This game is pure gut-punch Sorcerer, but there’s a little history underlying it.
Almost three years ago, a determined person contacted me with a bevy of questions about whatever on earth I must be thinking about role-playing. That led to what ended up as 120 single-spaced pages of dialogue, and also to the presentation you can see right now in the Phenomenology series in Seminar.
I didn’t think much of that was worth anything without play, so about a year ago, I made my way to Washington D.C. for a weekend with Zac, the above-named instigator, and Jann. We and a couple of their friends played Cold Soldier (described elsewhere here in Actual Play), Trollbabe, Zero, and The Great Ork Gods. I’d planned on starting more regular play with them and finally got around to it – to find that Jann had set her sights upon Sorcerer.
Organizing it on-line brought us Pedro, who lives in Finland, and thus it was. Our first discussion wasn’t recorded, but it yielded the notions of “a big modern city” and demons defined as “technological music.” Pedro thought up the character idea of an astronomer who blissed out listening to musical communications from the center of a black hole, Jann came up with a young musician whose demonic guitar makes her a star, and Zac spun it a little differently by thinking about a retro-mafioso and a sinister old pianola.
The session presented here launched us into play. The first fifteen minutes nailed down the starting characters, finishing up the demons from what the players had sent me by email, and getting me enough information for their diagrams. About the next ten minutes went for the Binding rolls.
At 27 minutes in, we started play. As usual, for me, it’s mainly just feeling my way into role-playing the various characters, because the situation for each player-character is pretty clear based on their diagrams. You’ll hear me start with a lot of “you could do this” and “you could do that,” which I present as scaffolding so people know how the rules work, and which I typically stop doing in the second session.
Also as usual, that “feeling my way” stage tends to be dramatically more productive in retrospect than anyone could imagine. Just putting one character into the vicinity of another is good enough. You’ll also see an example of what’s called Spiking, which is to say, taking a Kicker (the attack on Zac’s character’s sister) and introducing a lot more mystery and danger into it (an attack on Michael through a demon possessing her).
I’m really bummed not to have the visual for what follows. This group is notable for overcoming the limitations of screen-based play entirely – the exchanges of expressions, the small or not-quite-voiced indications of listening, even the body positioning, created a genuine together-here atmosphere, which has only become nicer and more fun with every session. It was especially clear at the end of this one, when Pedro and Jann further discussed their demons’ potential, and each visual response among us fueled further inspiration.
Fortunately the later sessions are captured on video and you’ll see what I mean.