PLAY SORCERER 55: I. The Game Master Brainstorms Brushstrokes of Setting (6)

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6. What are Demons in this setting?

Sorcerer stories can take place in any setting: modern day earth; a highly advanced civilization on an alien planet; a fantasy world of crumbling empires and bold barbarians.

Given the variety of settings possible, what is the common denominator? What makes a Sorcerer story a Sorcerer story?

It is the existence of Demons. And it is the form they take that does the most to define the setting’s look and feel.

For example, I had the notion once to set a Sorcerer story in a state penitentiary. After brainstorming a bit I realized the Demons would shivs and guns and tattoos and lawyers and all the things specific to prison culture.

In other setting, a science fiction setting in the far future, I used the Angel rules from Sorcerer’s Soul to create extraordinary creatures from the future who wanted humans to join the in a holy war to bring peace to an interstellar empire.

In third setting, inspired by the Conan stories by Robert E. Howard, demons were swords and primitive totems.

By picking the look and feel of what Demons will be, the Game Master can go a long way to making the initial imprint of the upcoming story’s look and feel. Because no matter what, even if some Characters don’t have Demons bound to them, the presence of Demons is what defines the setting more than anything else. They are there to be used, and characters are either using them or refusing to use them. They haunt the story and the setting even if they are not appearing in a scene or interacting with characters—because they are right around the corner, offering aid or conflict, danger or ease.

Sometimes you’ll want to make the definition of Demons very precise in terms of their form (“Demons are Battle Armor”), but usually you’ll want to make it elastic (“Demons are all thing involved with conspiracies and the occult”) allowing the Players a great range of ideas for what kind of Demons they want to interact with.

But remember the words from the Annotated Sorcerer — especially when setting up a straight-up Here and Now setting for Sorcerer: Keep the brushstroke light and simple. You want the Players to add in their ideas and specifics. Although these sections here are thick in words, we’re really looking for just brushstrokes to show to the Players. We want to see what they’ll do with what you show them!

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