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Play Sorcerer

8 August, 2008

Chris Kubasik is a Sorcerer fan like myself, and he’s decided to write a handbook on how to play Sorcerer, a guide book to the tools and techniques of Ron Edward’s amazing game. It happens that Kubasik is also a professional writer with quite a few roleplaying related publications behind him, most notably perhaps for West End Games and FASA Corporation, so he wants to get paid for his work, of course. That’s why he initiated a programme for people to pledge $1500 to the project within a month or so. Amazingly it took about two weeks and then all the money was secured. Play Sorcerer is now in the works, as we speak, and it can’t get here fast enough, and hopefully help give Sorcerer a well-deserved renaissance.

Sorcerer is a tough game to get into. Very tough. It doesn’t help one bit that it was written, developed and playtested way before there was any common roleplaying vocabulary to describe what the game actually does. When Sorcerer was published as a book in 2001, after being available in several playtest versions, it soon became the standard for a certain preference in roleplaying that the author had described as being “Narrativist”. Sorcerer has been the inspiration for loads of modern “indie” games, from Dogs in the Vineyard, The Shadow of Yesterday to In a Wicked Age (dubbed “Sorcerer v2.0”), Cold City and Hot War. And many more. But Sorcerer is the granddaddy, the old one, the original.

And the good news is, despite its inaccessibility, quirkyness and its author’s perceived stubbornness, Sorcerer works. It works like a well-oiled machine. No game that I know of delivers that sort of emotional gutsy bang for your money. But if you’re relying on the book alone to learn the game, then good luck. If you want to get it, then you have two choices: get hold of an experienced Sorcerer player, preferably GM, or start reading through kilometers of forum posts. That’s where Play Sorcerer comes in – it will hopefully be the shortcut to understand Sorcerer and thus get more people playing it.

There’a another thing. Sorcerer demands involvement from the players. You need to care for what’s going on in your game’s fiction, so there’s a bit of work to do before you can really play.

To me, playing Sorcerer is simply basic roleplaying exercise. It teaches you about conflict resolution, authorship, reward system, to play the story instead of telling the story, GM preparation and loads more. On top of that it’s highly customisable – in fact you HAVE to customise it to your own needs and preferences to play at all.

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