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Author Topic: "Sorceror": What's the big deal?  (Read 3011 times)

Kaiu Keiichi

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"Sorceror": What's the big deal?
« Reply #45 on: January 09, 2013, 10:22:45 am »
Quote from: akiva;611912
Wow, what a dick move to change the forum. One person, who clearly has a bias against such games, decides that Sorceror isn't an RPG, so therefore it can't be discussed it the RPG forum? What a petty, douchey, dick move.


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JonTheBrowser

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"Sorceror": What's the big deal?
« Reply #46 on: March 06, 2013, 09:10:05 pm »
Quote from: Warthur;612554
The irony of this thread being moved is that Sorcerer is easily the most traditional of Ron's games, and is pretty much a trad RPG with very vague storygame leanings (in the same way that D&D 4E is a trad RPG with fairly pronounced skirmish miniatures wargaming leanings - and we don't see threads on D&D 4E moved regularly, do we?). The game is transparently Ron's attempt to out-White Wolf White Wolf.


The main reason for Sorcerer not being traditional is the "free and clear" stake settng phase in the resolution mechanic.

When you get into a conflict with another character, you enter into a phase where each person says what they want and you go back and forth until both people are happy.  Not only that, you can change what you decide to do based on what the opponent says they'll do.  So you get to make decisions not just based on the fictional situation, but based on what the other people at the table want and the theoretical things they might do.  You get to know what the other side is doing in advance and change your actions in response and they get to change and you go back and forth until you settle on ones that you both want.

It's massively different from traditional RPG play where you describe what your character does in response to the situation and then use the system to resolve that.  It's not about what happens or what do you do know, but is about who gets their way.  You make decisions as a player on a completely different level.

So what do I actually think about the Pundits separation of games into "true RPGs" and "story games"?  I think it's dumb because I don't agree on his narrow definiton, but at least there actually is a forum to talk about them here rather than discussing them being banned or something.  

I may not agree with the Pundit on what the fundamental act required to count as an RPG is, but I understand the distinction and his resultant moderation.  And I also think that he should move D&D4E threads into the Other Games as well, just to be consistent.  Do I think D&D4E is an RPG?  What about Sorcerer?  Yes.  But the person who makes the moderating calls doesn't and I get why he does it even if I don't agree.

Quote from: Doctor Jest;613784
None of them are in the mechanics. None. Not some. None.


See the "free and clear" thing above.  It's definitely there.

Quote
That's weaksauce. There's no definition of "advice" which fits the definition of "rules". That always struck me as backpeddaling to explain why trad games - including sorcerer - didn't do what the Forgites claimed they did.


No, it stems out of the idea that everything you do at the table to figure out what happens in the fiction is part of the procedures of play, or the system.  So everything the GM does and everything the players do that has anything at all to do with deciding what happens in the fiction is part of the system in their framework.  

Baker is way better than Edwards at writing GM instructions that actually are part of the game procedures though.  In Apocalypse World, for example, he even tells the MC the exact words to say at certain moments during the game.  And tells you what words not to say ever (the name of the GM "moves" or whatever).  He even explicitly tells the GM to make decisions not based on the fiction and then hide that from the players.  He's very, very specific and it's not advice.

In Edward's games as well, it really does mean that the stuff it says the GM should do is not advice, but actually part of the procedures of the game.  He's just bad at expressing it.

Quote
Except in a wilderness expedition, the conflict is Man vs. Nature, so a conflict still exists. Nowhere in the game does it say conflicts are only Man vs. Man. In fact, humanity checks are explicitly Man vs. Himself.


This illustrates a very very legitimate criticism of "Narrativism" (or whatever Story Now! BS they're calling it now).  Ron Edwards is married to the idea that good conflicts are all character based and are about morals and values.  He makes no room for classic conflicts like "man vs nature" which we all learned about in a junior high classroom.  His neglect of that sucks.  

And if Humanity checks are supposed to be character-vs-self conflicts, they're really terrible at handling it.  I don't think they are a conflict per se.  They're just checks to see if a number on a character drops and then if you hit zero, you lose your character to the GM.

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"Sorceror": What's the big deal?
« Reply #47 on: March 06, 2013, 09:24:12 pm »
Quote from: JonTheBrowser;634975
The main reason for Sorcerer not being traditional is the "free and clear" stake settng phase in the resolution mechanic.

When you get into a conflict with another character, you enter into a phase where each person says what they want and you go back and forth until both people are happy.  Not only that, you can change what you decide to do based on what the opponent says they'll do.  So you get to make decisions not just based on the fictional situation, but based on what the other people at the table want and the theoretical things they might do.  You get to know what the other side is doing in advance and change your actions in response and they get to change and you go back and forth until you settle on ones that you both want.

It's massively different from traditional RPG play where you describe what your character does in response to the situation and then use the system to resolve that.  It's not about what happens or what do you do know, but is about who gets their way.  You make decisions as a player on a completely different level.


Ron may have said that "free and clear" is some kind of collaborative storygame stroke of genius, but really, it's about when player bullshit stops being bullshit and becomes what the character actually does/says. In other words, it's just another way of saying "you can't change what your character does once the dice are rolled." It's no different than players indicating whether they are talking in character or out of character. In fact, you could adopt a "free and clear" phase in D&D. It just replaces dicing for initiative.

Now, depending on how you interpret "what everyone wants/is happy with", that discussion may be limited to what people want their characters to do, or it may also include what they want the *story* to be. In the latter case, it's definitely a storygame.

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"Sorceror": What's the big deal?
« Reply #48 on: March 06, 2013, 10:06:13 pm »
Quote from: talysman;634978
Ron may have said that "free and clear" is some kind of collaborative storygame stroke of genius, but really, it's about when player bullshit stops being bullshit and becomes what the character actually does/says. In other words, it's just another way of saying "you can't change what your character does once the dice are rolled." It's no different than players indicating whether they are talking in character or out of character. In fact, you could adopt a "free and clear" phase in D&D. It just replaces dicing for initiative.

Now, depending on how you interpret "what everyone wants/is happy with", that discussion may be limited to what people want their characters to do, or it may also include what they want the *story* to be. In the latter case, it's definitely a storygame.

Add in entire conflict resolution rather than task based resolution and the whole stake setting and free and clear phase won't look anything like what you're talking about with D&D.

Also my point in bringing this up is to show why Sorcerer might be considered not an RPG by Pundit and thus moved this discussion to this forum.  The answer is that you make decisions as a player based on different things from what he thinks is a normal RPG about.

When i say "what everyone wants" in terms of Sorcerer, I really am talking about making decisions based on participant desire rather than the in game fiction.  In doing so it produces a different type of play than traditional RPGs.  In Sorcerer, you are not limited to making decisions based on what you want your character to do in response to the fictional situation.  You're encouraged to set stakes and negotiate based on a variety of other factors.

EDIT:  My next paragraph below is crap

The ironic thing about Pundit's adherence to a hard line about what's a true RPG and not is that in doing so he tacitly admits that the forge theory stuff works in that it actually can produce a different type of play.  Different enough to count as a non-RPG in his eyes.  It may be a type of play different enough that Pundit considers it departing the hobby completely, but it is still the type of play they intended to produce when they used the tools they developed.

EDIT:  The reason the above is crap is that it assumes that the forge theory caused the designs they produced rather than considering the very distinct possibility they were produced in spite of it and only after the various elements of Forge theory were hammered in discussion to the point that people worked them out of their systems and then designed based on fragments of useful thought that crept their way into the theory inspite of itself.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2013, 11:08:27 am by JonTheBrowser »

James Gillen

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"Sorceror": What's the big deal?
« Reply #49 on: March 07, 2013, 03:55:36 am »
Quote from: Warthur;612554
The irony of this thread being moved is that Sorcerer is easily the most traditional of Ron's games, and is pretty much a trad RPG with very vague storygame leanings (in the same way that D&D 4E is a trad RPG with fairly pronounced skirmish miniatures wargaming leanings - and we don't see threads on D&D 4E moved regularly, do we?). The game is transparently Ron's attempt to out-White Wolf White Wolf.

The irony of Sorcerer itself is that whilst it is easily Ron's most successful game commercially and critically, it's also the game that (until this Kickstarter happened) he wanted to distance himself from the most. He went on record several times back in the heyday of the Forge to suggest that Sorcerer was ideologically impure somehow, a fumbling attempt to get at the sort of storytelling he wanted which mostly failed. But then, what did he do of consequence after that? Spione? Those godawful gag games of his? For someone who considers Sorcerer to be the least of his works he certainly has struggled to come up with anything comparably interesting.


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Justin Alexander

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"Sorceror": What's the big deal?
« Reply #50 on: March 07, 2013, 05:41:58 am »
Quote from: akiva;611850
I'm not trying to open a new Ron Edwards bashing thread; there are plenty of those already. I'm trying to get a handle on why some people lavish so much praise on "Sorceror."


I'm not a huge fan of Sorcerer, but I suspect your perspective is skewed. Your post is a little like picking up the D&D White Box and saying, "I don't get it. What's the big deal? It's just another fairly typical fantasy roleplaying game."

There are a couple of things Sorcerer did that were pretty notable at the time it was released:

First, Edwards studded the book with designer commentary. At a time when non-rudimentary RPG theory was pretty much completely absent from the consciousness of the hobby, Edwards was suddenly delivering huge dollops of some really advanced thought. (I think he mostly stood on the shoulders of giants after slicing the giants' Achilles' tendons, but nonetheless.)

Second, it was basically the first game to really push narrative responsibility onto the players. (And also offered some rudimentary narrative control mechanics.) Look at the discussion of kickers on page 35, for example: That might seem bog-standard now, but the idea of saying "the player, not the GM, is responsible for setting up the initial conflicts of the campaign" was really radical shit back then.

For the people who were attracted to the type of gaming Edwards was advocating, this stuff really transformed their gaming. It turned a lot of the engrained, habitual understanding people had for how an RPG worked and turned it completely on its head.

You'll see people come up with all kinds of antecedents for this and claim that they were personally doing it since 1984. But that's a lot like the people who go around saying, "Oh yeah. We were basically doing that 'roleplaying' thing back in '64 while playing Panzer Blitz." Maybe it's true. Maybe it's not. Doesn't change the fact that D&D was a watershed paradigm shift; and so was Sorcerer.
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"Sorceror": What's the big deal?
« Reply #51 on: March 07, 2013, 07:25:26 am »
Quote from: Justin Alexander;635048
I'm not a huge fan of Sorcerer, but I suspect your perspective is skewed. Your post is a little like picking up the D&D White Box and saying, "I don't get it. What's the big deal? It's just another fairly typical fantasy roleplaying game."

There are a couple of things Sorcerer did that were pretty notable at the time it was released:

First, Edwards studded the book with designer commentary. At a time when non-rudimentary RPG theory was pretty much completely absent from the consciousness of the hobby, Edwards was suddenly delivering huge dollops of some really advanced thought. (I think he mostly stood on the shoulders of giants after slicing the giants' Achilles' tendons, but nonetheless.)

Second, it was basically the first game to really push narrative responsibility onto the players. (And also offered some rudimentary narrative control mechanics.) Look at the discussion of kickers on page 35, for example: That might seem bog-standard now, but the idea of saying "the player, not the GM, is responsible for setting up the initial conflicts of the campaign" was really radical shit back then.

For the people who were attracted to the type of gaming Edwards was advocating, this stuff really transformed their gaming. It turned a lot of the engrained, habitual understanding people had for how an RPG worked and turned it completely on its head.

You'll see people come up with all kinds of antecedents for this and claim that they were personally doing it since 1984. But that's a lot like the people who go around saying, "Oh yeah. We were basically doing that 'roleplaying' thing back in '64 while playing Panzer Blitz." Maybe it's true. Maybe it's not. Doesn't change the fact that D&D was a watershed paradigm shift; and so was Sorcerer.


Great post, Justin. You explain it better than I could do.
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Anon Adderlan

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"Sorceror": What's the big deal?
« Reply #52 on: March 07, 2013, 10:45:07 am »
Quote from: BedrockBrendan;612119
For starters you are still free to discuss sorcerer all you want. The only thing stopping a robust debate about the merits of Ron's game is you, because you are torpedoing your own thread to protest pundit's organization of the forum and his position on the forge and story games.


Nope. Organization can and does limit discussion. It's why 'other games' exists in the first place, because you don't need that for an 'RPG' forum.

Quote from: K Peterson;612222
His video is rather cringe-worthy.


I have to agree, which might be why the pledge level for his video tutorials didn't do so well. Then again, he holds himself better than most who do this kind of thing.

Quote from: Warthur;612554
The irony of this thread being moved is that Sorcerer is easily the most traditional of Ron's games


Hey Pundit, how is Sorcerer a Storygame again?

Quote from: Warthur;612554
The irony of Sorcerer itself is that whilst it is easily Ron's most successful game commercially and critically, it's also the game that (until this Kickstarter happened) he wanted to distance himself from the most. He went on record several times back in the heyday of the Forge to suggest that Sorcerer was ideologically impure somehow, a fumbling attempt to get at the sort of storytelling he wanted which mostly failed.


Now THIS is interesting.

Quote from: Elliot Wilen;612576
Sorcerer may be the most traditional of Edwards' games but when I read it I found it embodied the the "narrativist" philosophy in several ways.


Do tell.

Quote from: Elliot Wilen;612576
1. Once a player writes a Kicker, they have a right to expect it will be engaged by the GM.


Once a player takes a disadvantage, such as a dependent, they have a right to expect it will be engaged by the GM.

Quote from: Elliot Wilen;612576
2. "Bangs" are an explicit improv technique that works from exactly the opposite of a simulationist perspective (small-s, big-S, whatever). I.e., the GM is supposed to make stuff happen that challenges the PC's issues, values, etc. It doesn't happen because it preexisted or was extrapolated, or because it appeared randomly.


First, as someone pointed out, these bangs often DO exist before play. Second, perhaps I live in crazytown, but every single GM I know of makes shit up on the spot or randomly, and lots of RPGs even come with random encounter tables to help them do it.

But please, do go on.

Quote from: Elliot Wilen;612576
3. The actual resolution system is pretty gimmicky. Not quite so much as DitV, but probably more than ORE.


Everyone involved in a conflict rolls a number of d10 equal to a stat. Then they compare values. Highest value wins. On a tie, remove those dice and compare again, highest value wins. Level of effect is how many dice you have which are greater than your opponents highest die.

It's so simple and effective that I'm shocked it hasn't been picked up for other games. Mind you, EVERYTHING is complex compared to rolling a die under a number. But what Sorcerer does in one roll, roll under systems have to use multiple rolls for.

Quote from: Elliot Wilen;612576
4. If I'm not mistaken, the actual game articulates a general premise to be addressed, of "what will you do for power?" So: baked-in story.


Which is a premise so general that it applies to EVERY adventure story. It applies to D&D, and it applies to AMBER. But keep going, I'm sure you'll get one eventually.

Quote from: Elliot Wilen;612576
5. Allegedly (based on comments by a fan of the game; I don't remember in detail), Sorcerer generally doesn't resolve tasks, only conflicts between characters. E.g., if you're climbing a cliff to infiltrate your enemy's lair, it's a conflict and it can be resolved by rolling some dice. If a conflict can't be defined as such (between characters), there's no dice to roll. Think about what this means for a wilderness expedition.


Means it's interesting?

I STILL do not believe there is a meaningful difference between Task and Conflict resolution. They're both about asking a question and having the dice answer it. Now what questions and answers do you expect to get during a Wilderness expedition?

Quote from: Elliot Wilen;612576
As for whether it's a good game or not...I couldn't say.


Shame, because that's really the only important thing you could have said something about.

Quote from: Elliot Wilen;612576
(Moving the thread to another forum is just a way to piss off hysterical storygame-zealots. In practical terms, it has no other effect. Just click "New Posts" when you visit the site, and you'll never have to worry about which forum something is in.)


Indeed, why have separate Forum boards at all?

Oh yeah, that's right, because they DO affect organization and where attention is focused.

But I'm with you. We should combine all the boards here into one.

Quote from: Doctor Jest;613783
The thing about Sorcerer wasn't the game system (which is actually only a small part of the book) or the implied setting (only a few more) but the LONG FUCKING ESSAY that takes up nearly a third of the book that served as the basis for GNS.


Now the essay has annotations too :p

Quote from: JonTheBrowser;634975
When you get into a conflict with another character, you enter into a phase where each person says what they want and you go back and forth until both people are happy.  Not only that, you can change what you decide to do based on what the opponent says they'll do.  So you get to make decisions not just based on the fictional situation, but based on what the other people at the table want and the theoretical things they might do.  You get to know what the other side is doing in advance and change your actions in response and they get to change and you go back and forth until you settle on ones that you both want.


When I'm fighting IRL, my intuition is informing me of the moves my opponent is most likely to make. But when I play D&D I lose that element because my character's intuition can't inform me. Also, if your opponent can change their action in response to your change, then you DON'T know what they're doing in advance.

The big irony here is that the way Sorcerer does things is MORE immersive and Simulationist than RPGs with traditional initiative systems.

Quote from: JonTheBrowser;634975
It's massively different from traditional RPG play where you describe what your character does in response to the situation and then use the system to resolve that.  It's not about what happens or what do you do know, but is about who gets their way.  You make decisions as a player on a completely different level.


You might be right, but damned if I can tell by your statement.

Quote from: JonTheBrowser;634975
Ron Edwards is married to the idea that good conflicts are all character based and are about morals and values.  He makes no room for classic conflicts like "man vs nature" which we all learned about in a junior high classroom.


Show me a good Man vs Nature conflict and I'll show you a writer who treats Nature like a character.

Quote from: JonTheBrowser;634975
And if Humanity checks are supposed to be character-vs-self conflicts, they're really terrible at handling it.


They're not, but I'll wait till I see how you respond to my other statements before I take the time to explain.

JonTheBrowser

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"Sorceror": What's the big deal?
« Reply #53 on: March 07, 2013, 11:26:48 am »
Quote from: Anon Adderlan;635101
They're not, but I'll wait till I see how you respond to my other statements before I take the time to explain.

I failed to explain how the decision making process in sorcerer departs from how decisions are made by players in games our host would call true RPGs.  When I play in a game with stake setting and scene framing and conflict resolution and the like, I make decisions on different factors than when I play games that expect me to stay in character and make decisions based on that character alone.  I don't really know how to unpack that further.

As for the Nature as character thing, I think you're on to something to an extent there, but I largely disagree.  While humans do have the genetic predisposition to infer agency where there is none (like making up supernatural explanations to explain weather), I don't think we need nature to be personified in order to enjoy conflicts about it in a story.  Some great stories are about the impersonal nature of the cosmos, for example.

As for humanity in Sorcerer ostensibly doing some great thing to explore character-vs-himself conflicts, I don't think you should bother expanding on it.  At this point, I'm likely not going to buy it given that my own experience with the game leads me to believe the opposite.  Unless you are suggesting the procedures in the book are wrong and if you just apply the right house rule, *then* humanity can handle conflicts like that well.  I could buy that.  On this issue, I'm going to believe my eyes more than your words, just like you are with your insistence that Sorcerer is a traditional RPG.

You feel you've experienced playing the game in a way that makes you conclude it's a traditional RPG and I've played the game too and come the exact opposite conclusion.  Sorcerer simply asks you to make decisions based on different factors than traditional RPGs.  The fact that you can ignore the game procedures and make decisions based on your character and the game doesn't fall apart probably says more about the strength of the traditional approach to gaming than it does anything about Sorcerer.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2013, 11:29:48 am by JonTheBrowser »