape the consequences of the real world by shunting responsibility on to the demon. If the police can find even a shred of evidence linking the Sorcerer to a crime (even one that the forensics team can't quite explain) they are coming after the Sorcerer.

The reason I find such an explanation valuable is because it yields a deeper understanding of what precisely to encourage and what precisely to avoid when running / playing the game. This way, if a player told me "I want to bind a demon who can allow me to contact the spirits of the deceased" I know that a good way to deal with it in game is by filtering all communication through the demon and leave the truthfulness of the information undecided, lest the game turns into a "what-if" exercise of extrapolating from the proven existence of an afterlife.


Also, it does very well, for that reason, at creating a game about the supernatural that is not just a wheelbarrow full of the author's own personal ranting on various world-views. To then demand that the GM do likewise is probably the only instance I've ever seen of really good etiquette being built into an RPG.
....but you can call me Sam

Ron Edwards

Hi guys,

I really appreciate these comments and points. Many thanks.

We might have a debate some time about explaining why rules are the way they are, and why I think it's better (in fact, only possible) for someone in Jesse's position to provide those explanations, rather than the rules text in most cases. But that's probably a debate best carried out in person in a friendly beer-type environment. For now, here, I mean what I said above, and it's good to see the viewpoint spelled out.

Best, Ron

Marshall Burns

Ron, it's a shame that no one has invented e-beers yet, 'cause I've been wanting to ask your thoughts on that subject for a while now.