[Sorcerer] 3 Humanity Rolls to get a new demon?

Started by Ry, July 15, 2010, 08:37:53 PM

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Hi, this may sound really dumb but...

Do you really need to have 3 humanity rolls to get a new demon?  (1 Contact, 1 Summon, 1 Bind)

If so, why is it 1 humanity roll at character creation instead of 3 rolls? 

Is there any way to cheapen the number of rolls besides binding 'found' demons?  Could you work that benefit into character creation if you bound a found demon?

Ron Edwards

Hi there,

Yes, you do need to roll three Humanity checks, one for each of Contacting, Summoning, and Binding, if your character carries out those three acts during play.

The reason that only the Binding roll is required for pre-play character creation, is that this is the only roll that is relevant to the upcoming play for that character. Perhaps the best way to explain this is that the Sorcerer mechanics do not model the "Sorcerer universe," but are instead like a set of musical instruments for the events of play. So even if your character did Contact and Summon a demon as part of his or her back-story, the fact that this was all pre-play means that no mechanics were conducted "back then." Changes in the Humanity value, for instance, are only of interest insofar as they are part of the current story. Since the Binding roll affects power-dynamics between the two characters for this upcoming story, though, it does matter and is counted.

I'm not sure if this helps you understand, so let me know if it makes any sense. If not, I'll find a different way to phrase it.

Best, Ron


Ry, don't let me divert your line of questioning if there's more to it, but I'd like to ask a similar question.  Ron et al, I'm currently putting together a Sorcerer/Elric scenario, and have been figuring out how Demon Lords would work under the Sorcerer & Sword rules. 

(Background: in the Elric universe, the "gods" are really just the most powerful demons.  Their names are well known.  A sorcerer doesn't Bind a Demon Lord in the sense that we're familiar with.  A sorcerer Contacts and Summons a Demon Lord, and they come to some arrangement of mutual aid (the Binding).  Then the Demon Lord goes back to its own business on whatever plane from which it was Summoned - it is NOT Bound to this plane.  Afterwards, whenever the sorcerer wants the Demon Lord's aid, he must Summon it again.  These subsequent Summonings are less arduous than the initial one, but the DL might refuse to come or might be too occupied on another plane to respond.)

What's the best way to model this behaviour using the Sorcerer rules?

Literal Translation: After the Binding, the DL does disappear from this world until Summoned again.  The Binding strength is used as a bonus (regardless of sign) in subsequent Summonings (making 1-die Summonings slightly practical).  Yes, this would require a Humanity check every time you want your Demon Lord to help you!  But that's a lot of Humanity checks.  Did Elric hold onto his Humanity only because of the number of other demons he Banished?

The Inconspicuous Option: we can treat Demon Lords like inconspicuous demons; they're always there.  This way, a Summon is not required every time the sorcerer needs divine aid.  But this has problems with the fiction: Elric's patron Demon Lord often refused to aid him, explaining that he was occupied with a celestial war in another realm.  A Bound inconspicuous demon could hardly claim that.

The Special Relationship Option: Perhaps a sorcerer and his patron Demon Lord enjoy a special relationship, such that these subsequent Summonings of one's own Bound Demon Lord do not require Humanity checks.  Are Demon Lords so powerful that every appeal to them for aid imperils one's Humanity?  Perhaps this would depend on the  group's definition of Humanity.

Oh, speaking of which, the Elric books suggest several possible definitions of Humanity, I'm leaning towards this one: Humanity is your independence from The Cosmic Struggle (an eternal war between the "gods").  You form pacts with demons by promising to serve their side of the Struggle (either Law or Chaos), and these promises endanger your independence (Humanity).  Zero Humanity means that the Lords of The Higher Worlds have called in your chips, and you are now bound to actively fight in the Cosmic Struggle on their behalf.

So I'm leaning towards the Literal Translation.  Because I don't want to perturb the Sorcerer rules unless absolutely necessary, and because I like the idea that every transaction with a Demon Lord imperils your Humanity.  I'm just concerned that this may be too many Humanity rolls.  Sorcerers are, of course, free to Bind lesser demons in the usual way.  There's also the difficulty of Summoning your DL extemporaneously when you really need it's help, as Elric often does.  Well, there's the bonus from the binding strength, plus Elric's sorcerous token (the Actorios, the ring of kings), and his helper demon (Stormbringer) which surely boosts Lore.  Plus, Elric's 1-die Summoning ritual involves promising to feed his Demon Lord's need ("Blood and souls for my lord Arioch!"), which must be good for a bonus die.  :-)  So maybe it's workable.

So all this is to say: what do you think, will having a patron Demon Lord require too many Humanity checks?



Hey John,
what about this option using the rules in Sorcerer and Sword:

The Demon Lords are all Immanent demons. They are kind of in this realm, but to speak to them you have to contact them (via the Contact rules). Since they are mighty entities they usually don't want to be bound. Instead they use Pacts when a sorcerer wants something from them.

This method makes it still dangerous to your humanity (1 roll for the contact and 1 roll for the pact), but not as dangerous as going the full route (contact, summoning and binding).


The Dragon Master

Another thing to consider John, is having multiple Humanity definitions. It can be done, though it's only hinted at in the core book, if that serves your purposes, and can lead to some interesting situations when different Humanity issues diverge on an issue (such as having a gain and loss roll as a result of the same action).
"You get what everone gets. You get a lifetime." -Death of the Endless
The names Tony


Hi Tony, René, thanks for your suggestions guys!

Ron and I discussed the summoning-demon-lords question in another thread, and I liked his suggestion that the standard rules apply.  Key was the difference between Summoning (ie. calling into existence) and summoning (ie. materialize and help me now).  So we can say that Demon Lords are inconspicuous demons, we just have to define "inconspicuous" as "on another plane at the moment."  See our thread for details: Elric, Demon Lords and Sorcery. Modeling it all.

Similarly, and to your point René, we could tweak the definition of Immanent demons to say that they are already here (in the Multiverse), and the sorcerer Contacts and Pacts them.  Another good option.  But I think the Elric books clearly show that Elric and Arioch are Bound to each other.  And there is the suggestion that Elric has shookered Yrkoon by Binding Arioch before Yrkoon could (in other words, it's more than just a Pact).  I'll have to think about this and decide which one to go with.

I'd like to keep Humanity as simple as possible for this game.  In our only other Sorcerer game so far, we had a dual-definition Humanity, and it did lead to some confusion and long debates.  Also, I see the Humanity definition as an opportunity to set a clear theme for the game.  Just have to decide what that theme is...