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The G.o.T.H. (Games on The Hill) players are gearing up for our first game of Sorcerer RPG, yours truly presiding.  We’ve had our planning session, and the game is scheduled to crack wide open in eleven days.  Today’s post is our One-Sheet, describing our “game concept” if you like, thematic direction and the selections we made in customizing the rules of play.

One-Sheet

Notes on Theme, Setting and Genre. Mention any inspirational material.

Casablanca, the movie (1942).  World War II real history was inspirational, but we are picking elements from it, not adopting real history wholesale into the game.

What is the setting: Location and Era?

Casablanca, late 1940.  Crossroads of refugees, outlaws, deserters and resistance fighters from all over the world, war profiteers, black marketeers, corrupt local officials and imperious German officers.  French Morocco is part of “unoccupied France,” but the Nazi army moves across and within its borders with impunity.  There is some unequal treatment of Jewish people in the setting, some ghettos (Mellahs), but no transportation or concentration (yet).  Jews can still operate businesses.  Nazis are searching Europe for objects of divine power and sorcerous lore.  Nazi occult researchers have turned up nothing real – with exceptions possible.

The events of this game will not be a proxy for the greater war at hand.  The players are not trying to defeat the Nazis single-handedly.  This game will be about the personal plights of the player characters – as any Sorcerer game should be – and the war is just part of the setting.

What are Demons?

Impossible beings, with fetishes that they want to play out in the real world.  There is no big demon conspiracy, although they can know each other, have friendships and rivalries.  Like inmates of the same mental institution.

All demons can communicate by speech during the Contact ritual.  Demons take on their Type upon being Summoned.

Demons take names when they first encounter the human world.  Therefore, mix of biblical, Arabic, Sumerian, Greek, Indian names, etc. and (rarely) some modern names.

What are Sorcerers/What is Sorcery?

People who know about real demons, and how to perform the rituals of sorcery.

What is Humanity?

Sanity/Empathy hybrid.  Your Humanity is your ability to empathize with others and to act with compassion.  It is also your ability to maintain a reasoned connection with the human world and society.

What acts risk reducing your personal Humanity?

Victimizing someone (demons don’t count).  Recklessly exposing the world to insanity or chaotic and dangerous forces.  Anything that permanently raises your Lore exposes you to ever greater insane concepts, and requires a Humanity check.  Contact, Summon and Bind rituals.

What acts can redeem your personal Humanity?

Acting in the best interest of others, even though it costs you.  Destroying a significant source of sorcerous lore.  Banishing a demon whose Power exceeds your Humanity score.

At zero Humanity, you are…

…a sociopath, a gibbering wreck.

Demons will…

…challenge and disrupt reality; bypass decency.

Humanity check to…

…keep your grip; understand others.

Rituals are based on…

…transgressing on someone; performing the ritual somewhere you’re not supposed to be, e.g. someone else’s house, or a public place.  Creates a permanent incongruity in space/time at the location (insanity manifest, alien geometry).

Descriptors: Stamina, Will and Lore taken straight from the book.

*  *  *

Next I’ll post the three character concepts, including backstories and kickers.  Then you’ll really know why I’m so excited to start this game!

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(5th chapter in a book of thoughts and learnings from a GM who is studying Ron Edwards’ game of Sorcerer in preparation for his first game)

I have a bunch of posts in the works about the game’s unique dice mechanics, and they (the posts) assume that you’ve read the rulebook once but didn’t really get it (I didn’t). So to give you one more day to finish reading Sorcerer, here’s our to-do list for the pre-game session:

Things I Need To Prep Before Planning Session:

  • Names List for Demons

Sorcerer Pre-Game Session(s):

  1. Discuss the game. Any confusion w. the rules? Ready to move forward?
  2. Discuss setting: Era and location and flavour
  3. Brainstorm character concepts
  4. Discussion of types of stories of interest leads to meanings of: Humanity, Demons, Sorcery.
  5. Fill in top half of the One Sheet
  6. Crystalize character concepts:
    • Stats and descriptors (front of chr sheet)
    • Back stories, kickers, and some related “people, demons, places, possessions” (back of the sheet)
  7. Draw “Relationship Map A”, 3 distinct characters and their related people, demons, places, possessions. Maybe 3 disctinct constellations, but merge where appropriate/interesting.
  8. PCs roll up starting Demons
  9. GM makes copies of all PCs and PC-Demons

Your Kicker Should Be:

  • immediate and urgent — impossible for your PC to ignore
  • personal (ties in to something on the back of your sheet – though your chr doesn’t have to know how, yet)

Your Backstory Should:

  • explain how and why you became a sorcerer
  • tie into your kicker
  • describe the circumstances of acquiring your first demon
  • introduce some people whom you need and/or care about

GM Prep After First Session:

  1. Review Kickers and backstories.  Merge PC’s relationship map and GM’s secret relationship map.
  2. Create and detail-out NPCs & demons, their motivations and goals, and where the juicy conflicts lie.
  3. Review PCs’ demons. Make changes as necessary. Consider personality of each.
  4. Plan some Bangs. A bunch of Bangs. A variety of Bangs.
  5. Create any other details required by Kickers and Bangs: maps, locations, stats of bad guys and their demons, etc.
  6. Write short descriptions of people, demons, rituals, places, etc. with an emphasis on creating ATMOSPHERE. To give your GMing some imagery and flavour.
  7. a Demons Sheet: one page to track PC demons: binding strengths, mood vs rebellion, Need and feeding, etc.

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I want to let the players define the game’s setting, theme and story as much as possible. I just have some guidelines in mind.

Required Reading:

Just the main Sorcerer rulebook. Although reading Chapter-1 of Sorcerer’s Soul will certainly up your game.

Standard Setting:

Since this is our first Sorcerer game, let’s keep it simple, and save our grand creative outbursts for subsequent games. I know there is no “standard setting” in the rulebook, but let’s borrow unabashedly from the examples provided. We’ll pick our definition of Humanity from one of the four offered in the book (pg44, or Sorcerer’s Soul pg16).

And unless you’re feeling especially inspired, feel free to lift your PC’s Score descriptions, Price, Kicker type (pg35) and maybe even your whole character concept (ideas pg37-38) right from the book.

Demons:

There’s a wide range of possible definitions of Demons given in the book (pg58), from “fallen angels” to “fighter jets with AI.” I’d like to stick to a fairly traditional definition of Demons: extraplanar creatures, banished djinni, spirits of the dead, something like that. Beings that have a crappy half-existence Elsewhere, but really prefer to mix it up with humans on our plane.

The One-Sheet:

By the time we are ready to begin play, we will have filled in all the blanks on the One-Sheet, which is a handy one-page summary of our game parameters, and which looks like this:

  • Notes on Theme, Setting and Genre (mention any inspirational material)
  • What are Demons?
  • What are Sorcerers/What is Sorcery?
  • What is Lore?
  • What is Humanity?
  • —–What acts risk reducing your personal Humanity?
  • —–What acts can redeem your personal Humanity?
  • —–At zero Humanity, you are…
  • —–Demons will…
  • —–Humanity check to…
  • —–Rituals are based on…
  • What is the setting: Location and Era?
  • Descriptors: Stamina, Will, and Lore

Again, since we’re using the examples offered in the book as much as possible, it won’t take us long to answer these questions. I’ll send out a filled-in One-Sheet after our pre-game session. It will replace this, becoming the GM’s hand-out.

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