Posts Tagged ‘arrogance’

I want to take another shot at putting into words what I was trying to verbalize in ACTS 1:1-11.  That issue was the result of my struggling with the question: “So, our characters power up by summoning demons; does that mean we have to play Evil masterminds?”  The tone of the Sorcerer rulebook didn’t seem to suggest that this was a game about players taking over the world or destroying it (in true James-Bond-villain style), but I just couldn’t see how PCs that treat with demons could be “Good.”

Several hours of reading at The Forge later, I came to understand that demons aren’t inherently Evil, they’re inherently Dangerous.  They’re selfish and wiley and not always easy to control.  That makes them no more evil than guard dogs, or credit cards.  Demons are the classic two-edged sword, the Pandora’s box, the (insert favourite metaphor here).  Striking a bargain with a demon is like lighting the fuse on a stick of dynamite.  Sure, people will do as you say while you’re waving a lit rod of TNT.  But you’re going to want to throw it away before too long…

And that makes the sorcerer… what?  Crazy?  Crazy characters don’t make interesting PCs.  Desperate?  Quite possibly.  He feels he doesn’t have any other options.  There’s something he wants so badly that he’ll risk losing his Humanity to achieve it.  Maybe self-sacrifice for a loved one, or a higher ideal: there’s no better definition of “Good.”  Arrogant?  I could see that.  The sorcerer believes he’s stronger or smarter than those other fools who’ve lost their lives to demons they couldn’t control.  Or naive?  Certainly, that would work too.  Like young Regan in The Exorcist, with “Captain Howdy.”  Uncontrollably curious?  It didn’t work out well for the cat…

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ACTS of Sorcery will be a daily missive leading up to our first session of Sorcerer. There’s a lot to wrap one’s head around in this game. And I’ve dug up so many juicy nuggets of wisdom from forums and stuff that I want to share.

Let’s start with this. Sorcery is an act of desperation or arrogance. Nobody summons up demons for fun. A sorcerer is someone so desperate to achieve something that he will risk his Humanity to get it. And he is arrogant enough to hope to control the forces that he bargains with. [By ‘desperate and arrogant’ I don’t mean ‘Evil’. A sorcerer could be empowering himself with the best of intentions. You could also swap ‘arrogant’ for ‘naive’.]

Ron Edwards sees tales of sorcery in many stories that don’t contain literal demons. He cites Euripides’ Medea as the main blueprint for the Sorcerer game. I haven’t read it but I looked up a synopsis: there is no sorcerer in this story, not literally. Jason (of “and the Argonauts” fame) wants to reclaim the golden fleece, but first must perform several impossible tasks involving magical foes. He makes a deal with Medea, a witch: if she will help him to complete and survive the tasks, he agrees to marry her. In each of the tasks, and through the many trials that follow, Jason survives and succeeds thanks to Medea’s magical help. But in the end, he spurns her love to marry a princess. Medea poisons Jason’s fiancé and the father-in-law King Creon. She completes her revenge by murdering her own two children whom she’d had by Jason.

In game terms, Jason was “the Sorcerer,” Medea was “the Demon.”

The terms of any Binding ritual are that the sorcerer will provide the demon’s “Need,” and the demon will serve the sorcerer. Her Need was Jason’s Love. When the sorcerer stopped providing the demon’s Need, it rebelled, with disastrous results.

Demons have two key attributes: Desire and Need.

Desire – a role-playing “key” to the Demon’s behaviour

Need – payment, what the sorcerer agrees to pay the demon (regularly) for its services.

The demon’s Desire is like its religion, its political ideology, and its favorite hobby all rolled into one. The demon likes and enjoys its Desire, and at all times, it will try to perform the Desire, to observe it in action, or to influence others to do it too.

The demon’s Need is its addiction. It needs it at all times, but sometimes more desperately than others… Crucially, the demon will never satisfy its Need by itself. It relies wholly on the sorcerer to make sure the Need gets to it. The GM should always know whether the demon is currently ‘hungry,’ and play the demon accordingly.” -Ron Edwards

Yes that’s right, the GM plays all the demons… even yours. Never miss a feeding.

Watch the movie trailer (embedded above) for Youth In Revolt. This movie looks hilarious. And I’m seeing it as a Sorcerer tale. Replace “arrogance” with “naivety.” Nick is the naive “Sorcerer.” Francois is “the Demon,” and its Desire is pure egoism. Nick obviously rolled badly on the Binding ritual, because he seems incapable of controlling the demon he’s summoned!

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