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Lessons as I go: Sorcerer Exalted

September 6, 2011

I’ve begun playing a game on Google Plus using my Sorcerer Exalted rules. I’m playing with two friends who I haven’t been able to game with for a couple of years, as we’ve all moved to different locations.

We’ve set up to do short, hour and a half weeknight sessions, which I think is actually ideal. It’s long enough significant events can happen, but it’s short enough there’s not a lot of room for going off track- the time limit means you focus and play hard and get some great play in.

Play has been neat slowly sharpening up to good.

Let Sorcerer guide prep

There’s a lot of tricks that work for other games that don’t work so well in Sorcerer. I had prepped by setting up a situation much like I would for Heroquest or Burning Wheel- a small conflict web of folks, and a few interlocked problems.

Thing is, those other games don’t have the laser focus Sorcerer does- BW for example has a few different reward systems which players can play with between engaging with Beliefs- Sorcerer is all Humanity, all the time.

I didn’t get strong enough Kickers from players, and the conflict web got mostly cut down to characters who were the closest approximates to fulfilling the blood & sex connections of a classic Relationship map.

Lesson: do exactly what Sorcerer says with regards to prep.

Crosses for the win

Since I’ve got two players, it’s an intimate game. Their characters aren’t connected, other than being two Solar Exalted in the same city, living undercover. So, I decided to try to take the NPCs each one is connected to and start forcing them to cross over to the other player.

For example, one PC is Kwan, who once was an Exalted who used his magic to create sentient life – without much thought given to it. So now he has wayward and lost paper-golem people still seeking Daddy, a millenia later. One of them, disguised as a human, mistakenly believes it is the other PC, Hui Jin, who is the reincarnation of her creator.

I simply look at each of the NPCs and point them at the other player’s character and fun drama comes forth.

Lesson: Prepping NPCs with crosses ahead makes it easier to set crosses and weaves in play.

Scene Focus

Both of my players have had mostly a background in traditional play with just a little bit of indie game play. I have to keep a focus to remember to keep the action moving scene to scene and not fall into “And then I…and then I…” stuff that happens. I have to sometimes give reminder interruptions: “Ok, we’re going to skip all the details of this – you sneak in, there’s no problem in that.”

This is very different than playing with my usual local group where we had no problem going into PTA because we’re rolling without the gamer baggage.

I’ve found the main thing that’s helped me is remembering to cut the scene often and ruthlessly. If someone says something heavy, or drops the significant piece of dialogue- that’s exactly the time to cut the scene.

Likewise, once a decision is made, I cut the scene, because the players tend to get caught in focusing on the specific hows and whys, which you normally skip over in TV or movies – “We’re sneaking in the building” is followed by actually sneaking in the building, usually not 15 minutes of “Well, but if we go this way, and this happens, we should do that.” etc.

Lesson: Focus on cutting Scene framing and the scene setting will do itself.

Anyway, we’re mostly working out the online medium and new group dynamics. I’m sure more lessons will come soon.

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