Breaking Binding Question

Started by jburneko, August 07, 2009, 01:58:11 AM

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The text has information about what happens if a demon wants to break a binding.  What happens if a Sorcerer wants to break a binding?

In specific I had a very odd case occur last night.  Basically one Sorcerer wanted to "transfer" his demon to another Sorcerer.  This was a mutual agreement.  The Demon was more or less neutral on the matter.

So this felt like a "no conflict, no roll" situation.  Basically, a whole lot of ritualistic color culminating in a new binding roll for the new master.  But I wasn't sure.



Jesse, I can completely see the logic there, but I could also see that, regardless of the demon's desire, the binding itself might have a desire - as an element of the story.  The master/demon binding is as much a part of the thematic landscape as any other inanimate object.  So if you'd end up rolling dice because of a hurricane (even though the hurricane has no desires per se, but it's still significant) maybe the same thing applies here.

Maybe old master's Will vs. the old binding strength, with carryovers to the new binding roll (representing an amicable break-up or job-placement situation)?

Ron Edwards


My intention in the rules is that sorcerers can't break Binding merely by willing it.

However, what you describe may be derived from looking at a bunch of rules at once. Stay with me; it's a twisty path.

James is right that the Binding strength may be considered a feature of the environment, and it can "remain" as a rolled result - i.e., a number of victories. Let's say its value is 3. You can treat that now as a score of its own which may roll, or more accurately, a three-dice victory rolling over onto an "entity" which would otherwise have no dice, and hence now has three.

At first glance, all you have to do is have the new Binding's victories beat that value, along the lines of what James is talking about. But! That is problematic. First, "Binding always works," and that's not mere rhetoric. It means that a demon cannot be Bound when it's already Bound. Second, the Binding roll is between the demon and the new sorcerer. How does that conceptually play into the old Binding's being annulled?

A high Binding score means more power imbalance between the two individuals - effectively, getting a higher Binding score means the demon is more real because it's Bound to you instead of to that guy. I do not see any way in which this concept can be handled as a mere favor, anything neutral or non-charged.

So the fact remains: the demon has to break the first Binding. No, you can't trade demons like baseball cards. No, you can't "just give" your apprentice or your buddy your Bound demon. The demon's position in this matters greatly.

You're going to have to be a better Sorcerer GM than saying "Gee I guess it doesn't give a shit." This is its Binding we're talking about, Jesse! The thing which guarantees its Need, the relationship which literally permits it to exist.

Still with me? We're working up to what kind of rolls are going to be required all the way around.

As usual, go to the fiction. Going by what you describe, Jesse, I see the following:

The demon rolling to break the Binding: Will vs. Will, with a 3-dice bonus to the opposition.
Sorcerer #1 rolling Will vs. the Binding strength, with any victories rolling over to help the demon's roll.
And only then, if it works, can sorcerer #2 roll his or her own Binding.

But also going by what you describe, I don't see enough fiction. You're telling me the demon has no opinion about which individual would be a better master? What kind of demon is that? Sorcerer #1 is literally repudiating his or her own act of sorcerous impact on the universe - what actions actually make that "meaty" enough to work? Only role-playing which put these issues right out into the central action of the scene would lead me to reach for the dice in the first place.

If the announced actions made this matter, everyone should roll at once and work it out using dice diagrams as presented in Sex & Sorcery. But that's not the minimal necessary use of the rules, and it also carries significant risks in terms of the order of events.

Best, Ron



Gotcha.  The idea of the Binding being an "entity" had occurred to me.  One of the problems I have when GMing in general, but is particularly problematic for Sorcerer, is that I have trouble juggling all the different characters motivations at once.  Once a particular conflict or situation catches my/the group's attention I often literally forget the presence or role of other characters because my brain is hyper-focused.

It's very common for me to kick myself *after* a session because I'll think of seven things certain NPCs should have done either IN a scene or between scenes.  I HATE that feeling and I have no idea how to break the habit or otherwise "practice" keeping an eye on the bigger picture.  I think part of it is years of playing games where "more characters involved" meant "more tedious and unfun rules applications" which is obviously not the case with Sorcerer.



Quote from: Ron Edwards on August 07, 2009, 04:49:48 AMNo, you can't trade demons like baseball cards.
But, but, I thought you could play Pokemon with Sorcerer? How else to "gotta catch 'em all"?

I'm only half-way kidding. My point is, could this not be highly dependent on the setting, what demons are, what sorcery is, and so forth? I agree that in the core setting, where demons are made real and more real based on Binding strength, all demons would have a vested interest in either maintaining a strong binding or to be re-bound to someone else, who is either much weaker or much stronger than its former master. With, let's say, a definition like "demons are drugs, and sorcery is substance abuse", giving up the bottle should be equally difficult - the choice of going cold-turkey, while easy for a player to state, should be made mechanically difficult to give the setting teeth. With a more light-hearted definition perhaps this is not the case? Or is that drifting Sorcerer play too far for it to be called Sorcerer?

Ron Edwards

You're quite right. I considered giving my standard "all of what I say here is subject to how you've customized sorcery and thematic applications in your own game" speech in my post, but did not. I didn't have the time, and I figured Jesse knew that already. Please assume that this speech accompanies my post, just as you have summarized very well in your post.

Best, Ron



For what it's worth, yes, that got through to me.  It's why I'm "okay" with how we played the scene (there WERE other issues at stake and involved, just not the binding bit).  But you're right in that I could of "punched it up" a bit by more carefully considering the demon's position.

Sort of a restatement of my lament:  I'm *fairly* good at keeping play focused on singular issues on a moment-to-moment basis.  What I'm NOT very good at is seeing the *cross-section* of other issues that might be alive as well.