[Sorcerer] concidering demonification, among other things

Started by Tveir, March 06, 2011, 01:33:46 PM

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I was reading 3x3 Eyes the other day. I always felt like it seemed sorcerer material, existing somewhere inbetween vanilla sorcerer and sorcerer and sword, with a strong indian/chinese/tibetan flavour. There are a few problems however, mostly relating to the fact that the sorcerers are almost exclusively demons themselves, of one sort or another, but also to the prevalence of written charms and talismans, something the existing rules do not seem to cover.
The two main characters are a 300-year-old, immortal girl named Parvati IV ("Pai" for short) with multiple personality disorder and three eyes, and Yakumo the part-time transvestite son of a never-present scholar of a father whom she turns into her undead servant. These two are also among the plots most obvious sorcerers, in that Pai occasionally binds demonic servants, starting out with a human-faced bird that can shrink at will or be large enough to ride, and Yakumo eventually picking up what they call "beast-magic" - beast-magic being the closest they come to the feed-and-point style of the demonics, the need always being to feed on the body of its user. This is okay in the case of immortal, regenerating zombies like Yakumo, but when a human user eventually shows up, she looks like a walking half-eaten corpse.

Now, the first problem is regarding the  process through which Yakumo is made an immortal zombie servant. While the knee-jerk response would be that it's a necromatic ritual, similar to the scooping out the organs (Pai eats his soul, keeping him immortal and constantly regenerating as long as she is alive, killing him if she dies), it seems like there should be a binding here somewhere, and that binding feels like it should be her being the sorcerer rather than him (since being the "servant" doesn't feel like something that gives the power to punish at will, and because there is, at one point, an attempt to "banish" his soul from her body, thus effectively making him mortal). Does this mean she, for all intents and purposes, has turned him into a demon?
Which brings me to my second, and later third, problems. Does it break the game to play actual demons? I mean, Pai is arguably an Old One, the last of an ancient triclops race that is still worshipped religiously by common demons, most likely with Lore coming out her ears. I suppose it could be partially circumvented by naming the "sanjiyan" (the name of her race, nickname for her more aggressive personality, her other personality seemingly being regression incarnate) the demon and her multiple personalities something akin to the sorcerer binding possessors to themselves idea, but she wasn't really ever human to begin with. Furthermore, there is an actual example of her being possessed early on, with the snake demon Houashio being inserted into her brain (I assume through a pact on the part of the sorcerer performing the ritual), her "sanjiyan" personality remaining and eventually waking again, suffering severe amnesia, sharing her body with the monster snake (who plays the role of a normal girl far better than the sanjiyan ever did).
The follow-up question being whether binding-monogamy is something that should be enforced at all. If bound demons can bind demons themselves it may complicate the picture somewhat, even if hierarchial structure is enforced (even more so if it isn't), seeing as the demons you bind may have to worry about the needs and desires of other demons themselves.
Yet even if the sorcerers are demons themselves, humanity as an ability score seems almost unusually fitting, since acclimation to human society is often a very real issue, so perhaps one could reinterpret humanity in the context of demon sorcerers to how human they are, even if they aren't, technically, "human". Alienation is a recurring theme, and humanity is often brought up as its antithesis.

Finally, on the topic of written talismans, something that occurs both among demons (most notably Choukai, who arguably also binds the shapeshifter Ran Pao Pao before she is bound to Pai, though in her case the snake Houashio was the one doing the binding, which brings up another interesting issue, since this entirelly external demon still seems to be bound to the person inhabiting body, as revealed when the possessor is exorcised, even though it was bound by the possessor) and human sorcerers, who seem to use it primarily because they fear the needs of beast-magic demons. While a lot of what these people do - magic circles, charms to incapacitate or keep out demons, and so on - could easily fall within the sorcerous rituals, others - like healing charms, exploding charms - seems to require some sort of metagame explanation. My initial thought was that they could be handled through Mark, as a means of extending the reach (through time and space) of a demon's abilities, but if it's something any human with enough Lore can do - and, indeed, most prefer to dealing with the needs of actual demons - it becomes problematic. Could it be described as a demonification of paper? Of essentially turning a piece of paper into an exceedingly weak demon with just one ability, a simple need and no real "mind" of its own? It feels as if we might be moving outside of sorcerer territory here.


Actually, nevermind about the written talismans. Someone just told me only the demons ever use them for purposes that wouldn't be covered by the sorcerous rituals.

Ron Edwards


I'm a little hesitant to address any of this, because I only know the series at second-hand at best. I can say that human and demon may be thought of in strictly game terms, as opposed to whatever those terms are used for in the fiction itself. In other words, it may be that "demon" characters in the fiction are fully human in game terms, with Humanity scores and everything, with their fictional demonness being, effectively, a colorful setting/character feature, expressed as a Lore descriptor.

(Oooh! Game theory fans, did you see that? Did I just reveal what the descriptors really are? I did, I did! Does that explain why I insist on a fixed list of descriptors per setting? It does, it does!)

I hope that helps a little, but maybe it's best for folks who know the series well to take the lead in the discussion.

Best, Ron

Ben Lehman

Somewhat familiar with the series, can I make some suggestions?

I think it's best to consider Pai a sorcerer, with her "other personality" as a bound possessor demon that is Powerful enough that it only shows up when it cares to. I think it's probably wise to consider Yakumo a human with (initially) no demons of his own. His "undead servant parts" are a parasite or possessor demon bound to Pai.

If I were going to run a 3x3 game, I'd consider all the "past selves" and "curses" and "enchantments" to be demons of different kinds, while keeping all the people as people. I'd consider scrolls and so on to be extensions of a Lore descriptor, and thus good for roll-overs and bonus dice.



Making the "sanjiyan" a possessor still retains the problem of multiple possessors within the same sorcerer, as well as the possessors using the sorcerer's body to bind more demons, which remain bound to the sorcerer even if the possessor leaves. And as for making Yakumo's powers the result of demons bound to Pai, wouldn't it make as much sense to call him a naive sorcerer? Possibly with a parasite that has a desire to worship (the triclops)? While she should have some power over his powers, actually putting a possessor on him seems like it should affect his personality/memories more, and, as mentioned, the in-fiction explanation looks and sounds more like necromancy than anything else.

The comment on descriptors and the definition of demon/sorcerer/human within the fiction helps somewhat, even if it might mean things like "immortal triclops worshipped by lesser demons" and "dragon" would end up as Lore-descriptors. But concidering the sorcerous rituals actually seem to work on any in-fiction "demon" (I speak primarily of punish and contain), it seems like a sorcerer, in the context of the ingame fiction, essentially "becomes a demon" upon binding any sort of internal demon. Which would explain Pai's demonness as not being bound to her so much as a part of her - which could potentially be removed, but still very much a part of her (she was, after all, born with it). Whether Yakumo is a naive sorcerer, the victim of a very alternative possessor, or downright undead might be more of a group-by-group judgement call, but he still reacts to punish, contain, and seemingly even contact, as if he was the demon himself.

Ron Edwards


Chapter 2 in The Sorcerer's Soul deals with a broad range of overlap between human and demon in rules terms. A lot of what you're describing - based on your post - can be handled by those rules.

Multiple parasites or possessors in a single host is not a problem. The core rules are fine with it; there's nothing there about one at a time.

More generally, I'm a little bit confused about the point of this thread. Is there some reason why the Sorcerer rules are expected to agree perfectly with this particular source material, or vice versa?

Best, Ron


I suppose there is little point. I was merely thinking loudly about things that came to mind while reading. There is, in all honesty, no need to fit any source material whatsoever. You may remove the topic, if it bothers you. I think I got what I wanted.

Ron Edwards

Whoa no - I'm not bothered! I wanted to make sure the thread was serving your needs, that's all.

Best, Ron