PLAY SORCERER 9: Stories Are an Exploration of Humanity

Sorcerer_Cover

Stories can be many things: Compelling, action-packed, full of drama and humor, full of cool imagery, deeds of derring-do, grief and loss and so many other things.

But at their core—the thing that makes a story a story and not simply a collection of fictional moments or events—is the question of how a character behaves.

Again, you might not believe me. But I’m telling you now, whether it’s Goldilocks entering someone else’s home for food and shelter, Jack deciding if he’s going to trade away his farm’s cow for magic (magic!) beans instead of coins, Medea deciding how to deal with her unfaithful husband, Macbeth deciding to nudge the witches’ prophecy along at the demands of his wife, John McClane having to choose whether to stay an protect a wife who has rejected him in the face of armed gunmen, Rose on the Titanic deciding which of two very different men she’s going to commit her life to, and so on, tales are full of decisions like this, with every tale full of many decisions for the main characters.

We make stories and consume stories because, in ways we’re not always aware of or appreciate consciously, we all have questions about how we can or should or want to live… and stories are a chance to test out all the various ways humans find themselves conflicted.

Now, whether or not this element of a story is something that turns you on, I’m telling you now that this element is in every story you have ever liked—because it’s a vital element of all stories that work. And if you’re playing Sorcerer it means you’re going to become aware of this and using things you might not have noticed in stories before because you’re now making story on purpose.

But note that one of the reasons we’re not thinking about Maximus’ ethical and moral choices in Gladiator or all the choices Al Swearengen makes in Deadwood is that stories aren’t stopping to point these choices out. They aren’t pointing huge arrows at “The Themes.” There aren’t big philosophical discussions between the characters about the “Issues.” What happens is this: The characters care about many things, things that are often in conflict (safety, love, family, duty, money, country, revenge and so many other things) and they make choices as they drive towards getting things done in regard to things they care about.

That’s it. That’s how humanity is revealed in a story. The characters are emotionally invested in getting things done and they do things. And that’s exactly how Humanity gets revealed in a Sorcerer story. Because that’s exactly how you’re going to get it done.

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