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A Sorcerer PSA

Started by lumpley, September 28, 2010, 01:00:02 PM

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To whom it may concern,

If you ever have the chance to play Sorcerer with Julia Bond Ellingboe, I recommend it. She's very cheerful. She says, "my demon's need is to eat rare meat! My demon has shapeshift! My demon has taint! Everything's going to be fine!"


Ron Edwards

No fair making up demons based on my wife!

... my ex-girlfriend!

... ummm ....


Best, Ron

Lance D. Allen

I'm thinking that I'm missing something that makes this funny.
~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls

Ron Edwards

Hi Lance,

It's probably my crappy sense of humor and merely not funny. To clarify, I'm not slagging my wife or ex-girlfriends, except in the general sense that relationship partners tend to change (or not change) contrary to expectations, and that relationships change you as well. Taint and Shapeshift are ready-made metaphors for these effects. It's the Sex & Sorcery riff that real-life relationships shift into Sorcerer territory when one isn't looking, or sometimes threaten to.

All of which makes Julia's choices about demon abilities excellent, as Vincent is implying.

It suddenly occurs to me that the "rare meat" may be interpreted as a crudity in my post, but that isn't what I was driving at at all, just in case. It so happens that I grill a lot and so that's peripherally relevant on my side of the computer screen.

To get to the point of the thread, let's talk Sorcerer and what Julia's choices imply to Vincent as GM. Or would imply to me as GM, with Vincent's take invited.

1. Rare meat at first glance is one of those easy Needs ... right? Well, not if circumstances prevent the usual application of searing a steak and serving it to the demon. If circumstances are against that, then rare meat might have to be provided in some other way that is far less socially acceptable, or even personally acceptable.

2. Taint is one of the toughest, most interesting demon abilities, because it strikes right at the thematic mechanic, and introduces the only way in which Humanity can be altered temporarily. So the ability can have a lot of behavioral and thematic impact on the story. Secondarily, it ramps up the tension intrinsic to the fact that when you select an ability for a demon you summon (or in the case of a starting demon, bind), there's always the distant possibility of having it turned upon you, say during a dispute with the demon. Finally, putting these two ideas together, it's tempting to have a Taint thrown upon yourself right when you try to summon a demon, increasing your chances dramatically.

3. Shapeshift is less intrinsically scary, but if it's conceived and played with an eye toward theme, it can raise identity issues. There are lots of possible ways to play with this, say, for instance, simply playing the demon with slightly different personality or tone in different shapes. Details like that have a way of manifesting as major plot-impact in later situations, without planning for it. That might go well with the tension inherent in Taint too.

Sorry about the not-funny, and I hope the above shows why I agree with Vincent that Julia is probably finding some very, very strong material in the game. Especially the kind of material that makes his job, playing the demon, into pure fun.

Best, Ron


Thanks, Ron! Yes indeed.

I have a few minutes' leisure to fill in some details.

The PCs are both girls, juniors in high school. The demons are "possessors," but really they're psychic/occult parasites. This means that Julia's character is the one changing shape, for instance, so a big old YES to the issues of identity. It also means that to meet her demon's need, she has to eat the meat herself, so a big old YES to that one too.

It's significant that the imagery for the demons is possessor-y, because that means I can bring by-the-book possessors into play if I want to, colored as unfriendly, aggressive, violatory individuals of the same species, if you see what I mean. It's also significant that the imagery for the demons is demonic; I've decided that they may or may not be from hell, whatever that means, but that underneath it all their attitude toward people is malicious and malignant. They're acting like they're these girls' friends, but it's just acting.

Elizabeth's character is Rachel; Julia's character is Angelina. Like I say they're juniors in high school.

The rationale for Angelina's demon is that it's going to make her the kick-assingest cheerleader, with boost:stamina and stuff, but what's clearly really going on is that it's designed to get her into trouble and then safely back out. Hence the shapeshifting and the tainting and whatever else. It's power 8. ("My demon has taint! It's power 8! Everything is going to be fine!") It's desire is sensual gratification and its need is the aforementioned rare meat. He's kind of an unhurried hedonist in Angelina's head, claiming his space with the easy self-assurance of a guy who knows he's got power 8.

Rachel's demon is designed to make Rachel seem cool. It's got, like, cover:cool kid to convey to her and stuff. It's also much more manageable-sized, power 4, and it's accordingly meeker in its demeanor. Its desire is mayhem, though - "the high-school equivalent of explosions, running gunfights, brawls in redneck bars, nuclear war" - and its need is acceptance. (Oh my god, is there enough acceptance in the world to meet a demon's need? Hint: no, there isn't.) He's alternately flattering and petulant, honest enough to keep himself from seeming manipulative but not honest enough to be honest, with a mean streak he's so far kept hidden.

The demons are in communication with one another behind Rachel and Angelina's back. That's going to be a nasty surprise for someone when it comes out, I bet.

What else? Oh, Rachel's and Angelina's kickers are both straightforward start-of-the-movie things, and still solidly about identity. Angelina was the boss of the cheerleaders at her old school, come now to this new school where she's not anymore. Rachel's had a crush on a guy since 1st grade, and he's just told her that he thinks he might be gay. Humanity is, like, compassion and generosity; treating people with recognition of their own humanity, not using them.

We've made characters and played a first session. Maybe next time I have a few minutes' leisure I'll tell about what's happened.



And to be clear, there are no song and dance routines featuring pop songs of the 80s or showtunes?


Ha ha! None. Not that Rachel.


Paul Czege

Sorcerer Glee would be awesome.

"[My Life with Master] is anything but a safe game to have designed. It has balls, and then some. It is as bold, as fresh, and as incisive  now as it was when it came out." -- Gregor Hutton

Paul Czege

"[My Life with Master] is anything but a safe game to have designed. It has balls, and then some. It is as bold, as fresh, and as incisive  now as it was when it came out." -- Gregor Hutton



"My Demon is Music of the Night.  Everything will be fine."

Sorry to hijack Vincent.  Your game does sound awesome and, well, I guess I don't have anything more substantive to add at the moment.  Except that now I really want to play Glee Sorcerer.

Paul Czege

Do bindings ever happen outside the choir room?

Vincent should split the thread now.

"[My Life with Master] is anything but a safe game to have designed. It has balls, and then some. It is as bold, as fresh, and as incisive  now as it was when it came out." -- Gregor Hutton


This changes the whole show for me, particularly the ep where the mother sends her (does not know who her mom is) daughter a mix-tape of songs.

Ron Edwards

My god, the demons are their imaginary boyfriends.

This is horrifying. I hope Elizabeth and Julia really go for the gusto, in the sense I tried to articulate in the "playing a sorcer" thread. Please do post about the game.

Best, Ron


So far, so gusto.

In fact, telling about what happened is proving difficult for me. The game was unsettling. Maybe I'll make just another observation first: this is high school, so (a) sex is on the table, but (b) it doesn't start with sex, the way it would if this were college or the adult world. Having sex is far away, many escalations from now. Forgive me the crudity: there are three whole bases between here and having sex.

This gives the game a surprising charge and danger. Maybe it's just me. But, like, Angelina and Caleb make out for 8 minutes and then suddenly break off, and dude I know what it's like to make out with someone for 8 minutes and then suddenly break off. It leaves Caleb panting.

(8 minutes is a clue.)



"8 minutes is a clue"

That poor, poor squirrel.