PLAY SORCERER 25: Roleplaying Humanity

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The value of a Character’s Humanity score does not influence the Character’s behavior in any way. A Character either has a score of greater than zero or less than zero—those are the only two states that matter for behavior.

If the score greater than zero, the Character is still human. If a Character is human, no matter how low the Humanity, all moral choices are available to the Character. As the Humanity rises or falls, there is no condition to behave a certain way based on the score.

If score falls to zero, the Character has become inhuman. Such a person is, effectively, a monster of sorts, incapable of making moral choices, feeling the things that other people feel, connected to other people in any way that matters. This is the point where the Character Sheet is taken away from the Player by the Game Maser.

Clearly, the fact that Humanity is set up to serve as a regulator like this is part of Sorcerer play. The rule is in place so that Players simply can’t drive their character from one horrible action to the next without consequences. Despite the fact that Characters in a Sorcerer story might commit immoral acts, a Sorcerer story is quite a moral story. It asks us to pay attention to how and when we might justify good or bad actions, to be aware that what we do affects others, and to make choices, via our Characters about when our own desires will simply trump the concerns of the rest of humanity. Where your Character draws these line is, of course, up to you.

But, while you have free reign, the fact is, when you watch your Character’s Humanity dropping toward zero you will be aware you might want put the breaks on Lore based activity, and even speak words and do deeds that have a chance of raising the Character’s Humanity with Humanity Gain rolls. Does this mean you are stepping out of the emotional and soulful life of your Character.

I don’t think so. At least not the way I play. When I’m playing a Character with a Humanity close to zero, I assume that because the Character still is human he is aware he is on the verge of losing something important—the very qualities that define Humanity. He is like an addict who realizes that he can’t just keep doing what he’s doing. But the time Humanity is hovering at a score of 1, 2 or 3, the Character has already done some pretty nasty stuff. He has broken the laws of Humanity with his behaviors. Laws might be broken, along with the breaking and stress on relationships with characters that matter to the Character (a spouse, children, siblings, parents, business partners and so on.)

When I’m playing a Character in this situation, I always assume its one of those, “Man, I have got to get my shit together!” moments character on a downward spiral hits in a story. Now, whether or not I choose to have my Character act on that realization is something else. My Character might be so driven as to what he’s after or so arrogant to think he can beat the odds on the risk to his Humanity with more horrible act or transgressive ritual of sorcery that will finally bring him to the goal he seeks. This is me feeling out the Character. And, significantly, my Character—just like me—is aware there is a risk. And if he moves forward with risks to his Humanity, I am saying my Character thinks that the risks to his Humanity are worth it.

And that’s what a Sorcerer story is all about—what his worth risking one’s Humanity for and what is worth saving one’s Humanity for?

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