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12/09/2017 7:23 am  #41


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

Brock Savage wrote:

Chainsaw wrote:

ultimately, what it really does is create situations where the other PCs expect the sorcerer to risk weakening himself permanently every time the group gets in a jam. Out of spells and in trouble? The rest of the group looks over like, "Come on, man." It winds up being less optional and so makes the class less appealing, in my opinion.

That is some good insight into the sorcery issue and has some application to my own campaign, thanks.

Very nice of you to say, thanks man.


Blackadder23: Insanely long villain soliloquy, then "Your action?"
BORGO'S PLAYER: I shoot him in the face
 

12/09/2017 9:00 am  #42


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures has an interesting take on magic: Cantrips require a roll to cast (under Int or Wis), Spells work as per normal, and Rituals require an hour/Ritual level to cast and a roll (again vs Int or Wis). A failed Cantrip roll means the player can choose either to lose their ability to cast sorcery for the rest of the day, or some DM-chosen mishap occurs; a failed Ritual roll means the Ritual still works, but with some DM-chosen side-effect.


"My virtue is of the quintessential sort, being distilled from the erudition of the ages. How can I be other than virtuous? I am dispassionate to the ordinary motives of mankind."
Jack Vance, The Eyes of the Overworld
 

12/09/2017 2:42 pm  #43


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

To be fair, while BoL may be used as a Conan game quite easily, it is actually based on Lin Carter's Thongor series and the wizards in that were inhuman, the Dragon Kings....

Sad to hear about the new Conan game,, especially since I am in at the Treasure of Tranicos level. 

 

12/10/2017 11:51 am  #44


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

Bat - I didn't know that BoL was based on Thongor, but it had that feel when we played it.

I was in the 2d20 Conan game at the Mount Yimsha level. I super regret it now. Learned my lesson about Kickstarter and what to watch out for.


"But not all men seek rest and peace; some are born with the spirit of the storm in their blood" -REH
Rambling Conan Blog

 
     Thread Starter
 

12/10/2017 5:46 pm  #45


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

I find that PCs of whatever class that survive for any length of time in my AS&SH game have a good chance of some kind of deformity, mutation, or horrible scarring. No system needed: just regular old game play. I don't think there's any reason to formalize it for spell casters when *everyone* has a chance of ending up with ape arms and snake hair.

That said, I have no problem at all with making NPC casters much different, limited only by ease of use. I figure the systems of advancements ("class") used by PCs and many NPCs are kind of a mapped route: keep practicing and getting treasure and studying with those who have done it already, and you unlock this variety of power at a predictable rate. But there are other, stranger, less guaranteed paths that NPCs follow that can lead to some pretty effed-up results and that relate only in broad ways to the "classed" progress of PCs.

Kind of like the PC berserker vs. "monster" wild berserker distinction.

 

12/10/2017 6:40 pm  #46


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

Handy Haversack wrote:

I find that PCs of whatever class that survive for any length of time in my AS&SH game have a good chance of some kind of deformity, mutation, or horrible scarring. No system needed: just regular old game play. I don't think there's any reason to formalize it for spell casters when *everyone* has a chance of ending up with ape arms and snake hair.

Brock Savage wrote:

...and has some application to my own campaign

Handy - you and Brock have been drinking from the same tainted well; he's been threatening our PCs with similar afflictions for our adventuresome efforts.

 

12/10/2017 6:48 pm  #47


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

Dwindle wrote:

Handy - you and Brock have been drinking from the same tainted well; he's been threatening our PCs with similar afflictions for our adventuresome efforts.

I have nothing against the PCs . . . but the dice have other ideas, and they've been drinking all day . . .

 

12/10/2017 6:59 pm  #48


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

Handy Haversack wrote:

I have nothing against the PCs . . . but the dice have other ideas, and they've been drinking all day . . .

Well said!
 

 

12/11/2017 6:55 am  #49


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

Handy Haversack wrote:

That said, I have no problem at all with making NPC casters much different, limited only by ease of use. I figure the systems of advancements ("class") used by PCs and many NPCs are kind of a mapped route: keep practicing and getting treasure and studying with those who have done it already, and you unlock this variety of power at a predictable rate. But there are other, stranger, less guaranteed paths that NPCs follow that can lead to some pretty effed-up results and that relate only in broad ways to the "classed" progress of PCs.

Kind of like the PC berserker vs. "monster" wild berserker distinction.

Yup.  If everyone has ape arms then no one has ape arms or something like that.  NPC's can short circuit the system because they don't care about the consequences.
 


“How can I wear the harness of toil
And sweat at the daily round,
While in my soul forever
The drums of Pictdom sound?” 
 

12/26/2017 8:43 am  #50


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

As someone who has toyed with corruption rules, this thread got me thinking more deeply on the motive for such a thing. It seems to me there are two purposes to corruption mechanics, one literary(ish) and one psychological. 

Firstly, corruption would clearly link back to Lovecraftian influences. Among some S&S authors such as CAS, there seem to be notions of the alien unknown, of hidden secrets and horrid things held within sorcerous 'stuff'; corruption seems to try to get at this aspect. The issue here is that a 'one size fits all' game mechanic does not necessarily fit all (so may not fit Conan), but the underlying idea of capturing this 'alien' aspect remains the same. 

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, there is a psychological distinction to be made between the gamers' perceptions of experience at the table (the mechanics of the system in achieving actions and consequences in the game world) and the player characters' perceptions as they would be in the game world. In the heat of play, the perceptions of the characters can easily become lost to their players. Thus, magic risks becoming a mere tool for creating an effect in the game; it's mystery and other-worldly origin lost on the players at that point in time. Use of a Corruption mechanic functions to anchor the players more closely to the experience of their characters in the game world - a played out example of the alien origins of sorcerous power. Here, the intention is not to emulate any particular S&S author (Howard, CAS, etc), but instead is to moor the gamers in the game world, and to instil in them the visceral alien powers being deployed by their characters. 

Returning to some of the ideas posted here, the use of the reaction table for simulating the responses of various protagonists to sorcerers and what they do seems to me to be a neat way of handling the above second point. 

My thoughts continue of evolve on this matter, but the above summarises my thinking at the moment. 

 

12/26/2017 9:11 am  #51


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

I agree the Reaction table does seem to be a good way to cover bot the otherworldly nature of sorcery in these settings, and the way sorcerers and superstition are perceived in the setting.
I also have taken to using and enforcing some other tropes of the Conan stories, such as a search for forgotten lore to learn new spells, dealing with supernatural entities, and/or controlling them to maintain/increase magical knowledge etc.
Finally, I try to describe any actual spellcasting as breaking the laws of the natural world. Clouds gather, winds pick up, shadows are seen moving in corners, etc.


"But not all men seek rest and peace; some are born with the spirit of the storm in their blood" -REH
Rambling Conan Blog

 
     Thread Starter
 

12/28/2017 5:58 pm  #52


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

Doctor_Rob wrote:

Firstly, corruption would clearly link back to Lovecraftian influences. Among some S&S authors such as CAS, there seem to be notions of the alien unknown, of hidden secrets and horrid things held within sorcerous 'stuff'; corruption seems to try to get at this aspect. The issue here is that a 'one size fits all' game mechanic does not necessarily fit all (so may not fit Conan), but the underlying idea of capturing this 'alien' aspect remains the same.

Would you care to give some examples of human sorcerers from HPL or CAS who have suffered the kind of disfigurements found in most corruption systems (tentacles, tails, etc.) or who have gone barking, raving mad from occult studies? Or even examples of some who weren't evil or depraved to begin with, but who were "corrupted" by their study of magic?


"The fear of death, its risk each time, is one of the most stimulating parts of the game. It therefore behooves the referee to include as many mystifying and dangerous areas as is consistent with a reasonable chance for survival." - J. Eric Holmes
 

12/30/2017 1:50 pm  #53


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

Blackadder23 wrote:

Would you care to give some examples of human sorcerers from HPL or CAS who have suffered the kind of disfigurements found in most corruption systems (tentacles, tails, etc.) or who have gone barking, raving mad from occult studies? Or even examples of some who weren't evil or depraved to begin with, but who were "corrupted" by their study of magic?

It seems to me that the nature of magic in CAS and Lovecraft - the places, monsters, and so on - is often depicted as other-worldly, alien and unsettling. However, the magic in this literature does not cause the debilitating effects depicted in Corruption rules we see cropping up in some S&S games.  This gives rise to an interesting question: why do folks readily confound RPG Corruption with these literary sources, when the magic in these sources does not corrupt in the way depicted in these games?  The conjecture is simply that RPG Corruption is perhaps an attempt to somehow capture the unsettling and alien nature of magic (this other-worldliness being the common thread, and hence the source of the confound).  Whether this trope works or not is a matter of taste and concerns surrounding literary verisimilitude.

My second point relates to a danger within gameplay where magic ends up as an instrumental and rather mundane tool, and loses its aspect as an alien intrusion in the natural order of things. Hence Corruption rules may serve a functional role within games to anchor players to their character's perceptions of sorcery as other-worldly and unsettling. [Edit: of course, the DM can simply remind the players of this, and so a reliance on rules becomes moot http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/wink.png
 ].

But, I think we all agree that Corruption as depicted in a number of S&S games is not reflective of what is seen in the literature.  Hence the use of the Reaction system, as suggested by a previous poster, as being a more appropriate way to handle this.

Last edited by Doctor_Rob (12/30/2017 2:05 pm)

 

12/30/2017 3:28 pm  #54


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

I feel that Jeff has provided referees with a good tool for making magic seem less mundane by (in the case of many character classes) explicitly giving an otherworldly source for the spells gained. If shamans gain their power from nature spirits and the dead, surely it is reasonable for these spirits to occasionally make demands or cause problems. The same applies to pyromancers and Helios, cryomancers and Yikkorth, necromancers and Mordezzan, and so forth. There should always be a price to pay, even if it doesn't rise to the level of tentacles or crippling insanity. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/smile.png

Last edited by Blackadder23 (12/30/2017 3:28 pm)


"The fear of death, its risk each time, is one of the most stimulating parts of the game. It therefore behooves the referee to include as many mystifying and dangerous areas as is consistent with a reasonable chance for survival." - J. Eric Holmes
 

12/30/2017 4:51 pm  #55


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

Seems like we all agree that most games model corruption poorly. 
In an S&S setting, I just don't think that it should destroy a character (unless you are modeling a fictional world where sorcery does specifically cause some type of corruption.

The long hours of study, experimentation, nosing into dangerous places, bargaining with demons, etc., is enough. (Also explaining why most sorcerers aren't great with weapons. No time to practice.)

I do like the idea of Reaction Roll modifiers if it fits a GM's setting. I can see it applying to the Hyborian Age in some cases. It's especially good if its on a case by case basis.

Here's some food for thought:
In my giant thesis work in progress examination of all magic in the REH Conan stories, I've noticed a trend for sorcery to be better or weaker based upon superstition. For instance, Eastern sorcery relies a lot upon mesmerism/hypnotism and mind control. Conan is resistant to this in one instance because the west has no such superstitions or beliefs in hypnotism/mesmerism or some such. So... at first I was thinking about giving a Save bonus or penalty to various Hyborian Age cultures vs specific types of magic. In the end I opted against it because Classes cover this a little with their Save bonuses. (Barbarian getting a bonus vs all) However, I may revisit it once I get through all the stories and have an idea of what magic fits what culture better. 

Another thought this discussion has brought up for me:
While I dislike all corruption systems I have seen in S&S games, I have always liked the SAN system in Call of Cthulhu. Now I'm wondering if that is a bit misguided as well. Armitage gets a bit wacky reading journals in Dunwich Horror, and all evil sorcerers in Lovecraft stories are pretty insane, so perhaps that system is still on the right track for modeling that particular fiction. (The new Delta Green does this even better imo, with the agents' homelife deteriorating as they have trouble dealing with the truths.)

So... since the Hyborian Age and Lovecraft's stories exist in basically the same universe (judging by REH's crossover stories), then why don't Hyborian Age sorcerers go batty when they learn the truths. Again, IMO, it's because they already are more open to the "truths" in the first place. Hyborian Age people aren't as sheltered as modern society, and their superstitions are more open to accepting things. Even in Bran Mak Morn's times the change has begun, with insanity rearing its head in Worms of the Earth.

Sorry for the super-nerd ramble there. It's all just something I've been giving a lot of thought lately.
 


"But not all men seek rest and peace; some are born with the spirit of the storm in their blood" -REH
Rambling Conan Blog

 
     Thread Starter
 

12/30/2017 7:12 pm  #56


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

I feel the SAN mechanic works pretty well for the game of CoC (as opposed to the corruption mechanic in some S&S games, which are usually bad mechanically as well as poor reflections of the source material) but it doesn't really capture the reality of the stories that well. In particularly, most of the more powerful evil sorcerers (for example, the three from The Case of Charles Dexter Ward) strike me as rational albeit morally depraved. They certainly don't evince the kind of slobbering, non-functional insanity that the CoC SAN mechanic usually leads to.


"The fear of death, its risk each time, is one of the most stimulating parts of the game. It therefore behooves the referee to include as many mystifying and dangerous areas as is consistent with a reasonable chance for survival." - J. Eric Holmes
 

12/30/2017 8:53 pm  #57


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

I like the way old school Warhammer (a la Realms of Chaos books 1&2) handled corruption for followers of Chaos, whether sorcerer or not, with a reward/attribute system-gain enough rewards, become extremely powerful, gain too many attributes and you lose your mind and become a helpless Chaos Spawn. A very intense risk/reward system for all who would follow strange and chaotic deities.

This nicely mirrors many cautionary tales of those who would become powerful at any cost.

 

12/31/2017 7:00 am  #58


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

Blackadder - I agree.
I generally (in concession to the game mechanics) make the bat-s*** crazy a side effect of the mind rejecting the truth. Once SAN is 0 then they "wake up."


"But not all men seek rest and peace; some are born with the spirit of the storm in their blood" -REH
Rambling Conan Blog

 
     Thread Starter
 

12/31/2017 8:47 am  #59


Re: Sorcery in the original Conan stories

Tolkien's Middle-Earth works well with corruption rules that twist the mind and body.

Example:
The Elves where corrupted by Morgoth's will and became orcs.
Maia: Turned into Balrogs, demonic servants, etc. (those corrupted by Morgoth's will of coarse).
Túrin's Madness, was caused by Morgoth's curse, but also by his own confusion and pride.
Dwarves' greed (madness) has cause them to attack Allied Elves and they even killed Thingol; a great Elven king.
And Elves self-righteous arrogance, cause them to have three major kin-slaying-episodes in the Silmarillion.

This is not saying it should be regarded as a possibility for the Hyborian Age, it is just another example of Corruption rules in RPGs.

The "One Ring," game use 'Shadow,' Points, but they can be healed (like being in a peaceful place), but if one gains a Shadow Point in a "Bout of Madness," the point becomes permanent. Simple and effective rule, also being made a lesser Wraith, is a form of corruption; if stabbed by a Morgul Blade, but that is a rare thing!

I not know rules well, yet, but more Shadow points, the more sicken one comes with life, either retiring Character or risk him joining the dark side of the force!

I personally do not think Sorcerers should grow extra body parts (unless they want to?), but corruption is a kind of distancing self from Humanity; they use others like cattle to sacrifice for their own power, etc. This mentality can be governed by corruption, which leads to madness (but, madness does not mean: fear of spiders, or drooling in a corner; afraid of the light), as the change of their perception of life to an altered state, i.e.: more demonic in perspective; above (or below) Humanity (Life), instead of being apart of it.

 

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