My Desperate Sorcerer's group split up before we can continue and I absolutly wanted to GM Sorcerer. After a few of S/Lay W/Me sessions with Laura where we tried different ways of “playing loose”, we wanted to play a Sorcerer and Sword game. Furthermore, Sorcerer & Sword states explicitly that it’s good to play with only one player.
I was kind of fascinated by a dark Grimm orientation and we selected a biography together in this way. Laura didn’t read so much sword & sorcery and I’ve read it only long time ago so we added the classics. We’ve read the selected Conan stories in Sorcerer & Sword, Mythago Wood, Gormenghast, Jirel of Joyri, Elric and Kane. In chronogical order, once finished Mythago wood, we played a game of “Inflorenza” (a very interesting narrative game with a great mechanic) set in this kind of settings and were fed up with this idea. I asked Laura some idea of her character and she answered “I want to play a badass queen. Maybe a pirate queen!” I stopped reading Gormenghast which I just started, proposed Laura to read Elric and finished Kane’s Bloodstone and Dark Crusade. We got a discussion about Jirel of Joyri in I argued that she wasn’t so naïve (like I’ve read on some critics, the girl falling in love with her wannabe rapper), but that the love was the “unnatural curse” of the Dark God, a kind of demonic trade-off for the mean to kill him. We got a bit fed up with the representation of woman in Conan and Elric, but Kane’s Bloodstone really inspired me.
Anyway, I asked Laura to create her character and she chose:
- Stamina 5 : Trained solider, unnatural means
- Will 2 : Leader of Men
- Lore 3 : Inhuman
- Past 2 : Pirate Queen of the Azur Sea
- Price -1 : Bad Reputation
A small discussion lead to these elements: Demons = “erotic and disturbing”, Color = “Archipels in an azur sea”. “Azur”, her character, would be part of an ancient dominant civilization with some rare survivors leaving in strong rivalry, “highlander style”. She was part of a warrior caste. When asked about her bad reputation, she answrs that she’s not recognized by the local aristocracy as she “gained” her title and not inherited it, and the inhuman race has let some bad memories. Also she destroyed a community with a tempest and people remembers that. Today, she leads a whole flotilla of competent pirates that leaves on an island she controls where ships are raised from the sea by complex network of pulleys.
We talked a bit about the settings without trying to go to far. We checked the methodology of the Azk’Arn setting in the Sorcerer & Sex supplement for that.
I refrained myself to came with my own ideas and let Laura’s answers show the way. The world is full of archipel and “land” is the wealthiest resource. Water is one of the most precious resource in the salted and poisoned sea world. Lands are covered by dense jungles inhabited by weird and brutal (demon) beasts - Kane’s Bloodstone’s Kranorril style or Conan’s Queen of the Black Coast’s style. To leave on a City on the ground, one has to bind/pact/deal with a powerful demon linked to the city (we couldn’t refrain inspiration from bloodstone and Az’ , and we didn’t want to define too much bfore the character) which can activates the cities defenses, and “control” local beasts (as in bloodstone), or at least make them go away from the city. These cities are all ruins of the ancient inhuman civilization from which Laura’s character comes from. These reactivated fortress cities are the “civilization” with a hierarchical nobility. “Barbarism” is how these cities call another type of social structures, more egalitarian and leaving on whole floating cities made of ships on the sea. These ship-cities are unbuilt and rebuilt on the sea according to needs and are complete flotilla. They elect a military leader but that’s the main social hierarchy, everything else relies on clans and they deal with sea creatures and elementals, demons “beasts” leaving in the sea with whom they can sometimes deal some pacts. Also, we are in world that has been submerged, so there’s whole ruins of older civilizations in the deep sea.
When asked, “you’re leaving the life you always wanted, what does it look likes, and how your demon helps you with that”, Laura answers that she wants to be the queen of a city.
We than play the sorcerer’s game in Marseille and got some new insights about the game.
Asked about her Demon, she says her demon is big demon-ship that : gives her an Aura of Majesty leading people to worship her as a goddess, let her control the elements, the tempests and the winds, can transport her to a safe location particularly when in a dangerous situation, makes her an incredible supernatural warrior who can almost crushes anybody else, can sees in the eyes of somebody else and gives her hints or visions of the future. I translate this into the following powers: Hint, Travel, Vision, Transport, Perception (else’s eyes), Cover (Children of War), Big, Armor, Confuse, Hold, Cover (Majestic Goddess), Psychic force, Warp. We still have to define the need and desire of the demon.
Azur’s sorcery looks like “bloody orgies”. She inherits it from her inhuman descriptor, so we stated that her the ancient civilization was a civilization of sorcerer and warriors
Asked about her kicker, Laura defines that “Somebody else has just risen a city from the sea, in front of mine.” We went for this diagram.
Now we’re about to play and I feel some doubts in the actual development that I’d like to share to have feedback.
- We rapidly arrived to a discussion about “what is the demon”, and “can we have two demons at the beginning”. This was caused by the idea of having to bind a demon to defend a fortress city. This idea was in the Sorcerer & Sex supplement and we found it so cool, wanting to keep it after having considerate to drop if it was constraining our creative process. At the current stade, we solve the case by stating “just choose the demon you want to play, not the one that would be logical” and we went with the Demon-Ship. So maybe Azur starts the game with a city needing a strong demon, or she doesn’t need to bind it. We still need to deal (or not) with this issue.
- Not sure about the definition of the demon. To me it’s actually one of the most difficult thing to grasp as a GM.
- Here’s the diagram we got but I’m not sure about it. Not sure how we “cut” the phrases into elements. Not sure if the “aristocracy” should be defined as a specific NPC with a name and motive before the game. Not sure if everything is well positioned. I think we did the diagrams together in real time. I “feel” is nothing is not really right but can’t put my finger on it.
- The idea is to make the “guy that raise a city from the sea” a member of the inhuman civilization (“highlander style”) and Azur’s warrior caste. The risen city could be the city that has been destroyed (in the price). Am I already giving too much content (my feeling is that I’m constraining to the kicker an djust spiking it a bit).
- We’re gonna play the proposed S&S chronology (C-A-B-…) So Laura’s playing a badass queen, not a quest to become queen.
- We didn’t define a Destiny and had trouble to define one outside of the one proposed in examples.
Now we can’t wait to play but it would be great to have feedback and correction before starting the game!
I think I can retain this from our Shadow & beauty in Marseille’s game:
- Let’s try to ask again about the parts of the diagrams to the player without input from the GM;
- Focus on the elements that comes from the discussion. There’s still some things to clarify (demon need, stamina’s unnatural means).
Any comment and/or advices?