PLAY SORCERER 31: Abilities for Your Character’s Starting Demon

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When constructing your starting Demon, you might be tempted to go down the list of the Demon Abilities and try to cobble together some sort of Demon out of all the things you think would be neat to have. I recommend against this.

The Demon Powers are a broad category of effects, but they are not the specific look and feel of those effects. And playing Sorcerer hinges on the look of the fiction. The more we can really see in our imagination’s eye what is happening in the fiction, the more we can draw on that and build on that for further fiction. So, the Ability Armor protects someone (perhaps the Demon, perhaps your Sorcerer) from edged or projectile weapons. The name itself suggests that it might be a “toughening up” of the character. But the visual effect might be just as easily that nearby light shimmers around your character when a sword is swung or a shot is fired, momentarily blinding the attacker. Or the visual effect might be that when attacked the Armored character simply shifts a few inches one way or the other, surprising the attacker, making him think his eyes have tricked him.

Or another example: A giant snake, something out of a pulp fantasy story, might be able to coil around a man preventing him from striking as it swings its fanged mouth around to strike. With the Ability Hold we have a mechanical operation for what it means for that snake to hold our hero in place. Of course, such a creature would not need Hold to take such an action. A successful Stamina roll on the snake’s part might be described as cooling around the Character and doing damage. But the Hold makes such a move that much more effective. And effectiveness is what Abilities (and Demons!) are all about!

In my experience, then, rather than going down the Ability list it is better to first imagine your demon.

Dream, with imagery and pictures, what your demon looks like, what it can do. How does it behave in danger? How has it helped your Character so far? (We know it has successfully helped your Character since you Bound it — that’s why you kept it around. How has it helped?) Imagine scenes and moments of such aid or action. Then describe your Demon, with its effective effects to your fellow Players. Tell them what sorts of things you see your Demon doing, how they interact with people and the world, how they interact with the Character. What is the look of the thing when it is helping you? What are its effects? Go as strange and specific as you want.

By speaking your images out loud, giving examples of the kinds of things you see your Demon being able to do, your fellow players can ask questions for clarity. The more you all spend some time sorting out what your Demon can do and can’t do, the better you’ll be able to then go into the list of Demon Abilities and find the broad categories of Abilities that you can use to build that cool effect.

Remember also that Demon Abilities can be combined! Abilities are not individual “powers.” They are notations of power that not only mean many things but can also be combined like Lego Blocks to produce new, unique effects as well. The game does set out all these options. I am convinced that Ron, as in so many things about Sorcerer, wants you to find how you will use the tool set he has given you to make what you want to work.

Make up your image of your Demon and it’s effectiveness in the world. Then go to town and pull together the Abilities you need to make them come to life. It’ll be bumpy the first few times. But the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it.

As always in Sorcerer, follow the fiction, follow the images, follow the characters, follow what you want to see. The rules of Sorcerer play will always happily follow what you want to make happen or attempt to make happen.

 

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