PLAY SORCERER 30: Player Characters and the Starting Demons

Sorcerer_Cover

In core-book Sorcerer every character starts with a Demon. (In Sorcerer & Sword a character might start with a Demon or might not.)

The history of how your character acquired your Demon is made during the Character creation session. The implication of this is clear: part of who your Character is as a person is tied up how your Character contacted, summoned and bound a Demon. How could it be any other way? Your character is not some guy or gal who happens to have a demon. Your Character broke the fundamental laws of reality and has bound a thing that does not exist and does not belong here into this world.

How did that happen?

To answer that question you have to go back further in your Character’s past to the moment or moments when something was so wrong that the Character took actions that risked his humanity to get what he or she wanted.

This is all narrative. That is, aside from the binding ritual, none of this is played out. You simply will create this fiction and describe it to your fellow players. The events leading up to the binding ritual might come all at once, or you might come to understand them in piece. You might start with the desperate needs of your Character first, and follow that path to getting the Demon. Or you might see images and ideas about your Character interacting with the Demon and work backward to build the reasons for how the relationship came about.

From the images or ideas or story elements you’ll not only be creating your starting Demon, but your Telltale and your Price. These story elements will also be a vital part of how your Character interacts with Lore. Lore and Price make up half the Character Grid on your Character Sheet. So all of the history of how your Character ended up with a Demon will be a big chunk of your Character Sheet. There’s no getting around this stuff. Sorcerer play—via the Character Sheet—demands that before play even begins you’ve established a great deal of narrative about you Character, what compelled your Character to pursue sorcery, how your Character became a Sorcerer, and what the fallout was from pursuing sorcery.

By nailing all of this down (and by that, I mean creating your Character’s Telltale, Price, starting Demon, and filling out the Price and Lore quadrants on your Character sheet) you are establishing a great deal about what your Character cares about and values.

For example, suppose you create a Character: A man struggling to save his daughter’s life, a man without the funds to keep a sick girl alive. He pursues rituals of Lore, in whatever means makes sense in the fictional setting details the Game Master has created. By pursuing this Lore, this burgeoning sorcerer begins twisting his heart against humanity even as he is most likely motivated by humanity to save his daughter’s life.

You will describe, drawing on the details the Game Master has already provided about Lore, the manner in which Character does this. Is your Character trained by someone else? Does your Character find the writings of a madman that, as your Character follows the path laid out by the madman, lets him or her to begin contacting something beyond the edge of anything he or she has ever experienced before? Does your Character create his or her own path of Lore intuitively, leaping to assumptions about what sorts of behaviors will grant you the pieces you need to get the money or medical care you need to save your daughter. Does your Character join a group of people down in the basement of an abandoned church all working to find the mysteries of gaining greater power through the strange ritual of Lore? Maybe some of these people already have contacted, summoned or bound Demons; but maybe your Character is the only one to actually end up doing any of these rituals.

In any of these scenarios, your Character might have a really good idea of what he or she will be dealing with once you contact a Demon, or your Character might be utterly surprised by the experience and caught off guard by how it plays out. The same goes for summoning or binding. As long as your Character was working toward making these things happen, how they play out is up for you to describe or set up along with the Game Master—who is ultimate arbiter of the tone and feel of Lore as a whole.

The key is that you get to imagine what compelled your Character to pursue lore sorcerer, the tone and feel of that pursuit.

Using the example started above, you would put the name of your Character’s daughter on the Lore quadrant of the Character grid. Whether your Character’s Kicker is involves your Character’s daughter or not, your Character’s daughter is now an essential part of the history of your Character’s Lore. If your Character had a mentor for his or her training in Lore, then that mentor’s name would be written down as well.

Now let us assume that while your Character bound his Demon, whatever the ritual components, the ritual damaged his nervous system. So, you would create the Price and the appropriate -1 penalty. And you would write down any people or objects in the Price quadrant of the Character Grid. Does your Character now take medication to sooth his nerves? Write the name of the medication down. Did the Character’s wife leave him because of the neurological damage? Write her name down. Does the medication come from an illegal dealer? Write his name down. Is the only place that your Character is not affected by the neurological damage the location where the binding took place, or when you are near your daughter, or when you are with your Demon? Then write down these locations or characters in the Price quadrant.

You see what’s happening here? By writing these characters, place and objects down on the Character sheet, you are tagging the elements that specifically define your Character as a sorcerer. And since a Sorcerer story is about the costs and consequences, ambition and victories that come through sorcery, you’re giving the Game Master all this juicy material to tap. Since whatever your Character has done to learn Lore and bind a Demon has happened because of people and things that matter to the Character, you’re feeding all this story stuff for the Game Master to “ping” against your Character once play begins.

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