PLAY SORCERER 58: II. Remember, Always, What You Care About (1)

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1. Humanity and Lore as a live wire

What does it mean to be human? How should we treat each other? What does it mean to lead a good life? How should we behave when real choices are on the line? We all have feelings about this. Tap these feeling when you create your brushtrokes of setting.

By the same token, rituals of Lore can’t just be “bad”—or then it simply becoming morally uninteresting. When you brainstorm Lore, think about behaviors that you don’t like, don’t trust, that, in fact, you think are bad—but that you could see the value of or see yourself doing to get something done.

Sometimes leaders must send followers to their deaths if a war is to be won. Sometimes you have to shut down your empathy for everyone else if you’re going to get that job or raise over other people. Sometimes we do a dishonorable thing to protect ourselves or someone we love. Sometimes we do a thing that we think is inhuman because it’s what we have to do to win, to live, to take care of those we love.

For Lore to be of value for Sorcerer play, you need to see your way into doing deeds that line up with that definition. Sorcerer stories will exaggerate and heighten these elements, of course. But the basic, moral concern must be something you understand.

On the other hand, if the rituals of Lore are just perverse (cannibalism, let’s say), what could the appeal possibly be? Even if your Players go through the motions of having their Characters commit to grotesque rituals for the sake of being grotesque, they’ll simply be going through the motions.

All stories are built on the notion that characters are faced with choices and that they could decide to do one thing or another: The human thing (“protecting others,” for example) and the inhuman thing (“abandoning others,” for example). In Sorcerer the Players really need to know that both options are viable. This is what makes the Characters’ actions compelling. We learn who the Characters are by what choices they make one decision after another—and we want to know what the decisions will be not because the choices are obvious, but because the choices are often hard.

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