PLAY SORCERER 13: Sorcerer Play is Built with the Unity of a Limited Palette


The first “colors” selected for Sorcerer play are the Game Master’s brushstrokes of setting: The images the Game Master describes; references to televisions shows, films or comic books; the definitions of Humanity, Demons and Lore.

Inspired by these colors, the Players will add more when the fill out their Character sheets.

The items: the Game Master’s first brushstrokes of setting and the Players’ Character Sheets, form the limited palette of Sorcerer play.

Look at these items:

  • Demons (“A statement of the look and feel for demons and sorcery: similarly brief and evocative, visual or conceptual or both,” per Annotated Sorcerer.)
  • Location (“A statement of environment, deliberately kept brief and with any amount of implicit tension,” per Annotated Sorcerer.)

We begin with those first two items. We use them as the base for mixing  each of these other elements:

  • The Definition of Humanity (if Humanity is defined, per The Sorcerer’s Soul, often described with images of what actions entail risk or gain of Humanity.)
  • The Definition of Lore (if Humanity is defined, per The Sorcerer’s Soul, often described with images of what actions entail the activity of Lore)
  • The Player Characters’ Kickers
  • The Player Characters’ Prices
  • The Player Characters’ Telltales
  • The Descriptors for Stamina, Will and Lore
  • Each Character’s Lore
  • The Player Characters’ Starting Demons
  • The characters, places and things listed in each quadrant (Kicker, Price, Cover, and Lore) of each Character’s Character Grid

This list of items (everything with a bullet point above) form the “limited palette” of Sorcerer play. From these,  play will spring. This is your Unity for play, and by mixing and matching these element with each other and new inspiration, you’ll have cohesion in your play, but you’ll still have Variety.

Please note two words in that last sentence: “New Inspiration.”

The act of making up a story is much looser than making a painting when it comes to the raw materials at hand. When the Game Master goes off to do this Game Master prep, he is not limited to the items above the way a painter would be limited to paints on his palette.

But he will look to his original brushstrokes of setting, the definitions of Humanity he chose, the rituals of Lore he described to the Players, and so on. And he’ll look over all the words the Players wrote down on their character sheets. And from these elements the Game Master will mix and match and invent new things. He will create more detail for the characters the Players created. He will invent new characters. He’ll think through the implications of the Character’s Kickers and Prices and the items under Lore and mix it with the definition of Humanity and see what he comes up with.

The Players, too, will draw from this limited palette as they play. Whenever I’ve seen a Player get stuck during play as to what to do next, I always say, “Look at the Grid with all the things your Character cares about.” Invariably, the Player finds the inspiration for what they want to do next while looking at that Character Grid.

We start with this limited palette and then, through play, mix the elements, creating new elements, creating a thing we could not have anticipated when play began and only discovered through the act of playing with the materials.

We take a drop of iodine and drop it into a glass of water. The iodine swirls and makes a pattern as it spreads out through the water. That pattern is the pattern of that drop of iodine making that pattern in those moments of interaction with the water. That’s what Sorcerer play is like.



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