Tabletop Game / Sorcerer

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"What will you do to get what you want?"

Sorcerer: An Intense Roleplaying Game is an indie Tabletop RPG published by Ron Edwards in 2001. The players take the role of the eponymous sorcerers in a modern world where dark powers exist to make bargains with. The objective of the game is to create a fluid, dramatic narrative about ambitious people doing terrible and awesome things to reach their goals. It has little in the way of pre-published splat and setting material and instead gives each group the tools they need to create their own world and to use it as a backdrop for exploring the Central Theme of "humanity" (however they define it in detail).

Three expansions have been published by Edwards: Sorcerer & Sword (facilitates a more traditional Sword & Sorcery campaign but with the same focus on characters), The Sorcerer's Soul (greatly expands the mechanics associated with the Humanity stat), and Sex & Sorcerer (delves into the topics of gender and sexuality).

Compare Dogs in the Vineyard and My Life with Master.


The game contains examples of following tropes:

  • Allegory: The demons are a pretty transparent one for the real life temptations and flaws of human nature (as in "one's personal demons"): by feeding them, you stray from humanity, while driving them out gives you a chance to become a better person. Even the Arc Words of the annotated edition are "Demons do not exist."
  • All Myths Are True: Defied. The demons exist, yes, but they keep to themselves, and everything apart from a few rare sightings of them is basically bogus.
  • Body Surf: Possessor demons with the Hop ability can usurp a new body at will.
  • Cast From Sanity: Summoning demons has a high chance of lowering the summoner's Humanity (which acts as both a Sanity Meter and a Karma Meter in this game).
  • Character Level: Averted. Upon resolving their Kicker, a characters may grow in power but only by increasing their basic stats and Cover. Furthermore, resolving Kickers is less about leveling up and more about rewriting the character's descriptors, representing narrative Character Development.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Averted. Not only aren't there any Hit Points in this game, but taking any damage in a fight is modeled as a reduction of the victim's dice pool for the upcoming actions, making its effects immediately palpable long before the character is taken out.
  • Damage Typing: Bludgeoning, edged, firearm, and special (e.g. demonic) damage have different rules for reducing the target's dice pools.
  • Deal with the Devil: Binding a demon generally involves the sorcerer offering to take care of its Need in return for it granting them its powers. Every player character starts out having already Bound one demon, potentially Binding more as the story develops.
  • Demonic Possession: The Possessor type demons take over their host's body completely, either killing the original personality outright or trapping it within the corner of their consciousness (which is hell for muggles but still manageable for sorcerers).
  • Driving Question: "What will you do to get what you want?" The Central Theme of the game is people doing reckless and amoral things to fulfill their dreams/desires.
  • Evil Sorcerer: This is basically what you play as, although figuring out exactly how evil you are is the main point of the game. Basically, it flips the standard fantasy archetype on its head and humanizes the "villains", how exactly they come to act in the way they are.
  • Faustian Rebellion: The sorcerer can attempt to Banish the demon they summoned themselves, but the demon will oppose it with everything it has (and it doesn't actually break their Binding by itself). This trope is also inverted in that demons can rebel against their summoners, too, the difference being that a rebelling demon gets a chance to offer its services to another sorcerer (rather than being Banished from the material world outright).
  • Heroic Second Wind: When beaten up to the point where they normally wouldn't be able to act anymore, sorcerers can roll for Will to do so, anyway.
  • Hit Points: Averted. Instead, damage translates into stacking penalties to action rolls, eventually mounting up to preclude any sort of action, at which point the character is put out of a fight (but not necessarily dead).
  • Inciting Incident: A player character's Kicker is an event just before the start of actual play that sets in motion their own personal story arc.
  • Karma Meter: The Humanity stat works both as this and as a Sanity Meter, although it doesn't have mechanical or RP effects on the character until it drops to zero. Every time a character contacts demons or performs any heinous actions, their Humanity may go down, and if it does hit zero, they become NPCs under the GM's control. Humanity can be restored by banishing demons and generally acting like a decent individual.
  • Killed Off for Real: A Bound demon who takes twice its Stamina in damage dies for good and cannot be restored to existence in any way. Similarly, there are no mechanics to bring back a human character who died.
  • Mark of the Supernatural: The Telltale is a specific attribute that gives a sorcerer away to those in the know.
  • The Masquerade: By default, the demons tend to keep secret, more interested in personal corruption than large-scale impact on the human world. Likewise, there are no more than a hundred active sorcerers in the world at any time, who also keep to themselves and maintain their Covers rather than forming an Ancient Conspiracy.
  • Power at a Price: The Price is a drawback each character suffers that comes with their use of sorcery. Mechanically, the Price reduces the size of the character's dice pool in certain situations.
  • Power Limiter: The Punishing ritual drops a demon's Power by several points, and its summoner doesn't even need to roll for it.
  • Pride: The ur-flaw of all sorcerers, manifesting itself in the conceit to even consider summoning demonic beings.
  • Staying Alive: For a sorcerer to die, they have to take four times their Stamina score in lasting damage and be denied speedy intensive care.
  • The Symbiote: A Parasite demon requires a host body but is technically symbiotic, rather than parasitic, since its powers benefit to the host, offsetting any drawbacks of its presence.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: The Passing type of demons appear exactly like regular living beings they mimic, except for their Telltale.
  • Three-Stat System: The three core stats are Stamina, Will, and Lore, representing not so much the character's attributes as how much force they can exert over the physical world, other people's behavior, and the fabric of reality itself (in other words, how good they are at sorcery).
  • Urban Fantasy: The default assumption is that the game takes place in a world Like Reality Unless Noted, albeit in a very low-magic variation where dark powers are uncommon and not at all well-understood. That said, nothing in the rules says that demons cannot be a sufficiently advanced technology instead.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The whole point of the game is to play out situations where morally-ambiguous player characters must sacrifice their Humanity to achieve goals that are probably well-intended, but may or may not be warped by the time they get there.

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