[Sorcerer] Struggling with what Lore looks like

Started by Jon Hastings, April 28, 2010, 08:53:52 PM

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Jon Hastings

I'm working on putting a one-sheet together for an upcoming Sorcerer game (my first as GM) and I'm hitting a mental/imaginative block when it comes to describing what Lore looks like.

The overall concept is "Nightmare 1980s NYC": cyberpunk without the sci-fi, where both the biggest right-wing fears (gangs taking over the streets) and left-wing fears (corporations turning the city into their own private domain) seem equally likely to come true.  I want to focus on the idea that it's a place of extremes, with no room left in the middle to move.  The key references are Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, Oliver Stone's Wall Street, Eyes Wide Shut, and Abel Ferrera's New York movies (especially Fear City and King of New York).

Humanity is Loyalty - both person-to-person loyalty and loyalty to your family, neighborhood, and past.

Demons here are the manifestations of pure, Platonic ideology into the world.  The look & feel of the demons varies depending on whether the ideology is more about control or chaos.  "Control" demons have the look & feel of glass & steel towers (i.e., a disturbing reflection caught out of the corner of your eye).  "Chaos" demons have a look & feel that relates to the creatures that live in the city's cracks & crevices (rats, maggots, etc.).

My problem/block is that I'm having trouble conceiving of Lore as anything but occult magic/ritual stuff from something like the Hellblazer comics.  I thought about leaving it as a blank until we do character creation, but my fear is that we'll all hone in on cliches unless we have something more concrete on the one-sheet to work from.  I'm looking for suggestions to fill in this blank and/or suggestions about what's missing from my prep so far that's making this step such a struggle.


What comes to mind is: Knowledge of the System for whatever System you happen to have an "in".  That could be the back room Wall Street deals or the right alley to score drugs in.  I was reminded of the quote from Sin City, "Walk down the right back alley in Sin City and you can find anything..."  Replace alley with "night club", "corporate halls", whatever your social machine of choice happens to be.


Christopher Kubasik

Another clue -- which might seem airy-fairy, but really isn't, and which might seem too subtle for use, but is really is important...

Don't think in terms of look and feel of the demons. Or, rather, don't stop there.

Demons are characters. They are your fun -- or a big part of your fun -- in a Sorcerer game. They are your NPCs, and you should really feel out their personalities, points of view, agendas, tastes and styles. Whether they are objects or passers or whatever, they are specific in their outlook on the world and how they interact with it.

I would suggest, as an exercise, as you brainstorm this, building a few demons. Take the "look and feel" you're seeing, and make a few specific creature. Not just in terms of Abilities, but, specifically Needs and Desires.

And then after you've worked a bit on them, BINDING RITUALS. What does this Demon demand of someone who wants to Bind it? And this Demon? And then this Demon? In other words, how do you see each demon specifically and concretely interacting with a Sorcerers who want to bind it based on the personality type you've envisioned for each.

I truly suspect that will help you make the Lore much more specific.

By the way, the moment I saw the phrase "Nightmare 1980s NYC" I knew exactly where you were going and you had me. Sounds fucking great.
"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield

Ron Edwards

Hi Jon,

Christopher's practical advice is excellent.

I really like Jesse's suggestion. It might do very well as one of the Lore descriptors. I was thinking that another descriptor, very much conceived in the context of what Jesse said and offered as another piece of the puzzle, is the alternative approach of the chaos-dancer, the shatterer and sensualist. He or she breaks all the rules but somehow catapults to the pinnacle of attention, praise, demand, and perhaps ultimately sacrifice.

"... you can do anything as long as it's in tune with the forces of the universe, nature, society, whatever. If it's in tune, if it's working, you can do anything. If for some reason you're on a different track from other people you're around, it's going to jangle everyone's sensibilities. And they're either going to walk away or put you down for it. So it's just a case of getting too far out for them, or everybody's on a different trip that night and nothing comes together. As long as everything's connecting and coming together, you can get away with murder."

- Jim Morrison, Rolling Stone interview with Jerry Hopkins, 1969

Jon Hastings

Thanks for these suggestions: they've already removed the "block" I was having.  I realize one thing I was blanking on was coming up with new, setting appropriate Lore descriptors.  I'm going to follow Christopher's advice and see what I come up with.  (And thanks for that Jim Morrison quote, Ron - it's perfect!)